The Retreat of Reason brings back to philosophy the ambition of offering a broad vision of the human condition. One of the main original aims of philosophy was to give people guidance about how to live their lives. Ingmar Persson resumes this practical project, which has been largely neglected in contemporary philosophy, but his conclusions are very different from those of the ancient Greeks. They typically argued that a life led in accordance with reason, a rational life, would also (...) be the happiest or most fulfilling. By exploring the irrationality of our attitudes to time, identity, and responsibility, Persson shows that the aim of living rationally conflicts not only with the aim of leading the most fulfilling life, but also with the moral aim of promoting the maximization and just distribution of fulfilment for all. The Retreat of Reason challenges some of our most fundamental ideas about ourselves. (shrink)
Unfit for the Future argues that the future of our species depends on our urgently finding ways to bring about radical enhancement of the moral aspects of our own human nature. We have rewritten our own moral agenda by the drastic changes we have made to the conditions of life on earth. Advances in technology enable us to exercise an influence that extends all over the world and far into the future. But our moral psychology lags behind and leaves us (...) ill equipped to deal with the challenges we now face. We need to change human moral motivation so that we pay more heed not merely to the global community, but to the interests of future generations. It is unlikely that traditional methods such as moral education or social reform alone can bring this about swiftly enough to avert looming disaster, which would undermine the conditions for worthwhile life on earth forever. Persson and Savulescu maintain that it is likely that we need to explore the use of new technologies of biomedicine to change the bases of human moral motivation. They argue that there are in principle no philosophical or moral objections to such moral bioenhancement. Unfit for the Future? challenges us to rethink our attitudes to our own human nature, before it is too late. (shrink)
This paper rejects Hume's famous claim that we never perceive our selves, by arguing that, under conditions specified, our perception of our bodies is perception of our selves. It takes as its point of departure Quassim Cassam's defence of a position to a similar effect but puts a different interpretation on the distinction between perceiving the body as an object, having spatial attributes, and perceiving it as a self or subject of experiences.
In this article it will be argued that a Humean, projectivist theory of colour can be held consistent and plausible. This can be done without selling out to cognitivist intuitions about colours if the distinction between an everyday and a metalevel is upheld. The distinction, it will be argued, is both natural and philosophically uncomplicated.
The literature concerning the possibility and desirability of using new pharmacological and possible future genetic techniques to enhance human characteristics is well-established and the debates follow some well-known argumentative patterns. However, one argument in particular stands out and demands attention. This is the attempt to tie the moral necessity of moral enhancement to the hypothesised risks that allowing cognitive enhancement will bring. According to Persson and Savulescu, cognitive enhancement should occur only if the risks they think it to poses are (...) mitigated by moral enhancement. By this they mean the compulsory and universal amplification of the disposition of altruism and the inflation of our sense of fairness, by chemical and/or genetic means. Their claim is important, intriguing and unsettling. This paper focuses on three central, but relatively neglected, features of their argument. First, there is a pernicious ambiguity in the language of ‘risk’ used by Persson and Savulescu where they tend to conflate ‘risk’ and ‘uncertainty’. Second, their use of the lottery analogy to render their position more plausible is unconvincing. It tends to distort rather than illuminate the relevant considerations. Third, Persson and Savulescu do not adequately take into account the social and individual benefits that enhancing cognition could have. If they did, it would be apparent that those benefits alone would outweigh the considerations used to justify accompanying CE with ME. (shrink)
In a series of recent works, Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson insist that, given the ease by which irreversible destruction is achievable by a morally wicked minority, (i) strictly cognitive bio-enhancement is currently too risky, while (ii) moral bio-enhancement is plausibly morally mandatory (and urgently so). This paper aims to show that the proposal Savulescu & Persson advance relies on several problematic assumptions about the separability of cognitive and moral enhancement as distinct aims. Specifically, we propose that the underpinnings of (...) Savulescu’s & Persson’s normative argument unravel once it is suitably clear how aiming to cognitively enhance an individual will in part require that one aim to bring about certain moral goods we show to be essential to cognitive flourishing; conversely, aiming to bring about moral enhancement in an individual must involve aiming to improve certain cognitive capacities we show to be essential to moral flourishing. After developing these points in some detail, and their implication for Savulescu’s & Persson’s proposal, we conclude by outlining some positive suggestions. (shrink)
