Neutral monism is a position in metaphysics defended by Mach, James, and Russell in the early twentieth century. It holds that minds and physical objects are essentially two different orderings of the same underlying neutral elements of nature. This paper sets out some of the central concepts, theses and the historical background of ideas that inform this doctrine of elements. The discussion begins with the classic neutral monism of Mach, James, and Russell in the first part of (...) the paper, then considers recent neo-Russellian versions in the second half. The chances for a revival of neutral monism are probably slight; its key ideas and starting points lie far from those in contemporary philosophy of mind. A better route might be through the philosophy of science and a deeper understanding of causation. (shrink)
The increasingly common use of inclusive language (e.g., "he or she") in representing past philosophers' views is often inappropriate. Using Immanuel Kant's work as an example, I compare his use of terms such as "human race" and "human being" with his views on women to show that his use of generic terms does not prove that he includes women. I then discuss three different approaches to this issue, found in recent Kant-literature, and show why each of them is insufficient. I (...) conclude that the tension between gender-neutral and gender-specific views in Kant's work should be made explicit, and I offer several strategies for doing so. (shrink)
According to the “Textbook View,” there is an extensional dispute between consequentialists and deontologists, in virtue of the fact that only the latter defend “agent-relative” principles—principles that require an agent to have a special concern with making sure that she does not perform certain types of action. I argue that, contra the Textbook View, there are agent-neutral versions of deontology. I also argue that there need be no extensional disagreement between the deontologist and consequentialist, as characterized by the Textbook (...) View. (shrink)
In this paper, I criticize David McNaughton and Piers Rawling's formalization of the agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction. I argue that their formalization is unable to accommodate an important ethical distinction between two types of conditional obligations. I then suggest a way of revising their formalization so as to fix the problem.
For some contemporary liberal philosophers, a huge concern is liberal neutrality, which is the idea that the state should be neutral among competing conceptions of the moral good pursued by the people. In The Morality of Freedom, Joseph Raz argues that we can neither achieve nor even approximate such neutrality. He shows that neutrality and fairness are different ideas. His notion of neutrality is stricter than John Rawls's and Ronald Dworkin's. Raz shows that both helping and not helping can (...) be neutral or non-neutral, thus neutrality is chimerical. Wojciech Sadurski's appeal to rational expectations does not necessarily tell us which action is neutral. Distinguishing between comprehensive and narrow neutrality, Raz also claims that only the former is a proper response to conflicts. Sadurski criticizes it, claiming that conflicts are comprehensive in a sense which does not deny the adequacy of the narrow neutrality. In reality, however, it is almost impossible to achieve even the narrow neutrality. A theory is presented to explain why political neutrality is almost impossible to achieve. Philosophically, there is no neutral ground for neutral politics. (shrink)
As some see it, an impasse has been reached on the mind- body problem between mainstream physicalism and mainstream dualism. So lately another view has been gaining popularity, a view that might be called the 'Russellian theory of mind' (RTM) since it is inspired by some ideas once put forth by Bertrand Russell. Most versions of RTM are panpsychist, but there is at least one version that rejects panpsychism and styles itself as physicalism, and neutral monism is also a (...) possibility. In this paper I will attempt to sort out these different versions with a view to determining which, if any, have a chance of breaking the perceived impasse. The unsurprising conclusion will be that there are a lot of challenges ahead for the RTM theorist. The surprising conclusion will be that it's not clear that pan- psychist RTM holds an advantage over the other versions in this regard. (shrink)
In his recent book Slaves of the Passions , Mark Schroeder defends a Humean account of practical reasons ( hypotheticalism ). He argues that it is compatible with 'genuinely agent-neutral reasons'. These are reasons that any agent whatsoever has. According to Schroeder, they may well include moral reasons. Furthermore, he proposes a novel account of a reason's weight, which is supposed to vindicate the claim that agent-neutral reasons ( if they exist), would be weighty irrespective of anyone's desires. (...) If the argument is successful, it could help avoid an error-theory of moral language. I argue that it isn't, and that we should reject a Humean approach to reasons. (shrink)
In this paper I am concerned with an analysis of negative existential sentences that contain proper names only by using negative or neutral free logic. I will compare different versions of neutral free logic with the standard system of negative free logic (Burge, Sainsbury) and aim to defend my version of neutral free logic that I have labeled non-standard neutral free logic.
