Finland is currently undergoing a fundamental structural transformation in the forestry sector, with factories closing in the Global North and production being shifted to the Global South (see also Carrere & Lohmann 1996; Cossalter & Pye-Smith 2003). This is accompanied by Finnish mass movements protesting unemployment and demanding corporate social responsibility (CSR) from theforest industry. The difficult domestic situation, however, seems to overshadow the circumstances of the new production regions in the South. What do we actually know about the impacts (...) of the Finnish forestry sector in those societies? The branches of global forest companies may be located in regions that are experiencing various societal conflicts – like in the case of indigenous communities in northeastern Brazil, where the question of land ownership remains unsolved. The aim of our paper is to bring out the perspective of these traditional communities and the legitimacy problems of the Finnish forest industry in Brazil. We also scrutinize the corporate tactics by which companies seek to gain societal acceptability in the region. These range from social programs and campaigns to violent confrontations, even to attempts to deconstruct the identities of indigenous communities. Our general argument is that while companies have outlined their CSR policies in theory, the situation in actual practice is quite different. Companies often fail to take into account the prevailing socioeconomic conditions in the region and some of the more marginal stakeholders like indigenous peoples, who obviously have no economic importance to the company. (shrink)
Situated in a period that witnessed the genesis of institutions that have lasted to this day, this path-breaking study looks at how ancient Christian women, particularly in Asia Minor and Egypt, initiated ascetic ways of living, and how these practices were then institutionalized. Susanna Elm demonstrates that--in direct contrast to later conceptions--asceticism began primarly as an urban movement, in which women were significant protagonists. In the process, they completely transformed and expanded their roles as wife, mother, or widow: as (...) Christian ascetics, they became `virgin wives', `virgin mothers', and `virgin widows' - with all the legal and economic implications of such a dramatic shift. As importantly, though, Christian men and women ascetics lived together. As `virgins of God' they created new families `in Christ'. No longer determined by their human bonds or human sexuality, they were `neither male nor female'. Finally, the book demonstrates how ascetic bishops - today known as saints - eventually `reformed' these early models of communal, ascetic life by dividing the `virgins of God' into monks and nuns and thus laid the foundation for the monasticism we know today. (shrink)
The Elements of Philosophy: Readings from Past and Present is a comprehensive collection of historical and contemporary readings across the major fields of philosophy. With depth and quality, this introductory anthology offers a selection of readings that is both extensive and expansive; the readings span twenty-five centuries. They are organized topically into five parts: Religion and Belief, Moral and Political Philosophy, Metaphysics and Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind and Language, and Life and Death. The product of the collaboration of three highly (...) respected scholars in their fields - Tamar Szabó Gendler, Susanna Siegel, and Steven M. Cahn - The Elements of Philosophy also includes introductions from the editors, explanatory footnotes, and a glossary. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it's possible that the contents of some visual experiences are influenced by the subject's prior beliefs, hopes, suspicions, desires, fears or other mental states, and that this possibility places constraints on the theory of perceptual justification that 'dogmatism' or 'phenomenal conservativism' cannot respect.
Recently, the thesis that experience is fundamentally a matter of representing the world as being a certain way has been questioned by austere relationalists. I defend this thesis by developing a view of perceptual content that avoids their objections. I will argue that on a relational understanding of perceptual content, the fundamental insights of austere relationalism do not compete with perceptual experience being representational. As it will show that most objections to the thesis that experience has content apply only to (...) accounts of perceptual content on which perceptual relations to the world play no explanatory role. With austere relationalists, I will argue that perceptual experience is fundamentally relational. But against austere relationalists, I will argue that it is fundamentally both relational and representational. (shrink)
I argue that perception is necessarily situation-dependent. The way an object is must not just be distinguished from the way it appears and the way it is represented, but also from the way it is presented given the situational features. First, I argue that the way an object is presented is best understood in terms of external, mind-independent, but situation-dependent properties of objects. Situation-dependent properties are exclusively sensitive to and ontologically dependent on the intrinsic properties of objects, such as their (...) shape, size, and color, and the situational features, such as the lighting conditions and the perceiver’s location in relation to the perceived object. Second, I argue that perceiving intrinsic properties is epistemically dependent on representing situation-dependent properties. Recognizing situation-dependent properties yields four advantages. It makes it possible to embrace the motivations that lead to phenomenalism and indirect realism by recognizing that objects are presented a certain way, while holding on to the intuition that subjects directly perceive objects. Second, it acknowledges that perceptions are not just individuated by the objects they are of, but by the ways those objects are presented given the situational features. Third, it allows for a way to accommodate the fact that there is a wide range of viewing conditions or situational features that can count as normal. Finally, it makes it possible to distinguish perception and thought about the same object with regard to what is represented. (shrink)
An overview of the epistemology of perception, covering the nature of justification, immediate justification, the relationship between the metaphysics of perceptual experience and its rational role, the rational role of attention, and cognitive penetrability. The published version will contain a smaller bibliography, due to space constraints in the volume.
