Collection of original essays on the theory of desire by Robert Audi, Annette Baier, Wayne Davis, Ronald de Sousa, Robert Gordon, O.H. Green, Joel Marks, Dennis Stampe, Mitchell Staude, Michael Stocker, and C.C.W. Taylor.
In an all too familiar part of our lives, we are sometimes strongly tempted to do things we think we shouldn’t do. Consider the burning desire to eat one of the donuts your coworker brought to work while you are on a diet. Often times we surrender to temptation. But sometimes we fight the urges and refrain—we exhibit will-power. Much of our ordinary thinking involves reference to “the will” in this sort of way. Yet for quite some time many contemporary (...) philosophers have avoided talk of the will in their accounts of human action. This is largely because the will was thought to be a mysterious and superfluous thing—a ghostly cog in psychological theory that serves no explanatory purpose. However, there is a growing trend in philosophy that is bringing back talk of the will. Willing, Wanting, Waiting is, refreshingly, part of that trend. Holton develops a unique account of the will and related phenomena that is both empirically informed and philosophically rigorous in a way that is accessible to an interdisciplinary audience. (shrink)
Different brain mechanisms seem to mediate wanting and liking for the same reward. This may have implications for the modular nature of mental processes, and for understanding addictions, compulsions, free will and other aspects of desire. A few wanting and liking phenomena are presented here, together with discussion of some of these implications.
This paper examines the libertarian account of free choice advanced by Robert Kane in his recent book, The Significance of Free Will. First a rather simple libertarian view is considered, and an objection is raised against it the view fails to provide for any greater degree of agent-control than what could be available in a deterministic world. The basic differences between this simple view and Kane's account are the requirements, on the latter, of efforts of will and of an agent's (...)wanting more to do a certain thing than he wants to do anything else. It is argued here that neither of these features yields any improvement over the simple libertarian view; neither helps to meet the objection that was raised against the simple view. Finally, it is suggested that a modest defense of that view might be available. (shrink)
The extent of the approval with which Western culture views the attitude of hope can scarcely be exaggerated. Hope is seen as that which sustains us through wartime, death camps, slavery, natural disaster, extreme disease and disability—it is a light, a beacon, the last spark that fuels us when all else has failed. Hope is also seen as a moral and spiritual virtue—hoping for moral progress in this world, and salvation in the next, is at the heart of a meaningful (...) human life. A positive view of hope infuses Western theology since Aquinas; utopian political philosophy, positive psychology, the self-help culture, the clinical research community, a wide range of activist groups, and a great deal of political rhetoric all maintain the affirmation of hope. The only qualm commonly expressed about hope is that it is sometimes “false:” that is, based on lies or misconceptions. False hope is bad because, first, it is bad to be deceived and, second, it may suck up resources better spent elsewhere. False hope, though, is not genuine hope, and genuine hope is an essential human good. My book Wanting to Pull Clouds will argue that the popular view of hope is vastly and dangerously oversimplified. Much more insidious than false hope is hope that is “genuine” and not based on lies or misconceptions, but that nevertheless bears important conceptual and empirical connections to passivity, inattention, excuse-making and wishful thinking. To be clear, this is not an anti-hope project. Rather, it examines the mechanisms that make hope desirable and virtuous, when it is these things; it becomes clear in the course of this examination that these very.. (shrink)
Robert Kane's event-causal libertarian theory of free will has been subjected to a variety of criticisms. In response to the luck objection, he has provided an ambiguous answer which results in additional criticisms that are avoidable. I explain Kane's theory, the luck objection and Kane's reply to the problem of luck. I note that in some places he suggests that the dual wantings of agents engaged in self-forming actions (SFAs) provides the key to answering the luck objection, whereas in other (...) places he suggests that the dual willings or tryings of agents is the key. Various philosophers criticize Kane's view by focusing on his concept of the dual willings/tryings involved in SFAs. I argue that despite Kane's efforts to answer these criticisms, they still hold; but I also go on to argue that Kane can avoid these criticisms and also answer the luck objection by just focusing on the important role of the dual wantings in SFAs. (shrink)
You’re imagining, in the course of a different game of make-believe, that you’re a bank robber. You don’t believe that you’re a bank robber. You are moved to point your finger, gun-wise, at the person pretending to be the bank teller and say, “Stick ‘em up! This is a robbery!”.
I examine the extent to which Dennett’s account in Freedom Evolves might be construed as revisionist about free will or should instead be understood as a more traditional kind of compatibilism. I also consider Dennett’s views about philosophical work on free agency and its relationship to scientiﬁc inquiry, and I argue that extant philosophical work is more relevant to scientiﬁc inquiry than Dennett’s remarks may suggest.
