We suggest to define objective probabilities by similarity-weighted empirical frequencies, where more similar cases get a higher weight in the computation of frequencies. This formula is justified intuitively and axiomatically, but raises the question, which similarity function should be used? We propose to estimate the similarity function from the data, and thus obtain objective probabilities. We compare this definition to others, and attempt to delineate the scope of situations in which objective probabilities can be used.
There is disagreement in the coercion literature over whether an offer, which necessarily lacks a threat, could be coercive, which tends to imply at least some affinity with coercion, which, in paradigm cases, includes a threat. In one difficult sexual harassment case, someone is offered a promotion in exchange for sex, but there is, due to the arrangement of the case, no implied threat or repercussion for refusal. I argue this case counts as coercive since the offer-making attempts (...) to recast the agent's self-image simply by making the offer: the harasser attempts to define his employee as a sexualized object in the workplace to whom it is acceptable to make this kind of offer. Yet, such an offer can only be acceptably made to a woman who would accept sexual intrusions in her career, and it can never be right to assume others are willing to have their business lives sexualized. Thus, the offer is coercive in its disrespect for the employee's autonomy, although it involves no threat. (shrink)
A recent survey indicated that the majority of schools of business administration do not offer courses in business ethics and/or the social responsibilities of business firms. The author examines the reasons for the omission of these courses, and concludes that faculty in the major disciplines and techniques of management do not recognize the complexity of ethical problems or the importance of ethical decisions in the overall management of large business organizations.
The regress of reasons threatens an epistemic agent’s right to claim that any beliefs are justified. In response, Peter Klein’s infinitism argues that an infinite series of supporting reasons of the right type not only is not vicious but can make for epistemic justification. In order to resist the sceptic, infinitism needs to provide reason to think that there is at least one justified belief in the world. Under an infinitist conception this involves showing that at least one belief is (...) supported by an infinite series of supporting reasons. This paper argues that showing this makes problems for the infinitist. The finite minds problem that prevents completion of an infinite series is well documented. This paper examines alternative attempts to provide evidence of infinity that the infinitist might take, whether by using a notion of justification without infinite reasons or by altering the notion of evidence. It concludes that both of these fail and consequently infinitism is unable to offer a solution to Agrippa’s trilemma. (shrink)
Considerable debate has occurred about the proper role of philosophers when offering ethics consultations. Some argue that only physicians or clinical experienced personnel should offer ethics consultations in the clinical setting. Others argue still further that philosophers are ill-equipped to offer such advice, since to do so rests on no social warrant, and violates the abstract and neutral nature of the discipline itself.I argue that philosophers not only can offer such consultations but ought to. To be a (...) bystander when one's discipline does offer insights and methods of value discernment is pusillanimous. But this position requires a view of clinical medical ethics as one that arises out of the clinical practice of medicine, and not just from an application of general ethical principles to the practice of medicine. I conclude with some skills that trained philosophers can bring to the consultation service, and note that all consultations are in the form of recommendations that the patient, family, and physician are still free to accept or reject. Philosophers in the clinical setting do not make decisions. (shrink)
This paper reconsiders Rubinstein's alternating-offer bargaining game with complete information. We define rationalizability and trembling- hand rationalizability (THR) for multi-stage games with observed actions. We show that rationalizability does not exclude perpetual disagreement or delay, but that THR implies a unique solution. Moreover, this unique solution is the unique subgame perfect equilibrium (SPE). Also, we reconsider an extension of Rubinstein's game where a smallest money unit is introduced: THR rules out the non-uniqueness of SPE in some particular case. Finally, (...) we investigate the assumption of boundedly rational players. Perpetual disagreement is excluded, but not delay. Furthermore, we cannot use the asymmetric Nash bargaining solution as an approximation of the alternating-offer bargaining model once the players are boundedly rational ones. (shrink)
A slight modification of Webb's diagrammatic representation of the dimensions for describing models is proposed which extends it to cover a range of theoretical models as well as material models. It is also argued that beyond a certain level robotic simulations could offer a number of real advantages over computer simulations of organisms interacting with their environment.
You are offered one billion dollars to 'simply' produce a proof-of-concept robot that has phenomenal consciousness -- in fact, you can receive a deliciously large portion of the money up front, by simply starting a three-year work plan in good faith. Should you take the money and commence? No. I explain why this refusal is in order, now and into the foreseeable future.
The paper asks about the reasons for the neglect of chemistry in modern philosophy of science and investigates in how far this science can be the object of an autonomous philosophical reflection. It is argued that from a culturalistic point of view chemistry indeed offers a field of interesting questions ranging from the reconstruction of its epistemological objects to the elucidation of the semantic functions of terms like "atom" or "molecule". It is further argued that the philosophical reflection upon chemistry (...) has important consequences for the didactic, the history and even the ethics of this science, making thus philosophy to a partner of chemistry in fulfilling its purposes in human society. (shrink)
While a considerable amount of effort has been expended in an attempt to understand Ludwig Wittgenstein’s enigmatic comments about silence and the mystical at the end of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus , very little attention has been paid to the implications of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations for the study of ineffability. This paper first argues that, since Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations problematizes private language, emphasizes the description of actual language use, and recognizes the rule-governed nature of language, it contains significant implications for the study (...) of ineffability, inviting investigations of the ways in which putative ineffability actually gets expressed rather than speculation about whether there are ineffable objects or experiences. It then undertakes such an investigation in the Dionysian corpus, finding therein not only grammatical techniques that express inexpressibility at the referential, illocutionary, and semiotic levels but also rules that underlie and govern these techniques. Finally, it shows how a recovery of the ordinary uses of ineffability might help dissolve the metaphysical problem of ineffability, thereby bringing ineffability back to the everyday. (shrink)
This article attempts to motivate a new approach to anti-realism (or nominalism) in the philosophy of mathematics. I will explore the strongest challenges to anti-realism, based on sympathetic interpretations of our intuitions that appear to support realism. I will argue that the current anti-realistic philosophies have not yet met these challenges, and that is why they cannot convince realists. Then, I will introduce a research project for a new, truly naturalistic, and completely scientific approach to philosophy of mathematics. It belongs (...) to anti-realism, but can meet those challenges and can perhaps convince some realists, at least those who are also naturalists. (shrink)
This paper presents the history of the Frankfurt School’s inclusion of normative concerns in social science research programs during the period 1930-1955. After examining the relevant methodology, I present a model of how such a program could look today. I argue that such an approach is both valuable to contemporary social science programs and overlooked by current philosophers and social scientists.
