Epistemologies of situated knowledges, advanced by scholars such as Donna Haraway, Lorraine Code, and Maureen Ford, challenge mainstream epistemology's claim to be the gold standard in determining what counts as knowledge. In this essay, James Lang uses the work of these and other feminist theorists to explicate the notion of situated knowledges and then uses this notion to trouble the legitimacy of employing Kantian-inspired propositional rationalism to justify all knowledge claims. Lang challenges the notions of the discrete, objective, (...) impartial, interchangeable subject and the static passivity of objects of knowing. He demonstrates the inevitable involvement of the subjective in knowledge construction and justification; he claims that knowledge is necessarily embodied, partial, and situated and, further, that its construction, claiming, and enacting are activities with moral and political ramifications. Finally, Lang shows that re-visioning contexts of education through lenses of epistemologies of situated knowledges reveals a vastly expanded moral landscape with significant implications for educators, students, and educational theorists. (shrink)
Act-utilitarianism comes in two standard varieties: subjective act-utilitarianism, which tells agents to attempt to maximize utility directly, and objective act-utilitarianism, which permits agents to use non-utilitarian decision-making procedures. This article argues that objective actutilitarianism is exposed to a dilemma. On one horn of it is the contention that objective act-utilitarianism makes inconsistent claims about the rightness of acts. On the other horn of it is the contention that objective act-utilitarianism collapses back into what is, essentially, subjective act-utilitarianism. Three objective act-utilitarian (...) responses to this dilemma are explored and rejected. The recommended conclusion is that a consistent utilitarian must either embrace subjective act-utilitarianism, or abandon act-utilitarianism altogether. Key Words: act-utilitarianism subjective objective decision-making procedure criterion of rightness dilemma. (shrink)
The ‘Responsibility Objection’ to Judith Thomson's famous argument for the permissibility of abortion challenges the relevance of her ‘Violinist Analogy’ to certain types of voluntary unwanted pregnancy, on the grounds that those pregnancies, even though they may be unwanted, are pregnancies for which the woman can be plausibly held responsible. This article considers the force of a number of recent objections to the Responsibility Objection, advanced by Harry Silverstein, David Boonin, and Jeff McMahan, and judges them to be unpersuasive. It (...) is concluded that, in the absence of further considerations, the Responsibility Objection carries force. (shrink)
John Taurek famously argued that, in ‘conflict cases’, where we are confronted with a smaller and a larger group of individuals, and can choose which group to save from harm, we should toss a coin, rather than saving the larger group. This is primarily because coin-tossing is fairer: it ensures that each individual, regardless of the group to which he or she belongs, has an equal chance of being saved. This article provides a new response to Taurek’s argument. It proposes (...) that there are two possible types of unfairness that have to be avoided in conflict cases, as far as possible: ‘selection unfairness’, which is the unfairness of not giving individuals an equal chance of being saved; and ‘outcome unfairness’, which is the unfairness of not actually saving them, when others are saved. Since saving the greater number generates less outcome unfa-irness than coin-tossing, it is argued that, in many conflict cases, fairness demands that we save the greater number. (shrink)
Republican liberty, as recently defended by Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner, characterises liberty in terms of the absence of domination, instead of, or in addition to, the absence of interference, as favoured by Berlin-style negative liberty. This article considers several claims made on behalf of republican liberty, particularly in Pettit's and Skinner's recent writings, and finds them wanting. No relevant moral or political concern expressed by republicans, it will be contended here, fails to be accommodated by negative liberty.
“This is a delightful and engaging little book. With its bite-size chapters, lively exposition, and important subject matter, this is the kind of book that can spark an interest in philosophy among those unfamiliar with it. But its appeal is not limited to neophytes; it poses significant new challenges to moral theory that even hardened professional philosophers will find stimulating and provocative”.
Unified explanations seek to situate the traits of human beings in a causal framework that also explains the trait values found in nonhuman species. Disunified explanations claim that the traits of human beings are due to causal processes not at work in the rest of nature. This paper outlines a methodology for testing hypotheses of these two types. Implications are drawn concerning evolutionary psychology, adaptationism, and anti-adaptationism.