I argue, contra Dreier, Blackburn, and others, that there are no morally neutral metaethical positions. Every metaethical position commits you to the denial of some moral statement. So, for example, the metaethical position that there are no moral properties commits you to the denial of the (quite plausible) moral conjunction of 1) it is right to interfere violently when someone is wrongly causing massive suffering and 2) it is wrong to interfere violently when only non-moral properties are at stake. (...) The argument generalizes to all metaethical positions. (shrink)
Is there a justification of concern for one's own integrity that agent-neutral consequentialism cannot explain? In addressing this question, it is important to be clear about what is meant by 'agent-neutral', 'consequentialism', and 'integrity'. Let 'consequentialism' be constituted by the following two theses.
The agent-relative/agent-neutral distintion is widely and rightly regarded as a philosophically important one. Unfortunately, the distinction is often drawn in different and mutually incompatible ways. The agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction has historically been drawn three main ways: the ‘principle-based distinction’, the ‘reason-statement-based distinction’ and the ‘perspective-based distinction’. Each of these approaches has its own distinctive vices (Sections 1-3). However, a slightly modified version of the historically influential principle-based approach seems to avoid most if not all of these vices (Section 4). (...) The distinction so understood differs from numerous other distinctions with which it might easily be confused (Section 5). Finally, the distinction so drawn is important to normative theorizing for a variety of reasons (Section 6). (shrink)
The dispute between Kantians and Humeans over whether practical reason can justify moral reasons for all agents is often characterized as a debate over whether reasons are hypothetical or categorical. Instead, this debate must be understood in terms of the distinction between agent-neutral and agent-relative reasons. This paper considers Alan Gewirth’s Reason and Morality as a case study of a Kantian justification of morality focused on deriving categorical reasons from hypothetical reasons. The case study demonstrates first, the possibility of (...) categorical agent-relative reasons, and second, that inattention to this possibility has caused considerable confusion in the debate between Kantians and Humeans. (shrink)
Disagreement about the properattitude toward disability proliferates. Yetlittle attention has been paid to an importantmeta-question, namely, whether ``disability'' isan essentially contested concept. If so, recentdebates between bioethicists and the disabilitymovement leadership cannot be resolved. Inthis essay I identify some of the presumptionsthat make their encounters so contentious. Much more must happen, I argue, for anydiscussions about disability policy andpolitics to be productive. Progress depends onconstructing a neutral conception ofdisability, one that neither devaluesdisability nor implies that persons withdisabilities are inadequate. (...) So, first, I clearaway the conceptual underbrush that makes usthink our idea of disability must bevalue-laden. Second, I sketch someconstituents of, and constraints upon, aneutral notion of disability. (shrink)
I argue that there is methodological space for a functional explanation of the nature of law that does not commit the theorist to a view about the value of that function for society, nor whether law is the best means of accomplishing it. A functional explanation will nonetheless provide a conceptual framework for a better understanding of the nature of law. First I examine the proper role for function in a theory of law and then argue for the possibility of (...) a neutral functional theory, addressing issues raised by Leslie Green, Stephen Perry, Michael Moore and John Finnis. (shrink)
The distinction between the agent-relative and the agent-neutral plays a prominent role in recent attempts to taxonomize normative theories. Its importance extends to most areas in practical philosophy, though. Despite its popularity, the distinction remains difficult to get a good grip on. In part this has to do with the fact that there is no consensus concerning the sort of objects to which we should apply the distinction. Thomas Nagel distinguishes between agent-neutral and agent-relative values, reasons, and principles; (...) Derek Parfit focuses on normative theories (and the aims they provide to agents), David McNaughton and Piers Rawling focus on rules and reasons, Skorupski on predicates, and there are other suggestions too. Some writers suspect that we fundamentally talk about one and the same distinction. This work is about practical reasons for action rather than theoretical reasons for belief. Moreover, focus is on whether reasons do or do not essentially refer to particular agents. A challenge that undermines the dichotomy in this sense is posed. After having rejected different attempts to defend the distinction, it is argued that there is a possible defence that sets out from Jonathan Dancy’s recent distinction between enablers and favourers. (shrink)
