Death is a bad thing by virtue of its ability to frustrate the subjectively valuable projects that shape our identities and render our lives meaningful. While the presumption that immortality would necessarily result in boredom worse than death proves unwarranted, if the constraint of mortality is a necessary element for virtues, relationships, and motivation to pursue our life-projects, then death might nevertheless be a necessary evil. Mortal or immortal, it’s clear that the value of one’s life depends on its subjectively (...) determined quality, rather than its quantity. Thus, it is imperative to live forever in the present, with flourishing always in mind. (shrink)
In Philosophy as a Way of Life, Pierre Hadot discusses the understanding of philosophy held by the Greco-Roman ancients. Philosophy was not understood only as an exegetical or analytical exercise, but as a spiritual practice - a way of life. Becoming a member of a philosophical school was tantamount to a religious conversion involving one's entire self. To make one's doctrines 'ready to hand' required a number of 'spiritual exercises' which, if regularly followed, were intended to evince such a transformation. (...) Hadot discusses the role of such exercises for (among others) Platonists, Epicureans, Christians, and Stoics. I propose that the Samurai should be added to such a consideration. Their respective exercises allowed the adherents genuinely to adopt their system of beliefs. Many beliefs held by Stoics and Samurai are surprisingly similar. After having discussed some of these similarities, the most striking similarity will be revealed: the role of spiritual exercises in preparing both the Stoic and the Samurai for death. (shrink)
An important component of souls is the capacity for free will, as the origin of agency within an individual. Belief in souls arises in part from the experience of conscious will, a compelling feeling of personal causation that accompanies almost every action we take, and suggests that an immaterial self is in charge of the physical body.
There is disagreement in the literature about the exact nature of the phenomenon of empathy. There are emotional, cognitive, and conditioning views, applying in varying degrees across species. An adequate description of the ultimate and proximate mechanism can integrate these views. Proximately, the perception of an object's state activates the subject's corresponding representations, which in turn activate somatic and autonomic responses. This mechanism supports basic behaviors (e.g., alarm, social facilitation, vicariousness of emotions, mother-infant responsiveness, and the modeling of competitors and (...) predators) that are crucial for the reproductive success of animals living in groups. The Perception-Action Model (PAM), together with an understanding of how representations change with experience, can explain the major empirical effects in the literature (similarity, familiarity, past experience, explicit teaching, and salience). It can also predict a variety of empathy disorders. The interaction between the PAM and prefrontal functioning can also explain different levels of empathy across species and age groups. This view can advance our evolutionary understanding of empathy beyond inclusive fitness and reciprocal altruism and can explain different levels of empathy across individuals, species, stages of development, and situations. Key Words: altruism; cognitive empathy; comparative; emotion; emotional contagion; empathy; evolution; human; perception-action; perspective taking. (shrink)
One foundation of Eliminative Materialism is the claim that the totality of our ordinary resources for explaining and predicting behaviour, ?Folk Psychology?, constitutes a theoretical scheme, potentially in conflict with other theories of behaviour. Recent attacks upon this claim, as well as the defence by Paul Churchland, are examined and found to be lacking in a suitably realistic conception of theory. By finding such a conception, and by correctly identifying the level of conceptual structures within which Folk Psychology is located, (...) the original claim is reinforced. (shrink)
While an environmental ethic is not explicitly developed in A Theory of Justice, or Political Liberalism, it is possible to extrapolate some principles dealing with non-human nature, and thereby some environmental protections, with what Rawls provides. However, his inability to provide a non-anthropocentric environmental ethic might threaten the stability of a 'well-ordered' society, and this possibility gestures to the potential 'problem' of pluralism in general. Certain environmentalists will be dissatisfied with the status of their environmental values in a Rawlsian society. (...) If the group is 'unreasonable', then while they are not technically threats to 'stability' (in that they are not part of the 'overlapping consensus' to begin with), they might instead be threats to the well-orderedness of the society. If the group is 'reasonable', Rawls must hope that they will also agree with enough of the political conception of justice, and be swayed by appeals to reasonableness, that they will join in the overlapping consensus despite their environmental concerns. There appear to be reasons to believe that, at least given a well-ordered society, this will often be the case. (shrink)
