There seems to be a perfectly ordinary sense in which different speakers can use an empty name to talk about the same thing. Call this fictional coreference. It is a constraint on an adequate theory of empty names that it provide a satisfactory account of fictional coreference. The main claim of this paper is that the pretensetheory of empty names does not respect this constraint.
In its approach to fiction and fictional discourse, pretensetheory focuses on the behaviors that we engage in once we pretend that something is true. These may include pretending to name, pretending to refer, pretending to admire, and various other kinds of make-believe. Ordinary discourse about fictions is analyzed as a kind of institutionalized manner of speaking. Pretense, make-believe, and manners of speaking are all accepted as complex patterns of behavior that prove to be systematic in various (...) ways. In this paper, I attempt to show: (1) that this systematicity is captured in the basic distinctions and representations that are central to the formal theory of abstract objects, and (2) that this formal theory need not be interpreted platonistically, but may instead have an interpretation on which the `objects' of the theory are things that pretense theorists already accept, namely, complex patterns of linguistic behavior. The surprising conclusion, then, is that a certain Wittgensteinian approach to meaning (e.g., the meaning of a term like `Holmes' is constituted by its pattern of use) bears an interesting relationship to a formal metaphysical theory and the semantic analyses of discourse constructed in terms of that theory---the former offers a naturalized interpretation of the latter, yet the latter makes the former more precise. (shrink)
Kendall Walton’s pretensetheory, like its rivals, says that what’s true in a fiction F depends in part on the importation of background propositions into F. The aim of this paper is to present, explain, and defend a brief yet straightforward argument–one which exploits the specific mechanism by which the pretensetheory says propositions are imported into fictions–for the falsity of the pretensetheory.
Recent accounts of pretense have been underdescribed in a number of ways. In this paper, we present a much more explicit cognitive account of pretense. We begin by describing a number of real examples of pretense in children and adults. These examples bring out several features of pretense that any adequate theory of pretense must accommodate, and we use these features to develop our theory of pretense. On our theory, pretense (...) representations are contained in a separate mental workspace, a Possible World Box which is part of the basic architecture of the human mind. The representations in the Possible World Box can have the same content as beliefs. Indeed, we suggest that pretense representations are in the same representational ``code'' as beliefs and that the representations in the Possible World Box are processed by the same inference and UpDating mechanisms that operate over real beliefs. Our model also posits a Script Elaborator which is implicated in the embellishment that occurs in pretense. Finally, we claim that the behavior that is seen in pretend play is motivated not from a ``pretend desire'', but from a real desire to act in a way that ®ts the description being constructed in the Possible World Box. We maintain that this account can accommodate the central features of pretense exhibited in the examples of pretense, and we argue that the alternative accounts either can't accommodate or fail to address entirely some of the central features of pretense. q 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
A popular view has it that the mental representations underlying human pretense are not beliefs, but are “belief-like” in important ways. This view typically posits a distinctive cognitive attitude (a “DCA”) called “imagination” that is taken toward the propositions entertained during pretense, along with correspondingly distinct elements of cognitive architecture. This paper argues that the characteristics of pretense motivating such views of imagination can be explained without positing a DCA, or other cognitive architectural features beyond those regulating (...) normal belief and desire. On the present “Single Attitude” account of imagination, propositional imagining just is a form of believing. The Single Attitude account is also distinguished from “metarepresentational” accounts of pretense, which hold that both pretending and recognizing pretense in others require one to have concepts of mental states. It is argued, to the contrary, that pretending and recognizing pretense require neither a DCA nor possession of mental state concepts. (shrink)
Issues of pretense and imagination are of central interest to philosophers, psychologists, and researchers in allied fields. In this entry, we provide a roadmap of some of the central themes around which discussion has been focused. We begin with an overview of pretense, imagination, and the relationship between them. We then shift our attention to the four specific topics where the disciplines' research programs have intersected or where additional interactions could prove mutually beneficial: the psychological underpinnings of performing (...)pretense and of recognizing pretense, the cognitive capacities involved in imaginative engagement with fictions, and the real-world impact of make-believe. In the final section, we discuss more briefly a number of other mental activities that arguably involve imagining, including counterfactual reasoning, delusions, and dreaming. (shrink)
The theory of mind debate has reached a “hybrid consensus” concerning the status of theory-theory and simulation-theory. Extant hybrid models either specify co-dependency and implementation relations, or distribute mentalizing tasks according to folk-psychological categories. By relying on a non-developmental framework these models fail to capture the central connection between simulation and theory. I propose a “dynamic” hybrid that is informed by recent work on the nature of similarity cognition. I claim that Gentner’s model of structure-mapping (...) allows us to understand simulation as a process in which psychological representations are aligned, causing the spontaneous abstraction of theoretical generalizations about the psychological domain. (shrink)
A survey of and a comparison of the relative strengths of two favored views of what theatrical performers do: pretend or engage in a variety of self-display. The behavioral version of the pretensetheory is shown to be relatively weak as an instrument for understanding the variety of performance styles available in world theater. Whether pretense works as a theory of the mental capacities that underly theatrical performance is a separate question.
