You might think a simple “No” would suffice as an answer. But there are features of Kant’s ethics that appear to be strikingly similar to virtue oriented views, so striking that some Kantians themselves have argued that Kant’s ethics in fact shares these features with virtue ethics. In what follows, I will argue against this view, though along the way I will acknowledge the features of Kant’s view that make it appear more like a kind of virtue ethics than it (...) really is. (shrink)
Does a Postal Principle, a principle of destinerrance, hold true for computer mediated communication (CMC)? Perhaps. However, the question is not one concerning technology. Is it rather the case that we must ask, after Derrida, after all, whether destinerrance ever held true, as a principle? This paper considers the prospect that the Postal Principle was, in principle, or as a principle, an expression of a truth value from something that can not in fact, be held at all: the ghost in (...) the machine. Drawing on a phenomenology of computer practice, the paper argues that there is greater explanatory value to be found in Derrida's more recent comments on the relative exteriority of the technological apparatus (in Archive Fever and elsewhere), framing an understanding of the human body as partes extra partes. Yet it is demonstrated here that this same framing was already in place from the moment that the principle of destinerrance was first articulated, and that a subsequent technical turn in Derrida's work merely extends a framework already set in place in the earlier work (in The Post Card, for example). It is argued, then, that in articulating a Postal Principle for the purpose of guaranteeing its failure, Derrida had calculated the future trajectory – and had built the logic of the calculation and of the ‘jet’ words, as he calls them, into this trajectory – of what I call the ‘fantasy of the disembodied virtualm’ through which users of CMC project themselves into the archive of archives that the internet was bound to become. (shrink)
The prospects for a phenomenology of technology have been guided in the past decade by a split between supporters of Martin Heidegger and those who subscribe to Bernard Stiegler’s critique of Heidegger. This essay proposes that both are needed for a phenomenology of what Edward Castronova calls “synthetic worlds” (large on-line environments like Second Life and World of Warcraft). Here is a phenomenology that must take into account histories of design and technical evolution to account for the particular “fantasy of (...) disembodiment” that shapes a user’s experience of a synthetic world, forgetting the bodily engagement with hardware. (shrink)
Aristotle's has been the most influential philosophy in the whole history of science. Monte Johnson examines its most controversial aspect: Aristotle's emphasis on the importance of goals and purposes to scientific understanding--his teleology. In some cases this policy has proved deeply flawed, for example in his earth-centric cosmology, or his anthropology purporting to justify slavery and male domination. But in many areas Aristotle's teleology has been successful, and remains influential, for example in adaptationist evolutionary theory, embryology, and genetics. (...) class='Hi'>Johnson's book shows also how Aristotle's theory has profound implications for environmental ethics and for the theory of value in general. (shrink)
The belief that the mind and the body are separate and that the mind is the source of all meaning has been a part of Western culture for centuries. Both philosophers and scientists have questioned this dualism, but their efforts have rarely converged. Many philosophers continue to rely on disembodied models of human thought, while scientists tend to reduce the complex process of thinking to a merely physical phenomenon. In The Meaning of the Body , Mark Johnson continues his (...) pioneering work on the exciting connections between cognitive science, language, and meaning first begun in the classic Metaphors We Live By . Johnson uses recent research into infant psychology to show how the body generates meaning even before self-consciousness has fully developed. From there he turns to cognitive neuroscience to further explore the bodily origins of meaning, thought, and language and examines the many dimensions of meaning—including images, qualities, emotions, and metaphors—that are all rooted in the body’s physical encounters with the world. Drawing on the psychology of art and pragmatist philosophy, Johnson argues that all of these aspects of meaning-making are fundamentally aesthetic. Thus the arts are the culmination of human attempts to find meaning and studying the aesthetic dimensions of our experience is crucial to unlocking the bodily sources of meaning. Brilliantly synthesizing a broad range of scientific research and philosophical inquiry in clear and original writing, Mark Johnson’s The Meaning of the Body puts forth a bold new conception of the mind rooted in the understanding that philosophy will matter to nonphilosophers only if it is built on a visceral connection to the world. (shrink)
During the last few decades, most cultural critics have come to agree that the division between "high" and "low" art is an artificial one, that Beethoven's Ninth and "Blue Suede Shoes" are equally valuable as cultural texts. In Who Needs Classical Music?, Julian Johnson challenges these assumptions about the relativism of cultural judgements. The author maintains that music is more than just "a matter of taste": while some music provides entertainment, or serves as background noise, other music claims to (...) function as art. This book considers the value of classical music in contemporary society, arguing that it remains distinctive because it works in quite different ways to most of the other music that surrounds us. This intellectually sophisticated yet accessible book offers a new and balanced defense of the specific values of classical music in contemporary culture. Who Needs Classical Music? will stimulate readers to reflect on their own investment (or lack of it) in music and art of all kinds. (shrink)
Review of Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen and Guy Kahane eds., Enhancing Human Capacities Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s12152-011-9148-y Authors Thomas Johnson, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490.