Is perception cognitively penetrable, and what are the epistemological consequences if it is? I address the latter of these two questions, partly by reference to recent work by Athanassios Raftopoulos and Susanna Seigel. Against the usual, circularity, readings of cognitive penetrability, I argue that cognitive penetration can be epistemically virtuous, when---and only when---it increases the reliability of perception.
I argue that any account of perceptual experience should satisfy the following two desiderata. First, it should account for the particularity of perceptual experience, that is, it should account for the mind-independent object of an experience making a difference to individuating the experience. Second, it should explain the possibility that perceptual relations to distinct environments could yield subjectively indistinguishable experiences. Relational views of perceptual experience can easily satisfy the first but not the second desideratum. Representational views can easily satisfy the (...) second but not the first desideratum. I argue that to satisfy both desiderata perceptual experience is best conceived of as fundamentally both relational and representational. I develop a view of perceptual experience that synthesizes the virtues of relationalism and representationalism, by arguing that perceptual content is constituted by potentially gappy de re modes of presentation. (shrink)
I offer an explanation of how subjects are able to perceive the intrinsic spatial properties of objects, given that subjects always perceive from a particular location. The argument proceeds in two steps. First, I argue that a conception of space is necessary to perceive the intrinsic spatial properties of objects. This conception of space is spelled out by showing that perceiving intrinsic properties requires perceiving objects as the kind of things that are perceivable from other locations. Second, I show that (...) having such a conception of space presupposes that a subject represent her location in relation to perceived objects. More precisely the thesis is that a subject represents her location as the location from which she both perceives objects and would act in relation to objects were she to act. So I argue that perception depends on the capacity to know what it would be to act in relation to objects. (shrink)
I develop a view of the common factor between subjectively indistinguishable perceptions and hallucinations that avoids analyzing experiences as involving awareness relations to abstract entities, sense-data, or any other peculiar entities. The main thesis is that hallucinating subjects employ concepts (or analogous nonconceptual structures), namely the very same concepts that in a subjectively indistinguishable perception are employed as a consequence of being related to external, mind-independent objects or property-instances. These concepts and nonconceptual structures are identified with modes of presentation types. (...) Since a hallucinating subject is not related to any such objects or property-instances, the concepts she employs remain empty. I argue that the phenomenology of hallucinations and perceptions can be identified with employing concepts and analogous nonconceptual structures. By doing so, I defend an ontologically minimalist view of the phenomenology of experience that (1) vindicates Aristotelianism about types and (2) amounts to a naturalized view of the phenomenology of experience. (shrink)
Early formulations of disjunctivism about perception refused to give any positive account of the nature of hallucination, beyond the uncontroversial fact that they can in some sense seem to the same to the subject as veridical perceptions. Recently, some disjunctivists have attempt to account for hallucination in purely epistemic terms, by developing detailed account of what it is for a hallucinaton to be indiscriminable from a veridical perception. In this paper I argue that the prospects for purely epistemic treatments of (...) hallucinations are dim, and that this undermines the case for disjunctivism. (shrink)
