This paper critically examines the forays into metaphysics of The Dual Nature of Technical Artifacts Program (henceforth, DNP). I argue that the work of DNP is a valuable contribution to the epistemology of certain aspects of artifact design and use, but that it fails to advance a persuasive metaphysic. A central problem is that DNP approaches ontology from within a functionalist framework that is mainly concerned with ascriptions and justified beliefs. Thus, the materiality of artifacts emerges only as the (...) external conditions of realizability of function ascription. The work of DNP has a strong programmatic aspect and much of its foray into metaphysics is tentative, so the intent of my argument is partly synthetic: to sum up these issues as they are presented in the literature and highlight some recognized problems. But I also go beyond that, suggesting that these problems are foundational, arising from the very way in which DNP poses the question of artifact metaphysics. Although it sets out to incorporate objective aspects of technology, DNP places a strong focus on the intentional side of the purported matter-mind duality, bracketing off materiality in an irretrievable manner. Thus, some of the advantages of dualism are lost. I claim that DNP is dualistic, not merely based on “duality”, but that its version of dualism does not appropriately account for the material “nature” of artifacts. The paper ends by suggesting some correctives and alternatives to Dual Nature theory. (shrink)
Against David Schenck's interpretation, I argue that it is not absolutely clear that Merleau-Ponty ever meant to replace what Schenck refers to as the "unity of meanings" interpretation of "structure" with a "material meanings" interpretation. A particular problem-setting -- for example, an attempt to understand the "truth in naturalism" or the "truth in dualism" -- may very well require a particular mode of expression. I argue that the mode of expression chosen by Merleau-Ponty for these purposes, while unfortunate in some (...) of its apparent implications, need not be interpreted as recommitting him to the doctrine he spent his life working to renounce. I have argued that this would have been clearer had he been able to avail himself of James J. Gibson's notion of affordances, which capture perfectly what he was reaching for. (shrink)
This paper argues that Aquinas's conception of the human soul and intellect offers a consistent alternative to the dilemma of materialism and post-Cartesian dualism. It also argues that in their own theoretical context, Aquinas' arguments for the materiality of the human soul and immateriality of the intellect provide a strong justification of his position. However, that theoretical context is rather "alien" to ours in contemporary philosophy. The conclusion of the paper will point in the direction of what can be (...) done to render Aquinas's position more palatable to contemporary philosophers. (shrink)
A number of recent discussions comparing computer simulation and traditional experimentation have focused on the significance of “materiality.” I challenge several claims emerging from this work and suggest that computer simulation studies are material experiments in a straightforward sense. After discussing some of the implications of this material status for the epistemology of computer simulation, I consider the extent to which materiality (in a particular sense) is important when it comes to making justified inferences about target systems on (...) the basis of experimental results. (shrink)
In a rich and thought-provoking paper, Lambros Malafouris argues that taking material culture seriously means to be ‘systematically concerned with figuring out the causal efficacy of materiality in the enactment and constitution of a cognitive system or operation’ (Malafouris 2004, 55). As I understand this view, there are really two intertwined claims to be established. The first is that the things beyond the skin that make up material culture (in other words, the physical objects and artefacts in which cultural (...) networks and systems of human social relations are realized) may be essential to the enactment of, and be partly constitutive of, certain cognitive systems or operations. The consequence of establishing this claim is supposed to be that we have a mandate to recast the boundaries of the mind so as to include, as proper parts of the mind, things located beyond the skin. Thus, in talking about the contribution of the world to cognition, Malafouris (2004, 58) concludes that ‘what we have traditionally construed as an active or passive but always clearly separated external stimulus for setting a cognitive mechanism into motion, may be after all a continuous part of the machinery itself; at least ex hypothesi’. This is the position that, in philosophical circles, is known increasingly as the extended mind hypothesis (Clark & Chalmers 1998; Menary forthcoming). Henceforth I shall refer to this hypothesis as EM. A stock example will help bring the idea into view. Rumelhart et al. (1986) note that most of us solve difficult multiplication problems by using ‘pen and paper’ as an external resource. This environmental prop enables us to transform a difficult cognitive problem into a set of simpler ones, and to temporarily store the results of certain intermediate calculations. For the fan of EM, the distributed combination of this external resource and certain inner psychological processes constitutes a cognitive system in its own right. (shrink)
While there are numerous differences between the approaches taken by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and James J. Gibson, the basic motivation of the two thinkers, as well as the internal logic of their respective views, is extraordinarily close. Both were guided throughout their lives by an attempt to overcome the dualism of subject and object, and both devoted considerable attention to their "Gestaltist" predecessors. There can be no doubt but that it is largely because of this common cause that the subsequent development (...) of their ideas is so similar. It is not my objective in what follows merely to demonstrate a similarity between two lines of thought. Instead, I will try to show that each approach gains considerably from attention to the other. There are numerous ways to begin such a project, each about as arbitrary as the next. For present purposes, I shall take as of central importance the question of the character of the perceived world, both in relation to the traditionally opposed mental and material "substances", and in relation to its identification and individuation of things vis a vis one another and vis a vis ourselves. This will implicate especially Gibson's "affordances" and Merleau-Ponty's thesis concerning the "materiality of meaning.". (shrink)
