We argue that the dead donor rule, which states that multiple vital organs should only be taken from dead patients, is justified neither in principle nor in practice. We use a thought experiment and a guiding assumption in the literature about the justification of moral principles to undermine the theoretical justification for the rule. We then offer two real world analogues to this thought experiment, voluntary active euthanasia and capital punishment, and argue that the moral permissibility of terminating any patient (...) through the removal of vital organs cannot turn on whether or not the practice violates the dead donor rule.Next, we consider practical justifications for the dead donor rule. Specifically, we consider whether there are compelling reasons to promulgate the rule even though its corresponding moral principle is not theoretically justified. We argue that there are no such reasons. In fact, we argue that promulgating the rule may actually decrease public trust in organ procurement procedures and medical institutions generally – even in states that do not permit capital punishment or voluntary active euthanasia.Finally, we examine our case against the dead donor rule in the light of common arguments for it. We find that these arguments are often misplaced – they do not support the dead donor rule. Instead, they support the quite different rule that patients should not be killed for their vital organs. (shrink)
Levin argues that the results of the most methodologically sound and philosophically relevant studies discussed in this volume [Experimental Philosophy] could have been obtained from the armchair, and thus that experimental philosophy may not present a serious challenge to the traditional methods of analytic philosophy.
In this paper I discuss the claim (advanced in various ways by Joseph Levine, Frank Jackson and David Chalmers) that the successful reduction of qualitative to physical states requires some sort of intelligible connection between our qualitative and physical concepts, which in turn requires a conceptual analysis of our qualitative concepts in causal-functional terms. While I defend this claim against some of its recent critics, I ultimately dispute it, and propose a different way to get the requisite intelligible connection between (...) qualitative and physical concepts. (shrink)
In this study, Levin explores Plato's engagement with the Greek literary tradition in his treatment of key linguistic issues. This investigation, conjoined with a new interpretation of the Republic's familiar critique of poets, supports the view that Plato's work represents a valuable precedent for contemporary reflections on ways in which philosophy might benefit from appeals to literature.
Philosophers have traditionally held that claims about necessities and possibilities are to be evaluated by consulting our philosophical intuitions; that is, those peculiarly compelling deliverances about possibilities that arise from a serious and reflective attempt to conceive of counterexamples to these claims. But many contemporary philosophers, particularly naturalists, argue that intuitions of this sort are unreliable, citing examples of once-intuitive, but now abandoned, philosophical theses, as well as recent psychological studies that seem to establish the general fallibility of intuition.In the (...) first two sections of this paper, I evaluate these arguments, and also the counter-arguments of contemporary defenders of tradition. In the next two sections, I sketch an alternative account of the role of philosophical intuitions that incorporates elements of traditionalism and naturalism - and defend it against other such views. In the final section, however, I discuss intuitions about conscious experience, and acknowledge that my view may not extend comfortably to this case. This may seem unfortunate, since so much contemporary discussion of the epistemology of modality seems motivated by worries about the mind-body problem, and informed by the position one wishes to endorse. But, as I argue, if conscious experience is indeed an exception to the view I suggest in this paper, it is an exception that proves - and can illuminate - the rule. (shrink)
Ayahuasca, a hallucinogen with profound consciousness- altering properties, has been increasingly utilized in recent studies (e.g., Strassman, 2001; Shanon, 2002a,b). However, other than Shanon's recent work, there has been little attempt to examine the effects of ayahuasca on perceptual, affective and cognitive experience, its relation to fringe consciousness or to pertinent personality variables. Twenty-one volunteers attending a seminar on ayahuasca were administered personality measures and a semi-structured interview about phenomenal qualities of their experience. Ayahuasca ingestion was associated with profound alterations (...) of temporal- spatial experiences including expansive space and slowed time. Ayahuasca use was also associated with positive emotional states, higher levels of fantasy proneness and psychological absorption and a greater openness to mystical experiences. Conversely, quickened time was associated with negative emotionality. The results are discussed within a multi-faceted model of fringe consciousness with a particular emphasis on Hunt's (1995) models of cross-modal translation as the basis for higher-order symbolic cognition and support James' (1890/1950) contention that fringe consciousness is essential to human cognition. (shrink)
Molyneux's Question, that is, “Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere... and the blind man made to see: Quaere, whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish, and tell, which is the globe, which the cube”, was discussed by many theorists in the 17th and 18th centuries, and has recently been addressed by contemporary philosophers interested in the nature, and identity conditions, of (...) perceptual concepts. My main concern in this paper is to argue – against Evans, Campbell, and a number of other contemporary philosophers – that a test of the sort Molyneux envisioned, at least if carefully designed and administered, can indeed be a crucial experiment for the claim that we deploy the same perceptual concepts when identifying shapes by sight and by touch. I will explore some implications of this argument for a theory of recognitional concepts. And I’ll try to trace out some unhappy consequences of various alternative views. (shrink)