In The Problem of Perception, A.D. Smith’s central aim is to defend the view that we can directly perceive ordinary objects, such as cups, keys and the like.1 The book is organized around the two arguments that Smith considers to be serious threats to the possibility of direct perception: the argument from illusion, and the argument from hallucination. The argument from illusion threatens this possibility because it concludes that indirect realism is true. Indirect realism is the view that we perceive (...) mind-independent ordinary objects, but can only do so indirectly, by perceiving mind-dependent objects: objects whose existence depends on being perceived or thought about. The argument from hallucination draws a similar conclusion: if we perceive mindindependent ordinary objects at all, then our perception of them is indirect in the same way. In responding to these arguments, Smith develops an account of percep- tual consciousness. Perceptual consciousness is a kind of experience, distinct from what Smith calls ‘mere sensory experiences’, or equivalently, ‘mere sensation’. Perceptual consciousness is experience that is properly percep- tual, in which one has the phenomenology of perceiving things in the external world (including one’s body) that exist independently of one’s mind. Perceptual consciousness on its own does not suffice for actually being in perceptual contact with mind-independent reality, although it suffices for it to seem as if one i s . It follows that perceptual consciousness does not suffice for direct perception of ordinary objects, or for direct realism. Nevertheless, Smith holds that the correct account of perceptual consciousness is a crucial element in blocking the arguments from illusion and hallucination, and therefore in supporting the possibility of direct perception. This is an extraordinarily engaging book. Within a single, unified narrative, one encounters the views of many philosophers—Husserl, Fine, Broad, Sextus Empiricus, Loar, Schopenhauer, Meinong, Burge, Dilthey, Russell, Dennett, Sartre, O’Shaughnessy, Evans, Berkeley, Craig, Brentano and many.... (shrink)
In this paper I offer a theory of what makes certain influences on visual experiences by prior mental states (including desires, beliefs, moods, and fears) reduce the justificatory force of those experiences. The main idea is that experiences, like beliefs, can have rationally assessable etiologies, and when those etiologies are irrational, the experiences are epistemically downgraded.
In discussions of perception and its relation to knowledge, it is common to distinguish what one comes to believe on the basis of perception from the distinctively perceptual basis of one's belief. The distinction can be drawn in terms of propositional contents: there are the contents that a perceiver comes to believe on the basis of her perception, on the one hand; and there are the contents properly attributed to perception itself, on the other. Consider the content.
I argue that any account of imagination should satisfy the following three desiderata. First, imaginations induce actions only in conjunction with beliefs about the environment of the imagining subject. Second, there is a continuum between imaginations and beliefs. Recognizing this continuum is crucial to explain the phenomenon of imaginative immersion. Third, the mental states that relate to imaginations in the way that desires relate to beliefs are a special kind of desire, namely desires to make true in fiction. These desires (...) to make true in fiction do not differ from regular desires in kind, but only in content. I argue for these three desiderata in turn by critically discussing several recent accounts of imagination. (shrink)
I distinguish between two kinds of selection effects on experience: selection of objects or features for experience, and anti-selection of experiences for cognitive uptake. I discuss the idea that both kinds of selection effects can lead to a form of confirmation bias at the level of perception, and argue that when this happens, selection effects can influence the rational role of experience.
This is a critical piece on *The Character of Consciousness* by David Chalmers. It focuses on Chalmers's two-stage view of perceptual content and the epistemology of perceptual belief that flows from this theory, and criticizes his theories of Edenic concepts, perceptual acquaintance, and perceptual belief.