MacDonald and Kreitman (1991) propose a test of the neutral mutationrandom drift (NM-RD) hypothesis, the central claim of the neutral theory of molecular evolution. The test involves generating predictions from the NM-RD hypothesis about patterns of molecular substitutions. Alternative selection hypotheses predict that the data will deviate from the predictions of the NM-RD hypothesis in specifiable ways. To conduct the test Mac- Donald and Kreitman examine the evolutionary dynamics of the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene in three species of (...) Drosophila. The test compares the number of DNA sequence changes between species and within species. The number of DNA differences is an indicator of the evolutionary rate of the Adh gene. Based on the test they conclude that there is strong evidence for adaptive protein evolution at particular sites in the gene. Understanding the test requires some basic knowledge about molecular terms and the predictions of neutral theory. The two important terms are fixed differences and polymorphisms. These are determined by comparing DNA sequences made up of thousands of individual nucleotide sites. A site that is unchanged within a species but different from a related species counts as a fixed difference. These are mutations that occur in some common ancestor of the lineage such that all descendants inherit the change. A site that differs within a species counts as a polymorphism. Determining the number of fixed differences and polymorphisms requires placing 1 each individual gene sequence onto a phylogenetic tree. A coalescent tree charts the ancestral relationships for a set of individual gene sequences. Sequences sampled from within a species form a within-species tree. The common ancestors of each within-species tree form a between-species tree. A detected difference counts as a polymorphism or a fixed difference depending on where it occurs in the phylogenetic tree (cf. Table 1). The test uses the numbers of polymorphisms and fixed differences as indicators of evolutionary rates.. (shrink)
An idea that has attracted a lot of attention lately is the thought that consequentialism is a theory characterized basically by its agent neutrality.1 The idea, however, has also met with skepticism. In particular, it has been argued that agent neutrality cannot be what separates consequentialism from other types of theories of reasons for action, since there can be agent-neutral non-consequentialist theories as well as agent-relative consequentialist theories. I will argue in this paper that this last claim is false. (...) The paper is divided into four sections. Section one specifies two senses in which consequentialism is agent-neutral. Section two and three examine and reject, respectively, the claim that there are agent-relative consequentialist views as well as agent-neutral non-consequentialist views. I end the paper with some remarks on the plausibility, or better, the implausibility of characterizing consequentialism in terms other than agent neutrality. (shrink)
The neutral and nearly neutral theories of molecular evolution are sometimes characterized as theories about drift alone, where drift is described solely as an outcome, rather than a process. We argue, however, that both selection and drift, as causal processes, are integral parts of both theories. However, the nearly neutral theory explicitly recognizes alleles and/or molecular substitutions that, while engaging in weakly selected causal processes, exhibit outcomes thought to be characteristic of random drift. A narrow focus on (...) outcomes obscures the significant role of weakly selected causal processes in the nearly neutral theory. (shrink)
Bare plurals ( dogs ) behave in ways that quantified plurals ( some dogs ) do not. For instance, while the sentence John owns dogs implies that John owns more than one dog, its negation John does not own dogs does not mean “John does not own more than one dog”, but rather “John does not own a dog”. A second puzzling behavior is known as the dependent plural reading; when in the scope of another plural, the ‘more than one’ (...) meaning of the plural is not distributed over, but the existential force of the plural is. For example, My friends attend good schools requires that each of my friends attend one good school, not more, while at the same time being inappropriate if all my friends attend the same school. This paper shows that both these phenomena, and others, arise from the same cause. Namely, the plural noun itself does not assert ‘more than one’, but rather the plural denotes a predicate that is number neutral (unspecified for cardinality). The ‘more than one’ meaning arises as an scalar implicature, relying on the scalar relationship between the bare plural and its singular alternative, and calculated in a sub-sentential domain; namely, before existential closure of the event variable. Finally, implications of this analysis will be discussed for the analysis of the quantified noun phrases that interact with bare plurals, such as indefinite numeral DPs ( three boys ), and singular universals ( every boy ). (shrink)
Some maintain that voluntariness is a value-neutral concept. On that view, someone acts involuntarily if subject to a controlling influence or has no acceptable alternatives. I argue that a value-neutral conception of voluntariness cannot explain when and why consent is invalid and that we need a moralized account of voluntariness. On that view, most concerns about the voluntariness of consent to participate in research are not well founded.