Focusing on Truth explores the question of what truth is, balancing historical with issue-orientated discussion. The book offers a comprehensive survey of all the major theories of truth. Lawrence Johnson investigates a number of closely related matters of truth in his inquiry, such as: What sorts of things are true or false? What is attributed to them when they are said to be true or false? What do facts have to do with truth? What can we learn from previous (...) theories? The book opens with an analysis of the coherence theory of truth and then the correspondence theory of truth, as developed by Moore, Russell and Wittgenstein. Through a study of the semantic conceptions of truth, the author reveals that an adequate theory of truth must take account of the pragmatics of person, purpose, and circumstance. A full understanding of facts and truth bearers is considered central to Johnson's criticism of the opposing truth theories of J. L. Austin and P. F. Strawson. Drawing on the merits of these theories and others, while identifying their deficiencies, Johnson presents a new account of truth, based on the correlation of referential foci and the use of linguistic conventions. This account is defended as being adequate to meet the legitimate demands made on a theory of truth. Johnson argues that the account leaves scope for statements of many different sorts to be true in their own widely varying ways, without the existence of a need to posit fundamentally different kinds of truth. (shrink)
Using path-breaking discoveries of cognitive science, Mark Johnson argues that humans are fundamentally imaginative moral animals, challenging the view that morality is simply a system of universal laws dictated by reason. According to the Western moral tradition, we make ethical decisions by applying universal laws to concrete situations. But Johnson shows how research in cognitive science undermines this view and reveals that imagination has an essential role in ethical deliberation. Expanding his innovative studies of human reason in Metaphors (...) We Live By and The Body in the Mind, Johnson provides the tools for more practical, realistic, and constructive moral reflection. (shrink)
The phenomenon of the New Genetics raises complex social problems, particularly those of privacy. This book offers ethical and legal perspectives on the questions of a right to know and not to know genetic information from the standpoint of individuals, their relatives, employers, insurers and the state. Graeme Laurie provides a unique definition of privacy, including a concept of property rights in the person, and argues for stronger legal protection of privacy in the shadow of developments in human genetics. (...) He challenges the role and the limits of established principles in medical law and ethics, including respect for patient autonomy and confidentiality. This book will interest lawyers, philosophers and doctors concerned both with genetic information and issues of privacy; it will also interest genetic counsellors, researchers, and policy makers worldwide for its practical stance on dilemmas in modern genetic medicine. (shrink)
This is an important new critical analysis of Derrida's theory of writing, based on close readings of key texts. It reveals a dimension of Derrida's thinking that has been neglected in favor of those "deconstructionist" cliches favored by much recent literary criticism. Christopher Johnson highlights the special character of Derrida's philosophy that comes from his contact with contemporary natural science and with systems theory. This study casts new light on an exacting set of intellectual issues facing philosophy and critical (...) theory today. (shrink)
Many readers encounter the history and mythology of the Illuminati for the first time in the course of reading Angels & Demons. They typically wonder if the Illuminati is a real organization in history and, if so, how much of Dan Brown’s description is accurate. To help answer that question, we turned to George Johnson, the well-known New York Times science writer. Johnson shares several interests with Dan Brown and fans of Angels & Demons: He has written extensively (...) about the conflicts and confluences of science and religion (including contributing an essay on that topic elsewhere in this volume). He has written about quantum physics and antimatter. And, as it turns out, he has written a book that deals extensively with the Order of Illuminati, its history, and the uses of myths and legends about the strange organization by (mostly right-wing) modern conspiracy theorists. That book, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics, was published in 1983 and remains a veritable gold mine of hard fact and analysis about the real history of the Illuminati. Even more important than the factual history presented by Johnson is his description of the vast web of myth that has grown.. (shrink)
Cornel West's reputation as a public and celebrity intellectual has overshadowed his important contributions to philosophy. Professor Clarence Shole Johnson provides a rectification of this situation in this benchmark, thought-provoking book. After a brief biographical sketch, Johnson leads us through a comprehensive examination of West's philosophy from his conceptions of pragmatism, existentialism, Marxism, and Prophetic Christianity to his persuasive writings on black-Jewish relations, affirmative action, and the role of black intellectuals. Special focus is given to West's writings on (...) ethics and social justice, and how these inform his entire theoretical framework. Cornel West and Philosophy is a unique and indispensable guide to West's diverse philosophical writings. (shrink)
Eusebius' magisterial Praeparatio Evangelica (written sometime between AD 313 and 324) offers an apologetic defence of Christianity in the face of Greek accusations of irrationality and impiety. Though brimming with the quotations of other (often lost) Greek authors, the work is dominated by a clear and sustained argument. Against the tendency to see the Praeparatio as merely an anthology of other sources or a defence of monotheistic religion against paganism, Aaron P. Johnson seeks to appreciate Eusebius' contribution to the (...) discourses of Christian identity by investigating the constructions of ethnic identity (especially Greek) at the heart of his work. Analysis of his `ethnic argumentation' exhibits a method of defending Christianity by construing its opponents as historically rooted nations, whose place in the narrative of world history serves to undermine the legitimacy of their claims to ancient wisdom and piety. (shrink)
