Suppose a fire broke out in a fertility clinic. One had time to save either a young girl, or a tray of ten human embryos. Would it be wrong to save the girl? According to Michael Sandel, the moral intuition is to save the girl; what is more, one ought to do so, and this demonstrates that human embryos do not possess full personhood, and hence deserve only limited respect and may be killed for medical research. We will argue, (...) however, that no relevant ethical implications can be drawn from the thought experiment. It demonstrates neither that one always ought to let the embryos die, nor does it allow for any general conclusion concerning the moral status of human embryos. (shrink)
On the 27th of October, 1949, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Manchester organized a symposium "Mind and Machine", as Michael Polanyi noted in his Personal Knowledge (1974, p. 261). This event is known, especially among scholars of Alan Turing, but it is scarcely documented. Wolfe Mays (2000) reported about the debate, which he personally had attended, and paraphrased a mimeographed document that is preserved at the Manchester University archive. He forwarded a copy to Andrew Hodges and (...) B. Jack Copeland, who in then published it on their respective websites. The basis of this interpretation here is the copy preserved in the Regenstein Library of the University of Chicago, Special Collections, Polanyi Collection (abbreviated RPC, box 22, folder 19). The same collection holds the mimeographed statement that Polanyi prepared for this symposium: "Can the mind be represented by a machine?" This text has not been studied by Polanyi scholars. (shrink)
In Consciousness and persons, Michael Tye (Tye, M. (2003). Consciousness and persons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.) develops and defends a novel approach to the unity of consciousness. Rather than thinking of the unity of consciousness as involving phenomenal relations between distinct experiences, as standard accounts do, Tye argues that we should regard the unity of consciousness as involving relations between the contents of consciousness. Having developed an account of what it is for consciousness to be unified, Tye goes on (...) to apply his account of the unity of consciousness to the split-brain syndrome. I provide a critical evaluation of Tye's account of the unity of consciousness and the split-brain syndrome. (shrink)
In his recent writings, Sir Michael Dummett has reflected twice on the Catholic position on the morality of contraception, focusing his attention especially on Humanae Vitae’s prohibition of the contraceptive use of the birth control pill. On examination, Dummett finds this prohibition ‘incoherent’, arguing that its promulgation ‘greatly damaged the respect of the faithful for the Catholic Church’s moral teaching in general’, as well as ‘the integrity of Catholic moral theology’. Given Dummett’s earlier defense of Paul VI’s reaffirmation of (...) the Church’s traditional position on contraception in Humanae Vitae, as well as his forceful criticisms of certain liberalizing tendencies among Catholic theologians and biblical scholars, these arguments deserve to be taken seriously, and regarded as coming from a spirit of serious philosophical reflection rather than casual dissent. Nevertheless, this paper argues that they are based on a misapprehension of what is really behind the position Dummett means to be criticizing, and that when the essentials of that position are clarified the rationale behind it is safe from his objections. (shrink)
In the early twentieth century Walter Benjamin introduced the idea of epochal and ongoing progression in interaction between mind and the built environment. Since early antiquity, the present study suggests, Benjamin’s notion has been manifest in metaphors of gender in city-form, whereby edifices and urban voids have represented masculinity and femininity, respectively. At the onset of interaction between mind and the built environment are prehistoric myths related to the human body and to the sky. During antiquity gender projection can (...) be detected in western perceptions linking natural and built environments, commencing with Plato’s Atlantis and his Myth of Er, and later as a likely import of the Chinese yin-yang mythology. Culminating with the Age of Discovery, alongside advances in experiential awareness of the Earth’s sphericity, respective feminine and masculine earmarks can be detected in early modern perspicacity of the Earth’s southern and northern hemispheres. Our conceptions of natural and built environments inherently continue to contain gender traits. Yet urban voids, as the feminine face of city-form, have been severely understated in the built environment. Through design and configuration of urban voids, allegories of femininity in city-form ought to be celebrated, not discarded. (shrink)
Michael Tye argues for two crucial theses: (1) that experiences of pain have representational content (essentially); (2) that the representational content can be specified in terms of something like damage in parts of the body. (Different types of pain are connected with different types of damage.) I reject both of these theses. In my view experiences of pain carry nonconceptual content, but do not represent essentially. Rather they are apt to represent when the subject attends to them. The experiences (...) carry nonconceptual content not only about tissue damage, but about many other qualities as well, including dispositional qualities. (shrink)
For more than 100 years, anthropologists have collected ethnographic research among communities who assert that the spirits, animal allies, and other entities of the unseen world are “really real,” yet we have historically contextualized this information under the umbrella of cultural relativism rather than taking the veracity of these claims seriously. In the last decade, some anthropologists claim that our discipline has finally undergone an ontological turn, which opens a door for anthropologists to finally take claims of nonhuman sentience seriously (...) under the umbrella of ontological, rather than cultural, relativism. This paper takes issue with ontological relativism as just one more frame for explaining away the stories of other-than-human consciousness that ethnographers report and suggests that there is an urgent need to consider the relevance, rather than the relativism, of other-than-human consciousness. It looks to Michael Harner's work as a welcome alternative to ontological relativism and encourages opening our minds to a reconsideration of what is “really real.”. (shrink)
Imagine putting together a jigsaw puzzle that works like the board game in the movie “Jumanji”: When you finish, whatever the puzzle portrays becomes real. The children playing “Jumanji” learn to prepare for the reality that emerges from the next throw of the dice. But how would this work for the puzzle of scientific research? How do you prepare for unlocking the secrets of the atom, or assembling from the bottom-up nanotechnologies with unforeseen properties – especially when completion of such (...) puzzles lies decades after the first scattered pieces are tentatively assembled? In the inaugural issue of this journal, Michael Polanyi argued that because the progress of science is unpredictable, society must only move forward with solving the puzzle until the picture completes itself. Decades earlier, Frederick Soddy argued that once the potential for danger reveals itself, one must reorient the whole of one’s work to avoid it. While both scientists stake out extreme positions, Soddy’s approach – together with the action taken by the like-minded Leo Szilard – provides a foundation for the anticipatory governance of emerging technologies. This paper narrates the intertwining stories of Polanyi, Soddy and Szilard, revealing how anticipation influenced governance in the case of atomic weapons and how Polanyi’s claim in “The Republic of Science” of an unpredictable and hence ungovernable science is faulty on multiple levels. (shrink)
This paper discusses how Wittgenstein’s thinking informs recent conversations about art and aesthetic practice by examining his influence on the work of the noted modernist art critic, Michael Fried. Fried considers an excerpt from Wittgenstein’s Culture and Value, with a puzzling thought experiment, to help us see more clearly the Canadian artist Jeff Wall’s photographic vision and aesthetic. I consider Fried’s account of the photographic practice of Jeff Wall, especially his photograph Morning Cleaning, Mies van der Rohe Foundation (1999).