: This paper offers a distinctive interpretation of Hegel's Doppelsatz from the Preface to the Philosophy of Right: 'What is rational is actual; and what is actual is rational'. This has usually been interpreted either conservatively (as claiming that everything that is, is right or good) or progressively (that if the world were actual, it would be right or good, but that there is a distinction that can be drawn between existence and actuality). My aim in this paper is to (...) argue against both interpretations, so that the position I offer is neutral between the two. My claim is that when Hegel identifies what is actual with what is rational in the Doppelsatz, his intention is not to offer a normative assessment of what is actual; rather, it is to suggest that genuine philosophy must be committed to reason in its methods of inquiry, if it is to properly undertake an investigation into the "spiritual universe" as well as the "natural" one. The Doppelsatz is thus a defence of philosophical rationalism, rather than a normative claim about "was ist wirklich". (shrink)
Is it possible to do a good thing, or to make the world a better place? Some argue that it is not possible, because perspective-neutral value does not exist. Some argue that ‘good’ does not play the right grammatical role; or that all good things are good ‘in a way’; or that goodness is inherently perspective-dependent. I argue that the logical and semantic properties of ‘good’ are what we should expect of an evaluative predicate; that the many ways of (...) being good don't threaten the thesis that some ways are perspective-independent; and that there are clear examples of perspective-independent goodness. (shrink)
Abstract Two conflicting visions of technology nevertheless agree that scientists and engineers bear little moral responsibility for their inventions. According to one vision, technology is largely autonomous,? that is, self?determinative operating according to its own blind laws independently of human will. According to the other, technology is fully controllable, but control rests solely with ?end?users? as technology is, in itself, value?neutral. After a brief characterization of the domain of technology, each vision of technology is criticized in turn. Despite the (...) many penetrating insights offered by the best exemplar of the first approach? Jacques Ellul?it is shown that his approach rests on unacceptable metaphysical and epis?temological assumptions: because it seemingly explains so much, it explains nothing; and it anthropomorphizes technology. Champions of the value neutrality thesis fail to sustain their argument because they overlook the ways in which various technologies embody the values of particular persons, institutions, or classes. Undermining these two prominent visions of technology opens the way for afresh consideration of the moral responsibilities of the creators and users of technology. (shrink)
Abstract Ecological communities around the world are under threat while a consensus theory of community structure remains elusive. In the last decade ecologists have struggled with two seemingly opposing theories: niche-based theory that explains diversity with species’ differences and the neutral theory of biodiversity that claims that much of the diversity we observe can be explained without explicitly invoking species’ differences. Although ecologists are increasingly attempting to reconcile these two theories, there is still much resistance against the neutral (...) theory of biodiversity. Here we argue that the dispute between the two theories is a classic example of the dichotomy between philosophical perspectives, realism and instrumentalism. Realism is associated with specific, small-scale and detailed explanations, whereas instrumentalism is linked to general, large-scale, but less precise accounts. Recognizing this will help ecologists get both niche-based and neutral theories in perspective as useful tools for understanding biodiversity patterns. Content Type Journal Article Category Regular Article Pages 1-15 DOI 10.1007/s10441-012-9144-6 Authors Paul L. Wennekes, Community and Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands James Rosindell, Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Rampal S. Etienne, Community and Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342. (shrink)
The paper begins with a more carefully stated version of ontologically neutral (ON) logic, originally introduced in (Hailperin, 1997). A non-infinitistic semantics which includes a definition of potential infinite validity follows. It is shown, without appeal to the actual infinite, that this notion provides a necessary and sufficient condition for provability in ON logic.
