For a biological anthropologist interested in the prehistory of religion, J. Wentzel van Huyssteen's book is welcome and resonant. Van Huyssteen's central thesis is that humans' capacity for spirituality emerges from a transformation of cognition and emotions that takes place in the symbolic realm, within Homo sapiens and apart from biology. To his thesis I bring to bear three areas of response: the abundant cognitive and emotional capacities of living apes and extinct hominids; the role of symbolic ritual in the (...) evolutionary history of Homo sapiens; and the closely intertwined nature of biology and culture in the workings of evolutionary change. (shrink)
Political Freedom By George G. Brenkert Routledge, 1991. Pp. 278. ISBN 0?415?03372?1. £35 hbk. Wittgenstein: A Bibliographical Guide By Guido Frongia and Brian McGuinness Basil Blackwell, 1990. Pp. x + 438. ISBN 00631?13765?3. £60.00. Metaphysics By Peter van Inwagen Oxford University Press, 1993. Pp. xiii + 222. ISBN 0?19?8751400. £11.95 pbk. The Nature of Moral Thinking By Francis Snare Routledge, 1992. Pp. 187. ISBN 0?415?04709?9. £9.99 pbk. Filosofía analitica hoy: Encuentro de tradiciones Edited by Mercedes Torrevejano Servicio de Publications Universidade (...) de Santiago de Compostela, 1991. Pp. 284. ISBN 84?7191?722?X. $15.5 pbk. The Puzzle of Experience By J.J. Valberg Clarendon Press, 1992. Pp. 227. ISBN 0?19?824291?3. £25. Religion and Philosophy Edited by Martin Warner Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement: 31 Cambridge University Press, 1992. Pp. vi + 155. ISBN 0?521?42951?X. £10.95 pbk. The Uses of Philosophy By Mary Warnock Blackwell, 1992. Pp. 256. ISBN 0?631?18038?9. £35.00 hbk. £11.95 pbk. The Disappearance of Time: Kurt Godel and the Idealistic Tradition in Philosophy By Palle Yourgrau Cambridge University Press, 1991. Pp. x + 182. ISBN 0?521?41012?6. £27.50. (shrink)
Lewis makes a strong case for the interdependence and integration of emotion and cognitive processes. Yet, these processes exhibit considerable independence in early life, as well as in certain psychopathological conditions, suggesting that the capacity for their integration emerges as a function of development. In some circumstances, the concept of highly interactive emotion and cognitive systems seems a viable alternative hypothesis to the idea of systems integration.
Despite great advances in understanding genetic mechanisms, there still exists a bias toward equating genes with innate modules that determine important developmental events. But genes are equally relevant to understanding developmental plasticity shaped by ecological events. In other words, the term 'genetic inheritance' does not specify ontogenetic mechanisms. Here we present a case history of a species assumed to be under the control of prespecified genetic wiring to direct critical behavioral events such as communication and mating. We show, however, that (...) exogenetic processes stemming from the species's ontogenetic niche provide an alternative view of the flexibility of development especially with respect to behavioral performance. (shrink)
Academic discussion of pornography is generally restricted to issues arising from the depiction of adults. I argue that child-pornography is a more complex matter, and that generally accepted moral judgements concerning pornography in general have to be revised when children are involved. I look at the question of harm to the children involved, the consumers, and society in general, at the question of blame, and at the possibility of a morally acceptable form of child-pornography. My approach involves an objectivist meta-ethics (...) and a utilitarian view of practical ethics, and I bring out the advantages of these theories to the consideration of moral issues such as this one. (shrink)
In recent years we have seen a dramatic shift, in several different areas of communication studies, from an information-theoretic to a dynamic systems paradigm. In an information processing system, communication, whether between cells, mammals, apes, or humans, is said to occur when one organism encodes information into a signal that is transmitted to another organism that decodes the signal. In a dynamic system, all of the elements are continuously interacting with and changing in respect to one another, and an aggregate (...) pattern emerges from this mutual co-action. Whereas the information-processing paradigm looks at communication as a linear, binary sequence of events, the dynamic systems paradigm looks at the relation between behaviors and how the whole configuration changes over time. One of the most dramatic examples of the significance of shifting from an information processing to a dynamic systems paradigm can be found in the debate over the interpretation of recent advances in ape language research (ALR). To some extent, many of the early ALR studies reinforced the stereotype that animal communication is functional and stimulus bound, precisely because they were based on an information-processing paradigm that promoted a static model of communicative development. But Savage-Rumbaugh's recent results with bonobos has introduced an entirely new dimension into this debate. Shifting the terms of the discussion from an information-processing to a dynamic systems paradigm not only highlights the striking differences between Savage-Rumbaugh's research and earlier ALR studies, but further, it sheds illuminating light on the factors that underpin the development of communication skills in great apes and humans, and the relationship between communicative development and the development of language. Key Words: apes; ape language research (ALR); brain development; co-regulation; communication; dynamic systems; language development; symbols. (shrink)
Ontogeny, specifically the role of language in the human family now and in prehistory, is central to Locke & Bogin's (L&B's) thesis in a compelling way. The unique life-history stages of childhood and adolescence, however, must be interpreted not only against an exceptionally “high quality” human infancy but also in light of the evolution of co-constructed, emotionally based communication in ape, hominid, and human infancy.
