The mechanisms by which bacteria adapt to changes in their environment involve transcriptional regulation in which a transcriptional regulator responds to signal(s) from the environment and regulates (positively or negatively) the expression of several genes or operons. Some of these regulators exert a positive feedback on their own expression. This is a necessary (although not sufficient) condition for the occurrence of multistationarity. One biological consequence of multistationarity may be epigenetic modifications, a hypothesis unusual to microbiologists, in spite of some well-known (...) epigenetic modifications in bacteria. We propose here that the occurrence of mucoidy in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is currently attributed to mutations only, may also be an epigenetic modification. A theoretical approach using a generalised logical analysis lends credit to this hypothesis and suggests experiments to ascertain it. (shrink)
A traditional interpretation holds that Kant's political theory simply constitutes an account of the constraints which reason places on the state's authority to regulate external action. Alexander Kaufman argues that this traditional interpretation succeeds neither as a faithful reading of Kant's texts nor as a plausible, philosophically sound reconstruction of a `Kantian' political theory. Rather, he argues that Kant's political theory articulates a positive conception of the state's role.
Do people have free will, or this universal belief an illusion? If free will is more than an illusion, what kind of free will do people have? How can free will influence behavior? Can free will be studied, verified, and understood scientifically? How and why might a sense of free will have evolved? These are a few of the questions this book attempts to answer. People generally act as though they believe in their own free will: they don't feel like (...) automatons, and they don't treat one another as they might treat robots. While acknowledging many constraints and influences on behavior, people nonetheless act as if they (and their neighbors) are largely in control of many if not most of the decisions they make. Belief in free will also underpins the sense that people are responsible for their actions. Psychological explanations of behavior rarely mention free will as a factor, however. Can psychological science find room for free will? How do leading psychologists conceptualize free will, and what role do they believe free will plays in shaping behavior? In recent years a number of psychologists have tried to solve one or more of the puzzles surrounding free will. This book looks both at recent experimental and theoretical work directly related to free will and at ways leading psychologists from all branches of psychology deal with the philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will and the importance of consciousness in free will. It also includes commentaries by leading philosophers on what psychologists can contribute to long-running philosophical struggles with this most distinctly human belief. These essays should be of interest not only to social scientists, but to intelligent and thoughtful readers everywhere. (shrink)
It is widely-accepted that Descartes is a substance dualist, i.e. that he holds that there are two and only two kinds of finite substance – mind and body. However, several scholars have argued that Descartes is a substance trialist, where the third kind of substance he admits is the substantial union of a mind and a body, the human being. In this paper, I argue against the trialist interpretation of Descartes. First, I show that the strongest evidence for trialism, based (...) on Descartes' discussion of so-called incomplete substances, is highly inconclusive. Second, I show that a kind of unity (‘unity of nature’), which is had by all and only substances, is not had by human beings. The fact that the proper parts of a human being, namely a mind and a body, are of different natures entails that what they compose has at most a ‘unity of composition’. And a thing cannot be a substance in virtue of having a unity of composition. Therefore, Cartesian human beings are not substances. (shrink)
Sam Harris’ new book The Moral Landscape is the latest in a series of attempts to provide a new science of morality. This essay argues that such a project is unlikely to succeed, using Harris’ text as an example of the major philosophical problems that would be faced by any such theory. In particular, I argue that those trying to construct a scientific ethics need pay far more attention to the tradition of moral philosophy, rather than assuming the debate is (...) simply between a scientific ethics and a supernatural ethics provided by religion. (shrink)
