In this paper I present two new arguments against the possibility of an omniscient being. My new arguments invoke considerations of cardinality and resemble several arguments originally presented by Patrick Grim. Like Grim, I give reasons to believe that there must be more objects in the universe than there are beliefs. However, my arguments will rely on certain mereological claims, namely that Classical Extensional Mereology is necessarily true of the part-whole relation. My first argument is an instance of a problem (...) first noted by Gideon Rosen and requires an additional assumption about the mereological structure of certain beliefs. That assumption is that an omniscient being’s beliefs are mereological simples. However, this assumption is dropped when I present my second argument. Thus, I hope to show that if Classical Extensional Mereology is true of the part-whole relation, there cannot be an omniscient being. (shrink)
Ontological pluralism is the view that there are ways of being. Ontological pluralism is enjoying a revival in contemporary metaphysics. We want to say that there are numbers, fictional characters, impossible things, and holes. But, we don’t think these things all exist in the same sense as cars and human beings. If they exist or have being at all, then they have different ways of being. Fictional characters exist as objects of make-believe and holes exist as absences in objects. But, (...) human beings and cars exist in a much more robust sense. What are ways of being? Why should be believe in them and what should we believe about them? This short essay provides an overview of the recent revival of ways of being and explores some of the surrounding issues. (shrink)
Perhaps the commonest reasons for the keeping of pets are companionship and as a conduit for affection. Pets are, therefore, being “used” for human ends in much the same way as laboratory or farm animals. So shouldn’t the same arguments apply to the use of pets as to those used in other ways? In accepting the “rights” of farm animals to fully express their natural behavior, one must also accept the “right” of pets to express their intrinsic natural behavior. Dogs (...) kept in houses for most of the day are being kept in an unnatural environment. So are rabbits kept in hutches, and guinea-pigs or birds in cages. These conditions infringe the animals’ telos. Dogs are naturally pack animals, so is a dog in isolation being denied its telos? Other actions more deliberately infringe telos and autonomy. Enforced shampooing – or even exercise; hair-cutting of poodles; putting animals in clothes; and tail-docking. If de-beaking of chickens is considered wrong, then the same must be true for tail-docking of dogs. One should also question the ethics of specialist breeding – especially when that results in physiological disadvantages (boxers with breathing troubles). There would appear to be no advantage to the animals in having such health problems and when these are the direct result of the breeders’ desire for specific cosmetic traits, we should question the ethics of the practice at least as much as when animals are bred for specific agricultural traits. (shrink)
Probably no intellectual has suffered more distortion and abuse than Spencer. He is continually condemned for things he never said – indeed, he is taken to task for things he explicitly denied. The target of academic criticism is usually the mythical Spencer rather than the real Spencer; and although some critics may derive immense satisfaction from their devastating refutations of a Spencer who never existed, these treatments hinder rather than advance the cause of knowledge.
Being on a 40 city 24x7 book tour for War Against the Weak . I am writing this from an airplane, and I regret my brevity. Catching up on some email from a few weeks back I have now come across your remarks and those of your like minded friends defending Spencer.