'Since the middle of the twentieth century,' writes Elizabeth Johnson, 'there has been a renaissance of new insights into God in the Christian tradition. On different continents, under pressure from historical events and social conditions, people of faith have glimpsed the living God in fresh ways. It is not that a wholly different God is discovered from the One believed in by previous generations. Christian faith does not believe in a new God but, finding itself in new situations, seeks (...) the presence of God there. Aspects long-forgotten are brought into new relationships with current events, and the depths of divine compassion are appreciated in ways not previously imagined.' This book sets out the fruit of these discoveries. The first chapter describes Johnson's point of departure and the rules of engagement, with each succeeding chapter distilling a discrete idea of God. Featured are transcendental, political, liberation, feminist, black, Hispanic, interreligious, and ecological theologies, ending with the particular Christian idea of the one God as Trinity. >. (shrink)
Patterned after Strunk and White's classic The Elements of Style , this handy reference concisely summarizes the substantial existing research on the delicate balance of professional ethics. Johnson and Ridley reduce the wealth of published material on the topic to the seventy-five most important and pithy truths for supervisors in all fields. These explore questions of integrity, loyalty, justice, respect, and delivering one's best in the business environment. Succinct and comprehensive, this is a must-have for any professional or business (...) leader striving to create an ethical workplace. (shrink)
In The Philosophy of Manners Peter Johnson makes a compelling case for manners as a subject for investigation by modern moral philosophy. He examines manners as 'little virtues', explaining their distinctive conceptual characteristics and charting their intricate detail and relationships with each other. In demonstrating why manners are important to our mutual expectations, Johnson reveals a terrain which modern moral philosophy has left largely unmapped. Through a critical examination of the ethics of John Rawls and Alasdair MacIntyre, (...) class='Hi'>Johnson shows how the nature of manners constitutes a philosophical problem both for liberalism and its critics. Taking the recent revival of virtue ethics as its broad starting point, The Philosophy of Manners discusses the 'little virtues' as they are treated in the Aristotelian and Kantian traditions of writing on ethics. Original features of the book include discussions of nameless virtues, the logical intricacy of the 'little virtues' which compose manners, and the nature of their orchestration by the more substantial virtues and moral concerns. The aim throughout is to give manners a philosophically defensible place in the moral life - a place which neither inflates nor understates their importance. --an examination of why manners are essential to moral literacy and an ethical society --the first work of its kind - no other ethical investigation concentrates on manners --relevant to the recent revival of interest in virtue ethics and any course in contemporary ethics --will provoke argument and disagreement. (shrink)
This article reviews some linguistic and philosophical work in lexical semantics. In Section 1, the general methods of lexical semantics are explored, with particular attention to how semantic features of verbs are associated with grammatical patterns. In Section 2, philosophical consequences and issues arising from this sort of research is reviewed.
The first section of the Groundwork begins “It is impossible to imagine anything at all in the world, or even beyond it, that can be called good without qualification— except a good will.”1 Kant’s explanation and defense of this claim is followed by an explanation and defense of another related claim, that only actions performed out of duty have moral worth. He explains that actions performed out of duty are those done from respect for the moral law, and then culminates (...) the first section with a formulation of that law, “I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law”. Kant dubs this fundamental principle of morality “the Categorical Imperative”. (shrink)
Since Plato wrote of political obligation in his dialogue Crito, obligation in general has been of ongoing interest to philosophers. In that dialogue, Socrates argues that he was under an obligation to obey the laws of Athens and comply with a sentence of death. During the course of the argument, he raises and offers solutions to many of the central issues about obligation that philosophers still puzzle over. For instance, how can obligations have the grip on us that they do—in (...) some cases, so that we are willing to die rather than not fulfill them? What is the nature and justification of moral and legal obligations? Do we have an obligation to obey the state, and if so, why? (shrink)
Although relativism is most often associated with ethics, one can find defenses of relativism in virtually any area of philosophy. In what follows, I will narrow my focus considerably. I first discuss the general structure of relativist positions and arguments. I will then examine several influential ideas concerning relativism in the late 20th century. Finally, I end by considering the rise of relativism in one area outside of ethics, epistemology.
Pseudogapping is no misnomer. Despite the many tempting similarities, Gapping and Pseudogapping are distinct constructions. Pseudogapping is a special instance of VP Ellipsis, while Gapping, I will argue, is a special instance of across-the-board movement. Squeezing Gapping into across-the-board movement has its own discomforts, however, which I will suggest can be remedied by re-tailoring our syntax to include string-based output constraints. I give a sketch of one such alteration that involves apparent Left Branch Condition violations.