Fiction is often characterized by way of a contrast with truth, as, for example, in the familiar couplet “Truth is always strange/ Stranger than fiction" (Byron 1824). And yet, those who would maintain that “we will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than from scientific psychology” (Chomsky 1988: 159) hold that some truth is best encountered via fiction. The scrupulous novelist points out that her work depicts no actual person, either living or dead; nonetheless, we (...) use names from fiction in ways that suggest that we take these names to refer. Philosophers who investigate fiction aim to reconcile such apparently incompatible phenomena, and, in general, to account for the myriad ways that we talk, think, and feel about fiction. (shrink)
This paper defends the Meinongian thesis that “there are objects of which it is true that there are no such objects,” re: fictitious and illusory objects. I first formulate the problem of negative existentials in a novel way, and discuss why this new version is more forceful against anti-Meinongians. Additional data is then raised to vex anti-Meinongians—e.g., the truth of ‘Pegasus is imaginary’, and a reading of ‘There actually are illusory objects’ where it comes out true. The Meinongian, in contrast, (...) easily and uniformly explains the same data, by allowing the existence Pegasus, pink elephants, and the like. But contra Meinong, these cases suggest that the nonexistent objects are mind-dependent objects, and I clarify and defend this suggestion from several objections. The resulting Meinongianism is thus “conservative” in that it merely acknowledges the sense in which there are mind-dependent objects, imaginary and illusory objects being prime examples. Of special note, the “ideology” is conservative as well in that the typical Meinongian jargon of “nuclear” or “encoded” properties is paraphrased away. I end by arguing that it is presumptive to use Occham’s razor against Meinongian objects, since this would assume we can achieve empirical adequacy without them. Yet this assumption is now seen as contentious, in light of the data provided. (shrink)
Here I explore the prospects for fictionalism about the mental, modeled after fictionalism about possible worlds. Mental fictionalism holds that the mental states posited by folk psychology do not exist, yet that some sentences of folk psychological discourse are true. This is accomplished by construing truths of folk psychology as “truths according to the mentalistic fiction.” After formulating the view, I identify five ways that the view appears self-refuting. Moreover, I argue that this cannot be fixed by semantic ascent or (...) by a kind of primitivism. Even so, I also show that the “self-refutation” charges are subtly question-begging. Nevertheless, the reply reveals that a mental fictionalist ought to be a kind of quietist. (shrink)
David Hume endorses three claims that are difficult to reconcile: (1) sympathy with those in distress is sufficient to produce compassion towards their plight, (2) adopting the general point of view often requires us to sympathize with the pain and suffering of distant strangers, but (3) our care and concern is limited to those in our close circle. Hume manages to resolve this tension, however, by distinguishing two types of sympathy. We feel compassion towards those around us because associative sympathy (...) causes us to mirror their pain and suffering, but our ability to enter into the afflictions of those remote from us involves cognitive sympathy and merely requires us to reflect upon how we would feel in their shoes. This hybrid theory of sympathy receives support from recent work on affective mirroring and cognitive pretense. Hume’s account should appeal to contemporary researchers, therefore, who are interested in the nature of moral imagination. (shrink)
Our linguistic and inferential practices are said to implicate a kind of abstract object playing various roles traditionally attributed to propositions, and our predictive and explanatory success with this ‘‘proposition-talk’’ is held to underwrite a realistic interpretation of it. However, these very same practices pull us in different directions regarding the nature of propositions, frustrating the development of an adequate unified theory of them. I explain how one could retain proposition-talk, and the advantages of interpreting it as being purportedly (...) about propositions, even if problems about the identity conditions for propositions motivated a Quinean rejection of them. The non-error-theoretic solution is to understand proposition-talk in terms of semantic pretense. On this approach, talking as if there were propositions lets us put readily available logical and linguistic devices to new expressive purposes, providing a way to make indirectly certain complicated, genuinely true assertions we cannot make directly. Proposition-talk thus extends the expressive capacity of a language in a logico-syntactically conservative way. (shrink)
Anna Pautz has recently argued that the pretensetheory of thought about fiction cannot explain how two people can count as thinking about the same fictional character. This is based on conflating pretending and the serious thought that can be based on pretend. With this distinction in place, her objections are groundless.
