The emergentist position that R. Keith Sawyer has formulated, nonreductive individualism, contains three propositions. First, that social characteristics must always be realized in individuals; second, that it is nevertheless possible to understand social properties as irreducible; and third, that therefore it is possible to demonstrate how social properties are able to exercise independent causal influences on individuals and their properties. It is demonstrated that Sawyer is not able to meet an objection that Kim has formulated against the analogous position in (...) the philosophy of mind. In his defense of the claim of irreducibility Sawyer refers to Fodor’s argument about multiple realizability, but this line of argument cannot preserve the claim for downward causation because Fodor’s claim for irreducibility rests on assumptions that are not compatible with a systematic formulation of downward causation. The article proposes a reading of Fodor’s argument that is consistent with individualism but not with nonreductive individualism. (shrink)
R. Keith Sawyer rightly claimed that the formulation of several cross-level regularities does not disprove the “autonomy” of sciences. Nevertheless, first, this autonomy becomes gradual because cross-level regularities narrow the scope for strong emergence and, second, these examples do not disprove the metaphysical premises of Kim’s critique. Sawyer and I concur on the thesis according to which the proof of strong emergence is in part an empirical question. However, it also depends on the concept of individualism applied whether a description (...) or explanation can count as reducible or not. Even if some of the examples given might leave open the possibility of strong emergence, to generalize, to consider relations or to point to the unpredictability of social processes do not prove the existence of irreducible multiple realization. (shrink)
Exploring Rhees's analogy between everyday conversation and literature, the paper suggests a conception of form that encourages us to see literary works as contributions to conversation in virtue of their concern. How we might read for the concern of a literary work is exemplified by readings of Ibsen's Ghosts and The Wild Duck. These readings suggest that Rhees's analogy not only throws light on the communicative powers of literature: viewing everyday talk in the light of works of literature also gives (...) us a better grasp of what goes on in conversation. (shrink)
There are two distinct views on how to formulate an objective consequentialist account of the deontic status of actions, actualism and possibilism. On an actualist account, what matters to the deontic status of actions is only the value of the outcome an action would have, if performed. By contrast, a possibilist account also takes into account the value of the outcomes that an action could have. These two views come apart in their deontic verdicts when an agent is imperfect in (...) an avoidable way, viz., when agent brings about less good than she could. In this paper, I offer an argument against actualism that draws on the connection between moral obligation and practical reasons. (shrink)
David Enoch recently defended the idea that there are valid inferences of the form ‘it would be good if p, therefore, p’. I argue that Enoch's proposal allows us to infer the absurd conclusion that ours is the best of all possible worlds.
The characterization of objective, normative reasons to φ as facts (or truths) that count in favor of φ-ing is widely accepted. But are there any further conditions that considerations which count in favor of φ-ing must meet, in order to count as a reason to φ? In this brief paper, I consider and reject one such condition, recently proposed by Caspar Hare.