I argue that a Sellarsian approach to experience allows one to take seriously the thought that there is something given to us in perception without denying that we can only be conscious of conceptually structured content. I argue against the traditional empiricist reading of Sellars, according to which sensations are understood as epistemically graspable prior to concrete propositional representations, by showing that it is unclear on such a view why sensations are not just the given as Sellars so famously criticizes (...) it. I suggest an alternative transcendental reading, according to which there are two sides to the subject matter of perceptual judgments: The matter given in perception (sensation), and its form (intuition). I present an account of sensations and intuitions on which it is unproblematic to see sensations as what is given in perception: They are not intelligible independently of their role as the matter of intuitions, the content of which is accessible to us only in the context of a judgment. (shrink)
How can perception yield knowledge of the world? One challenge in answering this question is that one necessarily perceives from a particular location. Thus, what is immediately perceptually available is subject to situational features, such as lighting conditions and one’s location. Nonetheless, one can perceive the shape and color of objects. My dissertation aims to provide an explanation for how this is possible. The main thesis is that giving such an explanation requires abandoning the traditional model of perception as a (...) two-place relation between subjects and objects in favor of a model of perception as a three-place relation between subjects, objects, and situations. (shrink)
This volume collects together chapters that were originally delivered at a conference on the Admissible Contents of Experience that took place at the University of Glasgow in March 2006. The original papers were first published in a special edition of The Philosophy Quarterly (July 2009). -/- Introduction (Fiona Macpherson, University of Glasgow). -- 1. Perception And The Reach Of Phenomenal Content (Tim Bayne, University of Oxford). -- 2. Seeing Causings And Hearing Gestures (Steven Butterfill, University of Warwick). -- 3. Experience (...) And Content (Alex Byrne, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). -- 4. Is Perception A Propositional Attitude? (Tim Crane, University College London). -- 5. Conscious Reference (Alva Noë, University of California, Berkeley). -- 6. What Are The Contents Of Experiences? (Adam Pautz, University of Texas at Austin). -- 7. Aspect-Switching And Visual Phenomenal Character (Richard Price, University of Oxford). -- 8. The Visual Experience Of Causation (Susanna Siegel, Harvard University). -- 9. The Admissible Contents Of Visual Experience (Michael Tye, University of Texas at Austin). -- Index. (shrink)
This paper develops and defends the capacity view, that is, the view that the ability to perceive the perspective-independent or intrinsic properties of objects depends on the perceiver’s capacity to act. More specifically, I argue that self-location and spatial know-how are jointly necessary to perceive the intrinsic spatial properties of objects. Representing one’s location allows one to abstract from one’s particular vantage point to perceive the perspective-independent properties of objects. Spatial know-how allows one to perceive objects as the kind of (...) things that are perceivable from points of view other than one’s own and thus to perceive them as three-dimensional space occupiers. (shrink)
This paper develops a criterion for sameness of Fregean senses. I consider three criteria: logical equivalence, intensional isomorphism, and epistemic equipollence. I reject the first two and argue for a version of the third.
Siegel defends "Limited Intentionism", a theory of what secures the semantic reference of uses of bare demonstratives ("this", "that" and their plurals). According to Limited Intentionism, demonstrative reference is fixed by perceptually anchored intentions on the part of the speaker.
Do we (sometimes) perceive apples as edible? One could argue that it is just a manner of speaking to say so: we do not really see an object as edible, we see it as having certain shape, size and color and we only infer on the basis of these properties that it is. I argue that we do indeed see objects as edible, and do not just believe that they are. My argument proceeds in two steps. First, I point out (...) that Susanna Siegel's influential argument in favor of the claim that we represent sortal properties perceptually does not work. Second, I argue that we can fix this argument if we replace the sortal property in question with the property of being edible, climbable or Q-able in general. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences inform us about objective properties of things in our environment. But they also have perspectival character in the sense that they differ phenomenally when objects are viewed from different points of view. Contemporary representationalists hold, at a minimum, that phenomenal character supervenes on representational content. Thus, in order to account for perspectival character, they need to indentify a type of representational content that changes in appropriate ways with the perceiver’s point of view. Many representationlists, including Shoemaker and Lycan, (...) argue that such contents are best construed in terms of mind-dependent properties. Other representationalists, including Tye and Dretske, hold that these contents involve only mind-independent properties. Susanna Schellenberg has recently developed an account of perceptual experience that would serve these latter representationalists extremely well. She suggests that we can do justice to the perspectival character of perceptual experience by appeal to representations of a certain type of relational properties, so-called ‘situation-dependent properties.’ In this paper, I critically engage with Schellenberg’s proposal in order to show how mind-independent representationalists can explain perspectival character. I argue that appeal to situation-dependent properties is problematic. I then show that mind-independent representationalists can account for perspectical character by means of scenario contents in Christopher Peacocke’s sense. (shrink)
