This paper offers a new interpretation of the propensity to evil and its relation to Kant's claim that the human race is universally evil. Unlike most of its competitors, the interpretation presented here neither trivializes Kant's claims about the universal evil of humanity nor attributes a position to him that is incompatible with his repeated insistence that we are blameworthy for actions only when we could have acted differently. This interpretation also accounts for a number of otherwise bewildering claims in (...) the Religion and makes sense of the analogy Kant draws between the propensity to evil and addiction. (shrink)
In a previous paper (Duncan, T.L., Semura, J.S. in Entropy 6:21, 2004) we considered the question, “What underlying property of nature is responsible for the second law?” A simple answer can be stated in terms of information: The fundamental loss of information gives rise to the second law. This line of thinking highlights the existence of two independent but coupled sets of laws: Information dynamics and energy dynamics. The distinction helps shed light on certain foundational questions in statistical mechanics. (...) For example, the confusion surrounding previous “derivations” of the second law from energy dynamics can be resolved by noting that such derivations incorporate one or more assumptions that correspond to the loss of information. In this paper we further develop and explore the perspective in which the second law is fundamentally a law of information dynamics. (shrink)
I argue that Hobbes isn't really a materialist in the early 1640s (in, e.g., the Third Objections to Descartes's Meditations). That is, he doesn't assert that bodies are the only substances. However, he does think that bodies are the only substances we can think about using imagistic ideas.
Hobbes denies in Leviathan that we have an idea of God. He does think, though, that God exists, and does not even deny that we can think about God, even though he says we have no idea of God. There is, Hobbes thinks, another cognitive mechanism by means of which we can think about God. That mechanism allows us only to think a few things about God though. This constrains what Hobbes can say about our knowledge of God, and grounds (...) his belief in a fairly strong version of the thesis that God is incomprehensible. (shrink)
In all likelihood, the Bush Administration’s aim is to continue abusive interrogation methods that on any reasonable definition amount to torture (methods such as waterboarding,” for example, in which a detainee is laid on his back and choked with water until he believes he is drowning). This new law, however, is both foolish and immoral: foolish, because torture won’t make Americans safer; and immoral, because torture is the grossest of affronts to human dignity.
In the last two decades there have been many critics of western biomedicine's poor integration of social and psychological factors in questions of human health. Such critiques frequently begin with a rejection of Descartes' mind-body dualism, viewing this as the decisive philosophical moment, radically separating the two realms in both theory and practice. It is argued here, however, that many such readings of Descartes have been selective and misleading. Contrary to the assumptions of many recent authors, Descartes' dualism does attempt (...) to explain the union of psyche and soma - with more depth than is often appreciated. Pain plays a key role in Cartesian as well as contemporary thinking about the problem of dualism. Theories of the psychological origins of pain symptoms persisted throughout the history of modern medicine and were not necessarily discouraged by Cartesian mental philosophy. Moreover, the recently developed biopsychosocial model of pain may have more in common with Cartesian dualism than it purports to have. This article presents a rereading of Descartes' mental philosophy and his views on pain. The intention is not to defend his theories, but to re-evaluate them and to ask in what respect contemporary theories represent any significant advance in philosophical terms. (shrink)
Alan Hájek has recently argued that certain assignments of vague probability defeat Pascals Wager. In particular, he argues that skeptical agnostics – those whose probability for God''s existence is vague over an interval containing zero – have nothing to fear from Pascal. In this paper, I make two arguments against Hájek: (1) that skeptical agnosticism is a form of dogmatism, and as such should be rejected; (2) that in any case, choice situations with vague probability assignments ought to be treated (...) as second-order cases of choice under uncertainty, with the result that belief in God is the favored option in a very wide range of cases. (shrink)
