We discuss the variety of sorts of sympathy Hume recognizes, the extent to which he thinks our sympathy with others’ feelings depends on inferences from the other’s expression, and from her perceived situation, and consider also whether he later changed his views about the nature and role of sympathy, in particular its role in morals.
The pioneering moral philosopher Annette Baier presents a series of new and recent essays in ethics, broadly conceived to include both engagements with other philosophers and personal meditations on life. Baier's unique voice and insight illuminate a wide range of topics. In the public sphere, she enquires into patriotism, what we owe future people, and what toleration we should have for killing. In the private sphere, she discusses honesty, self-knowledge, hope, sympathy, and self-trust, and offers personal reflections on (...) faces, friendship, and alienating affection. (shrink)
Honderich claims that for a person to be perceptually conscious is for a world to exist. I decide what this means, and whether it could be true, in the opening section Consciousness and Existence. In Honderich's Phenomenology, I show that Honderich's theory is essentially anticipated in the ideas and Ideas of Husserl. In the third section, Radical Interiority, I argue that although phenomenology putatively eschews ontology of mind, and Honderich construes his position as near- physicalism, Honderich's insights are only truths (...) because we are spiritual substances. (shrink)
According to Stephen Finlay, ‘A ought to X’ means that X-ing is more conducive to contextually salient ends than relevant alternatives. This in turn is analysed in terms of probability. I show why this theory of ‘ought’ is hard to square with a theory of a reason’s weight which could explain why ‘A ought to X’ logically entails that the balance of reasons favours that A X-es. I develop two theories of weight to illustrate my point. I first look (...) at the prospects of a theory of weight based on expected utility theory. I then suggest a simpler theory. Although neither allows that ‘A ought to X’ logically entails that the balance of reasons favours that A X-es, this price may be accepted. For there remains a strong pragmatic relation between these claims. (shrink)
[Stephen Makin] Aristotle draws two sets of distinctions in Metaphysics 9.2, first between non-rational and rational capacities, and second between one way and two way capacities. He then argues for three claims: [A] if a capacity is rational, then it is a two way capacity [B] if a capacity is non-rational, then it is a one way capacity [C] a two way capacity is not indifferently related to the opposed outcomes to which it can give rise I provide explanations (...) of Aristotle's terminology, and of how [A]-[C] should be understood. I then offer a set of arguments which are intended to show that the Aristotelian claims are plausible. \\\ [Nicholas Denyer] In De Caelo 1: 11-12 Aristotle argued that whatever is and always will be true is necessarily true. His argument works, once we grant him the highly plausible principle that if something is true, then it can be false if and only if it can come to be false. For example, assume it true that the sun is and always will be hot. No proposition of this form can ever come to be false. Hence this proposition cannot be false. Hence it is necessarily true, and so too is anything that follows from it. In particular, it is necessarily true that the sun is hot. Moreover, if the sun not only is and always will be hot, but also always has been, then it follows by similar reasoning that the sun not only cannot now fail to be hot, but also never could have failed. Anything everlastingly true is therefore, in the strictest sense of the term, necessarily true. (shrink)
Is there a contradiction in Stephen Colbert’s attitudes towards race? How can he consistently claim to be colorblind and yet hold a national search for a new "black friend"? I argue that Stephen is trying to claim rights and shirk responsibilities on matters of race relations in America, and that his famous notion of "truthiness" is an extension of this attitude to other areas of social and political discourse.
I examine two recent books by analytic philosophers that address the underexplored topic of whether the meaning of life depends on the existence of a supernatural realm including God and a soul. John Cottingham’s On the Meaning of Life defends a supernaturalist conception of life’s meaning, whereas Kurt Baier’s Problems of Life and Death defends the opposite, naturalist perspective. I show that their respective arguments are worth serious consideration, indicate some potential weaknesses in them, and suggest some other argumentative (...) strategies that those interested in this fascinating topic might pursue elsewhere in more depth. (shrink)
Kalam cosmological arguments have recently been the subject of criticisms, at least inter alia, by physicists---Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking---and philosophers of science---Adolf Grunbaum. In a series of recent articles, William Craig has attempted to show that these criticisms are “superficial, iII-conceived, and based on misunderstanding.” I argue that, while some of the discussion of Davies and Hawking is not philosophically sophisticated, the points raised by Davies, Hawking and Grunbaum do suffice to undermine the dialectical efficacy of kalam cosmological arguments.
