This chapter introduces debates about freedom of speech and argues that very few if any individuals support no restrictions whatsoever on freedom of speech. The question is therefore not should we restrict freedom of speech but rather what sorts of speech and how?
Should parents try to give their children the best lives possible? Yes. Do parents have an obligation to give their children the widest possible set of opportunities in the future? No. Understanding how both of these things may be true will allow us to go a long way towards understanding why a Deaf couple might wish their child to be born Deaf and why we might have reason to respect this desire.
This paper attempts some predictions about the social consequences of nanotechnology and the ethical issues they raise. I set out four features of nanotechnology that are likely to be important in determining its impact and argue that nanotechnology will have significant social impacts in—at least—the areas of health and medicine, the balance of power between citizens and governments, and the balance of power between citizens and corporations. More importantly, responding to the challenge of nanotechnology will require confronting “philosophical” questions about (...) the sort of society we wish to create and the role that technology might play in creating it. This in turn will require developing institutions and processes that allow the public to wield real power in relation to technological trajectories. My ultimate contention is that the immediate task established by the likely social impacts of nanotechnology is not so much to develop an ethics of nanotechnology as to facilitate an ethical conversation about nanotechnology. (shrink)
”Liberal eugenics’ has emerged as the most popular position amongst philosophers writing in the contemporary debate about the ethics of human enhancement. This position has been most clearly articulated by Nicholas Agar, who argues that the ”new’ liberal eugenics can avoid the repugnant consequences associated with eugenics in the past. Agar suggests that parents should be free to make only those interventions into the genetics of their children that will benefit them no matter what way of life they grow up (...) to endorse. I argue that Agar’s attempt to distinguish the new from the old eugenics fails. Once we start to consciously determine the genetics of future persons, we will not be able to avoid controversial assumptions about the relative worth of different life plans. Liberal eugenicists therefore confront the horns of a dilemma. Whichever way they try to resolve it, the consequences of widespread use of technologies of genetic selection are likely to look more like the old eugenics than defenders of the new eugenics have acknowledged. (shrink)
Unmanned systems in military applications will often play a role in determining the success or failure of combat missions and thus in determining who lives and dies in times of war. Designers of UMS must therefore consider ethical, as well as operational, requirements and limits when developing UMS. I group the ethical issues involved in UMS design under two broad headings, Building Safe Systems and Designing for the Law of Armed Conflict, and identify and discuss a number of issues under (...) each of these headings. As well as identifying issues, I offer some analysis of their implications and how they might be addressed. (shrink)
The normative significance of the distinction between therapy and enhancement has come under sustained philosophical attack in recent discussions of the ethics of shaping future persons by means of preimplantation genetic diagnosis and other advanced genetic technologies. In this paper, I argue that giving up the idea that the answer to the question as to whether a condition is “normal” should play a crucial role in assessing the ethics of genetic interventions has unrecognized and strongly counterintuitive implications when it comes (...) to selecting what sort of children should be brought into the world. According to standard philosophical accounts of the factors one should take into account when making such .. (shrink)
Following the success of Sony Corporation’s “AIBO”, robot cats and dogs are multiplying rapidly. “Robot pets” employing sophisticated artificial intelligence and animatronic technologies are now being marketed as toys and companions by a number of large consumer electronics corporations. -/- It is often suggested in popular writing about these devices that they could play a worthwhile role in serving the needs of an increasingly aging and socially isolated population. Robot companions, shaped like familiar household pets, could comfort and entertain lonely (...) older persons. This goal is misguided and unethical. While there are a number of apparent benefits that might be thought to accrue from ownership of a robot pet, the majority and the most important of these are predicated on mistaking, at a conscious or unconscious level, the robot for a real animal. For an individual to benefit significantly from ownership of a robot pet they must systematically delude themselves regarding the real nature of their relation with the animal. It requires sentimentality of a morally deplorable sort. Indulging in such sentimentality violates a (weak) duty that we have to ourselves to apprehend the world accurately. The design and manufacture of these robots is unethical in so far as it presupposes or encourages this delusion. -/- The invention of robot pets heralds the arrival of what might be called “ersatz companions” more generally. That is, of devices that are designed to engage in and replicate significant social and emotional relationships. The advent of robot dogs offers a valuable opportunity to think about the worth of such companions, the proper place of robots in society and the value we should place on our relationships with them. (shrink)