Much has been written on the relative merits of different readings of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The recent renewal of the debate has almost exclusively been concerned with variants of the ineffabilist (metaphysical) reading of TL-P - notable such readings have been advanced by Elizabeth Anscombe, P. M. S. Hacker and H. O. Mounce - and the recently advanced variants of therapeutic (resolute) readings - notable advocates of which are James Conant, Cora Diamond, Juliet Floyd and Michael Kremer. During this debate, (...) there have been a number of writers who have tried to develop a third way, incorporating what they see as insights and avoiding what they see as flaws in both the ineffabilist and resolute readings. The most prominent advocates of these elucidatory readings of TL-P are Dan Hutto (2003) and Marie McGinn (1999). In this paper we subject Hutto's and McGinn's readings of TL-P to critical scrutiny. We find that in seeking to occupy the middle ground they ultimately find themselves committed to (and in the process commit Wittgenstein to) the very ineffabilism they (and Wittgenstein) are seeking to overcome. (shrink)
Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu argue that non-traditional forms of cognitive enhancement (those involving genetic engineering or pharmaceuticals) present a serious threat to humanity, since the fruits of such enhancement, accelerated scientific progress, will give the morally corrupt minority of humanity new and more effective ways to cause great harm. And yet it is scientific progress, accelerated by non-traditional cognitive enhancement, which could allow us to dramatically morally enhance human beings, thereby eliminating, or at least reducing, the threat from the (...) morally corrupt minority. I argue that this apparently intractable dilemma is less difficult to resolve than Persson and Savulescu suppose. Their analysis of non-traditional cognitive enhancement overstates the risks and undervalues the benefits that such enhancement might provide. Once the benefits are better described, it is clear that non-traditional cognitive enhancement could be the means of our survival, not of our destruction. (shrink)
Analytic philosophers are often accused of ignoring the large questions that philosophy should be about and of concentrating instead on small technical questions that no one else is interested in. This accusation is not entirely unfounded. However, in order to answer large philosophical questions, we often need to answer many smaller and more technical ones first, whether or not anyone is interested in the answers to them. In his excellent new book The Retreat of Reason: A Dilemma in the Philosophy (...) of Life, the Swedish philosopher Ingmar Persson does exactly that. The large philosophical question Persson tries to answer is: how should we lead our lives? His answer emerges slowly, via a large number of smaller and more technical questions. But Persson always does his best to explain how his answers to the smaller questions contribute to his answer to the large one, and anyone who makes the effort to read this book is likely to be rewarded with many new insights. (shrink)
I rejoinder to Ingmar Persson’s reply to my paper ‘The Metaphysical Status of the Embryo: Some Arguments Revisited’. I argue that Persson, having conceded a large part of my case, has still misunderstood or not fully appreciated the force of that case when he claims the arguments I criticize still make it reasonable to think that a human being does not come into existence at fertilization. In addition, his appeal to the totipotency argument as remaining unscathed by my critique does (...) not succeed. (shrink)
Jacques Arènes | : Marie de la Trinité est une mystique contemporaine dont Jacques Lacan fut l’analyste. Cette trajectoire est paradigmatique de la manière dont une mystique rencontre la souffrance psychique dans le paysage culturel du milieu du xxe siècle. La pensée de Jacques Lacan concernant la mystique, ainsi que des considérations psychanalytiques plus générales à propos de la paternité, sont mises en relation avec la logique apophatique de cette spirituelle. Cette mystique « antinaturelle » se déploie en une (...) sécheresse vertigineuse, à la lisière du Symbolique, et dans une fascination vis-à-vis de l’attraction du Père, impérieuse et contrariée. L’article analyse en particulier, à travers la figure de Marie de la Trinité, la manière dont la mystique contemporaine se confronte, dans le champ chrétien, à la question de la mort de Dieu, et du déclin du Père. | : Marie de la Trinité was a contemporary mystic who was analyzed by Jacques Lacan. The trajectory of her life is a paradigmatic example of the way in which a mystic encountered psychic suffering in the cultural landscape of the mid-20th century. Jacques Lacan’s thinking about mysticism, as well as broader psychoanalytical considerations about fatherhood, are associated here with the apophatic path of Marie. As her counter-natural mysticism unfolds she draws ever closer to the symbolic, fascinated by the dual nature of the attraction, at once imperious and impeded, exerted by the Father. This article uses the figure of Marie de la Trinité as the specific vantage point to examine how contemporary Christian mysticism is faced with the question of the death of God and the decline of the Father. (shrink)