The theme of the possibility or impossibility of the compatibility between Heideggerian philosophy and Freudian metapsychology has been taken up in various ways. Without going into the details of this body of commentary, it is argued that there is a clear difference between the ways in which Heidegger and Freud think cultural crisis. By examining texts of both thinkers from the early 1930s, it is shown that whereas Freud conceives of the possibility of amelioration of crisis in terms of a (...) grappling with material necessity, Heidegger's philosophical conception of crisis seeks to bring about freedom's performative coincidence with ontological necessity. Heidegger's approach, it is claimed, is blind to the confrontation with material necessity that is its own condition of possibility. This blindness is evident in his ontological understanding of suffering. Key Words: crisis critique Sigmund Freud Martin Heidegger materiality necessity questioning. (shrink)
At the core of conceptual understandings underlying a common-sense comprehension of matter is an assumed opposition of the intelligible and the sensible. Drawing on the writings of Giles Deleuze, Luce Irigaray and Elizabeth Grosz, this essay attempts to rethink the relations of matter through the work of materiality in the context of art. Focusing on the installation COVERS, by Melbourne-based artist Fiona Abicare, this examination argues that a mobilization of the disordering effects of matter instigates an interval. In this (...) passage of undecidability an understanding of matter as a vehicle for expression or medium for signifying something external to itself is challenged via a ceaseless interchange across the thresholds of surface and depth, face and mask, ornament and decoration. (shrink)
Judith Butler reflects upon the relationship between women and materiality in the context of the history of philosophy. She points to the presumption of the material irreducibility of sex as the ground of feminist epistemology and ethics and analyses of gender. She also finds a similarity between Aristotle's principles of formativity and intelligibility and Foucault's discussion of how discourse materializes bodies. While Butler's analysis reveals much about the history of philosophy with regard to the discourse on matter and women, (...) nonetheless, she appears to begin with the notion of bodies as largely passive, even negative entities. Addition ally, her analysis also implies that principles of formativity and intel ligibility are historically contingent. This essay seeks to undermine those two positions in preparation for inaugurating a positive theory of fluid structures. Key Words: Aristotle Butler contingency feminism Foucault history language materiality power. (shrink)
Critical analyses of the audit profession have become more common in recent years. Many of these analyses focus on the entire audit profession in developing their criticisms and concerns. In this paper, the scope of analysis is narrowed to examine in depth the auditing profession's use of the concepts of reasonable assurance and materiality in audit performance and audit communications. Reasonable assurance and materiality are the terms that auditors use to describe the scope of their responsibility to the (...) public. Similarly, reasonable assurance and materiality are the key determinants of audit effort. An overview of official guidance, practitioner reports, and academic research reveals that these two key concepts are not well specified nor are they consistently applied in audit practice. These findings are evaluated from two competing perspectives on professions – the traditional, functionalist perspective and the critical theorists' perspective. Evaluation from the latter perspective leads to a conclusion that the profession's use of these key terms to guide practice and communication leaves the profession open to charges of mystification and unjustified paternalism. (shrink)
Educational analysts need new ways to engage with policy processes in a networked world of complex transnational connections. In this discussion, Tara Fenwick and Richard Edwards argue for a greater focus on materiality in educational policy as a way to trace the heterogeneous interactions and precarious linkages that enact policy as complex manifestations. In particular, Fenwick and Edwards point to the methodologies of actor-network theory (ANT), at least in its most recent permutations, as a useful approach to materiality (...) in policy analysis. Published examples of educational policy studies drawing from these methodologies are beginning to appear. In reviewing these, we argue that ANT sensibilities help to make visible the sociomaterial assemblages—the “messy objects”—that enact policy, the micro-negotiations that mobilize and stabilize (and destabilize) these assemblages, and the multiple ontologies that often coexist in policy environments. Fenwick and Edwards conclude with a discussion of methodological issues for working with concepts of ontological variance and messy objects in educational policy. (shrink)
This paper examines fraudulent financial reporting within the context of Jones' (1991) ethical decision making model. It was hypothesized that quantitative materiality would influence judgments of the ethical acceptability of fraud, and that both materiality and financial risk would affect the likelihood of committing fraud. The results, based on a study of CPAs employed as senior executives, provide partial support for the hypotheses. Contrary to expectations, quantitative materiality did not influence ethical judgments. ANCOVA results based on participants' (...) estimates of the likelihood that a "typical CPA" would manipulate reported results indicated that both materiality and risk significantly influenced the likelihood of fraud, but that the perceived morality of the action did not. In contrast, results based on participants' self-reported behavior indicated that materiality and the perceived morality of the action would influence the likelihood of fraud, but that financial risk would not. Regardless of the measure used for the likelihood of fraud, the results indicate that financial executives continue to be influenced by quantitative materiality when misstatements are clearly material on qualitative grounds. (shrink)