Theories of the will may be usefully divided into three kinds. The reductivist about the will tells us that volitional states such as intention may be reduced to states that are not themselves intrinsically volitional, notably beliefs and desires. The non-naturalist about the will rejects any such reduction, and indeed argues that accommodating claims about the will requires us to reject hypotheses that seem open to confirmation by future physics, notably determinism. The tempting but elusive middle ground between these two (...) views may be called non-reductive naturalism about the will. On such a view, volitional states must be taken as basic and irreducible, but are not such that we cannot find room for them in the world as it may be disclosed to us by science. (shrink)
What is a disability? What sorts of limitations do persons with disabilities or impairments experience? What is there about having a disability or impairment that makes it disadvantageous for the individuals with it? Are persons with severe cognitive impairments capable of making autonomous decisions? What role should disability play in the construction of theories of justice? Is it ever ethical for parents to seek to create a child with an impairment? This anthology addresses these and other questions and is a (...) valuable addition to a growing interdisciplinary literature exploring issues at the intersection of disability studies, philosophy, and bioethics. Most of the authors are well-known from their previous work in the disability field and have already made significant philosophical contributions to it. (shrink)
Milton Friedman’s 1953 essay created controversy and consternation amongst economists. It provided a prescription, based on empirically generated predictive success, of how to do economics, yet many saw it as a concession of the search for truth and theoretical beauty within the discipline. This article reviews a 50th anniversary festschrift devoted to views of the essay. The purpose of the volume is to provide today’s reader with the essay, responses, and a guide to interpreting it. The volume is selective and (...) several contributors have their own agendas, but the feeling of tumult the essay still engenders is nicely conveyed. (shrink)
Ontologies are being developed throughout the biomedical sciences to address standardization, integration, classiﬁcation and reasoning needs against the background of an increasingly data-driven research paradigm. In particular, ontologies facilitate the translation of basic research into beneﬁts for the patient by making research results more discoverable and by facilitating knowledge transfer across disciplinary boundaries. Addressing and adequately treating mental illness is one of our most pressing public health challenges. Primary research across multiple disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, biology, neuroscience and pharmacology (...) needs to be integrated in order to promote a more comprehensive understanding of underlying processes and mechanisms, and this need for integration only becomes more pressing with our increase in understanding of differences among individuals and populations at the molecular level concerning susceptibility to speciﬁc illnesses. Substance addiction is a particularly relevant public health challenge in the developed world, affecting a substantial percentage of the population, often co-morbid with other illnesses such as mood disorders. Currently, however, there is no straightforward automated method to combine data of relevance to the study of substance addiction across multiple disciplines and populations. In this contribution, we describe a framework of interlinked, interoperable bio-ontologies for the annotation of primary research data relating to substance addiction, and discuss how this framework enables easy integration of results across disciplinary boundaries. We describe entities and relationships relevant for the description of addiction within the Mental Functioning Ontology, Chemical Entities of Biological Interest Ontology, Protein Ontology, Gene Ontology and the Neuroscience Information Framework ontologies. (shrink)
If I look from the outside at the practices of a discipline—any discipline—and see some members declaring themselves to be upholders of one “ism,” or labeling others’ views as representatives of some other failed or flawed “ism,” then I would frankly form the suspicion that this is an immature profession, not quite developed. It has tendencies to fall into modes of discourse that are more characteristic of religious or political fealty and factionalism.
