Falk's hominin mother-infant model presupposes an emerging infant capacity to perceive and learn from afforded gestures and vocalizations. Unlike back-riding offspring of other primates, who were in no need to decenter their own body-centered perspective, a mirror neurons system may have been adapted in hominin infants to subserve the kind of (m)other-centered mirroring we now see manifested by human infants soon after birth.
In this book, Edward Stein offers a clear critical account of the debate about rationality in philosophy and cognitive science. He discusses concepts of rationality--the pictures of rationality on which the debate centers--and assesses the empirical evidence used to argue that humans are irrational. He concludes that the question of human rationality must be answered not conceptually but empirically, using the full resources of an advanced cognitive science. Furthermore, he extends this conclusion to argue that empirical considerations are also (...) relevant to the theory of knowledge--in other words, that epistemology should be naturalized. (shrink)
In the last decade, fierce controversy has arisen over the nature of sexual orientation. Scientific research, religious views, increasingly ambiguous gender roles, and the growing visibility of sexual minorities have sparked impassioned arguments about whether our sexual desires are hard-wired in our genes or shaped by the changing forces of society. In recent years scientific research and popular opinion have favored the idea that sexual orientations are determined at birth, but philosopher and educator Edward Stein argues that much of (...) what we think we know about the origins of sexual desire is probably wrong. Stein provides a comprehensive overview of such research on sexual orientation and shows that it is deeply flawed. Stein argues that this research assumes a picture of sexual desire that reflects unquestioned cultural stereotypes rather than cross-cultural scientific facts, and that it suffers from serious methodological problems. He considers whether sexual orientation is even amenable to empirical study and asks if it is useful for our understanding of human nature to categorize people based on their sexual desires. Perhaps most importantly, Stein examines some of the ethical issues surrounding such research, including gay and lesbian civil rights and the implications of parents trying to select or change the sexual orientation of their children. The Mismeasure of Desire offers a reasoned, accessible, and incisive examination of contemporary thinking about one of the most hotly debated issues of our time and adds a compelling voice of dissent to prevailing--and largely unexamined--assumptions about human sexuality. (shrink)
"Any state exists only for the benefit of human beings. this basic tenet of Edith Stein's political thought rests on her conviction that humanity is fundamentally one community, precious beyond measure.
This is the first book to systematically examine the underlying theory of evidence in Anglo-American legal systems. Stein develops a detailed and innovative theory which sets aside the traditional vision of evidence law as facilitating the discovery of the truth. Combining probability theory, epistemology, economic analysis, and moral philosophy, he argues instead that the fundamental purpose of evidence law is to apportion the risk of error in conditions of uncertainty.
It has been repeatedly argued, most recently by Nicholas Maxwell, that the special theory of relativity is incompatible with the view that the future is in some degree undetermined; and Maxwell contends that this is a reason to reject that theory. In the present paper, an analysis is offered of the notion of indeterminateness (or "becoming") that is uniquely appropriate to the special theory of relativity, in the light of a set of natural conditions upon such a notion; and reasons (...) are given for regarding this conception as (not just formally consistent with relativity theory, but also) philosophically reasonable. The bearings upon Maxwell's program for quantum theory are briefly considered. (shrink)
This essay asks why Aristotle, certainly no friend to unlimited democracy, seems so much more comfortable with unconstrained rhetoric in political deliberation than current defenders of deliberative democracy. It answers this question by reconstructing and defending a distinctly Aristotelian understanding of political deliberation, one that can be pieced together out of a series of separate arguments made in the Rhetoric, the Politics, and the Nicomachean Ethics.
Cohen (1981) and others have made an interesting argument for the thesis that humans are rational: normative principles of reasoning and actual human reasoning ability cannot diverge because both are determined by the same process involving our intuitions about what constitutes good reasoning as a starting point. Perhaps the most sophisticated version of this argument sees reflective equilibrium as the process that determines both what the norms of reasoning are and what actual cognitive competence is. In this essay, I will (...) evaluate both the general argument that humans are rational and the reflective equilibrium argument for the same thesis. While I find both accounts initially appealing, I will argue that neither successfully establishes that humans are rational. (shrink)
Evans distinguishes between superficial necessity and deep necessity in his analysis of the contingent a priori. The distinction between these two notions of necessity is formalized by Davies and Humberstone through the addition of the operator Fixedly to Actuality Modal Logic (AML, S5A), where deep necessity is represented by the combination Fixedly Actually. Wehmeier’s Subjunctive Modal Logic (SML) provides an extension of the expressive capacity of ordinary modal predicate logic alternative to AML. I add Fixedly to SML and show that (...) in the system SML with Fixedly the distinction between deep and superficial necessity disappears. I conclude that the existence of the distinction between deep and superficial necessity, as well as the existence of the contingent a priori, cannot be asserted independently of the choice of background logic. (shrink)
If, as is not implausible, the correct moral theory is indexed to human capacity for moral reasoning, then the thesis that moral heuristics exist faces a serious objection. This objection can be answered by embracing a wide reflective equilibrium account of the origins of our normative principles of morality.