A pretensetheory of a given discourse is a theory that claims that we do not believe or assert the propositions expressed by the sentences we token (speak, write, and so on) when taking part in that discourse. Instead, according to pretensetheory, we are speaking from within a pretense. According to pretense theories of mathematics, we engage with mathematics as we do a pretense. We do not use mathematical language to make (...) claims that express propositions and, thus, we do not use mathematical discourse to make claims that are either true or false. In this paper I make use of recent findings from cognitive neuroscience and developmental science to suggest that pretense theories of mathematics fail. 1 Introduction 2 The Autism Objection 2.1 Autism and pretense 2.2 Autistic engagement with mathematics 2.2.1 Cortical folding 2.2.2 The language of mathematics 3 The Onset of the Number Sense and the Recognition of Pretense 3.1 A difference in neurology 3.2 Young and no numbers 3.2.1 When and where is the difference? 3.2.2 Damaged HIPS without impairment to engagement with fiction 4 Concluding Remarks. (shrink)
‘‘Theoretical biology’’ is a surprisingly heter- ogeneous field, partly because it encompasses ‘‘doing the- ory’’ across disciplines as diverse as molecular biology, systematics, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Moreover, it is done in a stunning variety of different ways, using anything from formal analytical models to computer sim- ulations, from graphic representations to verbal arguments. In this essay I survey a number of aspects of what it means to do theoretical biology, and how they compare with the allegedly much more restricted (...) sense of theory in the physical sciences. I also tackle a recent trend toward the presentation of all-encompassing theories in the biological sciences, from general theories of ecology to a recent attempt to provide a conceptual framework for the entire set of biological disciplines. Finally, I discuss the roles played by philosophers of science in criticizing and shap- ing biological theorizing. (shrink)
What should our theorizing about social justice aim at? Many political philosophers think that a crucial goal is to identify a perfectly just society. Amartya Sen disagrees. In The Idea of Justice, he argues that the proper goal of an inquiry about justice is to undertake comparative assessments of feasible social scenarios in order to identify reforms that involve justice-enhancement, or injustice-reduction, even if the results fall short of perfect justice. Sen calls this the “comparative approach” to the theory (...) of justice. He urges its adoption on the basis of a sustained critique of the former approach, which he calls “transcendental.” In this paper I pursue two tasks, one critical and the other constructive. First, I argue that Sen’s account of the contrast between the transcendental and the comparative approaches is not convincing, and second, I suggest what I take to be a broader and more plausible account of comparative assessments of justice. The core claim is that political philosophers should not shy away from the pursuit of ambitious theories of justice (including, for example, ideal theories of perfect justice), although they should engage in careful consideration of issues of political feasibility bearing on their practical implementation. (shrink)
In his widely influential statement of just war theory, Michael Walzer exempts conscripted soldiers from all responsibility for taking part in war, whether just or unjust (the thesis of the moral equality of soldiers). He endows the overwhelming majority of civilians with almost absolute immunity from military attack on the ground that they aren't responsible for the war their country is waging, whether just or unjust. I argue that Walzer is much too lenient on both soldiers and civilians. Soldiers (...) fighting for a just cause and soldiers fighting for an unjust one are not morally equal. A substantial proportion of civilians in a democracy are responsible, to a significant degree, for their country's unjust war. Moreover, under certain (admittedly rare) circumstances, some of them are legitimate targets of military attack. This has bearing on settling moral accounts in the wake of war and the issue of forgiving the wrongs done in its course: possible candidates for such forgiveness are much more numerous than is usually assumed. (shrink)
Are government restrictions on hate speech consistent with the priority of liberty? This relatively narrow policy question will serve as the starting point for a wider discussion of the use and abuse of nonideal theory in contemporary political philosophy, especially as practiced on the academic left. I begin by showing that hate speech (understood as group libel) can undermine fair equality of opportunity for historically-oppressed groups but that the priority of liberty seems to forbid its restriction. This tension between (...) free speech and equal opportunity creates a dilemma for liberal egalitarians. Nonideal theory apparently offers an escape from this dilemma, but after examining three versions of such an escape strategy, I conclude that none is possible: liberal egalitarians are indeed forced to choose between liberty and equality in this case and others. I finish the paper by examining its implications for other policy arenas, including markets in transplantable human organs and women’s reproductive services. (shrink)