: The doctrine of karma and rebirth is often praised for its ability to offer a successful solution to the Problem of Evil. This essay evaluates such a claim by considering whether the doctrine can function as a systematic theodicy, as an explanation of all human suffering in terms of wrongs done in either this or past lives. This purported answer to the Problem of Evil must face a series of objections, including the problem of anylackofmemoryofpastlives,the lack of proportionality between (...) wrongdoing and the observed suffering in the world, the problem of infinite regress of explanation, and the problem of compatibility of free will with karmic determinism. These objections, either separately or taken together, provide (it is argued) sufficient reason to doubt whether the doctrine of karma and rebirth can in fact provide a satisfactory theodicy. (shrink)
In Political Liberalism, Rawls emphasizes the practical character and aims of his conception of justice. Justice as fairness is to provide the basis of a reasoned, informed and willing political agreement by locating grounds for consensus in the fundamental ideas and values of the political culture. Critics urge, however, that such a politically liberal conception of justice will be designed merely to ensure the stability of political institutions by appealing to the currently-held opinions of actual citizens. In order to evaluate (...) this concern, I suggest, it is necessary to focus on the normative character of Rawls's analysis. Rawls argues that justice as fairness is the conception of justice that citizens of modern democratic cultures should choose in reflective equilibrium, after reflecting fully upon their considered judgments regarding justice. Since judgments in reflective equilibrium are grounded in considered judgment, rather than situated opinions, I argue that the criticism fails. Key Words: justification objectivity political liberalism Rawls reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
Descartes held the doctrine that the eternal truths are freely created by God. He seems to have thought that a proper understanding of God's freedom entails such a doctrine concerning the eternal truths. In this paper, I examine Descartes' account of divine freedom. I argue that Descartes' statements about indifference, namely that indifference is the lowest grade of freedom and that indifference is the essence of God's freedom are not incompatible. I also show how Descartes arrived at his doctrine of (...) the creation of the eternal truths by consideration of the nature of God's freedom. Footnotes1 In this paper, I employ the following abbreviations:AT: Descartes, René Oeuvres de Descartes, C. Adam and P. Tannery (eds) (Paris: J. Vrin, 1996) (cited by volume and page number).CSM: Descartes, René The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vols 1 and 2, J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch (transl.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985) (cited by volume and page number).CSMK: Descartes, René The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 3, J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch, A. Kenny (transl.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) (cited by page number). (shrink)
“The Standard Interpretation” of Descartes on material falsity states that Descartes believed that materially false ideas (MFIs) lack “objective reality” [realitas objectiva]. The argument for the Standard Interpretation depends on a statement from the “Third Meditation” that MFIs are caused by nothing. This statement, in conjunction with a causal principle introduced by Descartes, seems to entail that MFIs lack objective reality. However, the Standard Interpretation is incorrect. First, I argue that, despite initial appearances, the manner in which Descartes understands the (...) proposition that MFIs are caused by nothing does not entail that they lack objective reality. Secondly, I argue that Descartes is committed to the objective reality of MFIs because of his quasi-scholastic explanation of MFIs. (shrink)
For moral realists moral judgments will be a kind of factual judgment that involves the basically reliable apprehension of an objective moral reality. I argue that factual judgments display at least some degree of conceptual sensitivity to error, while moral judgments do not. Therefore moral judgments are not a kind of factual judgment.
On the traditional doctrine of self-defense, defensive force is permissible not only against Culpable Aggressors but against Innocent Aggressors as well (for example, psychotic aggressors). Some moral philosophers have recently challenged this view, arguing that one may not harm innocent attackers because morality requires culpability as an essential condition of being liable to defensive force. This essay examines and rejects this challenge as both a violation of common sense and as insufficiently grounded in convincing reasons from moral theory.