Materializing absence, Jenny Hockey, Carol Komaromy and Kate Woodthorpe -- Never say die: CPR in hospital space, Susie Page -- Making hospice space, Ken Worpole -- Dying spaces in dying places, Carol Komaromy -- The materialities of absence after stillbirth: historical perspectives, Jan Bleyen -- Distributed personhood and the transformation of agency: an anthropological perspective on inquests, Susan Langer -- Behind closed doors? corpses and mourners in English and American funeral premises, Sheila Harper -- Private grief in public spaces: interpreting (...) memorialisation in the contemporary cemetary, Kate Woodthorpe -- Wandering lines and cul-de-sacs: trajectories of ashes in the United Kingdom, Leonie Kellaher, Jenny Hockey and David Prendergast -- Natural burial: the de-materialising of death?, Andy Clayden, Jenny Hockey and Mark Powell -- What will the neighbours say? reactions to field and garden burial, Tony Walter and Clare Gittings -- Memorialising the suicide victim: "walking the walk," Caroline Simone -- Potent reminders: an examination of responses to roadside memorials in Ireland, Una McConville and Regina McQuillan -- Geographies of the spirit world, Douglas J. Davies -- Recovering presence, Jenny Hockey, Carol Komaromy and Kate Woodthorpe. (shrink)
This paper seeks to address the relation of materiality to structure and phenomena of signification or semiosis. It examines the logical consequences of several major lines of argument concerning the status of semiosis with regards to the human or broadly “organic” life-world and to the “zero degree” of base materiality — from Peirce to Lotman and Sebeok — and questions the classificatory rationale that delimits semiosis to the exclusion of a general treatment of dynamic systems. Recent investigations into (...) neurosemiotics have provided salient arguments for the need to treat semiosis as a characteristic of systems in general, and to establish a more transverse understanding of signifiability upon the basis of what makes dynamic structures, as such, possible. (shrink)
What is the relation between the material, conventional symbol structures that we encounter in the spoken and written word, and human thought? A common assumption, that structures a wide variety of otherwise competing views, is that the way in which these material, conventional symbol-structures do their work is by being translated into some kind of content-matching inner code. One alternative to this view is the tempting but thoroughly elusive idea that we somehow think in some natural language (such as English). (...) In the present treatment I explore a third option, which I shall call the "complementarity" view of language. According to this third view the actual symbol structures of a given language add cognitive value by complementing (without being replicated by) the more basic modes of operation and representation endemic to the biological brain. The "cognitive bonus" that language brings is, on this model, not to be cashed out either via the ultimately mysterious notion of "thinking in a given natural language" or via some process of exhaustive translation into another inner code. Instead, we should try to think in terms of a kind of coordination dynamics in which the forms and structures of a language qua material symbol system play a key and irreducible role. Understanding language as a complementary cognitive resource is, I argue, an important part of the much larger project (sometimes glossed in terms of the "extended mind") of understanding human cognition as essentially and multiply hybrid: as involving a complex interplay between internal biological resources and external non-biological resources. (shrink)
The origins of Axel Honneth's theory of recognition lie in his earlier project to correct the conceptual confusions and empirical shortcomings of historical materialism for the purpose of an adequate post-Habermasian critical social theory. Honneth proposed to accomplish this project, most strikingly, by reconnecting critical social theory with one of its repressed philosophical sources, namely anthropological materialism. In its mature shape, however, recognition theory operates on a narrow concept of interaction, which seems to lose sight of the material mediations with (...) which intersubjective relations are imbricated. The paper argues that a circumspect return to this twofold materialist heritage could substantively correct and enrich contemporary critical theory. The paper provides an illustration of this with the paradigmatic example of work. (shrink)
One of the most influential and significant developments in the philosophy of language over the last thirty years has been the rise of externalist conceptions of content. This essay aims to explore the implications of a form of externalism, largely derived from the work of Donald Davidson, for thinking about history, and in so doing to suggest one way in which contemporary philosophy of language may engage with contemporary philosophy of history. Much of the discussion focuses on the elaboration of (...) the externalism that is at issue, along with the holistic approach to content with which it is connected. It will be argued that such holistic externalism is itself thoroughly in keeping with the very character of historical inquiry itself, and can be seen to provide an underpinning to certain contemporary developments in historical thinking. (shrink)
Eric T. Olson has argued that those who hold that two material objects can exactly coincide at a moment of time, with one of these objects constituting the other, face an insuperable difficulty in accounting for the alleged differences between the objects, such as their being of different kinds and possessing different persistence-conditions. The differences, he suggests, are inexplicable, given that the objects in question are composed of the same particles related in precisely the same way. In response, I show (...) that the differences are not at all inexplicable once it is recognized that the conditions for a persisting object to be composed by certain particles at a moment of time must involve facts concerning other moments of time, and that the relevant facts are different for persisting objects of different kinds. Philosophers who neglect this sort of constraint on composition principles may be said to be victims of the 'cinematographic fallacy'. (shrink)
I argue (1) that metaphysical views of material objects should be understood as 'packages', rather than individual claims, where the other parts of the package include how the theory addresses 'recalcitant data' (such as - the denier of artifacts has to account, somehow, for the seeming truth of 'there are three pencils on my table'), and (2) that when the packages meet certain general desiderata - which all of the currently competing views *can* meet - there is nothing in the (...) world that could make one of the theories true as opposed to any of the others. (shrink)
This is the second of a series of papers inspired by a paper I wrote around 1989. In this paper, I consider the notion of material contingency and relate it to the traditional, metaphysically loaded Principle of Sufficient Reason.