In this paper I appraise John Wilson's ideal of (erotic) love between equals. Although I allow that the ideal is intriguing, one that leads to good conversation (in bed and out of it), in the end it is one I cannot endorse. My assessment of Wilson's ideal focuses on queries about who can count as equals and who takes responsibility for whose unruly sexual desires. I also note a particular moral peril associated with his ideal of intimacy. I find this (...) peril in Wilson's suspicion of appeals to self-respect and integrity as grounds for refusing to meet sexual demands. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue against the Humean theory of motivation, or “conativism” which claims that all actions are ultimately generated by desires. Conativism is supported by (1) a behavioral analysis of desire as a disposition to act in certain ways, and (2) the difference between belief and desire in terms of their different “direction of fi t” with the world. I will show that this behavioral account of desire cannot provide an adequate explanation of action. Mere disposition to (...) act (what I call “wanting”) does not explain why the agent acts; insofar as it explains the action desire is a feeling. I will then argue against the direction of fit argument by showing that beliefs about what we ought to do have both directions of fit—the belief has one direction of fit, and the content of the belief (the ought-clause) has the opposite direction of fit. (shrink)
Bob Brecher claims that it is wrong to think that morality is simply rooted in what people want. Brecher explains that in our consumerist society, we make the assumption that getting "what people want" is our natural goal, and that this goal is usually a good one. We see that whether it is a matter of pornography or getting married--if people want it, then that's that. But is this really a good thing? Getting What You Want offers a critique of (...) liberal morality and an analysis of its understanding of the individual as a wanting thing. Brecher boldly argues that the Anglo-American liberalism cannot give an adequate account of moral reasoning and action, or any justification of moral principles or demands. (shrink)
Anthony Kenny says it is impossible to want what one already has and knows one has. We present a counter-example and then suggest that Kenny may have been misled by the fact that wanting expresses itself in goal-directed behavior. From the truism that one's behavior cannot be directed toward a goal that one knows one has already attained, Kenny may have been led to suppose that behavior directed toward an as yet unattained goal cannot express one's desire for what (...) one has and knows one has. (shrink)
There is empirical evidence that many patients want information about treatment options even though they do not want to take a full part in decision‐making about treatment. Such evidence may have considerable ethical implications but is methodologically problematic. It is argued here that, in fact, it is not at all surprising that patients’ informational interests should be separable from (and often stronger than) their interests in decision‐making. A number of different reasons for wanting information are offered, some to do (...) with the content of information; some with the process, others with the fact or occasion of informing. This philosophical clarification leads to some suggestions for further empirical study. (shrink)
Whether God exists is a metaphysical question. But there is also a neglected evaluative question about God’s existence: Should we want God to exist? Very many, including many atheists and agnostics, appear to think we should. Theists claim that if God didn’t exist things would be far worse, and many atheists agree; they regret God’s inexistence. Some remarks by Thomas Nagel suggest an opposing view: that we should want God not to exist. I call this view anti-theism. I explain how (...) such view can be coherent, and why it might be correct. Anti-theism must be distinguished from the argument from evil or the denial of God’s goodness; it is a claim about the goodness of God’s existence. Anti-theists must claim that it’s a logical consequence of God’s existence that things are worse in certain respects. The problem is that God’s existence would also make things better in many ways. Given that God’s existence is likely to be impersonally better overall, anti-theists face a challenge similar to that facing nonconsequentialists. I explore two ways of meeting this challenge. (shrink)
Everything you always wanted to know about structural realism but were afraid to ask Content Type Journal Article Pages 227-276 DOI 10.1007/s13194-011-0025-7 Authors Roman Frigg, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE UK Ioannis Votsis, Philosophisches Institut, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Universitätsstraße 1, Geb. 23.21/04.86, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science Online ISSN 1879-4920 Print ISSN 1879-4912 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 2.
Vendler, Res Cogitans Knowing that one wants to go to the movies is an example of self-knowledge, knowledge of one’s mental states. It may be foolish to ask the man on the Clapham Omnibus how he knows what he wants, but the question is nonetheless important — albeit neglected by epistemologists. This paper attempts an answer. Before getting to that, the familiar claim that we enjoy “privileged access” to our mental states needs untwining (section 1). A sketch of a theory (...) of knowledge of one’s beliefs that has received some attention in the recent literature (section 2), and the case for extending that account to self-knowledge in general (section 3), sets the stage for our answer to the main question (section 4). (shrink)
How can an agent's desire or will give him reasons for acting? Not long ago, this might have seemed a silly question, since it was widely believed that all reasons for acting are based in the agent's desires. The interesting question, it seemed, was not how what an agent wants could give him reasons, but how anything else could. In recent years, however, this earlier orthodoxy has increasingly appeared wrongheaded as a growing number of philosophers have come to stress the (...) action-guiding role of reasons in deliberation from the agent's point of view. What a deliberating agent has in view is rarely his own will or desires as such, even if taking something as a reason is intimately tied to desire. Someone who wants to escape a burning building does not evaluate her options by considering which is likeliest to realize what she wants or wills. She is focused, rather, on her desire's object: getting out alive. The fact that a successful route would realize something she wants is apt to strike her as beside the point or, at best, as a trivial bonus. (shrink)
Two of the most basic questions regarding self-deception remain unsettled: What do self-deceivers want? What do self-deceivers get? I argue that self-deceivers are motivated by a desire to believe. However, in significant contrast with Alfred Mele’s account of self-deception, I argue that self-deceivers do not satisfy this desire. Instead, the end-state of self-deception is a false higher-order belief. This shows all self-deception to be a failure of self-knowledge.