This essay explores the idea of just war in two ways. Part I outlines the formation, early development, and substantive content of just war tradition in its classic form, sketches the subsequent development of this idea in the modern period, and examines three benchmarks in the recovery of just war thinking in American thought over the last four decades. Part II identifies and critiques several prominent themes in contemporary just war discourse, testing them against the context, purpose, and content of (...) the just war idea in its classic form. My argument throughout is that the historical substance of just war tradition needs to be respected in contemporary just war discourse, both to discipline that discourse and to engage contemporary moral reflection with the values embodied in just war tradition. (shrink)
In Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, Michael Martin argues that to posit a God that is both omnipotent and omniscient is philosophically incoherent. I challenge this argument by proposing that a God who is necessarily omniscient is more powerful than a God who is contingently omniscient. I then argue that being omnipotent entails being omniscient by showing that for an all-powerful being to be all-powerful in any meaningful way, it must possess complete knowledge about all states of affairs and thus must (...) be understood to be omniscient. (shrink)
Explanations of how psychological capacities are carried out often invoke functional brain areas. I argue that such explanations cannot succeed. Psychological capacities are carried out by identifiable entities and their activities in the brain, but functional brain areas are not the relevant entities. I proceed by assuming that if functional brain areas did carry out psychological capacities, then these brain areas could be included in descriptions of mechanisms. And if functional brain areas participate in mechanisms, then they must engage in (...) activities. A number of ways in which we might understand the claim that functional brain areas engage in activities are examined. None are successful, and so one conclusion is that functional brain areas do not participate in mechanisms. Consequently, they are not the entities that carry out psychological capacities. (shrink)
We are beings of the flesh. Our sensorimotor motor experience is the basis for the structure of our higher cognitive functions of conceptual cognition and reasoning. Consequently, our subjectivity is intimately tied up with the nature of our embodied experience. This runs directly counter to views of self-identity dominant in contemporary cognitive science. I give an account of how we ought to understand ourselves as incarnates, and how this would change our view of meaning, knowledge, reason, and subjectivity.
There are two main theories about the persistence of objects through time: endurantism and perdurantism. Endurantists hold that objects are three-dimensional, have only spatial parts, and wholly exist at each moment of their existence. Perdurantists hold that objects are four-dimensional, have temporal parts, and only partly exist at each moment of their existence. In this paper we argue that endurantism is poorly suited to describe the persistence of objects in a world governed by Special Relativity, and can accommodate a relativistic (...) world only at a high price, one that we argue is not worth paying. Perdurantism, on the other hand, fits beautifully with our current scientific understanding of the world. Furthermore, we make this argument from implications of the Lorentz transformations, without appeals to geometrical interpretations, dimensional analogies, or auxillary premises like temporal eternalism. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) argued that moral requirements are based on a standard of rationality he dubbed the “Categorical Imperative” (CI). Immorality thus involves a violation of the CI and is thereby irrational. Other philosophers, such as Locke and Hobbes, had also argued that moral requirements are based on standards of rationality. However, these standards were either desirebased instrumental principles of rationality or based on sui generis rational intuitions. Kant agreed with many of his predecessors that an analysis of practical reason (...) will reveal only the requirement that rational agents must conform to instrumental principles. Yet he argued that conformity to the CI (a non-instrumental principle) and hence to moral requirements themselves, can nevertheless be shown to be essential to rational agency. This argument was based on his striking doctrine that a rational will must be regarded as autonomous, or free in the sense of being the author of the law that binds it. The fundamental principle of morality — the CI — is none other than the law of an autonomous will. Thus, at the heart of Kant's moral philosophy is a conception of reason whose reach in practical affairs goes well beyond that of a Humean ‘slave’ to the passions. Moreover, it is the presence of this self-governing reason in each person that Kant thought offered decisive grounds for viewing each as possessed of equal worth and deserving of equal respect. (shrink)
The essay is to be published in the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Lucretius (ed. P. Hardie and S. Gilispie). It provides an overview of the influence of Lucretius on the renaissance, early modern, modern, and twentieth century science, including cosmology, physics, chemistry, and life sciences.
A pressing issue in neuroscience is the high rate of misdiagnosis of disorders of consciousness. As new research on patients with disorders of consciousness has revealed surprising and previously unknown cognitive capacities, the need to develop better and more reliable methods of diagnosing these disorders becomes more urgent. So too the need to expand our ethical and social frameworks for thinking about these patients, to accommodate new concerns that will accompany new revelations. A recent study on trace conditioning and learning (...) in vegetative and minimally conscious patients shows promise as a potential diagnostic and prognostic tool, both for differentiating between states of diminished consciousness, and for predicting patient outcomes, but it also generates fresh concerns about quality of life in patients previously thought to be completely unaware. Optimism about progress in diagnosing and treating disorders of consciousness must be tempered by the understanding that not all progress will necessarily be good for all patients. The prognosis for most patients remains bleak, and we must remain vigilant to acute questions and concerns about welfare and quality of life. (shrink)
After reviewing portions of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act that call for examination of societal and ethical issues, this essay seeks to understand how nanoethics can play a role in nanotechnology development. What can and should nanoethics aim to achieve? The focus of the essay is on the challenges of examining ethical issues with regard to a technology that is still emerging, still ‘in the making.’ The literature of science and technology studies (STS) is used to understand (...) the nanotechnology endeavor in a way that makes room for influence by nanoethics. The analysis emphasizes: the contingency of technology and the many actors involved in its development; a conception of technology as sociotechnical systems; and, the values infused (in a variety of ways) in technology. Nanoethicists can be among the many actors who shape the meaning and materiality of an emerging technology. Nevertheless, there are dangers that nanoethicists should try to avoid. The possibility of being co-opted from working along side nanotechnology engineers and scientists is one danger that is inseparable from trying to influence. Related but somewhat different is the danger of not asking about the worthiness of the nanotechnology enterprise as a social investment in the future. (shrink)
LeDoux (1996) has identified a sub-cortical neural circuit that mediates fear responses in rats. The existence of this neural circuit has been used to support the claim that emotion is a non-cognitive process. In this paper I argue that this sub-cortical circuit cannot have a role in the explanation of emotions in humans. This worry is raised by looking at the properties of this neural pathway, which does not have the capacity to respond to the types of stimuli that are (...) generally taken to trigger emotion responses. In particular, the neurons in this pathway cannot represent the stimulus as a complete object or event, rather they represent the simple information that is encoded at the periphery. If it is assumed that an object or event in the world is what, even in simple cases, causes an emotion, then this sub-cortical pathway has limited use in a theory of emotion. (shrink)
A variety of inaccurate claims about Gold's Theorem have appeared in the cognitive science literature. I begin by characterizing the logic of this theorem and its proof. I then examine several claims about Gold's Theorem, and I show why they are false. Finally, I assess the significance of Gold's Theorem for cognitive science.