In this review essay Stanton Wortham explores how philosophy of education should both turn inward, engaging with concepts and arguments developed in academic philosophy, and outward, encouraging educational publics to apply philosophical approaches to educational policy and practice. He develops his account with reference to two recent ambitious projects: The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education, edited by Harvey Siegel, and the two-volume yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE), titled Why Do We Educate? edited by (...) Gary Fenstermacher (series editor), David Coulter and John Wiens (volume 1), and Mark Smylie (volume 2). These two projects initially appear to be opposed, with the Handbook emphasizing elite philosophy and the Yearbook emphasizing public engagement. Wortham argues that each project is in fact more complex, and that they are in some respects complementary. He concludes by making a case against a simple hierarchy of basic and applied knowledge and calling for a more heterogeneous philosophy of education. (shrink)
This paper argues for the utility of ANT as a philosophical and methodological approach to policy analysis. It introduces the key features of a recent educational policy reform initiative, Skills for Life and illustrates the argument by looking at three ‘moments’ (in Callon's 1986 terminology) in the life of this initiative, applying the theoretical tools of ANT to these. The analysis shows that even (and perhaps especially) within a strongly framed social policy initiative like the Skills for Life Strategy, things (...) constantly escape; that differences held in tension within the ‘successful’ project sow the seeds of failure and dissolution. (shrink)
In evaluating a metatheory, it is possible and desirable to use methods found in critical metatheory. In this post, I use such tools to rigorously analyze and quantify the internal logical structure of Wilber's metatheory. The results show that Wilber's metatheory is unlikely to be of much use in practical application and that it has much room for growth and improvement.
As cultural evolutionists interested in how culture changes over the long term, we've thought and written a lot about migration, but only recently tumbled to an obvious idea: migration has a profound effect on how societies evolve culturally because it is selective. People move to societies that provide a more attractive way of life, and all other things being equal, this process spreads ideas and institutions that lead to economic efficiency, social order and equality.
Simplicius in Cat. 12,10-13,12 presents an interesting justification for the study of Aristotle's Categories, based in Neoplatonic psychology and metaphysics. I suggest that this passage could be regarded as a testimonium to Iamblichus' reasons for endorsing Porphyry's selection of the Categories as an introductory text of Platonic philosophy. These Iamblichean arguments, richly grounded in Neoplatonic metaphysics and psychology, may have exercised an influence comparable to Porphyry's.
If stem cells ever show promise in treating diseases of the human brain, any potential therapy would need to be tested in animals. But putting human brain stem cells into monkeys or apes could raise awkward ethical dilemmas, like the possibility of generating a humanlike mind in a chimpanzee's body.
What Science Offers the Humanities examines some of the deep problems facing current approaches to the study of culture. It focuses especially on the excesses of postmodernism, but also acknowledges serious problems with postmodernism's harshest critics. In short, Edward Slingerland argues that in order for the humanities to progress, its scholars need to take seriously contributions from the natural sciences—and particular research on human cognition—which demonstrate that any separation of the mind and the body is entirely untenable. The author provides (...) suggestions for how humanists might begin to utilize these scientific discoveries without conceding that science has the last word on morality, religion, art, and literature. Calling into question such deeply entrenched dogmas as the "blank slate" theory of nature, strong social constructivism, and the ideal of disembodied reason, What Science Offers the Humanities replaces the human-sciences divide with a more integrated approach to the study of culture. (shrink)
Criminal offenders may be offered to participate in voluntary rehabilitation programs aiming at correcting undesirable behaviour, as a condition of early release. Behavioural treatment may include direct intervention into the central nervous system (CNS). This article discusses under which circumstances voluntary rehabilitation by CNS intervention is justified. It is argued that although the context of voluntary rehabilitation is a coercive circumstance, consent may still be effective, in the sense that it can meet formal criteria for informed consent. Further, for a (...) consent to be normatively valid ( take the wronging out of the act ) under a coercive circumstance, the subject to be treated must (1) have the sovereign authority to consent, and (2) the offer-giver must be in the right normative position to make the offer. While I argue that subjects do have the sovereign authority to consent to treatment, I also argue that inappropriate offers yield invalid consents. Considerations on inappropriate offers should therefore inform which kinds of CNS intervention-based rehabilitation schemes the state may propose as part of the criminal justice system. Yet as I conclude in this paper, while there are some intrinsic constraints on voluntary rehabilitation programs, the main constraints on voluntary rehabilitation are likely to be contingent overriders. However, CNS intervention is not ruled out as such in the context of voluntary rehabilitation. (shrink)
In this article, we examine the association between ethics and disclosure and the impact of this association on the long-term, post-issue performance of seasoned equity offerings (SEOs). We argue that firms with extensive disclosure are less likely to face information problems, and more likely to lead to an active shareholder monitoring, and therefore, engage in fewer unethical activities, such as aggressive earnings manipulation, and have better long-term, post-issue performance. Consistent with these predictions, this study presents evidence that disclosure is negatively (...) related to unethical earnings manipulation and positively associated with long-term, post-issue performance. In particular, we find that long-term, post-issue SEO underperformance is significantly less for firms with extensive disclosure and conservative earnings management than firms with less disclosure and aggressive earnings management. We interpret this evidence to mean that over the long run, the capital market values ethical financial reporting and corporate efforts to incorporate social responsibility into their decision-making processes, for example, by enhancing information transparency through voluntary disclosure. (shrink)
The philosopher Enrique Dussel offers a critical analysis of European construction of indigenous peoples which he calls "transmodern." His theory is especially relevant to feminist and other concerns about the potential disabling effects of postmodern approaches for political action and the development of theory. Dussel divides modernity into two concurrent paradigms. Reflection on them suggests that modernism and postmodernism should not be too strongly distinguished. In conclusion, his approach is compared with that of Mohanty.