I argue that perceptual experience provides us with both phenomenal and factive evidence. To a first approximation, we can understand phenomenal evidence as determined by how our environment sensorily seems to us when we are experiencing. To a first approximation, we can understand factive evidence as necessarily determined by the environment to which we are perceptually related such that the evidence is guaranteed to be an accurate guide to the environment. I argue that the rational source of both phenomenal and (...) factive evidence lies in employing perceptual capacities that we have in virtue of being perceivers. In showing that both kinds of evidence have the same rational source, I provide a unified account of perceptual evidence and its rational source in perceptual experience. (shrink)
Which objects and properties are represented in perceptual experience, and how are we able to determine this? The papers in this collection address these questions together with other fundamental questions about the nature of perceptual content. -/- The book draws together papers by leading international philosophers of mind, including Alex Byrne (MIT), Alva Noë (University of California, Berkeley), Tim Bayne (St Catherine’s College, Oxford), Michael Tye (University of Texas, Austin), Richard Price (All Souls College, Oxford) and Susanna Siegel (Harvard (...) University) -/- Essays address the central questions surrounding the content of perceptual experience -/- Investigates how are we able to determine the admissible contents of experience -/- Published in association with the journal Philosophical Quarterly. (shrink)
In discussions of perception and its provision of knowledge, it is common to distinguish what one comes to believe on the basis of perception from the distinctively perceptual basis of one's belief. The distinction can be drawn in terms of propositional contents: there are the contents that a perceiver would normally come to believe on the basis of her perception, on the one hand; and there are the contents properly attributed to perception itself, on the other. Consider the content.
John Searle and Susanna Siegel have argued that cases of aspect-switching show that visual experience represents a richer range of properties than colours, shapes, positions and sizes. I respond that cases of aspect-switching can be explained without holding that visual experience represents rich properties. I also argue that even if Searle and Siegel are right, and aspect-switching does require visual experience to represent rich properties, there is reason to think those properties do not include natural-kind properties, such as being (...) a tomato. (shrink)
Perception provides a form of contact with the world and the other people in it. For example, we can learn that Franco is sitting in his chair by seeing Franco; we can learn that his hair is gray by seeing the colour of his hair. Such perception enables us to understand primitive forms of language, such as demonstrative expressions.
∗Thanks to J. C. Beall, Alex Byrne, Jason Decker, Tyler Doggett, Paul Elbourne, Adam Elga, Warren Goldfarb, Delia Graﬀ, Richard Heck, Charles Parsons, Mark Richard, Susanna Siegel, Jason Stanley, Judith Thomson, Carol Voeller, Brian Weatherson, Ralph Wedgwood, Steve Yablo, Cheryl Zoll, and an anonymous referee for valuable comments and discussions. Versions of this material were presented in my seminar at MIT in the Fall of 2000, and at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Parts of this paper also derive (...) from my comments on a paper of Scott Soames at the ‘Liars and Heaps’ conference at the University of Connecticut in the Fall of 2002. I am grateful for the help of these audiences, and especially to Prof. Soames. (shrink)
This paper analyses ethical issues in forensic psychiatric research on mentally disordered offenders, especially those detained in the psychiatric treatment system. The idea of a 'dual role' dilemma afflicting forensic psychiatry is more complicated than acknowledged. Our suggestion acknowledges the good of criminal law and crime prevention as a part that should be balanced against familiar research ethical considerations. Research aiming at improvements of criminal justice and treatment is a societal priority, and the total benefit of studies has to be (...) balanced against the risks for research subjects inferred by almost all systematic studies. Direct substantial risks must be balanced by health benefits, and normal informed consent requirements apply. When direct risks are slight, as in register-based epidemiology, lack of consent may be counter-balanced by special measures to protect integrity and the general benefit of better understanding of susceptibility, treatment and prevention. Special requirements on consent procedures in the forensic psychiatric context are suggested, and the issue of the relation between decision competence and legal accountability is found to be in need of further study. The major ethical hazard in forensic psychiatric research connects to the role of researchers as assessors and consultants in a society entertaining strong prejudices against mentally disordered offenders. (shrink)
First, what it is for a sentient being to sense is for it to employ two distinct capacities: one for representing places-at-times; the other for representing "features" (60, cf. 70). Exercised together, the result is akin to feature-placing, which brings us to the second thesis: what sensory systems represent is that features are instantiated at place-times. Accordingly, sensory systems do not, for instance, attribute properties to objects, such as trees, tables, bodies, or persons (163).