It is remarkable how much robotics research is promoted by appealing to the idea that the only way to deal with a looming demographic crisis is to develop robots to look after older persons. This paper surveys and assesses the claims made on behalf of robots in relation to their capacity to meet the needs of older persons. We consider each of the roles that has been suggested for robots in aged care and attempt to evaluate how successful robots might (...) be in these roles. We do so from the perspective of writers concerned primarily with the quality of aged care, paying particular attention to the social and ethical implications of the introduction of robots, rather than from the perspective of robotics, engineering, or computer science. We emphasis the importance of the social and emotional needs of older persons—which, we argue, robots are incapable of meeting—in almost any task involved in their care. Even if robots were to become capable of filling some service roles in the aged-care sector, economic pressures on the sector would most likely ensure that the result was a decrease in the amount of human contact experienced by older persons being cared for, which itself would be detrimental to their well-being. This means that the prospects for the ethical use of robots in the aged-care sector are far fewer than first appears. More controversially, we believe that it is not only misguided, but actually unethical, to attempt to substitute robot simulacra for genuine social interaction. A subsidiary goal of this paper is to draw attention to the discourse about aged care and robotics and locate it in the context of broader social attitudes towards older persons. We conclude by proposing a deliberative process involving older persons as a test for the ethics of the use of robots in aged care. (shrink)
Since the 1980s, a number of medical researchers have suggested that in the future it might be possible for men to become pregnant. Given the role played by the right to reproductive liberty in other debates about reproductive technologies, it will be extremely difficult to deny that this right extends to include male pregnancy. However, this constitutes a reductio ad absurdum of the idea of reproductive liberty. One therefore would be well advised to look again at the extent of this (...) purported right in other contexts in which it is deployed. (shrink)
This paper discusses the ethical and regulatory issues raised by “intragenics” – organisms that have been genetically modified using gene technologies, but that do not contain DNA from another species. Considering the rapid development of knowledge about gene regulation and genomics, we anticipate rapid advances in intragenic methods. Of regulatory systems developed to govern genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, the Australian system stands out in explicitly excluding intragenics from regulation. European systems are also (...) under pressure to exclude intragenics from regulation. We evaluate recent arguments that intragenics are safer and more morally acceptable than transgenic organisms, and more acceptable to the public, which might be thought to justify a lower standard of regulation. We argue that the exemption of intragenics from regulation is not justified, and that there may be significant environmental risks associated with them. We conclude that intragenics should be subject to the same standard of regulation as other GMOs. (shrink)
I apply an agent-based virtue ethics to issues in environmental philosophy regarding our treatment of complex inorganic systems. I consider the ethics of terraforming: hypothetical planetary engineering on a vast scale which is aimed at producing habitable environments on otherwise “hostile” planets. I argue that the undertaking of such a project demonstrates at least two serious defects of moral character: an aesthetic insensitivity and the sin of hubris. Trying to change whole planets to suit our ends is arrogant vandalism. I (...) maintain that these descriptions of character are coherent and important ethical concepts. Finally, I demonstrate how the arguments developed in opposition to terraforming, a somewhat farfetched example, can be used in cases closer to home to provide arguments against our use of recombinantDNA technologies and against the construction of tourist developments in wilderness areas. (shrink)
Since the first sex reassignment operations were performed, individual sex has come to be, to some extent at least, a technological artifact. The existence of sperm sorting technology, and of prenatal determination of fetal sex via ultrasound along with the option of termination, means that we now have the power to choose the sex of our children. An influential contemporary line of thought about medical ethics suggests that we should use technology to serve the welfare of individuals and to remove (...) limitations on the opportunities available to them. I argue that, if these are our goals, we may do well to move towards a “post sex” humanity. Until we have the technology to produce genuine hermaphrodites, the most efficient way to do this is to use sex selection technology to ensure that only girl children are born. There are significant restrictions on the opportunities available to men, around gestation, childbirth, and breast-feeding, which will be extremely difficult to overcome via social or technological mechanisms for the foreseeable future. Women also have longer life expectancies than men. Girl babies therefore have a significantly more “open” future than boy babies. Resisting the conclusion that we should ensure that all children are born the same sex will require insisting that sexual difference is natural to human beings and that we should not use technology to reshape humanity beyond certain natural limits. The real concern of my paper, then, is the moral significance of the idea of a normal human body in modern medicine. (shrink)
The risk posed to the community by possible xenozoonosis after xenotransplantation suggests that some form of 'community consent' is required before whole organ animal-to-human xenotransplantation should take place. I argue that this requirement places greater obstacles in the path of ethical xenotransplantation than has previously been recognised. The relevant community is global and there are no existing institutions with democratic credentials sufficient to establish this consent. The distribution of the risks and benefits from xenotransplantation also means that consent is unlikely (...) to be forthcoming. Proceeding on the basis of hypothetical consent to a package of global health measures that includes xenotransplantation, as Rothblatt has recently advocated, is more problematic than she acknowledges. Given that it may place the lives of citizens of poor nations at risk to benefit the citizens of wealthy nations, xenotransplantation raises significant questions of international justice. (shrink)