Definitions of death are based on subjective standards, priorities, and social conventions rather than on objective facts about the state of human physiology. It is the meaning assigned to the facts that determines whensomeone may be deemed to have died, not the facts themselves. Even though subjective standards for the diagnosis of death show remarkable consistency across communities, they are extrinsic. They are driven, implicitly or explicitly, by ideas about what benefits the community rather than what benefits the indidvidual. The (...) differences that do exist across communities generally reduce to questions about legitimacy and not fact. The questions at the core of the debate about brain death are better framed by asking: Whom ought we deem to be dead? rather than: Who is dead. The rationale for equating brain death with death, therefore, extends well beyond somatic and biological concepts of death. (shrink)
In a well-known paper, Reginald Jackson expresses a sentiment not uncommon among readers of Locke: “Among the merits of Locke’s Essay…not even the friendliest critic would number consistency.”2 This unflattering opinion of Locke is reiterated by Maurice Mandelbaum: “Under no circumstances can [Locke] be counted among the clearest and most consistent of philosophers.”3 The now familiar story is that there are innumerable inconsistencies and internal problems contained in Locke’s Essay. In fact, it is probably safe to say that there is (...) not another canonical, well-respected, and seminal philosopher whose work is so widely thought to be swarming with inconsistencies. I, however, do not think that the common, unflattering view of Locke is accurate as a general view of the Essay. But despite my wishes to the contrary, I do believe that Locke’s chapter ‘Of Identity and Diversity’ (2.27)4 leads to (at least) one intractable problem, a problem that is the subject of this paper. (shrink)
The Anglo-American reception of Adorno has secularized his thought and thus missed its normative basis. In this article, the 'constella-tion', a central feature of Adorno's philosophy, is traced to Hermann Cohen's anti-immanentist notion of 'Korrelation' and to Benjamin's attempt to discover a radically Kantian and adamantly Jewish ontology and concept of the truth. Adorno's works are shown to limn a critical measure for being and for reason, based on a very un-Hegelian refusal of immanence and on a commitment to a (...) regulative, if not constative, principle of redemption. Key Words: Theodor W. Adorno Walter Benjamin Hermann Cohen critical theory neo-Kantianism ontology redemption truth. (shrink)
Peter Kivy has maintained that the Wittgensteinian account of ‘art’ ‘is not a going concern’ and that ‘the traditional task of defining the work of art is back in fashion, with a vengeance’. This is true, in large part, because of the turn towards relational definitions of ‘art’ taken by philosophers in the 1960s; a move that is widely believed to have countered the Wittgensteinian charge that ‘art’ is an open concept and which gave rise to a ‘New Wave’ in (...) aesthetic theorizing. So successful has this New Wave been that today the philosophy of art is awash with relational definitions, which are increasingly characterized by their technical sophistication and logical complexity. The aim of this essay is to oppose this trend; to demonstrate that relationalist definitions cannot avoid the problems which provided the impetus for the Wittgensteinian view and to show that the New Wavers cannot explain why anyone would want the definitions which they are offering, irrespective of their success or failure. I will also explore, in detail, the uses, as well as the limitations, of the Wittgensteinian approach to the concept of art. (shrink)
In this essay I analyze and defend the common sense moral conviction that terrorism, i.e., the use of violence against civilians for political or military purposes, is always morally impermissible. Terrorism violates the fundamental moral prohibition against harming the innocent, even to produce greater overall good. It is therefore just the sort of case that serves as a refutation of consequentialist moral theories. From a deontological perspective, the only remotely plausible forms of justification for a terrorist act would be that (...) it constitutes a form of justifiable punishment of the guilty, or that it is legitimate self-defense against an aggressor. But an examination of the fundamental moral and legal principles of punishment and self-defense demonstrates that neither of these claims can succeed. Since terrorism cannot be justified either as punishment or as self-defense, it cannot be morally justified at all. (shrink)
The overarching thesis of this essay is that despite the etymological relationship between the word ‘philosophy’ and wisdom—the word ‘philosophos’, in Greek, means ‘lover of wisdom’—and irrespective of the longstanding tradition of identifying philosophers with ‘wise men’—mainline philosophy, historically, has had little interest in wisdom and has been preoccupied primarily with knowledge. Philosophy, if we are speaking of the mainline tradition, has had and continues to have more in common with the natural and social sciences than it does with the (...) humanities and liberal arts. In advancing this thesis, I divide the history of philosophy into three competing traditions: the mainline tradition of philosophy and two philosophical ‘countercultures,’ one conservative the other radical. At issue between these rival traditions is precisely the relative significance of knowledge and wisdom and their respective places in inquiry. I also provide an account of the distinction between knowledge and wisdom—which I argue is greater than has perhaps been appreciated—and between the natural and applied sciences, on the one hand, and the humanities and liberal arts on the other. (Published Online February 27 2006). (shrink)
In the middle of the twentieth century, many philosophers came to believe that the problem of morally justifying punishment had finally been solved. Defended most famously by Hart and Rawls, the so-called “Mixed Theory” of punishment claimed that justifying punishment required recognizing that the utilitarian and retributive theories were in fact answers to two different questions: utilitarianism answered the question of why we have punishment as an institution, while retribution answered the question of how to punish individual wrongdoers. We could (...) thus reconcile the two great competing theories of punishment, and show how they were both right and not in conflict at all. Unfortunately, it gradually became apparent that the solution would not work. This essay attempts to set out thereasons why the Mixed Theory was bound to fail, and why the problem of reconciling the utilitarian and retributive goals remains with us. (shrink)
A definition of ?alienation? is proposed which is a rational reconstruction of the term as it is used in primarily moral contexts. Special attention is given to the Marxist tradition. It is argued that the earliest, moral form of Marx's economic determinism can be expressed in terms of the principle of the sufficiency of unalienated labor. In this connection four main kinds of alienation are distinguished. In the final section, it is argued that while ?alienation? has and should have an (...) important theoretical role in the context of moral discourse, social scientists, and in particular sociologists, would be better off if they eliminated ?alienation? from their scientific vocabulary. (shrink)
Picking up where Peggy McKintosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” left off, this essay looks further into the ways that racial privilege manifests itself in the lives of white Americans. It explores some of the reasons that white privilege is hard for whites to see and it explores the question of how white people can act responsibly given the unavoidable realities of racial privilege.