Why should modern philosophers read the works of R. G. Collingwood? His ideas are often thought difficult to locate in the main lines of development taken by twentieth-century philosophy. Some have read Collingwood as anticipating the later Wittgenstein, others have concentrated exclusively on the internal coherence of his thought. This work aims to introduce Collingwood to contemporary students of philosophy through direct engagement with his arguments. It is a conversation with Collingwood that takes as its subject matter the topics that (...) interested him 'philosophy and method, philosophy of mind, language and logic, the historical imagination, art and expression, action, metaphysics and life' and which still preoccupy us today. --the first introductory book on this major modern philosopher --includes critical investigation of his thought --there is no similar work available. (shrink)
The grandest unification theory of them all got its start in 1948, when two remarkable publications appeared. Claude Shannon's paper ''A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits" and Norbert Wiener's book ''Cybernetics'' brought to the world's attention an idea that had been bubbling beneath the surface for years: information, like matter and energy, can be considered a thing in itself -- a fundamental building block of reality. Ever since, there has been a growing effort to explain the brain, the (...) body, civilization and, most recently, the universe itself as information processors. (shrink)
Metaphysical theories of change incorporate substantive commitments to theories of persistence. The two most prominent classes of such theories are endurantism and perdurantism. Defenders of endurance-style accounts of change, such as Klein, Hinchliff, and Oderberg, do so through appeal to a priori intuitions about change. We argue that this methodology is understandable but mistaken—an adequate metaphysics of change must accommodate all experiences of change, not merely intuitions about a limited variety of cases. Once we examine additional experiences of change, particularly (...) those in (special) relativistic circumstances, it becomes clear that only a perdurance account of change is adequate. (shrink)
Common sense is not enough -- The "new archaeology" -- Archaeology as a science -- Middle-range theory, ethnoarchaeology, and material culture studies -- Culture and process -- Thoughts and ideologies -- Postprocessual and interpretative archaeologies -- Archaeology, gender, and identity -- Archaeology and cultural evolution -- Archaeology and Darwinian evolution -- Archaeology and history -- Archaeology, politics and culture -- Conclusion : the future of theory.
The control of action has traditionally been described as "automatic". In particular, movement control may occur without conscious awareness, in contrast to normal visual perception. Studies on rapid visuomotor adjustment of reaching movements following a target shift have played a large part in introducing such distinctions. We suggest that previous studies of the relation between motor performance and perceptual awareness have confounded two separate dissociations. These are: (a) the distinction between motoric and perceptual representations, and (b) an orthogonal distinction between (...) conscious and unconscious processes. To articulate these differences more clearly, we propose a new measure of motor awareness, based on subjects' ability to reproduce the spatial details of reaching movements they have just made. Here we focus on the dissociation between motor awareness and perceptual awareness that may occur when subjects make rapid visuomotor adjustments to reaching movements following a target shift. In experiment 1, motor awareness was dissociated from perceptual awareness of a target shift during reaching movement. Participants' reproduction of movement endpoints following visuomotor adjustment was independent of whether they saw the target shift or not. Experiment 2 replicated this result, and further showed that neither motor awareness nor motor performance were disrupted by TMS over the parietal cortex. The neural mechanisms underlying motor awareness, and the implications for theories of consciousness, are discussed. (shrink)
Jonathan Kvanvig has argued that what he terms “doxastic” theories of epistemic justification fail to account for certain epistemic features having to do with evidence. I’m going to give an argument roughly along these lines, but I’m going to focus specifically on proper function theories of justification or warrant. In particular, I’ll focus on Michael Bergmann’s recent proper function account of justification, though the argument applies also to Alvin Plantinga’s proper function account of warrant. The epistemic features I’m concerned about (...) are experiences that should generate a believed defeater but don’t. I’ll argue that proper functionalism as it stands cannot account for the epistemic effects of these defeating experiences—or, at least, that it can only do so by embracing a deeply implausible view of our cognitive faculties. I’ll conclude by arguing that the only plausible option Bergmann has for modifying his theory undercuts the consideration that motivates proper functionalism in the first place. (shrink)
This is a well-behaved concept in Newtonian physics. But a center of gravity is not an atom or a subatomic particle or any other physical item in the world. It has no mass; it has no color; it has no physical properties at all, except for spatio-temporal location. It is a fine example of what Hans Reichenbach would call an abstractum. It is a purely abstract object. It is, if you like , a theorist's fiction. It is not one of (...) the real things in the universe in addition to the atoms. But it is a fiction that has nicely defined, well delineated and well behaved role within physics. (shrink)
In his essay “Logical Empiricism”, in the anthology Twentieth Century Philosophy, Professor Feigl writes: “All forms of empiricism agree in repudiating the existence of synthetic a priori knowledge.” Schlick makes the same point even more forcibly: “The empiricism which I represent believes itself to be clear on the point that, as a matter of principle, all propositions are either synthetic a posteriori or tautologous; synthetic a priori propositions seem to it to be a logical impossibility.” The denial of synthetic a (...) prioris is a major thesis of the logical empiricist position, being found in the writings of most of the leaders of the movement. The reason for its importance is fairly clear. It provides a formula on which the empiricists can base their critique of traditional philosophy. To use Ayer's phrase, denial of the synthetic a priori results in “the elimination of metaphysics”. The philosophical tradition to which the empiricists are opposed and whose “metaphysics” they wish to eliminate can be called, somewhat loosely, rationalism. (shrink)
