This paper argues that egalitarian theories should be judged by the degree to which they meet four different challenges. Fundamentalist egalitarianism, which contends that certain inequalities are intrinsically bad or unjust regardless of their consequences, fails to meet these challenges. Building on discussions by T.M. Scanlon and David Miller, we argue that egalitarianism is better understood in terms of commitments to six egalitarian objectives. A consequence of our view, in contrast to Martin O'Neill's “non-intrinsic egalitarianism,“ is that egalitarianism is better (...) understood as a family of views than as a single ethical position. (shrink)
Educational neutrality states that decisions about school curricula and instruction should be made independently of particular comprehensive doctrines. Many political philosophers of education reject this view in favor of some non-neutral alternative. Contrary to what one might expect, some prominent liberal neutralists have also rejected this view in parts of their work. This paper has two purposes. The first part of the paper concerns the relationship between liberal neutrality and educational neutrality. I examine arguments by Rawls and Nagel and argue (...) that some of the same arguments they use to justify liberal neutrality also justify educational neutrality; thus, if we accept these arguments for liberal neutrality, we should also accept educational neutrality. The second part of the paper defends educational neutrality against objections that it is impossible and objections that it is undesirable. (shrink)
Over the last 20 years, organizations have attempted numerous innovations to create more openness and to increase ethical practice. However, adult students in business classes report that managers are generally bureaucratically oriented and averse to constructive criticism or principled dissent. When organizations oppose dissent, they suffer the consequences of mistakes that could be prevented and they create an unethical and toxic environment for individual employees. By distinguishing principled dissent from other forms of criticism and opposition, managers and leaders can perceive (...) the dissenter as an important organizational voice and a valued employee. The dissenter, like the whistleblower, is often highly ethically motivated and desires to contribute to the organization’s wellbeing. Recognizing and protecting principled dissent provides the means of transforming organizations. By restoring dignity to the individual, organizations gain more productive and loyal employees, and they create an environment that promotes critical thinking, learning, and a commitment to ethics. (shrink)
In its classical conception, game theory aspires to be a determinate decision theory for games, understood as elements of a structurally specified domain. Its aim is to determine for each game in the domain a complete solution to each player's decision problem, a solution valid for all real-world instantiations, regardless of context. “Permissiveness” would constrain the theory to designate as admissible for a player any conjecture consistent with the solution function's designation of admissible strategies for the other players. Given permissiveness (...) and other appropriate constraints, solution sets must contain only Nash equilibria and at least one pure-strategy equilibrium, and there is no solution to games in which no symmetry invariant set of pure-strategy equilibria forms a Cartesian product. These results imply that the classical program is unrealizable. Moreover, the program is implicitly committed to permissiveness, through its common-knowledge assumptions and its commitment to equilibrium. The resulting incoherence deeply undermines the classical conception in a way that consolidates a long series of contextualist criticisms. (shrink)
Marx criticized political economy for propounding an inverted, mystical view of economic reality. But he went beyond asserting the falsity and apologetic character of the doctrine to characterize it as reflecting a social practice of inversion or mystification — an inverted social world — in which individuals incorporate their own actions into a process whose dynamic lies beyond their control. Caught up in this process, individuals confront aspects of their own agency in the alien or reified form of a given, (...) determining reality. Marx leaves unclear exactly how the process exerts and maintains its hold on agents, the nature of the reasons they might have for wanting to free themselves of it, and under what conditions they could do so. However, it is possible to abstract somewhat from Marx's specific concerns and to model a self-reproducing practice of reification that works through the informational environment of decision. Though of wider interest, this more general conception can shed light on the nature and critique of Marx's inverted world. It draws on conceptual resources from decision theory, game theory and general equilibrium theory. (shrink)
We argue that probability effects on P300 amplitude are the product of an automatic frequency detector not subject to voluntary control and relatively inaccessible to consciousness. related to P300 therefore appear to be passive, perceptual ones. If probability-based expectancies do become conscious, they are inversely related to P300, supporting the view of Donchin & Coles (1988).