The question of the morality of war is something of an embarrassment to liberal political thinkers. A philosophical tradition which aspires to found its preferred institutions in respect for individual autonomy, contract, and voluntary association, is naturally confronted by a phenomenon that is almost exclusively explained and justified in the language of States, force and territory. But the apparent difficulties involved in providing a convincing account of nature and ethics of war in terms of relations between individuals has not prevented (...) liberal theorists from attempting this task. This paper examines a recent attempt by Igor Primoratz to sketch out the implications of a consistent liberalism for just war doctrine and, in particular, as regards the question of who may be a legitimate target of attack in wartime. Primoratz’s paper itself is a critique of Michael Waltzer’s authoritative exposition of just war theory for failing to be sufficiently and consistently liberal. The debate between these two authors is a productive site for investigating the potential and limitations of liberal theories of just war. (shrink)
If, as a number of writers have predicted, the computers of the future will possess intelligence and capacities that exceed our own then it seems as though they will be worthy of a moral respect at least equal to, and perhaps greater than, human beings. In this paper I propose a test to determine when we have reached that point. Inspired by Alan Turing’s (1950) original “Turing test”, which argued that we would be justified in conceding that machines (...) could think if they could fill the role of a person in a conversation, I propose a test for when computers have achieved moral standing by asking when a computer might take the place of a human being in a moral dilemma, such as a “triage” situation in which a choice must be made as to which of two human lives to save. We will know that machines have achieved moral standing comparable to a human when the replacement of one of these people with an artificial intelligence leaves the character of the dilemma intact. That is, when we might sometimes judge that it is reasonable to preserve the continuing existence of a machine over the life of a human being. This is the “Turing Triage Test”. I argue that if personhood is understood as a matter of possessing a set of important cognitive capacities then it seems likely that future AIs will be able to pass this test. However this conclusion serves as a reductio of this account of the nature of persons. I set out an alternative account of the nature of persons, which places the concept of a person at the centre of an interdependent network of moral and affective responses, such as remorse, grief and sympathy. I argue that according to this second, superior, account of the nature of persons, machines will be unable to pass the Turing Triage Test until they possess bodies and faces with expressive capacities akin to those of the human form. (shrink)
This paper analyses rhetorics of scientific and corporate enthusiasm surrounding nanotechnology. I argue that enthusiasts for nanotechnologies often try to have it both ways on questions concerning the nature and possible impact of these technologies, and the inevitability of their development and use. In arguments about their nature and impact we are simultaneously informed that these are revolutionary technologies with the potential to profoundly change the world and that they merely represent the extension of existing technologies. They are revolutionary and (...) familiar. In debates surrounding possible regulation of these technologies it is claimed both that their development is inevitable, so that regulation would be fruitless, and that increased research funding and legislative changes are necessary in order that we can enjoy their benefits. That is, they are inevitable and precarious. An increased awareness of these rhetorical contradictions may allow us better to assess the likely impact and future of nanotechnology. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue that contemporary non-Aboriginal Australians can collectively be held responsible for past injustices committed against the Aboriginal peoples of this land. An examination of the role played by history in determining the nature of the present reveals both the temporal extension of the Australian community that confronts the question of responsibility for historical injustice and the ways in which we continue to participate in those same injustices. Because existing injustices suffered by indigenous Australians are essentially (...) continuous with the racist history of the invasion of the Australian continent and dispossession of the Australian Aboriginal peoples, we may be held responsible for the wrongs committed in the course of that history. (shrink)
A number of advances in assisted reproduction have been greeted by the accusation that they would produce children ‘without parents’. In this paper I will argue that while to date these accusations have been false, there is a limited but important sense in which they would be true of children born of a reproductive technology that is now on the horizon. If our genetic parents are those individuals from whom we have inherited 50% of our genes, then, unlike in any (...) other reproductive scenario, children who were conceived from gametes derived from stem cell lines derived from discarded IVF embryos would have no genetic parents! This paper defends this claim and investigates its ethical implications. I argue that there are reasons to think that the creation of such embryos might be morally superior to the existing alternatives in an important set of circumstances. (shrink)
The ‘marketplace of ideas’ is an influential metaphor with widespread currency in debates about freedom of speech. We explore a number of ways competition between ideas might be described as occurring in a marketplace and find that none support the use of the metaphor. We suggest that an alternative metaphor, that of the ‘garden of ideas’, may offer more productive insights into issues surrounding the regulation of speech.
