A recent initiative at Muffakham Jah College of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad, India, has resulted in setting up a program called Centre for Environment Studies and Socioresponsive Engineering which seeks to involve undergraduate students in studying and solving environmental problems in and around the city of Hyderabad, India. Two pilot projects have been undertaken — one focusing on design and construction of an eco-friendly house, The Natural House, and another directed at improving environmental and general living conditions in a slum (...) area. The paper describes our attempts and experience of motivating our students to take interest in such projects. In an interesting development we invited a member of a student-faculty team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) that is doing a project in Nepal on safe drinking water. We report in our paper how the presentation by the guest from M.I.T. served as a catalyst for generating interest among civil and mechanical engineering students in our own projects. The paper includes contributions from one of our students and the M.I.T. staff member, reporting on their experiences related to the slum development project. (shrink)
: The "major Islamic philosophers," writes Deborah Black, "produced no works dedicated to aesthetics, although their writings do address issues that contemporary philosophers might study under that heading." The emergent theme in this essay is that classical Islamic philosophy may be studied within a framework of aesthetics. To achieve this goal, the metaphysics of Abu Hamid al-Ghazālī (1058–1111) and the aesthetics of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) will be brought together.
In this article (1) I extract from Brentano’s works (three) formal arguments against “genealogical explanations” of ethical claims. Such explanation can also be designated as “naturalism” (not his appellation); (2) I counter these arguments, by showing how genealogical explanations of even apodictic moral claims are logically possible (albeit only if certain unlikely, stringent conditions are met); (3) I show how Nietzsche’s ethics meets these stringent conditions, but evolutionary ethics does not. My more general thesis is that naturalism and intuitionism in (...) ethics need not be mutually incompatible. (shrink)
Intrinsic goodness is a non-Ielational property, in that the worth of an intrinsically good thing does not consist in it standing in a beneficial relationship to anyone. Except for the non-relational intrinsic goodness, which if it exists must be acknowledged by all (rational) beings, the only relational good we humans can logically and plausibly deem good is the “human-related” good. Thus, only these two options exist: from our human viewpoint, either all good things are human-related goods, or some good things (...) are also intrinsically good. Those theories that reject intrinsic goodness. and that declare that the only kind of good things there can be are the human-related goods, are all forms of feeling-consequentialism. if the (two) “default arguments” could refute all feeling-consequentialisms, they would thereby refute theories that deny the very possibility of intrinsic goodness. Hence they would establish that, so long as a theory holds that some things are indeed good, it must also hold that there exist (also) intrinsically good things. The default arguments do show that utilitarian calculations cannot account for all goodness, since no linkage exists between goodness and pleasure. But some “positive feelings” (let them be X, Y, and Z) can be inextricably linked to what is good. Hence theories that define the good in terms of X, Y. and Z, are not amenable to the criticisms that utilitarianism is. Thus, the default arguments do not establish the impossibility of there being a (non-utilitarian feeling-consequentialist) theory, which acknowledges only human-related good things, and denies intrinsic goodness altogether. The tenability of such a stance has not been ruled out. Moore’s inability to accept the consequences of things having intrinsic worth, further betrays the implausibility of the very concept of intrinsic value. (shrink)
This article explores the role of surface ambiguities in referring expressions, and how the risk of such ambiguities should be taken into account by an algorithm that generates referring expressions, if these expressions are to be optimally effective for a hearer. We focus on the ambiguities that arise when adjectives occur in coordinated structures. The central idea is to use statistical information about lexical co-occurrence to estimate which interpretation of a phrase is most likely for human readers, and to avoid (...) generating phrases where misunderstandings are likely. Various aspects of the problem were explored in three experiments in which responses by human participants provided evidence about which reading was most likely for certain phrases, which phrases were deemed most suitable for particular referents, and the speed at which various phrases were read. We found a preference for ‘‘clear’’ expressions to ‘‘unclear’’ ones, but if several of the expressions are ‘‘clear,’’ then brief expressions are preferred over non-brief ones even though the brief ones are syntactically ambiguous and the non-brief ones are not; the notion of clarity was made precise using Kilgarriff's Word Sketches. We outline an implemented algorithm that generates noun phrases conforming to our hypotheses. (shrink)