Lifelong learning is something which one does for oneself that no one else can do for one: it is a public and personal human activity, rather than private or individualistic. One of the features of the education system is the paucity of a language for learning as process and participative experience. Personalised learning requires a sense of the worth-whileness of 'being a learner' - a virtue in the 21st century. A sense of one's own worth as a person is essential (...) to understanding one's identity as a learner. Research suggests the human capacity to learn can be understood as a form of consciousness which is characterised by particular values, attitudes and dispositions, with a lateral and a temporal connectivity. This 'consciousness' has several dimensions which are all related to becoming a person, with a learning identity. They also enable the learner to become aware of and appropriate what is of worth and map onto the sorts of core values that learning communities espouse. Awareness of self and of one's own worth as a person is a necessary condition for 'becoming a learner' and for identifying and engaging with 'what is of worth'. Furthermore, a sense of self as a learner is formed in relationship, and understood as one learns to tell one's own story, as a participant in the conversation of the learning community. Character is the way in which we refer to that quality of personhood in which there is rooted the capacity to change and learn over time. (shrink)
Catastrophe Theory was developed in an attempt to provide a form of Mathematics particularly apt for applications in the biological sciences. It was claimed that while it could be applied in the more conventional physical way, it could also be applied in a new metaphysical way, derived from the Structuralism of Saussure in Linguistics and Lévi-Strauss in Anthropology.Since those early beginnings there have been many attempts to apply Catastrophe Theory to Biology, but these hopes cannot be said to have been (...) fully realised. (shrink)
Citizenship and its education is again gaining importance in many countries. This paper uses England as its primary example to develop a Habermasian perspective on this issue. The statutory requirements for citizenship education in England imply that significant attention be given to the moral and social development of the learner over time, to the active engagement of the learner in community and to the knowledge skills and understanding necessary for political action. This paper sets out a theoretical framework that offers (...) a perspective on learning suitable for these far-reaching aims. We argue that schools need to shift from the currently dominant discourse of accountability to incorporate a discourse of care in order to make room for an effective and appropriate pedagogy for citizenship. Habermas’s social theory gives us a theoretical framework that properly locates schools within the lifeworld as part of civil society. Schools should therefore attend to hermeneutical and emancipatory concerns, not only to strategic interests. We put these in the context of Habermas’s social theory to paint an alternative vision learning for citizenship education which is based in developing the dispositions, values and attitudes necessary for lifelong learning with a view to developing ongoing communicative action. (shrink)
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
The great contribution Marcus has made to several of intensely discussed topics in philosophy might not have been noticed fully without this collection of some of her most important articles that makes it evident that her achievement is not limited to inventing the famous Barcan formula.
This article is a defence of the Fact-Value distinction against considerations brought up by Ruth Anna Putnam in three articles in Philosophy, especially her ‘Perceiving Facts and Values’ January 1998. I defend metaphysical realism about facts and anti-realism about values against Putnam' intermediate position about both and I relate the matter to the logic of imperatives. The motivations of scientists or historians to select fields of investigation are irrelevant to the objectivity of their hypotheses, and so is the goodness (...) or badness of the social consequences of their work though these may affect their motivations. (shrink)
An assessment is offered of the recent debate on information in the philosophy of biology, and an analysis is provided of the notion of information as applied in scientific practice in molecular genetics. In particular, this paper deals with the dependence of basic generalizations of molecular biology, above all the ‘central dogma’, on the so-called ‘informational talk’ (Maynard Smith [2000a]). It is argued that talk of information in the ‘central dogma’ can be reduced to causal claims. In that respect, the (...) primary aim of the paper is to consider a solution to the major difficulty of the causal interpretation of genetic information: how to distinguish the privileged causal role assigned to nucleic acids, DNA in particular, in the processes of replication and protein production. A close reading is proposed of Francis H. C. Crick's On Protein Synthesis (1958) and related works, to which we owe the first explicit definition of information within the scientific practice of molecular biology. Introduction 1.1 The basic questions of the information debate 1.2 The causal interpretation (CI) of biological information and Crick's ‘central dogma’ Crick's definitions of genetic information The main requirement for (CI) Types of causation in molecular biology 4.1 Structural causation in molecular biology 4.2 Nucleic acids as correlative causal factors The ‘central dogma’ without the notion of information Concluding remarks This is a new version of this article as there were errors in the abstract and full text in the previous version. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan is one of the most interesting and influential philosophers alive. Her work is also hard to penetrate. In this review, I try to present and assess her work on the nature of language, which is collected in this anthology. I also criticize her analysis of “natural convention” as well as her discussion of illocutionary acts.