Lucretius famously argued that if we think death is bad because it deprives us of time we could have had by living longer than we do, then when we are born must be bad too, since we could have been born earlier than we were, and so be deprived of that time as well. John Martin Fischer thinks Lucretius’s symmetry argument fails because we have a bias toward the future. I argue that Fischer’s approach does not answer Lucretius. In contrast (...) to Fischer, I think that we can show an objective difference between the time before our birth and the time after our death, which means that we are justified in adopting different attitudes towards them. I revise a point made by Thomas Nagel that while we might live longer than we do, we cannot exist earlier than we did and remain the same people throughout. (shrink)
In this article the concept of God as creativity (rather than as the Creator ) is explored. Though creativity is a profound mystery to us humans, it is a plausible concept today because of its interconnectedness with the belief that our cosmos is evolutionary: new orders of reality come into being in the course of time. Three modalities of creativity are explored here: the initial coming into being of the universe (the Big Bang); the creativity manifest in evolutionary processes; the (...) human creation of culture. It is suggested that this creativity itself should be thought of as God: God is creativity. Thus God-talk is given a referent that is specifiable in terms of todayâs understandings of the world and the human. God remains a profound mystery here, but one with a significant place in our modern understanding of the world and human life. (shrink)
The National Institutes of Health and other federal health agencies are considering establishing a national biobank to study the roles of genes and environment in human health. A preliminary public engagement study was conducted to assess public attitudes and concerns about the proposed biobank, including the expectations for return of individual research results. A total of 141 adults of different ages, incomes, genders, ethnicities, and races participated in 16 focus groups in six locations across the country. Focus group participants voiced (...) a strong desire to be able to access individual research results. Recognizing the wide range of possible research results from a large cohort study, they repeatedly and spontaneously suggested that cohort study participants be given ongoing choices as to which results they received. (shrink)
This essay counters the claim, made by Arnold Isenberg, Mary Mothersill, and others, that there can be no straightforward justification of critical evaluations of artworks, because there can be no critical laws. My argument is that if we adopt an Aristotelian view of the value of artworks, the problem of critical laws is reduced to a mere problem of scope and is easily solved. An Aristotelian system of kind classification, which groups artworks according to common formal and narrative purposes, provides (...) the mechanism by which we can limit the scope of critical laws in a non-arbitrary way, one that is in keeping with the actual practices of art historians and critics. (shrink)
An explosion in the varieties of life-extending interventions for older persons is changing the face of many medical specialties in the United States, altering the nature of end-stage disease, and reshaping societal expectations about normal old age, longevity, and the time for death. There is no doubt that the rapid growth of the over-85 age group and better health in late life for many people in the United States are redefining “old.” Robert Butler, founding director of the National Institute on (...) Aging, has stated that “80 is the new 60,” adding to other popular remarks that signify a changed understanding of life course expectations, especially for those who can access all that medicine has to offer. Overall .. (shrink)
Stakeholder theorists distinguish between normative stakeholders, those who gain moral standing by making contributions to the firm, and derivative stakeholders, those who can constrain the corporate association even though they make no contribution. The board of directors has the legal authority to distinguish among these stakeholder groups and to distribute rights and obligations among these stakeholder groups. To be sure, this stakeholder formulation appropriately seizes on the firm’s voluntary, associative character. Yet, the firm’s constituents contribute assets and incur risks to (...) participate in market, economic activities. And, as such, the firm’s “stakeholders” must share an imperfect language to assist in making two key economic decisions: (1) who are the legitimate and who are the derivative stakeholders; and (2) who should sit on the board? Still, stakeholder theorists have good reason to be skeptical of neoclassical economics. Its assumptions that all act opportunistically and that all can calculate rationally and fully hardly correspond to studies on the managerial experience of corporate coordination. However, advances in behavioral law and economics now provide a cogent economic logic that readily fits into a stakeholder mode. In brief, we argue that (1) the firm’s economic purpose designates legitimacy to core stakeholders, to those who add value, assume unique risk, and can incur harm; (2) the board serves as the principal who coordinates these core stakeholders to sustain competitive advantage and new wealth creation; and (3) state incorporation law, Delaware in particular, reinforces the board’s function. These, in turn, supply selection criteria for board membership. We aim to synchronize concepts from behavioral law and economics with stakeholder theory. (shrink)