In this article, I situate and reconstruct Sartre's rejections of subjective and objective idealism in order both to sketch his realism-all-the-way-down and to contrast it with Richard Rorty's pragmatic, anti-essentialist contextualism. The contrast with Rorty is important because his contextualism is one of the most prominent approaches within the relatively recent proliferation of antiessentialist views mobilized under the banners of pragmatism, hermeneutics, postmodernism, constructivism, etc. Although Rorty's contextualism is both compelling and comparable to Sartre's realism-all-the-way-down, I shall argue that the (...) latter does not throw out the baby that the former throws out with the bathwater. Realism-all-the-way-down is not compelled to throw out realism along with subjective and objective idealism, whereas contextualism must throw out the whole lot. If compelling intuitions recommend realism to us, and if Rorty's rejection of realism is unconvincing, there are good reasons to prefer Sartre's realism-all-the-way-down. (shrink)
Exploring the idea of knowledge as embodied, engendered and embedded in place and space, gender and sexuality are re-examined through the methodological and conceptual lenses of cartography, fieldwork, resistance, transgression and the divisions between local/global and public/private space. BodySpace brings together some of the best known geographers writing on gender and sexuality today to explore the role of space and place in the performance of gender and sexuality. The book takes a broad perspective on feminism as a theoretical critique, and (...) aims to reassess notions of sexuality, citizenship, work, violence, "race" and disability in their geographical contexts. (shrink)
Many bilingual speakers believe they engage in different forms of thinking when they shift languages. This experience of entering different thought worlds can be explained with the hypothesis that languages induce different forms of `thinking-for-speaking'-- thinking generated, as Slobin (1987) says, because of the requirements of a linguistic code. "`Thinking for speaking' involves picking those characteristics that (a) fit some conceptualization of the event, and (b) are readily encodable in the language" (p. 435). That languages differ in their thinking-for-speaking demands (...) is a version of the linguistic relativity hypothesis, the proposition that language influences thought and that different languages influence thought in different ways. (shrink)
In the pages of philosophy journals debate rages these days between "political" and "comprehensive liberals," a debate inaugurated by John Rawls’s seminal 1985 paper entitled "Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical," from which the above quotation is drawn. As the quotation suggests, a political liberal is someone who believes that liberal justice should be defined and defended in terms that are independent of "comprehensive" philosophical and religious doctrines, that is, independent of doctrines that purport to describe, in some comprehensive way, (...) the sources of meaning, purpose, and worth in human life. A comprehensive liberal, by contrast, is someone who believes some such comprehensive doctrine must be invoked in defense of liberal justice. In this debate it is perhaps fair to say that political liberals have the more prestigious roll call, for in addition to Rawls, prominent political liberals include Thomas Nagel, Brian Barry, Ronald Dworkin, Charles Larmore, and Bruce Ackerman. (shrink)
In Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science are found a dynamist reduction of matter and an account of the communication of motion by impact. One would expect to find an analysis of the causal mechanism involved in the communication of motion between bodies given in terms of the fundamental dynamical nature of bodies. However, Kant's analysis, as given in the discussion of his third law of mechanics (an action-reaction law) is purely kinematical, invoking no causal mechanisms at all, let alone (...) dynamist mechanisms, in the explanation. It is argued that the reason for the non-incorporation of Kant's theory of matter in the account of impact is his overriding desire to provide a mathematical framework to explain the communication of motion, a provision which Kant felt to be impossible in the context of a metaphysical dynamism. (shrink)
In October 1924, The Physical Review, a relatively minor journal at the time, published a remarkable two-part paper by John H. Van Vleck, working in virtual isolation at the University of Minnesota. Van Vleck used Bohr's correspondence principle and Einstein's quantum theory of radiation to find quantum formulae for the emission, absorption, and dispersion of radiation. The paper is similar but in many ways superior to the well-known paper by Kramers and Heisenberg published the following year that is widely credited (...) to have led directly to Heisenberg's Umdeutung paper. As such, it clearly shows how strongly the discovery of matrix mechanics depended on earlier work on the application of the correspondence principle to the interaction of matter and radiation. (shrink)
Inconsistency of attitudes and behavior is due to the probabilistic connection between responses or actions and the (not directly observable) dispositions on which they depend. Latent variable models provide criteria for recognizing when attitude and behavior depend on the same disposition. Statistical tests of such models and techniques of parameter estimation are described. The viewpoint proposed here and illustrated with empirical examples contrasts with the prevalent reliance on correlational models and methods.