In functional MRI it is desirable for the blood-oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal to be localized to the tissue containing activated neurons rather than the veins draining that tissue. This study addresses the dependence of the specificity of the BOLD signal – the relative contribution of the BOLD signal arising from tissue compared to venous vessels – on magnetic field strength. To date, studies of specificity have been based on models or indirect measures of BOLD sensitivity such as signal to (...) noise ratio and relaxation rates, and assessment has been made in isolated vein and tissue voxels. The consensus has been that ultra high field systems not only significantly increase BOLD sensitivity but also specificity, that is, there is a proportionately reduced signal contribution from draining veins. Specificity was not quantified in prior studies, however, due to the difficulty of establishing a reliable network of veins in the activated volume. In this study we use a map of venous vessel networks extracted from 7 T high resolution Susceptibility Weighted Images (SWI) to quantify the relative contributions of micro- and macrovasculature to functional MRI (fMRI) results obtained at 3 T and 7 T. High resolution measurements made here minimize the contribution of physiological noise and Independent Component Analysis (ICA) is used to separate activation from technical, physiological and motion artifacts. ICA also avoids the possibility of timing-dependent bias from different micro- and macrovasculature responses. We find a significant increase in the number of activated voxels at 7 T in both the veins and the microvasculature – a BOLD sensitivity increase - with the increase in the microvasculature being higher. However, the small increase in sensitivity at 7 T was not significant. For the experimental conditions of this study, our findings do not support the hypothesis of an increased specificity of the BOLD response at ultra-high field. (shrink)
The history of the emotions first developed as a field of inquiry in Europe. It took root in the United States only in the 1980s. Today, the field has expanded dramatically. Historians of the emotions share the conviction that culture gives some shape to emotional life and that consequently, feelings vary across time and culture. Working on that assumption, recent historical works have investigated the changing role of emotions in politics, economics, and private life. There are a number of contentious (...) issues within the field, including the much debated relationship between words and feelings, the pace and direction of change in emotional culture, and the question of the continuity of emotional experience and categories over centuries. (shrink)
Matthew Goldspan was faced with a series of coincidental personnel issues that tested both his fairness and integrity. He had been a branch manager of a financial services operation for three years, where he oversaw thirty five employees. In one instance, a clerical employee protested salary differences she discovered; in another, his affirmative action record, as well as his right to make hiring decisions, was in question; and thirdly, he had to decide how to respond to theft by a temporary (...) employee who happened to be the son of a prized member of his staff. In each case, employees were looking for Matt to demonstrate appropriate leadership and sound judgment. (shrink)
Libertarian Papers is pleased to announce that Matthew McCaffrey has agreed to serve as the journal’s Editor. A PhD candidate at the University of Angers, Mises Institute fellow, and winner of the 2010 Lawrence W. Fertig Prize in Austrian Economics, Matt previously served as the journal’s Managing Editor. He may be reached here. Stephan Kinsella [...].
Libertarian Papers is pleased to announce that Matt McCaffrey, a PhD candidate at the University of Angers, Mises Institute fellow, and winner of the 2010 Lawrence W. Fertig Prize in Austrian Economics, has agreed to serve as the journal’s Assistant Editor.
In a recent paper in this journal, Matt King and Peter Carruthers argue that the common assumption that agents are only (or especially) morally responsible for actions caused by attitudes of which they are conscious needs to be rethought. They claim that there is persuasive evidence that we are never conscious of our propositional attitudes; we ought therefore to design our theories of moral responsibility to accommodate this fact. In this reply, I argue that the evidence they adduce need (...) not worry philosophers. There is an ongoing debate over the role that consciousness of our attitudes plays in morally responsible behaviour, but the evidence they produce does not favour either side. Even if we are not conscious of our propositional attitudes as such - even if we lack introspective access to their content - we nevertheless reliably come to know their content. There are systematic differences between those attitudes of whose content we come to be aware and those we do not, and these differences are directly relevant to our moral responsibility. Moreover, coming to be aware of the content of our attitudes has effects on our behaviour, and these effects are directly relevant to our moral responsibility. The causal route whereby we come to be conscious of the content of our attitudes is irrelevant to whether they play the right kinds of roles to distinguish between actions for which we are responsible and actions for which we ought to be excused. (shrink)