A dozen philosophers have recently groped for a formula to pick out coercive offers: when P proposes to give a benefit or withhold a harm for Q’s compliance, when does p’s proposal count as coercive? Five formulae are analyzed here. One account is completely “moralized,” claiming that we can’t pick out coercive offers without first settling questions of rights. Two accounts are completely “non-moral,” using as criterion a baseline of “What would in fact have happened” if P had not wanted (...) Q’s compliance. Finally, two accounts offer “two-baseline” accounts, asking “What should have happened?” and/or “What would have happened otherwise?” four accounts are found quite inadequate; the fifth account (my own earlier formula) is threatened by two odd counter cases. Finally, an alternative to “defining coercion” is sketched. (shrink)
Much can be gained by specifying the operation of the emulation process. A brief review of studies from diverse domains, including complex motor-skill representation, emotion perception, and face memory, highlights that emulation theory offers precise explanations of results and novel predictions. However, the neural instantiation of the emulation process requires development to move the theory from armchair to laboratory.
During the last few years a large number of companies have emerged offering DNA testing via the Internet “direct-to-consumer”. In this paper, I analyse the rhetoric appeal to personal identity put forward on the websites of some of these consumer genomics companies. The investigation is limited to non-health-related DNA testing and focuses on individualistic and communitarian—in a descriptive sense—visions of identity. The individualistic visions stress that each individual is unique and suggest that this uniqueness can be supported by, for example, (...) DNA fingerprinting. The communitarian visions emphasise that individuals are members of communities, in this case genetic communities. It is suggested that these visions can be supported by, for example, various types of tests for genetic ancestry tracing. The main part of the paper is devoted to an analysis of these communitarian visions of identity and the DNA tests they refer to. (shrink)
A common sales tactic is for a seller to encourage a potential customer to make her purchase decision quickly. We consider a market with sequential consumer search in which firms often encourage first-time visitors to buy immediately, either by making an “exploding offer” (which permits no return once the consumer leaves) or by offering a “buy-now discount” (which makes the price paid for immediate purchase lower than the regular price). Prices often increase when these policies are used. If firms (...) cannot commit to their sales policy, the outcome depends on whether consumer incur an intrinsic cost of returning to a firm: if there is no such return cost, it is often an equilibrium for firms to offer a uniform price to both first-time and returning visitors; if the return cost is positive, however, firms are forced to make exploding offers. (shrink)
Unfair offers in bargaining may have disruptive effects because they may reduce interpersonal trust. In such situations future trust may be strongly affected by social accounts (i.e., apologies vs. denials). In the current paper we investigate when people are most likely to demand social accounts for the unfair offer (Experiment 1), and when social accounts will have the highest impact (Experiment 2). We hypothesized that the need for and impact of social accounts will be highest when the intentions of (...) the other party are uncertain. The results provided support for this reasoning. (shrink)
My strategy is to assume a "market libertarian" ideology for the purposes of this paper and then argue that employment offers directed toward people in desperate circumstances are predatory immoral offers. I develop comparisons between predatory behaviour that is widely held to be immoral (cases where people in power prey on the desperate, i.e., people who are desperately hungry, ignorant, secretive, etc.,) and the predatory behaviour of corporate agents who prey on desperate people for cheap labour. What all of these (...) cases have in common is that the predator takes advantage of the fact that the prey is not in a position to make a meaningful choice. When this argument by analogy is put in the context of the libertarian insistence that voluntary exchanges are at the foundation of everyone's freedom, it represents a devastating critique of neo-liberal consistency. (shrink)
(2013). Offering Testicular Tissue Cryopreservation to Boys: The Increasing Importance of Biological Fatherhood. The American Journal of Bioethics: Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 39-40. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2012.760678.
While a ubiquitous phenomenon, initial public offerings (IPOs) have received no attention in the ethics literature. We provide an overview of a series of potential conflicts of interest that pervade the IPO process. We also report the results of an empiricalassessment of IPOs and those elements that may inform a substantive moral hazard faced by key players in the period prior to and justafter an IPO.