Valérie Chevassus-Marchionni | : Le « cas » de Marie de la Trinité illustre d’une manière particulière la thématique « croyance et psychanalyse ». En effet, chez cette soeur dominicaine des campagnes, la foi religieuse et la croyance en sa vocation de dévotion interfèrent très étroitement avec l’expérience psychanalytique : d’une part, elle se prête pendant quatre années à une cure psychanalytique avec le docteur Jacques Lacan, d’autre part, elle exercera elle-même quelque temps la profession de psychothérapeute. Pour (...) class='Hi'>Marie de la Trinité, la psychanalyse arrive à un moment critique de son existence, alors que ce qu’elle nomme ses « obsessions » lui rendent la vie impossible et lui interdisent même de pratiquer sa foi ; elle se tourne alors vers des traitements divers, parfois brutaux et inhumains. Ce n’est pas la psychanalyse qui la guérira, mais c’est à partir de cette expérience qu’il lui sera donné de triompher de son mal et, en comprenant quelle en était l’origine, d’entreprendre « sa propre rééducation » et de connaître « la lumière et l’harmonie » dans sa vie de dévotion. | : The case of Mary of the Trinity illustrates in a particular way the thematic of “belief and psychoanalysis”. Indeed, in this Dominican sister, a missionary in the country, religious faith and belief in her vocation of devotion closely interfere with psychoanalytical experience : on the one hand she undergoes a four year psychoanalytical cure with Doctor Jacques Lacan ; on the other hand she works for a while as a psychotherapeutist. For Mary of the Trinity psychoanalysis appears at a critical moment in her life, just as what she calls her “obsessions” make her life unbearable and even prevent her from practising her faith ; then she tries many different treatments, sometimes brutal and inhuman. Psychoanalysis won’t cure her, but thanks to this experience, she will overcome her pain and by understanding its origin will undertake “her own reeducation” and know “light and harmony” in her life of devotion. (shrink)
Anne-Marie Weidler Kubanek: Nothing less than an adventure: Ellen Gleditsch and her life in science Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9119-8 Authors Marelene Rayner-Canham, Memorial University, Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook, NL, Canada Geoff Rayner-Canham, Memorial University, Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook, NL, Canada Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
In ‘Moral Enhancement, Freedom, and the God Machine’, Savulescu and Persson argue that recent scientific findings suggest that there is a realistic prospect of achieving ‘moral enhancement’ and respond to Harris's criticism that this would threaten individual freedom and autonomy. I argue that although some pharmaceutical and neuro-scientific interventions may influence behaviour and emotions in ways that we may be inclined to evaluate positively, describing this as ‘moral enhancement’ presupposes a particular, contested account, of what it is to act morally (...) and implies that entirely familiar drugs such as alcohol, ecstasy, and marijuana are also capable of making people ‘more moral’. Moreover, while Savulescu and Persson establish the theoretical possibility of using drugs to promote autonomy, the real threat posed to freedom by ‘moral bioenhancement’ is that the ‘enhancers’ will be wielding power over the ‘enhanced’. Drawing on Pettit's notion of ‘freedom as non-domination’, I argue that individuals may be rendered unfree even by a hypothetical technology such as Savulescu and Persson's ‘God machine’, which would only intervene if they chose to act immorally. While it is impossible to rule out the theoretical possibility that moral enhancement might be all-things-considered justified even where it did threaten freedom and autonomy, I argue that any technology for biomedical shaping of behaviour and dispositions is much more likely to be used for ill rather than good. (shrink)
This article debates about the proposal of reviewing philosophical aesthetics advanced by french philosopher Jean-Marie Schaeffer from his Les celibataires de l’art (1996) to Adieu à l’esthétique (2000). From a definition of aesthetic attitude as an endogenous and autotelic cognitive behaviour, Schaeffer proposes a naturalization of aesthetics in the problematical area of interest of a general anthropology.