We commonly identify something seriously defective in a human life that is lived in ignorance of important but unpalatable truths. At the same time, some degree of misapprehension of reality may be necessary for individual health and success. Morally speaking, it is unclear just how insistent we should be about seeking the truth. RobertSparrow has considered such issues in discussing the manufacture and marketing of robot ‘pets’, such as Sony’s doglike ‘AIBO’ toy and whatever more advanced devices (...) may supersede it. Though it is not his only concern, Sparrow particularly criticizes such robot pets for their illusory appearance of being living things. He fears that some individuals will subconsciously buy into the illusion, and come to sentimentalize interactions that fail to constitute genuine relationships. In replying to Sparrow, I emphasize that this would be continuous with much of the minor sentimentality that we already indulge in from day to day. Although a disposition to seek the truth is morally virtuous, the virtue concerned must allow for at least some categories of exceptions. Despite Sparrow’s concerns about robot pets (and robotics more generally), we should be lenient about familiar, relatively benign, kinds of self-indulgence in forming beliefs about reality. Sentimentality about robot pets seems to fall within these categories. Such limited self-indulgence can co-exist with ordinary honesty and commitment to truth. (shrink)
In the last ten years, there have been a number of attempts to refute Julian Savulescu's Principle of Procreative Beneficence; a principle which claims that parents have a moral obligation to have the best child that they can possibly have. So far, no arguments against this principle have succeeded at refuting it. This paper tries to explain the shortcomings of some of the more notable arguments against this principle. I attempt to break down the argument for the principle and in (...) doing so, I explain what is needed to properly refute it. This helps me show how and why the arguments of Rebecca Bennett, Sarah Stoller and others fail to refute the principle. Afterwards, I offer a new challenge to the principle. I attack what I understand to be a fundamental premise of the argument, a premise which has been overlooked in the literature written about this principle. I argue that there is no reason to suppose, as Savulescu does, that morality requires us to do what we have most reason to do. If we reject this premise, as I believe we have reason to do, the argument for Procreative Beneficence fails. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons.1 That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop other dispositions, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. To say it again, a person has a free will just in case her character is the product (...) of decisions that she could have rationally avoided making. That one’s character is the product of such decisions entails ultimate responsibility for its manifestations, engendering a free will. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Robert Kane’s defense of event-causal libertarianism, as presented in Responsibility, Luck, and Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism, fails because his event-causal reconstruction is incoherent. I focus on the notions of efforts and self-forming actions essential to his defense.
For the last several decades, philosophers have wrestled with the proper place of religion in liberal societies. Usually, the debates among these philosophers have started with the articulation of various conceptions of liberalism and then proceeded to locate religion in the context of these conceptions. In the process, however, too little attention has been paid to the way religion is conceived. Drawing on the work of Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, two scholars who are often read as holding opposing (...) views on these issues, I argue that, for the purposes of their argument about liberalism, both have implicitly accepted a concept of religion that has come under severe attack in recent work on the subject. Namely, they have accepted a concept of religion that identifies religion primarily with belief, ritual practice, and ecclesial institutions. Following recent scholarship, I suggest that religion is better conceived as a kind of culture. To conclude the essay, I gesture toward what the beginnings of a re-visioned debate about religion and liberal society might look like if one started from this revised conception of religion. (shrink)
Robert Adams’s Finite and Infinite Goods is one of the most important and innovative contributions to theistic ethics in recent memory. This article identifies two major flaws at the heart of Adams’s theory: his notion of intrinsic value and his claim that ‘excellence’ or finite goodness is constituted by resemblance to God. I first elucidate Adams’s complex, frequently misunderstood claims concerning intrinsic value and Godlikeness. I then contend that Adams’s notion of intrinsic value cannot explain what it could mean (...) for countless finite goods to be intrinsically valuable. Next, I articulate a criticism of his Godlikeness thesis altogether unlike those he has previously addressed: I show that, on Adams’s own account of Godlikeness, a diverse myriad of excellences could not possibly count as resembling God. His theory thus fails to account for a whole world of finite goods. I defend my two criticisms against objections and briefly sketch a more Aristotelian and Christian way forward. (shrink)
Hegel’s aesthetic ideal is the perfect integration of form and content within a work of art. This ideal is incompatible with the predominant 20th-century principle of formalist criticism, that form is the sole important factor in a work of art. Although the formalist dichotomy between form and content has been criticized on philosophical grounds, that does not suffice to justify Hegel’s ideal. Justifying Hegel’s ideal requires detailed art criticism that shows how form and content are, and why they should be, (...) integrated in good works of art. This essay provides some of this criticism. By focusing on the work of the contemporary artist, Robert Turner, this criticism further suggests that Hegel’s aesthetic ideal is still relevant. Moreover, the nature of Turner’s work suggests that art is still relevant in our day in ways Hegel did not expect. (shrink)
Kane's ambitious and bold book presents a sustained argument for an ethical theory that gives an account of right action and the good life. The general structure of the main argument is presented and specific points are critically discussed.
This Article is a short response to Anders Tolland's "Iterated Non-Refutation: Robert Lockie on Relativism", International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol. 14, no. 2, 245-254, 2006. Tolland's article was itself a response to Lockie, R (2003) "Relativism and Reflexivity", International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol. 11, no. 3, 319-339.
Robert Owen was one of the most extraordinary Englishmen who ever lived and a great man. In a way his history is the history of the establishment of modern industrial Britain, reflected in the mind and activities of a very intelligent, capable and responsible industrialist, alive to the best social thought of his time. The organisation of industrial labour, factory legislation, education, trade unionism, co-operation, rationalism: he was passionately and ably engaged in all of them. His community at New (...) Lanark was the nearest thing to an industrial heaven in the Britain of dark satanic mills; he tried to found a rational co-operative community in the USA. In everything he contemplated, he saw education as a key. This selection of his writings on education illustrates his rationalist concept of the formation of character and its implications for education and society; also his growing utopian concern with social reorganisation; and third, his impact on social movements. Silver's introduction shows Owen's relationship to particular educational traditions and activities and his long-term influence on attitudes to education. (shrink)
This book collects essays considering the full range of Robert Sokolowski's philosophical works: his vew of philosophy; his phenomenology of language and his account of the relation between language and being; his phenomenology of moral action; and his phenomenological theology of disclosure.