PURPOSE: The offer to return a summary of results to participants after the conclusion of clinical research has many potential benefits. The authors determined current practice and attitudes and needs of researchers in establishing programs to return results to research participants. METHODS: An Internet survey of all 236 principal investigators (PIs) of the Children's Oncology Group in May 2002 recorded PI and institutional demographics, current practice, and perceived barriers to and needs of PIs for the creation of research results (...) programs. RESULTS: One hundred fifty (63.8%) PIs responded. Few institutions (n = 5) had established, comprehensive programs to offer the return of results. PIs indicated that major impediments to the implementation of such programs are the preparation of lay summaries, time constraints, the task of contacting participants, and potential distress for the participants. PIs identified the following facilitators to the establishment of a program in their own institution: lay summaries, web site, preparation of an oncologist's summary, and financial credits. There was no clear consensus as to when the results should be shared: 30% indicated after the study was closed and 24% indicated at the time of publication of results. A substantial proportion of respondents opposed or strongly opposed the implementation of a universal offering of results to research participants. CONCLUSIONS: Few Children's Oncology Group institutions have programs that offer the return of results to research participants. Significant barriers and facilitators to this process have been identified. (shrink)
In this paper I investigate the web-rhetoric of companies offering home-based personal health monitoring to patients and elderly people. Two main rhetorical methods are found, namely a reference to practical benefits and a use of prestige words like “quality of life” and “independence”. I interpret the practical benefits in terms of instrumental values and the prestige words in terms of final values. I also reconstruct the arguments on the websites in terms of six different types of argument. Finally, I articulate (...) a general critique of the arguments, namely that the websites neglect the context of use of personal health monitoring technologies. Whether or not a technology is good depends on the use of the technology by a particular individual in a particular context. The technology is not good–or bad–in itself. I support this critique with a number of more specific arguments such as the risk for reduced personal contact. For some elderly people social contact with care providers is more valuable than the independent living made possible by remote monitoring, for others independence is more important. (shrink)
Consciousness and intentionality are perhaps the two central phenomena in the philosophy of mind. Human beings are conscious beings: there is something it is like to be us. Human beings are intentional beings: we represent what is going on in the world.Correspondingly, our specific mental states, such as perceptions and thoughts, very often have a phenomenal character: there is something it is like to be in them. And these mental states very often have intentional content: they serve to represent the (...) world. On the face of it, consciousness and intentionality are intimately connected. Our most important conscious mental states are intentional states: conscious experiences often inform us about the state of the world. And our most important intentional mental states are conscious states: there is often something it is like to represent the external world. It is natural to think that a satisfactory account of consciousness must respect its intentional structure, and that a satisfactory account of intentionality must respect its phenomenological character.With this in mind, it is surprising that in the last few decades, the philosophical study of consciousness and intentionality has often proceeded in two independent streams. This wasnot always the case. In the work of philosophers from Descartes and Locke to Brentano and Husserl, consciousness and intentionality were typically analyzed in a single package. But in the second half of the twentieth century, the dominant tendency was to concentrate on onetopic or the other, and to offer quite separate analyses of the two. On this approach, the connections between consciousness and intentionality receded into the background.In the last few years, this has begun to change. The interface between consciousness and intentionality has received increasing attention on a number of fronts. This attention has focused on such topics as the representational content of perceptual experience, the higherorder representation of conscious states, and the phenomenology of thinking. Two distinct philosophical groups have begun to emerge. One group focuses on ways in which consciousness might be grounded in intentionality. The other group focuses on ways in which intentionality might be grounded in consciousness. (shrink)
In this paper I begin to develop an account of the acquaintance that each of us has with our own conscious states and processes. The account is a speculative proposal about human mental architecture and specifically about the nature of the concepts via which we think in first personish ways about our qualia. In a certain sense my account is neutral between physicalist and dualist accounts of consciousness. As will be clear, a dualist could adopt the account I will (...) class='Hi'>offer while maintaining that qualia themselves are non-physical properties. In this case the non-physical nature of qualia may play no role in accounting for the features of acquaintance. But although the account could be used by a dualist, its existence provides support for physicalism. (shrink)
This paper defends the position that the supposed gap between biological altruism and psychological altruism is not nearly as wide as some scholars (e.g., Elliott Sober) insist. Crucial to this defense is the use of James Mark Baldwin's concepts of “organic selection”and “social heredity” to assist in revealing that the gap between biological and psychological altruism is more of a small lacuna. Specifically, this paper argues that ontogenetic behavioral adjustments, which are crucial to individual survival and reproduction, are also crucial (...) to species survival. In particular, it is argued that human psychological altruism is produced and maintained by various sorts of mimicry and self-reflection in the aid of both individual and species survival. The upshot of this analysis is that it is possible to offer an account of psychological altruism that is closelytethered to biological altruism without reducing entirely the former to thelatter. (shrink)
I offer an explanation of how subjects are able to perceive the intrinsic spatial properties of objects, given that subjects always perceive from a particular location. The argument proceeds in two steps. First, I argue that a conception of space is necessary to perceive the intrinsic spatial properties of objects. This conception of space is spelled out by showing that perceiving intrinsic properties requires perceiving objects as the kind of things that are perceivable from other locations. Second, I show (...) that having such a conception of space presupposes that a subject represent her location in relation to perceived objects. More precisely the thesis is that a subject represents her location as the location from which she both perceives objects and would act in relation to objects were she to act. So I argue that perception depends on the capacity to know what it would be to act in relation to objects. (shrink)
What are the ontological commitments of a sentence? In this paper I offer an answer from the perspective of the truthmaker theorist that contrasts with the familiar Quinean criterion. I detail some of the benefits of thinking of things this way: they include making the composition debate tractable without appealing to a neo-Carnapian metaontology, making sense of neo-Fregeanism, and dispensing with some otherwise recalcitrant necessary connections.
