Within much contemporary social ontology there is a particular methodology at work. This methodology takes as a starting point two or more asocial or atomic individuals. These individuals are taken to be perfectly functional agents, though outside of all social relations. Following this, combinations of these individuals are considered, to deduce what constitutes a social group. Here I will argue that theories which rely on this methodology are always circular, so long as they purport to describe the formation of all (...) social groups, as they must always presuppose a pre-existing collectivity. Such methodology also produces various distortions in our theories, such as voluntarism. I focus on the workings of PluralSubject Theory as laid out by Margaret Gilbert in On Social Facts (1989). I show that the formation of a pluralsubject always requires communication, and that communication always requires a pre-existing collectivity. i examine the elements within PluralSubject Theory which protect gilbert from these accusations of circularity, and argue against them. I finalise by suggesting that what PluralSubject Theory, and social ontology in general, requires as a theoretical starting point is not atomic individuals and their combinations, but rather combinations of already socialised or embedded individuals. (shrink)
Margaret Gilbert's pluralsubject theory defines social collectives in terms of common knowledge of expressed willingness to participate in some joint action. The author critically examines Gilbert's application of this theory to linguistic phenomena involving "we," arguing that recent work in linguistics provides the tools to develop a superior account. The author indicates that, apart from its own relevance, one should care about this critique because Gilbert's claims about the first person plural pronoun play a role in (...) the argument in favor of her recent theory of political obligation. Key Words: collective agent • Gilbert • pluralsubject • semantics • we. (shrink)
Andrea Westlund's account of love involves lovers becoming a PluralSubject mirroring Margaret Gilbert's PluralSubject Theory. However, while for Gilbert the creation of a plural will involves individuals jointly committing to pool their wills and the plural will directly normatively constraining those individuals, Westlund, in contrast, sees the creation of a plural will as a continual process thus rejecting the possibility of such direct normative constraint. This rejection appears to be required to (...) explain the flexibility that allows for a central place for reciprocity in loving relationships. However, this paper argues against the existence of such flexibility and presents instead the case that variance in the normative pain of rebelling against the collective will can be accommodated by replacing Gilbert's notion of all-or-nothing pooling of wills with an account that see wills as becoming entangled through levels of identification with the pluralsubject. (shrink)
The issue of knowing what it means for a group to have collective beliefs is being discussed more and more in contemporary philosophy of the social sciences and philosophy of mind. Margaret Gilberts reconsideration of Durkheims viewpoint in the framework of the pluralsubjects account is one of the most famous. This has implications in the history and the sociology of scienceas well asin the history and sociology of philosophyalthough Gilbert only outlined them in the former fields and (...) said nothing about the latter. Symmetrically but independently, a historian of science, Mara Beller, has recently challenged Kuhns conception of the role of consensus in sciences in a brilliant analysis by carefully studying the history of Copenhagen School of Quantum Mechanics. Not only does she show the role of disagreement and controversies (doubting whether there was any collective belief characteristic in this group of physicists), but she even shakes up the very idea of individual beliefs. Each scientist (Heisenberg, Bohr, etc.) could be seen as divided into several selves. This paper contends that these two conceptions open important new horizons in several domains, especially if they are linked together. The paper assesses this claim in the light of empirical examples like the Vienna Circle, Copenhagen School, and, eventually, Cartesian philosophy. Key Words: pluralsubject polyphony collective briefs Cartesian argumentation. (shrink)
It has been claimed in the literature that collective intentionality and group attitudes presuppose some “sense of ‘us’” among the participants (other labels sometimes used are “sense of community,” “communal awareness,” “shared point of view,” or “we-perspective”). While this seems plausible enough on an intuitive level, little attention has been paid so far to the question of what the nature and role of this mysterious “sense of ‘us’” might be. This paper states (and argues for) the following five claims: (1) (...) it is neither the case that the sense in question has the community (or “us”) in its content or as its object nor does the attitude in question presuppose a preexistent community (or “us”) as its subject. (2) The “sense of ‘us’” is plural pre-reflective self-awareness. (3) Plural pre-reflective self-awareness plays the same role in the constitution of a common mind that singular pre-reflective self-awareness plays in the individual mind. (4) The most important conceptions of plural subjects, collective persons, or group agents in the current literature fail to recognize the nature and role of plural self-awareness, and therefore fall short in important respects. (5) In spite of the striking similarities between the plural and the singular mind, there are important differences to consider. The authority of the singular first person point of view has no equivalent in the plural case. (shrink)
The constitutional subject : singular, plural or universal? -- The constitutional subject and the clash of self and other : on the uses of negation, metaphor, and metonymy -- Reinventing tradition through constitutional interpretation : the case of unenumerated rights in the United States -- Recasting and reorienting identity through constitution-making : the pivotal case of Spain's 1978 Constitution -- Constitutional models : shaping, nurturing, and guiding the constitutional subject -- Models of constitution making -- The (...) constitutional subject and clashing visions of citizenship : can we be beyond what we are not? -- Can the constitutional subject go global? imagining a convergence of the universal, the particular, and the singular. (shrink)
Roman Jakobson, who had left Russia in 1920 and in 1941 took refuge in the USA from the Nazis, was one of the main figures in post war linguistics and structuralism. Two aspects of his work are examined in this article. Firstly, Jakobson purifies his linguistic theory of pragmatic references. Secondly, he develops his own diplomatic mission of mediating between East and West. In this article, I argue that these two aspects did not develop independently from one another. Instead I (...) claim that his theory is designed to slip through the Iron Curtain, while at the same time providing the means to analyse ways of acting politically by using language. This argument is unfolded in two steps, each consisting of two parts. First, I compare the theory of pronominal expressions as developed by Emil Benveniste to Jakobson’s theory of shifters. While Benveniste focuses on the relation of language and its subject using language, Jakobson introduces a model of communication to allow maximal formalisation of language. According to this even the category of person can be freed from its reference to a subject which would be understood as having a place in space and time. Then, Jakobson’s theory of shifters is studied in relation to his analyses of poetry. For this, two examples are chosen: Jakobson’s text on two poems by Russian poet Alexandr Blok, and his text on a poem by Bertold Brecht. In both texts, the theory of shifters—and the alleged purification from pragmatic aspects of language use ensuing from this theory—is challenged by the simple fact that they focus on the pronoun of the first person plural. According to Jakobson, the category of number does not belong to the shifters. Rather, number quantifies participants of the related event. The pronoun ‘we’ is at the same time a shifter and a non-shifter, as it refers to the speech event and the related event. Thus the pronoun ‘we’ opens up the possibility to include or exclude the participants of a communicative situation, and thereby enables the speaker to act socially or even politically by using language. The article concludes by coming back to the historical situation in which Jakobson developed his analyses of poetry. Analysing poetry seems to have been a passe-partout for him, a seemingly harmless subject that allowed him to get a foot in the door of remote and secluded lecture halls. (shrink)
German noun plurals not ending in -s are not as irregular as Clahsen suggests. Feminine nouns get the -n plural, unless they umlaut and are subject to a constraint that requires a reduced final syllable in the plural. Another regular class is masculine nouns ending in schwa, which are weakly inflected. It is suggested that more differentiated psycholinguistic experiments can identify these regularities.
This paper defends 'plural reference', the view that definite plurals refer to several individuals at once, and it explores how the view can account for a range of phenomena that have been discussed in the linguistic literature.