I would like to thank the editors of Philosophy East and West for courteously asking me if I would like to respond to Matthew Dasti and Stephen Phillips' very thoughtful remarks about the review I wrote of Phillips' translation and commentary on the pratyakṣa chapter of Gaṅgeśa's Tattvacintāmaṇi, prepared in collaboration with N. S. Ramanuja Tatacharya (Phillips and Tatacharya 2004). Let me begin by reaffirming what I said at the beginning of my review, that the book is "a monumental (...) and momentous achievement, one whose importance cannot be understated." I have indeed enormous admiration for the magnitude of their achievement and respect for the contribution they have made through this translation to the field of .. (shrink)
I argue that Stephen Houlgate misstates an element in the Kantian background to my reading of “Lordship and Bondage” (§2). He misreads my remarks about the need to see Hegel’s moves there in the context of the progression towards absolute knowing (§3), and, partly consequently, he fails to engage with the motivation for my reading (§4). And he does not understand the way my reading exploits the concept of allegory (§5).
This article is a critical review of Stephen Schiffers monograph The Things We Mean . The text discusses some novel contributions made by Schiffer to the philosophy of meaning, in particular, Schiffers proposal for the reification of certain abstract entities and the application of his argument to the philosophical problem of vagueness in natural language. Special attention is paid both to Schiffers ingenious use of the notion of conservative extension , here employed as a criterion for distinguishing legitimate from (...) illegitimate reifications and to Schiffers notion of vague partial belief and its relation to standard partial belief. Schiffers particular understanding of vagueness and its relation to the sorites paradox is also considered, with some remarks made concerning the relationship between these related philosophical problems and human perception. Key Words: meaning vagueness sorites perception conservative extension fictional entities. (shrink)
After Meaning, 1972, and The Remnants of Meaning , 1987, The Things We Mean is Stephen Schiffer's third major work on the foundations of the theory of linguistic meaning. In simplest possible outline, the development started with a positive attempt to base a meaning theory on a modified Gricean account of utterance meaning, but took a negative turn, with the problems of belief sentences as a major reason for thinking that a systematic (compositional) semantic theory for natural language was (...) not possible at all. In the recent book, things have again taken a more positive turn, but now constructive and destructive elements are mixed in complex ways in a complex account, rich in ideas and in detail, and a great challenge to the reader. It is not always obviously free of inner conflict. Nor can one always easily see how things hang together. I shall here try to accurately present the main ideas. Where my comments are not relegated to separate paragraphs, I mark the transition with a dash ( -). (shrink)
Note: The Simpson's, television's popular prime-time cartoon known for its satirical commentary on various social issues, recently took a shot at the creation-evolution debate by featuring Stephen Jay Gould prominently in one of its episodes. Here is Bill Dembski's review and observations of that episode.
It is now often taken for granted that facts are entia non grata, for there exists a powerful argument (dubbed the slingshot), which is backed by such great names as Frege or Gödel or Davidson (and so could hardly be wrong), that discredits their existence. There indeed is such an argument, and it indeed is not wrong on the straightforward sense of wrong. However, in how far it knocks down any conception of facts is another story, a story which is (...) anything but simple and perspicuous. In his book, Stephen Neale takes pains to excavate the origins of the argument and the presuppositions which it needs to be usable for the purpose of exorcising facts. In the introduction of the book, Neale expresses his conviction that his analysis of the slingshot will not only compromise its usability for the purpose of discrediting facts, but also save representationalist conceptions of language and mind from the attacks of the antirepresentationalist philosophers like Davidson and Rorty. „Representational philosophy,“ he claims, „survives the Davidson-Rorty onslaught because non-truth-functional logics and ontologies of facts, states of affairs, situations and propositions survive not only the actual arguments deployed against them, but also the most precise and powerful slingshot arguments that can be constructed.“ However, what he does take his analyses to show is that „the most precise and powerful slingshot arguments demonstrate conclusively that the logical and ontological theories originally targeted must satisfy non-trivial conditions if they are to avoid logical or ontological collapse.“ (P. 12) The book starts with the discussion of the philosophy of Donald Davidson, who appears to have brought the slingshot argument to the current prominence within philosophical discussions. Here we encounter the first variant of the slingshot: Consider two sentences φ and ψ and a proper name d. Consider the definite descriptions ‘the object x such that (x = d and φ)’ and ‘the object x such that (x = d and ψ)’.. (shrink)