In one of the most frequently quoted passages in the history of emotion research, William James (1884: 189f) announces that emotions occur when the perception of an exciting fact causes a collection of bodily changes, and “our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS the emotion.” The same idea occurred to Carl Lange (1984) around the same time. These authors were not the first to draw a link between the emotions and the body. Indeed, this had been a (...) central theme of Descartes’ exquisite opus, The Passions of the Soul. But James and Lange wanted to push things farther than most, suggesting that emotions are exhausted by bodily changes or perceptions thereof. Other kinds of mental episodes might co-occur when we have an emotion state. For James, an emotion follows an exciting perception. But the exciting perception is not a part of the emotion it excited (Ellsworth, 1994, reads James differently, but see Reisenzein et al.’s 1995 convincing response). The majority of contemporary emotion researchers, especially those in philosophy, find this suggestion completely untenable. Surely, emotions involve something more. At their core, emotions are more like judgments or thoughts, than perceptions. They evaluate, assess, or appraise. Emotions are amendable to rational assessment; they report, correctly or incorrectly, on how we are faring in the world. Within this general consensus, there is a further debate about whether the body should figure into a theory of emotions at all. Perhaps James and Lange offer a theory that is not merely incomplete, but entirely off base. Where they view judgments as contingent and non-constitutive concomitants of emotions, it is actually bodily perceptions that deserve this demotion. Perhaps emotions can be, and often are, disembodied in some fundamental sense. (shrink)
In this paper I present a moral account of the legal notion of deceptive advertising. I argue that no harmful consequences to the consumer need follow from a deceptive advertisement as such, and I suggest instead that one should focus on the consequences of permitting the practise of deceptive advertising on society as a whole. After a brief account of deceptive advertising, I move to discuss the role of the reasonable person standard in its definition. One interpretation of this standard (...) is empirical, aiming to objectify the quality of misleadingness in the advertisement. I offer an alternative normative interpretation which aims to draw the line between the advertiser's responsibility and that of the consumer, between misleading and miscomprehension. I then examine and reject several possible moral grounds for condemning and prohibiting deceptive advertising. These include: harm, in the sense of welfare, to the misled consumer; harm to competitors; and a violation or a reduction of the consumer's autonomy. Finally, I explain how the effect of the practise of deceptive advertising on society as a whole should inform our normative line-drawing between misleading and miscomprehension, and how it provides the basis for the moral evaluation of deceptive advertising. (shrink)
Due to the wide array of phenomena that are of interest to them, psychologists offer highly diverse and heterogeneous types of explanations. Initially, this suggests that the question "What is psychological explanation?" has no single answer. To provide appreciation of this diversity, we begin by noting some of the more common types of explanations that psychologists provide, with particular focus on classical examples of explanations advanced in three different areas of psychology: psychophysics, physiological psychology, and information-processing psychology. To analyze (...) what is involved in these types of explanations, we consider the ways in which law-like representations of regularities and representations of mechanisms factor in psychological explanations. This consideration directs us to certain fundamental questions, e.g., "To what extent are laws necessary for psychological explanations?" and "What do psychologists have in mind when they appeal to mechanisms in explanation?" In answering such questions, it appears that laws do play important roles in psychological explanations, although most explanations in psychology appeal to accounts of mechanisms. Consequently, we provide a unifying account of what psychological explanation is. (shrink)
In this essay I take issue with Derek Parfit's reductionist account of personal identity.Parfit is concerned to respond to what he sees as flaws in the conception of the role of 'person' in self-interest theories. He attempts to show that the notion of a person as something over and above a totality of mental and physical states and events (in his words, a 'further fact'), is empty, and so, our ethical concerns must be based on something other than this. My (...) objections centre around the claim that Parfit employs an impoverished conception of 'life'. Parfit misconceives the connection between 'I' and one's body, and, so, despite his rejection of a metaphysical conception of 'self', remains within the logic of Cartesianism. What Parfit and other reductionists call an 'impersonal' perspective, I shall call the third-person perspective: a perspective which one in general may take. Against Parfit I shall offer a more complex conception of 'self' through the concept of 'bodily perspective'. I emphasize the irreducible ambiguities of human embodiment in order to show the presuppositions and the limitations of Parfit's view. Of interest is the conception of time and the model of continuity that is appropriate to an embodied subject's life. I employ Paul Ricoeur's concept of 'human time' to argue that the reflective character of human experience demands a model of temporality and continuity that differs significantly from the one Parfit employs. (shrink)
As much as assumptions about mechanisms and mechanistic explanation have deeply affected psychology, they have received disproportionately little analysis in philosophy. After a historical survey of the influences of mechanistic approaches to explanation of psychological phenomena, we specify the nature of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation. Contrary to some treatments of mechanistic explanation, we maintain that explanation is an epistemic activity that involves representing and reasoning about mechanisms. We discuss the manner in which mechanistic approaches serve to bridge levels rather than (...) reduce them, as well as the different ways in which mechanisms are discovered. Finally, we offer a more detailed example of an important psychological phenomenon for which mechanistic explanation has provided the main source of scientific understanding. (shrink)