From Bishop Wilberforce in the 1860s to the advocates of "creation science" today, defenders of traditional mores have condemned Darwin's theory of evolution as a threat to society's values. Darwin's defenders, like Stephen Jay Gould, have usually replied that there is no conflict between science and religion--that values and biological facts occupy separate realms. But as James Rachels points out in this thought-provoking study, Darwin himself would disagree with Gould. Darwin, who had once planned on being a clergyman, was convinced (...) that natural selection overthrew our age-old religious beliefs. Created from Animals offers a provocative look at how Darwinian evolution undermines many tenets of traditional philosophy and religion. James Rachels begins by examining Darwin's own life and work, presenting an astonishingly vivid and compressed biography. We see Darwin's studies of the psychological links in evolution (such as emotions in dogs, and the "mental powers" of worms), and how he addressed the moral implications of his work, especially in his concern for the welfare of animals. Rachels goes on to present a lively and accessible survey of the controversies that followed in Darwin's wake, ranging from Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism to Edward O. Wilson's sociobiology, and discusses how the work of such influential intellects as Descartes, Hume, Kant, T.H. Huxley, Henri Bergson, B.F. Skinner, and Stephen Jay Gould has contributed to--or been overthrown by--evolutionary science. Western philosophy and religion, Rachels argues, have been shaken by the implications of Darwin's work, most notably the controversial idea that humans are simply a more complex kind of animal. Rachels assesses a number of studies that suggest how closely humans are linked to other primates in behavior, and then goes on to show how this idea undercuts the work of many prominent philosophers. Kant's famous argument that suicide reduces one to the level of an animal, for instance, is meaningless if humans are, in fact, animals. Indeed, humanity's membership in the animal kingdom calls into question the classic notions of human dignity and the sacredness of human life. What we need now, Rachels contends, is a philosophy that does not discriminate between different species, one that addresses each being on an individual basis. With this sweeping survey of the arguments, the philosophers, and the deep implications surrounding Darwinism, Rachels lays the foundations for a new view of morality. Vibrantly written and provocatively argued, Created from Animals offers a new perspective on issues ranging from suicide to euthanasia to animal rights. (shrink)
Starting from R. K. Merton's now classic criticism of 'holistic' functionalism, i.e. of a functionalism which postulates social unity, universality and functional in-dispensability, the author stresses certain implications of this criticism more than they have been stressed hitherto. Classical and holistic functionalism) from H. Spencer, B. Malinowski, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, etc to T. Parsons, postulates certain total unities (a global culture, an integrated system, etc.) in which each item (existence, actions, structures, etc.) is considered and defined on the grounds (...) of its consequences for the maintenance of the system as a whole; therefore holistic functionalism as a method is, in effect, the study of the consequences of the system on the items that compose it, since each of these items is defined within the sphere of the system and of its integrative functions. Merton's 'neo-functionalism', on the other hand, is remarkable not only in that it takes into account the 'dysfunctional' and 'nonfunctional' consequences of certain items on the system, but more especially because, within the context of functional analysis, it stresses the possible existence of structural substitutes and alternatives of functions, and therefore of latent structures which are foreign to objective functional consequences, as well as being able to deal with unanticipated and unexpected items and their consequences on the system. 'Neo-functionalism', which is susceptible of further development, is not limited to the study of the consequences of the system on its items: it can also reverse this scheme and study the consequences of certain items on the system. Merton's criticism of holistic functionalism therefore implies a broadening of the scientific resources of this method and a renewal of its interpretative scheme, thanks to which functional analysis ceases to appear as 'the* method of explaining sociology as a science, and becomes an interpretative method which complements the analysis of social structures and relations. Seen in this light the concept of structure becomes emancipated and independent of the concept of system and function; whereas, within the framework of universal functionalism, it was ancillary to the concept of function. Finally, latent structures and unconscious structures, conditions of possibility and subjective dispositions are favourable to social structures and social relations, not excluding those that are neither visible nor observable. This analysis, the author notes, is extremely meaningful and has great possibilities of development, especially in view of the structuralism recently to be noted in the human and social sciences: anthropology, history, linguistics, etc. (shrink)
