In this paper I defend the claim that concepts are not public. I argue that two of the main constraints for theories of concepts, namely (1) that concepts are public and (2) that they serve to explain Frege Cases, are in tension. (1) requires concepts to be individuated coarsely, while (2) requires ..
A traditional view is that scientific evidence can be produced only by intersubjective methods that can be used by different investigators and will produce agreement. This intersubjectivity, or publicity, constraint ostensibly excludes introspection. But contemporary cognitive scientists regularly rely on their subjects' introspective reports in many areas, especially in the study of consciousness. So there is a tension between actual scientific practice and the publicity requirement. Which should give way? This paper argues against the publicity requirement (...) and against a fallback version of it, viz. that evidence-conferring methods must at least have their reliability publicly validated. (shrink)
We examine a proposal of Eric Lormand's for dealing with perhaps the chief difficulty facing holistic theories of meaning—meaning instability. The problem is that, given a robust holism, small changes in a representational system are likely to lead to meaning changes throughout the system. Consequently, different individuals are likely never to mean the same thing. Lormand suggests that holists can avoid this problem—and even secure more stability than non-holists—by positing that symbols have multiple meanings. We argue that the proposal doesn't (...) work, however, since multiple meanings are unstable for much the same reason that single meanings are. (shrink)
The paper explores satire not as a literary genre but as an idiom of political and moral reflection discussing the extent to which contexts of relative constraint or freedom of expression are adequate for its understanding. The argument deals with the satire of Early-Modern England, especially that of the Restoration and early eighteenth century, as for most of this time political authority was purposely oppressive, the satire produced was highly significant, and it allegedly is part of the beginnings of (...) a public sphere of open rational discourse. The paper outlines in turn: the significance of anonymity, differing understandings of humour, diverging satiric propensities, ritualised satire and taboo, and the distinction between constraint and restraint. It suggests that to locate satire between oppression and liberty lacks explanatory power and, in particular, that the very notion of a public sphere is of little historical value in discussing satire. If Habermas's concept is taken seriously it mythologises the early eighteenth century on scant evidence. If it is emptied of theoretical content, a healthy public sphere can be found in numerous places. The paper concludes by raising questions about how far the predominant roles of satire have changed since its 'golden age'. (shrink)
According to the Generality Constraint, mental states with conceptual content must be capable of recombining in certain systematic ways. Drawing on empirical evidence from cognitive science, I argue that so-called analogue magnitude states violate this recombinability condition and thus have nonconceptual content. I further argue that this result has two significant consequences: it demonstrates that nonconceptual content seeps beyond perception and infiltrates cognition; and it shows that whether mental states have nonconceptual content is largely an empirical matter determined by (...) the structure of the neural representations underlying them. (shrink)
Christine Korsgaard has argued recently that the thesis that reasons are "essentially public" undermines the distinction between agent-neutral and agent-relative reasons, thus refuting egoism by rejecting its commitment to the universal availability of agent-relative reasons. I conclude that Korsgaard's invocation of the essential publicity of reasons trades on ambiguities concerning the "sharing" of reasons and so does not refute egoism and does not ground moral normativity. Her account of the publicity of reasons shows that solipsism is incoherent, but (...) the egoist need not be a solipsist, nor is she an incompetent user of moral language or the language of reasons. (shrink)
Andrea Westlund's account of love involves lovers becoming a Plural Subject mirroring Margaret Gilbert's Plural Subject 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 plural subject. (shrink)
Corporate crises call for effective communication to shelter or restore a company's reputation. The use of corporate social responsibility (CSR) claims may provide an effective tool to counter the negative impact of a crisis, but knowledge about its effectiveness is scarce and lacking in studies that consider CSR communication during crises. To help fill this gap, this study investigates whether the length of company's involvement in CSR matters when it uses CSR claims in its crisis communication as a means to (...) counter negative publicity. The use of CSR claims in crisis communication is more effective for companies with a long CSR history than for those with a short CSR history, and consumer skepticism about claims lies at the heart of this phenomenon. (shrink)
What motivated an absolutist Erastian who rejected religious freedom, defended uniform public worship, and deemed the public expression of disagreement a catalyst for war to endorse a movement known to history as the champion of toleration, no coercion in religion, and separation of church and state? At least three factors motivated Hobbes’s 1651 endorsement of Independency: the Erastianism of Cromwellian Independency, the influence of the politique tradition, and, paradoxically, the contribution of early-modern practices of toleration to maintaining the public sphere’s (...) religious uniformity. The third factor illustrates how a key function of the emerging private sphere in the early-modern period was to protect uniformity, rather than diversity; it also shows that what was novel was not so much the public/private distinction itself, but the separation of two previously conflated dimensions of publicity – visibility and representativeness – that enabled early-modern Europeans to envisage modes of worship out in the open, yet still private. (shrink)
In his book Mind and World, John McDowell grapples with the problem that the world must and yet seemingly cannot constrain our empirical thought. I first argue that McDowell’s proposed solution to the problem throws him onto the horns of his own, intractable dilemma, and thus fails to solve the problem of rational constraint by the world. Next, I will argue that Wilfrid Sellars, in a series of articles written in the 1950s and 60s, provides the tools to solve (...) the dilemma McDowell sets before us. We will see how, borrowing from Sellars and certain neo-Sellarsians, we can solve the problem of rational constraint by perception without resorting to a McDowellian quasi-enchantment of the world. (shrink)