This version of this paper has been superseded by a substantially revised version in G. Strawson, Real Materialism and Other Essays (OUP 2008) I take 'content' in a natural internalist way to refer to occurrent mental content. I introduce a 'thin' or ‘live’ notion of the subject according to which a subject of experience cannot exist unless there is an experience for it to be the subject of. I then argue, first, that in the case of a (...) particular experience E, its content C, and its (thin) subject S, [C ↔ E ↔ S]; and, second, that the metaphysical fact that underlies this (strong modal) equivalence is in fact identity: [E = S = C]. I suggest that the effort of thought required to grasp this is deeply revealing of the nature of reality. On the way I raise a doubt about the viability of the traditional object/property distinction. -/- . (shrink)
Ordinary English contains different forms of quantification over objects. In addition to the usual singular quantification, as in 'There is an apple on the table', there is plural quantification, as in 'There are some apples on the table'. Ever since Frege, formal logic has favored the two singular quantifiers ∀x and ∃x over their plural counterparts ∀xx and ∃xx (to be read as for any things xx and there are some things xx). But in recent decades it has (...) been argued that we have good reason to admit among our primitive logical notions also the plural quantifiers ∀xx and ∃xx. More controversially, it has been argued that the resulting formal system with plural as well as singular quantification qualifies as ‘pure logic’; in particular, that it is universally applicable, ontologically innocent, and perfectly well understood. In addition to being interesting in its own right, this thesis will, if correct, make plural quantification available as an innocent but extremely powerful tool in metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophical logic. For instance, George Boolos has used plural quantification to interpret monadic second-order logic and has argued on this basis that monadic second-order logic qualifies as “pure logic.” Plural quantification has also been used in attempts to defend logicist ideas, to account for set theory, and to eliminate ontological commitments to mathematical objects and complex objects. (shrink)
In this paper I attempt to show, by considering a number of sources, including Wittgenstein, Sartre, Thomas Nagel and Spinoza, but also adding something crucial of my own, that it is impossible to construe the subject of experience as an object among other objects in the world. My own added argument is the following. The subject of experience cannot move in time along with material events and processes or it could not be aware of the passage of time, (...) hence neither of change nor of motion. The subject cannot therefore be identified with any neural process, function, or location since whatever goes on in the CNS is necessarily objective and part of the temporal flux. However this does not imply any form of dualism for experiences exist only for the subject whose experiences they are and hence they have no objective reality. (shrink)
In “Mathematics is megethology,” Lewis reconstructs set theory using mereology and plural quantification (MPQ). In his recontruction he assumes from the beginning that there is an infinite plurality of atoms, whose size is equivalent to that of the set theoretical universe. Since this assumption is far beyond the basic axioms of mereology, it might seem that MPQ do not play any role in order to guarantee the existence of a large infinity of objects. However, we intend to demonstrate that (...) mereology and plural quantification are, in some ways, particularly relevant to a certain conception of the infinite. More precisely, though the principles of mereology and plural quantification do not guarantee the existence of an infinite number of objects, nevertheless, once the existence of any infinite object is admitted, they are able to assure the existence of an uncountable infinity of objects. So, if—as Lewis maintains—MPQ were parts of logic, the implausible consequence would follow that, given a countable infinity of individuals, logic would be able to guarantee an uncountable infinity of objects. (shrink)
Modal sentences of the form "every F might be G" and "some F must be G" have a threefold ambiguity. in addition to the familiar readings "de dicto" and "de re", there is a third reading on which they are examples of the "plural de re": they attribute a modal property to the F's plurally in a way that cannot in general be reduced to an attribution of modal properties to the individual F's. The plural "de re" readings (...) of modal sentences cannot be captured within standard quantified modal logic. I consider various strategies for extending standard quantified modal logic so as to provide analyses of the readings in question. I argue that the ambiguity in question is associated with the scope of the general term 'F'; and that plural quantifiers can be introduced for purposes of representing the scope of a general term. Moreover, plural quantifiers provide the only fully adequate solution that keeps within the framework of quantified modal logic. (shrink)
The goal of this article is twofold. First, it revises the historiographic partition proposed by John Deely in Four Ages of Understanding (2001) by arguing that the moment marking the beginning of philosophical Modernity has been vividly recorded in Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy with the experiment with the wax. Second, an upshot of this historical study is that it helps make sense of Deely’s somewhat iconoclastic use of the words “subject” and “subjectivity” to designate mind-independent worldly things. The (...) hope is that successfully accomplishing these twin tasks will give semiotic inquiry a better appreciation of its own history, as well as resources genial to furthering its ongoing development. (shrink)
This paper rejects Hume's famous claim that we never perceive our selves, by arguing that, under conditions specified, our perception of our bodies is perception of our selves. It takes as its point of departure Quassim Cassam's defence of a position to a similar effect but puts a different interpretation on the distinction between perceiving the body as an object, having spatial attributes, and perceiving it as a self or subject of experiences.
I show that the contemporary dominant analysis of natural language quantifiers that are one-place determiners by means of binary generalized quantifiers has failed to explain why they are, according to it, conservative. I then present an alternative, Geachean analysis, according to which common nouns in the grammatical subject position are plural logical subject-terms, and show how it does explain that fact and other features of natural language quantification.