No século XIX, Marie Pape-Carpantier teve uma significativa importância para a educação da criança de 2 a 6 anos. Sua influência situa-se na adoção do método intuitivo para a educação dos sentidos � lições de coisas �, na proposta pedagógica destinada à Educação Infantil � salas de asilo; na criação de materiais didáticos para auxiliar no desenvolvimento do método natural; na orientação de modelos de mobílias para as escolas. Produz uma imensa obra para professores e alunos, traduzida em vários (...) países: Grécia, Inglaterra, Itália, Suécia, Espanha, Brasil, e publicada até a segunda década do século XX, perfazendo inúmeras edições. O estudo analisa a trajetória e a contribuição da educadora, destacando as principais ideias, pelo espírito prático-experimental, que prenuncia a escola ativa. (shrink)
No século XIX, Marie Pape-Carpantier teve uma significativa importância para a educação da criança de 2 a 6 anos. Sua influência situa-se na adoção do método intuitivo para a educação dos sentidos - lições de coisas -, na proposta pedagógica destinada à Educação Infantil - salas de asilo; na criação de materiais didáticos para auxiliar no desenvolvimento do método natural; na orientação de modelos de mobílias para as escolas. Produz uma imensa obra para professores e alunos, traduzida em vários (...) países: Grécia, Inglaterra, Itália, Suécia, Espanha, Brasil, e publicada até a segunda década do século XX, perfazendo inúmeras edições. O estudo analisa a trajetória e a contribuição da educadora, destacando as principais ideias, pelo espírito prático-experimental, que prenuncia a escola ativa. (shrink)
Las mujeres han jugado un papel muy importante desde la Antigüedad -con Hipatia como paradigma- en el ámbito de los descubrimientos científicos y el conocimiento en general. Sin embargo, la recepción por parte de la sociedad sobre sus valiosas aportaciones y el reconocimiento a su esfuerzo, salvo excepciones como la de Marie Curie, se han visto siempre limitados y su memoria disuelta con el correr de los años.
A history of the Atomic Bomb from Marie Curie to Hiroshima. “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” — Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita after witnessing the successful demonstration of the atom bomb. The bomb, which killed an estimated 140,000 civilians in Hiroshima and destroyed the countryside for miles around, was one of the defining moments in world history. That mushroom cloud cast a terrifying shadow over the contemporary world and continues to do so today. But how could (...) this have happened? What led to the creation of such a weapon of mass destruction? From the moment scientists contemplated the destructive potential of splitting the atom, the role of science changed. Ethical and moral dilemmas faced all those who realized the implications of their research. Before the Fall-Out charts the chain of events from Marie Curie’s scientific breakthrough through the many colourful characters such as Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer and Lord Rutherford, whose discoveries contributed to the bomb. The story of the atomic bomb spans 50 years of prolific scientific innovation, turbulent politics, foreign affairs and world-changing history. Through personal stories of exile, indecision and soul-searching, to charges of collaboration, spying and deceit, Diana Preston presents the human side of an unstoppable programme with a lethal outcome. (shrink)
I discuss Ingmar Persson’s recent argument that the Levelling Down Objection could be worse for prioritarians than for egalitarians. Persson’s argument depends upon the claim that indifference to changes in the average prioritarian value of benefits implies indifference to changes in the overall prioritarian value of a state of affairs. As I show, however, sensible conceptions of prioritarianism have no such implication. Therefore prioritarians have nothing to fear from the Levelling Down Objection.
This paper discusses the argument for preference utilitarianism proposed by Richard Hare in Moral Thinking(Hare, 1981). G. F. Schueler (1984) and Ingmar Persson (1989) identified a serious gap in Hare’s reasoning, which might be called the No-Conflict Problem. The paper first tries to fill the gap. Then, however, starting with an idea of Zeno Vendler, the question is raised whether the gap is there to begin with. Unfortunately, this Vendlerian move does not save Hare from criticism. Paradoxically, it instead endangers (...) the whole argumentative enterprise. (shrink)