Although it has been something of a fetish for philosophers to distinguish between hallucination and illusion, the enduring problems for philosophy of perception that both phenomena present are not essentially different. Hallucination, in its pure philosophical form, is just another example of the philosopher’s penchant for considering extreme and extremely idealized cases in order to understand the ordinary. The problem that has driven much philosophical thinking about perception is the problem of how to reconcile our evident direct perceptual contact with (...) objects and properties with the equally evident fact that there is no phenomenological signal separating error and truth. “The obscure object of hallucination” offers a subtle and plausible solution to this problem and one that solves the problem generally, not just in the special case of hallucination. Johnston’s objective is to offer a theory of perception that meets two constraints: (1) that it provide an explanation of the possibility of delusive and veridical sensings that are indistinguishable from the ﬁrst-person perspective and (2) that it count as form of direct realism where this is taken to involve acquaintance with the objects of perception. Johnston uses the ﬁrst constraint to rule out disjunctivism. The second constraint is used to rule out conjunctivism, which as Johnston uses the term, includes most of the widely adopted philosophical theories of perception. Johnston also develops his own sophisticated and interesting theory of perception. In what follows, I will discuss the relation of Johnston’s theory to conjunctivism, examine one of his anti-conjunctivist arguments and ﬁnally compare Johnston’s theory with some other versions of direct realism. These topics constitute a very incomplete selection of the important issues discussed in this rich and interesting paper. I will also not disagree, in any fundamental way, with any of the central theses of Johnston’s discussion.. (shrink)
Psychologically based accounts of personal identity over time start from a view of persons as experiencing subjects. Derek Parfit argues that if such an account is to justify the importance we attach to identity it will need to provide a deep unity of consciousness throughout the life of a person, and no such unity is possible. In response, many philosophers have switched to a view of persons as essentially agents, arguing that the importance of identity depends upon agential unity rather (...) than unity of consciousness. While this shift contributes significantly to the discussion, it does not offer a fully satisfying alternative. Unity of consciousness still seems required if identity is to be as important as we think it is. Views of identity based on agential unity do, however, point to a new understanding of unity of consciousness which meets Parfit's challenge, yielding an integrated view of identity which sees persons as both subjects and agents. Footnotesa I am indebted to many friends and colleagues for their input in the course of writing this essay. I would like especially to thank David DeGrazia, Anthony Laden, Ray Martin, Marc Slors, and the editors of Social Philosophy and Policy. (shrink)
The _minimal free will thesis_ (MFT) holds that at least some of the time, someone has more than one course of action that he can perform. (1) This is the least that must be true in order for it to be said that there is free will. It may be disputed whether the truth of MFT is _sufficient_ for us to 'have free will,' (2) but there is no doubt that the main philosophical challenge to the belief in free will (...) has come from the thesis of universal determinism, so understood as to exclude MFT. A proof of MFT is therefore of considerable philosophical interest, whether or not it constitutes a full proof of free will. In any case, it is the minimal free will thesis of which I have a proof to offer. (shrink)
The central argument in the Euthyphro is the one Socrates advances against the definition of piety as "what all the gods love." The argument turns on establishing that a loved thing (philoumenon) is 1) a loved thing because it is loved (phileitai), not 2) loved because it is a loved thing. I suggest that this claim can be understood and found acceptable if we take "because" to be used equivocally in it. Despite the equivocation, Socrates' argument is valid, showing that (...) Euthyphro cannot offer this definition consistently with his view that the gods have as a reason for loving pious things that they are pious things. (shrink)
A number of philosophers endorse, without argument, the view that there's something it's like consciously to think that p, which is distinct from what it's like consciously to think that q. This thesis, if true, would have important consequences for philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In this paper I offer two arguments for it. The first argument claims it would be impossible introspectively to distinguish conscious thoughts with respect to their content if there weren't something it's like to (...) think them. This argument is defended against several objections. The second argument uses what I call "minimal pair" experiences--sentences read without and with understanding--to induce in the reader an experience of the kind I claim exists. Further objections are considered and rebutted. (shrink)
Alva Noë’s _Action in Perception _offers a provocative and vigorous defense of the thesis that vision is enactive: visual experience depends on dispositional motor responses. On this view, vision and action are inextricably bound. In this review, I argue against enactive perception. I raise objections to seven lines of evidence that appear in Noë’s book, and I indicate some reasons for thinking that vision can operate independently of motor responses. I conclude that the relationship between vision and action is causal, (...) not constitutive. I then address three other contentious hypotheses in the book. Noë argues that visual states are not pictorial; he argues that all perception is conceptual; and he argues that the external world makes a constitutive contribution to experience. I am unpersuaded by these arguments, and I offer reasons to resist Noë’s conclusions. (shrink)
We currently have on offer a variety of different theories of causation. Many are strikingly good, providing detailed and plausible treatments of exemplary cases; and all suffer from clear counterexamples. I argue that, contra Hume and Kant, this is because causation is not a single, monolithic concept. There are different kinds of causal relations imbedded in different kinds of systems, readily described using thick causal concepts. Our causal theories pick out important and useful structures that fit some familiar cases—cases (...) we discover and ones we devise to fit. (shrink)
Friends as well as foes of Kant have long been uneasy over his emphasis on duty, but lately the view that there is something morally repugnant about acting from duty seems to be gaining in popularity. More and more philosophers indicate their readiness to jettison duty and the moral 'ought' and to conceive of the perfectly moral person as someone who has all the right desires and acts accordingly without any notion that (s)he ought to act in this way. Elsewhere' (...) I have argued that such a picture of the perfectly moral person is flawed. In this paper I examine the claim that acting from duty is morally repugnant. There is some truth to this charge, but, I argue, the repugnance attaches not to acting from duty as such, but only to certain ways of acting from duty. In isolating the objectionable elements of acting from duty, I hope not only to vindicate the skeletal concept but also to offer illumination on the question of just how we should understand morally good conduct. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. In this paper I propose a defense of a posteriori materialism. Prob- lems with a posteriori identity materialism are identi?ed, and a materialism based on composition, not identity, is proposed. The main task for such a proposal is to account for the relation between physical and phenomenal properties. Compos- ition does not seem to be ?t as a relation between properties, but I offer a peculiar way to understand property-composition, based on some recent ideas in the literature on (...) ontology. Finally, I propose a materialist model for the mind-body relation that is able to resist the attack from conceivability arguments. (shrink)