In Naming and Necessity, Kripke argues that intuitions about what is possible play a limited, but important, role in challenging philosophical theses, counting as evidence against them only if they cannot be reconstrued as intuitions about something else, compatible with the thesis in question. But he doesn't provide clear guidelines for determining when such intuitions have been successfully reconstrued, leading some to question their status as evidence for modal claims. In this paper I focus on some worries, articulated by Michael (...) Della Rocca, about whether modal intuitions can be evidence for claims about essential properties, and argue that there is a way of viewing the role of modal intuition in philosophical argument that can preserve their evidential force. (shrink)
In this study, I examine the significance of the trace and its legibility in the phenomenologies of Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, showing that this trope plays a more significant role in Merleau-Ponty's thinking than has been recognized heretofore and that it constitutes a crucial point of contact between Merleau-Ponty and Levinas. But this point of contact is also, in both their philosophies, a site where their thinking is compelled to confront its limits and the enigmas involved in the description of the (...) topography of a hermeneutical flesh. It is argued that the significance of the trace consists in its alterity, its registering and inscribing in the very matter of the flesh an imperative spiritual assignment: the morally binding hold of the other person on my capacity to be responsive to the other's needs and bear responsibility for the other's welfare. The retrieval or recuperation of the trace, which, I argue, is inscribed as a certain predisposition in what, borrowing from Merleau-Ponty, we might call the prepersonal topology of the flesh, would thus constitute a task of the utmost importance for the formation of the moral self. However, given the paradoxical temporality of the trace and the hermeneutical nature of its legibility, the retrieval of the trace is not actually possible. Nevertheless, the attempt to retrieve it - one's commitment to retrieving it - is an absolutely imperative existential task, determining the character of the moral self. In both Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, however, the problematic nature of this recuperative project is manifested in the ambiguous, equivocal modality of their rhetoric, supposedly engaged in the phenomenological description of the primordial 'inscription', but oscillating, in fact, undecidably between descriptive and prescriptive, constative and performative, literal and metaphorical modes of discourse. It is argued that this, far from being a fault, is necessitated by the hermeneutic nature of the trace, which requires that the description be invocative and evocative, provoking a deep transformation in experience that would make the description true. It accordingly becomes clear that and why the moral phenomenologies of Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, depending as they must on a metaphorical interaction between language and experience, cannot function within the framework of the traditional correspondence theory of truth. (shrink)
Abstract: Type-B materialism is the thesis that though phenomenal states are necessarily identical with physical states, phenomenal concepts have no a priori connections to physical or functional concepts. Though type-B materialists have invoked this conceptual independence to counter a number of well-known arguments against physicalism (e.g. the conceivability of zombies, the ignorance of Mary, the existence of an 'explanatory gap'), anti-physicalists have raised objections to this strategy. My aim here is to defend type-B materialism against these objections, by arguing that (...) they share the common problem of not taking the central features of the view sufficiently seriously. However, I will end by noting that type-B materialism raises other questions, and suggesting that what stands in the way of an adequate naturalistic account of phenomenal states may be the propensity to take type-B materialism more seriously than it deserves. (shrink)
In Naming and Necessity, Kripke argues that clearly conceived (or imagined) scenarios that seem to be counterexamples to a posteriori identity theses can indeed count as evidence against them—but only if, after reflection on our understanding of their constituent terms and the relevant empirical facts, we find that they cannot be acceptably reconstrued as intuitions about something else. This makes trouble for phenomenalphysical identity statements such as ‘pain is C-fiber stimulation’, since most agree that such statements cannot be so reconstrued—and (...) thus some materialists reject Kripke’s account of the link between conceivability and possibility entirely. In my view, however, this is a mistake, since it impoverishes our resources for evaluating a posteriori modal claims;the better strategy for materialists is to show that phenomenal-physical identity statements comprise a special class of statements to which Kripke’s general strategy does not apply. In this paper I contribute to this project by examining, and challenging, Stephen Yablo’s (2005) general objections to Kripke’s strategy, and sketch a principled way to draw a distinction between phenomenal-physical identity statements and other a posteriori modal claims. (shrink)
Examples cited by Feldman, Lehrer and others of true beliefs that are justified, but not by false lemmas, turn out under scrutiny to involve false lemmas after all. In each case there is an EG inference whose conclusion is unwarranted unless its base instance is false. A shift to non-deductive justification does not avert the difficulty. The relation of this result to non-inferential Gettier cases is suggested.