With no precise boundaries, always on the move and too complex to be defined by space and time, is it possible to map the human subject? This book attempts to do just this, exploring the places of the subject in contemporary culture. The editors approach this subject from four main aspects--its construction, sexuality, limits and politics--using a wide ranging review of literature on subjectivity across the social and human sciences. The first part of the book establishes the (...) idea that the subject is constructed through detailed histories of the subject. The second part shows that sexuality cannot be assumed to be natural through the contributors' research on the place of sexuality in subjectivity and subjectivity in sexuality. The essays in the third part take issue with the idea of a singular, self-contained identity. Power relations and the effects of power are consistent themes throughout the book and the final section deals explicitly with relations of power, whether organized around gender, race, class or other kinds of difference. Contributors: Steve Pile, Nigel Thrift, Miles Ogborn, Carolyn Steedman, David Matless, David Sibley, David Bell, Julia Cream, Vic Seidler, Hester Parr, Chris Philo, Marcus Doel, Paul Rodaway, Nigel Rapport, Stephen Frosh, Valerie Walkerdine, Gillian Rose and Michael Keith. (shrink)
The state of affairs of some things falling under a predicate is supposedly a single entity that collects these things as its constituents. But whether we think of a state of affairs as a fact, a proposition or a possibility, problems will arise if we adopt a plural logic. For plural logic says that any plurality include themselves, so whenever there are some things, the state of affairs of their plural self-inclusion should be a single thing that (...) collects them all. This leads to paradoxes analogous to those that afflict naïve set theory. Here I suggest that they are the very same paradoxes, because sets can be reduced to states of affairs. However, to obtain a consistent theoretical reduction we must restrict the usual axiom scheme of Comprehension for plural logic to ‘stratified’ formulas, to avoid viciously circular definitions. I prove that with this modification to the background plural logic, the theory of states of affairs is consistent; moreover, it yields the axioms of the familiar set theory NFU. (shrink)
In the semantic debate about plurals, pluralism is the view that a plural term denotes some things in the domain of quantification and a plural predicate denotes a plural property, i.e a property that can be instantiated by many things jointly. According to a particular version of this view, untyped pluralism, there is no type distinction between objects and properties. In this article, I argue against untyped pluralism by showing that it is subject to a variant (...) of a Russell-style argument put forth by Timothy Williamson and that it clashes with a plural version of Cantor’s theorem. I conclude that pluralists should postulate a type distinction between objects and properties. (shrink)
Contemporary accounts of the self-ascription of experiences are wedded to two basic dogmas. The first is that self-ascription is immune to error through misidentification relative to the first person (IEM). The second dogma is that there is distinction between awareness of oneself qua subject and awareness of oneself qua object (the SCS/SCO distinction). In this paper, I urge that these dogmas are groundless. First, I illustrate that claims about immunity to error through misidentification are usually based upon claims about (...) awareness of oneself qua subject. Self-ascriptions are IEM, because self-ascriptions involve awareness of oneself qua subject. Following Sydney Shoemaker, philosophers appeal to Wittgenstein’s discussion of the I-as-subject to bolster this claim. I argue that this interpretation of Wittgenstein is actually a crossbreed of the views of Shoemaker and Wittgenstein, which I will call ‘Shoegenstein.’ I argue that Shoegenstein is not Wittgenstein. Apart from these historical considerations, I argue that if IEM is based on the SCS/SCO distinction, and there is no non-circular account of that distinction, then IEM is not based on anything. I suggest that we should understand self-consciousness as awareness of a subject as an object, which would mean that SCS and SCO are not exclusive. One consequence of disposing of these two dogmas is to allow for a positive naturalistic account of self-ascription. Another consequence is to present an approach to self-ascription that stresses the lived position of the subject, which I urge is friendly to Wittgenstein’s later account of the subject of self-ascription. (shrink)
Since the early 1970s, European thinkers have departed notably from their predecessors in order to pursue analytical programs more thoroughly their own. Rethinking the Subject brings together in one volume some of the most influential writings of Foucault, Habermas, Bourdieu, Pizzorno, Macfarlane, and other authors whose ideas have had a worldwide influence in recent social history.The anthology is testament to the central importance of three contemporary themes, each familiar to earlier thinkers but never definitively formulated or resolved. The first (...) two concern the nature and modalities of power and legitimacy in society. The third, and most fundamental, deals with the nature and modalities of the ”self” or ”subject.”These themes owe their special contemporary relevance to an array of events—from the collapse of colonialism to the birth of test-tube babies. James Faubion’s introduction traces the historical context of these influential events and themes. It also traces the lineaments of a still inchoate intellectual movement, of which the writers included in this anthology are the vanguard. (shrink)
"A consistently clear, comprehensive and accessible introduction which carefully sifts Foucault's work for both its strengths and weaknesses. McHoul and Grace show an intimate familiarity with Foucault's writings and a lively, but critical engagement with the relevance of his work. A model primer." -Tony Bennett, author of Outside Literature In such seminal works as Madness and Civilization, Discipline and Punish , and The History of Sexuality , the late philosopher Michel Foucault explored what our politics, our sexuality, our societal conventions, (...) and our changing notions of truth told us about ourselves. In the process, Foucault garnered a reputation as one of the pre-eminent philosophers of the latter half of the twentieth century and has served as a primary influence on successive generations of philosophers and cultural critics. With A Foucault Primer , Alec McHoul and Wendy Grace bring Foucault's work into focus for the uninitiated. Written in crisp and concise prose, A Foucault Primer explicates three central concepts of Foucauldian theory-discourse, power, and the subject-and suggests that Foucault's work has much yet to contribute to contemporary debate. (shrink)
Section one : Situations. Death and dialogue -- The impossibility of settled rule -- The singular subject -- Terror, politics, and the subject -- What is resistance? -- A rebel's vision -- Section two : positions. The labour of memory -- Towards a theory of the constituent power -- Possibilities of our trans-national citizenship -- Empire, globalisation, and the subject.
Textual evidence normally quoted to justify the claim that F. H. Bradley rejects subject - predicate judgements has other functions: namely to reject concrete interpretations of subject - predicate judgements. Bradley has his own view of subject - predicate judgement: in a judgement subject and predicate forma an adjetive which is predicated of the whole reality.
Bertrand Russell introduced several novel ideas in his 1903 Principles of Mathematics that he later gave up and never went back to in his subsequent work. Two of these are the related notions of denoting concepts and classes as many. In this paper we reconstruct each of these notions in the framework of conceptual realism and connect them through a logic of names that encompasses both proper and common names, and among the latter, complex as well as simple common names. (...) Names, proper or common, and simple or complex, occur as parts of quantifier phrases, which in conceptual realism stand for referential concepts, i.e., cognitive capacities that inform our speech and mental acts with a referential nature and account for the intentionality, or directedness, of those acts. In Russell’s theory, quantifier phrases express denoting concepts (which do not include proper names). In conceptual realism, names, as well as predicates, can be nominalized and allowed to occur as "singular terms", i.e., as arguments of predicates. Occurring as a singular term, a name denotes, if it denotes at all, a class as many, where, as in Russell’s theory, a class as many of one object is identical with that one object, and a class as many of more than one object is a plurality, i.e., a plural object that we call a group. Also, as in Russell’s theory, there is no empty class as many. When nominalized, proper names function as "singular terms" just the way they do in so-called free logic. Leśniewski’s ontology, which is also called a logic of names can be completely interpreted within this conceptualist framework, and the well-known oddities of Leśniewski’s system are shown not to be odd at all when his system is so interpreted. Finally, we show how the pluralities, or groups, of the logic of classes as many can be used as the semantic basis of plural reference and predication. We explain in this way Russell’s "fundamental doctrine upon which all rests", i.e., "the doctrine that the subject of a proposition may be plural, and that such plural subjects are what is meant by classes [as many] which have more than one term" (Russell 1938, p. 517). (shrink)
of autonomous agency. Yet neither denies the importance of human freedom. In Heidegger's early work the subject is reinterpreted as Dasein -- a non autonomous, culturally bound (or thrown) way of being, that can yet change the field of possibilities in which it acts. In middle Heidegger, thinkers alone have the power to disclose a new world, while in later Heidegger, anyone is free to step back from the current world, to enter one of a plurality of worlds, and, (...) thereby, facilitate a change in the practices of one's society. Likewise, for early Foucault, the subject is reduced to a function of discourse; for middle Foucault, writing can open up new worlds, and in later Foucault, freedom is understood as the power to question what is currently taken for granted, plus the capacity to change oneself and, perhaps, one's milieu. In short, while both Heidegger and Foucault reject the Enlightenment idea of an autonomous subject, they have a robust notion of freedom and action. And it will turn out for both thinkers that each person can modify his or her cultural practices by openness to embeddedness in them. All this needs a great deal of explanation. We need to determine, on the one hand, just what each rejects and why, and, on the other, what series of understandings of the self and its possibilities for action each introduces. (shrink)
The everyday concept of a social group is approached by examining the concept of going for a walk together, an example of doing something together, or "shared action". Two analyses requiring shared personal goals are rejected, since they fail to explain how people walking together have obligations and rights to appropriate behavior, and corresponding rights of rebuke. An alternative account is proposed: those who walk together must constitute the "pluralsubject" of a goal (roughly, their walking alongside each (...) other). The nature of plural subjecthood, the thesis that social groups are plural subjects, and the relation of these ideas to Rousseau's and Hobbes's, are briefly explored. (shrink)