Hunting is a complex phenomenon. l examine it from four different perspectives-animal liberation, the land ethic, primitivism, and ecofeminism-and find no moral justification for sport hunting in any of them. At the same time, however, I argue that there are theoretical flaws in each of these approaches. Animal liberationists focus too much on the individual animal and ignore the difference between domestic and wild animals. Leopold’s land ethic fails to come to terms with the self-domestication of humans. I argue that (...) the holism of the land ethic does not in itself justify hunting as a human act of predation appropriate to the demands of wild biotic communities. Primitivists, such as Paul Shepard and Ortega y Gasset, mistakenly argue that hunting is an essential part of human nature and hence part of a healthy return to a natural way of life. Their argument marginalizes women’s relations to nature. Finally, I take seriously the ecofeminist claim that sport hunting is a symptom ofpatriarchy’s fixation on death and violence, although I criticize the more radical claim that women are closer to nature than men. Hunting should be investigated within the broader context of patriarchal social relations between men and women. As an act of violence it constitutes one element of a cultural matrix which is destructive to hoth women and nature. (shrink)
In Carnap’s autobiography, he tells the story how one night in January 1931, “the whole theory of language structure” in all its ramiﬁcations “came to [him] like a vision”. The shorthand manuscript he produced immediately thereafter, he says, “was the ﬁrst version” of Logical Syntax of Language. This document, which has never been examined since Carnap’s death, turns out not to resemble Logical Syntax at all, at least on the surface. Wherein, then, did the momentous insight of 21 January 1931 (...) consist? We seek to answer this question by placing Carnap’s shorthand manuscript in the context of his previous efforts to accommodate scientiﬁc theories and metalinguistic claims within Wittgenstein’s Tractatus theory of meaning. The breakthrough of January 1931 consists, from this viewpoint, in the rejection of the Tractatus theory in favor of the meta-mathematical perspective of Hilbert, Gödel, and Tarski. This was not yet the standpoint of the published Logical Syntax, as we show, but led naturally to the “principle of tolerance” and thus to Carnap’s mature philosophy, in which the inconsistencies between this ﬁrst view and the principle of tolerance, which survived into the published Syntax, were overcome. (shrink)
This essay articulates the importance of the domesticated landscape for a mature environmental ethics. Human beings are spatial beings, deeply implicated in their relationships to places, both wild and domesticated. Human identity evolves contextually through interaction with a "world." If this world obscures our perception of wild nature, it will be difficult to motivate the social and psychological will to imagine, let alone participate in, a culture that values environmentally responsible conduct. My argument is informed by a pragmatist suspicion of (...) fixed dualisms separating humans from nature, the wild from the domesticated, and the natural from the artificial. Drawing on a variety of sources, the essay calls for greater attention to the ways in which the making of our domesticated worlds can contribute to or undermine our ability to take the intrinsic value of nature seriously. (shrink)
In his 1988 review of On the Plurality of Worlds (Lycan ), William Lycan argued that what he called Lewis's 'mad-dog modal realism' (also 'rape-and-loot modal realism' and 'nuclear-holocaust modal realism' - I suspect that some reference to the supposed extremity of Lewis's position is intended) rested upon an unanalysed modal notion. Lycan accepted that actualists all seemed to be stuck with such unanalysed notions (adding that his own was the notion of compatibility as applied to pairs of properties), but (...) argued that Lewis's notion of worlds was also a modal primitive: 'World' for him has to mean 'possible world', since the very flesh-and-bloodiness [which relieves him of the sort of abstraction indulged in by actualists] prevents him from admitting impossibilia. (Lycan , p.46) Lycan's main concerns in this review go back to his earlier paper 'The Trouble with Possible Worlds' (Lycan ), and are taken up again in his PAS paper: The ruling out of impossible worlds is a serious liability [...] For semantics needs impossible worlds. Though standard modal logics may trade just in possible states of affairs, the semantics of conditionals must deal with inconsistent beliefs. (Lycan , p.224) He goes on to claim that the actualist has no problem with impossible worlds. An impossible world is just - e.g. - a set of propositions (one of which happens to be inconsistent). (loc.cit.) Whatever the truth of this in principle, most actualists have either explicitly or implicitly excluded possible worlds from their theories.* It is true, nevertheless, that Lewis has a clear problem with the very idea of worlds at which logically incompatible propositions are true. Lycan attempts to exploit this as follows. (shrink)