Are the sculpture and the mass of gold which permanently makes it up one object or two? In this paper, we argue that the monist, who answers ‘one object’, cannot accommodate the asymmetry of material constitution. To say ‘the mass of gold materially constitutes the sculpture, whereas the sculpture does not materially constitute the mass of gold’, the monist must treat ‘materially constitutes’ as an Abelardian predicate, whose denotation is sensitive to the linguistic context in which it appears. We motivate (...) this approach in terms of modal analyses of material constitution, but argue that ultimately it fails. The monist must instead accept a deflationary, symmetrical use of ‘materially constitutes’. We argue that this is a serious cost for her approach. (shrink)
This paper examines how the new field of neuroethics is responding to the old problem of difference, particularly to those ideas of biological difference emerging from neuroimaging research that purports to further delineate our understanding of sex and/or gender differences in the brain. As the field develops, it is important to ask what is new about neuroethics compared to bioethics in this regard, and whether the concept of difference is being problematized within broader contexts of power and representation. As a (...) feminist science studies scholar trained in the neurosciences, it seems logical to me that, as a growing field, neuroethics should reach out to the rich bodies of scholarship on the history of medicine, feminist theory and feminist bioethics while attempting to approach discussions of sex, gender and sexuality differences in the brain. What is also clear to me is that feminist scholars need to learn how to engage with neuroimaging studies on sex, gender and sexuality not just to critique, but also to productively contribute to neuroscientific research. The field of neuroethics can potentially provide the appropriate forum for this interdisciplinary engagement and create opportunities for shared perplexity. I suggest three possible points of departure for creating this shared perplexity, namely (i) is difference being measured in the study for the purpose of understanding difference in and of itself, or for the purpose of division?; (ii) is there an appreciation for biological complexity?; and (iii) is it assumed that structural differences can be conveniently translated into functional differences? (shrink)
In classroom teaching, material objects like the blackboard play an important role. Yet qualitative research on education has largely ignored this material dimension of education and focused on interaction and discourse. Both dimensions are, however, closely related to each other. Material objects are embedded in classroom discourse and are transformed into knowledge objects by speech acts, and in turn structure discussions and constitute a point of reference for school lessons. Drawing on ethnographic research on classroom lessons in mathematics and science (...) classes in German high schools, we propose a perspective that recognizes both the materiality of teaching and its interactive dimension. (shrink)
Material Falsity and Error in Descartes' Meditations approaches Descartes' Meditations as an intellectual journey, wherein Descartes' views develop and change as he makes new discoveries about self, God and matter. The first book to focus closely on Descartes' notion of material falsity, it shows how Descartes' account of material falsity and correspondingly his account of crucial notions such as truth, falsehood and error evolves according to the epistemic advances in the Meditations. It also offers important new insights on the crucial (...) role of Descartes' Third Meditation discussion of material falsity in advancing many subsequent arguments in the Meditations. This book will be of interest to those working on Descartes and early modern philosophy. It offers an independent reading on issues of perennial interest, such as Descartes' views on error, truth and falsehood. It also makes important contributions to topics that have been the focus of much recent scholarship, such as Descartes' ethics and his theodicy. Those working on the interface between medieval and modern philosophy will find the discussions on Descartes' debt to predecessors like Suárez and Augustine useful. (shrink)
It is sometimes claimed that ordinary objects, such as mountains and chairs, are not material in their own right, but only in virtue of the fact that they are constituted by matter. As Fine puts it, they are “onlyderivatively material” (2003, 211). In this paper I argue that invoking “constitution” to account for the materiality of things that are not material in their own right explains nothing and renders the admission that these objects are indeed material completely mysterious. Although (...) there may be metaphysical contexts in which mysterianism can be accepted with equanimity, I further argue, the question of the materiality of quotidian objects is not one of them. (shrink)