In this paper, we focus attention on the role of computer system complexity in ascribing responsibility. We begin by introducing the notion of technological moral action (TMA). TMA is carried out by the combination of a computer system user, a system designer (developers, programmers, and testers), and a computer system (hardware and software). We discuss three sometimes overlapping types of responsibility: causal responsibility, moral responsibility, and role responsibility. Our analysis is informed by the well-known accounts provided by Hart and Hart (...) and Honoré. While these accounts are helpful, they have misled philosophers and others by presupposing that responsibility can be ascribed in all cases of action simply by paying attention to the free and intended actions of human beings. Such accounts neglect the part played by technology in ascriptions of responsibility in cases of moral action with technology. For both moral and role responsibility, we argue that ascriptions of both causal and role responsibility depend on seeing action as complex in the sense described by TMA. We conclude by showing how our analysis enriches moral discourse about responsibility for TMA. (shrink)
The structure of words is often thought to provide important evidence regarding the structure of concepts. At the same time, most contemporary linguists posit a great deal of structure in words. Such a trend makes some atomists about concepts uncomfortable. The details of linguistic methodology undermine several strategies for avoiding positing structure in words. I conclude by arguing that there is insufficient evidence to hold that word-structure bears any interesting relation to the structure of concepts.
It’s hardly news that speakers often fail to produce verbatim direct reports. Clark and his collaborators (Wade and Clark 1993, W&C; Clark and Gerrig 1993, C&G) attempt to exploit this widespread foible in practice to expose and undermine what they believe is a deep-seated assumption about the semantics of direct quotation, viz., that one is true just in case it is a verbatim reproduction of the original speaker’s words. Accordingly, Clark denies that (1) can be true only if Joe uttered (...) (2). (shrink)
Floridi and Sanders, seminal work, “On the morality of artificial agents” has catalyzed attention around the moral status of computer systems that perform tasks for humans, effectively acting as “artificial agents.” Floridi and Sanders argue that the class of entities considered moral agents can be expanded to include computers if we adopt the appropriate level of abstraction. In this paper we argue that the move to distinguish levels of abstraction is far from decisive on this issue. We also argue that (...) adopting certain levels of abstraction out of context can be dangerous when the level of abstraction obscures the humans who constitute computer systems. We arrive at this critique of Floridi and Sanders by examining the debate over the moral status of computer systems using the notion of interpretive flexibility. We frame the debate as a struggle over the meaning and significance of computer systems that behave independently, and not as a debate about the ‘true’ status of autonomous systems. Our analysis leads to the conclusion that while levels of abstraction are useful for particular purposes, when it comes to agency and responsibility, computer systems should be conceptualized and identified in ways that keep them tethered to the humans who create and deploy them. (shrink)
You might think a simple “No” would suffice as an answer. But there are features of Kant’s ethics that appear to be strikingly similar to virtue oriented views, so striking that some Kantians themselves have argued that Kant’s ethics in fact shares these features with virtue ethics. In what follows, I will argue against this view, though along the way I will acknowledge the features of Kant’s view that make it appear more like a kind of virtue ethics than it (...) really is. My plan is to first set out the distinctive features of what is nowadays called “virtue ethics”, those features that make it a genuine alternative to other normative theories. I then consider the features Kant’s view might share in common with virtue ethics and the case for saying that it is, therefore, fundamentally the same sort of theory. I follow these two sections with an argument against this position. I want to warn you at the outset, however, that my argument itself will be quite unsurprising, since it is an argument that has been central to the way in which most philosophers have understood Kant’s ethics. Any novelty I can claim here is in my account of what makes virtue ethics a genuine alternative to other normative theories, and my defense of this argument against those, in particular Barbara Herman, who have apparently found the argument unpersuasive. (shrink)
This volume contains an array of essays that reflect, and reflect upon, the recent revival of scholarly interest in the self and consciousness. Various relevant issues are addressed in conceptually challenging ways, such as how consciousness and different forms of self-relevant experience develop in infancy and childhood and are related to the acquisition of skill; the role of the self in social development; the phenomenology of being conscious and its metapsychological implications; and the cultural foundations of conceptualizations of consciousness. Written (...) by notable scholars in several areas of psychology, philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, and anthropology, the essays are of interest to readers from a variety of disciplines concerned with central, substantive questions in contemporary social science, and the humanities. (shrink)