I have argued previously that the art of absolute music, unlike, for example, the art of literature, is not capable of profundity, which I characterized as treating a profound subject matter, at the highest artistic level, in a manner appropriate to its profundity. Stephen Davies has recently argued that there is another way of being profound, which he calls non-propositional profundity, and for which chess provides his principal example. He argues, further, that absolute music also exhibits this non-propositional profundity. (...) I argue in the present paper that Davies's attempt to rescue profundity for absolute music will not work, because it does not allow what I take to be the crucial distinction between great works of absolute music that are profound and great works of absolute music that are not. In other words, it has the unwelcome implication that all great works of absolute music are profound works. (shrink)
This paper explores the significance of the concept of power/knowledge in educational theory. The argument proceeds in two main parts. In the first, I consider aspects of Stephen J. Ball's highly influential work in educational theory. I examine his reception of Foucault's concept of power/knowledge and suggest that there are problems in his adoption of Foucault's thought. These problems arise from the way that he settles interpretations into received ideas. Foucault's thought, I try to show, is not to be (...) seen in a confined way. In the second part, I seek a different reading of Foucault's notion of power/knowledge in order to break with this tendency to confine, referring to the work of Gilles Deleuze. I draw particularly on Deleuze's thought of the outside as a means of manifesting the significance of power/knowledge in relation to processes of subjectification. At the end of the paper, I suggest how educational theory might be reconceived in the light of potencies of power/knowledge that the paper has demonstrated. (shrink)
Stephen Mumford's Dispositions1 is an interesting and thought-provoking addition to a recent surge of publications on the topic.2 Dispositions have not been such a hot topic since the heyday of behaviourism. But as Mumford argues in his first chapter, the importance of dispositions to contemporary philosophy can hardly be underestimated. Dispositions are fundamental to causal role functionalism in the philosophy of mind, response-dependent truth conditional accounts of moral and other concepts,3 capacity accounts of concepts more generally,4 theories of belief, (...) the compatibilist conception of free will, the philosophy of matter, probability (propensities) and more. So it is natural that conceptual and ontological issues about dispositions have come again to the fore. The only surprise is that it's taken so long. (shrink)
Stephen Jay Gould’s monumental The Structure of Evolutionary Theory ‘‘attempts to expand and alter the premises of Darwinism, in order to build an enlarged and distinctive evolutionary theory . . . while remaining within the tradition, and under the logic, of Darwinian argument.’’ The three branches or ‘‘fundamental principles of Darwinian logic’’ are, according to Gould: agency (natural selection acting on individual organisms), efﬁcacy (producing new species adapted to their environments), and scope (accumulation of changes that through geological time (...) yield the living world’s panoply of diversity and morphological complexity). Gould’s efforts to contribute something important to each of these three fundamental components of Darwinian Theory are far from successful. (shrink)
Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow: The Grand Design Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10806-010-9298-7 Authors Amitrajeet A. Batabyal, Department of Economics, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623-5604, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
I review this fine collection of articles on ancient ethics ranging from the Presocratics to Sextus Empiricus. Eight of the nine chapters are published here for the first time. Contributors include Charles H. Kahn on "Pre-Platonic Ethics," C. C. W. Taylor on "Platonic Ethics," Stephen Everson on "Aristotle on Nature and Value," John McDowell on "Some Issues in Aristotle's Moral Psychology," David Sedley on "The Inferential Foundations of Epicurean Ethics," T. H. Irwin on "Socratic Paradox and Stoic Theory," Julia (...) Annas on "Doing Without Objective Values: Ancient and Modern Strategies," and Susan Sauvé Meyer on "Moral Responsibility: Aristotle and After." There is also an introductory essay by the editor, Stephen Everson. I summarize and then critique each chapter in this rather lengthy review. (shrink)
I offer an interpretation of the connection between judging and intuiting in Kant (§2). Next I try to clarify how the movement in the self-consciousness chapter, as I read it, fits in the Phenomenology’s progression towards absolute knowing (§3). In some detailed responses to Stephen Houlgate, I reiterate how my reading is motivated by the wish not to discard, or ignore, Hegel’s first formulation of what is to be achieved by the movement in the self-consciousness chapter, and I object (...) to Houlgate’s equation of thinking consciousness with Stoicism (§4). Finally, I try to clarify the point of my invocation of allegory (§5). (shrink)