In his metaphysics and natural philosophy, Aristotle uses the concept of a material cause,i.e., that from which something can be made or generated. This paper argues that Aristotle also has a concept of matter in the sense of physical stuff. Aristotle develops this concept of matter in the course of investigating the material causes of perceptible substances. Because of the requirements for change, locomotion, and the physical interaction of material objects, Aristotle holds that all perceptible substances must be extended in (...) three dimensions, movable, and corporeal due to their material causes. Thus, perceptible substances are physical substances because they are made out of something physical. (shrink)
The ambiguous material identity of nanotechnology is a minor mystery of the history of contemporary science. This paper argues that nanotechnology functioned primarily in discourses of social, not physical or biological science, the problematic knowledge at stake concerning the economic value of state-supported basic science. The politics of taxonomy in the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences in the 1990s reveals how scientists invoked the term as one of several competing and equally valid candidates for reframing (...) materials sciences in ways believed consonant with the political tenor of the time. The resulting loss of conceptual clarity in the sociology of science traces ultimately to the struggle to bridge the disjunction between the promissory economy of federal basic science and the industrial economy, manifested in attempts to reconcile the precepts of linearity and interdisciplinarity in changing socio-economic conditions over a half century. (shrink)
I would like to thank Prof. Stephen Read ( 2011 ) and Prof. Andrew Benjamin ( 2011 ) for both giving inspiring and elaborate comments on my article “Dwelling in-between walls: the architectural surround”. As I will try to demonstrate below, their two different responses not only supplement my article very nicely, but also augment each other’s. In the beginning of Read’s comment, as he sets the stage for his observations, he unknowingly also points in the direction of Benjamin’s remarks: (...) “I propose not to de-construct therefore, or add a point of view from an orthogonal position, but to try in the spirit of multidisciplinarity to talk in languages not well practiced—to begin to build what Bowker and Star call ‘boundary objects’ between different starting positions; points we can gather around to think further together” (Read 2011 ). Whereas Read facilitates a multidisciplinary dialogue, Benjamin focuses on how the absence of an initial distinction might threaten the endeavour of my paper. In my reply to Read and Benjamin, I will discuss their suggestions and arguments, while at the same time hopefully clarifying the postphenomenological approach to architecture. (shrink)
In Aristotle’s physics and biology, matter’s capacity for spontaneous, opaque, chance deviation is named by automaton and marked with a feminine sign, while at the same time these mysterious motions are articulated, rendered knowable and predictable via the figure of ta automata, the automatic puppets. This paper traces how automaton functions in the Aristotelian text as a symptomatic crossing-point, an uncanny and chiasmatic figure in which materiality and logos, phusis, and technē, death and life, masculine and feminine, are intertwined (...) and articulated. Automaton permits a mastery of generative materiality for teleological metaphysics, but also works to unsettle teleology’s systematic and unifying aspirations. (shrink)
In the recent decades, the ubiquitous technologies of information and communication have fostered tendencies toward ,,immaterial" forms of life leaving behind our natural and mundane corporeality - even invoking the posthumanistic Elysian Fields of Cyberspace. All that tele-technological re-enchantment notwithstanding, with its utopian or dystopian overtones, we should, I suggest, take a ,,second look" at the overall process of dematerializing our life. Under the heading ,,Matter Matters" I try to uncover the very materiality of our cultural and social interconnections. (...) Complementary to the prophecies of surpassing our condition humaine, my second thoughts about the road to immaterialism are manifesting a hidden dialectic which I should like to take as a starting point for a new humanism. German ,,Matter matters ist der Slogan eines etwas buntscheckigen Materialismus, der Mass nimmt an der menschlichen Körperlichkeit, an unserem körperlichen Umgang mit andern Menschen, Tieren, Umgebungen, Artefakten, Dingen. Ich versuche, ein Grundpostulat plausibel zu machen, das sich im gleichen Zug Geltung verschafft, in dem sich die ,,dematerialisierenden Tele-Technologien irreduzibel unserem Alltag aufmodulieren: In und aus den Kontexten der Künstlichkeit erwächst eine neue Bedeutung materialen Umgangs mit der Welt, gewinnen Materie und Körper sozusagen ihren neuen anthropologischen Rang als Fokus des Humanen. Dieses Postulat nimmt dem Materialismus seinen antihumanistischen Affront. Oder umgekehrt gesagt: Im Materialismus ist die Stimme eines neuen Humanismus zu vernehmen. (shrink)
The tissue biobanking of specific biological residual materials, which constitutes a useful resource for medical/scientific research, has raised some ethical issues, such as the need to define which kind of consent is applicable for biological residual materials biobanks.
