The concept of "fitness" is a notion of central importance to evolutionary theory. Yet the interpretation of this concept and its role in explanations of evolutionary phenomena have remained obscure. We provide a propensity interpretation of fitness, which we argue captures the intended reference of this term as it is used by evolutionary theorists. Using the propensity interpretation of fitness, we provide a Hempelian reconstruction of explanations of evolutionary phenomena, and we show why charges of circularity which have been levelled (...) against explanations in evolutionary theory are mistaken. Finally, we provide a definition of natural selection which follows from the propensity interpretation of fitness, and which handles all the types of selection discussed by biologists, thus improving on extant definitions. (shrink)
JM Coetzee has on several occasions been criticised for his failure to elaborate a political vision of transformation beyond the social and political conditions that he describes in his novels. Focusing on the novel ’Life and Times of Michael K’, I argue that this criticism fails to appreciate the conception of political futurity that is evident in Coetzee’s novels. For there emerges in Michael K a gesture of hope in which turning away from history is the condition of possibility for (...) hope for the future. Central to elaborating this gesture is the question of the status of the subject before the law, for it is on condition of the law’s suspension - or what Giorgio Agamben has identified as a condition of abandonment - that the possibility for future transformation develops. Thus I show that Michael K can profitably be read in conjunction with Agamben’s conception of biopolitics and the condition of abandonment that he argues characterises contemporary political existence. Read within this conceptual framework, Michael K appears as a limit-figure of the human and animal, in which the caesuras that Agamben argues cross the human being in modern politics become evident. Despite this apparent conceptual congruence, though, the particular figuration of hope or political futurity that Coetzee develops differs from Agamben’s in significant ways. For the latter, pushing the condition of abandonment to its extreme limit is the necessary condition for the inauguration of a redemptive ’form-of-life’ in which the human and inhuman elements of the human being can no longer be separated. Coetzee, however, offers a portrayal of hope that rests on the realisation of spaces for living within the ban of the law - spaces in which there is nevertheless ’time enough for everything’. (shrink)
Connectionism: Debates on Psychological Explanation, Volume Two Edited by Cynthia Macdonald and Graham Macdonald Blackwell, 1995. Pp. xvii + 424. ISBN 0-631-19744-3. 50.00 (hbk). ISBN 0-631-19745-1 16.99 (pbk). New books on the philosophy of religion Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason By J.L. Schellenberg, Cornell University Press, 1993. Pp. 217. ISBN 0-8014-2792-4. $36.50 (hbk). Reason and the Heart By William J. Wainwright, Cornell University Press, 1995. Pp. 160. ISBN 0-8014-3139-5. $28.50 (hbk). The Rationality of Belief and the Plurality of Faith Edited (...) by Thomas D. Senor, Cornell University Press, 1995. Pp. 291. ISBN 0-8014-3127-1. $39.95 (hbk). (shrink)
SusanMills and John Beatty proposed a propensity interpretation of fitness (1979) to show that Darwinian explanations are not circular, but they did not address the critics' chief complaint that the principle of the survival of the fittest is either tautological or untestable. I show that the propensity interpretation cannot rescue the principle from the critics' charges. The critics, however, incorrectly assume that there is nothing more to Darwin's theory than the survival of the fittest. While Darwinians all (...) scoff at this assumption, they do not agree about what role, if any, this principle plays in Darwin's theory of natural selection. I argue that the principle has no place in Darwin's theory. His theory does include the idea that some organisms are fitter than others. But greater reproductive success is simply inferred from higher fitness. There is no reason to embody this inference in the form of a special principle of the survival of the fittest. (shrink)
This paper aims to evaluate thechallenges posed to traditional ethical theoryby the ethics of feminism, multiculturalism,and environmentalism. I argue that JamesSterba, in his Three Challenges to Ethics,provides a distorted assessment by trying toassimilate feminism, multiculturalism, andenvironmentalism into traditional utilitarian,virtue, and Kantian/Rawlsian ethics – which hethus seeks to rescue from their alleged``biases.'''' In the cases of feminism andmulticulturalism, I provide an alternativeaccount on which these new critical discourseschallenge the whole paradigm or conception ofethical inquiry embodied in the tradition.They embrace different questions, (...) goals, toolsof analysis, and wider audiences, typicallyignored or marginalized by traditionalethicists.I illustrate my argument through briefinterpretations of writers such as Susan Okin,Catharine Mackinnon, Sandra Bartky, JohnStoltenberg, Richard Wasserstrom, AnthonyAppiah, Charles Mills, Will Kymlicka, CharlesTaylor, and Martha Nussbaum. In many of thesecases, I suggest that they provide us with newways of being ethicists.In the case of environmentalism, I defend amore conservative and negative assessment.Sterba embraces authors such as Peter Singer,Tom Regan, and Paul Taylor in order to advancean environmentalist ethic of ``speciesequality/impartiality'''' and ``biocentricpluralism.'''' Here I argue that the traditionalKantian/Rawlsian ethics – which Sterba hopesto accommodate – actually provides compellingmoral reasons for rejecting his principles of``species impartiality'''' and biocentricpluralism. Moreover, Rawlsian ethics canprovide a more coherent, consistent, andplausible account of environmental issues thanSterba''s brand of environmental ethics. Iargue that in practice, his ethics concedeswhat it denies in theory – namely, the specialvalue which inheres in human beings.As such, environmental ethics, unlike feminismand multiculturalism, poses very little in theway of a credible challenge or alternative totraditional ethics. (shrink)