[Michael Friedman] This paper considers the extent to which Kant's vision of a distinctively 'transcendental' task for philosophy is essentially tied to his views on the foundations of the mathematical and physical sciences. Contemporary philosophers with broadly Kantian sympathies have attempted to reinterpret his project so as to isolate a more general philosophical core not so closely tied to the details of now outmoded mathematical-physical theories (Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics). I consider two such attempts, those of Strawson and (...) McDowell, and argue that they fundamentally distort the original Kantian impulse. I then consider Buchdahl's attempt to preserve the link between Kantian philosophy and the sciences while simultaneously generalizing Kant's doctrines in light of later scientific developments. I argue that Buchdahl's view, while not adequate as in interpretation of Kant in his own eighteenth century context, is nonetheless suggestive of an historicized and relativized revision of Kantianism that can do justice to both Kant's original philosophical impulse and the radical changes in the sciences that have occurred since Kant's day. /// [Graham Bird] Michael Friedman criticises some recent accounts of Kant which 'detach' his transcendental principles from the sciences, and do so in order to evade naturalism. I argue that Friedman's rejection of that 'detachment' is ambiguous. In its strong form, which I claim Kant rejects, the principles of Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics are represented as transcendental principles. In its weak form, which I believe Kant accepts, it treats those latter principles as higher order conditions of the possibility of both science and ordinary experience. I argue also that the appeal to naturalism is unhelpful because that doctrine is seriously unclear, and because the accounts Friedman criticises are open to objections independent of any appeal to naturalism. (shrink)
Benjamin Libet, Do we have free will? -- Adina L. Roskies, Why Libet's studies don't pose a threat to free will? -- Alfred r. mele, libet on free will : readiness potentials, decisions, and awareness? -- Susan Pockett and Suzanne Purdy, Are voluntary movements initiated preconsciously? : the relationships between readiness potentials, urges, and decisions? -- William P. Banks and Eve A. Isham, Do we really know what we are doing? : implications of reported time of decision for theories of (...) volition? -- Elisabeth Pacherie and Patrick Haggard, What are intentions? -- Mark Hallett, Volition : how physiology speaks to the issue of responsibility? -- John-Dylan Haynes, Beyond Libet : long-term prediction of free choices from neuroimaging signals? -- F. Carota, M. Desmurget, and A. Sirigu, Forward modeling mediates motor awareness? -- Tashina Graves, Brian Maniscalco, and Hakwan Lau, Volition and the function of consciousness? -- Deborah Talmi and Chris D. Frith, Neuroscience, free will, and responsibility? -- Jeffrey P. Ebert and Daniel M. Wegner, Bending time to one's will? -- Thalia Wheatley and Christine Looser, Prospective codes fulfilled : a potential neural mechanism of the will? -- Terry Horgan, The phenomenology of agency and the libet results? -- Thomas Nadelhoffer, The threat of shrinking agency and free will disillusionism? -- Gideon Yaffe, Libet and the criminal law's voluntary act requirement? -- Larry Alexander, Criminal and moral responsibility and the libet experiments? -- Michael S. Moore, Libet's challenge(s) to responsible agency? -- Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Lessons from Libet?. (shrink)
Although a fascination with language is a familiar feature of 20th-century empiricism, its origins reach back at least to the early modern period empiricists. John Locke offers a detailed (if sometimes puzzling) treatment of language and uses it to illuminate key regions of the philosophical topography, particularly natural kinds and essences. Locke's main conceptual tool for dealing with language is 'signification'. Locke's central linguistic thesis is this: words signify nothing but ideas. This on its face seems absurd. Don't we need (...) words to signify things as well? But its very absurdity – our inclination to dismiss Locke as a 'linguistic idealist'– should signal to us that we have not yet understood Locke. Doing so must begin with an analysis of signification. Each of the three main interpretations on offer allows Locke to escape the charge of linguistic idealism, although they do so in very different ways. Locke's text also offers an influential account of linguistic particles, words like 'is', 'and' and 'if'. These signify, not ideas, but acts of the mind. These acts can either take place within a proposition, uniting its constituent ideas into a thought that admits of a truth-value, or they can take propositions as their objects, in which case they express attitudes like doubt, assertion and so on. Even this seemingly innocuous sketch of Locke's view is controversial, and many writers, from J.S. Mill onwards, have argued that Locke cannot make sense of propositional attitudes. Apart from the intrinsic interest of these questions, understanding how Locke thinks language works is a prerequisite for understanding his arguments against scholastic essentialism. It also illuminates later discussions of language in Berkeley, Hume and Mill. Author Recommends: 1. Losonsky, Michael. 'Language, Meaning, and Mind in Locke's Essay. ' The Cambridge Companion to Locke's Essay . Ed. Lex Newman. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. 286–313. In addition to making some original points, Losonsky provides an excellent overview of the three main competing positions on Lockean signification: the Fregean reading, the Scholastic reading and the Indicator theory (see entries 2–5 in the following). 2. Kretzmann, Norman. 'The Main Thesis of Locke's Semantic Theory.' Locke on Human Understanding . Ed. I. C. Tipton. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1975. 123–40. Kretzmann's influential paper offers a broadly Fregean analysis, according to which primary signification is sense and secondary, reference. Locke can then avoid the charge of linguistic idealism, as it is not the case that words signify only ideas. 3. Ashworth, E. J. 'Do Words Signify Ideas or Things?' Journal of the History of Philosophy 19 (1981): 299–326. Ashworth rejects Kretzmann's view, partly on the grounds of anachronism, and sets Locke in his historical context. As she reads Locke, he holds a scholastic position, according to which signification amounts to 'making known' or 'expressing'. This preserves the portmanteau analysis of Kretzmann: words can primarily signify or express ideas, while secondarily signifying things. 4. Lowe, E. J. 'Language and Meaning,' chapter 4. Locke . London: Routledge, 2005. This is a spirited defense of Locke's claim that words signify ideas against contemporary prejudices. Like Ian Hacking (see entry 7 in the following), Lowe argues that Locke is not offering a semantic theory in anything like the contemporary sense; rather, he is concerned with explaining human communication. 5. Ott, Walter. Locke's Philosophy of Language . Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. On the interpretation offered in chapter 1, Lockean signification is indication: words signify ideas in the same sense in which clouds signify rain. If this view is correct, Locke is departing from the particular scholastic tradition Ashworth focuses on, and embracing instead a tradition running from the Stoics through Thomas Hobbes. http://www.springerlink.com/content/xv362655719101n3/ 6. Winkler, Kenneth. 'Signification, Intention, Projection.' Forthcoming, Philosophia . http://www.springerlink.com/content/xv362655719101n3 Although previous commentators acknowledge the role of intentions in Locke's view (see especially Kretzmann's argument from the uses of words), Winkler claims that they are far more central to Locke's view than has been supposed. In particular, Winkler uses these considerations to criticize the indicator interpretation. 7. Hacking, Ian. Why Does Language Matter to Philosophy? Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1975. Much broader in focus than these other works, Hacking's classic text has much to say about early modern views on language. Hacking argues that Hobbes and Locke do not, properly speaking, even have theories of meaning. Online Materials The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Locke, by William Uzgalis: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/ > The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Locke, author unknown: http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/l/locke.htm > Sample Syllabus Weeks 1–2: What is Locke's linguistic thesis? Is it a semantic thesis at all? Ashworth, E. J. 'Do Words Signify Ideas or Things?' Journal of the History of Philosophy 19 (1981): 299–326. Kretzmann, Norman. 'The Main Thesis of Locke's Semantic Theory.' Locke on Human Understanding . Ed. I. C. Tipton. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1975. 123–40. Locke, Essay III. i–iii. Lowe, E. J. 'Language and Meaning,' chapter 4. Locke . London: Routledge, 2005. Week 3: Propositions and attitudes Locke, Essay III. vii. Ott, Walter. 'Propositional Attitudes in Modern Philosophy.' Dialogue 41 (2002): 1–18. Owen, David. 'Locke on Judgment.' The Cambridge Companion to Locke's Essay . Ed. Lex Newman. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. 406–35. If one wanted to explore whether and how Locke applies his semiotic theory in his anti-essentialist argument, one might add (or perhaps replace Week 3 with): Week 4: Applications Bolton, Martha. 'The Relevance of Locke's Theory of Ideas to his Doctrine of Nominal Essence and Anti-Essentialist Semantic Theory.' Locke . Ed. Vere Chappell. Oxford: OUP, 1998. pp. 214–225 Locke, Essay III. vi; III.xi. 4–22. Ott, Walter. 'Locke's Argument from Signification.' Locke Studies 2 (2002): 145–76. Focus Questions 1. What is a semantic theory? What do we want out of such a theory, and does Locke even purport to provide one? 2. What are the differences among the three main competing readings of Locke? What is at stake here? What, if anything, turns on which of them accurately captures Locke's view? 3. How does Locke think his linguistic thesis tells against competing views, such as those of the scholastics? 4. What is the difference between a proposition and a list? Can Locke account for this difference? 5. There is clearly a difference between merely thinking that the cat is on the mat and asserting that it is. Can Locke account for this difference? (shrink)