In a recent article Martha Nussbaum identified three problems with the Stoic doctrine of respect for dignity: its exclusive focus on specifically human dignity, its indifference to the need for external goods, and its ineffectiveness as a moral motive. This article formulates a non-Stoic doctrine of respect for dignity that avoids these problems. I argue that this doctrine helps us to understand such moral phenomena as the dignity of nonhuman animals as well as the core human values of life, freedom, (...) and equality. I end by arguing that Nussbaum underestimates the mutual support between motives of respect and other moral motives such as compassion. (shrink)
Over the past decade, umbilical cord blood (UCB) has routinely been used as a source of haematopoietic stem cells for allogeneic stem cell transplants in the treatment of a range of malignant and non-malignant conditions affecting children and adults. UCB banks are a necessary part of the UCB transplant program, but their establishment has raised a number of important scientific, ethical and political issues. This paper examines the scientific and clinical evidence that has provided the basis for the establishment of (...) UCB banks. We also discuss the major ethical issues that UCB banks raise, including ownership of cord blood, processes for obtaining consent for its collection and storage, and confidentiality. Finally, we review other concerns about commercial non-altruistic banking, including concerns about social justice, equity of access and equity of care. (shrink)
This paper deals with four ethical issues in the development and application of business and management knowledge. The issues examined are: (1) failure to adopt or disclose knowledge with proven value that could benefit individuals, organizations, and society; (2) inappropriate implementation or incomplete disclosure of knowledge with proven potential; (3) use of knowledge for the exclusive benefit of a selected interest group even if harm is done to others; and (4) intentional falsification or misrepresentation of knowledge as something other than (...) what it is known to be. Each of these issues are illustrated with actual case histories and are examined using frequently accepted ethical concepts. (shrink)
Did protolanguage users use discrete words that referred to objects, actions, locations, etc., and then, at some point, combine them; or on the contrary did they have words that globally indexed whole semantic complexes, and then come to divide them? Our answer is: early humans were forming language units consisting of global and discrete dimensions of semiosis in dynamic opposition. These units of thinking-for-speaking, or ‘growth points’ (GPs) were, jointly, analog imagery (visuo-spatio-motoric) and categorically-contrastive (-emic) linguistic encodings. This discrete-global duality (...) was a new mode of embodied cognition that enabled thinking and acting in new ways: the dawn of protolanguage. Where did this mode of cognition come from? We have some suggestions based on the hypothesis that gestures gained the power to orchestrate actions, manual and vocal, with significances other than those of the actions themselves, giving rise to cognition framed in the proposed dual terms. Note, however, our proposal is not one of the ‘gesture-first’ theories of language origins. Such theories predict what did not evolve: a language of pantomime; rather than what did evolve: an integrated system of synchronized gestures and spoken forms. GP theory is an account of the cognition underlying such an integrated system. A scenario for the evolutionary selection of this cognitive mode is ‘Mead’s Loop’, a model in which one’s cognition is enriched by one’s own gestures, insofar as they are objects in social interactions. (shrink)
In the fall of 1998 Trent Lott used his power as Senate Majority Leader to prevent the confirmation of James C. Hormel, an openly gay San Francisco philanthropist who was then President Clinton’s nominee for Ambassador to Luxembourg. Mr. Lott made it clear that his opposition to Hormel was based on his opposition to homosexuality in general. Asked by a television interviewer during the controversy whether homosexuality is a sin, Mr. Lott answered "Yes, it is"; he went on to compare (...) gay people to alcoholics, sex addicts, and kleptomaniacs. Shortly thereafter, Dick Armey, the House Majority Leader, seconded Lott’s view, adding that “[t]he Bible is very clear on this…Both myself and Senator Lott believe very strongly in the Bible.”. (shrink)
Norris, McQueen & Cutler claim that Merge is an autonomous model, superior to the interactive TRACE model and the autonomous Race model. Merge is actually an interactive model, despite claims to the contrary. The presentation of the literature seriously distorts many findings, in order to advocate autonomy. It is Merge's interactivity that allows it to simulate findings in the literature.
The standard foil for recent theories of hope is the belief-desire analysis advocated by Hobbes, Day, Downie, and others. According to this analysis, to hope for S is no more and no less than to desire S while believing S is possible but not certain. Opponents of the belief-desire analysis argue that it fails to capture one or another distinctive feature or function of hope: that hope helps one resist the temptation to despair;2 that hope engages the sophisticated capacities of (...) human agency, such as planning;3 or that hope involves the imagination in ways desire need not.4 Here, I focus on the role of imagination in hope, and discuss its implications for hope’s relation to practical commitment or end-setting. (shrink)