This is a reply to commentaries on my book, The Character of Consciousness, by Benj Hellie, Christopher Peacocke, and Susanna Siegel. The reply to Hellie focuses on issues about acquaintance and transparency. The reply to Peacocke focuses on externalism about spatial experience. The reply to Siegel focuses on whether there can be Frege cases in perceptual experience.
The subject of this book is the thought of the American pragmatist and founder of semiotics, Charles Sanders Peirce. The book collects the papers presented to the International Conference Semiotics and Philosophy in C.S. Peirce (Milan, April 2005), together with some additional new contributions by well-known Peirce scholars, bearing witness to the vigour of Peircean scholarship in Italy and also hosting some of the most significant international voices on this topic. The book is introduced by the two editors and is (...) divided into three sections, corresponding to the three main areas of the most interesting contemporary reflection on Peirce. Namely, Semiotics and the Logic of Inquiry (part I); Abduction and Philosophy of Mathematics (part II); Peirce and the Western Tradition. (part III). The analysis is carried out from a semiotic perspective, in which semiotics should not be understood as a specific doctrine but rather as the philosophical core of Peirce’s system. As we read in the introduction: “it is semiotics and philosophy or, rather, semiotics as philosophy and philosophy as semiotics, which emerge from a reading of these papers”. (shrink)
This essay is a comparison between Schelling's and Blanchot's conceptions of the night of the imaginary. Schelling is the most romantic of the German idealist philosophers and Blanchot the most extreme of the French “deconstructionists.“ Their historical link is actually indirect, but they offer two complementary views on the “same“ impersonal nocturnal experience of the imaginary, the approach of which requires a certain self-overcoming of philosophy towards literature.
This article is composed of three parts. In the first part of the article I take up a question raised by Susanna Siegel (Philosophical Review 115: 355–388, 2006a). Siegel has argued that subjects have the following anticipation: (PC) If S substantially changes her perspective on o, her visual phenomenology will change as a result of this change. She has left it an open question as to whether subjects anticipate a specific kind of change. I take up this question and (...) answer it in the affirmative. By appealing to a widely held view of perceptual content, the view that we represent ‘factual’ properties in perception, I argue that (PC) can be refined as follows: (PC’) If S substantially changes her perspective on o, her visual phenomenology will present different views of o’s factual properties. In the second part of the article I argue that (PC’) implies that there are cases in which normal perceivers have different perceptual content under identical viewing conditions. The differences in perceptual content are due to differences in the determinacy of visual anticipation. I draw the conclusion that perceptual content is rich in the sense that it includes a unique contribution from individual perceivers. In the final part of the article, I discuss some open issues regarding the way in which (PC’) relates to the personal/sub-personal distinction, empirical models, and the distinction between perception and cognition. (shrink)
Fatigue and increased fatigability occur as symptoms in almost every medical and psychiatric condition, as well as being common reactions to non pathological physical and psychological strain and stress. We will attempt to clarify the semantics of the terms "fatigue" and "fatigability", and we will put forward the hypothesis that the special kind of mental fatigability which characterises many cases of mild to moderate dysfunction of the brain is functional in a sense that it represents an overload of pathological information (...) (from the injured area) to higher cognitive mechanisms which may themselves be anatomically and physiologically intact. (shrink)
Schellenberg sheds light on the recent debate between Dreyfus and McDowell about the role and nature of concepts in perceptual experience, by considering the following trilemma: (C1) Non-rational animals and humans can be in mental states with the same kind of content when they are perceptually related to the very same environment. (C2) Non-rational animals do not possess concepts. (C3) Content is constituted by modes of presentations and is, thus, conceptually structured. She discusses reasons for accepting and rejecting each of (...) the three claims. By developing a substantive notion of modes of presentation as constituting nonconceptual content, she argues that the trilemma is best resolved by giving up (C3). In doing so, she discusses the nature of mental content and its relation to bodily skills and conceptual capacities as well as the notion of conceptual and nonconceptual content. (shrink)