Some features of the concept of a want, and of the explaining relation in which a want may stand to an action, have not received sufficient attention. In what follows we shall offer some suggestions and descriptions which may be one step toward remedy of this situationi. We shall be at pains to point out the extent to which the features we describe fit in with a conception of the explanations of actions conforming to the inferential (deductive or inductive) and (...) nomological patterns of scientific explanation, and also to point out where perhaps the fit is not so snug. (shrink)
We discuss two recent attempts two solve Schrodinger's cat paradox. One is the modal interpretation developed by Kochen, Healey, Dieks, and van Fraassen. It allows for an observable which pertains to a system to possess a value even when the system is not in an eigenstate of that observable. The other is a recent theory of the collapse of the wave function due to Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber. It posits a dynamics which has the effect of collapsing the state (...) of macroscopic systems. We argue that the modal interpretation cannot account for non-accurate measurements and that both accounts have the consequence that in ordinary measurement situations (including the situation of Schrodinger's cat) the observables that ends up well defined are not quite the ones that we want to be well defined. (shrink)
Recent interest in the Zhuangzi by Western philosophers arises from the sense that Zhuangzi offers a form of philosophical theory, such as perspectivism. A key issue for this line of interpretation is how best to resolve alleged contradictions between the central philosophical claims of the "Qiwulun" with other claims made in the text. A more radical reading of this chapter will avoid these problems if it can find some way to understand this chapter as philosophically interesting because it scrupulously avoids (...) and rejects making any philosophical claims. This reading will be developed by focusing on Zhuangzi's assertion: "The person who understands does not use the inflexible 'that's it' (wei shi), but dwells in the ordinary (yu zhu yong)." I will argue that, understood in context, this assertion takes Zhuangzi out of the philosophical game. According to this interpretation, Zhuangzi's writings have a philosophical significance similar to that of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations as expressed in his dictum "The real discovery is the one that lets me stop doing philosophy when I want to.". (shrink)
In this article, we focus on the concept of leadership ethics and make observations about transformational, transactional and servant leadership. We consider differences in how each definition of leadership outlines what the leader is supposed to achieve, and how the leader treats people in the organization while striving to achieve the organization's goals. We also consider which leadership styles are likely to be more popular in organizations that strive to maximize short run profits. Our paper does not tout or degrade (...) any of these leadership theories. Instead, it points out which theories allow reason to play more than a minimal role in ethical decision-making, as well as those that are most consistent with a firm's desire to achieve efficiency in the short run. We explain our view that the way leadership is practiced in large, bureaucratic organizations suggests that ethics is often absent from the leader's decision-making process. Consequently, we suggest that before we engage in a meaningful dialogue about what kind of leaders we might really want in business, we must consider how much short-run profit we are willing to forego in exchange for more ethical corporate cultures. (shrink)
In the Philosophical Investigations and later writings, Wittenstein views "I know" utterances which embed egocentric psychological clauses as affirming contextually defined authority positions rather than as knowledge claims. This view is consistent with Brian McGuinness's analysis of conscious wants in terms of their subjects. A's knowledge of mental facts about B is a capacity (Gilbert Ryle, John Watling) which is responsible for A's being prepared for B's behaviour (as accounted for by those mental facts); for one and the same person (...) this capacity would be idle except for cases where she plays a double role. (shrink)
Societal decisions regarding the possible granting of permission for industrial and power plants, waste disposals, traffic routes and other facilities implementing modern science and technology (here simply called technology-decisions) often provoke debates regarding the risks involved. A main theme in these debates concerns the magnitudes of these risks and whether or not they are worth taking to reach some aim. This is also a main theme in traditional risk-analysis and critical discussions of risk-management. However, sometimes the fact that some people (...) do not want to be exposed to the risks in question has been suggested as an independent argument, i.e. regardless of the magnitudes of these risks. A well known phenomenon in this respect on the local and national level is what has been labelled "not in my backyard" (NIMBY), but the argument also has been used on an international level. In accordance, the view that unwanted risks are less acceptable than wanted or indifferent ones (regardless of their magnitudes) has been proposed as being highly relevant for technology-decisions. The paper explores to what extent there are good reasons for accepting such a proposal. The main part of the paper is devoted to an examination of the extent to which the view that unwanted risks are less acceptable than wanted ones can be supported by, on the one hand, welfare-based ethical theories underlying standard models for risk-analysis, such as utilitarianism, and, on the other, a moral requirement to respect the autonomy of individual persons. Also, the very concept of an unwanted risk is explored and some peculiarities are noted. It is argued that no categorical impermissibility of exposing people to unwanted risks can be supported. However, there are still good reasons for policy-makers to consider the degree to which risks are unwanted as a factor in technology-decisions that is relevant independently of the welfare-gains at stake. In particular, policy-makers should avoid paternalism in risk-management, i.e.. (shrink)
Joy was unconstrained in Israel too, as "one of the U.S. and Israel's most wanted men" was brought to justice, the London Financial Times reported. Under the heading, "A militant wanted the world over," an accompanying story reported that he was "superseded on the most-wanted list by Osama bin Laden" after 9/11 and so ranked only second among "the most wanted militants in the world.".
