People’s concept of free will is often assumed to be incompatible with the deterministic, scientific model of the universe. Indeed, many scholars treat the folk concept of free will as assuming a special form of nondeterministic causation, possibly the notion of uncaused causes. However, little work to date has directly probed individuals’ beliefs about what it means to have free will. The present studies sought to reconstruct this folk concept of free will by asking people to define the concept (Study (...) 1) and by confronting them with a neuroscientific claim that free will is an illusion (Study 2), which invited them to either reconcile or contrast free will with determinism. The results suggest that the core of people’s concept of free will is a choice that fulfills one’s desires and is free from internal or external constraints. No evidence was found for metaphysical assumptions about dualism or indeterminism. (shrink)
Moral judgments about an agent's behavior are enmeshed with inferences about the agent's mind. Folk psychology—the system that enables such inferences—therefore lies at the heart of moral judgment. We examine three related folk-psychological concepts that together shape people's judgments of blame: intentionality, choice, and free will. We discuss people's understanding and use of these concepts, address recent findings that challenge the autonomous role of these concepts in moral judgment, and conclude that choice is the fundamental concept of the three, defining (...) the core of folk psychology in moral judgment. (shrink)
This study examines social desirability bias in the context of ethical decision-making by accountants. It hypothesizes a negative relation between social desirability bias and ethical evaluation. It also predicts an interaction effect between religiousness and gender on social desirability bias. An experiment using five general business vignettes was carried out on 121 accountants (63 males and 58 females). The results show that social desirability bias is higher (lower) when the situation encountered is more (less) unethical. The bias has religiousness and (...) gender main effects as well as an interaction effect between these two independent variables. Women who were more religious recorded the highest bias scores relative to less religious women and men regardless of their religiousness. (shrink)
The purpose of this exploratory study is to examine the use of an ethical intervention strategy – counterexplanation – on individuals’ ethical decision-making. As opposed to providing reasons to support a decision in the case of explanation, counterexplanation is the provision of reasons that either speak against or provide evidence against a chosen course of action. The number of explanations and/or counterexplanations provided by the participants is expected to have a significant effect on ethical evaluation and intention. The number of (...) explanations is expected to be negatively related to ethical decision-making while the number of counterexplanations is expected to be positively related to ethical decision-making. The experiment, that made use of five ethical vignettes, manipulated four treatment groups – explanation, counterexplanation, explanation/counterexplanation, and counterexplanation/explanation. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the four reatments. They performed the requirements of their treatment before recording their ethical evaluations and intentions. As expected, larger numbers of explanations led to less ethical decision-making and larger numbers of counterexplanations led to more ethical decision-making. However, when both types of explanations are required, the order of counterexplaining before explaining is more desirable as it leads to more ethical decision-making. The study also reports that individuals with high social desirability bias (a tendency to present oneself in a culturally acceptable manner) may generate less counterexplanations. Implications of the findings are explained in the paper. (shrink)
Causality violations are typically seen as unrealistic and undesirable features of a physical model. The following points out three reasons why causality violations, which Bonnor and Steadman identified even in solutions to the Einstein equation referring to ordinary laboratory situations, are not necessarily undesirable. First, a space-time in which every causal curve can be extended into a closed causal curve is singularity free—a necessary property of a globally applicable physical theory. Second, a causality-violating space-time exhibits a nontrivial topology—no closed timelike (...) curve (CTC) can be homotopic among CTCs to a point, or that point would not be causally well behaved—and nontrivial topology has been explored as a model of particles. Finally, if every causal curve in a given space-time passes through an event horizon, a property which can be called “causal censorship”, then that space-time with event horizons excised would still be causally well behaved. (shrink)
Food & Philosophy offers a collection of essays which explore a range of philosophical topics related to food; it joins Wine & Philosophy and Beer & Philosophy in in the "Epicurean Trilogy." Essays are organized thematically and written by philosophers, food writers, and professional chefs.