Gödel's conclusion that time-travel is possible in his models of Einstein's gravitational theory has been questioned by Chandrasekhar and Wright, and treated as doubtful in the recent philosophical literature. The present note is intended to remove this doubt: a review of Gödel's construction shows that his arguments are entirely correct; and the objection is seen to rest upon a misunderstanding. Computational points treated succinctly by Gödel are here presented in fuller detail. The philosophical significance of Gödel's results is briefly considered, (...) and a set of technical questions is posed whose answers would clarify this significance. (shrink)
This paper deals with Quine's several attempts To define the concept of underdetermination of scientifics theories in some of his articles and with the dependence of this definition on other concepts of Quine's semantic holism. To define "underdetermination”, Quine needs to explain the relationship between theory and observation. His position concerning this subject can be criticized, on the one hand, by saying that it gives an insufficient criterion for "underdetermination", and, on the other hand, by asserting that it is still (...) too close to the reductionist's conception of truth. (shrink)
Central to Aristotle's metaphysics and epistemology is the claim that ‘ aitia ’ – ‘cause’ – is “said in many ways”, i.e., multivocal. Though the importance of the four causes in Aristotle's system cannot be overstated, the nature of his pluralism about aitiai has not been addressed. It is not at all obvious how these modes of causation are related to one another, or why they all deserve a common term. Nor is it clear, in particular, whether the causes are (...) related to one another as species under a single genus, such that there is a univocal definition of ‘ aitia ’ which applies to all of them, or whether Aristotle means to assert that the four causes are homonyms. It is argued here that although there are strong reasons to group the four causes together, there are also powerful considerations on the side of homonymy. It is further argued that the four causes are more closely tied to the ontological theory of categories and predication than is often recognized. As a result, we can reconcile the competing demands of unity and plurality by taking one mode of causation, the formal cause, as basic, and accounting for the other modes with reference to it, in the manner of so-called pros hen homonyms. (shrink)
The availability of a range of new psychotropic agents raises the possibility that these will be used for enhancement purposes (smart pills, happy pills, and pep pills). The enhancement debate soon raises questions in philosophy of medicine and psychiatry (eg, what is a disorder?), and this debate in turn raises fundament questions in philosophy of language, science, and ethics. In this paper, a naturalistic conceptual framework is proposed for addressing these issues. This framework begins by contrasting classical and critical concepts (...) of categories, and then puts forward an integrative position that is based on cognitive-affective research. This position can in turn be used to consider the debate between pharmacological Calvinism (which may adopt a moral metaphor of disorder) and psychotropic utopianism (which may emphasize a medical metaphor of disorder). I argue that psychiatric treatment of serious psychiatric disorders is justified, and that psychotropics are an acceptable kind of intervention. The use of psychotropics for sub-threshold phenomena requires a judicious weighing of the relevant facts (which are often sparse) and values. (shrink)
This paper considers a central objection to evolutionary epistemology. The objection is that biological and epistemic development are not analogous, since while biological variation is blind, epistemic variation is not. The generation of hypotheses, unlike the generation of genotypes, is not random. We argue that this objection is misguided and show how the central analogy of evolutionary epistemology can be preserved. The core of our reply is that much epistemic variation is indeed directed by heuristics, but these heuristics are analogous (...) to biological preadaptations which account for the evolution of complex organs. We also argue that many of these heuristics or epistemic preadaptations are not innate but were themselves generatedby a process of blind variation and selective retention. (shrink)
This article argues that certain philosophically devised quality control parameters should guide approaches to interdisciplinary education. We sketch the kind of reflections we think are necessary in order to produce epistemologically responsible curricula. We suggest that the two overarching epistemic dimensions of levels of analysis and basic viewpoints go a long way towards clarifying the structure of interdisciplinary validity claims. Through a discussion of how best to teach basic ideas about numeracy in Mind, Brain, and Education, we discuss what it (...) means for an interdisciplinary curriculum to respect both the minds of students and the complexity of the subject matter. (shrink)
