(2013). Review of Peter Ubel, Critical Decisions: How You and Your Doctor Can Make the Right Medical Choices Together. The American Journal of Bioethics: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 53-54. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2013.768866.
WALTER BURLEIGH, Von der Reinheit der Kunst der Logik. Erster Traktat: Von den Eigenschaften der Termini. Übersetzt und mit Einfuhrung und Anmerkungen herausgegeben von Peter Kunze. Lateinisch-deutsch. (Philosophische Bibliothek, Nr. 401 .) Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1988. xlvii + 269 pp. 64 DM.
A pivotal focus of exegesis of Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārïkā (MMK) for the past half century has been the attempt to decipher the text's philosophy of language, and determine how this best aids us in characterizing Madhyamaka thought as a whole. In this vein, MMK 24:18 has been judged of particular weight insofar as it purportedly insists that the concepts pratītyasamutpāda (conditioned co-arising) and śūnyatā (emptiness), both indispensable to Buddhist praxis, are themselves only "nominal" or "conventional," that is, they are merely labels (...) that do not referentially signify anything that can be taken to be an ontologically ultimate reality. In various guises, as a result of this explication, Nāgārjuna's thought has been seen to embrace an overarching linguistic nominalism or conventionalism in which words, whether they are used for the purposes of theory or practice, though they serve as commonly accepted currency in the transactions of worldly business (vyavahāra), are in the end only ideas (prajñapti) or metaphysical fabrications (prapanca). This interpretation is largely due to tenaciously inaccurate translations and expositions of MMK 24:18 and their dependence on Candrakīrti's peculiar analysis of this verse in his Prasannapadā. This essay will attempt to correct both the diction of the major translations of MMK 24:18 and the fictions of nominalism and conventionalism that the consequent interpretations of this stanza have perpetuated. The argument that will be developed in the course of this essay is that Candrakīrti's reading of this verse proffers a strong form of linguistic nominalism that Nāgārjuna himself does not embrace. It will be shown, based on everything else found in the MMK, that Nāgārjuna, rather than advocating the mere nominal or conventional status of terms such as pratītyasamutpāda and sunyata, demands they be accepted as both pedagogically useful and even referentially accurate descriptions of the world as it is. (shrink)
I am most grateful to Professors Garfield and Westerhoff for their comments on my article "Acquiring Emptiness: Interpreting Nāgārjuna's MMK 24 : 18" in the January 2010 issue of Philosophy East and West. Their responses to my essay and the critiques they offer, grounded in their considerable expertise in Buddhist philosophical schools, are well argued and rooted in thorough commentarial analysis. In what follows, I attempt to respond to their critiques and concerns.There can be no doubt that the occurrence of (...) the phrase sā prajñāptir upādāya in MMK 24 : 18 has been understood by the bulk of the commentarial literature on the treatise as a compound technical term meaning something like "dependent designation." The .. (shrink)
The scholarly career of Professor Chad Hansen has been devoted in large measure to an elucidation of the relationship between the classical Chinese language and the structure and aims of pre-Qin philosophical thought. His “mass-noun” hypothesis of classical Chinese thought, his notion of dao 道 as “guiding discourse,” and his clarifications of the significance of Mohism are marked achievements from which all of us have benefited immensely. In the opening chapters of A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought, Hansen prefaces his (...) interpretation of how the Chinese language lends uniqueness to its philosophical tradition with a sharp contrast to Indo-European language and thought. Hansen attempts to show how the Indo-European .. (shrink)
The hypothermia experiments performed on humans during the Second World War at the German concentration camp in Dachau have been regarded as crimes against humanity, disguised as medical research. For almost 50 years, scientists maintained that the study produced valuable, even if not totally reliable, information. In recent years, the results from the Dachau hypothermia project were glamorized with life-saving potential and a heated ethical dialogue was activated about the use of life-saving but tainted scientific information. In the wake of (...) the debate, an in-depth examination of the scientific rigour of the project was performed and revealed that neither the science nor the scientists from Dachau could be trusted and that the data were worthless. The body of medical opinion accepted the unfavourable determination but a few scientists and ethicists have continued to endorse the validity, of at least parts, of the Dachau hypothermia data. The conduct of the scientific communications about the Dachau hypothermia experiments by the scientific and ethical communities invites serious consideration of a possible ethical misadventure. It appears that for almost 50 years, the results of the study had been endorsed without careful examination of the scientific base