Disagreements about the success of any given argument often arise because the suppositions of the critic differ from the suppositions of the author of the argument. In maintaining the plausibility of a metaethical argument for theism against the objections articulated by Stephen J. Sullivan, I will probe our differing suppositions with regard to the relation of theological to naturalistic metaethical theories, the starting point for the metaethical argument for theism, and the relation of the qualities of God's will to (...) our obligation to obey God. (shrink)
Abstract Stephen Schiffer, in his recent book, Remnants of Meaning, argues against the possibility of any compositional theory of meaning for natural language. Because the argument depends on the premise that there is no possible naturalistic reduction of the intentional to the physical, Schiffer's attack on theories of meaning is of central importance for theorists of mind. I respond to Schiffer's argument by showing that there is at least one reductive account of the mental that he has neglected to (...) consider?the computationalist account known as the Representational Theory of Mind. Not only is this view immune from the criticisms Schiffer mounts against other reductivist theories, but it solves problems that arise on Schiffer's own non?reductive account of the relation between the intentional and the physical. (shrink)
Annette Baier was the dean of contemporary Hume studies and one of the most insightful and influential philosophers writing on Hume. Since the late 1970s, her writings and the example of her distinctive mode of scholarship have inspired generations of scholars to look with fresh eyes at Hume's work. The special turn of her philosophical mind and personal style of writing are especially well-suited to uncover, appreciate, and effectively communicate the rich, nuanced, and humane dimensions of Hume's moral philosophy. (...) Her masterpiece, A Progress of Sentiments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), for example, taught us that Hume's moral psychology underwrites his moral and social philosophy. The Cautious .. (shrink)
This paper explores some of the benefits informal logic may have for the analysis of mathematical inference. It shows how Stephen Toulmin’s pioneering treatment of defeasible argumentation may be extended to cover the more complex structure of mathematical proof. Several common proof techniques are represented, including induction, proof by cases, and proof by contradiction. Affinities between the resulting system and Imre Lakatos’s discussion of mathematical proof are then explored.
These papers are based on a Symposium at the COGSCI Conference in 2010. 1. Naturalizing the Mammalian Mind (Jaak Panksepp) 2. Modularity in Cognitive Psychology and Affective Neuroscience (Rami Gabriel) 3. Affective Neuroscience and the Philosophy of Self (Stephen Asma and Tom Greif) 4. Affective Neuroscience and Law (Glennon Curran and Rami Gabriel).
The most comprehensive collection of its kind, Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues, Third Edition, is organized into three parts, providing instructors with flexibility in designing and teaching a variety of courses in moral philosophy. The first part, Historical Sources, moves from classical thought (Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Epictetus) through medieval views (Augustine and Aquinas) to modern theories (Hobbes, Butler, Hume, Kant, Bentham, and Mill), culminating with leading nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers (Nietzsche, James, Dewey, Camus, and Sartre). The second part, (...) Modern Ethical Theory, includes many of the most important essays of the past century. The discussion of utilitarianism, Kantianism, egoism, and relativism continues in the work of major contemporary philosophers (Foot, Brandt, Williams, Wolf, and Nagel). Landmark selections (Moore, Prichard, Ross, Ayer, Stevenson, Hare, Baier, Anscombe, Gauthier, and Harman) reflect concern with moral language and the justification of morality. The concepts of justice (Rawls) and rights (Feinberg) are explored, as well as recent views on the importance of virtue ethics (Rachels) and an ethic influenced by feminist concerns (Held). In the third part, Contemporary Moral Problems, the readings present the current debates over abortion, euthanasia, famine relief, animal rights, the death penalty, and whether numbers should play a role in making moral decisions. The third edition expands Part II, Modern Ethical Theory, adding essays by Onora O'Neill, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Allan Gibbard, Nicholas L. Sturgeon, and Martha Nussbaum. Part III, Contemporary Moral Problems, features new essays on abortion by Mary Anne Warren, Don Marquis, and Rosalind Hursthouse; an essay on the death penalty by Stephen Nathanson; and a debate between John M. Taurek and Derek Parfit on when and why one should save from harm a greater rather than a lesser number of people. The book concludes with an essay by Judith Jarvis Thomson on the trolley problem. Wherever possible, each reading is printed in its entirety. (shrink)
This is a response to issues raised by Stephen Houlgate in his article “Hegel, Desmond, and the Problem of God’s Transcendence,” dealing with Hegel’s God: A Counterfeit Double? The response focuses especially on the hermeneutical finesse we need in reading Hegel on religion, on the nature of “release” in Hegel, on the need for an agapeic God, and on the differences between Hegel’s speculative philosophy and Desmond’s metaxological approach to the practice of philosophy.