Among other things, this paper considers what so-called collective guilt feelings amount to. If collective guilt feelings are sometimes appropriate, it must be the case that collectives can indeed be guilty. The paper begins with an account of what it is for a collective to intend to do something and to act in light of that intention. An account of collective guilt in terms of membership guilt feelings is found wanting. Finally, a "pluralsubject" account of collective guilt (...) feelings is articulated, such that they involve a joint commitment to feel guilt as a body. (shrink)
May social unity - the unity of a society or social group - be a matter of sharing values? Political philosophers disagree on this topic. Kymlicka answers: No. Devlin and Rawls answer: Yes. It is argued that given one common 'summative' account of sharing values a negative answer is correct. A positive answer is correct, however, given the pluralsubject account of sharing values. Given this account, those who share values are unified in a substantial way by their (...) participation in a joint commitment. Some consequences of such sharing of values for the liberty of the people involved are noted. (shrink)
Recently, there has been a debate focusing on the question of whether groups can literally have beliefs. For the purposes of epistemology, however, the key question is whether groups can have knowledge. More specifi cally, the question is whether “group views” can have the key epistemic features of belief, viz., aiming at truth and being epistemically rational. I argue that, while groups may not have beliefs in the full sense of the word, group views can have these key epistemic features (...) of belief. However, I argue that on Margaret Gilbert's infl uential “pluralsubject” account of group belief, group views are unlikely to be epistemically rational. (shrink)
Do people have obligations by virtue of the fact that a given country is their country? Actual contract theory says they do because they have agreed to act in certain ways. Contemporary philosophers standardly object in terms of the 'no agreement' objection and the 'not morally binding' objection. I argue that the 'not morally binding' objection is not conclusive. As for the 'no agreement' objection, though actual contract theory succumbs, a closely related pluralsubject theory of political obligation (...) does not. Pluralsubject theory may be the truth in actual contract theory and should be explored in its stead. (shrink)
Existing scientific concepts of group or shared or collective emotion fail to appreciate several elements of collectivity in such emotions. Moreover, the idea of shared emotions is threatened by the individualism of emotions that comes in three forms: ontological, epistemological, and physical. The problem is whether or not we can provide a plausible account of ?straightforwardly shared? emotions without compromising our intuitions about the individualism of emotions. I discuss two philosophical accounts of shared emotions that explain the collectivity of emotions (...) in terms of their intentional structure: Margaret Gilbert's pluralsubject account, and Hans Bernhard Schmid's phenomenological account. I argue that Gilbert's view fails because it relegates affective experience into a contingent role in emotions and because a joint commitment to feel amounts to the creation of a feeling rule rather than to an emotion. The problems with Schmid's view are twofold: first, a phenomenological fusion of feelings is not necessary for shared emotions and second, Schmid is not sensitive enough to different forms of shared concerns. I then outline my own typology that distinguishes between weakly, moderately, and strongly shared emotions on the basis of the participants? shared concerns of different degree of collectivity, on the one hand, and the synchronization of their emotional responses, on the other hand. All kind of shared emotions in my typology are consistent with the individualism of emotions, while the question about ?straightforward sharing? is argued to be of secondary importance. (shrink)
Can it ever be appropriate to feel guilt just because one's group has acted badly? Some say no, citing supposed features of guilt feelings as such. If one understands group action according to my pluralsubject account of groups, however, one can argue for the appropriateness of feeling guilt just because one's group has acted badly - a feeling that often occurs. In so arguing I sketch a pluralsubject account of groups, group intentions and group (...) actions: for a group to intend (in the relevant sense) is for its members to be jointly committed to intend that such-and-such as a body. Individual group members need not be directly involved in the formation of the intention in order to participate in such a joint commitment. The core concept of joint commitment is in an important way holistic, not being reducible to a set of personal commitments over which each party holds sway. (shrink)
Margaret Gilbert offers an incisive new approach to a classic problem of political philosophy: when and why should I do what the laws of my country tell me to do? Beginning with carefully argued accounts of social groups in general and political societies in particular, the author argues that in central, standard senses of the relevant terms membership in a political society in and of itself obligates one to support that society's political institutions. The obligations in question are not moral (...) requirements derived from general moral principles, as is often supposed, but a matter of one's participation in a special kind of commitment: joint commitment. An agreement is sufficient but not necessary to generate such a commitment. Gilbert uses the phrase 'pluralsubject' to refer to all of those who are jointly committed in some way. She therefore labels the theory offered in this book the pluralsubject theory of political obligation. The author concentrates on the exposition of this theory, carefully explaining how and in what sense joint commitments obligate. She also explores a classic theory of political obligation --- actual contract theory --- according to which one is obligated to conform to the laws of one's country because one agreed to do so. She offers a new interpretation of this theory in light of a theory of pluralsubject theory of agreements. She argues that actual contract theory has more merit than has been thought, though the more general pluralsubject theory is to be preferred. She compares and contrasts pluralsubject theory with identification theory, relationship theory, and the theory of fair play. She brings it to bear on some classic situations of crisis, and, in the concluding chapter, suggests a number of avenues for related empirical and moral inquiry. Clearly and compellingly written, A Theory of Political Obligation will be essential reading for political philosophers and theorists. (shrink)
The paper distinguishes two ways of understanding a wise society. A society can be wise by virtue of possessing mostly true evaluative beliefs. Or it can be wise by virtue of employing rational procedures of collective belief formation. If the first possibility involves the society’s being, in Margaret Gilbert’s sense, a pluralsubject of evaluative beliefs, social wisdom will, as Gilbert says, entail an abridgement of individual freedom. But, this paper argues, if a society’s being wise is understood (...) as its employing rational procedures of collective belief formation, social wisdom positively requires individual freedom. (shrink)
The paper distinguishes two ways of understanding a wise society. A society can be wise by virtue of possessing mostly true evaluative beliefs. Or it can be wise by virtue of employing rational procedures of collective belief formation. If the first possibility involves the society’s being, in Margaret Gilbert’s sense, a pluralsubject of evaluative beliefs, social wisdom will, as Gilbert says, entail an abridgement of individual freedom. But, this paper argues, if a society’s being wise is understood (...) as its employing rational procedures of collective belief formation, social wisdom positively requires individual freedom. (shrink)
This paper uses the recent ‘network film’ of Mateo Garrone Gomorrah in order to let Alain Badiou’s theory of subjectivization-in-decision percolate through the immanent networks of contemporary ‘risk societies’ and the narrative structures through which they find expression in cinema. Adumbrating a tension between choices and decisions I seek to create ‘edges’ between two worlds that in the most part of Badiou’s work have been decisively and platonically separated: the world of being and the one of our embodied social experience. (...) Cinema lends its dynamical and ‘tensed’ mediation in order for this new and open topology to be explored. (shrink)
Marcia Cavell draws on philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the sciences of the mind in a fascinating and original investigation of human subjectivity. A "subject" is a creature, we may say, who recognizes herself as an "I," taking in the world from a subjective perspective; an agent, doing things for reasons, sometimes self-reflective, and able to assume responsibility for herself and some of her actions. If this is an ideal, how does a person become a subject, and what might stand (...) in the way? One of Marcia Cavell's guiding premises is that philosophical investigation into the specifically human way of being in the world cannot separate itself from investigations of a more empirical sort. Cavell brings together for the first time reflections in philosophy, findings in neuroscience, studies in infant development, psychoanalytic theory, and clinical vignettes from her own psychoanalytic practice. (shrink)
The place of the subjective -- Everything that is of a whole constitutes an obstacle to it insofar as it is included in it -- Action, manor of the subject -- The real is the impasse of formalization : formalization is the locus of the passing-into-force of the real -- Hegel : "the activity of force is essentially activity reacting against itself" -- Subjective and objective -- The subject under the signifiers of the exception -- Of force as (...) disappearance, whose effect is the whole from which it has disappeared -- Deduction of the splitting -- A la nue accablante tu? -- Any subject is a forced exception, which comes in second place -- Jewelry for the sacred of any subtraction of existence -- Lack and destruction -- The new one forbids the new one and presupposes it -- On the side of the true -- There are no class relations -- Every subject crosses a lack of being and a destruction -- The subjects antecedence to itself -- Torsion -- Theory of the subject according to Sophocles, theory of the subject according to Eeschylus -- Of the strands of the knot, knowing only the color -- A materialist reversal of materialism -- The Black sheep of materialism -- The indissoluble salt of truth -- Answering to the sphinx demands from the subject not to have to answer or the sphinx -- Algebra and topology -- Neigborhoods -- Consistency, second name of the real after the cause -- So little ontology -- Subjectivization and subjective process -- The topological opposite of the knot is not the cut-dispersion but the destruction-recomposition -- Subjectivizing anticipation, retroaction of the subjective process -- Hurry! hurry! word of the living! -- The inexistent -- Logic of the excess -- Topics of ethics -- Where? -- The subjective twist : and -- Diagonals of the imaginary -- Schema -- Ethics as the dissipation of the paradoxes of partisanship -- Classical detour -- Love what you will never believe twice. (shrink)
Talk of group minds has arisen in a number of distinct traditions, such as in sociological thinking about the “madness of crowds” in the 19th-century, and more recently in making sense of the collective intelligence of social insects, such as bees and ants. Here we provide an analytic framework for understanding a range of contemporary appeals to group minds and cognate notions, such as collective agency, shared intentionality, socially distributed cognition, transactive memory systems, and group-level cognitive adaptations.