The traditional requirements upon the waging of a just war are ostensibly independent, but in actual practice each tenet is subject ultimately to the interpretation of a legitimate authority, whose declaration becomes the necessary and sufficient condition. While just war theory presupposes that some acts are absolutely wrong, it also implies that the killing of innocents can be rendered permissible through human decree. Nations are conventionally delimited, and leaders are conventionally appointed. Any group of people could band together to (...) form a nation, and any person could, in principle, be appointed the leader of any nation. Because the just war approach assumes absolutism while implying relativism, the stance is paradoxical and hence rationally untenable. (shrink)
Abstract: I examine virtue theory, especially as expressed by Rosalind Hursthouse. In its canonical form, the theory claims that living a life of virtue constitutes flourishing, although it also has a possible fall-back claim that a life of virtue is a means to the end of flourishing. I argue that in both interpretations, virtue theory is mistaken. It cannot give any convincing account of how the concepts of wanting, flourishing, and the virtues are connected, nor can it (...) deal adequately with the counter-examples of flourishing by the wicked, and torment for the virtuous. However, I allow that stripped of all its pretensions to universality, there are grounds for some people in some restricted sets circumstances, to follow the path of virtue solely because they will thereby flourish. (shrink)
Realists about practical reasons agree that judgments regarding reasons are beliefs. They disagree, however, over the question of how such beliefs motivate rational action. Some adopt a Humean conception of motivation, according to which beliefs about reasons must combine with independently existing desires in order to motivate rational action; others adopt an anti-Humean view, according to which beliefs can motivate rational action in their own right, either directly or by giving rise to a new desire that in turn motivates the (...) action. I argue that the realist who adopts a Humean model for explaining rational action will have a difficult time giving a plausible account of the role that desire plays in this explanation. I explore four interpretations of this role and argue that none allows a Humean theory to explain rational action as convincingly as an anti-Humean theory does. The first two models, in different ways, make acting on a reason impossible. The third allows this possibility, but only by positing a reason-sensitive desire that itself demands an explanation. The fourth avoids this explanatory challenge only by retreating to an empty form of the Humean view. In contrast, an anti-Humean theory can provide an intuitively plausible explanation of rational action. I conclude that the realist about reasons should adopt an anti-Humean theory to explain rational action. (shrink)
Amartya Sen argues that for the advancement of justice identification of ‘perfect’ justice is neither necessary nor sufficient. He replaces ‘perfect’ justice with comparative justice. Comparative justice limits itself to comparing social states with respect to degrees of justice. Sen’s central thesis is that identifying ‘perfect’ justice and comparing imperfect social states are ‘analytically disjoined’. This essay refutes Sen’s thesis by demonstrating that to be able to make adequate comparisons we need to identify and integrate criteria of comparison. This is (...) precisely the aim of a theory of justice (such as John Rawls’s theory): identifying, integrating and ordering relevant principles of justice. The same integrated criteria that determine ‘perfect’ justice are needed to be able to adequately compare imperfect social states. Sen’s alternative approach, which is based on social choice theory, is incapable of avoiding contrary, indeterminate or incoherent directives where plural principles of justice conflict. (shrink)
Judgment aggregation theory, or rather, as we conceive of it here, logical aggregation theory generalizes social choice theory by having the aggregation rule bear on judgments of all kinds instead of merely preference judgments. It derives from Kornhauser and Sager’s doctrinal paradox and List and Pettit’s discursive dilemma, two problems that we distinguish emphatically here. The current theory has developed from the discursive dilemma, rather than the doctrinal paradox, and the final objective of the paper is (...) to give the latter its own theoretical development along the line of recent work by Dietrich and Mongin. However, the paper also aims at reviewing logical aggregation theory as such, and it covers impossibility theorems by Dietrich, Dietrich and List, Dokow and Holzman, List and Pettit, Mongin, Nehring and Puppe, Pauly and van Hees, providing a uniform logical framework in which they can be compared with each other. The review goes through three historical stages: the initial paradox and dilemma, the scattered early results on the independence axiom, and the so-called canonical theorem, a collective achievement that provided the theory with its specific method of analysis. The paper goes some way towards philosophical logic, first by briefly connecting the aggregative framework of judgment with the modern philosophy of judgment, and second by thoroughly discussing and axiomatizing the ‘general logic’ built in this framework. (shrink)
This introduction to the special issue on empirically informed moral theory sketches the more important contributions to the field in the past several years. Attention is paid to experimental philosophy, the work of philosophers like Harman and Doris, and that of psychologists like Haidt and Hauser.