Defenders of pragmatic theories of knowledge (such as contextualism and sensitive invariantism) argue that these theories, unlike those that invoke a single standard for knowledge, comport with the intuitively compelling thesis that knowledge is the norm of assertion and practical reason. In this paper, I dispute this thesis, and argue that, therefore, the prospects for both “high standard” approach, and contend that if one abandons the thesis that knowledge is the norm of assertion and practical reason, the most serious arguments (...) against it lose force. (shrink)
Functionalism in the philosophy of mind is the doctrine that what makes something a mental state of a particular type does not depend on its internal constitution, but rather on the way it functions, or the role it plays, in the system of which it is a part. This doctrine is rooted in Aristotle's conception of the soul, and has antecedents in Hobbes's conception of the mind as a “calculating machine”, but it has become fully articulated (and popularly endorsed) only (...) in the last third of the 20th century. Though the term ‘functionalism’ is used to designate a variety of positions in a variety of other disciplines, including psychology, sociology, economics, and architecture, this entry focuses exclusively on functionalism as a philosophical thesis about the nature of mental states. (shrink)
It is standard practice in philosophical inquiry to test a general thesis (of the form 'F iff G' or 'F only if G') by attempting to construct a counterexample to it. If we can imagine or conceive of1an F that isn't a G, then we have evidence that there could be an F that isn't a G — and thus evidence against the thesis in question; if not, then the thesis is (at least temporarily) secure. Or so it is standardly (...) claimed.But there is increasing skepticism about how seriously to take what we can imagine or conceive as evidence for (or against) a priori philosophical theses, given the many historical examples of now-questionable theses that once seemed impossible to doubt — and also the recent experimental research .. (shrink)
It is argued that the intuition driving Kripke’s famous version of Wittgenstein’s meaning skepticism is precisely the one that prompted Hume to despair of his bundle theory of the self: there are no necessary connections between distinct mental states. This interpretation is shown to throw light on Wittgenstein’s notorious idea that all proofs “create concepts.” Wittgenstein has invented a new form of skepticism. Personally I am inclined to regard it as the most radical and original skeptical problem that philosophy has (...) seen to date[.] – Saul Kripke. (shrink)
I argue against the currently popular view that a radical change in theory affects the meaning of theoretical terms, and hence render pre- and post-shift theories incomparable. I first show how to pose the meaning-change issue without appeal to meanings reified. I contend that arguments against theory-neutral observation languages are faulty, but that even if they were sound, there are semantic devices that allow a theory to refer to the factual basis of a competitor. This suggests a picture of science (...) as the accumulation of truths, with each successive stage being more stable. (shrink)
In "the subjective view", Colin mcginn contends that a dispositional (or "subjectivist") account of secondary qualities may be incompatible with physicalism, As it provides special reasons to think that the experiences of secondary qualities cannot be reduced to physical or functional states. The primary aim of this paper is to show that such an account of secondary qualities is compatible with--Indeed, Encourages--A physico-Functional theory of experience. Further, It argues that if secondary quality experiences cannot be reduced to physical or functional (...) states, Then the dispositional account of secondary qualities cannot hope to match the explanatory adequacy of a sophisticated reductionist view. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill's best-known work is On Liberty (1859). In it he declared that Western society was in danger of coming to a standstill. This was an extraordinarily pessimistic claim in view of Britain's global dominance at the time and one that has been insufficiently investigated in the secondary literature. The wanting model was that of China, a once advanced civilization that had apparently ossified. To understand how Mill came to this conclusion requires one to investigate his notion of the (...) stages from barbarism to civilization, and also his belief in imperialism as part of the civilizing process. Here India plays a central role, as both Mill and his father worked for the East India Company. This study, then, investigates the relationship between Mill's liberalism and his justification of imperialism. It takes us into the Utilitarianism of his family background, and such other influences as Romanticism, Scottish political economy and such key French thinkers as Saint-Simon, Guizot, Comte and Tocqueville. Mill, then, provides the focus of a debate on the origins, meaning, and consequences of Western civilization. It encompasses discourses on colonialism and orientalism, on Enlightenment optimism and conservative despair, on the need for leadership and the advance of democracy; in short, on the blessings, curses and dangers of modernization from approximately the time of the American and French revolutions to that of the so-called mid-Victorian calm in which On Liberty was written. Furthermore, current political issues concerning the West and Islamic countries have heightened interest in just the kind of question that this book discusses: that of how the West relates to, and assesses, the rest of the world. (shrink)
One version of virtue epistemology defines knowledge as belief whose truth arises from, or is explained by, the motives that produced it. This version is also intended to solve the Gettier problem, by shielding properly caused beliefs from double accidents. Unfortunately, there is no notion of "explains" or "arises from" which explains in the intended sense the truth of true beliefs.
Fulda would solve the man-vs-animal problem by according animals rights of denumerable strength and men rights of nondenumerable strength. But the problem remains if there are sufficiently many animals and sufficiently few men in the universe. Fulda may have meant that human rights are (weakly) inaccessible and animal rights smaller. My objection to animal rights remains, and I note that even Peter Singer allows that the rights of slum children (but perhaps not others) may conflict with those of rats.