Some moral theories, such as objective forms of consequentialism, seem to fail to be practically useful: they are of little to no help in trying to decide what to do. Even if we do not think this constitutes a fatal flaw in such theories, we may nonetheless agree that being practically useful does make a moral theory a better theory, or so some have suggested. In this paper, I assess whether the uncontroversial respect in which a moral theory can be (...) claimed to be better if it is practically useful can provide a ground worth taking into account for believing one theory rather than another. I argue that this is not the case. The upshot is that if there is a sound objection to theories such as objective consequentialism that is based on considerations of practical usefulness, the objection requires that it is established that the truth about what we morally ought to do cannot be epistemically inaccessible to us. The value of practical usefulness has no bearing on the issue. (shrink)
In The Virtual, Rob Shields puts virtuality in with the key categories of contemporary social theory such as subjectivity, agency, structure, and the spaces and temporalities between the modern and the postmodern. Shields has rescued the term and the idea of the virtual from utopian futurists like Howard Rheingold and Nicholas Negroponte who use it to hype emergent technologies and forms of culture as the magical vehicles and entry points to new worlds and identities. The works of these digerati, ideologues (...) for multimedia technology and culture, now appear ideological, outdated, and no more than huckstering of the new when confronted with the current state of affairs in the technoculture and its attendant war- and terrorism-torn world. (shrink)
Rob Lovering has recently argued that God is not omniscient on the grounds that (1) in order to be omniscient a subject must not only know all truths always but also know what it's like not to know a truth, and (2) God cannot fulfil both of these requirements. I show that Lovering's argument is unsuccessful since he inadequately supports (1) and (2), and since there are several serious doubts about (2). I also show that Lovering does not otherwise indicate (...) that God is not maximally great. (shrink)
In his response to my earlier criticism, Rob Lawlor argues that the benefits I suggest can be derived from teaching moral theories in applied ethics courses can be obtained in other ways. In my reply, I note that because I never claimed the benefits could be obtained only from teaching moral theories, Dr Lawlor’s response fails to refute my earlier argument that some attention to moral theories is an option in applied ethics courses.
Let me begin by signaling my enthusiasm both for the specific case offered by Cummins et al. against teleosemantics and for the overall framework from which this work derives. If the first approximation of the idea is that there will be material implicit in a representation that can be exploited by a cognitive agent that later acquires the right abilities to extract this material, and if this material looks a great deal like content, then the teleosemanticist will find accommodating it (...) challenging. Moreover, the distinction between representation and indication is intriguing and important, and the discussion of structural transformation and isomorphism is illuminating. While Cummins has been urging these themes for some time now, it seems to me that they have not been sufficiently appreciated in the literature. (shrink)
This article seeks to demonstrate a particular application of Foucault's philosophical approach to a particular issue in education: that of personal autonomy. The paper surveys and extends the approach taken by James Marshall in his book Michel Foucault: Personal autonomy and education. After surveying Marshall's writing on the issue I extend Marshall's approach, critically analysing the work of Rob Reich and Meira Levinson, two contemporary philosophers who advocate models of personal autonomy as the basis for a liberal education.
Rob Clifton was one of the most brilliant and productive researchers in the foundations and philosophy of quantum theory, who died tragically at the age of 38. Jeremy Butterfield and Hans Halvorson collect fourteen of his finest papers here, drawn from the latter part of his career (1995-2002), all of which combine exciting philosophical discussion with rigorous mathematical results. Many of these papers break wholly new ground, either conceptually or technically. Others resolve a vague controversy intoa precise technical problem, which (...) is then solved; still others solve an open problem that had been in the air for soem time. All of them show scientific and philosophical creativity of a high order, genuinely among the very best work in the field. The papers are grouped into four Parts. First come four papers about the modal interpretation of quantum mechanics. Part II comprises three papers on the foundations of algebraic quantum field theory, with an emphasis on entanglement and nonlocality. The two papers in Part III concern the concept of a particle in relativistic quantum theories. One paper analyses localization; the other analyses the Unruh effect (Rindler quanta) using the algebraic approach to quantum theory. Finally, Part IV contains striking new results about such central issues as complementarity, Bohr's reply to the EPR argument, and no hidden variables theorems; and ends with a philosophical survey of the field of quantum information. The volume includes a full bibliography of Clifton's publications. Quantum Entanglements offers inspiration and substantial reward to graduates and professionals in the foundations of physics, with a background in philosophy, physics, or mathematics. (shrink)
Lefebvre, Love and Struggle provides the only comprehensive guide to Lefebvre's work. It is an accessible introduction to one of the most significant European thinkers of the twentieth century. Rob Shields draws on the full range of Lefebvre's writings, including many previously untranslated and unpublished works and correspondence. Topics covered include Lefebvre's early relationship with Marxism, his critique of the rise of fascism, as well as his Critique of Everyday Life and the significant work on urban space for which he (...) is best known today. (shrink)