Homi Bhabha attends to the figure of the postcolonial metropolitan subject-a racialized subject who is not representative of the first world, yet a symbol of the metropolitan sphere. Bhabha describes theirdaily lives as inextricably split or doubled. His analysis cannot account for the agonistic moments when one is caught in not knowing, in focusing attention, and in developing understanding. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology with the openness in the horizon of the gestaltian framework better accounts for such splits as moments (...) on the horizon for becoming and grasping something new. (shrink)
The question of modernity has provoked a vigorous debate in the work of thinkers from Hegel to Habermas. Our own self-styled postmodern age has seen no end to this debate, which now receives a major and wide-ranging intervention from the theorist and critic Anthony J. Cascardi. Offering an historical account of the origins and transformations of the rational subject or self as it is represented in Descartes, Cervantes, Pascal, Hobbes and the Don Juan myth, he carries his argument across (...) the fields of epistemology, literature, political science, religion and psychology. The modern subject proves to be positioned within conflicting discourses, in a culture characterised by its 'detotalised totality'. Max Weber's concept of 'world disenchantment' enables Cascardi to make a searching critique of modernity's sense of its absoluteness, divorced from an archaic, 'enchanted' world. He advocates in its place a more fruitful relationship between historical analysis and theoretical speculation, offering constructive new alternatives to current orthodoxy regarding subjectivity and modernity. (shrink)
Abstract Since modernity, the concept of subject supposes both an anthropocentric and a dualistic view of life and reality. In this study, we carry out an analytic interpretation of the Descartes’ notion of subject, in order to build a different dimension of the concept of subject. We discuss the activity of computing, as the manner by which the living subject relates with and in-forms the world. We further examine computing in the aging yeast as an example (...) of living subject and we try to comprehend the maturity of the subjectivity in Descartes’ res cogitans and in our proposed res computans . Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-12 DOI 10.1007/s10516-011-9177-5 Authors María Belén Campero, Center of Philosophical Investigations, CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina Cristián Favre, Institute of Experimental Physiology, CONICET, School of Biochemical Sciences, University of Rosario, Suipacha 570, S2002LRL Rosario, Argentina Journal Axiomathes Online ISSN 1572-8390 Print ISSN 1122-1151. (shrink)
Although Wittgenstein is often held co-responsible for the so-called death of man as it was pronounced in the course of the previous century, no detailed description of his alternative to the traditional or Cartesian account of human being has so far been available. By consulting several parts of Wittgenstein's later oeuvre, Subjectivity after Wittgenstein aims to fill this gap. However, it also contributes to the debate about the Cartesian subject and its demise by discussing the criticism that the rethinking (...) of subjectivity received, for it has been argued that the anti-Cartesian turn in continental philosophy has lead to a loss of a centre for both ethics and politics. By further exploring the implications of the Wittgensteinian account of human being, this book makes it clear that a non-Cartesian view on the subject is not necessarily ethically and politically inert. Moreover, it argues that ethical and political arguments should not automatically take precedence in a debate about the nature of man. (shrink)
§I schematises the evidence for an understanding of ‘know’ and other terms of epistemic appraisal that embodies contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism, and distinguishes between those two approaches. §II argues that although the cases for contextualism and sensitive invariantism rely on a principle of charity in the interpretation of epistemic claims, neither approach satisfies charity fully, since both attribute metalinguistic errors to speakers. §III provides an equally charitable anti-sceptical insensitive invariantist explanation of much of the same evidence as the result (...) of psychological bias caused by salience effects. §IV suggests that the explanation appears to have implausible consequences about practical reasoning, but also that applications of contextualism or sensitive invariantism to the problem of scepticism have such consequences. §V argues that the inevitable difference between appropriateness and knowledge of appropriateness in practical reasoning, closely related to the difference between knowledge and knowledge of knowledge, explains the apparent implausibility. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker leads today’s “neo-Lockean” liberation of persons from the conservative animalist charge of “neo-Aristotelians” such as Eric Olson, according to whom persons are biological entities and who challenge all neo-Lockean views on grounds that abstracting from strictly physical, or bodily, criteria plays fast and loose with our identities. There is a fundamental mistake on both sides: a false dichotomy between bodily continuity versus psychological continuity theories of personal identity. Neo-Lockeans, like everyone else today who relies on Locke’s analysis of (...) personal identity, including Derek Parfit, have either completely distorted or not understood Locke’s actual view. Shoemaker’s defense, which uses a “package deal” definition that relies on internal relations of synchronic and diachronic unity and employs the Ramsey–Lewis account to define personal identity, leaves far less room for psychological continuity views than for my own view, which, independently of its radical implications, is that (a) consciousness makes personal identity, and (b) in consciousness alone personal identity consists—which happens to be also Locke’s actual view. Moreover, the ubiquitous Fregean conception of borders and the so-called “ambiguity of is” collapse in the light of what Hintikka has called the “Frege trichotomy.” The Ramsey–Lewis account, due to the problematic way Shoemaker tries to bind the variables, makes it impossible for the neo-Lockean ala Shoemaker to fulfill the uniqueness clause required by all such Lewis style definitions; such attempts avoid circularity only at the expense of mistaking isomorphism with identity. Contrary to what virtually all philosophers writing on the topic assume, fission does not destroy personal identity. A proper analysis of public versus perspectival identification, derived using actual case studies from neuropsychiatry, provides the scientific, mathematical and logical frameworks for a new theory of self-reference, wherein “consciousness,” “self-consciousness,” and the “I,” can be precisely defined in terms of the subject and the subject-in-itself. (shrink)
Does what you know depend on what is at stake for you? That is, is the knowledge relation sensitive to the subject’s practical interests? Subject sensitive invariantists (Fantl and McGrath, 2002; Hawthorne, 2004, ch. 4; Stanley, forthcoming) say that the answer is yes. They claim to capture the contextualist data without the shifty semantics. I will argue that the answer is no. The knowledge relation is sensitive to what is in question for the attributor, rather than what is (...) at stake for the subject. There is no substitute for the contextualist semantics. (shrink)
Necessitism is the view that necessarily everything is necessarily something; contingentism is the negation of necessitism. The dispute between them is reminiscent of, but clearer than, the more familiar one between possibilism and actualism. A mapping often used to ‘translate’ actualist discourse into possibilist discourse is adapted to map every sentence of a first-order modal language to a sentence the contingentist (but not the necessitist) may regard as equivalent to it but which is neutral in the dispute. This mapping enables (...) the necessitist to extract a ‘cash value’ from what the contingentist says. Similarly, a mapping often used to ‘translate’ possibilist discourse into actualist discourse is adapted to map every sentence of the language to a sentence the necessitist (but not the contingentist) may regard as equivalent to it but which is neutral in the dispute. This mapping enables the contingentist to extract a ‘cash value’ from what the necessitist says. Neither mapping is a translation in the usual sense, since necessitists and contingentists use the same language with the same meanings. The former mapping is extended to a second-order modal language under a plural interpretation of the second-order variables. It is proved that the latter mapping cannot be. Thus although the necessitist can extract a ‘cash value’ from what the contingentist says in the second-order language, the contingentist cannot extract a ‘cash value’ from some of what the necessitist says, even when it raises significant questions. This poses contingentism a serious challenge. (shrink)