This paper deals with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and Michael Polanyi’s theory of tacit knowledge. Though both concepts have been very influential for science studies in general, and both have been subject to numerous interpretations, their accounts have, somewhat surprisingly, hardly been comparatively analyzed. Both Fleck and Polanyi relied on the physiology and psychology of the senses in order to show that scientific knowledge follows less the path of logical principles than the path of accepting or rejecting (...) specific conventions, where these may be psychologically or sociologically grounded. It is my aim to show that similarities and differences between Fleck and Polanyi are to be seen in the specific historical and political context in which they worked. Both authors, I shall argue, emphasized the relevance of perception in close connection to their respective understanding of science, freedom, and democracy. (shrink)
Michael Walzer is currently at the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey. Professor Walzer has written Just and Unjust Wars; The Revolution of the Saints and has edited Toward A Global Civil Society. In this interview, he discusses some of the current concerns about education, political theory and the current state of the art of toleration, and acceptance and accommodation of different racial, ethnic, social and minority groups. He has published extensively and his (...) work has been translated in several other languages. In this interview, he responds to questions about his work, his writings and his current concerns. (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)
In the 82/2 (2000) issue of this journal, Michael Friedman has offered a stimulating discussion of my recent book, Kant and the Capacity to Judge. His conclusion is that on the whole I fail to do justice to what is most revolutionary about Kant's natural philosophy, and instead end up attributing to Kant a pre-Newtonian, Aristotelian philosophy of nature. This is because, according to Friedman, I put excessive weight on Kant's claim to have derived his categories from a set (...) of logical forms of judgment which he inherits from a traditional Aristotelian logic. In taking Kant at his word on this point, I fail to give their full import to Kant's insights into the newly discovered applications of mathematical concepts and methods to the science of nature. (shrink)
In this exciting new collection, a distinguished international group of philosophers contribute new essays on central issues in philosophy of language and logic, in honor of Michael Dummett, one of the most influential philosophers of the late twentieth century. The essays are focused on areas particularly associated with Professor Dummett. Five are contributions to the philosophy of language, addressing in particular the nature of truth and meaning and the relation between language and thought. Two contributors discuss time, in particular (...) the reality of the past. The last four essays focus on Frege and the philosophy of mathematics. The volume represents some of the best work in contemporary analytical philosophy. (shrink)
Although it goes against a widespread significant misunderstanding of his view, Michael Smith is one of the very few moral philosophers who explicitly wants to allow for the commonsense claim that, while morally required action is always favored by some reason, selfish and immoral action can also be rationally permissible. One point of this paper is to make it clear that this is indeed Smith’s view. It is a further point to show that his way of accommodating this claim (...) is inconsistent with his well-known “practicality requirement” on moral judgments: the thesis that any rational person will always have at least some motivation to do what she judges to be right. The general conclusion is that no view that, like Smith’s, associates the normative strength of a reason with the motivational strength of an ideal desire will allow for the wide range of rational permissibility that Smith wants to capture. (shrink)
Moral phenomenology is (roughly) the study of those features of occurrent mental states with moral significance which are accessible through direct introspection, whether or not such states possess phenomenal character – a what-it-is-likeness. In this paper, as the title indicates, we introduce and make prefatory remarks about moral phenomenology and its significance for ethics. After providing a brief taxonomy of types of moral experience, we proceed to consider questions about the commonality within and distinctiveness of such experiences, with an eye (...) on some of the main philosophical issues in ethics and how moral phenomenology might be brought to bear on them. In discussing such matters, we consider some of the doubts about moral phenomenology and its value to ethics that are brought up by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Michael Gill in their contributions to this issue. (shrink)
In Consciousness and persons, Michael Tye (Tye, M. (2003). Consciousness and persons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.) develops and defends a novel approach to the unity of consciousness. Rather than thinking of the unity of consciousness as involving phenomenal relations between distinct experiences, as standard accounts do, Tye argues that we should regard the unity of consciousness as involving relations between the contents of consciousness. Having developed an account of what it is for consciousness to be unified, Tye goes on (...) to apply his account of the unity of consciousness to the split-brain syndrome. I provide a critical evaluation of Tye's account of the unity of consciousness and the split-brain syndrome. (shrink)
Metaethics, understood as a distinct branch of ethics, is often traced to G. E. Moore's 1903 classic, Principia Ethica. Whereas normative ethics is concerned to answer first-order moral questions about what is good and bad, right and wrong, metaethics is concerned to answer second-order non-moral questions about the semantics, metaphysics, and epistemology of moral thought and discourse. Moore has continued to exert a powerful influence, and the sixteen essays here (most of them specially written for the volume) represent the most (...) up-to-date work in metaethics after, and in some cases directly inspired by, the work of Moore. Contributors include Robert Audi, Stephen Barker, Paul Bloomfield, Panayot Butchvarvov, Jonathan Dancy, Stephen Darwall, Jamie Dreier, Allan Gibbard, Brad Hooker, Terry Horgan, Connie Rosati, Russ Shafer-Landau, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Michael Smith, Philip Stratton-Lake, Sigrun Svavarsdottir, Mark Timmons, and Judith Jarvis Thompson. (shrink)
The relationship of the author's intention to the meaning of a literary work has been a persistently controversial topic in aesthetics. Anti-intentionalists Wimsatt and Beardsley, in the 1946 paper that launched the debate, accused critics who fueled their interpretative activity by poring over the author's private diaries and life story of committing the 'fallacy' of equating the work's meaning, properly determined by context and linguistic convention, with the meaning intended by the author. Hirsch responded that context and convention are not (...) sufficient to determine a unique meaning for a text; to avoid radical ambiguity we must appeal to the author's intention, which actualizes one of the candidate meanings. Subsequent writers have defended refined versions of these views, and a variety of positions on the spectrum between them, in a debate that remains central to philosophical aesthetics. While much of the debate has focused on literature, similar questions arise with respect to the interpretation of visual artworks. Some of the readings listed below address this matter explicitly. Author Recommends: William K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley, 'The Intentional Fallacy', Sewanee Review 54 (1946): 468–88. Locus classicus of the anti-intentionalist position: Wimsatt and Beardsley hold that appeal to the author's intention is always extraneous, since intention cannot override the role of linguistic convention and context in determining meaning. Criticism, they argue, should thus proceed by careful examination of the literary work rather than by sifting through biographical material that might hint at the author's intentions. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Validity in Interpretation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1967). The seminal statement of actual intentionalism: Hirsch holds that 'meaning is an affair of consciousness and not of physical signs or things' (23), though he allows that linguistic convention constrains the meanings the author can intend for a particular utterance. He argues that the author's intention is necessary to fix meaning, since the application of conventions alone would typically leave a text wildly indeterminate. Alexander Nehamas, 'The Postulated Author: Critical Monism as a Regulative Ideal', Critical Inquiry 8 (1981): 133–49. Nehamas argues for a version of hypothetical intentionalism according to which interpretation is a matter of attributing an intended meaning to a hypothetical author, distinct from the historical writer. This view allows the interpreter to find meaning even in features of the work that may have been mere accidents on the part of the historical writer. Gary Iseminger, ed., Intention and Interpretation (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1992). Intention and Interpretation is an outstanding collection including both classic and new essays representing most of the major viewpoints in the debate. Noël Carroll, 'Art, Intention, and Conversation', Intention and Interpretation , ed. Gary Iseminger (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1992), 97–131. The essay defends modest actual intentionalism, according to which the work's meaning is one compatible both with the author's meaning intentions and with the conventionally allowable meanings of the text. Carroll holds that literature is on a continuum with ordinary conversation, to which an intentionalist analysis is apt; for this reason he rejects anti-intentionalism and hypothetical intentionalism, which emphasize the purported autonomy of literary works from their authors. Daniel Nathan, 'Irony, Metaphor, and the Problem of Intention', Intention and Interpretation , ed. Gary Iseminger (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1992), 183–202. Nathan argues that even irony and metaphor, which are often thought to require an analysis in terms of the author's actual intentions, are in fact best understood on an anti-intentionalist approach. Jerrold Levinson, 'Intention and Interpretation in Literature', The Pleasures of Aesthetics: Philosophical Essays (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996), 175–213. Revised version of 'Intention and Interpretation: A Last Look', Intention and Interpretation , ed. Gary Iseminger (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1992), 221–56. The essay defends a version of hypothetical intentionalism according to which the meaning of a literary work is the meaning that would be attributed to the actual author by members of the ideal audience. Levinson argues that literary works should be treated differently from everyday utterances, since it is a convention of literature that its works are substantially autonomous from their authors. Paisley Livingston, Art and Intention: A Philosophical Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005). Livingston examines competing accounts of the nature of intentions as they pertain to a variety of issues in the philosophy of art, including the ontology of art, the nature of authorship, and art interpretation. In chapter 6, Livingston argues for partial intentionalism, according to which some, but not all, of a work's meanings are non-redundantly determined by the author's intentions. Stephen Davies, 'Authors' Intentions, Literary Interpretation, and Literary Value', British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (2006): 223–47. Davies defends the value-maximizing view, according to which, when there is more than one conventional meaning consistent with the work's features, the meaning that should be attributed to the work is the one that makes the work out to be most aesthetically valuable. He allows for the attribution of multiple meanings when more than one candidate (approximately) maximizes the work's value. Online Materials: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/beardsley-aesthetics/ Beardsley's Aesthetics (Michael Wreen) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/conceptual-art/ Conceptual Art (Elisabeth Schellekens) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/speech-acts/ Speech Acts (Mitchell Green) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hermeneutics/ Hermeneutics (Bjørn Ramberg and Kristin Gjesdal) Sample Syllabus: Week 1: Foundations 1. Wimsatt and Beardsley, 'The Intentional Fallacy'. 2. Livingston, 'What Are Intentions?', Art and Intention , 1–30. Weeks 2–3: Actual Intentionalism 1. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation , ch. 1–2, 1–67. 2. Gary Iseminger, 'An Intentional Demonstration?', Intention and Interpretation , ed. Iseminger, 76–96. Optional reading: 1. Stephen Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels, 'Against Theory', Critical Inquiry 8 (1982): 723–742. 2. Stephen Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels, 'Against Theory 2: Hermeneutics and Deconstruction', Critical Inquiry 14 (1987): 49–58. Weeks 4–5: Modest, Moderate and Partial Intentionalism 1. Carroll, 'Art, Intention, and Conversation'. 2. Robert Stecker, Interpretation and Construction: Art, Speech, and the Law (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003), ch. 2, 29–51. 3. Livingston, 'Intention and the Interpretation of Art', Art and Intention , 135–74. Optional reading: 1. Carroll, 'Interpretation and Intention: The Debate between Hypothetical and Actual Intentionalism', Metaphilosophy 31 (2000): 75–95. 2. Stecker, 'Moderate Actual Intentionalism Defended', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (2006): 429–38. Weeks 6–7: Hypothetical Intentionalism 1. William E. Tolhurst, 'On What a Text Is and How It Means', British Journal of Aesthetics 19 (1979): 3–14. 2. Nehamas, 'Postulated Author'. 3. Levinson, 'Intention and Interpretation in Literature'. Optional reading: 1. Nehamas, 'What an Author Is', Journal of Philosophy 83 (1986): 685–91. 2. Nehamas, 'Writer, Text, Work, Author', Literature and the Question of Philosophy , ed. A. J. Cascardi (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), 265–91. 3. Levinson, 'Hypothetical Intentionalism: Statement, Objections, and Replies', Is There a Single Right Interpretation? , ed. M. Krausz (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002), 309–18. Week 8: The Value-Maximizing View 1. Davies, 'The Aesthetic Relevance of Authors' and Painters' Intentions', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 41 (1982): 65–76. 2. Davies, 'Authors' Intentions, Literary Interpretation, and Literary Value'. Weeks 9–10: Anti-Intentionalism 1. Beardsley, 'The Authority of the Text,' The Possibility of Criticism (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1970), 16–37. 2. Nathan, 'Irony, Metaphor, and the Problem of Intention'. 3. Nathan, 'Art, Meaning, and Artist's Meaning', Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art , ed. M. Kieran (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006), 282–95. Optional reading: 1. Beardsley, 'Intentions and Interpretations: A Fallacy Revived', The Aesthetic Point of View: Selected Essays , ed. M. J. Wreen and D. M. Callen (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982), 188–207. 2. Nathan, 'Irony and the Author's Intentions', British Journal of Aesthetics 22 (1982): 246–56. Sample Mini-Syllabus: Week 1: Foundations 1. Wimsatt and Beardsley, 'The Intentional Fallacy'. 2. Livingston, 'What Are Intentions?', Art and Intention , 1–30. Week 2: Actual and Modest Intentionalism 1. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation , ch. 1–2, 1–67. 2. Carroll, 'Art, Intention, and Conversation'. Week 3: Hypothetical Intentionalism and Anti-Intentionalism 1. Levinson, 'Intention and Interpretation in Literature'. 2. Nathan, 'Irony, Metaphor, and the Problem of Intention'. Focus Questions 1. Is the difficulty of ascertaining the author's intentions a good reason to reject actual intentionalism? 2. Should literary works be seen as largely autonomous from their authors, even if we think that interpretation of ordinary utterances is properly a matter of ascertaining the speaker's intentions? 3. Are linguistic context and convention sufficient to determine the meaning of a literary work, or is the author's intention required to stave off an unacceptable degree of ambiguity? 4. Should the author's intentions about the genre or category to which the work belongs have a different status than intentions about the work's meaning? 5. Can the author's intentions have a non-redundant role to play in fixing meaning even if we take the role of context and linguistic convention seriously? 6. Should we expect the author's intention to play the same role (if any) in the interpretation of visual artworks that it plays in the interpretation of literature, or do differences between these two art forms require distinct approaches? (shrink)
Moral rationalism is the view that morality originates in reason alone. It is often contrasted with moral sentimentalism, which is the view that the origin of morality lies at least partly in (non-rational) sentiment. The eighteenth century saw pitched philosophical battles between rationalists and sentimentalists, and the issue continues to fuel disputes among moral philosophers today.
In Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, Michael Martin argues that to posit a God that is both omnipotent and omniscient is philosophically incoherent. I challenge this argument by proposing that a God who is necessarily omniscient is more powerful than a God who is contingently omniscient. I then argue that being omnipotent entails being omniscient by showing that for an all-powerful being to be all-powerful in any meaningful way, it must possess complete knowledge about all states of affairs and thus (...) must be understood to be omniscient. (shrink)
For someone who is inclined towards truth monism and moral realism, reading this book is like journeying through a foreign country: somewhat disconcerting, but nonetheless enjoyable. Michael Lynch’s world is a stoutly naturalistic world, in which representation is conceived in terms of causal or teleological relations. This is a world in which it is hard to fit normative facts. Thus, the reader is told that there are good reasons to think that ‘moral properties, should they exist, would not be (...) the sort of properties with which we enter into causal contact’ (p. 161). But it is also a world in which thought is conceived of as unified, in the sense that propositions of all kinds, whether about middle-sized dry goods, mathematical objects, or morals, are truth-apt and cognitive, so that they can intermingle in reasoning. What we have, then, is the following: no moral facts in any serious sense of that term, but ordinary moral truth nonetheless. This is an interesting, but difficult, position. What it requires is a decidedly original account of truth, which Lynch dubs the functionalist theory of truth, according to which truth is both one and many. (shrink)
Michael Jubien’s Ontology, Modality, and the Fallacy of Reference is an interesting and lively discussion of those three topics. In ontology, Jubien defends, to a first approximation, a Quinean conception: a world of objects that may be arbitrarily sliced or summed. Slicing yields temporal parts; summing yields aggregates, or fusions. Jubien is very unQuinean in his explicit Platonism regarding properties and propositions, but concerns about abstracta are peripheral to much of the argumentation in the book.1 His version of the (...) doctrine that arbitrary mereological sums exist is nonstandard in that he views it as a convention (albeit a useful one) that we treat sums of objects as themselves being objects. Indeed, he views the concept of objecthood itself as being conventional. The world consists fundamentally of stuff, which we divide into things in any way that suits our purposes. In modality, Jubien’s views are to a first approximation Chisholmian: he holds the doctrine of mereological essentialism, according to which anything.. (shrink)
In this paper, our goal is to (a) survey some of the legal contexts within which violence risk assessment already plays a prominent role, (b) explore whether developments in neuroscience could potentially be used to improve our ability to predict violence, and (c) discuss whether neuropredictive models of violence create any unique legal or moral problems above and beyond the well worn problems already associated with prediction more generally. In Violence Risk Assessment and the Law , we briefly examine the (...) role currently played by predictions of violence in three high stakes legal contexts: capital sentencing ( Violence Risk Assessment and Capital Sentencing ), civil commitment hearings ( Violence Risk Assessment and Civil Commitment ), and sexual predator statutes ( Violence Risk Assessment and Sexual Predator Statutes ). In Clinical vs. Actuarial Violence Risk Assessment , we briefly examine the distinction between traditional clinical methods of predicting violence and more recently developed actuarial methods, exemplified by the Classification of Violence Risk (COVR) software created by John Monahan and colleagues as part of the MacArthur Study of Mental Disorder and Violence . In The Neural Correlates of Psychopathy , we explore what neuroscience currently tells us about the neural correlates of violence, using the recent neuroscientific research on psychopathy as our focus. We also discuss some recent advances in both data collection ( Cutting-Edge Data Collection: Genetically Informed Neuroimaging ) and data analysis ( Cutting-Edge Data Analysis: Pattern Classification ) that we believe will play an important role when it comes to future neuroscientific research on violence. In The Potential Promise of Neuroprediction , we discuss whether neuroscience could potentially be used to improve our ability to predict future violence. Finally, in The Potential Perils of Neuroprediction , we explore some potential evidentiary ( Evidentiary Issues ), constitutional ( Constitutional Issues ), and moral ( Moral Issues ) issues that may arise in the context of the neuroprediction of violence. (shrink)
: This article focuses on one aspect of the late mediaeval debate over divine power, as it was discussed by Oxford philosophers Walter Chatton (d. 1343) and William Ockham (d. 1347). Chatton and Ockham would have agreed, for example, that God is ultimately responsible for the existence of the works of Pablo Picasso, but they would not agree over wheher it violates God's omnipotence to say that he cannot make something that Picasso made, for example, the painting Guernica, without (...) using Picasso himself as an intermediate cause. The context of their dispute was a larger debate regarding the ontological status of relations. This article (1) explains how these two issues, omnipotence and relations, became so interestingly tangled together, (2) tries to see which of the two men mentioned above got the better of their exchange, and finally (3) draws out some important consequences for fourteenth-century discussions of causality, occasionalism, and omnipotence. (shrink)
Timothy Michael Fowler has argued that, as a consequence of their commitment to neutrality in regard to comprehensive doctrines, political liberals face a dilemma. In essence, the dilemma for political liberals is that either they have to give up their commitment to neutrality (which is an indispensible part of their view), or they have to allow harm to children. Fowler’s case for this dilemma depends on ascribing to political liberals a view which grants parents a great degree of freedom (...) in deciding on the education of their children. I show that ascribing this view to political liberals rests upon a misinterpretation of political liberalism. Since political liberals have access to reasons based upon the interests of children, they need not yield to parent’s wishes about the education of their children. A correct understanding of political liberalism thus shows that political liberals do not face the dilemma envisaged by Fowler. (shrink)
It is true for many disciplines within the humanities that there are numerous excellent works that introduce the beginner to the basic building blocks of the discipline, and also many advanced studies for the accomplished scholar, but few works that help the student get from the beginning stage to the advanced level. That has certainly been true of the discipline of Sanskrit. Once a student has devoted a couple of years to working through one of the excellent introductions to the (...) language by Ashok Aklujkar, Michael Coulson, Madhav Deshpande, Robert Goldman, or Walter Maurer, there have been hardly any intermediate texts to help the student systematically progress to more advanced levels. Now, however, with the publication of Scholastic Sanskrit, an important step has been taken toward filling that lacuna. This book assumes that the student has learned enough about Sanskrit grammar and syntax to be ready to begin plunging into the vast corpus comprising the many genres of Sanskrit literature. It is built on the conviction that even a student at the early stages of exploring Sanskrit literature can benefit from the work of traditional commentators; it is also built on the observation that until now there have not been reliable guides to help the student make intelligent use of Sanskrit commentaries. (shrink)
From the complete three-volume critical edition of Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , this edition extracts the full text and footnotes of the 1827 lectures, making the work available in a convenient form for study. Of the lectures that can be fully reconstructed, those of 1827 are the clearest, the maturest in form, and the most accessible to nonspecialists. In them, readers will find Hegel engaged in lively debates and in important refinements of his treatment of the concept (...) of religion, the Oriental religions and Judaism, Christology, the Trinity, the God-world relationship, and many other topics. This edition contains a new editorial introduction as well as critical annotations on the text and tables, bibliography, and glossary from the complete edition. The result of an international collaborative effort on the part of Walter Jaeschke, Ricardo Ferrara, and Peter C. Hodgson, the new edition is appearing simultaneously in German, English, and Spanish. The English edition has been prepared by a team consisting of Robert F. Brown (University of Delaware), Peter C. Hodgson (Vanderbilt University), and J. Michael Stewart (Farnham, England), with the assistance of H. S. Harris (York University). (shrink)