Environmental philosophers are often concerned to show that non-sentient things, such as plants or ecosystems, have interests and therefore are appropriate objects of moral concern. They deny that mentality is a necessary condition for having interests. Yet they also deny that they are committed to recognizing interests in things like machines. I argue that either machines have interests (and hence moral standing) too or mentality is a necessary condition for inclusion within the purview of morality. I go on to argue (...) that the aspect of mentality necessary for having interests is more complicated than mere sentience. (shrink)
The concept of honor continues to be among the most widely misunderstood of human ideals. It has long been claimed that honor is an essentially external ideal, motivated by shame at one's appearance before others rather than an inward sense of guilt, the implication being that honor is a superficial moral ideal and one superseded by the higher ideal of the moral conscience. This account does not, however, stand up to scrutiny; honor is a genuinely "internal" value as much as (...) virtue, and when properly understood cannot be understood as somehow more superficial or less morally advanced than the modern ideal of virtue. (shrink)
In his latest book, Realistic Rationalism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998), Jerrold J. Katz proposes an ontology designed to handle putative counterexamples to the traditional abstract/concrete distinction. Objects like the equator and impure sets, which appear to have both abstract and concrete components, are problematic for classical Platonism, whose exclusive categories of objects with spatiotemporal location and objects lacking spatial or temporal location leave no room for them. Katz proposes to add a “composite” category to Plato’s dualistic ontology, which is (...) supposed to include all those objects with both abstract and concrete components.But every concrete object stands in an indefinite number of relations to abstract ones. Thus, Katz must offer principled criteria describing just those relations that produce a composite object, lest all concrete objects turn out to be composite. The trouble that he has in specifying such a “creative” relationship results from his clinging to the traditional definitions of “abstract” and “concrete.” The substance dualism that results renders the articulation of any relations between abstract and concrete difficult, and a category such as Katz’s “composite objects” impossible. (shrink)
The target article discusses the classic blind spot, scotomas, subjective contours, and other so-called filling-in phenomena. Its purpose is to evaluate the idea that some theories of filling-in amount to tacit acceptance of Cartesian materialism and a form of psychophysical isomorphism. Pessoa et al. reject what is termed structural isomorphism as well as Cartesian materialism, but claim that neural processes adduced as underlying filling-in may be acceptable without implying isomorphism. The article supports the idea of perceiving as an active constructive (...) process. However, the various subthemes are not clearly related to each other. Topological psychophysical isomorphism is indeed untenable, but the tacit assumption that filling-in enjoys any kind of unique status with respect to illuminating philosophical questions is doubtful. (shrink)
The author's main practical aim is to defend liberal doctrines to which he is committed against certain fashionable criticisms. An elucidation of human needs is offered. The key claim is that human needs entail human rights. It is argued that the account proposed fits Marx's conception of human needs, and that, therefore, Marx was implicitly committed to a theory of human rights. It is then argued that John Stuart Mill was also, though implicitly, committed to a theory of human needs. (...) These conceptual and moral affinities help to explain why, in recent years, the two political traditions of which Marx and Mill were principal architects, have tended to converge in theory and in practice. The main shift in moral viewpoint has, however, been a movement by Marxists toward the sort of liberalism defended by Mill. (shrink)
This paper explores the historical American political values which have shaped modern financial theory and agency theory. Financial agency theory's intellectual roots are shown to be located in the liberal tradition which espouses the instrumental nature of property and property rights. The paper also argues that financial theorists should recognize that, historically, economic efficiency was not a value or end in itself but merely a means by which more fundamental social goals might be achieved.