Contemporary discussions of the positive relation between rational choice and moral theory are a special case of a much older tradition that seeks to show that mutual agreement upon certain moral rules works to the mutual advantage, or in the interests, of those who so agree. I make a few remarks about the history of discussions of the connection between morality and self-interest, after which I argue that the modern theory of rational choice can be naturally understood as (...) a continuation of this older tradition. I then go on to argue for a controversial three-fold thesis: (1) that grounding a theory of morality in terms of rational self-interest is the only epistemologically respectable way to proceed with the justification of moral principles; (2) that despite this, most of the contemporary explorations of rational choice foundations for moral principles do not work—that the models of rational choice to which they appeal yield less than the substantial results that they are intended to yield; but (3) that if one rethinks just what it means to be rational, one can find in fact a promising way to connect the two—specifically through the development of a theory of genuinely cooperative activity. (shrink)
Ordinary use of empty names encompasses a variety of different phenomena, including issues in semantics, mental content, fiction, pretense, and linguistic practice. In this paper I offer a novel account of empty names, the cognitive theory, and show how it offers a satisfactory account of the phenomena. The virtues of this theory are based on its strength and parsimony. It allows for a fully homogeneous semantic treatment of names coped with ontological frugality and empirical and psychological adequacy.
Are there good grounds for thinking that the moral values of action are to be derived from those of character? This virtue ethical claim is sometimes thought of as a kind of normative ethical theory; sometimes as form of opposition to any such theory. However, the best case to be made for it supports neither of these claims. Rather, it leads us to a distinctive view in moral epistemology: the view that my warrant for a particular moral judgement (...) derives from my warrant for believing that I am a good moral judge. This view seems to confront a regress-problem. For the belief that I am a good moral judge is itself a particular moral judgement. So it seems that, on this view, I need to derive my warrant for believing that I am a good moral judge from my warrant for believing that I am a good judge of moral judges; and so on. I show how this worry can be met, and trace the implications of the resulting view for warranted moral judgement. (shrink)
This article explores the advantages of using a range of actual cases in doing political theory. This sort of approach clarifies what is at stake in alternative theoretical formulations, draws attention to the wisdom that may be embedded in existing practices, and encourages theorists to confront challenges they might otherwise overlook and to think through the implications of their accounts more fully.