In this paper I try to shed some light on how one discerns a physical effect or phenomenon from experimental background ‘noise’. To this end I revisit the discovery of Weak Neutral Currents (WNC), which has been right at the centre of discussion of some of the most influential available literature on this issue. Bogen and Woodward (1988) have claimed that the phenomenon of WNC was inferred from the data without higher level physical theory explaining this phenomenon (here: the (...) Weinberg-Salam model of electroweak interactions) being involved in this process. Mayo (1994, 1996), in a similar vein, holds that the discovery of WNC was made on the basis of some piecemeal statistical techniques—again without the Salam-Weinberg model (predicting and explaining WNC) being involved in the process. Both Bogen & Woodward and Mayo have tried to back up their claims by referring to the historical work about the discovery of WNC by Galison (1983, 1987). Galison’s presentation of the historical facts, which can be described as realist, has however been challenged by Pickering (1984, 1988, 1989), who has drawn sociological-relativist conclusions from this historical case. Pickering’s conclusions, in turn, have recently come under attack by Miller and Bullock (1994), who delivered a defence of Galison’s realist account. In this paper I consider all of these historical studies in order to evaluate the philosophical claims that have been made on the basis of them. I conclude that—contrary to Bogen & Woodward (1988) and Mayo (1994)—statistical methods and other experimental inference procedures from the “bottom-up” (i.e. from the data to the phenomena) were insufficient for discerning WNC from their background noise. I also challenge Galison’s notion of the “end of experiments” and shall take the wind out of the sail of Miller and Bullock’s attack on some of Pickering’s claims, whilst rejecting Pickering’s sociological-relativist conclusions. Instead, I claim that an epistemic warrant from the ‘top down’ in the form of a theoretical postulate of the Weinberg-Salam model was necessary for “ending the experiments”, i.e. for the acceptance of WNC as a genuine phenomenon in the scientific community. (shrink)
The question of whether religion is adaptive or not is debated with much vigor and passion, but the question as usually posed is much too simplistic to be answerable. Religions are extremely diverse. What is true of one often will not apply to another. Given religions are complex systems of beliefs, emotions, rituals, moral injunctions, and social institutions and organizations. Some parts may be adaptive and others maladaptive. We know that cultural evolutionary processes can, in theory, lead to adaptations, maladaptations, (...) and neutral variation. Religion is an appreciable fraction of the totality of culture, and any appreciable fraction of culture is virtually certain to exhibit all three. The list of proposed functions and dysfunctions of religions is long. The bulk of the empirical information that bears on the consequences of religions for individuals and groups is largely non-quantitative or evaluates only selected aspects of religious belief. To appreciate some of the complexity we must contend with, consider the role of natural selection on religious variation. Selection might act on religious ideas directly, favoring parasitic religious memes (which would be adaptive in their own terms of course). If a religion increases individual health and well-being or promotes fertility, religious variants that increase ordinary individual or inclusive fitness will be favored by selection, perhaps to the detriment of the collective welfare. If some religious variants promote intra-group cooperation, they may be favored by group selection. But cooperative groups may compete violently or prey upon other groups in ways that are maladaptive judged from either the individual or the meta-group level. The decision-making forces by which human individuals and collectivities influence the evolution of religion can likewise have adaptive and maladaptive outcomes at different levels of organization, all depending upon the details of the situation. Much of the variation between religious is likely to be neutral symbolic variation with no fitness consequences at all.. (shrink)
Value-freedom or value-neutrality is a well-known topic in the philosophy of science. But what about the value-neutrality of technology, medical or other? Is it too far-fetched to imagine technology as in some sense value-neutral â in view of its intimate connection with purposeful human action? No; unexpected perhaps, but less far-fetched than expected. If we try to conceive of technology as a cognitive possibility abstracted from each and every specific social context, we shall find (at least) three senses in (...) which it may be regarded as value-neutral: (1) neutral vis-Ã -vis different possible uses and ends; (2) neutral before action; (3) neutral qua cognitive object, analogous to the cognitive core of science. The further meanings and implications of these three senses of value-neutrality are discussed. (shrink)
In this article we present a conceptual overview of relevant interpretations of what state neutrality may imply; we suggest a distinction between inclusive neutrality and exclusive neutrality. This distinction provides a useful framework for understanding the several positions as presented by the parties in the Lautsi case. We conclude by suggesting a solution of the Lautsi case that might provide a more viable solution.