In philosophy textbooks for undergraduates the cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict is often cited as a proponent of moral relativism, and her writings are not infrequently excerpted to illustrate the view that the individual’s moral values are culturally determined. Because Benedict established that significant differences can exist in the underlying cultural patterns of different societies, her work is commonly construed as providing evidence for the arbitrary and non-rational basis of morals. The author of the present essay argues that this popular (...) reading of Benedict is mistaken. He draws a distinction between two different forms of moral relativism—the objective and the subjective—and then contends that Benedict is widely viewed as a subjective relativist when in fact her relativism was of the objective variety. He shows that her position actually has much in common with the pragmatic meliorism of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead. (shrink)
In every philosopher’s career, there comes a time to look back on accomplishments, assess achievements, evaluate one’s place in a canon that dates to an era when Ancient Greeks still roamed the Earth. Perhaps many of you have wondered when I’d finally get around to doing this. Sadly, this is not the night for that splendid occasion. Do not pretend to hide your disappointment. Also, do not hesitate to point fingers. Believe me when I tell you that I would take (...) great delight in reporting to you my accomplishments, achievements, and place in the canon. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who knows me well, or, at any rate, has spent a few minutes in conversation with me, or, maybe, has simply observed me in conversation with someone else. They’ll tell you that I am uniquely suited to fete myself, and take obvious pleasure spreading the good word to others. Alas, I have been enlisted to concentrate my philosophical powers on a topic less interesting than myself. My focus? A woman named Ruth Millikan. For philosophers, mention of the Book of Ruth directs thoughts not to the Old Testament, but to LTOBC. This is a shame, because Ruth’s Old Testament book is quite short, as books go, and tells a heartwarming story of redemption and devotion – virtues that receive hardly any mention in LTOBC. Now that I think about it, Ruth’s later books and articles mark a significant departure from the plot line in that first Book of Ruth’s. Gone are references to Bethlehem and Moab, and in their place lurk hoverflies and push me pull yous, but more on these matters in a moment. I want first to turn my finely tuned and oft picked philosophical nose to LTOBC – unquestionably Professor Millikan’s magnum opus . Here’s a little known fact. Originally, LTOBC had a different title, requiring a different acronym. If she hadn’t taken her editor’s advice, we’d be speaking of BLTOBC, which stood for Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato on Blueberry Cobbler. There’s something down home and grannyish about this title, and Ruth deserves credit for trying to entice readers with the promise of good old fashioned, feather plucked, farm food, but, as her editor was quick to note, bacon, lettuce, and tomato have no more place on blueberry cobbler than they do on cherry cobbler, and so BLTOBC might as well be BLTOCC, and with no reason to prefer one title to the other, best just to forget about the bacon.. (shrink)
When thinking about the intersection of care and Christian bioethics, it is helpful to follow closely the account of Ruth, who turned away from security and walked alongside her grieving mother-in-law to Bethlehem. Remembering Ruth may help one to heed Professor Kaveny?s summoning of Christians to remember ?the Order of Widows? and the church?s historic calling to bring ?the almanahinto its center rather than pushing her to its margins.? Disabled, elderly and terminally ill people often seem, at least (...) implicitly, expendable. By hearing the scriptural account of Jesus? steadfast great-grandmother, readers may recall another way. One may read Ruth?s care for Naomi as a performative, prophetic act of faith. Ruth?s faithful resolve, when set next to Orpah?s prudent way, challenges the notion that a bioethic of care is innately feminine, and may further call women and men corporately to participate in a kind of care that is strenuous work. My thanks to Cathleen Kaveny for allowing me to play off the title of her insightful essay. Thanks also to Willie James Jennings, whose 1998 baccalaureate sermon on Ruth inspired and much informed this essay. I wish also to thank Ellen Davis, who taught me to read Hebrew, and to read Ruth. (shrink)
Ruth Macklin's new book, AgainstRelativism, says in its subtitle that it intends to address cultural diversity and the search for ethical universals in medicine. This it does very well. Every chapter includes some discussion of cultural relativism, cultural anthropology, or postmodernism, and her analyses are acute and scathing. Macklin is unabashed in her defense of the principles of medical ethics, and she gives a strong argument that principles are essential elements of any ethical system that is to successfully survive (...) the skeptical doubts of relativism. (shrink)