In the last half century, decision theory has had a deep influence on moral theory. Its impact has largely been beneficial. However, it has also given rise to some problems, two of which are discussed here. First, issues such as risk-taking and risk imposition have been left out of ethics since they are believed to belong to decision theory, and consequently the ethical aspects of these issues have not been treated in either discipline. Secondly, ethics has adopted (...) the decision-theoretical idea that action-guidance has to be based on cause–effect or means–ends relationships between an individual action and its possible outcomes. This is problematic since the morally relevant connections between an action and future events are not fully covered by such relationships. In response to the first problem it is proposed that moral theory should deal directly and extensively with issues such as risk-taking and risk imposition, thereby intruding unabashedly into the traditional territory of decision theory. As a partial response to the second problem it is proposed that moral theorizing should release itself from the decision-theoretical requirement that the moral status of an action has to be derivable from the consequences (or other properties) that are assignable to that action alone. In particular, the effects that an action can have in combination with other actions by the same or other agents are valid arguments in an action-guiding moral discourse, even if its contribution to these combined consequences cannot be isolated and evaluated separately. (shrink)
The aim of the present paper is to show that Hegel’s concept of personal respect is of great interest to contemporary Critical Theory. The author first analyzes this notion as it appears in the Philosophy of Right and then offers a new interpretation of the conceptual relation between personal respect and the institutions of (private) property and (capitalist) markets. In doing so, he shows why Hegel’s concept of personal respect allows us to understand markets as possible institutionalizations of this (...) kind of recognition, and why it is compatible with a critique of neoliberal capitalism. He argues that due to these features Hegel’s notion of personal respect is of great interest to theoreticians within the tradition of critical theory. (shrink)
Morality for the purposes of this paper consists of sets of rules or principles intended for the general regulation of conduct for all. Intuitionist accounts of morality are rejected as making reasoned analysis of morals impossible. In many interactions, there is partial conflict and partial cooperation. From the general social point of view, the rational thing to propose is that we steer clear of conflict and promote cooperation. This is what it is rational to propose to reinforce, and to assist (...) in reinforcing in society; it is not necessarily what it is individually rational to do. Even so, given the general situation, the rationality of its reinforcement will typically support the rationality of individual action as well. Game theory makes it possible to clarify these interactions, and these proposals for social solutions. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the viability of the claim that at least some forms of moral theory are harmful for sound moral thought and practice. This claim was put forward by e.g. Elisabeth Anscombe ( 1981 ( 1958 )) and by Annette Baier, Peter Winch, D.Z Phillips and Bernard Williams in the 1970’s–1980’s. To this day aspects of it have found resonance in both post-Wittgensteinian and virtue ethical quarters. The criticism has on one hand contributed to a substantial (...) change and broadening of the scope of analytic moral philosophy. On the other hand it is, at least in its most strongly anti-theoretical formulations, now broadly considered outdated and—to the extent that it is still defended—insensitive to the changes that have occurred within the field in the last 20–30 years. The task of this paper is to relocate the anti-theoretical critique into the field of analytic ethics today. (shrink)
The author discusses Niklas Luhmann's concept of ethics and morals. Therefore he sketches the main traits of Luhmann's theory of systems (e.g. the terms autopoiesis, system and environment, code and programme). From the system-theoretical point of view, ethics are characterized as the reflexive theory of morals. Morals are described as the communication of regard or disregard. The author shows which consequences follow from this concept by discussing problems concerning several subsystems at the same time. The problems of Luhmann's (...)theory of morals and ethics are demonstrated by analyzing the concepts of risk and responsibility. Finally, the author demands that ethics should be understood even more as social ethics which reflect upon their social foundation in a more consequent way. (shrink)
This paper addresses the subject of textual creativity by drawing on work done in classical literary theory and criticism, specifically new criticism, structuralism and early poststructuralism. The question of how readers and writers engage creatively with the text is closely related to educational concerns, though they are often thought of as separate disciplines. Modern literary theory in many ways collapses this distinction in its concern for how literariness is achieved and, specifically, how ‘literary quality’ is accomplished in the (...) textual and the social dimension. Taking literary and aesthetic creativity as a point of departure in the reading of five central authors in classical literary criticism, the paper identifies the processes of narrative imagination and emotional identification as central to the role that the textual dimension plays in the creative process of the author/reader—particularly in the way it provides a space for experimentation and self-reflexion through ‘storying’. (shrink)