Robert Audi’s The Good in the Right undertakes the magisterial work of reviving the intuitionism of W.D. Ross, rescuing Ross from the overlapping shadows of Henry Sidgwick, G. E. Moore, and, to a lesser extent, H. A. Prichard, marrying Ross to Kant, and so working to produce "a full-scale moral philosophy providing both an account of moral principles and judgments—a metaethical account—and a set of basic moral standards" that might be employed in moral reasoning. The book is magnificent in (...) ambition and impressive in detail. (shrink)
Here I review Robert Trivers' 2011 book _The Folly of Fools_, in which he advocates the evolutionary theory of deceit and self-deception that he pioneered in his famous preface to Richard Dawkins' _Selfish Gene_. Although the book contains a wealth of interesting discussion on topics ranging from warfare to immunology, I find it lacking on two major fronts. First, it fails to give a proper argument for its central thesis--namely, that self-deception evolved to facilitate deception of others. Second, the (...) book lacks conceptual clarity with respect to the focal term "self-deception.". (shrink)
Robert Rupert is well-known as an vigorous opponent of the hypothesis of extended cognition (HEC). His Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind is a first-rate development of his “systems-based” approach to demarcating the mind. The results are impressive. Rupert’s account brings much-needed clarity to the often-frustrating debate over HEC: much more than just an attack on HEC, he gives a compelling picture of why the debate matters.
For nearly a generation, Derek Parfit's arguments in his 1984 book Reasons and Persons have shaped debates about our moral responsibilities to future people. Struggling to accommodate Parfit's insights, philosophers and bioethicists have minimized or accentuated obligations to the future in ways that defy ordinary moral intuitions. In this issue, RobertSparrow develops the troubling implications of the views of two leading theorists whose work favoring human genetic enhancement is influenced by Parfit. Sparrow believes they return us (...) to the horrors of early twentieth-century eugenics. But the real problem may be a purely theoretical one: the unfortunate influence of Parfit.This is no place to review all of .. (shrink)
Critical notice of Robert Audi's The Good in the Right in which doubts are raised about the epistemological and ethical doctrines it defends. It doubts that an appeal to Kant is a profitable way to defend Rossian normative intuitionism.
Principles of procreative beneficence (PPBs) hold that parents have good reasons to select the child with the best life prospects. Sparrow (2010) claims that PPBs imply that we should select only female children, unlesswe attach normative significance to “normal” human capacities. We argue that this claim fails on both empirical and logical grounds. Empirically, Sparrow’s argument for greater female wellbeing rests on a selective reading of the evidence and the incorrect assumption that an advantage for females would persist (...) even when a serious gender imbalance is obtained. Logically, PPBs cite only pro tanto reasons and allow that the good of an individual child could be outweighed by other morally relevant considerations, such as those which take collectively suboptimal outcomes into account. There is thus no need to attach value to the “normal.”. (shrink)
Insieme a John McDowell, Robert Brandom è uno dei filosofi emergenti della reazione al naturalismo filosofico; seguace Wilfrid Sellars, è l'autore americano che più si avvicina al dialogo con la filosofia continentale e propone una rivalutazione di Kant e Hegel nella filosofia analitica. Già allievo di Richard Rorty, Brandom è diventuo famoso con la pubblicazione di Making it Explicit. Questo ponderoso volume di 900 pagine non ha avuto però ancora una sufficiente attenzione nel dibattito filosofico italiano (a parte alcuni (...) inteventi pubblicati su Iride). Forse questo dipende in parte dalla peculiarità e difficoltà del suo approccio, in parte dalla mole stessa del citato volume. Anche per questo motivo Brandom ha presentato una serie di lezioni2 ove riprende i temi del libro maggiore e ne approfondisce alcune parti. In quanto segue si presentano i temi fondamentale di Making it Explicit, arricchiti con elementi presi dal nuovo approfondimento. (shrink)
The two main challenges of the theory of conceptual content presented by Robert Brandom in Making It Explicit are to account for a referential dimension of conceptual content and to account for the objectivity of conceptual norms. Brandom tries to meet both these challenges in chapter 8 of his book. I argue that the accounts presented there can only be understood if seen against the background of Brandom's theory of communication developed in chapter 7. This theory is motivated by (...) the well-known problem that semantic holism threatens the possibility of communication because it has the consequence that words mean different things in different mouths. Brandom offers a solution to this problem in terms of what he calls recurrence commitments. I show that chapter 8 of Making It Explicit should be understood as arguing that a practice that includes acknowledging interpersonal recurrence commitments institutes both conceptual contents with a referential dimension and objective conceptual norms. I close by raising the objection that Brandom's argument can only show that conceptual norms are communally shared and not that they are objective. I propose an emendation of this argument, having recourse to a practice Brandom refers to as rational rectification in his new book Between Saying and Doing. (shrink)
This article discusses the theories of perception of Robert Kilwardby and Peter of John Olivi. Our aim is to show how in challenging certain assumptions of medieval Aristotelian theories of perception they drew on Augustine and argued for the active nature of the soul in sense perception. For both Kilwardby and Olivi, the soul is not passive with respect to perceived objects; rather, it causes its own cognitive acts with respect to external objects and thus allows the subject to (...) perceive them. We also show that Kilwardby and Olivi differ substantially regarding where the activity of the soul is directed to and the role of the sensible species in the process, and we demonstrate that there are similarities between their ideas of intentionality and the attention of the soul towards the corporeal world. (shrink)