Numbers and other mathematical objects are exceptional in having no locations in space or time or relations of cause and effect. This makes it difficult to account for the possibility of the knowledge of such objects, leading many philosophers to embrace nominalism, the doctrine that there are no such objects, and to embark on ambitious projects for interpreting mathematics so as to preserve the subject while eliminating its objects. This book cuts through a host of technicalities that have obscured (...) previous discussions of these projects, and presents clear, concise accounts of a dozen strategies for nominalistic interpretation of mathematics, thus equipping the reader to evaluate each and to compare different ones. The authors also offer critical discussion, rare in the literature, of the aims and claims of nominalistic interpretation, suggesting that it is significant in a very different way from that usually assumed. (shrink)
Thomas Blackson does not question that my argument in section 2 of “Assertion, Knowledge and Context” establishes the conclusion that the standards that comprise a truth-condition for “I know that P” vary with context, but does claim that this does not suffice to validly demonstrate the truth of contextualism, because this variance in standards can be handled by what we will here call Subject-Sensitive Invariantism (SSI), and so does not demand a contextualist treatment. According to SSI, the varying standards (...) that comprise a truth-condition of “I know that P” are sensitive to factors that attach to the speaker as the putative subject of knowledge, rather than as the speaker of the knowledge attribution. That is, according to SSI, these factors of the subject’s context determine a single set of standards that govern when the subject himself, or any other speaker, including those not engaged in conversation with the subject, can truthfully say that the subject “knows.” Thus, we do not get the result that contextualists insist on: that one speaker can truthfully say the subject “knows,” while another speaker, in a different and more demanding context, can say that the subject does “not know”, even though the two speakers are speaking of the same subject knowing (or not knowing) the same proposition at the same time. Given the possibility of SSI, Blackson concludes that I “either assumed without argument that [SSI] is false or failed to distinguish the different ways the standard for knowledge might be determined.” I indeed have long assumed that SSI can’t be right, and so have taken a different form of invariantism to be the real threat to contextualism. But since SSI, and views like it, now seem to be getting considerable attention, it is worth articulating why I find it unpromising. (shrink)
Jason Stanley has argued recently that Epistemic Contextualism (EC) and Subject-Sensitive Invariantism (SSI) are explanatorily on a par with regard to certain data arising from modal and temporal embeddings of ‘knowledge’-ascriptions. This paper argues against Stanley that EC has a clear advantage over SSI in the discussed field and introduces a new type of linguistic datum strongly suggesting the falsity of SSI.
It is argued that the English bare plural (an NP with plural head that lacks a determiner), in spite of its apparently diverse possibilities of interpretation, is optimally represented in the grammar as a unified phenomenon. The chief distinction to be dealt with is that between the generic use of the bare plural (as in Dogs bark) and its existential or indefinite plural use (as in He threw oranges at Alice). The difference between these uses is (...) not to be accounted for by an ambiguity in the NP itself, but rather by explicating how the context of the sentence acts on the bare plural to give rise to this distinction. A brief analysis is sketched in which bare plurals are treated in all instances as proper names of kinds of things. A subsidiary argument is that the null determiner is not to be regarded as the plural of the indefinite article a. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that we need to take irreducibly plural logic more seriously in metaphysical debates due to the fact that the verdict of many metaphysical debates hangs on it. I give two examples. The main example I focus on is the debate recently revived by Jonathan Schaffer over the fundamental cardinality of the world. I show how the three main arguments provided by Schaffer are unsound in virtue of an employment of plural logic. The second (...) example I give is a more general issue about the possibility of emergent properties of mereological wholes. Employing plural logic there is a new way to understand such cases. The upshot is that plural logic greatly matters to metaphysics and hence can no longer be ignored the way it has in this area. (shrink)
The problem of empty terms is one of the focal issues in analytic philosophy. Russell’s theory of descriptions, a proposal attempting to solve this problem, attracted much attention and is considered a hallmark of the analytic tradition. Scholars of Indian and Buddhist philosophy, e.g., McDermott, Matilal, Shaw and Perszyk, have studied discussions of empty terms in Indian and Buddhist philosophy. But most of these studies rely heavily on the Nyāya or Navya-Nyāya sources, in which Buddhists are portrayed as opponents to (...) be defeated, and thus do not truly reflect Buddhist views on this issue. The present paper will explore how Dignāga, the founder of Buddhist logic, deals with the issue of empty subject terms. His approach is subtle and complicated. On the one hand, he proposes a method of paraphrase that resembles Russell’s theory of descriptions. On the other, by relying on his philosophy of language—the apoha theory, he tends to fall into a panfictionalism. Through the efforts of his follower Dharmakīrti, the latter approach would become more acceptable among Indian and Tibetan Buddhists. Dignāga’s Chinese commentators, who were free from the influence of Dharmakīrti, dealt with the empty term issue in three ways: (1) by adhering to Dignāga’s method of paraphrase; (2) by allowing exceptions for non-implicative negation; and (3) by indicating the propositional attitude of a given proposition. Among these, the third proved most popular. (shrink)
Subject sensitive invariantism is the view that whether a subject knows depends on what is at stake for that subject: the truth-value of a knowledge-attribution is sensitive to the subject's practical interests. I argue that subject sensitive invariantism cannot accept a very plausible principle for memory to transmit knowledge. I argue, furthermore, that semantic contextualism and contrastivism can accept this plausible principle for memory to transmit knowledge. I conclude that semantic contextualism and contrastivism are in (...) a dialectical position better than subject sensitive invariantism is. (shrink)
In this article three viewpoints on the relation of body and language are discussed: the poststructuralist viewpoint of Judith Butler, the phenomenological viewpoint of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the postmodernist viewpoint of Jean-François Lyotard. The reason juxtaposing for these three accounts is twofold. First, the topic requires a combination of post-structuralist and phenomenological insights, and second, the accounts are supplementary. Butler's account raises questions that can be answered with the help of Merleau-Ponty's work. Lyotard's anthropology of the inhuman offers a perspective (...) of finitude that is missing in the other two. The aim of the article is to outline the necessary ingredients of an adequate conception of the speaking embodied subject. (shrink)
Descartes's philosophy has had a considerable influence on the modern conception of the mind, but many think that this influence has been largely negative. The main project of The Subject's Point of View is to argue that discarding certain elements of the Cartesian conception would be much more difficult than critics seem to allow, since it is tied to our understanding of basic notions, including the criteria for what makes someone a person, or one of us. The crucial feature (...) of the Cartesian view defended here is not dualism--which is not adopted--but internalism. Internalism is opposed to the widely accepted externalist thesis, which states that some mental features constitutively depend on certain features of our physical and social environment. In contrast, this book defends the minority internalist view, which holds that the mind is autonomous, and though it is obviously affected by the environment, this influence is merely contingent and does not delimit what is thinkable in principle. Defenders of the externalist view often present their theory as the most thoroughgoing criticism of the Cartesian conception of the mind; Katalin Farkas offers a defence of an uncompromising internalist Cartesian conception. (shrink)