SusanMills and John Beatty's propensity interpretation of fitness encountered very different philosophical criticisms by Alexander Rosenberg and Kenneth Waters. These criticisms and the rejoinders to them are both predictable and important. They are predictable as raisingkinds of issues typically associated with disposition concepts (this is established through a systematic review of the problems generated by Carnap's dispositional interpretation of all scientific terms). They are important as referring the resolution of these issues to the development of evolutionary biology. (...) This historical approach to the propensity interpretation of fitness draws attention to the precarious relation between philosophical clarification of scientific concepts and any given state of the empirical arts. (shrink)
: If liberal theory is to move forward, it must take the political nature of family relations seriously. The beginnings of such a liberalism appear in Mary Wollstonecraft's work. Wollstonecraft's depiction of the family as a fundamentally political institution extends liberal values into the private sphere by promoting the ideal of marriage as friendship. However, while her model of marriage diminishes arbitrary power in family relations, she seems unable to incorporate enduring sexual relations between married partners.
The influence of Brentano on the emergence of Husserl's notion of intentionality has been usually perceived as the key of understanding the history of intentionality, since Brentano was credited with the discovery of intentionality, and Husserl was his discipline. This much debated question is to be revisited in the present essay by incorporating recent advances in Brentano scholarship and by focusing on Husserl's very first work, his habilitation essay (Über den Begriff der Zahl), which followed immediately after his study years (...) at Brentano, and also on manuscript notes from the same period. It is to be shown that (i) although Brentano failed to enact a direct influence on Husserl's notion of intentionality (much in line with K. Schuhmann's claim), (ii) yet the core of Brentano's notion remained operative in Husserl's theory of relations, which is seemingly influenced by John Stuart Mill and Hermann Lotze. This investigation is intended as a contribution towards the proper understanding of the complexities of Husserl's early philosophy. (shrink)
"A book well worth reading as its expose of postmoderism has a clarity others would do well to imitate." --Tim Gay in NATFHE Journal Blue Velvet, sex, lies and videotape, Do the Right Thing, and Wall Street are just some of the provocative films that Denzin explores for their portrayal of the postmodern self. He examines the basic thesis that members of the contemporary world are voyeurs who, adrift in a sea of symbols, recognize and anchor themselves through cinema and (...) television. He skillfully weaves this idea back and forth between two kinds of texts: social theory, including poststructuralism, postmodernism, feminism, and marxism; and cinematic representations of life in modern America. The result is a solid assertion that postmodernism has shaped a dramaturgical society where the image has tragically replaced reality. Denzin offers a powerful reading of postmodern American society and the cinematic selves, however distorted, that inhabit this fantasy world. At the same time, he outlines the main contours of postmodern sociology and a postmodern sociological imagination that is responsive to the current historical moment. Images of Postmodern Society will play a key role in understanding the powerful relationship between postmodernism and the cinema for upper level graduates, gradate students, and contemporary scholars of cultural studies, communications, political science, anthropology, sociology, education, history, literary and cinema studies. "The book could be usefully incorporated into undergraduate sociology courses, particularly those that consider media and society, where it might serve as a basis for further discussion and examination of some important issues." --Journal of Communication "Images of Postmodern Society is a good book on two different levels. First, Denzin advances his own theory of postmodernism and, more specifically, of what he calls the "postmodern self," that is interesting and provocative. Second, this is one of the few books on postmodernity that is truly practical, in the sense that the book would be quite a good text to use in courses on the subject, whether they be in philosophy, sociology, film and media studies, cultural studies, and perhaps even anthropology. . . . I would certainly like to use the book for this purpose myself, and I would recommend the book for that purpose to colleagues in the departments mentioned." --Bill Martin, Philosophy Department, DePaul University "Denzin uncovers a profoundly important tension in postmodern culture . . . His work, then, demonstrates that the 'abundance of meaning' found in these films lies in the collision of modernist and postmodernist depictions of cultural practice." --Contemporary Sociology "Norman Denzin, one of the most interesting theorists and ethnographers in American sociology, has turned his critical eye to postmodern theory and contemporary American culture and society. Revitalizing Mills' sociological imagination, Denzin addresses the relations between Hollywood films of the 1980s, their constructions of self, and the structures of lived experience. He offers a postmodern sociology which addresses the increasingly conservative basis of postmodern ideologies of race, class, and gender. It offers an original postmodern critique of the postmodern. Images of Postmodern Society should be and will be widely read and discussed." --Larry Grossberg, University of Illinois. (shrink)
This case study reviews a train crash that occurred in January 2005 when a Norfolk Southern freight train struck a parked train on the tracks near Graniteville, South Carolina. At issue is the safe transportation of hazardous materials, the assignment of responsibility, the stakeholder management of participants and the outcome to Avondale Mills, a local textile company that ended up closing its doors after the spill.
