Ulrich Beck's best selling Risk Society established risk on the sociological agenda. It brought together a wide range of issues centering on environmental, health and personal risk, provided a rallying ground for researchers and activists in a variety of social movements and acted as a reference point for state and local policies in risk management. The Risk Society and Beyond charts the progress of Beck's ideas and traces their evolution. It demonstrates why the issues raised by Beck (...) reverberate widely throughout social theory and covers the new risks that Beck did not foresee, associated with the emergence of new technologies, genetic and cybernetic. The book is unique because it offers both an introduction to the main arguments in Risk Society and develops a range of critical discussions of aspects of this and other works of Beck. (shrink)
Philosophers have traditionally used thought-experiments in their endeavours to find a satisfactory account of the self and personal identity. Yet there are considerations from empirical psychology as well as related ones from philosophy itself that appear to completely undermine the method of thought-experiment. This paper focuses on both sets of considerations and attempts a defence of the method.
Martha Nussbaum has argued in support of the view (supposedly that of Aristotle) that we can, through thought-experiments involving personal identity, find an objective foundation for moral thought without having to appeal to any authority independent of morality. I compare the thought-experiment from Plato’s Philebus that she presents as an example to other thought-experiments involving identity in the literature and argue that this reveals a tension between the sources of authority which Nussbaum invokes for her thought-experiment. I also argue that (...) each of her sources of authority presents further difficulties for her project. Finally, I argue that it is not clear that her thought-experiment is one that actually involves identity in any crucial way. As a result, the case she offers does not offer any satisfactory support for her view on the relation between identity, morality and thought-experiments, but we do gain some insights into what that relation really is along the way. (shrink)
In reaching his narrative view of the self in Oneself as Another, Paul Ricoeur argues that, while literature offers revealing insights into the nature of the self, the sort of fictions involving brain transplants, fission, and so on, that philosophers often take seriously do not (and cannot). My paper is a response to Ricoeur's charge, contending that the arguments Ricoeur rejects are not flawed in the way he suggests, and that his own arguments are sometimes guilty of the very charges (...) he lays at the door of his opponents. (shrink)
According to the Generality Constraint, mental states with conceptual content must be capable of recombining in certain systematic ways. Drawing on empirical evidence from cognitive science, I argue that so-called analog magnitude states violate this recombinability condition and thus have nonconceptual content. I further argue that this result has two significant consequences: it demonstrates that nonconceptual content seeps beyond perception and infiltrates cognition; and it shows that whether mental states have nonconceptual content is largely an empirical matter determined by the (...) structure of the neural representations underlying them. (shrink)
This paper surveys and evaluates the answers that philosophers and animal researchers have given to two questions. Do animals have thoughts? If so, are their thoughts conceptual? Along the way, special attention is paid to distinguish debates of substance from mere battles over terminology, and to isolate fruitful areas for future research.
Marya Schechtman's The Constitution of Selves presented an impressive attempt to persuade those working on personal identity to give up mainstream positions and take on a narrative view instead. More recently, she has presented new arguments with a closely related aim. She attempts to convince us to give up the view of identity as a matter of psychological continuity, using Derek Parfit's story of the “Nineteenth Century Russian” as a central example in making the case against Parfit's own view, and (...) offers a form of narrative theory as a way out of the problem. In this paper I consider this new case, and argue that we should not be persuaded towards the narrative. (shrink)
The view that an account of personal identity can be provided in terms of psychological continuity has come under fire from an interesting new angle in recent years. Critics from a variety of rival positions have argued that it cannot adequately explain what makes psychological states co-personal (i.e. the states of a single person). The suggestion is that there will inevitably be examples of states that it wrongly ascribes using only the causal connections available to it. In this paper, I (...) describe three distinct attacks on the psychological continuity theory along these lines. While I acknowledge that a number of interesting issues arise, I argue that the theory can withstand all three attacks. (shrink)
Abstract. A special legal status is accorded to human rights within Western liberal democracies: They enjoy a priority over other human goods and are not subjected to the majoritarian principle. The underlying assumption—the idea that there are some human values that deserve special protection—implies the need for both a normative and a conceptual justification. This paper claims that neither can be provided. The normative justification is needed to support the priority of human rights over other human goods and to rank (...) and balance conflicting human rights, but it can't be provided because of the fact of pervasive value pluralism, the fact that human values are many, incompatible and incommensurable. The conceptual justification is needed to avoid arbitrariness in the interpretation of human rights at the adjudication stage. Such a justification is impossible, however, as the concept of human rights, and the concepts used to justify them and to solve their conflicts are "essentially contested concepts." The paper concludes that, provided that the interpretation of human rights presupposes value judgements and political choices, the special legal status accorded to human rights is not justified. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss a set of problems concerning the method of cases as it is used in applied ethics and in the metaphysical debate about personal identity. These problems stem from research in social psychology concerning our access to the data with which the method operates. I argue that the issues facing ethics are more worrying than those facing metaphysics.