Recent work in the ethics of war has done much to challenge the collectivism of the convention-based, Walzerian just war theory. In doing so, it raises the question of when it is permissible for soldiers to resort to force. This article considers this issue and, in doing so, argues that the rejection of collectivism in just war should go further still. More specifically, it defends the ‘Individual-Centric Approach’ to the deep morality of war, which asserts that the justifiability of (...) an individual’s contribution to the war, rather than the justifiability of the war more generally, determines the moral acceptability of their participation. It then goes on to present five implications of the Individual-Centric Approach, including for individual liability to attack in war. (shrink)
Principlism is the approach promoted by Beauchamp and Childress for addressing the ethics of medical practice. Instead of evaluating clinical decisions by means of full-scale theories from moral philosophy, Beauchamp and Childress refer people to four principlesâ€”of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. Now it is one thing for principlism to be invoked in an academic literature dwelling on a stock topic of medical ethical writing: end-of-life decisions, for example. It is another when the topic lies further from the mainstream. In (...) such cases the cost of reaching for the familiar Beauchamp and Childress framework, with its formulaic set of concerns, may be to miss something morally important. After discussing an example of the sort of academic literature I have in mind, I propose to distinguish the uses of the formulaic from the uses of the more unapologetically theoretical in applied ethics, and to suggest that the latter can make up for some of the limitations of the former. This is not to say that the more theoretical literature has no limitations of its own, or that it should take the place of the formulaic. On the contrary, there is room in applied ethics and a use in applied ethics for both. But there is a sense in which there is a greater dependence of principlism on theory than the other way round, and at the end I try to spell out the significance of this fact. (shrink)
In considering two extended examples of educational reform efforts, this discussion traces relations that become visible through analytic approaches associated with actor-network theory (ANT). The strategy here is to present multiple readings of the two examples. The first reading adopts an ANT approach to follow ways that all actors—human and non-human entities, including the entity that is taken to be ‘educational reform’—are performed into being through the play of linkages among heterogeneous elements. Then, further readings focus not only on (...) the material practices that become enacted and distributed, but also on the otherings that occur: the various fluid spaces and ambivalent belongings that create actor-network(s) but also escape them. For educational research, particularly in educational reform and policy, it is argued that ANT analyses are particularly useful to examine the complex enactments in these dynamics. That is, ANT can illuminate movements of ordering and disordering that occur through minute socio-material connections in educational interventions. ANT readings also can discern, within these attempts to order people and practices, the spaces of flux and instability that enable and protect alternate possibilities. (shrink)
According to moral error theory, moral discourse is error-ridden. Establishing error theory requires establishing two claims. These are that moral discourse carries a non-negotiable commitment to there being a moral reality and that there is no such reality. This paper concerns the first and so-called non-negotiable commitment claim. It starts by identifying the two existing argumentative strategies for settling that claim. The standard strategy is to argue for a relation of conceptual entailment between the moral statements that comprise (...) moral discourse and the statement that there is a moral reality. The non-standard strategy is to argue for a presupposition relation instead. Error theorists have so far failed to consider a third strategy, which uses a general entailment relation that doesn’t require intricate relations between concepts. The paper argues that both entailment claims struggle to meet a new explanatory challenge and that since the presupposition option doesn’t we have prima facie reason to prefer it over the entailment options. The paper then argues that suitably amending the entailment claims enables them to meet this challenge. With all three options back on the table the paper closes by arguing that error theorists should consider developing the currently unrecognised, non-conceptual entailment claim. (shrink)
This paper begins with a critical part and concludes with a constructive part. First, with reference to a definition of liberalism and using immanent critique, I show deficiencies in the claims of four selfprofessed postliberals to have articulated non-liberal positions. Then, I argue that postliberal political theory consists in acknowledging that in political contexts some voluntary groups as such can be moral, not merely political, agents. Analysis of what moral autonomy is for persons as empirical (not noumenal) agents reveals (...) that that account can be transposed to some groups. A key common element among the four rejected positions is their emphasis on the normative authority of some practices as over against principles. My proposal congeals that normative emphasis on the social into group-moral authority. Recognition of some voluntary groups’ episodic moral authority over their members is non-liberal but not anti-liberal. (shrink)
The article focuses on Gramsci's elaboration of the concept of hegemony to analyze the function of Social Work during the periods of Fordism and post-Fordism. It discusses the limits and opportunities for a democratic development in the theory and praxis of Social Work.