This paper examines Newton's argument from the phenomena to the law of universal gravitation-especially the question how such a result could have been obtained from the evidential base on which that argument rests. Its thesis is that the crucial step was a certain application of the third law of motion-one that could only be justified by appeal to the consequences of the resulting theory; and that the general concept of interaction embodied in Newton's use of the third law most probably (...) evolved in the course of the very investigation that led to this theory. (shrink)
In this paper, the author considers an argument against the thesis that humans are irrational in the sense that we reason according to principles that differ from those we ought to follow. The argument begins by noting that if humans are irrational, we should not trust the results of our reasoning processes. If we are justified in believing that humans are irrational, then, since this belief results from a reasoning process, we should not accept this belief. The claim that humans (...) are irrational is, thus, self-undermining. The author shows that this argument--and others like it--fails for several interesting reasons. In fact, there is nothing self-undermining about the claim that humans are irrational; empirical research to establish this claim does not face the sorts of a priori problems that some philosophers and psychologists have claimed it does. (shrink)
Understanding the origins of evil behaviour is one of our most important intellectual tasks. A distinction can perhaps be drawn between overt sadistic cruelty and the lack of empathy to suffering that is a hallmark of evil. There is increasing data available on the prevalence, proximal psychobiological underpinnings, and distal evolutionary basis for these contrasting phenomena.
Like many realists about causation and causal powers, Aristotle uses the language of necessity when discussing causation, and he appears to think that by invoking necessity, he is clarifying the manner in which causes bring about or determine their effects. In so doing, he would appear to run afoul of Humean criticisms of the notion of a necessary connection between cause and effect. The claim that causes necessitate their effects may be understood? or attacked? in several ways, however, and so (...) whether the view or its criticism is tenable depends on how we understand the necessitation claim. In fact, Aristotelian efficient causation may be said to involve two distinct necessary connections: one is a relation between causes considered as potential, while the other relates them considered as active. That is, the claims that (1) what has the power to heat necessarily heats what has the power to be heated, and that (2) a particular flame which is actually under a pot necessarily heats it, both of which appear to be true for Aristotle, involve distinct notions of necessity. The latter kind of necessity is based on the facts, as Aristotle sees them, about change, whereas the former is based in the nature of properties. Though different, both kinds of necessity are instances of what contemporary philosophers would call metaphysical necessity, and together they also amount to a theory of causal determination. (shrink)
Enzymes are protein catalysts of extraordinary efficiency, capable of bringing about rate enhancements of their biochemical reactions that can approach factors of 1020. Theories of enzyme catalysis, which seek to explain the means by which enzymes effect catalytic transformation of the substrate molecules on which they work, have evolved over the past century from the “lock-and-key” model proposed by Emil Fischer in 1894 to models that explicitly rely on transition state theory to the most recent theories that strive to provide (...) accounts that stress the essential role of protein dynamics. In this paper, I attempt to construct a metaphysical framework within which these new models of enzyme catalysis can be developed. This framework is constructed from key doctrines of process thought, which gives ontologic priority to becoming over being, as well as tenets of a process philosophy of chemistry, which stresses environmentally responsive molecular transformation. Enzyme catalysis can now be seen not as enzyme acting on its substrate, but rather as enzyme and substrate entering into a relation which allows them to traverse the reaction coordinate as an ontologic unity. (shrink)
This paper uses Carl Ginet's concept of “disinterested justification” to identify the boundaries of the epistemic authority of courts. It claims that courts exercise this authority only in the “interest-free” zone, in which their determinations of disputed facts’ probabilities can be made and justified on epistemic grounds alone. This is not the case with the “interest-laden” domain, where courts allocate risks of error under conditions of uncertainty. This domain is controlled by the risk-allocating evidentiary rules: burdens of proof, corroboration, hearsay, (...) opinion, character, and others. These rules are driven by moral and political, rather than epistemic, reasons. Their role is to allocate the risk of error among plaintiffs, defendants, and prosecution by setting forth probability thresholds for findings of fact and the criteria for adequacy of the evidence upon which those findings can be made. (shrink)