Eric Olson argues in The Human Animal that thought-experiments involving body-swapping do not in the end offer any support to psychological continuity theories, nor do they pose any threat to his Biological View. I argue that he is mistaken in at least the second claim.
Realists about animal cognition confront a puzzle. If animals have real, contentful cognitive states, why can’t anyone say precisely what the contents of those states are? I consider several possible resolutions to this puzzle that are open to realists, and argue that the best of these is likely to appeal to differences in the format of animal cognition and human language.
This paper examines the effect that focus has on repetitive versus restitutive again. It is argued that a pragmatic explanation of the effect is the right strategy. The explanation builds largely on a standard focus semantics. To this we add an anaphoric analysis of again’s presupposition and a detailed analysis of the alternatives triggered when focus falls on again.
While theories about interpreting biblical and other parables have long realised the importance of readers’ responses to the topic, recent results in social psychology concerning systematic self-deception raise unforeseen problems. In this paper I first set out some of the problems these results pose for the authority of fictional thought-experiments in moral philosophy. I then consider the suggestion that biblical parables face the same problems and as a result cannot work as devices for moral or religious instruction in the way (...) that they are usually understood to work. I examine a number of influential theories about interpretation of the parables which might appear to deflect the problems, and argue that none of them are ultimately successful in doing so. (shrink)
This paper is a re-reading of Colin Radford's paper 'The Umpire's Dilemma', published in Analysis in 1985. It argues that Radford's dilemma has been unjustly ignored and has interesting (and problematic) implications for both intuitionism and Ronald Dworkin's constructive interpretationist jurisprudence.
Susan Carey’s account of bootstrapping aims to explain how important new concepts are learned. After arguing that Carey’s own formulations of bootstrapping fail in this aim, I critically evaluate three reformulations of bootstrapping that may have a better chance at success.
Background:The belief that we can control our thoughts is not inevitably adaptive, particularly when it fuels mental control activities that have ironic unintended consequences. The conviction that the mind can and should be controlled can prompt people to suppress unwanted thoughts, and so can set the stage for the intrusive return of those very thoughts. An important question is whether or not these beliefs about the control of thoughts can be reduced experimentally. One possibility is that behavioral experiments aimed at (...) revealing the ironic return of suppressed thoughts might create a lesson that could reduce unrealistic beliefs about the control of thoughts. Aims: The present research assessed the influence of the thought suppression demonstration on beliefs about the control of thoughts in a non-clinical sample, and among individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Method: In Study 1, we assessed the effect of the thought suppression demonstration on beliefs about the control of thoughts among low and high obsessive individuals in the non-clinical population (N= 62). In Study 2, we conducted a similar study with individuals with OCD (N= 29). Results: Results suggest that high obsessive individuals in the non-clinical population are able to learn the futility of suppression through.. (shrink)
Traditionally, the manufacturer/operator of a machine is held (morally and legally) responsible for the consequences of its operation. Autonomous, learning machines, based on neural networks, genetic algorithms and agent architectures, create a new situation, where the manufacturer/operator of the machine is in principle not capable of predicting the future machine behaviour any more, and thus cannot be held morally responsible or liable for it. The society must decide between not using this kind of machine any more (which is not a (...) realistic option), or facing a responsibility gap, which cannot be bridged by traditional concepts of responsibility ascription. (shrink)
How are causal judgements such as 'The ice on the road caused the traffic accident' connected with counterfactual judgements such as 'If there had not been any ice on the road, the traffic accident would not have happened'? This volume throws new light on this question by uniting, for the first time, psychological and philosophical approaches to causation and counterfactuals. Traditionally, philosophers have primarily been interested in connections between causal and counterfactual claims on the level of meaning or truth-conditions. More (...) recently, however, they have also increasingly turned their attention to psychological connections between causal and counterfactual understanding or reasoning. At the same time, there has been a surge in interest in empirical work on causal and counterfactual cognition amongst developmental, cognitive, and social psychologists--much of it inspired by work in philosophy. In this volume, twelve original contributions from leading philosophers and psychologists explore in detail what bearing empirical findings might have on philosophical concerns about counterfactuals and causation, and how, in turn, work in philosophy might help clarify the issues at stake in empirical work on the cognitive underpinnings of, and relationships between, causal and counterfactual thought. (shrink)