The visual world of adults consists of objects at various distances, partly occluding one another, substantial and stable across space and time. The visual world of young infants, in contrast, is often fragmented and unstable, consisting not of coherent objects but rather surfaces that move in unpredictable ways. Evidence from computational modeling and from experiments with human infants highlights three kinds of learning that contribute to infants’ knowledge of the visual world: learning via association, learning via active assembly, and learning (...) via visual-manual exploration. Infants acquire knowledge by observing objects move in and out of sight, forming associations of these different views. In addition, the infant’s own self-produced behavior—oculomotor patterns and manual experience, in particular—is an important means by which infants discover and construct their visual world. (shrink)
Natural theology is still practiced as though substantive theological conclusions can be derived by a quasi-deductive process. Perhaps relevant "evidence" may lead to interesting theological conclusions -- the fact of natural evil, or the cosmic fine-tuning we hear about in contemporary cosmology, both cry out for theological explanation. I remain a skeptic, however, about the value of "a priori" methods in natural theology. The case study in this short discussion is the well known attempt to establish the logical incoherence of (...) the divine command theory of moral objectivity. If skeptics can make good on this charge, they will have gone a long way toward undercutting a central tenant of western theism. I will argue, however, that the case against theologically based moral absolutism is not as simple as showing some internal paradox or logical tension. (shrink)
This paper defends a model of the internalism requirement against Michael Smith's recent criticisms of it. On this "example model", what we have reason to do is what we would be motivated to do were we rational. After criticizing the example model, Smith argues that his "advice model", that what we have reason to do is what we would advise ourselves to do were we rational, is obviously preferable. The author argues that Smith's criticisms can quite easily be accommodated by (...) the example model. Moreover, to the extent that his model connects reasons to advice, it is not a model of the internalism requirement at all. Yet, to the extent that it connects reasons to motivation, his model collapses into the example model. The author ends by arguing that Smith's view simply proposes an unambitious conception of practical rationality, not an alternative construal of the internalism requirement. (shrink)
The extant marketing literature provides little guidance for theory development or practice with regard to questions of ethical conformity and the resulting market response. To begin to bridge this research gap, we advance a theoretical framework of ethical conformity in marketing, appealing to marketing ethics, management strategy, and sociological foundations. We set the stage for our theoretical arguments by considering the role of normative expectations related to marketing practices and behaviors held by societal constituents. Against this backdrop, we propose drivers (...) of conformity in marketing, including practices consistent with both overconformity and underconformity. The framework allows us to advance testable research propositions by which questions of ethical conformity may be explored. We conclude by suggesting additional future research needed to develop the domain, specifically in the form of empirical inquiries uncovering firm strategic decisions with ethical implications. (shrink)
Gareth Evans proposes that there are semantic natural kinds of words. In his development of this theory,he argues for two constraints on the identification of these kinds. I argue that neither of these constraints are justified. Furthermore,my argument against Evans' second constraint constitutes a direct argument for the existence of semantic natural kinds,something Evans himself never offers. I conclude by sketching some positive details of a more plausible theory of semantic natural kinds.
After discussing the distinction between artifacts and natural entities, and the distinction between artifacts and technology, the conditions of the traditional account of moral agency are identified. While computer system behavior meets four of the five conditions, it does not and cannot meet a key condition. Computer systems do not have mental states, and even if they could be construed as having mental states, they do not have intendings to act, which arise from an agent’s freedom. On the other hand, (...) computer systems have intentionality, and because of this, they should not be dismissed from the realm of morality in the same way that natural objects are dismissed. Natural objects behave from necessity; computer systems and other artifacts behave from necessity after they are created and deployed, but, unlike natural objects, they are intentionally created and deployed. Failure to recognize the intentionality of computer systems and their connection to human intentionality and action hides the moral character of computer systems. Computer systems are components in human moral action. When humans act with artifacts, their actions are constituted by the intentionality and efficacy of the artifact which, in turn, has been constituted by the intentionality and efficacy of the artifact designer. All three components – artifact designer, artifact, and artifact user – are at work when there is an action and all three should be the focus of moral evaluation. (shrink)
What is, or should be, the role of defense in thinking about the justification of use of armed force? Contemporary just war thinking prioritizes defense as the principal, and perhaps the only, just cause for resorting to armed force. By contrast, classic just war tradition, while recognizing defense as justification for use of force by private persons, did not reason from self-defense to the justification of the use of force on behalf of the political community, but instead rendered the idea (...) of just cause for resort to force in terms of the sovereign's responsibility to maintain justice, vindicating those who had suffered from injustice and punishing evildoers. This paper moves through three major stages in the historical development of just war thinking, first examining a critical phase in the formation of the classical idea of just cause as the responsibility to maintain justice, then discussing the shift, characteristic of the modern period, to an idea of sovereignty as connected to the state and the prioritization of defense of the state as just cause for use of force, and lastly showing how this conception of the priority of defense became part of the recovery of just war thinking in the latter part of the twentieth century. The paper concludes by noting recent changes in thought on international law that tend to emphasize justice at the expense of the right of self-defense, suggesting that the roots of just war thinking imply the need for a similar rethinking of contemporary just war discourse. (shrink)