In a recent study of astrophysical “fine-tunings” (or “coincidences”), Robert Klee critically assesses the support that such astrophysical evidence might be thought to lend to the design argument (i.e., the argument that our universe has been designed by some deity). Klee argues that a proper assessment indicates that the universe is not as “fine-tuned” as advertised by proponents of the design arguments. We argue (i) that Klee’s assessment of the data is, to a certain extent, problematic; and (ii) even (...) if Klee’s assessment of the data is correct, it provides a necessary but not a sufficient response to the design argument. However, an adequate skeptical rejoinder to the design argument can be made by appealing to the anthropic principle. (shrink)
Robert Cummins has recently used the program of Clark Hull to illustrate the effects of logical positivist epistemology upon psychological theory. On Cummins's account, Hull's theory is best understood as a functional analysis, rather than a nomological subsumption. Hull's commitment to the logical positivist view of explanation is said to have blinded him to this aspect of this theory, and thus restricted its scope. We will argue that this interpretation of Hull's epistemology, though common, is mistaken. Hull's epistemological views (...) were developed independently of, and in considerable contrast to, the principles of logical positivism. (shrink)
Various early modern philosophers affirm the traditional distinction between ‘things above reason’ and ‘things contrary to reason.’ However, it is Robert Boyle who goes furthest to rework and defend the division, and to explore its ramifications in detail. My aim here is to examine the logical structure of Boyle’s version of the distinction, and his concomitant account of the sphere of truths beyond human understanding. I also weigh the philosophical merits of the account and clarify the relationship between Boyle’s (...) characterization of things above reason and his alleged dialethism. (shrink)
Formal axiology is based on the logical nature of meaning, namely intension, and on the structure of intension as a set of predicates. It applies set theory to this set of predicates. Set theory is a certain kind of mathematics that deals with subsets in general, and of finite and infinite sets in particular. Since mathematics is objective and a priori, formal axiology is an objective and a priori science; and a test based on it is an objective test based (...) on an objective standard.1. (shrink)
Eleven distinguished philosophers have contributed specially written essays on a set of topics much debated in recent years, including physicalism, qualia, semantic competence, conditionals, presuppositions, two-dimensional semantics, and the relation between logic and metaphysics. All these topics are prominent in the work of Robert Stalnaker, a major presence in contemporary philosophy, in honor of whom the volume is published. It also contains a substantial new essay in which Stalnaker replies to his critics, and sets out his current views on (...) the topics discussed. (shrink)
Robert Russell's theological work has been a helpful stimulus to the task of understanding the meaning of divine action and providence in the age of science. He relates God's direct action "fundamentally" to the hidden domain of quantum events, and his theology of nature deserves careful attention. It is questionable, however, whether the term fundamental as applied to quantum events by physical science may be taken over by theology without more careful qualification than Russell offers.
This review presents the principal themes of Robert Spaemann's Persons: The Difference between ‘Someone’ and ‘Something.’ To be a person is not to be identical with one's teleological nature, but rather, to have that nature. Personal consciousness is necessarily temporal consciousness. Persons have a range of distinctively personal acts, such as recognizing and respecting one another, understanding their lives as wholes, making judgments of conscience, promising, and forgiving. All members of the human species, whatever their stage of development or (...) limitations, are persons. The present review also briefly considers certain objections that have been raised against Spaemann's position. (shrink)
Throughout his philosophical career at Michigan, UCLA, Yale, and Oxford, Robert Merrihew Adams's wide-ranging contributions have deeply shaped the structure of debates in metaphysics, philosophy of religion, history of philosophy, and ethics. Metaphysics and the Good: Themes from the Philosophy of Robert Merrihew Adams provides, for the first time, a collection of original essays by leading philosophers dedicated to exploring many of the facets of Adams's thought, a philosophical outlook that combines Christian theism, neo-Platonism, moral realism, metaphysical idealism, (...) and a commitment to both historical sensitivity and rigorous analytic engagement. Tied together by their aim of exploring, expanding, and experimenting with Adams's views, these eleven essays are coupled with an intellectual autobiography by Adams himself that was commissioned especially for this volume. As the introduction to the volume explains, the purpose of Metaphysics and the Good is to explore Adams's work in the very manner that he prescribes for understanding the ideas of others. By experimenting with Adams's conclusions, "pulling a string here to see what moves over there, so to speak," as Adams puts it, our authors throw into greater relief what makes Adams such an original and stimulating philosopher. In doing so, these essays contribute not only to the exploration of Adams's continuing interests, but they also advance original and important philosophical insights of their own. (shrink)
You might think a simple “No” would suffice as an answer. But there are features of Kant’s ethics that appear to be strikingly similar to virtue oriented views, so striking that some Kantians themselves have argued that Kant’s ethics in fact shares these features with virtue ethics. In what follows, I will argue against this view, though along the way I will acknowledge the features of Kant’s view that make it appear more like a kind of virtue ethics than it (...) really is. (shrink)