Much has been written about the relationship between biology and social science during the early twentieth century. However, discussion is often drawn toward a particular conception of eugenics, which tends to obscure our understanding of not only the wide range of intersections between biology and social science during the period but also their impact on subsequent developments. This paper draws attention to one of those intersections: the British economist and social reformer William Beveridge’s controversial efforts to establish a Department of (...) Social Biology at London School of Economics during the 1920s and 1930s. Featuring a fully equipped laboratory headed by a leading geneticist, the Department of Social Biology was Beveridge’s attempt to “cross-fertilise” biology and social science and, in so doing, take the ideological heat out of social scientific, in particular economic, methods of investigation. Exploring why Beveridge’s project failed and throwing light on its long-term legacies, this paper considers what we can learn from the short-lived Department of Social Biology. (shrink)
At the heart of the relationship between philosophy and poetry, and of the philosophical and the literary tout court, is the relationship between poetry and prose. In the increasingly influential work of Giorgio Agamben, whose impact continues to grow across a wide range of disciplines, the relationship between philosophy and poetry, poetry and prose, receives renewed attention and significance. Situating Agamben's philosophical, poetic prose in relation to the legacy of the prose poem from Charles Baudelaire through Walter Benjamin and Rosmarie (...) Waldrop, ?Philosophy, Poetry, Parataxis? explores the implications of what Agamben calls ?whatever being? or ?whatever singularity? for our understanding of the potentialities inherent in the relationship between contemporary writing practices and what Agamben calls The Coming Community. In contributing to the development of innovative, alternative forms of textuality at once ?philosophical? and ?poetic,? contemporary writers such as Agamben and Waldrop share an understanding of the informing role of parataxis in inflecting philosophy and poetry, poetry and prose, toward what we might call an aesthetics and politics of apposition. (shrink)
Stephen T. Casper and Steve Fuller’s commentaries on my paper “Completing Circle of the Social Sciences? William Beveridge and Social Biology at the London School of Economics during the 1930s” raises important questions about the historical entanglement of the political left, welfarism, biology, and social science. In this response, I clarify questions about my analysis of events at the London School of Economics in the early twentieth century and identify ways in which they are important in the present. I suggest (...) that there is much to be learned from the school’s failed experiment with social biology, not least when it comes to thinking about the historical contingency of relationships between progressive politics and biology. (shrink)
Chris Renwick’s recent research into the fate of William Beveridge’s attempt to establish social biology as the foundational social science at the London School of Economics is history at its best by uncovering a moment in the past when decisions were taken comparable to ones being taken today. In this case, the issues concern the political and scientific foundations of the welfare state. By connecting Beveridge’s original reasoning to recruit Lancelot Hogben for the Rockefeller-sponsored social biology chair with his (...) later formative role in the design of the British welfare state, we are able to witness an alternative vision of the left, one associated with the Fabian movement, which proceeded independently of its Marxist cousin. The Fabian focus on taxing “inheritance” in the broadest sense remains relevant to how we think about the human condition in an era when capitalism has come to encompass the ownership of genetic material. (shrink)
Why would anyone want there to be natural foundations for the social sciences? In a provocative essay exploring precisely that question, historian Chris Renwick uses an interwar debate featuring William Beveridge, Lancelot Hogben, and Friedrich Hayek to begin to imagine what might have been had such a program calling for biological knowledge to form the natural bases of the social sciences been realized at the London School of Economics. Yet perhaps Renwick grants too much attention to differences and (...) “what-ifs” and not enough to the historical question of “what happened” afterward. “Chickens and Eggs” offers an alternative view of this rather vexed question—one grounded in what happened, which suggests that Renwick’s concerns may be somewhat misplaced. (shrink)
In Science as Social Knowledge in 1990 and The Fate of Knowledge in 2002, Helen Longino develops an epistemological theory known as Critical Contextual Empiricism (CCE). Knowledge production, she argues, is an active, value-laden practice, evidence is context dependent and relies on background assumptions, and science is a social inquiry that, under certain conditions, produces social knowledge with contextual objectivity. While Longino’s work has been generally well-received, there have been a number of criticisms of CCE raised in the philosophical literature (...) in recent years. In this paper I outline the key elements of Longino’s theory and propose modifications to the four norms offered by the account. The version of CCE I defend, which draws on lessons learned by medical researchers in recent years, gives principles of epistemic diversity a central role and also provides greater specification of three of the four norms. Further, it offers additional resources for defending CCE against Alvin Goldman’s suggestion that there is a need for a “healthy dogmatism” in science, as well as a concern about “manufactured uncertainty” arising out of recent work by David Michaels. Finally, the modified version proposed here is also well positioned to respond (negatively) to a suggestion from Kristen Intemann that CCE needs to be adapted to incorporate a central insight from feminist standpoint theory. In light of the variety of social pressures influencing contemporary scientific research, and the role of science in shaping public policy, I argue that a rigorous social epistemology such as CCE is indispensable for understanding and assessing contemporary scientific practice. (shrink)
Monroe C. Beardsley has made seminal contributions to the on-going discussions of metaphor, contributions of continuing relevance and influence. His "Verbal Opposition Theory," like Max Black's "Interaction Theory," is a classic document of the contemporary semantic approach to metaphor, and has placed special emphasis upon the recognition of metaphor --the problem of the metaphorical warrant--which has lead to a deeper understanding of the complexities of this problem.