of the experiments and that secondary citation of relevant original material may have been commonly employed. These infractions contributed to a myth that good science was practised by the Nazis at Dachau. The more recent emphasis on the life-saving potential of the Dachau data, without citation of credible supporting evidence, has also been misleading. Similarly, acceptance of a determination by an in-depth examination that the 'whole' Dachau project if flawed with simultaneous endorsement of the validity of 'parts' of the results, poses an ethical problem. It is advisable that before seeking ethical consultation about the use of unethically obtained data, scientists should examine the quality of science behind the controversial information and ethicists should verify the integrity of the material prior to engaging in a dialogue. (shrink)
Beliefs about diverse status characteristics have a common core content of performance capacities and qualities made up of two features: hierarchy (superior/inferior capacities) and role-differentiation (instrumental/expressive qualities). Whatever the status characteristic, its more-valued state tends to be defined as superior and instrumental, and the less-valued state tends to be defined as inferior but expressive. We account for this in terms of the typification of differences in behavioral inequalities and profiles that emerge in task oriented social interaction. Status construction theory argues (...) that new configurations of the states of a nonvalued discriminating characteristic, status values, and status typifications of actors possessing these states arise from a similar process. The theory we present here makes new predictions on the construction and institutionalization of status characteristics and generalized beliefs about the relation of status characteristics to social rewards, called referential structures. This theory, we argue, integrates micro and macro elements in a way that may be applicable to explaining the social construction of cultural objects more generally. (shrink)
The existence and uniqueness of a maximum point for a continuous real—valued function on a metric space are investigated constructively. In particular, it is shown, in the spirit of reverse mathematics, that a natural unique existence theorem is equivalent to the fan theorem.
Dini's theorem says that compactness of the domain, a metric space, ensures the uniform convergence of every simply convergent monotone sequence of real-valued continuous functions whose limit is continuous. By showing that Dini's theorem is equivalent to Brouwer's fan theorem for detachable bars, we provide Dini's theorem with a classification in the recently established constructive reverse mathematics propagated by Ishihara. As a complement, Dini's theorem is proved to be equivalent to the analogue of the fan theorem, weak König's lemma, in (...) the original classical setting of reverse mathematics started by Friedman and Simpson. (shrink)
This book reformulates the sociological subdiscipline known as the sociology of knowledge. Knowledge is presented as more than ideology, including as well false consciousness, propaganda, science and art.
This paper criticises a line of argument adopted by peter winch, Karl popper, And others, To the effect that the course of human history cannot be predicted. On this view it is impossible to predict in a particularly detailed way certain events ('original acts') on which important social developments depend. We analyze the argument, Showing that one version fails: original acts are in principle predictable in the relevant way. A cogent version is presented; this requires a special definition for (...) 'original act'. But, We claim, Social developments do not depend on original acts so defined. We argue separately for the possibility of a person, Or a scientific community, Predicting his or its own original acts. (shrink)
The increasing demands placed on the global water supply threaten biodiversity and the supply of water for food production and other vital human needs. Water shortages already exist in many regions, with more than one billion people without adequate drinking water. In addition, 90% of the infectious diseases in developing countries are transmitted from polluted water. Agriculture consumes about 70% of fresh water worldwide;for example, approximately 1000 liters (L) of water are required to produce 1 kilogram (kg) of cereal grain, (...) and 43,000 L to produce I kg of beef New water supplies are likely to result from conservation, recycling, and improved water-use efficiency rather than from large development projects. (shrink)
In a recent issue of Philosophy East and West Douglas Berger defends a new reading of Mūlamadhyamakakārikā XXIV : 18, arguing that most contemporary translators mistranslate the important term prajñaptir upādāya, misreading it as a compound indicating "dependent designation" or something of the sort, instead of taking it simply to mean "this notion, once acquired." He attributes this alleged error, pervasive in modern scholarship, to Candrakīrti, who, Berger correctly notes, argues for the interpretation he rejects.Berger's analysis, and (...) the reading of the text he suggests is grounded on that analysis, is insightful and fascinating, and certainly generates an understanding of Nāgārjuna's enterprise that is welcome .. (shrink)