Gers (Biol Philos, 2011) provides a positive and constructive view of the project to generalise Darwinian principles in Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen’s Darwin’s Conjecture. We note considerable overlap with his work and ours, and also with important recent work of Godfrey-Smith ( 2009 ), which Gers cites extensively. But we also note that there are differences in research objectives between Gers and Godfrey-Smith, on the one hand, and ourselves, on the other. Gers and Godfrey-Smith focus on the elucidation of (...) the most general principles possible. Our aim is to derive principles that are sufficiently abstract to span the natural and human social worlds, and then add additional principles to help understand the Darwinian evolution of human society. Furthermore, Gers and Godfrey-Smith critique a replicator concept that is different from ours. Once these points are made apparent, the criticisms are essentially disabled, and we end up in a position with different but complementary and overlapping research projects. (shrink)
Like their contemporary counterparts, early modern philosophers find themselves in a predicament. On one hand, there are strong reasons to deny that sensations are representations. For there seems to be nothing in the world for them to represent. On the other hand, some sensory representations seem to be required for us to experience bodies. How else could one perceive the boundaries of a body, except by means of different shadings of color? -/- I argue that Nicolas Malebranche offers an extreme (...) – and ultimately unworkable – attempt to solve this riddle. Most commentators claim that Malebranche defends an adverbial theory of sensation, according to which a sensation is merely a way in which an act of sensing happens. The adverbial reading is wrong, or so I argue. Once we arrive at a more accurate reading, we shall see that his position is much more strange than is currently thought. -/- Nevertheless, Malebranche’s view is similar to the adverbial theory in one respect, albeit it at a very high level of generality. His view thus inherits two of the main problems that afflict adverbial theories. Although Malebranche fails to solve them, his ingenious attempts to do so are instructive. (shrink)
The sensation-perception distinction did not appear before the seventeenth century, but since then various formulations of it have gained wide acceptance. This is not an historical accident and the article suggests an explanation for its appearance. Section 1 describes a basic assumption underlying the sensation-perception distinction, to wit, the postulation of a pure sensory stage--viz. sensation--devoid of active influence of the agent's cognitive, emotional, and evaluative frameworks. These frameworks are passive in that stage. I call this postulation the passivity assumption. (...) Section 2 suggests three major reasons for the emergence of this assumption in the seventeenth century: the mental-physical gap, the causal theory of perception, and epistemological considerations regarding the status of the sensory given. In the last section a critical discussion is presented. The passivity assumption is found to have serious empirical and theoretical flaws. (shrink)
Descartes's lack of clarity about the causal connections between brain states and mental states has led many commentators to conclude that he has no coherent account of body-mind relations in sensation, or that he was simply confused about the issue. In this paper I develop what I take to be a coherent account that was available to Descartes, and argue that there are both textual and systematic reasons to think that it was his considered view. The account has brain states (...) serving as occasions for the mind to produce in itself the sensations that it takes these brain states to signify. The relation between body and mind on this model is thus neither a standard efficient-causal relation, nor an occasionalist one, but rather a semantic-causal relation (i.e. a non-standard efficient causal relation that goes by way of natural signification). At the end of the paper I argue that the model does not undermine Descartes' commitment to the self-transparency of the mind. -/- . (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to defend a version of the brain process theory, or identity thesis, which differs in one important respect from the theory put forward by J.J.C. Smart. I shall argue that although the sensations which a person experiences are, as a matter of contingent fact, brain processes, nonetheless there are facts about sensations which cannot be described or understood in terms of any physical theory. These 'mental' facts cannot be described by physics for the simple (...) reason that physical descriptions are designed specifically to avoid mentioning such facts. Thus in giving a physical explanation of a sensation we necessarily describe and render intelligible that sensation only as a physical process, and not also as a sensation. If we are to describe and render intelligible a person's sensations, or inner experiences, as sensations, and not as physical processes occurring in that person's brain, then we must employ a kind of description that connot be derived from any set of physical statements. (shrink)
This is a book about sensory states and their apparent characteristics. It confronts a whole series of metaphysical and epistemological questions and presents an argument for type materialism: the view that sensory states are identical with the neural states with which they are correlated. According to type materialism, sensations are only possessed by human beings and members of related biological species; silicon-based androids cannot have sensations. The author rebuts several other rival theories (dualism, double aspect theory, eliminative materialism, functionalism), and (...) explores a number of important issues: the forms and limits of introspective awareness of sensations, the semantic properties of sensory concepts, knowledge of other minds, and unity of consciousness. The book is a significant contribution to the philosophy of mind, and has much to say to psychologists and cognitive scientists. (shrink)