Part of Robert Kane’s response to the contemporary cultural condition of pluralism is to attempt to ground morality in the _search_ for wisdom about how to live. With regard to the right, Kane argues, roughly, that a new principle capturing what all morally permissible actions have in common warrants belief on the part of all inquirers, even in the face of reasonable uncertainty, because it is justified as an essential means to ascertaining wisdom. Upon embarking for wisdom, one quickly (...) discovers an important chunk of it about right action, namely, that wisdom will not be found unless one treats others in a particular kind of way. Although, as I discuss, this rationale has some similarities with transcendental arguments to be found in the literature, it is novel and merits careful attention from meta-ethicists. In this critical notice, I focus largely on Kane’s interesting justification of a principle of right action, paying somewhat less attention to the content of this principle, which is akin to Kant’s Formula of Humanity, and the not-merely-mental account of the good that Kane also advances; however, these elements of Kane’s intricate worldview about how to live should also be of interest to normative ethicists. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Robert Kane’s defense of event-causal libertarianism, as presented in Responsibility, Luck, and Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism, fails because his event-causal reconstruction is incoherent. I focus on the notions of efforts and self-forming actions essential to his defense.
This essay begins where Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue begins: facing a moral world in ruin. MacIntyre argues that this predicament leaves us with a choice: we can follow the path of Friedrich Nietzsche, accepting this moral destruction and attempting to create lives in a rootless, uncertain world, or the path of Aristotle, working to reclaim a world in which close-knit communities sustain human practices that make it possible for us to flourish. Jeff Frank rejects MacIntyre's framework and in this essay (...) attempts to create an alternative path, one of moral repair. Through a close reading of several poems from Robert Frost's North of Boston, Frank develops the notion of moral repair and describes its ethical and educational implications. (shrink)
Robert C. Solomon saw spirituality and emotion as interpenetrating themes. I will summarize his views on spirituality and then introduce the articles in the special issue in his honor. Relating emotional integrity to spirituality, Bob argues that it is precisely through engagement - throwing ourselves into relationships and endeavors - that we come to recognize ourselves as part of something much larger than ourselves. Spirituality is an on-going adventure according to Bob, and it recommends itself in the way that (...) all adventures do. It is exciting and fun, a matter of an overflowing passionate life. (shrink)
This is an introductory volume to Robert Nozick, one of the dominant philosophical thinkers of the current age. It is part of a new series, Contemporary Philosophy in Focus. Each volume in the series will consist of newly commissioned essays that will cover all the major contributions of a preeminent philosopher in a systematic and accessible manner. Robert Nozick is one of the most creative and individual philosophical voices of the last 25 years. His most famous book, Anarchy, (...) State and Utopia (1974), presents the classic defense of the libertarian view that only a minimal state is just. Nozick has also made significant contributions in later publications to such areas as rational choice theory, ethics, epistemology and philosophy of mind. Outside philosophy the book will be of particular interest to professionals and students in political science, law, economics, sociology and psychology. (shrink)
Austrian economics - the school of thought associated with Carl Menger, Frederick von Weiser, Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk, and in this century, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Murray N. Rothbard, and Israel Kirzner - is based on a framework of methodological principles and assumptions much at variance with those of traditional or 'orthodox' economists. Robert Nozick, in his 'On Austrian Methodology', focuses attention on the most fundamental features of this framework, and subjects them to a thoroughgoing and scathing analysis. Singled (...) out for detailed and critical review are: (1) the praxeological concepts of methodological individualism; (2) the claim that economics is an a priori science of human action; (3) the nature of preference and its relation to choice and action; and (4) the assumptions of time-preference theory. Although Nozick does not consider Austrian views on business cycles, market process analysis, the coordinative and informational effects of the price system, competition, and several other fundamental aspects of praxeology, his criticism strikes at the very root of the praxeological school. This paper attempts to refute each criticism made of the praxeological school by Nozick on a point-by-point basis. It thus follows the same pattern as the original paper, and scrutinizes in detail the arguments made by its author. (shrink)
This essay compares Robert John Russell's work in his recent book Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: The Creative Mutual Interaction of Theology and Science (2008) to that of the authors known collectively as "the new atheists." I treat the latter as recent contributors to the modern tradition of scientific naturalism. This tradition makes claims to legitimacy on the basis of its close relations to the natural sciences. The purpose of this essay is to show up the poverty of the (...) naturalist tradition's scientific credentials by contrasting it with Russell's careful account of positive relations between science and Christian theology. (shrink)
This article explores fundamental differences between Robert Audi’s position on self-deception and mine. Although we both depart from a model of self-deception that is straightforwardly based on stereotypical interpersonal deception, we differ in how we do that. An important difference between us might be partly explained by a difference in how we understand the kind of deceiving that is most relevant to self-deception.