This article investigates the complex object of the political book. Mobilising Deleuze and Guattari's typology of the book, the article assesses the material properties of four specific books (or sets of books): Mao Zedong's ‘Little Red Book’, Russian Futurist books, Antonin Artaud's paper ‘spells’, and Guy Debord and Asger Jorn's ‘anti-book’ Mémoires. Highly critical of the dominant mode of the political book, what they call the ‘root-book’, Deleuze and Guattari draw attention to the troubling religious structures and passions that order (...) its field. Here the book internalises the world as the origin and source of truth and authority – a mode of existence as dear to the avant-garde as it is to religious formations: ‘Wagner, Mallarmé, and Joyce, Marx and Freud: still Bibles.’ But the book also features in Deleuze and Guattari's counter-figure of the ‘rhizome-book’, where they foreground the dynamic materiality of this medium: ‘A book has neither object nor subject; it is made of variously formed matters, and very different dates and speeds.’ The rhizome-book is an enticing concept for assessing the political book, yet Deleuze and Guattari pay little attention to the specific, concrete attributes of this medium. In focusing on the properties of particular books this article seeks to address that absence, and so contribute to an understanding of the political book that is fully engaged with its material forms. (shrink)
Consider a statue made of a piece of clay. Call the statue “Statue” and the piece of clay “Clay.” Clay materially constitutes Statue. What is this relation? A standard way to ask this question is to ask whether Clay is strictly identical to Statue. Or is Clay numerically distinct from Statue? The more general way to ask the question is to ask what it means for an object to materially constitute another. Is constitution simply identity? If not, what are the (...) features of this relation? Some contemporary metaphysicians argue that material constitution is simply identity. In other words, when Statue is materially constituted by Clay, Statue just is Clay.1 Fine 2003 calls this view monism. Others follow the lead of what seem to be intuitive judgments about the natures, essences and sorts of objects and defend pluralism about material constitution, denying that constitution is identity. When Clay materially constitutes Statue, Clay is not identical to Statue.2 After all, it seems as though Statue and Clay differ in their properties. Statue is essentially statue-shaped, but Clay is not. Clay could be shaped into a vase, but Statue would not persist through this change. Statue represents beauty and grace incarnate. Clay does not. Clay has its molecules essentially, while Statue could persist even if a few fragments were chipped off. If Statue and Clay do not share all of their properties they cannot be identical, for if a and b are the same object, a has exactly the same properties as b.3 Why be monist? Given the difference in properties, isn’t it just obvious that Statue cannot be identical to Clay? No, for monists can deny there are any real differences in essence or other properties. According to the monist, the seeming differences in essential and other properties are just differences in description. Statue is just Clay called by a.. (shrink)
We run into instances of material constitution everywhere we turn. Material constitution is the relation that obtains between an octagonal piece of metal and a Stop sign, between strands of DNA molecules and genes, between pieces of paper and dollar bills, between stones and monuments, between lumps of clay and statues, between human persons and their bodies—the list is endless. Although there has been a great deal of controversy recently about the nature of material constitution, I want to enter the (...) fray by setting out and defending an explicit definition of what it is for an object x to constitute an object y at time t. (shrink)
There is a well-known argument from Leibniz's Law for the view that coincident material things may be distinct. For given that they differ in their properties, then how can they be the same? However, many philosophers have suggested that this apparent difference in properties is the product of a linguistic illusion; there is just one thing out there, but different sorts or guises under which it may be described. I attempt to show that this ‘opacity’ defence has intolerable consequences for (...) the functioning of our language and that the original argument should therefore be allowed to stand. (shrink)
Whereas an inference (deductive as well as inductive) is usually viewed as being valid in virtue of its argument form, the present paper argues that scientific reasoning is material inference, i.e., justified in virtue of its content. A material inference is licensed by the empirical content embodied in the concepts contained in the premises and conclusion. Understanding scientific reasoning as material inference has the advantage of combining different aspects of scientific reasoning, such as confirmation, discovery, and explanation. This approach explains (...) why these different aspects (including discovery) can be rational without conforming to formal schemes, and why scientific reasoning is local, i.e., justified only in certain domains and contingent on particular empirical facts. The notion of material inference also fruitfully interacts with accounts of conceptual change and psychological theories of concepts. (shrink)
In the last 30 years repeated attempts have been made to develop a proof-sketch Kripke gave for essentialism about material origins into a cogent argument. I argue that there are general reasons that all such attempts have failed, and so we should likewise expect future attempts to fail.