MichaelJordan is widely acclaimed as the greatest athlete who ever lived. The announcement of his retirement in January 1999 unleashed an unparalleled hyperbole of adjectives describing his superlative athletic accomplishments. Yet his continuing media presence and adulation after his retirement confirmed that Jordan is one of the most popular and widely known sports icons throughout the world. In China, the Beijing Morning Post ran a front paged article titled "Flying Man Jordan is Coming Back to (...) Earth" and in Bosnia Jordan's statement declaring his retirement was the lead story on the evening television news, pushing aside the war in Kosovo. An icon of the global popular, Jordan is "a kind of new world prince," in the words of Pulitzer Prizewinning author David Halberstam, who recently published a biography of the basketball legend (1999): "You hear time and again about people being in Borneo or somewhere and coming across a kid in a tattered MichaelJordan T-shirt. He's the most famous American in the world.". (shrink)
The eminent historian and philosopher of biology, Michael Ruse, has written several books that explore the relationship of evolutionary theory to its larger scientific and cultural setting. Among the questions he has investigated are: Is evolution progressive? What is its epistemological status? Most recently, in "Darwin and Design: Does Evolution have a Purpose?," Ruse has provided a history of the concept of teleology in biological thinking, especially in evolutionary theorizing. In his book, he moves quickly from Plato and Aristotle (...) to Kant and such British thinkers as Paley and Whewell. His main focus, though, is on Darwin's theory and its subsequent fate. Ruse rests his history on some shaky historical and philosophic assumptions, particularly the unexamined notion that evolutionary theory is an abstract entity that is unproblematically realized in different historical periods. He also assumes that Darwin conceived nature as if it were a Manchester spinning loom -- a clanking, dispassionate machine. A more subtle analysis, which Ruse eschews, might discover that Darwin's conception of nature owed a strong debt to German Romanticism and that he contrived to infuse nature with moral and aesthetic values, not to suck them from nature. Ruse proves he is a thinker to contend with, and this essay is quite contentious. (shrink)
This article uses Walter Benjamin's theoretical claims in the 'Critique of violence' to shed light on some current conceptualisations of terrorism. It suggests an understanding of terrorism as an essentially contested concept. If the theorist uncritically adopts the state's account of terrorism, she occludes an important dimension of the phenomenon that allows for a rethinking of the state's claim to a monopoly on legitimate violence. Benjamin's essay conceptualises the state as resulting from a conjunction of violence, law, legitimacy and (...) power that rests on mythical ideas about nature and history. It shows why the state claims to be justified in taking exceptional measures when this link is challenged and when its prerogative to the legitimate use of force is called into question. This, I argue, is what terrorism does. Thus, Benjamin's essay adds to a more nuanced and less one-sided understanding of both terrorism and state violence. (shrink)
The manuscript includes comments on Michael Jacovides’s paper, “How Berkeley Corrupted His Capacity to Conceive.” The paper and comments were delivered at the conference “Meaning and Modern Empiricism” held at Virginia Tech in April 2008. I consider Jacovides’s treatment of Berkeley’s Resemblance Argument and his interpretation of the Master Argument. In particular, I distinguish several ways of understanding the disagreement between Jacovides and Kenneth Winkler over the right way to read the Master Argument.
Back in the bad old days, it was easy enough to spot non-cognitivists. They pressed radical doctrines with considerable bravado. Intoxicated by the apparent implications of logical positivism, early noncognitivsts would say things like, "in saying that a certain type of action is right or wrong, I am not making any factual statement..." (Ayer 1936: 107) Like most rebellious youths, non-cognitivism eventually grew up. Later non-cognitivists developed the position into a more subtle doctrine, no longer committed to the revisionary doctrines (...) associated with its forefathers. For example, Simon Blackburn has undertaken the "quasi-realist" project of showing how a non-cognitivist can "earn" the right to the seemingly realist discourse on a less metaphysically controversial and semantically implausible basis by giving a non-cognitivist analysis of realist-sounding semantics and pragmatics (Blackburn 1993). (shrink)
In a famous experiment by Tversky and Kahneman (Psychol Rev 90:293–315, 1983), featuring Linda the bank teller, the participants assign a higher probability to a conjunction of propositions than to one of the conjuncts, thereby seemingly committing a probabilistic fallacy. In this paper, we discuss a slightly different example featuring someone named Walter, who also happens to work at a bank, and argue that, in this example, it is rational to assign a higher probability to the conjunction of suitably (...) chosen propositions than to one of the conjuncts. By pointing out the similarities between Tversky and Kahneman’s experiment and our example, we argue that the participants in the experiment may assign probabilities to the propositions in question in such a way that it is also rational for them to give the conjunction a higher probability than one of the conjuncts. (shrink)
Consciousness has been defined as that annoying period between naps, and this grumpy definition may not be wholly facetious, if Michael Tye's latest book is right. Tye's main goal here is to develop a theory of the phenomenal unity of experience at a time, and its diachronic analog, the moment-to-moment continuity of one's experiential stream from the time one wakes up to the time consciousness lapses.
Michael S. Gazzaniga, a pioneer and world leader in cognitive neuroscience, has made an initial attempt to develop neuroethics into a brain-based philosophy of life that he hopes will replace the irrational religious and political belief-systems that still partly govern modern societies. This article critically examines Gazzaniga’s proposal and shows that his actual moral arguments have little to do with neuroscience. Instead, they are based on unexamined political, cultural and moral conceptions, narratives and values. A more promising way of (...) interpreting the belief-forming system of the brain is to say that we cannot avoid thinking in terms of wider frameworks and narratives that are socially embedded and historically developed; consequently, any moral discussion has to be in terms of these frameworks and narratives. (shrink)
Inheriting the religious prejudices of the Enlightenment, many supporters of liberal democracy consider John Calvin's theology contrary to the norms and virtues necessary for productive public discourse in a religiously and culturally diverse society. In Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics , Michael Walzer makes a similar assumption, arguing that, despite its contribution to political modernization, the inherent fideism, absolutism, and intolerance of Calvinism constitutes a threat to public discourse in liberal society. In (...) this paper, I contend that the prevailing understanding of Calvin's theology is incorrect. In actuality he is a nuanced natural law thinker, whose complex understanding of human nature and the state encourages the subtle balance of virtues that contemporary political life requires. (shrink)
Abstract. In Science and Spirituality, Michael Ruse attempts to reconcile traditional Christianity and modern science by arguing that Christianity addresses questions that lie beyond the domain of science. I argue that Ruse's solution raises a number of problems that render it unsatisfactory for both the scientist and believer. First, despite his objections to “God of the gaps” arguments, his own strategy for identifying those questions that are beyond the limits of science seems to raise the problem in a new (...) form. Second, what Ruse offers as evidence for the limits of science is better construed as evidence for deep disagreements among scientists and as such does not support his claims about the limits of science. Third, in aiming to establish their independence, Ruse subordinates religion to science. Finally, his support of traditional theology as a mode of religious understanding might cause concern for those who believe that certain kinds of theological reflection are at odds with scientific thinking. (shrink)
Critique as a philosophical concept needs to be recast once it is linked to the possibility of a productive opening. In such a context critique has an important affinity to destruction and forms of inauguration. Working through writings of Marx and Walter Benjamin, specifically Benjamin's 'The Meaning of Time in the Moral World', destruction and inauguration are repositioned in terns of othering and the caesura of allowing.