In this paper I suggest that the Humean male and Humean female of Hume’s Treatise would have different mental lives due to a great extent to what Hume takes to be the socio-culture in place. Specifically, I show that the Humean male would be incapable but the Humean female would be capable of forming a Humean sex-neutral general idea of man. The Humean male’s inability is not innate but the result of the trauma he experiences when discovering sexuality, reproduction (...) and realizing how insecure a claim of paternity is. The Humean female not having such a traumatic experience is not impaired in the same way. Insofar as she is impaired, it is because in the very same socio-culture she cannot exercise her ability because it would endanger the socio-culture she is expected to partake in. (shrink)
If payoffs are tickets for binary lotteries, which involve only two money prizes, then rationality requires expected value maximization in tickets. This payoff scheme was increasingly used to induce risk neutrality in experiments. The experiment presented here involved lottery choice and evaluation tasks. One subject group was paid in binary lottery tickets, another directly in money. Significantly greater deviations from risk neutral behavior are observed with binary lottery payoffs. This discrepancy increases when subjects have easy access to the alternatives' (...) expected values and mean absolute deviations. Behavioral regularities are observed at least as often as with direct money payoffs. (shrink)
This paper formulates and axiomatizes utility models for denumerable time streams that make no commitment in regard to discounting future outcomes. The models address decision under certainty and decision under risk. Independence assumptions in both contexts lead to additive or multiplicative utilities over time periods that allow unambiguous comparisons of the relative importance of different periods. The models accommodate all patterns of future valuation. This discount-neutral feature is attained by restricting preference comparisons to outcome streams or probability distributions on (...) outcome streams that differ in at most a finite number of periods. (shrink)
Much liberal theorizing of the past twenty years has been built around a conception of neutrality and an accompanying virtue of reasonableness according to which citizens ought to be able to view public policy debates from a perspective detached from their comprehensive conceptions of the good. The view of “justifi catory neutrality” that emerges from this view is discussed and rejected as embodying controversial views about the relationship of individuals to their conceptions of the good. It is shown to be (...) based upon a “protestant” assumption according to which conceptions of the good can be cashed out in terms of propositional beliefs. An alternative conception of reasonableness, grounded in the stable disposition of individuals to prefer social peace over conflict is described. It is argued that it better satisfies the neutralist requirement than do theories of justifi catory neutrality. (shrink)
DRAFT of my book on Realistic Empiricism. The book revives the neutral monism of Mach, James, and Russell and applies the updated view to the problem of redefining physicalism, explaining the origins of sensation, and the problem of deriving extended physical objects and systems from an ontology of events.
I argue that evolutionary strategies of kin selection and game-theoretic reciprocity are apt to generate agent-centered and agent- neutral moral intuitions, respectively. Such intuitions are the building blocks of moral theories, resulting in a fundamental schism between agent-centered theories on the one hand and agent-neutral theories on the other. An agent-neutral moral theory is one according to which everyone has the same duties and moral aims, no matter what their personal interests or interpersonal relationships. Agent-centered moral theories (...) deny this and include at least some prescriptions that include ineliminable indexicals. I argue that there are no rational means of bridging the gap between the two types of theories; nevertheless this does not necessitate skepticism about the moral—we might instead opt for an ethical relativism in which the truth of moral statements is relativized to the perspective of moral theories on either side of the schism. Such a relativism does not mean that any ethical theory is as good as any other; some cannot be held in reflective equilibrium, and even among those that can, there may well be pragmatic reasons that motivate the selection of one theory over another. But if no sort of relativism is deemed acceptable, then it is hard to avoid moral skepticism. (shrink)
A consideration of Mach's elements, his philosophy of neutral monism, and philosophy of physics, especially space and time, much of it based on unpublished writings from the Nachlass and other original sources. The historical connection between Mach and logical positivism is shown to be superficial at best, and Mach's elements are shown to be mind independent natural qualities (world-elements) with dynamic force, not limited to human sensations.
I shall here raise and attempt to answer -- given the constraints of space, rather dogmatically -- some fundamental questions as regards the fertile and far-reaching doctrine Ted Honderich has in the past called Consciousness as Existence.