Three visual habituation studies using abstract animations tested the claim that infants’ attachment behavior in the Strange Situation procedure corresponds to their expectations about caregiver–infant interactions. Three unique patterns of expectations were revealed. Securely attached infants expected infants to seek comfort from caregivers and expected caregivers to provide comfort. Insecure-resistant infants not only expected infants to seek comfort from caregivers but also expected caregivers to withhold comfort. Insecure-avoidant infants expected infants to avoid seeking comfort from caregivers and expected caregivers to (...) withhold comfort. These data support Bowlby’s (1958) original claims—that infants form internal working models of attachment that are expressed in infants’ own behavior. (shrink)
The word dignity is frequently used both in clinical and philosophical discourse when referring to and describing the ideal conditions of the patient's treatment, particularly the dying patient. An exploration of the variety of meanings associated with the word dignity will note dignity's ambiguous usage and reveal instrumental concepts needed to better understand the discourse of the dying. When applied to a critique of recent and contemporary criticisms of the medical community's handling of the dying, such concepts might provide a (...) more coherent notion of dignity. Rather than a separate construct, a death with dignity might be viewed as an interactive process among the dying and their caretakers. Together, this interdependent amalgam engages in humanizing communication aimed toward understanding the final needs and wants of the patient. (shrink)
We examine the pros and cons of color realism, exposing some desiderata on a theory of color: the theory should render colors as scientifically legitimate and correctly individuated, and it should explain how we have veridical color experiences. We then show that these desiderata can by met by treating colors as properties of the special sciences. According to our view, some of the major as properties of the special sciences. According to our view, some of the major disputes in the (...) literature about color -- anti-realism versus dispositionalism versus reductionism -- are not well-founded at this stage of scientific inquiry. Our account of color is designed to be of use in the sciences and as such is driven largely by considerations of what the various sciences need in order to proceed appropriately. We argue that a scientific theory of colors need not regard colors as anything more than high-level statistical constructs built out of correlations between color experiences and other phenomena. (shrink)
Kantian ethics can at times appear to defend the position that there is a unique sort of value that plays a foundational role in morality. For instance, Kant's most well known work in ethics, the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals , begins by trying to establish that a good will is good without qualification' and then ends with a first statement of the fundamental principle that divides right from wrong, the Categorical Imperative.1 This presentation can make it seems as (...) if Kant believes the authority carried by the Categorical Imperative is somehow supposed to be grounded in the value of a good will. Again, the humanity formulation of the Categorical Imperative, the formulation that tell us we must respect the humanity in ourselves and others by treating it as an end in itself, appears to allude to a special value possessed by some feature of persons, their humanity, and then explain the authority of moral obligation by way of that value.2 This extolling of the value of humanity and the dramatic refrain about the unique value of a good will both appear to portray Kant as telling us to notice the peculiar value that they possess and see that this value demands that we adjust our deliberation and actions. We appear to be told that the good will and humanity are bits of metaphysical glitter, jewels carrying their.. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction; Part I. Early Darwinism to the 'Anti-Darwin': 1. Towards the 'Anti-Darwin': Darwinian meditations in the middle period; 2. Overcoming the 'Man' in Man: Zarathustra's Transvaluation of Darwinian categories; 3. Nietzsche Agonistes: a personal challenge to Darwin; Part II. Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals: 4. Nietzsche's 'Nature'; Or, whose playing field is it anyway?; 5. The birth of morality out of the spirit of the 'Bad Conscience'; 6. Darwin's 'Science': or, how to beat the shell game; Conclusion; (...) Bibliography. (shrink)
Kant famously argued in the Groundwork that our fundamental moral obligation is simply to respect the humanity in persons. However, his fuller view, found in the Metaphysic of Morals, is that the humanity in persons not only demands our respect, but also our love. Neither of these demands, of course, requires that we feel anything for others, and Kant is much more specific here about what constitutes respect between persons. But in elaborating this position he also claims that these (...) demands are somehow opposed, as though love were a sort of moral gravity and respect a sort of moral centrifugal force, which together create a cohesive moral/social bond, but alone would allow “nothingness (immorality)... [to] drink up the whole kingdom of (moral) beings” (MdS 6:449). Marcia Baron, in her illuminating paper, argues that this and related remarks are surely an exaggeration. After all, respect sometimes requires that we come closer and love sometimes imposes limits. And not only does Kant ground all duties in respect, but this is the same philosopher who, early on in the Groundwork, claimed that the Christian command to “love our neighbor” must be understood as commanding, not a feeling, but “beneficence from duty” (G 4:399). Since acting from duty is acting out of respect, “practical” love itself requires respect. So why does he think that they are opposing forces? (shrink)