In this pathbreaking study, Micaela di Leonardo reveals the face of power within the mask of cultural difference. From the 1893 World's Fair to Body Shop advertisements, di Leonardo focuses on the intimate and shifting relations between popular portrayals of exotic Others and the practice of anthropology. In so doing, she casts new light on gender, race, and the public sphere in America's past and present. "An impressive work of scholarship that is mordantly witty, passionately argued, and takes no prisoners."--Lesley (...) Gill, News Politics "[Micaela] di Leonardo eloquently argues for the importance of empirical, interdisciplinary social science in addressing the tragedy that is urban America at the end of the century."--Jonathan Spencer, Times Literary Supplement "In her quirky new contribution to the American culture brawl, feminist anthropologist Micaela di Leonardo explains how anthropologists, 'technicians of the sacred,' have distorted American popular debate and social life."--Rachel Mattson, Voice Literary Supplement "At the end of di Leonardo's analyses one is struck by her rare combination of rigor and passion. Simply, [she] is a marvelous iconoclast."--Matthew T. McGuire, Boston Book Review. (shrink)
I. History. Mainwaring's Handel : its relation to British aesthetics -- Herbert Spencer and a musical dispute -- II. Opera and film. Handel's operas : the form of feeling and the problem of appreciation -- Anti-semitism in Meistersinger? -- Speech, song, and the transparency of medium : on operatic metaphysics -- III. Performance. On the historically informed performance -- Ars perfecta : toward perfection in musical performance? -- IV. Interpretation. Another go at the meaning of music : Koopman, Davies, (...) and the meaning of "meaning" -- Another go at musical profundity : Stephen Davies and the game of chess -- From ideology to music : Leonard Meyer's theory of style change -- Sibley's last paper -- In defense of musical representation : music, representation, and the hybrid arts -- Music, language, and cognition : which doesn't belong? (shrink)
While the classical Greco-Roman tradition is not ordinarily thought of as associated with radical individualism, many of the central concerns of such radical individualists as Frédéric Bastiat, Herbert Spencer, Benjamin Tucker, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and Ayn Rand—including their views on human sociality, spontaneous order, and the relation between self-interest and non-instrumental concern for others—are shown to be inheritances from and developments of Platonic, Aristotelian, Epicurean, and Stoic ideas. Hence those working in the classical tradition have reason (...) to explore the radical individualist tradition and vice versa. (shrink)
In some ways, someone suffering from the delusion that his or her spouse has been kidnapped and replaced with an imposter appears to believe that he or she eats dinner with an imposter every night. But the imperviousness of delusions to counter-evidence makes it hard to classify them as beliefs, and easier to classify them as imaginings. Bayne and Pacherie want to use Schwitzgebel’s dispositional account of belief to restore confidence in the doxastic character of delusion. While dispositionalism appears to (...) allow us to classify delusions as beliefs, this allowance isn’t a robust vindication of doxasticism. The significance of the allowance can be increased by emphasizing the role of folk-psychological norms in individuating propositional attitudes. But letting those norms play a large role in the individuation of belief makes it hard to count as believers the deluded subjects who violate most such norms. Dispositionalism about belief can’t defend doxasticism about delusion. (shrink)
The imperviousness of delusions to counter-evidence makes it tempting to classify them as imaginings. Bayne and Pacherie argue that adopting a dispositional account of belief can secure the doxastic status of delusions. But dispositionalism can only secure genuinely doxastic status for mental states by giving folk-psychological norms a significant role in the individuation of attitudes. When such norms individuate belief, deluded subjects will not count as believing their delusions. In general, dispositionalism won't confer genuinely doxastic status more often than do (...) competing accounts of belief. (shrink)
Thomas Morris and Richard Swinburne have recently defended what they call the ‘two-minds’ model of the Incarnation. This model, which I refer to as the ‘inclusion model’ or ‘inclusionism’, claims that Christ had two consciousnesses, a human and a divine consciousness, with the former consciousness contained within the latter one. I begin by exploring the motivation for, and structure of, inclusionism. I then develop a variety of objections to it: some philosophical, others theological in nature. Finally, I sketch a variant (...) of inclusionism which I call ‘restricted inclusionism’ (RI); RI can evade many, but not all, of the objections to standard inclusionism. (shrink)
In 1997, a Scottish surgeon by the name of Robert Smith was approached by a man with an unusual request: he wanted his apparently healthy lower left leg amputated. Although details about the case are sketchy, the would-be amputee appears to have desired the amputation on the grounds that his left foot wasn’t part of him – it felt alien. After consultation with psychiatrists, Smith performed the amputation. Two and a half years later, the patient reported that his life had (...) been transformed for the better by the operation . A second patient was also reported as having been satisfied with his amputation . (shrink)
In his 1996 paper Neurophenomenology: A methodological remedy for the hard problem, Francisco Varela called for a union of Husserlian phenomenology and cognitive science. Varela''s call hasn''t gone unanswered, and recent years have seen the development of a small but growing literature intent on exploring the interface between phenomenology and cognitive science. But despite these developments, there is still some obscurity about what exactly neurophenomenology is. What are neurophenomenologists trying to do, and how are they trying to do it? To (...) what extent is neurophenomenology a distinctive and unified research programme? In this paper I attempt to shed some light on these questions. (shrink)