The claim of consistent hemispheric specialisations across classes of chordates is undermined by the absence of population-based directional asymmetry of paw/hand use in rodents and primates. No homologue of the cerebral torque from right frontal to left occipital has been established in a nonhuman species. The null hypothesis that the torque is the sapiens-specific neural basis of language has not been disproved.
I agree with Burns that an evolutionary theory is required, but I question his multifactorial premise. The arguments for an evolutionary theory are stronger, and one that is more precise than that presented by Burns has already been formulated. This theory, that schizophrenia is “the price that Homo sapiens pays for language,” (Crow 1997a; 2000b, 2004c), generates testable predictions absent from Burns' presentation.
Male superiority in mathematical ability (along with female superiority in verbal fluency) may reflect the operation of an X-Y homologous gene (the right-shift-factor) influencing the relative rates of development of the cerebral hemispheres. Alleles at the locus on the Y chromosome will be selected at a later mean age than alleles on the X, and only by females.
The first part of this paper consists of an exposition of the views expressed by Pierre Duhem in his Aim and Structure of Physical Theory concerning the philosophy and historiography of mathematics. The second part provides a critique of these views, pointing to the conclusion that they are in need of reformulation. In the concluding third part, it is suggested that a number of the most important claims made by Duhem concerning physical theory, e.g., those relating to the Newtonian method, (...) the limited falsifiability of theories, and the restricted role of logic, can be meaningfully applied to mathematics. (shrink)
Why focus on the work of William Blake in a journal dedicated to religious ethics? The question is neither trivial nor rhetorical. Blake's work is certainly not in anyone's canon of significant texts for the study of Christian or, more broadly, religious ethics. Yet Blake, however subversive his views, sought to lay out a Christian vision of the good, alternated between prophetic denunciations of the world's folly and harrowing laments over the wreck of the world's promise, and (...) wrote poetry as if poetry might mend the world. Setting imagination against the calculations of reason and the comfort of custom, Blake's poems inspire questions about the relationship of ethics to prophecy, and open the possibility that ethics itself would be markedly enriched could it find a place for what Thomas J. J. Altizer has called Christian epic poetry. (shrink)
As the gap between the need for and supply of human organs continues to widen, the aim of securing additional sources of these “gifts of the body” has become a seemingly overriding moral imperative, one that could—and some argue, should—override the widespread ban on organ markets. As a medical practice, organ transplantation entails the inherent risk that one human being, a donor, will become little more than a means to the end of healing for another human being and that he (...) or she will come to have a purely instrumental value. With the establishment of organ markets, not only will the harms of instrumentalization be a reality—the ends of medicine will be further compromised and confused. (shrink)
While the last several decades have seen a renaissance of scholarship on J. G. Herder (1744?1804), his moral philosophy has not been carefully examined. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap, and to point the way for further research, by reconstructing his original and systematically articulated views on morality. Three interrelated elements of his position are explored in detail: (1) his perfectionism, or theory of the human good; (2) his sentimentalism, which includes moral epistemology and a theory (...) of moral education; and (3) his theism, which deepens and justifies these other elements. (shrink)
J. G. Fichte (1762?1814) articulates and defends a conception of autonomy as rational self-identification. This paper reconstructs this conception and examines various difficulties recognized by Fichte during the earliest phases of his career (1780s?1790s), with the heterogeneity of natural drives and freedom as the principal threat. Theoretically, this heterogeneity is overcome for Fichte by his deduction of the compound nature of humanity as a condition of rational agency. But, from the standpoint of the deliberating agent herself, this deduction is not (...) sufficient. The harmony of nature and freedom is, for Fichte, a desideratum of practical rationality, and so must be addressed as such. Fichte's argument at this point is that a further perspective on oneself must be at least implicit in the moral outlook of a deliberating agent in order for this harmony to be attained on a practical level. This is because the harmony that is achieved at the deliberative level is occasional, temporary, and fundamentally uncertain. The required perspective turns out to be religious faith, the idea that the ?infinite task? of morality is eternally realized in divine reason, or that there is a ?moral world order? in which nature and freedom are reconciled. (shrink)