The book demonstrates a new method for reading the texts of Aristotle by revealing a continuous line of argument running from the Physics to De Caelo. The author analyzes a group of arguments that are almost always treated in isolation from one another, and reveals their elegance and coherence. She concludes by asking why these arguments remain interesting even though we now believe they are absolutely wrong and have been replaced by better ones. The book establishes the case that we (...) must rethink our approach to Aristotle's physical science and Aristotelian texts, and as such will provoke debate and stimulate new thinking amongst philosophers, classicists, and historians of science. (shrink)
Luck, Value, and Commitment comprises eleven new essays which engage with, or take their point of departure from, the influential work in moral and political philosophy of Bernard Williams (1929-2003).
Proclus composed 18 arguments for the eternity of the world and they survive only because Philoponus, intending to refute Proclus' arguments one by one, quotes each; one copy of Philoponus' work -- and so Proclus' arguments too -- survives. Because of their odd history, these arguments have received little attention either in themselves or in relation to Proclus' other works, even though they are intrinsically interesting and reflect his larger philosophical enterprise. I first examine Argument XVIII, in which Proclus calls (...) on "perpetuity", "eternity", and "time" to argue that the cosmos must be eternal. This argument leaves unanswered two important questions. The cosmos is caused by god and is itself a god; how can a cause and its effect both be gods? Proclus concludes that the cosmos is "a copy of the perpetuity of the eternal"; but what does this phrase -- and the conclusion that it expresses -- mean? To answer these questions, I turn to "The Elements of Theology," a systematic progression of 211 propositions disclosing the causal structure of all reality. "Eternity" and "time", along with "being perpetual", also appear here, particularly in propositions 40-55, to which I turn in the second part of this paper. They are conjoined with what Proclus calls "the Self-Constituted". I argue that by understanding the relation of the Self-Constituted as a cause to its effect, what depends upon another, we can also understand the causal relation between god and the cosmos. The cosmos can be called divine because, via the cause/effect relation between them, god and the cosmos are both eternal; the cosmos is "a copy of the perpetuity of the eternal" because via its relation to god, the cosmos becomes what its cause is, and in this precise sense an effect "imitates" its cause. (shrink)
Feminist philosophers of science have produced an exciting array of works in the last several years, from critiques of androcentrism in traditional science to theories about what might constitute feminist science. I suggest here another possibility: that gynocentric science has existed all along, then the task of identifying a feminist alternative to androcentric science should be a suitable candidate for empirical investigation. Such empirical investigation could provide a solid ground for further theorizing about feminist science at a time when that (...) solid ground is looking rather necessary. (shrink)
Scalar utilitarianism, a form of utilitarianism advocated by Alastair Norcross, retains utilitarianism's evaluative commitments while dispensing with utilitarianism's deontic commitments, or its commitment to the existence or significance of moral duties, obligations and requirements. This article disputes the effectiveness of the arguments that have been used to defend scalar utilitarianism. It is contended that Norcross's central does not succeed, and it is suggested, more positively, that utilitarians cannot easily distance themselves from deontic assessment, just as long as scalar utilitarians admit (...) that utilitarian evaluation generates normative reasons for action. (shrink)
The principles whereby the reason operates in ethically complicated situations has been subject to long-standing debates in Catholic Philosophy. A classic text which exemplifies this is Aquinas’s consideration of self-defensive killing. In this paper I clarify two central issues in double-effect reasoning debates surrounding this text. Both issues are connected to the seemingly simple but actually complex task of accounting for the “chosen means” of self-defense. The first issue is whether the “chosen means” are also able to be considered a (...) “proximate end,” to which the intention is directed. The second is determining whether the assailant’s death is related to the “chosen means” per se and therefore to the rest of the moral action. Resolving these issues will provide grounds for answering the broader question implicit in the situation of self-defensive killing: what is to be done when human actions would inevitably entail that some evil is instrumentally tied to realizing some good? (shrink)
We model the forgetting of propositional variables in a modal logical context where agents become ignorant and are aware of each others’ or their own resulting ignorance. The resulting logic is sound and complete. It can be compared to variable-forgetting as abstraction from information, wherein agents become unaware of certain variables: by employing elementary results for bisimulation, it follows that beliefs not involving the forgotten atom(s) remain true.