I develop a variant of the constraint interpretation of the emergence of purely physical (non-biological) entities, focusing on the principle of the non-derivability of actual physical states from possible physical states (physical laws) alone. While this is a necessary condition for any account of emergence, it is not sufficient, for it becomes trivial if not extended to types of constraint that specifically constitute physical entities, namely, those that individuate and differentiate them. Because physical organizations with these features are (...) in fact interdependent sets of such constraints, and because such constraints on physical laws cannot themselves be derived from physical laws, physical organization is emergent. These two complementary types of constraint are components of a complete non-reductive physicalism, comprising a non-reductive materialism and a non-reductive formalism. (shrink)
We present a rendering of some common grammatical formalisms in terms of evolving algebras. Though our main concern in this paper is on constraint-based formalisms, we also discuss the more basic case of context-free grammars. Our aim throughout is to highlight the use of evolving algebras as a specification tool to obtain grammar formalisms.
We observe a number of connections between recent developments in the study of constraint satisfaction problems, irredundant axiomatisation and the study of topological quasivarieties. Several restricted forms of a conjecture of Clark, Davey, Jackson and Pitkethly are solved: for example we show that if, for a finite relational structure M, the class of M-colourable structures has no finite axiomatisation in first order logic, then there is no set (even infinite) of first order sentences characterising the continuously M-colourable structures amongst (...) compact totally disconnected relational structures. We also refute a rather old conjecture of Gorbunov by presenting a finite structure with an infinite irredundant quasi-identity basis. (shrink)
Domain constraint, the requirement that analogues be selected from "the same category," inheres in the popular saying "you can't compare apples and oranges" and the textbook principle "the greater the number of shared properties, the stronger the argument from analogy." I identify roles of domains in biological, linguistic, and legal analogy, supporting the account of law with a computer word search of judicial decisions. I argue that the category treatments within these disciplines cannot be exported to general informal logic, (...) where the relevance of properties, not their number, must be the logically prior criterion for evaluating analogical arguments. (shrink)
The famous Allen's interval relations constraint propagation algorithm was intended for linear time. Its 13 primitive relations define all the possible mutual locations of two intervals on the time-axis. In this paper an application of the algorithm for non-linear time is suggested. First, a new primitive relation is added. It is called excludes since an occurrence of one event in a certain course of events excludes an occurrence of the other event in this course. Next, new composition rules for (...) relations between intervals are presented: some of the old rules are extended by the relation excludes, and entirely new ones are formulated for composing the relation excludes with the other relations. Four different composition tables are considered. The choice of a composition table depends on whether time is branching or not, and whether intervals can contain non-collinear subintervals or not. (shrink)
The unethical behavior of a business founder often leads to negative publicity which substantially affects positive corporate image. The amount of negative publicity relating to business founders’ unethical behavior is on the rise in the age of online social media in China. Based on the stimulus–response theory and balance theory, this paper developed a theoretical model to examine how negative publicity about a business founder’s unethical behavior affects corporate image. The proposed model was tested by the partial (...) least squares technique. Results show that perceived severity, publicity intensity and recovery performance are predictors of corporate image: perceived severity has a negative impact on positive corporate image; publicity intensity and recovery performance have positive impacts on positive corporate image; and founder image mediates the relationships between the three predictors and corporate image. Moreover, initial consumer impression of business founders has a positive impact on positive corporate image. (shrink)
The critic Cyril Connolly once pointed out that diarists don’t make novelists. He went on to describe the problem for the would-be writer. “Writing for oneself: no public. Writing for others: no privacy” (Cyril Connolly, Journal). This paper addresses Connolly's worry about the public ad private: how can we reconcile the inner and conscious dimension of speech with its outer and public dimension? For if what people mean by their words involves, or consists in, what they have in mind when (...) they speak then how can what someone has in mind — the meaning she attaches to her words — be at the same time publicly accessible to others on the basis of her behaviour? The issue is whether there is a notion of the linguistic meaning of an expression that can do justice to both speakers’ inner experience of comprehension and to what is outwardly available in their public practice. (shrink)
First-person data have been both condemned and hailed because of their alleged privacy. Critics argue that science must be based on public evidence: since first-person data are private, they should be banned from science. Apologists reply that first-person data are necessary for understanding the mind: since first-person data are private, scientists must be allowed to use private evidence. I argue that both views rest on a false premise. In psychology and neuroscience, the subjects issuing first-person reports and other sources of (...) first-person data play the epistemic role of a (self-) measuring instrument. Data from measuring instruments are public and can be validated by public methods. Therefore, first-person data are as public as other scientific data: their use in science is legitimate, in accordance with standard scientific methodology. (shrink)
In this article I present some implications for a concept of transitional justice through the comparison of two approaches: retributive vs. restorative theories. Notwithstanding their profound differences in perspective, both models are grounded upon a strong notion of the public sphere. Accordingly, after showing why neither of the two approaches exhausts the problems of transitional justice, I will demonstrate how a ‘complete’ justification requires a certain view of public reason based upon rights as truth-constraints of the public sphere.