Allen Carlson has argued that a proper aesthetics of nature must judge nature for ‘what it is’, and that such judgements must be informed by a scientific understanding of nature, in particular, one shaped by the science of ecology. Carlson uses these claims to support his theory of positive aesthetics. This paper argues that there are problems in this view. First, it misunderstands ecology, thereby adopting a view of the natural world that holds it to be much more integrated than (...) it is. Second, it ignores an even more fundamental science of nature, evolution. Thus, it misunderstands both ecology and nature. An alternative to this view would be an aesthetics based on an evolutionary understanding of nature, which holds that, although there are many functional wholes in nature, there is also significant conflict, disintegration, and incongruent scales. A proper aesthetics of nature must take these conflicts into account. The paper ends with a sketch of an aesthetic theory based on the science of evolution. (shrink)
The Weight of Things explores the hard questions of our daily lives, examining both classic and contemporary accounts of what it means to lead 'the good life'. Looks at the views of philosophers such as Aristotle, the Stoics, Mill, Nietzsche, and Sartre as well as contributions from other traditions, such as Buddhism Incorporates key arguments from contemporary philosophers including Peter Singer, Martha Nussbaum, Robert Nozick, John Finnis, and Susan Wolf Uses examples from biography, literature, history, movies and media, and (...) the news Gives a fresh perspective on the hard questions of our daily lives An engaging read; an excellent book for both students and general readers. (shrink)
“The ‘fallacy of composition’ that drives a felicitous wedge between micro and macro, between the individual and the aggregate, and gives rise to emergent phenomena in economics, non-algorithmic ways – as conjectured originally by John Stuart Mill…, George Herbert Lewes … , and codified by Lloyd Morgan … in his popular Gifford Lectures - may yet be tamed by unconventional models of computation.” --K. Vela Velupillai (2008, p. 21).
Meaning in philosophy, by K. Lehrer.--Meaning in linguistics, by A. Lehrer.--Theories of meaning, by W. Alston.--Of names, by J. S. Mill.--Of words, by J. Locke.--Of language, by G. Berkeley.--Signs and behavior situations, by C. Morris.--Meaning and verification, by M. Schlick.--Meaning and use, by R. Wells.--The meaning of a word, by J. Austin.--Meaning and speech acts, by J. R. Searle.--Meaning and linguistic analysis, by C. C. Fries.--The semantic compound of a linguistic description, by J. J. Katz.--Componential analysis and universal semantics, by (...) J. Lyons.--Bibliographical essay (p. 213-216). (shrink)
This engaging introduction to the fundamental issues of philosophy will prompt students to think actively about questions such as: Does God exist? Do we have souls? Does human life have meaning? Is there a real difference between right and wrong? and many more. Organized topically, the twelve chapters in the book focus on key philosophical questions and discuss alternative answers (solutions). Author Emmett Barcalow includes readings in every chapter by famous thinkers and well-known philosophers who offer their own answers to (...) these questions--for example, the thoughts of Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, and Mohandas K. Ghandi on the existence of God; Plato's ideas on the body/mind connection; and John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant's theories of right and wrong. As students progress through the text, they'll begin to think critically and decide for themselves which answers seem the most reasonable to them. Definitions and other relevant information are placed in the margins for easy reference, and brain teasers--questions for class discussion and student reflection-- are integrated throughout. The text also features insightful discussion and review questions at the end of each chapter and two valuable appendices: one on reading philosophy and the other on writing a philosophy paper. The third edition adds chapter objectives; information on philosophy's subfields; a section on self-knowledge; new material on reflective equilibrium; expanded coverage of the social justification of morality; a new discussion of equal opportunity; a discussion of Feinberg's analysis of four liberty limiting principles; and more. It also adds readings by Rahula, Sartre, Russell, St. Augustine, Constant, Rousseau, and many others. (shrink)