This study examines the issues associated with the disinvestment of U.S. interests from South Africa that took place in the mid-80s from the perspective of three dominant moral theories: utility, rights, and justice. By examining the issues in light of these three theories, the paper attempts to establish a decision framework from which managers and investors can evaluate similar decisions they are facing around the world today. Similarly, the reading may prove useful to educators who incorporate discussions of ethical decision (...) making into the classroom.Training in business ethics too often takes a strictly utilitarian perspective, or worse, a relativistic one. This study attempts to illustrate how utilitarian theory and related rights and justice issues can he interwoven into the heuristics associated with the contemporary concepts of corporate social responsibility. (shrink)
In this paper we analyze results from 114 face-to-face qualitative interviews of people who had evacuated from the New Orleans area in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, interviews that were completed within weeks of the 2005 storm in most cases. Our goal was to understand the role information and knowledge played in people's decisions to leave the area. Contrary to the conventional wisdom underlying many disaster communication studies, we found that our interviewees almost always had extensive storm-related information from a (...) variety of sources, including media reports and (in many cases) other background knowledge gleaned from experiences with previous storms, often from interpersonal sources. However, consistent with a theme in communication research that has been identifiable since at least the 1940s, interpersonal communication networks were most often what ultimately caused these individuals to act on this information, and therefore those with “weak ties” (a concept borrowed from sociology) to the broader “mainstream” community may have been disadvantaged, slower to leave, and thus more vulnerable to the storm's main effects. From our evidence, the end result was less a function of discrimination as it was one of differential activation of a relevant social network. These results argue for the rejection of a “deficit model” that assumes varied reactions to natural disaster result from some kind of an information deficiency, and remind us that behavior under such circumstances is the result of a process of collective behavior, not only individual cognition. (shrink)
During the last couple of decades, so called representationalist theories of mind have gained increased popularity. These theories describe mental states in terms of representations of external objects and states of affairs. It is also often held that the content of a subject’s thoughts and perceptions is determined by facts outside her mind, such as social relations between her and other people and causal relations between her and external objects. Some representationalists even argue that the phenomenal character of perceptual experiences (...) is determined by external factors in the sense that the truth conditions of statements like: “it looks blue” involve such facts. This entails that so called “phenomenal properties” such as colours are not properties of my experiences or even determined by such properties. This thesis has been labelled “phenomenal externalism” by e.g., Fred Dretske1 and William Lycan2. Introspection has traditionally been described as a subject’s immediate awareness of her own experiences. It has been assumed that the subject has a special and privileged access to her experiences which means that she cannot be mistaken either about the content of her beliefs and experiences or about what they feel like to her. A long lived theory about introspection is that the introspective process is similar to perception, only the objects of the introspective process are “inner” instead of “outer”. This model seems to entail that experiences also share relevant similarities with external objects, such as having intrinsic properties, properties the subject is aware of when observing the objects in question. (shrink)
Survey data are presented on opinions about agricultural biotechnology and its applications held by agricultural science faculty at highly ranked programs in the United States with and without personal involvement in biotechnology-oriented research. Respondents believed biotech holds much promise, but policy positions vary. These results underscore the relationship between opinion and stakeholder interests in this research, even among scientific experts. Media accounts are often seen as causes, rather than artifacts, of the existence of public controversy; European and now U.S. opposition (...) to food biotechnology is often explained away in terms of such a relationship. The authors argue that where even experts are divided, public opposition cannot reasonably be attributed to poor public understanding or sensationalistic media accounts. Ethical implications for communicating science are explored. (shrink)
The Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations (MIBBI) project aims to foster the coordinated development of minimum-information checklists and provide a resource for those exploring the range of extant checklists.