At the head of The Colbert Report, one of the most popular shows on television, Stephen Colbert is a pop culture phenomenon. More than one million people backed his fake candidacy in the 2008 U.S. presidential election on Facebook, a testament to the particularly rich set of issues and emotions Colbert brings to mind. Stephen Colbert and Philosophy is crammed with thoughtful and amusing chapters, each written by a philosopher and all focused on Colbert's inimitable reality — from (...) his word creations (truthiness, wikiality, freem, and others) to his position as a faux-pundit who openly mocks Fox News and CNN. Although most of the discussion is centered around The Colbert Report, this collection does not neglect either his best-selling book, I Am America (And So Can You!), or his public performances, including his incendiary 2006 White House Press Correspondents' Dinner speech. (shrink)
This essay defends a strong version of the Humean theory of motivation on which desire is necessary both for motivation and for reasoning that changes our desires. Those who hold that moral judgments are beliefs with intrinsic motivational force need to oppose this view, and many of them have proposed counterexamples to it. Using a novel account of desire, this essay handles the proposed counterexamples in a way that shows the superiority of the Humean theory. The essay addresses the classic (...) objection that the Humean theory cannot explain the feeling of obligation, Stephen Darwall's example of motivationally potent reasoning that is not based on preexisting desires, Thomas Scanlon's criticism that the Humean theory fails to account for the structure and phenomenology of deliberation, and the phenomenon of akrasia as discussed by John Searle. In each case a Humean account explains the data at least as thoroughly as opposing views can, while fitting within a simpler total account of how we deliberate and act. (shrink)
How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (henceforth, 'determination') provides the key (...) to solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don't causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can't be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC, these arguments can be resisted. (shrink)
Stephen Finlay analyses ‘ought’ in terms of probability. According to him, normative ‘ought's are statements about the likelihood that an act will realize some (contextually supplied) end. I raise a problem for this theory. It concerns the relation between ‘ought’ and the balance of reasons. ‘A ought to Φ’ seems to entail that the balance of reasons favours that A Φ-es, and vice versa. Given Finlay's semantics for ‘ought’, it also makes sense to think of reasons and their weight (...) in terms of probability. In this paper, I develop such a theory of weight. It turns out, however, that it cannot explain the entailments. This leaves Finlay with a challenge: to explain these entailments in some other way consistent with his theory, or to show why the appearances deceive and there are no such entailments. (shrink)
In “Epistemology Naturalized”, Quine famously suggests that epistemology, properly understood, “simply falls into place as a chapter of psychology and hence of natural science” (1969, 82). Since the appearance of Quine’s seminal article, virtually every epistemologist, including the later Quine (1986, 664), has repudiated the idea that a normative discipline like epistemology could be reduced to a purely descriptive discipline like psychology. Working epistemologists no longer take Quine’s vision in “Epistemology Naturalized” seriously. In this paper, I will explain why I (...) think this is a mistake. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Stephen Stich published a number of works that criticized analytic epistemology and defended a pragmatic view of cognitive assessment (1985, 1988, 1990, 1993). In the past five years, Stich, Jonathan Weinberg and Shaun Nichols (henceforth, WNS) have put forward a number of empirically-based arguments criticizing epistemology in the analytic tradition (Weinberg, Nichols and Stich 2001; Nichols, Stich and Weinberg 2003). My thesis is that the most powerful features of Stich’s epistemological views vindicate Quine’s now moribund naturalism. I expect this thesis to be met with incredulity – not least from Stich, who has explicitly argued that the reductionist view standardly attributed to Quine is a non-starter (1993, 3-5). . (shrink)
In Mumford’s Dispositions, the reader will find an extended treatment of the recent debate about dispositions from Ryle and Geach to the present. Along the way, Mumford presents his own views on several key points, though we found the book much more thorough in its assessment of opposing views than in the development of a positive account. As we’ll try to make clear, some of the ideas endorsed in Dispositions are certainly worth pursuing; others are not. Following Mackie, Shoemaker, and (...) others,1 Mumford stresses that it’s one thing to distinguish between dispositional and categorical ascriptions and quite another to draw an ontological line between dispositional and categorical properties. The book itself can be divided roughly into those chapters that deal with the relationship between dispositional ascriptions and corresponding conditionals (like ‘is fragile’ and ‘would break if struck’); and those chapters that deal with the relationship between dispositions and their categorical bases (like fragility and having internal structure XYZ). We shall examine each cluster of issues in turn. (shrink)
