Here, we argue that any neurobiological theory based on an experience/function division cannot be empirically confirmed or falsified and is thus outside the scope of science. A ‘perfect experiment’ illustrates this point, highlighting the unbreachable boundaries of the scientific study of consciousness. We describe a more nuanced notion of cognitive access that captures personal experience without positing the existence of inaccessible conscious states. Finally, we discuss the criteria necessary for forming and testing a falsifiable theory of consciousness.
We motivate and formalize the idea of sameness by default: two objects are considered the same if they cannot be proved to be different. This idea turns out to be useful for a number of widely different applications, including natural language processing, reasoning with incomplete information, and even philosophical paradoxes. We consider two formalizations of this notion, both of which are based on Reiter’s Default Logic. The first formalization is a new relation of indistinguishability that is introduced by default. We (...) prove that the corresponding default theory has a unique extension, in which every two objects are indistinguishable if and only if their non-equality cannot be proved from the known facts. We show that the indistinguishability relation has some desirable properties: it is reflexive, symmetric, and, while not transitive, it has a transitive “flavor.” The second formalization is an extension (modification) of the ordinary language equality by a similar default: two objects are equal if and only if their non-equality cannot be proved from the known facts. It appears to be less elegant from a formal point of view. In particular, it gives rise to multiple extensions. However, this extended equality is better suited for most of the applications discussed in this paper. (shrink)
This article explores the problem of the political responsibilities of intellectuals and philosophers through an appraisal of Michael Walzer's work on the idea of “connected criticism.” The author elaborates the main elements of this theory, shows how it approaches various thinkers, like Herbert Marcuse and Jean-Paul Sartre, and shows where it fits into American intellectual life, particularly the intellectual history of Dissent Magazine and the democratic Left. Walzer's idea of a connected social critic contrasts to Sartre's idea of an (...) “engaged critic.” The article also examines Walzer's theory in light of some of the arguments made by “commonsense” moral philosophy, such as those of Irving Howe, John Rawls, Theodor Adorno, and Leo Strauss. Cohen defines Walzer's theory as part of a social democratic approach that also can serve in part as an antidote to intellectual hubris. Finally, this article presents a critique of Edward Said's understanding of intellectuals in his Representations of the Intellectual. The author argues that Said's book misrepresents Turgenev's novel Fathers and Sons. Cohen suggests that there are radical differences between Said's description of this novel's central character, Bazarov, and the world in which he lives, and those created by Turgenev. Said's approach is evaluated in relation to the notion of connected criticism and some criticisms of connected criticism are offered. (shrink)
The reputation and influence of Emmanuel Levinas (1906-96) have grown powerfully in recent years. Well known in France in his lifetime, he has since his death become widely regarded as a major European moral philosopher profoundly shaped by his Jewish background. A pupil of Husserl and Heidegger, Levinas pioneered new forms of exegesis with his postmodern readings of the Talmud, and as an ethicist brought together religious and non-religious, Jewish and non-Jewish traditions of contemporary thought. Richard A. Cohen has (...) written a book which uses Levinas' work as its base but goes on to explore broader questions of interpretation in the context of text-based ethical thinking. Levinas' reorientation of philosophy is considered in critical contrast to alternative contemporary approaches such as those found in modern science, psychology, Nietzsche, Freud, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida and Ricoeur. Cohen explores a manner of philosophizing which he terms 'ethical exegesis'. (shrink)
This is the second of three volumes of posthumously collected writings of G. A. Cohen, who was one of the leading, and most progressive, figures in contemporary political philosophy. This volume brings together some of Cohen's most personal philosophical and nonphilosophical essays, many of them previously unpublished. Rich in first-person narration, insight, and humor, these pieces vividly demonstrate why Thomas Nagel described Cohen as a "wonderful raconteur." The nonphilosophical highlight of the book is Cohen's remarkable account (...) of his first trip to India, which includes unforgettable vignettes of encounters with strangers and reflections on poverty and begging. Other biographical pieces include his valedictory lecture at Oxford, in which he describes his philosophical development and offers his impressions of other philosophers, and "Isaiah's Marx, and Mine," a tribute to his mentor Isaiah Berlin. Other essays address such topics as the truth in "small-c conservatism," who can and can't condemn terrorists, and the essence of bullshit. A recurring theme is finding completion in relation to the world of other human beings. Engaging, perceptive, and empathetic, these writings reveal a more personal side of one of the most influential philosophers of our time. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen was one of the most gifted, influential, and progressive voices in contemporary political philosophy. At the time of his death in 2009, he had plans to bring together a number of his most significant papers. This is the first of three volumes to realize those plans. Drawing on three decades of work, it contains previously uncollected articles that have shaped many of the central debates in political philosophy, as well as papers published here for the first (...) time. In these pieces, Cohen asks what egalitarians have most reason to equalize, he considers the relationship between freedom and property, and he reflects upon ideal theory and political practice. Included here are classic essays such as "Equality of What?" and "Capitalism, Freedom, and the Proletariat," along with more recent contributions such as "Fairness and Legitimacy in Justice," "Freedom and Money," and the previously unpublished "How to Do Political Philosophy." On ample display throughout are the clarity, rigor, conviction, and wit for which Cohen was renowned. Together, these essays demonstrate how his work provides a powerful account of liberty and equality to the left of Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, and Isaiah Berlin. (shrink)
In ?The Labour Theory of Value and the Concept of Exploitation? I distinguished between two ways in which the labour theory of value is formulated, both of which are common. In the popular formulation, the amount of value a commodity has depends on how much labour was spent producing it. In the strict formulation, which is so called because it formulates the labour theory of value proper, the amount of value a commodity has depends on nothing about its history but (...) only on how much labour would (now) be required to produce something just like it. I argued that strict and popular formulations are often wrongly treated as substantially equivalent, and that the practice of conflating them sustains two false impressions: that the labour theory of value is a basis for saying that capitalists exploit workers, and that the labour theory of value is true. The present paper is a reply to Nancy Holmstrom's recent attempt, in ?Marx and Cohen on Exploitation and the Labor Theory of Value?, to refute the theses of the article referred to above. (shrink)
This paper argues that Rawls’ principles of justice provide a normative foundation for stakeholder theory. The principles articulate (at an abstract level) citizens’ rights; these rights create interests across all aspects of society, including in the space of economic activity; and therefore, stakeholders – as citizens – have legitimate interests in the space of economic activity. This approach to stakeholder theory suggests a political interpretation of Boatright’s Moral Market approach, one that emphasizes the rights/place of citizens. And this approach to (...) stakeholder theory – in terms of citizens – raises a further question, what rights and obligations do economic agents have, beyond those attached to their roles as citizens? Rawls would reject additional rights and obligations of this sort for two reasons, one tied to freedom and one tied to pluralism. Rawls’ work therefore presses us to re-conceptualize the place of ethical claims in the economic context. (shrink)
Laurence Goldstein has ‘re-created’ Wittgenstein's doctoral viva, arguing that had Wittgenstein's dissertation, his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, ‘been judged by normal standards of originality and philosophical argumentation, it would have failed’. Goldstein claims that Wittgenstein ‘lifted’ central doctrines from Russell and from Bernard Bolzano. I point out that passages allegedly plagiarized from Russell are actually criticisms of his doctrines, and that there is no evidence that Wittgenstein even knew Bolzano's work, directly or indirectly. I argue that alleged similarities, substantial and stylistic, between (...) his work and Bolzano's give no support even to a weaker claim of influence. (shrink)
Most writers now recognize that mental health policy and the mental health system are extremely resistant to real changes that reflect genuine biopsychosocial paradigms of mental disorder. Writers bemoaning the intransigence of the mental health system tend to focus on a small analytical level, only to find themselves mired in the rationalities of the existing system. Problems are acknowledged to be system-wide, yet few writers have used a method of analysis appropriate for systemic problems. Drawing upon the General System Theory (...) (GST) analytical perspective, this article advances a systematic approach to understand the mental health system and to facilitate the development of reform strategies that recognize the system's complexity and changing nature. The article first discusses the failure of major reform efforts in the mental health system and the limitations of mainstream analysis of mental health politics and policies with respect to the objectives of analysis and reform. This article describes how systems thinking has thus far influenced the study of the mental health policy and politics system, and argues that a systemic perspective is profitable for reconceiving the mental health system, enabling a fresh basis for the development of reform strategies. The mental health system should be seen as a social system influenced by larger political and economic dimensions, not just as a 'delivery system' scientifically constructed by neutral experts. Furthermore, the policy planning process should be viewed as part and parcel of a mental health system modeled as complex and dynamic. The systemic perspective outlined here should help both to clarify the value-based objectives that we hold for the system and, consequently, to plan for the strategic reforms that have so far eluded us. (shrink)
The following text is an introduction to Ed Cohen’s book A Body Worth Defending: Immunity, Biopolitics and the Apotheosis of the Modern Body. Author investigates the way in which immunology influences the perception of both the human body, and political entities, demonstrating that contemporary conceptualizations of these phenomena exist in a double bind. The historical framework Cohen applies allows for tracing the history of the metaphor of immunity in politics and medicine.