Current discussions of “evidentialism” seem to presuppose essentially traditional theistic conceptions and formulations. For many theologians. however, these have become problematic because of (a) the rise of a new consciousness of the significance of religiouspluralism; (b) the emergence of theories about the ways in which our symbolic frames of orientation shape all our experiencing and thinking; (c) a growing awareness that significant responsibility for some of the major evils of the twentieth century must be laid to ourreligious traditions. Since recent (...) discussion of “evidentialism” continues to employ traditional symbols and concepts without sensitivity to these matters, it has not attracted much interest among contemporary theologians. (shrink)
Abstract: In providing an ethical guide for managers, the Clarkson Principles offer one part of a possible professional code, namely, that managers have a fiduciary duty—a duty of loyalty of the corporation’s stakeholders. However, the Clarkson Principles contain little advise for managers when they act politically to fashion the regulatory framework in which stakeholders negotiate. When managers participate in these arenas, I argue that they ought to assume a second fiduciary duty—a duty of loyalty to fair bargaining. Where the first (...) duty of loyalty pertains to the firm’s “constituents,” the second refers to the firm’s “constitution”—to the rules by which the firm’s stakeholders bargain and to the background conditions that distribute advantages. Together, these two fiduciary duties establish the large good—development as freedom—from which a managerial profession can mature. (shrink)
Blair makes a strong case that fluid cognition and psychometric g are not identical constructs. However, he fails to mention the development of the prefrontal cortex, which likely makes the Gf–g distinction different in children than in adults.1 He also incorrectly states that current IQ tests do not measure Gf; we discuss several recent instruments that measure Gf quite well. (Published Online April 5 2006).
In a developing profession, emphasis is placed on two key ingredients for a successful climb to the executive suite — namely, interpersonal skills and an appropriate personality structure than can cope with forms of stress and uncertainty. The data presented in this study were collected from one of the major accounting firms and offers insights into men and women on the upward climb within the accounting profession. Analysis of this data shows that although appropriate personality characteristics are predicated on a (...) male managerial model, women and men perceive themselves similarly with respect to these characteristics. However, others' perceptions of women, male accountants as well as clients, seemed more skeptical of women's ability to succeed. Furthermore, there are indications that women and men have different job assignments along their career paths. Our data collected in the latter half of the seventies tend to corroborate many of the findings in the first half — in general women are not perceived as ready for the managerial climb. (shrink)
Aron Gurwitsch wants to introduce a theory of organization developed by Gestalt psychology into Husserlian phenomenology. The problem is to show how it is possible to introduce a theory developed within a positive science into philosophical phenomenology. His solution is to show that aspects of this theory already are or can be phenomenological through what he calls an incipient phenomenological reduction. Specifically, it is the dismissal of the constancy hypothesis in which he identifies the possibility moving from an explanatory science (...) to a descriptive one. If the temptation can be resisted of returning to an explanatory approach and description can be radicalized, Gurwitsch believes that this reduction can become phenomenological and even attain transcendental levels. This possibility of reduction makes it possible for scientists, especially psychologists, to have a firsthand understanding of phenomenology, perhaps to convince them of this approach and realize the continuity of philosophy and the sciences and the need to maintain cooperation via phenomenology. (shrink)
Norman presents intriguing arguments in support of a mapping between ecological and constructivist visual cognition, on the one hand, onto the dorsal ventral dual route processing hypothesis, on the other hand. Unfortunately, his account is incompatible with developmental data on the functional emergence of the dorsal and ventral routes. We argue that it is essential for theories of adult visual cognition to take constraints from development seriously.