Herbert Spencer was the most influential Anglophone sociologist of the nineteenth century, but his contributions are now largely forgotten. It is argued, however, that the clarity of his understanding of the use of biological metaphors in sociology gives his work a power which is worth rediscovering. This proposition is pursued through a discussion of his treatment of the professions and their role in industrial societies. His approach is compared with the "ecological" perspective of sociologists in the Chicago tradition, notably Andrew (...) Abbott. It is suggested that Spencer's work rests on an alternative interpretation of the ecological model; this opens the way to an understanding of the regulative structures of "the system of the profession," which fills a major gap in Abbott's account. (shrink)
In this essay I examine the relevance of the vocabulary of an ethics of care to ecofeminism. While this vocabulary appears to offer a promising alternative to moral extensionism and deep ecology, there are problems with the use of this vocabulary by both essentialists and conceptualists. I argue that too great a reliance is placed on personal lived experience as a basis for ecofeminist ethics and that the concept of care is insufficiently determinate to explicate the meaning of care for (...) nature. (shrink)
This essay reflects on three strategic visions of how society might develop in the direction of a more environmentally responsible culture. These strategies - green technology, ecocentrism, and civic environmentalism - offer promising elements of what we need. However, each fails in different ways to successfully explain how citizens, caught up in consumerist practices and their supporting belief systems, can be led to take the transformative steps needed to build a culture that engages responsibly and respectfully with the natural environment. (...) This essay aims to acknowledge the contributions of these three approaches, while also critically reflecting on their limitations. The core limitation is the unresolved clash between ecocentrism's focus on the vulnerability of nature's intrinsic value to any anthropogenic intervention and civic environmentalism's focus on the revival of strong civic democracy as a gateway to environmental health. (shrink)
Laland et al.'s bidirectional model is a welcome starting point that can be enhanced by a full incorporation of systems thinking into its framework. Systems thinkers note that culture is not transmitted linearly in chunks but is co-constructed within subgroups. Niche construction, particularly among primates, should be studied primarily through the effects that social relationships have on selection pressures.
I defend the view that the design of the built environment should be a proper part of environmental ethics. An environmentally responsible culture should be one in which citizens take responsibility for the domesticated environments in which they live, as well as for their effects on wild nature. How we build our world reveals both the possibilities in nature and our own stance toward the world. Our constructions and contrivances also objectively constrain the possibilities for the development of a human (...) way of life integrated with wild nature. An environmentally responsible culture should require a built world that reflects and projects care and respect toward nature. (shrink)
A referendum on abortion in the Republic of Ireland a while ago was strongly influenced by a curious case that aroused great controversy. You probably remember it, but I'll briefly recap the main points. A (very) young rape victim wanted an abortion (or her parents wanted it for her -- I'm not really sure, but it doesn't matter here). She was not only denied it, abortion being illegal in the Republic, but was prevented by a court ruling from going to (...) get one in a country where abortion is allowed. Now, I'm not concerned here with the moral question of abortion itself; what interests me is the confusion evinced (but apparently not felt) by most of those whose comments on the case were reported -- a confusion that afflicted those on both sides of the debate. The results of the recent referendum have reflected the confusion perfectly, with the Irish people offering their collective opinion that a woman shouldn't be allowed an abortion even if her life is endangered, but that women should be allowed free access to information about abortion and to travel to countries where abortion is legal. This would still have denied an abortion to the young rape victim, but would have allowed her to come to England for one. The confusion, it seems to me, is a symptom of two dangerous tendencies of thought concerning other people's moral beliefs -- tendencies which are often linked. (shrink)
If stem cell-based therapies are developed, we will likely confront a difficult problem of justice: for biological reasons alone, the new therapies might benefit only a limited range of patients. In fact, they might benefit primarily white Americans, thereby exacerbating long-standing differences in health and health care.