Only a broad theory that looks across levels of analysis can encompass the many perspectives on the phenomenon of empathy. We address the major points of our commentators by emphasizing that the basic perception-action process, while automatic, is subject to control and modulation, and is greatly affected by experience and context because of the role of representations. The model can explain why empathy seems phenomenologically more effortful than reflexive, and why there are different levels of empathy across (...) individuals, ages, and species. (shrink)
The authors found that the feeling of authorship for mental actions such as solving problems is enhanced by effort cues experienced during mental activity; misattribution of effort cues resulted in inadvertent plagiarism. Pairs of participants took turns solving anagrams as they exerted effort on an unrelated task. People inadvertently plagiarized their partners’ answers more often when they experienced high incidental effort while working on the problem and reduced effort as the solution appeared. This result was found for efforts produced when (...) participants squeezed a handgrip during the task (Experiment 1) or when the anagram was displayed in a font that was difficult to read (Experiments 2, 3a, and 3b). Plagiarism declined, however, when participants attended to the source of the effort cues (Experiments 3a and 3b). These results suggest that effort misattribution can influence authorship processing for mental activities. (shrink)
Existence in Black is the first collective statement on the subject of Africana Philosophy of Existence. Drawing upon resources in Africana philosophy and literature, the contributors explore some of the central themes of Existentialism as posed by the context of what Frantz Fanon has identified as "the lived-experience of the black." Among questions posed and explored in the volume are: What is to be done in a world of near universal sense of superiority to, if not universal hatred of, black (...) folk?; What is black suffering?; What is the meaning (if any) of black existence? The introduction argues that a response to these questions requires a journey through the resources of identity questions in critical race theory and the teleological dimensions of liberation theory. The contributors address these questions through an analysis of nearly every dimension of Africana phiosophy. In the first half of the book, they address Black Philosophies of Existence in terms of Traditional African Philosophy, the Harlem Renaissance, Du Boisian Double-Consciousness, and Fanonian and Sartrean Philosophies of Existence. In the second half of the book, contributors consider racial identity through examinations of such concepts as equality, death, mimesis, property, embodiment, technology, disappointment, and dread. Part II is an exploration of postmodern challenges to "black existence" through discussions of postmodern conservatism, Nietzsche's thoughts on blacks, Richard Wright and fragmented consciousness, and feminist critiques of race. And Part IV is an examination of problems of historical responsibility and constructing black liberation theories. Contributors are: Ernest Allen, Jr., Robert Birt, Bernard Boxill, George Carew, Bobby Dixon, G.M. James Gonzales, Lewis R. Gordon, Leonard Harris, Floyd Hayes, III, Paget Henry, Patricia Huntington, Joy Ann James, Clarence Shole Johnson, Bill E. Lawson, Howard McGary, Roy D. Morrison, William Preston, Jean-Paul Sartre, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Gary Schwartz, Robert Westley, and Naomi Zack. (shrink)
Symposium: A Changing Moral Climate With a discussion of Stephen Gardiner’s A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (OUP 2012) Guest Editor: Marcello Di Paola Submission Deadline Long(1,000 words max): September 15, 2012 Full paper (10,000 words max, upon acceptance): January 15, 2013 Invited Contributors Simon Caney (University of Oxford), Dale W. Jamieson (New York University), Christopher Preston (University of Montana), Ronald Sandler (NorthWestern University), and Stephen M. Gardiner (University of Washington).
Using student self-reported cheating admissions and answers from a hypothetical cheating scenario, this paper analyzes the effects of individual and situational factors on potential cheating behavior. Results confirm several conclusions about student factors that are related to cheating. The probability of cheating is associated with younger students, lower GPAs, alcohol consumption, fraternity/sorority membership, and having cheated in high school. Student perceptions of the certainty and severity of punishment appear to have a negative and significant impact on the probability of cheating (...) on in-class assignments. Students who report a belief that cheating is never acceptable appear to be significantly less likely to cheat in any circumstance. This study illustrates the context-dependent nature of academic dishonesty, and the associated difficulty in understanding the relationships between measurable factors and cheating behavior. (shrink)
Still the Heart of Darkness analyzes Richard Preston's best-selling account of an Ebola virus outbreak in Reston, Virginia in 1989. Through a textual examination of The Hot Zone, this essay demonstrates how Preston grounds his narrative about the threat of rare emerging viruses from the third world in terms of the colonialist discourse about Africa as the white man's grave, most notably Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. By foregrounding previous outbreaks in Africa, Preston simultaneously darkens its landscape (...) and inscribes the Ebola filovirus as an external biological threat to Americans in a post-Cold War world with porous borders. (shrink)