On 9 December 1930, Walter Benjamin sent a copy of his book The Origin of German Tragic Drama to Carl Schmitt, accompanied by a letter in which he expressed his indebtedness to Schmitt: "You will very quickly recognize how much my book is indebted to you for its presentation of the doctrine of sovereignty in the seventeenth century. Perhaps I may say, in addition, that I have also derived from your later works, especially Die Diktatur, a confirmation of my (...) modes of research in the philosophy of art from yours in the philosophy of the state. If the reading of my book allows this feeling to emerge in an intelligible fashion, then the purpose of my sending it to you will be achieved" (qtd. in Weber 1992, 5). As .. (shrink)
The point of departure of this study is Walter Benjamin’s last text, “Theses on the Philosophy of History.” Benjamin appeals to the significance of theology for historical materialism in order to overcome one of the decisive reasons why Marx’s unique theoretical project, in its positivistic interpretations, was not understood with the necessary radicality and had been in danger of losing its explanatory power and revolutionary impulse. The necessity of looking back to the past constitutes the basic theme of the (...) study, and it is analyzed at the epistemological, ontological and political levels. The view backwards is also necessary because the past shows how all its atrocities, which we think have been overcome, may at any time return in a way which we are unable to imagine. (shrink)
Michael Ruse’s new anthology Philosophy After Darwin provides great history and background in the major impacts Darwinism has had on philosophy, especially in ethics and epistemology. This review focuses on epistemology understood through the lens of evolution by natural selection. I focus on one of Ruse’s own articles in the collection, which responds to two classic articles by Konrad Lorenz and David Hull on the two major forms of evolutionary epistemology. I side with Ruse against Lorenz’s account of the (...) necessity we think our principles of reasoning have, though I disagree with Ruse’s particular example. I also argue that Ruse’s alternative explanation is lacking. Against Hull, I side with Ruse in his doubts that a sociobiological approach to science will prove fruitful, though I point out that it has certain advantages other approaches do not have. Although I side with Ruse on the issue, I conclude that the two views do not really come into direct conflict and so one needs not reject either. Finally, I discuss Ruse’s positive view and raise questions for his conception of evolutionary epistemology. I conclude that his arguments are insufficient to overcome opposing views and his view has at least as many unintuitive conclusions as the alternatives. (shrink)
Michael Tomasello’s new book Why We Cooperate explores the ontogeny and evolution of human altruism and human cooperation, paying particular attention to how such behaviors allow humans to create social institutions.
This essay discusses Walter Benjamin's development of 'dream' as a model for understanding 19th- and 20th-century urban culture. Following Bergson and surrealist poetics, Benjamin used 'dream' in the 1920s as an heuristic analogy for investigating child hood memories, kitsch art and literature; during the early 1930s, he also developed it into an historiographic concept for studying 19th- century Parisian culture. Benjamin's interpretative use of the dream cuts across Ricoeur's distinction between the hermeneutics of 'recol lection' and the hermeneutics of (...) 'suspicion'. The political dream analyst seeks to discharge the 'fatal powers' of the ideological dream, while at the same time fostering the experience of waking in which dream elements may recollectively be grasped. Benjamin extends this dialectic of dreaming, interpreting and waking to the relation between historical epochs and the tasks of the materialist historian. Puzzling out the recent past's dreamlike rebuses may serve in the task of a present historical awakening. Key Words: Walter Benjamin city dream hermeneutics surrealism. (shrink)
What are we to make of the "Parecon" phenomenon? MichaelAlbert's book made it to number thirteen on Amazon.com a few days after some on-line promotion.1 Eight of the twelve Amazon.com reviewers (when I last checked) had given the book five stars. It has been, or is being, translated into Arabic, Bengali, Telagu, Croatian, Czech, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.2 The book has been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, who says it "merits close (...) attention, debate and action," by Arundhati Roy, who calls it "a brave argument for a much needed alternative economic vision," by Ben Bagdikian, who finds it "a compelling book for our times," and by Howard Zinn, who sees it as "a thoughtful, profound meditation on what a good society can be like."3 Yet it is a terrible book. (shrink)
It has become standard for commentators to note sadly how little impact Frege’s work had amongst his contemporaries, but then to temper this observation by claiming an enormous indirect influence for his ideas through the work of those few who did pay serious attention to them, perhaps most notably Russell, Wittgenstein, and Carnap. How effective or transparent those conduits were is still a matter of scholarly debate.1 For myself, I am increasingly persuaded that much of what we would now judge (...) to be most centrally important in Frege was at best imperfectly transmitted. That we can now attempt judgement on what is thus central is owed, in the first place, to the re‐publication and translation of Frege’s work that effectively began with Austin’s version of Grundlagen in 1950. Austin had translated the work so as to be able to set if for an Oxford finals paper. Michael Dummett took the course, and was, he reports, “bowled over by the Grundlagen”, so much so that during the following year he “settled down to read everything that Frege had written” (2007: 9‐ 10). Soon, though not at first, Geach and Black’s Translations (1952) would help in this, but before long the work would take Dummett to Munster to examine Frege unpublished work: the first result of this study is the 1956 “Postscript” to his 1955 “Frege on Functions”, itself an important early step in dispelling bizarre misconceptions of Frege’s doctrines which seem then to have been prevalent.2 Dummett began to form plans for a comprehensive book on Frege. This required further sustained study of the Nachlass, including a visit in 1957 when, its editors acknowledge, Dummett provided an important stimulus and essential “spadework” (PW xii) towards its publication. Frege: Philosophy of Language, a rather different book from that first planned, eventually appeared in 1973. Dummett modestly remarks of it, “I believe that the book helped to revive interest in Frege” (2007: 24). Peter Geach,�.. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to examine the ateleological moment of learning through imitation. In general, we can learn something new through imitating models we are given, which embody the values of our own society, culture and institutions. This means that imitation is understood in terms of the representation or reproduction of original models. In this understanding of imitation, however, the creative aspect of imitation is missed. In relation to this I shall, first, consider learning through imitation in terms (...) of Walter Benjamin's theory of mimesis discussed in his essay, ‘On the Mimetic Faculty.’ It begins by examining general understanding of the concepts of experience and writing. Second and third, while reconsidering the idea of imitation, I shall bring out the difference between mimesis and copying, based on Plato and Aristotle, and I shall examine the former, especially its involuntary aspect. Fourth, in order to consider the ateleological moment of learning through imitation as mimesis, I discuss the relation between mimesis and the chance event. Fifth, Benjamin's allegorical ‘anti-autobiography’ entitled ‘A Berlin Childhood around 1900’, which ponders the idea of childhood as otherness is considered in order to explore what is happening in the very moment of writing, driven by the chance event. To conclude, I shall show how the very moment of writing involves an unceasing transformation of the self. (shrink)
How should a democratic state fight terrorism? This is the question discussed by Michael Ignatieff in his latest book. Ignatieff explores several possible positions as a response to this question. The review considers the analysis of these positions.