Contrary to formal theories of induction, I argue that there are no universal inductive inference schemas. The inductive inferences of science are grounded in matters of fact that hold only in particular domains, so that all inductive inference is local. Some are so localized as to defy familiar characterization. Since inductive inference schemas are underwritten by facts, we can assess and control the inductive risk taken in an induction by investigating the warrant for its underwriting facts. In learning more facts, (...) we extend our inductive reach by supplying more localized inductive inference schemes. Since a material theory no longer separates the factual and schematic parts of an induction, it proves not to be vulnerable to Hume's problem of the justification of induction. (shrink)
Saul Kripke has convinced many of us that material things have their material origins essentially. Plutarch, through his Ship of Theseus story, has convinced many of us that material things can sometimes survive gradual replacements of their material parts, that they are materially nonrigid. By way of a series of counterexamples, I will argue that any attempt to specify what in particular is essential about material origins will founder on the phenomenon of material non-rigidity.
Nanotechnology is an important platform technology which will add new features like improved biocompatibility, smaller size, and more sophisticated electronics to neuro-implants improving their therapeutic potential. Especially in view of possible advantages for patients, research and development of nanotechnologically improved neuro implants is a moral obligation. However, the development of brain implants by itself touches many ethical, social and legal issues, which also apply in a specific way to devices enabled or improved by nanotechnology. For researchers developing nanotechnology such issues (...) are rather distant from their daily work in the lab, but as soon as they use their materials or devices in medical applications such as therapy of brain diseases they have to be aware of and deal with them. This paper is intended to raise sensitivity for the ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA) involved in applying nanotechnology in brain implants or other devices by highlighting the short term problems of testing and clinical trials within the existing regulatory frameworks (A), the short and medium-term questions of risks in the application of the devices (B) and the long-term perspectives related to problems of enhancement (C). To identify and address such issues properly nanotechnologists should involve ethical, legal and social experts and regulatory bodies in their research as early as possible. This will help to remove pressure from regulatory bodies, to settle public concern and to prevent non-acceptable developments for the benefit of the patients. (shrink)
In this paper, I present an Aristotelian solution to the problem of material constitution. The problem of material constitution arises whenever it appears that an object a and an object b share all of the same parts and yet are essentially related to their parts in different ways. (A familiar example: A lump of bronze constitutes a statue of Athena. The lump and the statue share all of the same parts, but it appears that the lump can, whereas the statue (...) cannot, survive radical rearrangements of those parts.) I argue that if we are prepared to follow Aristotle in making a distinction between numerical sameness and identity, we can solve the problem of material constitution without recourse to co-location or contingent identity and without repudiating any of the familiar objects of common sense (such as lumps and statues) or denying that these objects have the essential properties we ordinarily think that they have. (shrink)
In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that Hume’s celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved.
“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)
Are materially constituted entities, such as statues and glasses of liquid, something more than their material constituents? The puzzle that frames this paper stems from conflicting answers to this question. At the core of the paper is a distinctive way of thinking about material constitution that posits two concepts of constitution, compositional and ampliative constitution, with the bulk of the discussion devoted to developing distinct analyses for these concepts. Distinguishing these concepts solves our initial puzzle and enriches the space of (...) possibilities for constitution views. (shrink)
A modus tollens against zero-dimensional material objects is presented from the premises (i) that if there are zero-dimensional material objects then there are bare particulars, and (ii) that there are no bare particulars. The argument for the first premise proceeds by elimination. First, bare particular theory and bundle theory are motivated as the most appealing theories of property exemplification. It is then argued that the bundle theorist’s Ockhamism ought to lead her to reject spatiotemporally located zero-dimensional property instances. Finally, it (...) is argued that since she must accept such instances if she accepts zero-dimensional material object bundles, she ought to avoid the latter. This leaves bare particular theory as the default view of zero-dimensional material objects. The argument for the second premise invokes the thesis that the exemplification of at least one sparse property is a prerequisite for the existence of any particular. It is argued from Humean considerations that bare particulars fail this prerequisite. (shrink)
This paper reviews four leading strategies for addressing the problem of material constitution, along with some of the prominent objections faced by each approach. Sections include (1) "The Orthodox View: Coincident Objects," (2) "Dominant Kinds," (3) "Nihilism," (4) "Revising the Logic of Identity," and (5) "Future Research." Also included is an annotated bibliography.
Descartes and Boyle were the most influential proponents of strict mechanist accounts of the physical world, accounts which carried with them a distinction between primary and secondary (or sensible) qualities. For both, the distinction is a piece of natural philosophy. Nevertheless the distinction is quite differently articulated, and, especially, differently grounded in the two thinkers. For Descartes, reasoned reflection reveals to us that bodies must consist in mere extension and its modifications, and that sensible qualities as we conceive of them (...) based on sense perception can pertain only to the mind. Just how we are supposed to arrive at this realization is, this essay will argue, a deep puzzle that brings us to the basic assumptions of Descartes' metaphysics. For Boyle, by contrast, while reflection can reveal the unique explanatory status of mechanism, and, thus, the primary/secondary quality distinction, only experience can confirm its truth. Our central focus will be on Descartes, and on the question: How does he intend to remove the sensible qualities from the physical world, how does he strip them from bodies? I will try to show that Descartes has an argument that he takes to show a priori that sensible qualities cannot be attributed to the material world (as foundational qualities, or, as we conceive of them based on sense experience). The argument fails, however, leaving him with at best a partly empirical case for removing the sensible qualities, based on the purported explanatory success of his physics. (shrink)
A number of papers have argued in favour of the material account of indicative conditionals, but typically they either concentrate on defending the account from the charge that it has counterintuitive consequences, or else focus on some particular positive argument in favour of the theory. In this paper, I survey the various positive arguments that can be given, presenting simple versions where possible and showing the connections between them. I conclude with some methodological considerations.