Damasio remarks, it "informs virtually all research on mind and brain, explicitly or implicitly." Indeed, serial information processing models generally run this risk (Kinsbourne, 1985). The commentaries provide a wealth of confirming instances of the seductive power of this idea. Our sternest critics Block, Farah, Libet, and Treisman) adopt fairly standard Cartesian positions; more interesting are those commentators who take themselves to be mainly in agreement with us, but who express reservations or offer support with arguments that betray a (...) continuing allegiance to one or another tenet of the view we sought to discredit. (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive, systematic theory of moral responsibility. The authors explore the conditions under which individuals are morally responsible for actions, omissions, consequences, and emotions. The leading idea in the book is that moral responsibility is based on 'guidance control'. This control has two components: the mechanism that issues in the relevant behavior must be the agent's own mechanism, and it must be appropriately responsive to reasons. The book develops an account of both components. The authors go on (...) to offer a sustained defense of the thesis that moral responsibility is compatible with causal determinism. (shrink)
In a case of weak-willed action the agent acts-freely, deliberately, and for a reason-in a way contrary to his best judgment, even though he thinks he could act in accordance with his best judgment. The possibility of such actions has posed one problem in moral philosophy, the exact nature of the problem it poses another. In this essay I offer an answer to the latter problem: an explanation of why a plausible account of free, deliberate and purposive action seems (...) to preclude the possibility of weak-willed action. I then try to resolve the first problem by developing this account in a way which allows for this possibility. The possibility of weak-willed action is made problematic by an account which sees free, deliberate and purposive action as involving the conclusion of a piece of practical reasoning. Solving the problem does not require us to abandon this conception but, rather, to notice certain special features of the relation between premises and conclusion in such reasoning. (shrink)
Here's one way this chapter could go. After defining the terms 'innate' and 'idea', we say whether Chomsky thinks any ideas are innate -- and if so, which ones. Unfortunately, we don't have any theoretically interesting definitions to offer; and, so far as we know, Chomsky has never said that any ideas are innate. Since saying that would make for a very short chapter, we propose to do something else. Our aim is to locate Chomsky, as he locates himself, (...) in a rationalist tradition where talk of innate ideas has often been used to express the following view: the general character of human thought is due largely to human nature. (shrink)
Adopting a materialist approach to the mind has far reaching implications for many presuppositions regarding the properties of the brain, including those that have traditionally been consigned to “the mental” aspect of human being. One such presupposition is the conception of the disembodied self. In this article we aim to account for the self as a material entity, in that it is wholly the result of the physiological functioning of the embodied brain. Furthermore, we attempt to account for the structure (...) of the self by invoking the logic of the narrative. While our conception of narrative selfhood incorporates the work of both Freud and Dennett, we offer a critique of these two theorists and then proceed to amend their theories by means of complexity theory. We argue that the self can be characterised as a complex system, which allows us to account for the structure of the wholly material self. (shrink)
Despite the traditional focus on metaphysical issues in discussions of natural kinds in biology, epistemological considerations are at least as important. By revisiting the debate as to whether taxa are kinds or individuals, I argue that both accounts are metaphysically compatible, but that one or the other approach can be pragmatically preferable depending on the epistemic context. Recent objections against construing species as homeostatic property cluster kinds are also addressed. The second part of the paper broadens the perspective by considering (...) homologues as another example of natural kinds, comparing them with analogues as functionally defined kinds. Given that there are various types of natural kinds, I discuss the different theoretical purposes served by diverse kind concepts, suggesting that there is no clear-cut distinction between natural kinds and other kinds, such as functional kinds. Rather than attempting to offer a unique metaphysical account of ‘natural’ kind, a more fruitful approach consists in the epistemological study of how different natural kind concepts are employed in scientific reasoning. (shrink)
Constitutional interpretation is problematic because it can be difficult to distinguish legitimate interpretation from illegitimate change. The distinction depends largely on what a constitution is. A constitution, like any other law, necessarily has a meaning, which pre-exists judicial interpretation: it is not a set of meaningless marks on paper. Any plausible constitutional theory must offer an account of the nature of that meaning. In doing so, it must address two main questions. The first is whether the meaning of the (...) constitution is given solely by its words, or also by additional evidence of underlying intentions, purposes or values. The second question is whether, in either case, its meaning is determined by the original meanings, intentions, purposes or values of the founding generation, or by contemporary meanings, intentions, purposes or values. This question divides so-called 'originalists' from 'non-originalists'. This article discusses all these alternatives, and the main arguments for and against them. It is subtitled 'Originalism' because it defends a moderate version of that position; however, it is argued that this is equivalent to a moderate version of non-originalism. (shrink)
Quantum indeterminism may make available the option of an interactionism that does not have to pay the price of a force over and above those forces that are acknowledged in physics in order to explain how intentions can be physically effective. I show how this option might work in concrete terms and offer a criticism of it.