The CDC's HIV screening recommendations for health care settings advocate abandoning two important autonomy protections: (1) pretest counseling and (2) the requirement that providers obtain affirmative agreement from patients prior to testing. The recommendations may violate the least infringement principle because there is insufficient evidence to conclude that abandoning pretest counseling or affirmative agreement requirements will further the CDC's stated public health goals.
Our starting point for the origins of language goes beyond prosody or infant-directed speech to highlight the affective, multimodal, and co-constructed nature of meaning-making that was likely present before the split between African great apes and hominins. Analysis of vocal and gestural caregiving practices in hominins, and of meaning-making via gestural interaction in African great apes, supports our thesis.
This article reviews 172 studies that used the Defining Issues Test to investigate the moral development of undergraduate college students and provides an organisational framework for analysing educational contexts in higher education. These studies addressed collegiate outcomes related to character or civic outcomes, selected aspects of students' collegiate experiences related to moral judgement development and changes in moral reasoning during the college years as they related to changes in other domains of development. Findings suggest that dramatic gains in moral judgement (...) are associated with collegiate participation, even after controlling for age and entering level of moral judgement. Although many studies used gross indicators of collegiate context (e.g. institutional type or academic discipline), studies that examine specific collegiate characteristics and educational experiences are better suited to identifying factors that contribute directly or indirectly to changes in moral judgement during the college years. Implications for student development practice and future research are discussed. (shrink)
The exchange actually began with a letter from local Palestinian-American and activist Sylvia Shihadeh, who wrote to Oppel with the complaint that reporting from the Middle East in the U.S. press in general and the Statesman in particular tends unfairly to favor Israel. Oppel reduced the charge to a claim of "censorship" of reporting and stoutly denied the charge: "We don't put a pro-Israeli slant on things." ("Tracking down claims of bias in Middle East reporting," July 23, Austin American-Statesman) In (...) his heart of hearts, I'm sure Oppel believes that, because he conceives of "slant" as something carefully slathered on copy during the production process, like oil-based paint. Yet anyone looking for evidence that mainstream editors (and too many reporters) see the Middle East exclusively through U.S./Israeli foreign-policy spectacles will be able to cite these two Oppel columns as undeniable evidence. (shrink)
Both John Henry Newman and Vincent Gasser offered influential interpretations of the First Vatican Council’s teaching on infallibility. In contrast to many of theircontemporaries, Gasser and Newman placed papal infallibility alongside episcopal infallibility and the infallibility of the Catholic faithful. After exploring the views of Gasser and Newman, this essay compares their views to the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on infallibility in Lumen Gentium and concludes that even though Lumen Gentium cited Gasser, its theology is closer to Newman’s.
Previous study has asserted that education majors score lower on assessments of moral development than do other majors. However, important factors associated with moral development have been overlooked. This study investigated the degree to which moral developmental differences exist by accounting for some of the oversights observed in previous study. Samples of 51, 38, and 62 college students in education, psychology, and other majors were addressed in terms of their moral judgment development, moral sensitivity, nonprejudice, and attitudes about human rights (...) and civil liberties. Although some minor trends are seen in favor of psychology majors, results support that moral developmental differences are not as dire as previous study portends. The authors recommend efforts to account for the individual, academic, and extracurricular experiences associated with majors and universities so that continued understanding of the moral development and functioning of their students can occur. (shrink)
We report on the deliberations of an interdisciplinary group of experts in science, law, and philosophy who convened to discuss novel ethical and policy challenges in stem cell research. In this report we discuss the ethical and policy implications of safety concerns in the transition from basic laboratory research to clinical applications of cell-based therapies derived from stem cells. Although many features of this transition from lab to clinic are common to other therapies, three aspects of stem cell biology pose (...) unique challenges. First, tension regarding the use of human embryos may complicate the scientific development of safe and effective cell lines. Second, because human stem cells were not developed in the laboratory until 1998, few safety questions relating to human applications have been addressed in animal research. Third, preclinical and clinical testing of biologic agents, particularly those as inherently complex as mammalian cells, present formidable challenges, such as the need to develop suitable standardized assays and the difficulty of selecting appropriate patient populations for early phase trials. We recommend that scientists, policy makers, and the public discuss these issues responsibly, and further, that a national advisory committee to oversee human trials of cell therapies be established. **NB we did not reccommend a NAC, we think it might be appropriate**. (shrink)