Recent theoretical analyses of domestic violence have posited the complicity of medical communities in erasing and obfuscating the cause of injuries. Although medical cultures have engaged in progressive initiatives to address and treat domestic violence, these medical and clinical models can render domestic violence invisible by framing the battered woman as evidentiary object. By analyzing this invisibility of domestic violence through the concept of public secrecy, in this article I consider Kiki Smith's 1982 installation piece Life Wants to Live. Using (...) medical technologies, Smith's installation offers the viewer a vision of domestic violence that recognizes its inherently problematic invisibility and emphasizes the importance of lived, bodily experience. (shrink)
This paper discusses ethics in the context of Aboriginal Studies. Taking the example of a late-nineteenth century missionary work, a collection of out-of-print Mi’kmaq stories, it examines the ethical implications of the potential re-publication of such a text. It is argued that the Baptist missionary Silas T. Rand, who translated and transcribed the narratives, did his work from a Eurocentric perspective. The biases of a colonial ideology built into his translations/interpretations which are often quoted as authoritative would be further perpetuated (...) if his work is republished without critical commentary. As Aboriginal oral traditions generally form the basis of Aboriginal cultures and contemporary Aboriginal literatures but have been demeaned for centuries thereby further colonizing the peoples, an edition of Rand’s work informed by a postcolonial ethics is crucial. The paper therefore concludes with the suggestion that the stories collected by the missionary should be repatriated in the respective Mi’kmaq communities in a way that the people can decide how to go about their publication (if they want them published at all). A non-Aboriginal scholar may facilitate the process but should follow the directions of the communities. (shrink)
Neobiota as non-native species are commonly considered as alien species. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) intends to “prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species”. The European Union has financed the DAISIE research project for the first pan-European inventory of Invasive Alien Species (IAS), which is supposed to serve as a basis for prevention and control of biological invasions. This paper discusses the evaluation approach for classifying “100 of the Worst” IAS (...) in Europe by the EU DAISIE research project. The main impact categories used by DAISIE for assorting “100 of the Worst” IAS are investigated and the texts of the “Wanted” species factsheets are examined. Two examples from the DAISIE factsheets of the “100 of the Worst” IAS [Tree of Heaven ( Ailanthus altissima ) and the Raccoon ( Procyon lotor )] are discussed to illustrate DAISIE’s biodiversity evaluation approach in more detail. However, the classification criteria used by DAISIE do not allow for sufficiently differentiating these neobiota from an ecological behavior of native species with a similar ecological niche. In conclusion, neobiota evaluations are not comprehensive when they refer mainly to the successful expansion and competition with native species into available ecological niches. A comprehensive assessment of the impacts of neobiota on biodiversity and humans needs to take into account the different values of biodiversity as mentioned in the preamble of the CBD. (shrink)
Modern biobanks typically rely on the public to freely donate genetic data, undergo physical measurements and tests, allow access to medical records and give other personal information by questionnaire or interview. Given the demands on participants it is not surprising that there has been extensive public consultation even before biobanks in the UK and elsewhere began to recruit. This paper considers the different ways in which biobanks have attempted to engage and appeal to their publics and the reaction of potential (...) and actual donors. Whilst those organising biobanks presumably want to be as close to their publics as they need to be in order to successfully recruit and sustain participation in sufficient numbers, the closer the relationship the more obligations and expectations there are on both sides. (shrink)
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin Ã¢â¬â and sex. Although the sex provision was treated as a joke at the time (and was originally introduced by a Southern Congressman in an attempt to defeat the bill), the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) Ã¢â¬â charged with enforcing the Act Ã¢â¬â discovered in its first year of operation that 40% or more of the complaints warranting investigation charged (...) discrimination on the basis of sex. According to a report by the EEOC, nearly 6,000 charges of sex discrimination were filed with that agency in 1971 alone, a 62% increase over the previous year. Title VII extends as well to practices which aid and abet discrimination. For example, the Act forbids job advertisements from indicating a preference for one sex or the other unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment. In interpreting this provision, the EEOC has ruled that even the practice of labeling help-wanted columns as "Male" or "Female" should be considered a violation of the law. (shrink)
Both entertaining and startling, The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten offers one hundred philosophical puzzles that stimulate thought on a host of moral, social, and personal dilemmas. Taking examples from sources as diverse as Plato and Steven Spielberg, author Julian Baggini presents abstract philosophical issues in concrete terms, suggesting possible solutions while encouraging readers to draw their own conclusions: Lively, clever, and thought-provoking, The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten is a portable feast for the mind that is sure (...) to satisfy any intellectual appetite. BACKCOVER: “Thinking again is what this taut, incisive, bullet-hard book is dedicated to promoting.” —The Sunday Times (London) “This book is like the Sudoku of moral philosophy: apply your mind to any of its ‘thought experiments’ while stuck on the Tube, and quickly be transported out of rush-hour hell.” —New Statesman. (shrink)
Ewing, Selena R Sometimes we find a question in bioethics that seems so mundane and common that nobody cares to consider it, and yet it has no easy answer. The question of my current research project is this. When an elderly person, perhaps your parent or your patient, says 'I don't want to be a burden,' what do they mean and how should we respond?