ABSTRACT. Fodor characterizes concepts as consisting of two dimensions: one is content, which is purely denotational/broad, the other the Mentalese vehicle bearing that content, which Fodor calls the Mode of Presentation (MOP), understood "syntactically." I argue that, so understood, concepts are not interpersonally sharable; so Fodor's own account violates what he calls the PublicityConstraint in his (1998) book. Furthermore, I argue that Fodor's non-semantic, or "syntactic," solution to Frege cases succumbs to the problem of providing interpersonally applicable (...) functional roles for MOPs. This is a serious problem because Fodor himself has argued extensively that if Fregean senses or meanings are understood as functional/conceptual roles, then they can't be public, since, according to Fodor, there are no interpersonally applicable functional roles in the relevant senses. I elaborate on these relevant senses in the paper. (shrink)
The "grassroots turn" in bioethical discussions about justice in allocation of health care resources has attracted a great deal of support; in the absence of a convincing theory of justice in rationing, democratic decisionmaking concerning priority setting emerges with a kind of inevitability. Yet there remain suspicions about this approach – most importantly, worries about the socially corrosive impact of explicit, public decisionmaking that in effect sets a price on the lives of persons. These worries have been quieted, particularly by (...) the work of Leonard Fleck, but not altogether stilled. I explore more sympathetically the ideals to which concerns about public rationing somewhat dimly respond, and suggest constraints on priority setting discussions which might accommodate those ideals rather better. Keywords: "grassroots" decisionmaking, publicity principle, pricing life, rationing health care CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The SRL (speciate re-entrant logic) of King (1989) is a sound, complete and decidable logic designed specifically to support formalisms for the HPSG (head-driven phrase structure grammar) of Pollard and Sag (1994). The SRL notion of modellability in a signature is particularly important for HPSG, and the present paper modifies an elegant method due to Blackburn and Spaan (1993) in order to prove that – modellability in each computable signature is 1 0 – modellability in some finite signature is (...) 1 0 -hard (hence not decidable), and – modellability in some finite signature is decidable. (shrink)
We prove an exponential lower bound on the size of proofs in the proof system operating with ordered binary decision diagrams introduced by Atserias, Kolaitis and Vardi . In fact, the lower bound applies to semantic derivations operating with sets defined by OBDDs. We do not assume any particular format of proofs or ordering of variables, the hard formulas are in CNF. We utilize (somewhat indirectly) feasible interpolation. We define a proof system combining resolution and the OBDD proof system.