In elementary derivations of the quantization of azimuthal angular momentum the eigenfunction is determined to be exp(im φ), which is “oversensitive” to the rotation φ → φ+2π, unlessm is an integer. In a recent paper Kerner examined the classical system of charge and magnetic pole, and expressed Π, a vector constant of motion for the system, in terms of a physical angle ψ, to deduce a remarkable paradox. Kerner pointed out that Π(ψ) is “oversensitive” to ψ → ψ+2π unless a (...) certain charge quantization condition is met. Our explicandum of this paradox highlights the distinction between coordinates in classical and quantum physics. It is shown why the single-valuedness requirement on Π(ψ) is devoid of physical significance. We are finally led to examine the classical analog of the quantum mechanical argument that demonstrates the quantization of magnetic charge, to show that there is “no hope” of a classical quantization condition. (shrink)
Objectives To evaluate whether the requirement of “minimal risk and burden” for paediatric research without direct benefit to the subjects compromises the ability to obtain data necessary for improving paediatric care. To provide evidence-based reflections on the EU recommendation that allows for a higher level of risk. Design and setting Systematic analysis of the approval/rejection decisions made by the Dutch Central Committee on Research involving Human Subjects (CCMO). Review methods The analysis included 165 proposals for paediatric research without direct benefit (...) that were reviewed by the CCMO between January, 2000, and July, 2007. A separate, in-depth analysis of all drug studies included 18 early phase drug studies and nine other drug studies without direct benefit. Results 11 out of 165 studies were definitively rejected because the CCMO did not regard the risk and/or burden to be minimal. In three of these 11 cases (including two early phase drug studies) the requirement of minimal risk and burden was cited as the only reason for rejection. Four other early phase drug studies also involved risks and/or burdens that were not regarded to be minimal but were nevertheless approved. Conclusions The requirement of minimal risk and burden, aiming to protect research subjects, occasionally leads to rejection of protocols. Early phase drug studies relatively often do not comply with the requirement. Committees may find ways to approve important studies that formally should be rejected, but that is not a desirable solution. The regulatory framework should be revised to make such occasional exceptions to the requirement legitimate and transparent. (shrink)
In 2004 a survey was conducted in the member states of the European Union designed to gain greater insight into the views on control strategies for foot and mouth disease, classical swine fever, and avian influenza with respect to the epidemiological, economic and social-ethical consequences of each of these animal diseases. This article presents the results of the social-ethical survey. A selection of stakeholders from each member state was asked to prioritize issues for the prevention and control of these diseases. (...) A majority of stakeholders chose preventive measures as the preferred issue. An analysis was done to determine whether there were differences in views expressed by stakeholders from member states with a history of recent epidemics and ones without such a history, and whether there were regional differences. There were no differences between member states with or without a history of recent epidemics. There were indeed regional differences between the priority orders from Northern and Southern Europe on the one hand, and from Eastern Europe on the other. (shrink)
European animal disease policy seems to find its justification in a “harm to other” principle. Limiting the freedom of animal keepers—e.g., by culling their animals—is justified by the aim to prevent harm, i.e., the spreading of the disease. The picture, however, is more complicated. Both during the control of outbreaks and in the prevention of notifiable, animal diseases the government is confronted with conflicting claims of stakeholders who anticipate running a risk to be harmed by each other, and who ask (...) for government intervention. In this paper, we first argue that in a policy that aims to prevent animal diseases, the focus shifts from limiting “harm” to weighing conflicting claims with respect to “risks of harm.” Therefore, we claim that the harm principle is no longer a sufficient justification for governmental intervention in animal disease prevention. A policy that has to deal with and distribute conflicting risks of harm needs additional value assumptions that guide this process of assessment and distribution. We show that currently, policies are based on assumptions that are mainly economic considerations. In order to show the limitations of these considerations, we use the interests and position of keepers of backyard animals as an example. Based on the problems they faced during and after the recent outbreaks, we defend the thesis that in order to develop a sustainable animal disease policy other than economic assumptions need to be taken into account. (shrink)
Identification of those who have the potential to become knowledgeable, skilled, and compassionate physicians, and determining how best to prepare them for medical education has been an on ongoing challenge since the mid-1800s (Ludmerer 1985). When medical education was almost exclusively proprietary, the primary consideration for admission was having adequate financial resources. However, in the late 1800s, two men became the driving forces for structuring medical and premedical education in the United States. Daniel Coit Gilman, of Yale and the University (...) of California, later the founding President of Johns Hopkins University, and Charles W. Eliot, President of Harvard, articulated two radical objectives that .. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show firstly why Kant believes we should hang on to teleology, and, secondly, that his views on the matter are still relevant to contemporary epistemology despite the fact that theories of evolution now allow purely mechanical explanations of organic processes. By considering Kant’s account in light of that of Daniel Dennett, I elucidate what I believe to be the strength of Kant’s theory, namely, the pragmatic role it assigns to reflective teleological principles. (edited).