Ewing, Selena R Sometimes we find a question in bioethics that seems so mundane and common that nobody cares to consider it, and yet it has no easy answer. The question of my current research project is this. When an elderly person, perhaps your parent or your patient, says 'I don't want to be a burden,' what do they mean and how should we respond?
A married person falls deeply in love with someone else. A man of average income feels he cannot be truly happy unless he owns an expensive luxury car. A dieter has an irresistible craving for ice cream. Desires often come to us unbidden and unwanted, and they can have a dramatic impact, sometimes changing the course of our lives. In On Desire, William B. Irvine takes us on a wide-ranging tour of our impulses, wants, and needs, showing us where these (...) feelings come from and how we can try to rein them in. Spicing his account with engaging observations by writers like Seneca, Tolstoy, and Freud, Irvine considers the teachings of Buddhists, Hindus, the Amish, Shakers, and Catholic saints, as well as those of ancient Greek and Roman and modern European philosophers. Irvine also looks at what modern science can tell us about desire--such as what happens in the brain when we desire something and how animals evolved particular desires--and he advances a new theory about how desire itself evolved. Irvine also suggests that at the same time that we gained the ability to desire, we were "programmed" to find some things more desirable than others. Irvine concludes that the best way to attain lasting happiness is not to change the world around us or our place in it, but to change ourselves. If we can convince ourselves to want what we already have, we can dramatically enhance our happiness. Brimming with wisdom and practical advice, On Desire offers a thoughtful approach to controlling unwanted passions and attaining a more meaningful life. (shrink)
Starting with the first time they turned on a television or saw a billboard, this generation of teens, more than any generation before, has been inundated with the message, "If I can have that or look more like that, then I will be happy." Get Happy is a breath of fresh air for teenagers to help them become happy with who they are and what they have today rather than waiting for the next big thing. Teen advocate and author Kimberly (...) Kirberger, along with her son, Jesse, enlightens readers with the idea that happiness is a choice, and it is available to us whenever we decide we want it. Kirberger uncovers the lies the media, our educational system, and even our well-intentioned friends and family tell us about happiness. Happiness can only be found in the here and now, not in what the future may bring. Get Happy Guide is all about letting go of our past and stepping into our present. It's about not being a victim and about learning how to gain control over our emotions. Poems, cartoons, and insightful stories are peppered throughout with examples of how other teenagers have found their own sense of happiness. (shrink)
The World We Want compares the future world that Enlightenment intellectuals had hoped for with our own world at present. In what respects do the two worlds differ, and why are they so different? To what extent is and isn't our world the world they wanted, and to what extent do we today still want their world? Unlike previous philosophical critiques and defenses of the Enlightenment, the present study focuses extensively on the relevant historical and empirical record first, by examining (...) carefully what kind of future Enlightenment intellectuals actually hoped for; second, by tracking the different legacies of their central ideals over the past two centuries. -/- But in addition to documenting the significant gap that still exists between Enlightenment ideals and current realities, the author also attempts to show why the ideals of the Enlightenment still elude us. What does our own experience tell us about the appropriateness of these ideals? Which Enlightenment ideals do not fit with human nature? Why is meaningful support for these ideals, particularly within the US, so weak at present? Which of the means that Enlightenment intellectuals advocated for realizing their ideals are inefficacious? Which of their ideals have devolved into distorted versions of themselves when attempts have been made to realize them? How and why, after more than two centuries, have we still failed to realize the most significant Enlightenment ideals? In short, what is dead and what is living in these ideals? -/- "The author should be applauded for the manner in which he is able to successfully combine philosophical investigation with empirical research. The frequent citing of original sources, especially those of Kant, as well as a rich collection of endnotes, make this volume an important contribution to Early Modern Philosophy and Enlightenment studies. But perhaps most important, this is a text that should resonate with any member of the educated citizenry who perceives the discrepancy between Enlightenment ideals and current realities and is deeply troubled by the current state of our world."-- The Review of Metaphysics -/- "This book will interest readers seeking to familiarize themselves with Enlightenment views on the issues discussed."-- CHOICE -/- "Rich in empirical study and powerful in philosophical analysis, Louden's book belies everybody who declares the Enlightenment project dead. Once again the author of Kant's Impure Ethics presents an impressive volume."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. (shrink)
It is my view that one essential difference between persons and other creatures is to be found in the structure of a person's will. Besides wanting and choosing and being moved to do this or that, men may also want to have (or not to have) certain desires and motives. They are capable of wanting to be different, in their preferences and purposes, from what they are. Many animals appear to have the capacity for what I shall call (...) "first-order desires" or "desires of the first order," which are simply desires to do or not to do one thing or another. No animal other than man, however, appears to have the capacity for reflective self-evaluation that is manifested in the formation of second-order desires. (shrink)
