In this essay I describe two of the accounts that Peirce provides of personhood: the semiotic account, on which a person is a sequence of thought-signs, and the naturalistic account, on which a person is an animal. I then argue that these disparate accounts can be reconciled into a plausible view on which persons are numerically distinct entities that are nevertheless continuous with each other in an important way. This view would be agreeable to Peirce in some respects, as it (...) is modeled on his theory of perception, incorporates his categories of Firstness, Secondness and Thirdness, and is in harmony with his objective idealism. But it diverges from Peirce in one important respect, viz. its rejection of the idea that some groups of human beings count as persons. (shrink)
For many years, Charles Peirce maintained that all senses of the modal terms "possible" and "necessary" can be defined in terms of "states of information." But in 1896, he was motivated by his work in set theory to criticize that account of modality, and in 1905 he characterized that criticism as a return "to the Aristotelian doctrine of a real possibility ... the great step that was needed to render pragmaticism an intelligible doctrine." But since Peirce was a realist about (...) modality before 1896, and since he continued defining "possibility" in terms of "states of information" after that date, it is not clear exactly what he changed his mind about. In this essay I explain what it was that Peirce changed his mind about and why, in retrospect, he viewed that change as a decisive step in the development of pragmaticism. (shrink)
“The most likely use for Haack’s volume will be in introductory pragmatism courses and it is eminently appropriate for this task. However, others who would wish to speak out about pragmatism authoritatively would do well to go through the book from cover to cover. Outside of philosophy, the volume provides an introduction to a vital aspect of what philosophy has to offer to other disciplines, psychology among them....it is hard to think what could have been done to improve upon the (...) collection.”. (shrink)
I provide an account of the moral status of pre-birth humans that integrates ideas from Charles Peirce, including: synechism, the idea that "all that exists is continuous"; the reality of "Seconds," independently existing individual entities; and Peirce's pragmatic conceptions of truth and reality. This account implies that destroying a pre-birth human is determinately moral very soon after conception and determinately immoral very late in pregnancy. But it also implies that during much of gestation, destroying a pre-birth human is of indeterminate (...) moral status, neither determinately moral nor determinately immoral. (shrink)
Some opponents of reproductive human cloning have argued that, because of its experimental nature, any attempt to create a child by way of cloning would risk serious birth defects or genetic abnormalities and would therefore be immoral. Some versions of this argument appeal to the consent of the person to be conceived in this way. In particular, they assume that if an experimental reproductive technology has not yet been shown to be safe, then, before we use it, we are morally (...) obligated to get either the actual consent or the presumed consent of the person to be conceived. In this article, I attempt to explain the appeal of such consent-based arguments as deriving from a mistaken view of personal identity. I then argue that since this view is false, such arguments are unsound. Finally, I argue that even if reproductive cloning is unsafe, it may still be morally permissible in some circumstances. (shrink)
Contributors explore the social, medical, and ethical dilemma of assisted suicide in this revised edition that includes international as well as domestic viewpoints. The federal government's continued challenges to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, the disabled community's response to assisted suicide, and the slippery slope argument are all examined.
It is well known that C. S. Peirce eventually accepted an "extreme scholastic realism" about "generals" and "vagues." But it has been a subject of debate among Peirce scholars whether he was a nominalist early on. In particular, it remains unsettled whether Peirce's earliest position regarding generals was one of antirealism or whether he was a realist about generals from the very beginning. In this essay I argue that despite first appearances, the textual evidence does not support the claim that (...) Peirce moved from a position of antirealism to one of realism about generals. His earliest statements on the subject are compatible with a moderate, nonmodal realism about generality. (shrink)
Don Marquis has argued that abortion is immoral because it deprives the fetus of a "future like ours." But Marquis's argument fails by incorrectly assuming that a zygote and the late-term fetus with which it is physically continuous are numerically identical. In fact, the identity of a prebirth human (PBH) across gestation is indeterminate, such that it is determinately morally permissible to destroy an early-term PBH and determinately immoral to destroy a late-term PBH. Beginning at some indeterminate point during gestation (...) and ending at some indeterminate point later in gestation, destroying a PBH is neither determinately morally permissible nor determinately immoral. (shrink)
Charles Peirce claimed that "anything is general in so far as the principle of excluded middle does not apply to it and is vague in so far as the principle of contradiction does not apply to it." This seems to imply that general propositions are neither true nor false and that vague propositions are both true and false. But this is not the case. I argue that Peirce's claim was intended to underscore relatively simple facts about quantification and negation, and (...) that it implies neither that general propositions are neither true nor false nor that vague propositions are both true and false. (shrink)
Wilson's comments on The Market Experience are deficient for at least three reasons. First, his lack of knowledge regarding subjective well?being deprives him of an adequate frame of reference from which to evaluate my work. Second, he fails to appreciate that a theory may legitimately draw upon more than one explanatory factor. Third, Wilson apparently did not read the entire book.
Rational choice theories have been falsified by experimental tests of economic behavior and have not been supported by analyses of behavior in the market. Politics is an even less fertile field of application for rational choice theories because politics deals with ends as well as means, thus preventing ends?means rationality; voters have partisan loyalties often ?fixed? in adolescence; political benefits have no common unit of measurement; ?rational ignorance? inhibits rational choices; and there is no market?like feedback to facilitate learning. Research (...) comparing public and private efficiency does not support rational choice. Ironically, while law and business schools are now employing better microeconomic theories, political scientists are taking up rational choice theory, regardless of the disconfirming evidence. (shrink)
This book argues that the best way to understand the stories of the Old and New Testaments is to consider them as human stories with sophisticated narrative techniques at play. God is a character in these stories from the beginning, and considering god as a character in a narrative proves fruitful in responding to the human voices of these stories. -/- Although many readers go to the Bible to find the revealed word of Yahweh or of the Christian God, what (...) they find there is always an interpretation of the text through the filters of a religious dogma which exists prior to the reading of the text. Reading the Bible suggests another way of reading the texts, a way of reading which concentrates not on "what does it mean?" but on "what does it say?" and "what do I see there?" The result is a fresh approach to the reading of these biblical texts, an approach which celebrates human storytelling while investigating myth, language, and the act of reading a text. (shrink)
If the obstacles to human development lie in the paucity of resources, in insuperable technical barriers, the task would be hopeless. We know instead that it is too often a lack of political commitment, not of resources, that is the ultimate cause of human neglect. United Nations, Human Development Report, 1991.
Since the mid?1960s in advanced and rapidly advancing economies, there has been a rising tide of clinical depression and dysphoria, a decline in mutual trust, and a loosening of social bonds. Most studies show that above a minimal level, income is irrelevant to one's sense of well?being, but companionship and social support increase well?being. Since shopping and consumption are increasingly solitary activities, and watching television is not genuinely sociable, the increased time devoted to these activities may be responsible for rising (...) levels of depression. Advanced societies are likely to increase ?utility? if they maximize friendship rather than the getting and spending of wealth. (shrink)