In this innovative study of the relationship between persons and their bodies, E. J. Lowe demonstrates the inadequacy of physicalism, even in its mildest, non-reductionist guises, as a basis for a scientifically and philosophically acceptable account of human beings as subjects of experience, thought and action. He defends a substantival theory of the self as an enduring and irreducible entity - a theory which is unashamedly committed to a distinctly non-Cartesian dualism of self and body. Taking up the physicalist challenge (...) to any robust form of psychophysical interactionism, he shows how an attribution of independent causal powers to the mental states of human subjects is perfectly consistent with a thoroughly naturalistic world view. He concludes his study by examining in detail the role which conscious mental states play in the human subject's exercise of its most central capacities for perception, action, thought and self-knowledge. (shrink)
Genuine agents are able to engage in activity because they find it worth pursuing—because they care about it. In this respect, they differ from what might be called “mere intentional systems”: systems like chess-playing computers that exhibit merely goal-directed behavior mediated by instrumental rationality, without caring. A parallel distinction can be made in the domain of social activity: plural agents must be distinguished from plural intentional systems in that plural agents have cares and engage in activity because (...) of those cares. In this paper, I sketch an account of what it is for an individual to care about things in terms of her exhibiting a certain pattern of emotions. After extending this account to make sense of an individual's caring about other agents, I then show how a certain sort of emotional connectedness among a group of people can make intelligible the group's having cares and thereby constitute that group as a plural agent. Alternative accounts of social action, by ignoring the difference between mere intentional systems and genuine agents, and so by leaving out these emotional entanglements from their accounts of social action, thereby fail to capture a whole range of social phenomena involving plural agents. (shrink)
John Burgess in a 2004 paper combined plural logic and a new version of the idea of limitation of size to give an elegant motivation of the axioms of ZFC set theory. His proposal is meant to improve on earlier work by Paul Bernays in two ways. I argue that both attempted improvements fail. I am grateful to Philip Welch, two anonymous referees, and especially Ignacio Jané for written comments on earlier versions of this paper, which have led to (...) substantial improvements. Thanks also to the participants in a discussion group at the University of Bristol, where an earlier version was presented. (shrink)
When viewed as the most comprehensive theory of collections, set theory leaves no room for classes. But the vocabulary of classes, it is argued, provides us with compact and, sometimes, irreplaceable formulations of largecardinal hypotheses that are prominent in much very important and very interesting work in set theory. Fortunately, George Boolos has persuasively argued that plural quantification over the universe of all sets need not commit us to classes. This paper suggests that we retain the vocabulary of classes, (...) but explain that what appears to be singular reference to classes is, in fact, covert plural reference to sets. (shrink)
According to a popular doctrine known as "intentionalism," two experiences must have different representational contents if they have different phenomenological contents, in other words, what they represent must differ if what they feel like differs. Were this position correct, the representational significance of a given affect (or 'quale'---plural 'qualia'--to use the preferred term), e.g. a tickle, would be fixed: what it represented would not be a function of the subject's beliefs, past experiences, or other facts about his past (...) or present psychological condition. To be sure, many a quale has a significance; but it is never a quale's intrinsic properties that assign it that significance, it being quale-external facts about the subject's psychological composition that do so. (An example of such a fact would be a belief on the subject's part to the effect that relevantly similar qualia are consistent with arthritis.). (shrink)
In the center of this paper is a phenomenological claim: we experience ourselves in our own doings and we experience others when we perceive them in their doings as active in the sense of being a cause of the corresponding physical event. These experiences are fundamental to the way we view ourselves and others. It is therefore desirable for any philosophical theory to be compatible with the content of these experiences and thus to avoid the attribution of radical and permanent (...) error to human experience. A theory of ‘subject causation’ according to which the active subject continuously and simultaneously causes physical changes is sketched. This account is—according to the phenomenological claim defended—compatible with the content of our daily experiences in doing something and in observing others in their doings and it has a number of further more theoretical advantages: it does not touch the autonomy of neurophysiology and it is compatible with a thesis of supervenience of the mental on the physical. It does however require a weak version of subject-body dualism. (shrink)
I explore Lacan’s theory of the subject by responding to two well-known criticisms of it, found in Borch-Jacobsen’s Lacan and Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy’s The Title of the Letter. I argue that the relation of the subject to language is an important part of Lacan’s theory, but his conception of the subject cannot be reduced to language, as the critiques allege. The real must be included in the picture too. I then discuss the situation of Lacan’s subject (...) between language and the real, and conclude with a contrast of Lacan’s subversion of the subject to a Derridean paleonymic approach. (shrink)
In his writings Alfred Schutz identifies an artificiality in the concept of life-world produced by Edmund Husserl's method of reduction. As an alternative, he proposes to assume intersubjectivity as a given of everyday life. This eradicates Husserl's distinction between life-world and natural attitude. The subsequent phenomenological project appears to center upon sociological descriptions of the structures of the life-world rather than on a search for apodictic truth. Schutz, however, actually retains Husserl's emphasis on the subject. A tension then arises (...) between the assumption of intersubjectivity and individual experience. Rather than clarifying the concept of intersubjectivity, this further problematizes it. Drawing upon Max Weber's work, Schutz responds by developing a rigorous methodology for studying the social world. But having rejected Husserl's reduction and conflated life-world and natural attitude, Schutz's analysis moves at the level of daily life itself. Consequently, the explanatory categories he proposes appear as abstractions rather than as a way of describing lived experience. Schutz, it is concluded, initiates a scientistic sociology in which the commonsense structures of the natural attitude of everyday life are subverted and replaced by the more rigorous knowledge of the scientific attitude. Schutz's version of phenomenology is ultimately untrue to the spirit of Husserl's original project; and deploying his work as a clear-cut alternative to scientistic tendencies within sociology is not as straightforward as it might at first seem. (shrink)
In this paper it is argued that Habermas' critique of German Idealism is misguided and that his rejection of the philosophy of the subject is unjustified. Critical Theory needs to recognise the importance of subjectivity for all social philosophy if its theoretical aims are to be achieved. In order to demonstrate the relevance of subjectivity to Critical Theory the essay draws on analytic philosophy of mind and on the work of Manfred Frank and Dieter Henrich.