This paper presents a systematic empirical investigation of so-called Rullmann Ambiguities (The helicopter was flying less high than a plane can fly). It is shown that many examples constructed after this pattern are in fact unambiguous, and that some but not all examples which replace less with ordinary more/-er are ambiguous. An analysis is proposed which takes into account the inferential properties of the degree predicate in the than-clause plus the way contextual information can be integrated into its meaning. The (...) analysis predicts which Rullmann examples are ambiguous and which are not. Consequences for the analysis of comparatives and for the meaning of adjectives are derived. (shrink)
The performance of 93 children aged 3 and 4 years on a battery of different counterfactual tasks was assessed. Three measures: short causal chains, location change counterfactual conditionals, and false syllogisms—but not a fourth, long causal chains—were correlated, even after controlling for age and receptive vocabulary. Children's performance on our counterfactual thinking measure was predicted by receptive vocabulary ability and inhibitory control. The role that domain general executive functions may play in 3- to 4-year olds' counterfactual thinking development is discussed.
This paper develops a semantic analysis of data like It is getting colder and colder. Their meaning is argued to arise from a combination of a comparative with pluractionality. The analysis is embedded in a general theory of plural predication and pluractionality. It supports a semantic theory involving a family of syntactic plural operators.
In an ongoing longitudinal study, which started in 1994, we are examining the moral development of business apprentices (sensu Kohlberg). The focal point of this project is a critical analysis of Kohlberg's thesis of homogeneity, according to which people should judge every moral issue from the point of view of their "modal" stage (i.e. the most frequently used stage of moral reasoning) regardless of any situation-specificity. Empirical data-even Kohlberg's own-however, show that an individual's judgements are usually spread around her/his modal (...) stage. This is not necessarily due to measurement error but may also be interpreted as a situation-specific variation which could be described by the hypothesis of "moral segmentation". In this article we present results on the status of moral development of apprentices in the business context (within different types of situations). Contrary to Kohlberg's theory, our results seem to support the hypothesis of segmentation. The data reflect a great amount of intra-individual variation unaccounted for by the concept of "structured wholeness". (shrink)
Progressives have advocated reforms of rules governing corporations to achieve greater distributive justice, but Maitland (2001) hasargued that corporate rules are distributively neutral and that changing the rules will have no long run impact on distributive justice. These different conclusions stem from the use of two different methods of economic analysis, partial equilibrium and general equilibrium models. A change in the rules governing corporations in a “large” sector of the economy is appropriately analyzed using a general equilibrium analysis, supporting the (...) conclusion that changes in the rules may affect distributive justice in the long run. However, a partial equilibrium analysis of a change in the rules of corporations affecting a “small” part of the economy such as asingle firm or even all firms in a small state supports the claim that such changes cannot affect distributive justice. (shrink)
(1) a. Satoshi sent Thilo the Schw¨abische W¨orterbuch. b. Satoshi sent the Schw¨abische W¨orterbuch to Thilo. Many have entertained the notion that there is a rule that relates sentences such as these. This is suggested by the fact that it is possible to learn that a newly coined verb licenses one of them and automatically know that it licenses the other. Marantz (1984) argues for the existence of such a rule in this way, noting that once one has learned of (...) the new verb shin by exposure to (2a), the grammaticality of (2b) is also learned. (2) a. Thilo shinned the ball to Satoshi. b. Thilo shinned Satoshi the ball. This is explained if there is a rule that ties the double object frame together with the NP+PP frame, making it sufﬁcient to know that a verb licenses one if it licenses the other. Frequently, the rule involved has been taken to be syntactic in nature. See, among many others, Fillmore (1965), Oehrle (1976), Baker (1988), and Larson (1988). The leading idea under this view is that the two frames are simply different surface manifestations of the same underlying structure. Typically, this approach posits that the NP+PP frame represents that underlying structure from which the double object frame is transformationally derived. There is evidence, however, that the two frames instead have different underlying structures, and are not related by transformation. This evidence, then. (shrink)