The confusion of categories in Spinoza's ethics, by E. Albee.--Hegel's criticism of Spinoza, by K. E. Gilbert.--Rationalism in Hume's philosophy, by G. H. Sabine.--Freedom as an ethical postulate: Kant, by R. A. Tsanoff.--Mill and Comte, by N. C. Barr.--The intellectualistic voluntarism of Alfred Fouillée, by A. T. Penney.--Hegelianism and the Vedanta, by E. L. Hinman.--Coherence as organization, by G. W. Cunningham.--Time and the logic of monistic idealism, by J. A. Leighton.--The datum, by W. B. Pillsbury.--The limits of the physical, by (...) G. A. de Laguna.--Is the dualism of mind and matter final? By H. W. Wright.--The revolt against dualism, by A. H. Jones. (shrink)
Plato. Crito.--Mill, J. S. Utilitarianism.--Rawls, J. Two concepts of rules.--Kant, I. Fundamental principles of the metaphysic of morals.--Rawls, J. Justice as fairness.--Benn, S. I. and Peters, R. S. Society and types of social regulation.--Hobbes, T. Leviathan, abridged.--Hayek, F. A. The principles of a liberal social order.--Marx, K. Alienation and its overcoming in Communism.--Lukes, S. Alienation and anomie.--Garver, N. What violence is.--Zinn, H. The force of nonviolence.--Caudwell, C. Pacifism and violence; a study in bourgeois ethics.--Bennett, J. Whatever the consequences.--Foot, P. Abortion (...) and the doctrine of the double effect.--Benn, S. I. Punishment.--Mill, J. S. Selection from On liberty.--Mill, J. S. Selection from Considerations on representative government.--Marcuse, H. The new forms of control.--Mill, J. S. The subjection of women, abridged.--Dickinson, J. A working theory of sovereignty, abridged.--Rawls, J. The justification of civil disobedience. (shrink)
Plato. The republic.--Aristotle. Politics.--Cicero, M. T. On the commonwealth.--John of Salisbury. The prince versus the tyrant.--Machiavelli, N. The prince and the people.--Hobbes, T. The state of nature and the Leviathan.--Locke, J. The right of revolution.--Marx, K. and Engels, F. Bourgeois and proletarians.--Bakunin, M. A. The Paris Commune and the idea of the state.--Mill, J. S. On liberty.--Lenin, V. I. Marxism and the withering away of the state.--Hitler, A. Race and the folkish state.--Mao Tse-tung. From the masses, to the masses.--Che Guevara, (...) E. Create two, three, many Vietnams. (shrink)
Recently, proponents of Humean Supervenience have challenged the plausibility of the intuition that the laws of nature 'govern', or guide, the evolution of events in the universe. Certain influential thought experiments authored by John Carroll, Michael Tooley, and others, rely strongly on such intuitions. These thought experiments are generally regarded as playing a central role in the lawhood debate, suggesting that the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis view of the laws of nature, and the related doctrine of the Humean Supervenience of laws, are false. (...) In this paper, I take on these recent challenges, arguing that the intuition that the laws govern should be taken seriously. Still, I find the recent discussions insightful, in certain ways. Employing some ideas from one of the critics (Barry Loewer), I draw some non-standard conclusions about the significance of the thought experiments to the lawhood debate. (shrink)
The current UN policy regarding free speech presents a philosophical dilemma between accepting the free speech provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and exceptions carved out for hatred, hostility, and religious defamation. The Declaration should be understood to imply viewpoint neutrality and the exceptions for defamation are not viewpoint neutral. If the UN were to adopt J. S. Mill’s crucial distinctions between expression and performative speech, content and context, and mental states and the acts motivated by them, it (...) would be clear that hatred, hostility, and defamation cannot be exceptions to viewpoint neutral free speech. If the heart of free speech is freedom especially for the thought we hate, then the UN should abandon its exceptions or abandon appeals to free speech. However, I will offer a strong reason that it should not do the latter. (shrink)