It is often said that the same particles can simultaneously make up two or more material objects that differ in kind and in their mental, biological, and other qualitative properties. Others wonder how objects made of the same parts in the same arrangement and surroundings could differ in these ways. I clarify this worry and show that attempts to dismiss or solve it miss its point. At most one can argue that it is a problem we can live with.
The purpose of this paper is to suggest that models in scientific practice can be conceived of as epistemic artifacts. Approaching models this way accommodates many such things that working scientists themselves call models but that the semantic conception of models does not duly recognize as such. That models are epistemic artifacts implies, firstly, that they cannot be understood apart from purposeful human activity; secondly, that they are somehow materialized inhabitants of the intersubjective field of that activity; and thirdly, that (...) they can function also as knowledge objects. We argue that models as epistemic artifacts provide knowledge in many other ways than just via direct representative links. To substantiate our view we use a language‐technological artifact, a parser, as an example. (shrink)
Herbert Gleiter promoted the development of nanostructured materials on a variety of levels. In 1981 already, he formulated research visions and produced experimental as well as theoretical results. Still he is known only to a small community of materials scientists. That this is so is itself a telling feature of the imagined community of nanoscale research. After establishing the plausibility of the claim that Herbert Gleiter provided a major impetus, a second step will show just how deeply Gleiter shaped (and (...) ceased to influence) the vision of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the US. Finally, then, the apparent invisibility of Gleiter's importance needs to be understood. This leads to the main question of this investigation. Though materials research meets even the more stringent definitions of nanotechnology, there remains a systematic tension between materials science and the device-centered visions of nanotechnology. Though it turned the tables on the scientific prestige of physics, materials science runs up against the engineering prestige of the machine. (shrink)
Translator's preface -- Introduction: The question of phenomenology -- Hyletic phenomenology and material phenomenology -- The phenomenological method -- Pathos-with reflections on Husserl's Fifth cartesian meditation -- For a phenomenology of community.
Most instantiations of the inference ‘y; so if x, y’ seem intuitively odd, a phenomenon known as one of the paradoxes of the material conditional. A common explanation of the oddity, endorsed by Mental Model theory, is based on the intuition that the conclusion of the inference throws away semantic information. We build on this explanation to identify two joint conditions under which the inference becomes acceptable: (a) the truth of x has bearings on the relevance of asserting y; and (...) (b) the speaker can reasonably be expected not to be in a position to assume that x is false. We show that this dual pragmatic criterion makes accurate predictions, and contrast it with the criterion defined by the mental model theory of conditionals, which we show to be inadequate. (shrink)
This book offers an original new account of one of Aristotle's central doctrines. Freudenthal He recreates from Aristotle's writings a more complete theory of material substance which is able to explain the problematical areas of the way matter organizes itself and the persistence of matter, to show that the hitherto ignored concept of vital heat is as central in explaining material substance as soul or form.
[First paragraph] For a long time philosophers thought material objects were unproblematic. Or nearly so. There may have been a problem about what a material object is: a substance, a bundle of tropes, a compound of substratum and universals, a collection of sense-data, or what have you. But once that was settled there were supposed to be no further metaphysical problems about material objects. This illusion has now largely been dispelled. No one can get a Ph.D. in philosophy nowadays (...) without encountering the puzzles of the ship of Theseus, the statue and the lump, the cat and its tail complement', amoebic fission, and others. These problems are especially pressing on the assumption that we ourselves are material objects. (shrink)
We discuss first a "stance" methodology toward the problem of personhood. This is to ask first, what it is to take something to be a person, and then to move via a notion of appropriateness to an answer to what it is to be a person. We argue that the distinctions between persons and non-persons, between agents and patients, and between subjects and mere objects are deeply connected. All three distinctions are themselves traced to a fundamental distinction within the space (...) of reasons -- between, that is, two sorts of material inferential propriety. These two structures of inference are made explicit by indicative and subjunctive conditionals. Tracing personhood to the fundamentally stereoscopic structure of material inference sheds light not only on notions of freedom, agency, and personhood, but on the nature of modal judgments, on the conceptual space of causation, and on the semantics of the explicitating conditionals. We conclude with a pragmatic argument for belief in persons. (shrink)