Taking their motivation from the perceived failure of the reductive physicalist project concerning consciousness, panpsychists ascribe subjectivity to fundamental material entities in order to account for macro-consciousness. But there exists an unresolved tension within the mainstream panpsychist position, the seriousness of which has yet to be appreciated. I capture this tension as a dilemma, and offer advice to panpsychists on how to resolve it. The dilemma is as follows: Panpsychists take the micro-material realm to feature phenomenal properties, plus micro-subjects to (...) whom these properties belong. However, it is impossible to explain the generation of a macro-subject (like one of us) in terms of the assembly of micro-subjects, for, as I show, subjects cannot combine. Therefore the panpsychist explanatory project is derailed by the insistence that the world’s ultimate material constituents are subjects of experience. The panpsychist faces a choice of giving up her explanatory ambitions, or of giving up the claim that the ultimates are subjects. I argue that the latter option is preferable, leading to neutral monism, on which phenomenal qualities are irreducible but subjects are reducible. So panpsychists should be neutral monists. (shrink)
The thesis defended is that ordinary perception does not present us with the existential independence of its objects from itself. The phenomenology of ordinary perception is mute with respect to the subject-object distinction. I call this view "phenomenal neutral monism" : though neutral monists are wrong about the metaphysics of perception (in every perceptual episode, there is a distinction between the perceptual act and its perceptual objet), they are right about its phenomenology. I first argue that this view (...) is not as counter-intuitive as it might initially seem, by stressing (i) that the lack of presentation of the mind-independence of perceptual objects does not entail their being presented as mind-dependent. (ii) That phenomenal neutral monism is true of ordinary perception in the thin sense, but not in the thick sense (that includes expectations, guesses, feelings etc. grounded on thin perception). (iii) That the concept of a perceptual perspective or point of view should not be confused with the concept of the subject or intentional act of perception. Second, I propose three positive arguments in favor of phenomenal neutral monism. (i) It does justice to the recurring idea that only resistance to our will presents us with the world qua independent from us. (ii) It does justice to the recurring idea that the most natural attitude towards the perceptual world is that of being absorbed in it. (iii) It is entailed by the view that intentional acts are phenomenally transparent (a view held by Russell and Moore, and most contemporary representationalists) together with the view that in order to be presented with a relation (here the act-object distinction) one has to be presented with its relata. (shrink)
Corballis seems to have not considered two points: (1) the importance of direct selection pressures for the evolution of handedness; and (2) the evolutionary significance of the polymorphism of handedness. We provide arguments for the need to explain handedness in terms of adaptation and natural selection.
In the context of worlds with infinitely many bearers of utility, we argue that several collections of natural Utilitarian principles--principles which are certainly true in the classical finite Utilitarian context and which any Utilitarian would find appealing--are inconsistent.
Though many have recently attempted either to locate Arendt within feminism or feminism within the great body of Arendt's work, these efforts have proven only modestly successful. Even a cursory examination of Arendt's work should suggest that these efforts would prove frustrating. None of her voluminous writings deal specifically with gender, though some of her work certainly deals with notable women. Her interest is not in gender as such, but in woman as assimilated Jew or woman as social and political (...) revolutionary. In this paper, I argue that Arendt recognized that what frequently passes for a gender question is not essentially a matter of gender at all, but rather an idiosyncratic form of loneliness that typically affects, though is by no means limited to, women. In her work one finds the conceptual tools necessary to understand the “woman problem” rather than an explicit argument or a solution to it. (shrink)
Is there an explanation of why the state of x's bearing the non-symmetric binary relation R to y is different from its differential opposite, the state of y's bearing R to x? One traditional view has it that the explanation is that non-symmetric relations hold of objects in an essentially directional way, ordering the relevant relata. We call this view ‘directionalism’. Kit Fine has suggested that this approach is subject to significant metaphysical difficulties, sufficient to motivate seeking an alternative analysis. (...) He considers two such alternative explanations, which he labels ‘positionalism’ and ‘anti-positionalism’. Of these he endorses the latter. We argue that anti-positionalism fails to provide a coherent explanation of the distinction between differential opposites, and that one should simply hold the minimalist position that there is no explanation for this metaphysical difference. (shrink)
The terms ordinary and extraordinary, when employed in the medical setting, quite often appear vacuous to the point of justifying their elimination. This appraisal appears to be based upon the belief that certain procedures are ordinary and others are extraordinary independent of the particular factors of the clinical setting. This belief may be shown mistaken once it is realized that the conditions sufficient for determining whether a medical procedure is ordinary or extraordinary are themselves specifiable only within the clinical context. (...) Unfortunately, even if the terms may be meaningfully employed, the two classes are not comprehensive. Thus, it is suggested that some medical procedures will prove recalcitrant to the ordinary-extraordinary classification; and the values inherent in the classification will prove inappropriate. (shrink)
An elaboration in detail of the contention made in an earlier paper 1 that quantifier logic can be given an adequate formulation in which neither the notion of an individual nor that of a predicate appears. The logic is compatible with either an infinitistic or non-infinitistic completeness theorem.