One of the most salient facts about our experience of the world is that objects appear to have colors. This feature of our experience is both striking and pervasive. Indeed, representations of colors of objects are among the most notable deliverances of the visual modality, which is perhaps our most important source of information about the world. For this reason, among others, questions about the nature of color have crucial significance for a variety of philosophical subjects including perception, ontology, epistemology, (...) semantics, and philosophy of mind. But the nature of color is a fascinating philosophical topic in its own right, and there has been a significant increase in the philosophical attention paid to this matter in recent years. In this essay I'll survey some of the main views about the nature of color in the contemporary literature and attempt to lay out some of the arguments that have been used to support or reject various of these accounts. (shrink)
Response inhibition plays a critical role in adaptive functioning and can be assessed with the Stop-signal task, which requires participants to suppress prepotent motor responses. Evidence suggests that this ability to inhibit a motor response that has already been initiated (reflected as Stop-signal reaction time (SSRT)) is a quantitative and heritable measure of interindividual variation in brain function. In order to examine the reliability of this measure, we pooled data across three separate studies and examined the influence of multiple SSRT (...) calculation methods and outlier calling on reliability (using Intra-class correlation). Our results suggest that an approach which uses the average of all available sessions, all trials of each session, and excludes outliers based on predetermined lenient criteria yields reliable SSRT estimates, while not excluding too many participants. Our findings support the reliability of SSRT as an index of inhibitory control, and provide support for its continued use as a neurocognitive phenotype. (shrink)
Let us now suppose that I have sold the product of my own labour for money, and have used the money to hire a labourer, i.e., I have bought somebody else's labour-power. Having taken advantage of this labour-power of another, I turn out to be the owner of value which is considerably higher than the value I spent on its purchase. This, from one point of view, is very just, because it has already been recognized, after all that I can (...) use what I have secured by exchange as is best and most advantageous to myself...1 Persons, who under a vicious order of things have obtained a competent share of social enjoyments, are never in want of arguments to justify to the eye of reason such a state of society; for what may not admit of apology when exhibited in but one point of view? If the same individuals were tomorrow required to cast anew the lots assigning them a place in society, they would find many things to object to.2. (shrink)
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Many people, including many egalitarian political philosophers, professa belief in equality while enjoying high incomes of which they devotevery little to egalitarian purposes. The article critically examinesways of resolving the putative inconsistency in the stance of thesepeople, in particular, that favouring an egalitarian society has noimplications for behaviour in an unequal one; that what''s bad aboutinequality is a social division that philanthropy cannot reduce; thatprivate action cannot ensure that others have good lives; that privateaction can only achieve a ``drop in (...) the ocean''''; that private effortis not called for, since justice is a matter for the state to enforce;that private effort cannot remove the fundamental injustice, whichis inequality of power; and that private effort involves an unreasonablylarge psychological burden. (shrink)
It is shown that quantum mechanics cannot be formulated as a stochastic theory involving a probability distribution function of position and momentum. This is done by showing that the most general distribution function which yields the proper quantum mechanical marginal distributions cannot consistently be used to predict the expectations of observables if phase space integration is used. Implications relating to the possibility of establishing a "hidden" variable theory of quantum mechanics are discussed.
In this paper we present an account of practical rationality and weakness of will in terms of rational capacities. We show how our account rectifies various shortcomings in Michael Smith's related theory. In particular, our account is capable of accommodating cases of weak-willed behaviour that are not `akratic', or otherwise contrary to the agent's better judgement. Our account differs from Smith's primarily by incorporating resolve: a third rational capacity for resolute maintenance of one's intentions. We discuss further two ways (...) to explain the importance of resolve to practical rationality: one based on Richard Holton's recent work, and an alternative, non-consequentialist account. (shrink)
Perhaps the most significant contemporary theory of lawhood is the Best System (/MRL) view on which laws are true generalizations that best systematize knowledge. Our question in this paper will be how best to formulate a theory of this kind. We’ll argue that an acceptable MRL should (i) avoid inter-system comparisons of simplicity, strength, and balance, (ii) make lawhood epistemically accessible, and (iii) allow for laws in the special sciences. Attention to these problems will bring into focus a useful menu (...) of novel MRL theories, some of which solve problems the original MRL theory could not. Hence we conceive of the paper as moving toward a better Best System theory of laws. (shrink)