In the subsequent pages, I want to develop a distinction between wanting and valuing which will enable the familiar view of freedom to make sense of the notion of an unfree action. The contention will be that, in the case of actions that are unfree, the agent is unable to get what he most wants, or values, and this inability is due to his own "motivational system." In this case the obstruction to the action that he most wants to (...) do is his own will. It is in this respect that the action is unfree: the agent is obstructed in and by the very performance of the action. (shrink)
It is always awkward when someone asks me informally what I’m working on and I answer that I’m trying to figure out what gender is. For outside a rather narrow segment of the academic world, the term ‘gender’ has come to function as the polite way to talk about the sexes. And one thing people feel pretty confident about is their knowledge of the difference between males and females. Males are those human beings with a range of familiar primary and (...) secondary sex characteristics, most important being the penis; females are those with a different set, most important being the vagina or, perhaps, the uterus. Enough said. Against this background, it isn’t clear what could be the point of an inquiry, especially a philosophical inquiry, into “what gender is”. (shrink)
Economic logic impinges on contemporary political theory through both economic reductionism and economic methodology applied to political decision-making (through game theory). The authors argue that the sort of models used are based on mechanistic and linear methodologies that have now been found wanting in physics. They further argue that complexity based self-organization methods are better suited to model the complexities of economy and polity and their interactions with the overall social system.
This essay contains a partial exploration of some key concepts associated with the epistemology of realist philosophies of science. It shows that neither reference nor approximate truth will do the explanatory jobs that realists expect of them. Equally, several widely-held realist theses about the nature of inter-theoretic relations and scientific progress are scrutinized and found wanting. Finally, it is argued that the history of science, far from confirming scientific realism, decisively confutes several extant versions of avowedly 'naturalistic' forms of (...) scientific realism. (shrink)
In this paper I defend a methodology for theorizing about happiness conceived as a type of psychological state. I reject three methods: conceptual or linguistic analysis; scientific naturalism—deferring to our best scientific theories of happiness; and what I call the “pure normative adequacy” approach, according to which the best conception of happiness is the one that best fulfills a particular role in moral theory (e.g., utility). The concept of happiness is foremost a folk notion employed by laypersons who have various (...) practical interests in the matter, and theories of happiness should respect this fact. I identify four such interests in broad terms and then argue for a set of seven desiderata that any theory of happiness ought to satisfy. Though happiness is a psychological kind, its practical character means that the theory of happiness falls within the province of ethics. It should, however, be viewed as autonomous and not merely secondary to moral theory. (shrink)
Most people working on linguistic meaning or communication assume that semantics and pragmatics are distinct domains, yet there is still little consensus on how the distinction is to be drawn. The position defended in this paper is that the semantics/pragmatics distinction holds between (context-invariant) encoded linguistic meaning and speaker meaning. Two other ‘minimalist’ positions on semantics are explored and found wanting: Kent Bach’s view that there is a narrow semantic notion of context which is responsible for providing semantic values (...) for a small number of indexicals, and Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore’s view that semantics includes the provision of values for all indexicals, even though these depend on the speaker’s communicative intentions. Finally, some implications are considered for the favoured semantics/pragmatics distinction of the fact that there are linguistic elements (lexical and syntactic) which do not contribute to truth-conditional content but rather provide guidance on pragmatic inference. (shrink)
Are there different constraints on theories of conscious experience as against theories of conscious propositional thought? Is what is problematic or puzzling about each of these phenomena of the same, or of different, types? And to what extent is it plausible to think that either or both conscious experience and conscious thought involve some sort of selfreference? In pursuing these questions I shall also explore the prospects for a defensible form of eliminativism concerning conscious thinking, one that would leave the (...) reality of conscious experience untouched. In the end, I shall argue that while there might be no such thing as conscious judging or conscious wanting, there is (or may well be) such a thing as conscious generic thinking. (shrink)
This essay disputes G. A. Cohen's claim that John Rawls's argument for the difference principle involves an argument from moral arbitrariness to equality and then an illicit move away from equality. Moreover, the claim that an argument from moral arbitrariness establishes equality as the essential distributive justice ideal is found wanting.