Philosophers and economists write about collective action from distinct but related points of view. This paper aims to bridge these perspectives. Economists have been concerned with rationality in a strategic context. There, problems posed by “coordination games” seem to point to a form of rational action, “team thinking,” which is not individualistic. Philosophers’ analyses of collective intention, however, sometimes reduce collective action to a set of individually instrumental actions. They do not, therefore, capture the first person plural perspective characteristic of (...) team thinking. Other analyses, problematically, depict intentions ranging over others’ actions. I offer an analysis of collective intention which avoids these problems. A collective intention aims only at causing an individual action, but its propositional content stipulates its mirroring in other minds. (shrink)
Enterprise management often encourages their marketing personnel to offer gifts to purchasers of clients but won''t allow the purchasers of the company to accept gifts. This double standards create an atmosphere of dishonesty in the company.When considering that purchasers fulfilling the procurement function for a company are the major spenders of company funds, and that purchasers are frequently tempted to accept gifts and prevailing double standards within the company, it is no wonder that they sometimes succumb to unethical behaviour. (...) The purchasing environment thus creates an atmosphere conductive to unethical behaviour. (shrink)
Numerous studies indicate that racial minorities are both more likely to be executed for murder and that those who murder them are less likely to be executed than if they murder whites. Death penalty opponents have long attempted to use these studies to argue for a moratorium on capital punishment. Whatever the merits of such arguments, they overlook the fact that such discrimination alters the costs of murder; racial discrimination imposes higher costs on minorities for murdering through tougher sentences, and (...) it imposes lower costs on whites for murdering minorities by dispensing weaker sentences. These cost differentials constitute an injustice not simply to actual minority defendants in capital cases, nor simply to the actual minority victims of murder, but to all members of minority communities. I here offer two arguments for a moratorium on capital punishment: The first draws upon evidence of racial discrimination against minority defendants in capital cases, and claims that such discrimination modifies the costs of murder in such a way that minority individuals do not enjoy equal status under the law. The second draws upon the evidence regarding racial discrimination in relation to the race of victims, and claims that such discrimination modifies the costs of murder in such a way that minority individuals do not enjoy the equal protection of the law. Thus, by not assigning equal costs to murder, the American criminal justice system fails to provide racial minorities the equality under the law and discounts the value of their lives and liberties. A moratorium is the least unjust response to such a social injustice. I also reply to the criticism that a moratorium prevents us from executing deserving murderers. (shrink)
Mental internalists hold that an individuals mental features at a given time supervene upon what is in that individuals head at that time. While many people reject mental internalism about content and justification, mental internalism is commonly accepted regarding such other mental features as rationality, emotion-types, propositional-attitude-types, moral character, and phenomenology. I construct a counter-example to mental internalism regarding all these features. My counter-example involves two creatures: a human and an alien from Pulse World. These creatures environments, behavioral dispositions and (...) histories are such that it is intuitively clear that they are mentally quite different, even while they are, for a moment, exactly alike with respect to whats in their heads. I offer positive reasons for thinking that the case I describe is indeed possible. I then consider ways in which mental internalists might attempt to account for this case, but conclude that the only plausible option is to reject mental internalism and to adopt a particular externalist alternative a history-oriented version of teleo-functionalism. (shrink)
Virtue consequentialism has been held by many prominent philosophers, but has never been properly formulated. I criticize Julia Driver's formulation of virtue consequentialism and offer an alternative. I maintain that according to the best version of virtue consequentialism, attributions of virtue are really disguised comparisons between two character traits, and the consequences of a trait in non-actual circumstances may affect its actual status as a virtue or vice. Such a view best enables the consequentialist to account for moral luck, (...) unexemplified virtues, and virtues and vices involving the prevention of goodness and badness. (shrink)
In this paper I criticize the most significant recent examples of the practical knowledge analysis of knowledge-how in the philosophical literature: David Carr [1979, Mind, 88, 394–409; 1981a, American Philosophical Quarterly, 18, 53–61; 1981b, Journal of Philosophy of Education, 15(1), 87–96] and Stanley & Williamson [2001, Journal of Philosophy, 98(8), 411–444]. I stress the importance of know-how in our contemporary understanding of the mind, and offer the beginnings of a treatment of know-how capable of providing insight in to the (...) use of know-how in contemporary cognitive science. Specifically, I claim that Carr’s necessary conditions for know-how fail to capture the distinction he himself draws between ability and knowing-how. Moreover, Carr ties knowing-how to conscious intent, and to an explicit knowledge of procedural rules. I argue that both moves are mistakes, which together render Carr’s theory an inadequate account both of common ascriptions of knowledge-how and of widely accepted ascriptions of knowledge-how within explanations in cognitive science. Finally, I note that Carr’s conditions fail to capture intuitions (heshares) regarding the ascription of know-how to persons lacking ability. I then consider the position advocated by Stanley & Williamson (2001), which seems avoid Carr’s commitments to conscious intent and explicit knowledge while still maintaining that “knowledge-how is simply a species of knowledge-that" (Stanley & Williamson, 2001, p. 411). I argue that Stanley and Williamson’s attempt to frame a reductionist view that avoids consciously occurrent beliefs during exercises of knowledge-how and explicit knowledge of procedural rules is both empirically implausible and explanatorily vacuous. In criticizing these theories I challenge the presuppositions of the most pervasive response to Ryle in the philosophic literature, what might be described as “the received view." I also establish several facts about knowing-how. First, neither conscious intent nor explicit representation (much less conscious representation) of procedural rules are necessary for knowing-how given the theory of cognition current in cognitive science. I argue that the discussed analyses fail to capture the necessary conditions for knowledge-how because know-how requires the instantiation of an ability and of the capacities necessary for exploiting an ability—not conscious awareness of purpose or explicit knowledge of rules. Second, one must understand knowledge-how as task-specific, i.e., as presupposing certain underlying conditions. Conceiving of know-how as task-specific allows one to understand ascriptions of know-how in the absence of ability as counterfactual ascriptions based upon underlying competence. (shrink)
Zombies recently conjured by Searle and others threaten civilized (i.e., materialistic) philosophy of mind and scientific psychology as we know it. Humanoid beings that behave like us and may share our functional organizations and even, perhaps, our neurophysiological makeups without qualetative conscious experiences, zombies seem to meet every materialist condition for thought on offer and yet -- the wonted intuitions go -- are still disqualefied (disqualified for lack of qualia) from being thinking things. I have a plan. Other zombies (...) -- good (qualia eating) zombies -- can battle their evil (behavior eating) cousins to a standoff. Perhaps even defeat them. Familiar zombies and supersmart zombies resist disqualefication, making the world safe, again, for materialism. Behavioristic materialism. Alas for functionalism, good zombies still eat programs. Alas for identity theory, all zombies -- every B movie fan knows -- eat brains. (shrink)
Terry Horgan University of Memphis In this paper I address the problem of causal exclusion, specifically as it arises for mental properties (although the scope of the discussion is more general, being applicable to other kinds of putatively causal properties that are not identical to narrowly physical causal properties, i.e., causal properties posited by physics). I summarize my own current position on the matter, and I offer a defense of this position. I draw upon and synthesize relevant discussions in (...) various <blockquote>  </blockquote> other papers of mine (some collaborative) that bear on this topic. (shrink)