A new axiomatization of set theory, to be called Bernays-Boolos set theory, is introduced. Its background logic is the plural logic of Boolos, and its only positive set-theoretic existence axiom is a reflection principle of Bernays. It is a very simple system of axioms sufficient to obtain the usual axioms of ZFC, plus some large cardinals, and to reduce every question of plural logic to a question of set theory.
This paper argues that AI follows classical versions of epistemology in assuming that the identity of the knowing subject is not important. In other words this serves to `delete the subject''. This disguises an implicit hierarchy of knowers involved in the representation of knowledge in AI which privileges the perspective of those who design and build the systems over alternative perspectives. The privileged position reflects Western, professional masculinity. Alternative perspectives, denied a voice, belong to less powerful groups including (...) women. Feminist epistemology can be used to approach this from new directions, in particular, to show how women''s knowledge may be left out of consideration by AI''s focus on masculine subjects. The paper uncovers the tacitly assumed Western professional male subjects in two flagship AI systems, Cyc and Soar. (shrink)
Plural and conflicting values are often held to be conceptually problematic, threatening the very possibility of ethics, or at least rational ethics. Rejecting this view, Stocker first demonstrates why it is so important to understand the issues raised by plural and conflicting values, focusing on Aristotle's treatment of them. He then shows that plurality and conflict are commonplace and generally unproblematic features of our everyday choice and action, and that they do allow for a sound and rational ethics.
In this paper, I distinguish three claims, which I label individual intentional autonomy, individual intentional autarky, and intentional individualism. The autonomy claim is that under normal circumstances, each individual's behavior has to be interpreted as his or her own action. The autarky claim is that the intentional interpretation of an individual's behavior has to bottom out in that individual's own volitions, or pro-attitudes. The individualism claim is weaker, arguing that any interpretation of an individual's behavior has to be given in (...) terms of individual intentional states. I argue that individual intentional autonomy implies neither individual intentional autarky, nor intentional individualism, with which it is usually lumped together. I further argue that this insight is the key to an adequate view of an important class of actions, i.e., plural actions. Key Words: joint action shared intentions methodological individualism intentional interpretation collective agents influence autonomy. (shrink)
The absence of a common understanding of attention plagues current research on the topic. Combining the findings from three domains of research on attention, this paper presents a univocal account that fits normal use of the term as well as its many associated phenomena: attention is a process of mental selection that is within the control of the subject. The role of the subject is often excluded from naturalized accounts, but this paper will be an exception to that (...) rule. The paper aims to show how we might reinstate the subject into the act of attention, endorsing the ordinary notion that attention is a direction of the mind by the subject, rather than a mere occurrence or happening. To do so, it lays out the best work of phenomenology, psychology, and neuroscience on specifying the nature of attention and, in finding them individually wanting, combines them into a unified view that avoids the problems of each. (shrink)
Certain critics, e.g. Manfred Frank and Hans-Herbert Kögler, claim that Hans-Georg Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics reduces the individual subject to a mere instrument of history and tradition, the latter reproducing themselves through the subject. However, Gadamer also emphasizes the active role of the subject in shaping and creating history and tradition. In this article I argue that the critics mistakenly emphasize a one-sided conception of history. By incorporating both active and passive aspects of the subject, Gadamer's philosophical (...) hermeneutics provides the means by which the individual may be conceived more aptly in an interdependent, dialectical relation to their corresponding historical, cultural, and social context. (shrink)
Physics says that it cannot deal with the mind-brain problem, because it does not deal in subjectivities, and mind is subjective. However, biologists (among others) still claim to seek a material basis for subjective mental processes, which would thereby render them objective. Something is clearly wrong here. I claim that what is wrong is the adoption of too narrow a view of what constitutes objectivity, especially in identifying it with what a machine can do. I approach the problem in the (...) light of two cognate circumstances: (a) the measurement problem in quantum physics, and (b) the objectivity of standard mathematics, even though most of it is beyond the reach of machines. I argue that the only resolution to such problems is in the recognition that closed loops of causation are objective; i.e. legitimate objects of scientific scrutiny. These are explicitly forbidden in any machine or mechanism. A material system which contains such loops is called complex. Such complex systems thus must possess nonsimulable models; i.e. models which contain impredicativities or self-references which cannot be removed, or faithfully mapped into a single coherent syntactic time-frame. I consider a few of the consequences of the above, in the context of thus redrawing the boundary between subject and object. (shrink)
Plural predication is a pervasive part of ordinary language. We can say that some people are fifty in number, are surrounding a building, come from many countries, and are classmates. These predicates can be true of some people without being true of any one of them; they are non-distributive predications. However, the apparatus of modern logic does not allow a place for them. Thomas McKay here explores the enrichment of logic with non-distributive plural predication and quantification. His book (...) will be of great interest to philosophers of language, linguists, metaphysicians, and logicians. (shrink)
Persons are present in the social realm of reasons and make active use of their ability to express themselves. They have a sense of self-reference and lead their lives in the perspective of possible self-consciousness and possible autonomy. For understanding what it means for a person to be a subject one must avoid egological reifications. Expressions like 'self' or 'self-reference' do not refer to entities. They can only be introduced in a way that meets standards of semantic control. Self- (...) reference proves to be an inner-worldly phenomenon that expresses itself indirectly in reflexive attitudes and activities over time. (shrink)
In the sixth century a.d., in a debate with the Buddhists about the nature of Self, the well-known Naiyāyika Uddyotakara declared that there is no need prove that the Self or what is referred to by the pronoun “I” exists, for on that score there cannot be any significant disagreement.1 It is only this or that specific metaphysical nature of the self that is the subject of controversy. To limit the scope of the debate at issue here, we employ (...) the same strategy. It is beyond doubt that many cognitive processes involve consciousness of the self, for example monitoring one’s activities, as in learning how to dance or planning an important event in the near future. We can safely assume that there cannot be any .. (shrink)
This article offers a tentative deconstruction of Heidegger’s account of the “modern,” that is, the “Cartesian,” “subject.” It argues that subjectivity, understood as the idea of some “thing” that is both the owner of certain mental states and the agent of certain activities, is a medieval theological construct, based on two conflicting models of the mind (nous, mens) inherited from ancient philosophy and theology: the Aristotelian and the Augustinian (or perichoretic) one, developed in connection with such problems as that (...) of the two wills in the incarnate Christ. Starting with Nietzsche’s criticism of the “superstition of logicians” (the belief that“the subject I is the condition of the predicate think”) and Peter Strawson’s question in Individuals (“Why are one’s states of consciousness ascribed to anything at all?”), the article discusses Peter Olivi’s and Thomas Aquinas’s treatments of the problem, as well as the principle invoked to resolve it: actiones sunt suppositorum, “actions belong to subjects.” Against this background, the discussion refers to Heidegger’s notion of “subjecticity” and Armstrong’s “attribute-theory” in order to reappraise the Hobbesian and Leibnizian contributions to the history of the Self. (shrink)