Roger Sansom and Robert N. Brandon (eds.): Integrating Evolution and Development: From Theory to Practice Content Type Journal Article Pages 81-86 DOI 10.1007/s10441-010-9121-x Authors Thomas A. C. Reydon, Institute of Philosophy & Center for Philosophy and Ethics of Science (ZEWW), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Im Moore 21, 30167 Hannover, Germany Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342 Journal Volume Volume 59 Journal Issue Volume 59, Number 1.
In a message posted to one of the cognitive science discussion groups the author asked, to paraphrase roughly, what should be read to get an up-to-date account of research into color naming? My advice is (and was) to consider the two books under review here: C. L. Hardin and Luisa Maffis excellent collection of essays on color language research; Robert MacLaurys magnum opus on color naming and cognition.
For over thirty years, Robert Audi has produced important work in ethics, epistemology, and the theory of action. This volume features thirteen new critical essays on Audi by a distinguished group of authors: Fred Adams, William Alston, Laurence BonJour, Roger Crisp, Elizabeth Fricker, Bernard Gert, Thomas Hurka, Hugh McCann, Al Mele, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Raimo Tuomela, Candace Vogler, and Timothy Williamson. Audi's introductory essay provides a thematic overview interconnecting his views in ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of action. The volume concludes (...) with his comprehensive response essay that yields an illuminating dialog with all his critics and often extends his previous work. (shrink)
Robert MacArthur's mathematical ecology is often regarded as ahistorical and has been criticized by historically oriented ecologists and philosophers for ignoring the importance of history. I clarify and defend his approach, especially his use of simple mathematical models to explain patterns in data and to generate predictions that stimulate empirical research. First I argue that it is misleading to call his approach ahistorical because it is not against historical explanation. Next I distinguish three kinds of criticism of his approach (...) and argue that his approach is compatible with the first two of them. Finally, I argue that the third kind of criticism, advanced by Kim Sterelny and Paul Griffiths, is largely irrelevant to MacArthur's approach. ‡I am especially grateful to Thomas Nickles for encouragement and helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Thanks also to Guy Hoelzer, Stephen Jenkins, and Jay Odenbaugh for comments on an earlier draft, Kim Sterelny for clarifications of the Tasmania example, Gregory Mikkelson for references, and the audience at PSA 2006 for discussions. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
In Hitchcock as Philosopher, Robert Yanal argues that not only can we find illustrations of philosophical ideas in Hitchcock's films, but that Hitchcock does philosophy through his movies. This is a bold claim. It would be ambitious to merely assert that there are elements in Hitchcock's movies that can support rich philosophical interpretations. This sets the bar high and forces the interpreter to prove the point by supplying productive readings of the films. But Yanal accepts an even more ambitious (...) challenge -- to present Hitchcock as a philosopher in his own right, doing philosophy through his films. Unfortunately, Yanal fails to realize his project, but his book is nevertheless valuable, albeit for mostly non-philosophical reasons. (shrink)
In Hegel’s Idealism, Robert Pippin contends that Hegel develops a more adequate version of Fichte’s idealism, where the key to idealism lies in the general thesis that there are conditions presupposed by self-conscious judgments about objects. Focusing on this thesis led post-Kantian German idealists to dismiss Kant’s doctrine that space and time are a priori forms of intuition and to develop views of the autonomy of human reason in terms of thought’s self-determination. While Pippin and I agree on some (...) fundamentals, we disagree diametrically about the nature of Hegel’s idealism. Four of my main objections are these. (1) The thesis that there are conditions for self-conscious judgments about objects only entails idealism given certain kinds of conditions (such as Kant’s doctrines about space and time). (2) Hegel expressly denies that ‘the autonomy of thought’ primarily concerns the autonomy of human thinking. (3) Pippin’s interpretation of Hegel’s chapter on ‘Force and Understanding’, which is decisive for his interpretation of Hegel’s idealism, is not borne out by the examples Hegel uses to illustrate and defend his view. (4) Hegel’s frequent use in his Logics of categories that plainly derive from contingent features of our world is not, as Pippin would have it, an ironic concession that marks the reductio ad absurdum of Hegel’s view. On the contrary, such categories and their empirical basis is central to Hegel’s idealism, which is deeply naturalistic and expressly based in the empirical sciences. (1,000 word abstract in: Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 65.6 (1992):64–65.). (shrink)
In "Moral Arguments for Theistic Belief" Robert Merrihew Adams defends a theistic argument from the nature of morality according to which the existence of God is entailed by the divine-command theory, which Adams believes is our best account of morality. In reply I examine the four arguments for the modified divine-command theory that Adams develops in this and later papers, and I show that three of the arguments are much too weak to enable him to make a case for (...) theism in this way and that the fourth itself depends on the assumption that there is a God and so would render that case circular. (shrink)