Is the assumption of a fundamental distinction between particulars and universals another unsupported dogma of metaphysics? F. P. Ramsey famously rejected the particular–universal distinction but neglected to consider the many different conceptions of the distinction that have been advanced. As a contribution to the (inevitably) piecemeal investigation of this issue three interrelated conceptions of the particular–universal distinction are examined: (i) universals, by contrast to particulars, are unigrade; (ii) particulars are related to universals by an asymmetric tie of exemplification; (iii) universals (...) are incomplete whereas particulars are complete. It is argued that these conceptions are wanting in several respects. Sometimes they fail to mark a significant division amongst entities. Sometimes they make substantial demands upon the shape of reality; once these demands are understood aright it is no longer obvious that the distinction merits our acceptance. The case is made via a discussion of the possibility of multigrade universals. (shrink)
After a brief but necessary characterization of the notion of determinism, I discuss and critically evaluate four views on the relationship between determinism and free will by taking into account both (i) what matters most to us in terms of a free will worth-wanting and (ii) which capacities can be legitimately attributed to human beings without contradicting what we currently know from natural sciences. The main point of the paper is to argue that the libertarian faces a dilemma: on (...) the one hand, the possibility of ?doing otherwise? ? a necessary condition of a free will according to the libertarian ? requires indeterminism or chance, but any kind of indeterminism has the undesirable consequence of separating our actions from our character and our past. On the other hand, if our character has to be fully expressed by our actions, determinism becomes necessary and we seem to be metaphysically unfree. I conclude by showing that the dispute between compatibilists and libertarians possesses an important but hitherto very neglected pragmatic component as well, dependent on two different ethical attitudes toward a meaningful life. (shrink)
I argue with my friends a lot. That is, I offer them reasons to believe all sorts of philosophical conclusions. Sadly, despite the quality of my arguments, and despite their apparent intelligence, they don’t always agree. They keep insisting on principles in the face of my wittier and wittier counterexamples, and they keep offering their own dull alleged counterexamples to my clever principles. What is a philosopher to do in these circumstances? (And I don’t mean get better friends.) One popular (...) answer these days is that I should, to some extent, defer to my friends. If I look at a batch of reasons and conclude p, and my equally talented friend reaches an incompatible conclusion q, I should revise my opinion so I’m now undecided between p and q. I should, in the preferred lingo, assign equal weight to my view as to theirs. This is despite the fact that I’ve looked at their reasons for concluding q and found them wanting. If I hadn’t, I would have already concluded q. The mere fact that a friend (from now on I’ll leave off the qualifier ‘equally talented and informed’, since all my friends satisfy that) reaches a contrary opinion should be reason to move me. Such a position is defended by Richard Feldman (2006a, 2006b), David Christensen (2007) and Adam Elga (forthcoming). This equal weight view, hereafter EW, is itself a philosophical position. And while some of my friends believe it, some of my friends do not. (Nor, I should add for your benefit, do I.) This raises an odd little dilemma. If EW is correct, then the fact that my friends disagree about it means that I shouldn’t be particularly confident that it is true, since EW says that I shouldn’t be too confident about any position on which my friends disagree. But, as I’ll argue below, to consistently implement EW, I have to be maximally confident that it is true. So to accept EW, I have to inconsistently both be very confident that it is true and not very confident that it is true. This seems like a problem, and a reason to not accept EW.. (shrink)
Many philosophers have taken there to be an important relation between personal identity and several of our practical concerns (among them moral responsibility, compensation, and self-concern). I articulate four natural methodological assumptions made by those wanting to construct a theory of the relation between identity and practical concerns, and I point out powerful objections to each assumption, objections constituting serious methodological obstacles to the overall project. I then attempt to offer replies to each general objection in a way that (...) leaves the project intact, albeit significantly changed. Perhaps the most important change stems from the recognition that the practical concerns motivating investigation into personal identity turn out to be not univocal, as is typically thought, such that each of the different practical concerns may actually be related to personal identity in very different ways. (shrink)