There are at least three basic phenomena that philosophers traditionally classify as paradigm cases of irrationality. In the first two cases, wishful thinking and self-deception, a person wants something to be true and therefore ignores certain relevant facts about the situation, making it appear to herself that it is, in fact, true. The third case, weakness of will, involves a person undertaking a certain action, despite taking herself to have an all-things-considered better reason not to do so. While I think (...) that Stephen Colbert's notion of "truthiness" might be able to fit the mold of each of these three kinds of irrationality, it applies most directly to cases of wishful thinking and self-deception — and it’s these two types of irrationality that I discuss extensively in this paper. As we will see, there are some troubling philosophical problems that arise regarding phenomena like self-deception. But we can use the concept of truthiness to show how these “paradoxes of irrationality” may be resolved without denying the fundamental irrationality of truthiness itself. (shrink)
Mumford presents the friends of laws with a Central Dilemma, either horn of which is supposed to be utterly unpalatable. The thrust of the dilemma is this: laws are either external or internal to their instances. If they are external, they cannot govern (or determine) their instances. If they are internal, they cannot govern (or determine) their instances. Ergo, laws cannot govern (or determine) their instances. The role of this dilemma is central to Mumford’s argument against laws: they are supposed (...) to have no credible role to play. The dilemma rests on the premise that laws, if they exist, must do something: they must play a governing role. Of course, it is one thing to say that laws play a governing role and it is quite another to say that laws must play some role. Mumford (§9.4) agonises a lot about this, but his considered view is that laws must play an x- role in virtue of which they make a difference in the determination of the world’s history. As Mumford is fully aware, the supposed ‘governing role’ of laws might be just a metaphor. Still, he thinks his Central Dilemma is powerful against any x-role that laws are supposed to play. We shall see later that this is not so. For the time being, let us play along. The central dilemma is faulty, anyway. (shrink)
Stephen Jay Gould argued that replaying the “tape of life” would result in a radically different evolutionary outcome. Some biologists and philosophers, however, have pointed to convergent evolution as evidence for robust replicability in macroevolution. These authors interpret homoplasy, or the independent origination of similar biological forms, as evidence for the power of natural selection to guide form toward certain morphological attractors, notwithstanding the diversionary tendencies of drift and the constraints of phylogenetic inertia. In this paper, I consider the (...) implications of homoplasy for the debate over the nature of macroevolution. I argue that once the concepts of contingency and convergence are fleshed out, it becomes clear that many instances of homoplasy fail to negate Gould’s overarching thesis, and may in fact support a Gouldian view of life. My argument rests on the distinction between parallelism and convergence, which I defend against a recent challenge from developmental biology. I conclude that despite the difficulties in defining and identifying parallelism, the concept remains useful and relevant to the contingency controversy insofar as it underscores the common developmental origins of iterated evolution. (shrink)
When is one person entitled to sanction another for moral wrongdoing? When, instead, must one mind one’s own business? Stephen Darwall argues that the legitimacy of social sanctioning is essential to the very concept of moral obligation. But, I will argue, Darwall’s “second person” theory of accountability unfortunately implies that every person is entitled to sanction every wrongdoer for every misdeed. In this essay, I defend a set of principles for differentiating those who have the standing to sanction from (...) those who do not. (shrink)
In this book, Mumford and Anjum advance a theory of causation based on a metaphysics of powers. The book is for the most part lucidly written, and contains some interesting contributions: in particular on the (lack of) necessary connection between cause and effect and on the perceivability of the causal relation. I do, however, have reservations about some of the book’s central theses: in particular, that cause and effect are simultaneous, and that causes can fruitfully be represented as vectors.