In this paper, I consider succinctly the main Marxist objections to Honneth’s model of critical social theory, and Honneth’s key objections to Marx-inspired models. I then seek to outline a rapprochement between the two positions, by showing how Honneth’s normative concept of recognition is not antithetical to functionalist arguments, but in fact contains a social-theoretical dimension, the idea that social reproduction and social evolution revolve around struggles around the interpretation of core societal norms. By highlighting the social theoretical side (...) of recognition, one can outline a model of critical social theory that in fact corresponds to the descriptive and normative features outlined by Marx himself. However, the price of this rapprochement for Honnethian critical theory is a greater emphasis on the division of labour as the central mechanism of social reproduction. (shrink)
This paper critically reviews Ken Binmoreâs non- utilitarian and game theoretic solution to the Arrow problem. Binmoreâs solution belongs to the same family as Rawlsâ maximin criterion and requires the use of Nash bargaining theory, empathetic preferences, and results in evolutionary game theory. Harsanyi has earlier presented a solution that relies on utilitarianism, which requires some exogenous valuation criterion and is therefore incompatible with liberalism. Binmoreâs rigorous demonstration of the maximin principle for the first time presents a real (...) alternative to a utilitarian solution. (shrink)
Cumulative Prospect Theory (CPT) does not explain the St. Petersburg Paradox. We show that the solutions related to probability weighting proposed to solve this paradox, (Blavatskyy, Management Science 51:677–678, 2005; Rieger and Wang, Economic Theory 28:665–679, 2006) have to cope with limitations. In that framework, CPT fails to accommodate both gambling and insurance behavior. We suggest replacing the weighting functions generally proposed in the literature by another specification which respects the following properties: (1) to solve the paradox, the (...) slope at zero has to be finite. (2) to account for the fourfold pattern of risk attitudes, the probability weighting has to be strong enough. (shrink)
New natural lawyers--notably Grisez, Finnis, and George--have written much on civil marriage's moral boundaries and grounds, but with slight influence. The peripheral place of the new natural law theory (NNLT) results from the marital grounds they suggest and the exclusionary moral conclusions they draw from them. However, I argue a more authentic and attractive NNLT account of marriage is recoverable through overlooked resources within the theory itself: friendship and moral self-constitution. This reconstructed account allows us to identify the (...) relation between marriage and human flourishing and the morality of same-sex marriage without making marriage infinitely plastic. (shrink)
The crisis of representation and the academic study of religion -- Phenomenology, consciousness, essence : critical surveys of the history of the study of religion -- Individual men in their solitude? : a critique of William James' individualistic approach to religion in the varieties of religious experience -- The concept of essence-and-manifestation in the history of the study of religion -- The concept of development in continental geisteswissenschaft and religionswissenshaft : before and after Darwin -- The transcendental pretense and (...) Eliade's humanist hermeneutics towards a Nietzschean semiotics of religion -- Post-structural (dis)placements : genealogy, religious studies, and the problematics of historical identity -- Religion as the structuring of asymmetrical relations : towards a definition -- Towards a semiotic theory of religion. (shrink)
The Austrian philosopher Christian von Ehrenfels published his essay "On 'Gestalt Qualities'" in 1890. The essay initiated a current of thought which enjoyed a powerful position in the philosophy and psychology of the first half of this century and has more recently enjoyed a minor resurgence of interest in the area of cognitive science, above all in criticisms of the so-called 'strong programme' in artificial intelligence. The theory of Gestalt is of course associated most specifically with psychologists of the (...) Berlin school such as Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka. We shall see in what follows, however, that an adequate philosophical understanding of the Gestalt idea and of Ehrenfels' achievement will require a close examination not merely of the work of the Berlin school but also of a much wider tradition in Austrian and German philosophy in general. (shrink)
This paper reports an experiment which investigates a possible cognitive antecedent of event-splitting effects (ESEs) experimentally observed by Starmer and Sugden (1993) and Humphrey (1995) â the learning of absolute frequency of event category impacting on the learning of probability of event category â and reveals some evidence that it is responsible for observed ESEs. It is also suggested and empirically substantiated that stripped-down prospect theory will accurately predict ESEs in some decision making tasks, but will not perform well (...) in others. This contention, it is argued, is indicative of fundamental descriptive shortcomings in the economic conception of choice under uncertainty and may entail implications beyond the direct concerns of this paper. (shrink)
In his Just and Unjust Wars, Michael Walzer claims that his theory of just war is based on the rights of individuals to life and liberty. This is not the case. Walzer in fact bases his theory of jus ad bellum on the supreme rights of supra-individual political communities. According to his theory of jus ad bellum, the rights of political communities are of utmost importance, and individuals can be sacrificed for the sake of these communal rights. (...) At the same time, Walzer bases his theory of jus in bello on the supreme rights of individuals to life and liberty. According to his theory of jus in bello, the rights of individuals are of utmost importance, and political communities can never permissibly violate them in war. Thus, Walzer’s theory of just war is based on two incompatible theories of justice. This explains why Walzer’s theory produces incoherent practical prescriptions in cases of supreme emergencies. Furthermore, it is impossible for Walzer to base his theory of jus ad bellum on the rights of individuals as he conceives them. The theory of jus ad bellum holds that soldiers are obligated to obey the commands of their political superiors. However, this obligation violates the rights of individuals in a number of respects. This is why Walzer does not base the theory of jus ad bellum on individual rights, and produces an incoherent theory. (shrink)