One kind of substantial critique which has been raised by several philosophers against the so called higher order perception theory (HOP), advocated for mainly by William Lycan, concerns the combination of two important claims: (i) that qualia are wide contents of perceptual experiences, and (ii) that the subject becomes aware of what the world is like (to her) by perceiving her own experiences of the world. In what sense could we possibly watch our own mental states if they are representations (...) whose content and qualitative character is determined by factors that are external to the mind? And, furthermore, how can we become aware of what the world is like by means of this process? Fred Dretske (1995, p. 108) says that all we could become aware of by this alleged activity are activities of the nervous system. But being aware of what e.g., a certain colour is like to us, does not seem to be the same as being aware of what a particular nervous activation pattern is like to us. Barry Maund (2003, p. 169) points out that it is not ruled out that the representational vehicle and the representational object share some properties, nor that it is in virtue of having certain properties that a mental state has the content it does. If it were the case that the properties of the representational states showed some iconic resemblance relation to that which they represent, there could perhaps be some point in watching them. But again, we have little reason for thinking that this is the case. It seems improbable that an experience of red would be (intrinsically) red, i.e., that the representational vehicle would have these properties. The important issue is: what features could the representational vehicle possibly have that would make it suitable as an object for inner sense and, in turn, would enable us to become aware of what it is like for us to perceive external objects by â€œlookingâ€ at the representation of these objects? I will explore these questions in this paper. (shrink)
In her insightful and stimulating article, The Mind of a Moral Agent, Professor Susanna Blumenthal traces the influence of Scottish Common Sense philosophy on early American law. Among other things, Blumenthal argues that the basic model of moral agency upon which early American jurists relied, which drew heavily from Common Sense philosophers like Thomas Reid, generated certain paradoxical conclusions about legal responsibility that later generations were forced to confront. "Having cast their lot with the Common Sense philosophers in the (...) "formative era" of American law," she explains, "early republican jurists thus bequeathed to future generations of lawyers a problem of responsibility of no small proportions." In this invited comment for Law and History Review, I first argue that the problems of responsibility on which Blumenthal focuses our attention are not specific to Scottish Common Sense, but rather descend straight from the core of the Western legal and moral tradition. The same problems would arise if Common Sense philosophy had never existed. Second, even if it is true that Common Sense exerted a powerful influence on American academic life in the antebellum period, it still must be shown that this influence extended to specific features of American law, which remained at the time almost entirely the product of English common law. Blumenthal has not met this burden, however, because she does not identify any specific doctrines or judicial opinions that might support the conclusion that early American jurists "were steeped in Common Sense philosophy" or sought to construct "an indigenous legal tradition, built on the universalistic premises of Common Sense." Rather, her defense of this interesting claim is highly selective, resting mainly on the writings of Wilson and Hoffman. Third, although Blumenthal claims that there is something puzzling or paradoxical from a Common Sense perspective about the diversity of moral opinion, the existence of irrational or evil actors, or the fact that individuals often disregard the dictates of their moral sense, she does not adequately explain what exactly that paradox is, nor why Common Sense adherents should be troubled by it. Locke had made objections like these familiar as a result of his attack on innate practical principles in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Yet already by the eighteenth century, critics like Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Reid, and their followers had rejected Locke's arguments as based on mere confusion and fallacy. Finally, a key point that Blumenthal neglects, as does John Witt in his elegant chapter on Wilson, is that Common Sense philosophers also supplied positive scientific arguments for innate moral knowledge, based on observation and induction rather than introspection, whose intellectual worth has proved remarkably durable. We risk misunderstanding Scottish Common Sense and its place in the history of ideas if we overlook contributions like these, or remain content to think of it merely as an unduly optimistic philosophy, which relied mainly on introspection to affirm the innate goodness of humankind, but which gave way to a more accurate theory of human nature as the nineteenth century unfolded. Certainly there is some truth to this description, but it is only part of the story, and a potentially misleading one. (shrink)
My concerns are about the phrase “the nature of imagery,” and the interpretation of findings with blind people. This discussion considers reports of imagery by congenitally totally blind people, and what should not be inferred from comparing efficiency levels of blind and sighted people in spatial tasks.
Today the medical community faces a number of pressing issues. Molecular and high-tech medicine, despite their tremendous successes, also burden us with new ethical dilemmas: when and how to die, whose life to preserve, whether to modify genes and to create life, and how to pay for it all. Furthermore, alternative methods appear to work at least for certain disorders. They are popular and definitely cost less, while the spiraling costs of conventional medicine have led to the development of managed (...) care and health economy assessments with controversial consequences. An international symposium in Berlin, in September 1999, sought to address some of these issues by sparking an interdisciplinary discussion gathering leading experts in the field of genetics, robotic surgery, medical ethics, preventive health and health economics, history, and law. This book contains all the contributions and seeks to involve scholars and medical practitioners who are interested in shaping the future of medicine. (shrink)