Michael Oakeshott's religious view of the world stands behind much of his political and philosophical writing. In this essay I first discuss Oakeshott's view of religion and the mode of practice in his own terms. I attempt next to illuminate his idea of religion by describing it in less technical language, drawing upon other thinkers such as Georg Simmel and George Santayana, who share similar views. I then evaluate Oakeshott's view as a whole, considering whether his ideas about religion (...) can stand up to careful scrutiny and whether they have value for present-day reflection on religion. (shrink)
Walter Thorson's two articles on the legitimacy and scope of naturalism within science attempt to identify a mediating position between the reductive naturalism of thinkers like Richard Dawkins and the complete rejection of naturalism by thinkers like Phillip Johnson. Thorson rightly notes that the purely mechanistic approach to science characteristic of reductive naturalism is inadequate. Nonetheless, he argues that science still needs naturalism as a methodological or regulative principle. Thorson's methodological naturalism leaves room for teleology in nature, though (...) a teleology that falls short of full intelligent agency. (shrink)
Michael Dummett: The nature and future of philosophy. New York: Columbia UniversityPress, 2010, vi+152pp, $19.95 PB Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9460-x Authors Stathis Psillos, Department of Philosophy and History of Science, University of Athens, University Campus, 15771 Athens, Greece Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
One prominent contemporary retributivist theory is built on the notion that crime yields an “unfair advantage” over law-abiding citizens which punishment removes or nullifies. Michael Davis has defended this theory by constructing a market model of “unfair advantage” that he contends answers critics' objections to the retributivist enterprise. I seek to demonstrate the inadequacy of Davis's approach, arguing in particular that the market model rests on an incoherent notion of “demand” and would not, even if coherent, link “unfair advantage” (...) to the seriousness of crimes in any acceptable fashion. The salience of traditional objections to retributivism is thus unaffected by Davis's theory. (shrink)
Michael J. Sandel: The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 183-185 DOI 10.1007/s12376-009-0018-4 Authors Ilhan Ilkilic, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Medical Center Institute for History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine Am Pulverturm 13 55131 Mainz Germany <span class='Hi'>Rainer</span> Brömer, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Medical Center Institute for History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine Am Pulverturm 13 55131 Mainz Germany Journal Medicine Studies Online ISSN 1876-4541 Print ISSN 1876-4533 (...) Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 2. (shrink)
I seek to interpret the work of Walter Benjamin in light of the "system programme" of German Idealism, in order to confront an antinomy of contemporary radical thought. Benjamin has been regarded as an anti-Hegelian thinker of the exception. Reading him against the grain, I draw out a concept of counter-tradition that eschews the opposition of intra-historical progress and extra-historical exception. The philological inspiration is a book by Franz Joseph Molitor, student of Schelling and "teacher" of Benjamin: The Philosophy (...) of History, or, On Tradition. (shrink)
Michael Ruse, Science and spirituality: making room for faith in the age of science Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11153-010-9242-9 Authors Edward L. Schoen, Western Kentucky University Department of Philosophy and Religion Bowling Green KY USA Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047.
Though the work of René Girard has highlighted the interrelations between sacrifice and sacrality in the contemporary world, it has yet to engage the work of Walter Benjamin and his heir, Giorgio Agamben, whose project concerning the Homo Sacer has aroused interest in contemporary political thought. By focusing on Benjamin's early description of mimesis and its relation to language, a position can be elaborated that steers mimesis clear of its indebtedness to language and towards a ‘purer’ realm of gesture. (...) Benjamin's formulation of a more proper ‘divine’ language of gestures could then be said to coalesce with certain historical-religious proclamations, something that Agamben's work challenges us to consider as a viable, albeit ‘profane’, political and ethical option for humanity. (shrink)
Michael Quante’s book Person offers a systematic and argumentative assessment of the question what a person is and accounts for the multiple aspects that play a role in our everyday understanding of the term. Quante is skeptical about the possibility of constructing a purely psychological account of the person and proposes to base the diachronic unity conditions of persons on the human organism. At the same time he acknowledges that psychological considerations, including the notion of a person’s personality, are (...) important for practical purposes. However, one may wonder why he proposes the human organism as the remedy for the alleged shortcomings of the psychological approach, rather than introducing an additional physical continuity requirement of the cerebrum or other parts of the brain. (shrink)
Many philosophers of language have held that a truth-conditional semantic account can explain the data motivating the distinction between referential and attributive uses of definite descriptions, but I believe this is a mistake. I argue that these data also motivate what I call “dual-aspect” uses as a distinct but closely related type. After establishing that an account of the distinction must also explain dual-aspect uses, I argue that the truth-conditional Semantic Model of the distinction cannot. Thus, the Semantic Model cannot (...) explain the data for which it is developed and so fails as an account of the referential/attributive distinction. (shrink)
Walter Benjamin, Religion, and Aesthetics is an innovative attempt to reconceive the key concepts of religious studies through a reading with, and against, Walter Benjamin. Brent Plate deftly sifts through Benjamin's voluminous writings showing how his concepts of art, allegory, and experience undo traditional religious concepts such as myth, symbol, memory, narrative, creation, and redemption. Recasting religion as religious practice, as process and movement, Plate locates a Benjaminian materialist aesthetics, what the author calls an "allegorical aesthetics," in order (...) to uncover sources and establish a new locus for the study of religion. Placing the concept of an allegorical aesthetics into practice, Plate offers examinations of aesthetic productions such as Daniel Libeskind's architecture and Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades alongside religious developments such as the Hindu Bhakti movement and Jewish Kabbalistic thought. Walter Benjamin, Religion, and Aesthetics will be necessary reading for those interested in religion and the arts, aesthetics, and material culture. (shrink)
I present two challenges to the theory of moral sentimentalism that Michael Slote defends in his book. The first challenge aims to show that there are cases in which we empathize with an agent and yet judge her actions to be morally wrong. If such cases are plausible, then we have good reason to doubt Slote's claim that moral judgments are an affective attitude of warmth or chill and, thus, are purely sentiments. The second challenge is more of a (...) suggestion. At the end of my paper, I suggest that perhaps one important role that empathy plays in our moral phenomenology is to mitigate the scope of our moral judgments. If this is right, it tells not only against Slote's account but against moral sentimentalist approaches more broadly. (shrink)
Despite his elusiveness on important issues, there is much in Michael Oakeshott's educational vision that Richard Peters quite rightly wishes to endorse. The main aim of this essay is, however, to consider Peters' justifiable critique of three features of Oakeshott's work. These are (1) the rigidity of his distinction between vocational and university education, (2) the lack of clarity and accuracy in his philosophy of teaching and learning, especially the under-conceptualisation of the role of example in teaching, (3) the (...) over-emphasis on tradition in moral and civic learning. (shrink)