It is widely mooted that a plausible computational cognitive model should involve both symbolic and connectionist components. However, sound principles for combining these components within a hybrid system are currently lacking; the design of such systems is oftenad hoc. In an attempt to ameliorate this we provide a framework of types of hybrid systems and constraints therein, within which to explore the issues. In particular, we suggest the use of system independent constraints, whose source lies in general considerations about cognitive (...) systems, rather than in particular technological or task-based considerations. We illustrate this through a detailed examination of an interruptibility constraint: handling interruptions is a fundamental facet of cognition in a dynamic world. Aspects of interruptions are delineated, as are their precise expression in symbolic and connectionist systems. We illustrate the interaction of the various constraints from interruptibility in the different types of hybrid systems. The picture that emerges of the relationship between the connectionist and the symbolic within a hybrid system provides for sufficient flexibility and complexity to suggest interesting general implications for cognition, thus vindicating the utility of the framework. (shrink)
Some philosophers have developed comprehensive interactive models that purport to exhibit the various normative constraints that agents need to adopt in order to achieve what otherwise would be an unattainable and unsustainable social order. Robert Brandom’s semantic inferentialism purports to show how a rational construction of social coordination is enacted and maintained through specific mappings that agents make of each other’s commitments (beliefs) and entitlements (justified beliefs). Strongly influenced by Brandom’s account, Joseph Heath reconstructs a number of historically emergent deontic (...) constraints that solve what are otherwise unsolvable game-theoretic problems in the maintenance of the social order. But both accounts omit a sufficient analysis of the way in which individual agents, who comprise the normative order, are effectively addressed by norms when they act. How does an agent, who is facing a unique interactive situation with more than one normative path to choose, make a decision? One solution, attractive to some continental thinkers, is to appeal to an innate irrational component of decision-making that lies outside of rational bounds (e.g., Nietzsche’s will to power or Adorno’s das Hinzutrentende). The model I will defend lies in an existential account of agency that occupies a middle ground between a pure naturalism (where instinct dominates) and a pure regularism, or “normativism” (where reason dominates). The existential model asserts that the given normative field within which an agent operates conditions the formation of the agent’s intention to act but does not determine the effecting of an action as such — whether individual or collective. On this model, the specification of the acting or not acting on the normative intention is determined only retrospectively on the basis of what the agent actually did in a way that is in principle public and observable. Thus the content of the agency can be reconstructed only historically. The embodied character of the agent is what makes the action relatable to the sum of conditions that were co-determinative of the action at the time it occurred. The advantage of this view is that it does not overreach the highly limited access that we have to the inner workings of intentions to act while at the same time providing an account of agency independent of simply the agent’s relation to norms. (shrink)
A theory of the budgetary process within public resource allocation has to recognize that decision rules may vary over time and program. Our findings based on a new econometric approach indicate that various different decision mechanisms operate in different categories of public resource allocation. Variation over time is particularly difficult to accommodate within the incrementalist approach as incremental decision rules imply structural stability over time. We find the opposite to be true of the programs analysed.A model of the public expenditure (...) process has to take choice into account to a larger extent. The attempt to make budget-making a function of constraints violates the occurrence of shiftpoints that is typical of the data. The existence of a base and the resort to mechanical rules for the derivation of the yearly increments implies a deterministic interpretation of budgetary behavior. Budgets are made in choice processes where the principal actors employ various decision rules meaning that budget-making is more voluntaristic than deterministic. The choice rules employed for the derivation of requests and appropriations are not mechanistic decision rules. (shrink)
The publicity of a moral conception is a central idea in Kantian and contractarian moral theory. Publicity carries the idea of general acceptability of principles through to social relations. Without publicity of its moral principles, the intuitive attractiveness of the contractarian ideal seems diminished. For it means that moral principles cannot serve as principles of practical reasoning and justification among free and equal persons. This article discusses the role of the publicity assumption in Rawlss and Scanlons (...) contractualism. I contend that a regard for publicity and a moral conceptions potential to provide a public basis for justification and agreement account for much of the evolution of Rawlss account of justice after A Theory of Justice . I also discuss whether contractualism can provide a basis for justification and general agreement under the social conditions that it endorses. I contend that it cannot, and conclude with a discussion showing why this should not be a problem for contractualism. Despite appearances, contractualism is a distinctive form of contractarianism, substantially different from Rawlss position and the social contract tradition out of which it evolved. Key Words: contractarianism contractualism John Rawls public justification T.M. Scanlon justice. (shrink)
The so-called "adaptationism" of mainstream evolutionary biology has been criticized from a variety of sources. One, which has received relatively little philosophical attention, is developmental biology. Developmental constraints are said to be neglected by adaptationists. This paper explores the divergent methodological and explanatory interests that separate mainstream evolutionary biology from its embryological and developmental critics. It will focus on the concept of constraint itself; even this central concept is understood differently by the two sides of the dispute.
Democracy can be a means to independently valuable ends and/or it can be intrinsically (or non-instrumentally) valuable. One powerful non-instrumental defence of democracy is based on the idea that only it can publicly justify political authority. I contend that this is an argument about the reasonable acceptability of political authority and about the requirements of publicity and that satisfying these requirements has nothing to do with whether a society is democratic or not. Democracy, then, plays no role in publicly (...) justifying political authority. I also show that any non-instrumental defence of democracy must make claims about what justice requires and make several further claims that require substantial justification. (shrink)
It is a commonplace belief that many beliefs, e.g. religious convictions, are a purely private matter, and this is meant in some way to serve as a defense against certain forms of criticism. In this paper it is argued that this thesis is false, and that belief is really often a public matter. This argument, the publicity of belief argument, depends on one of the most compelling and central thesis of Peircean pragmatism. This crucial thesis is that bona fide (...) belief cannot be separated from action. It is then also suggested that we should accept a form of W. K. Clifford's evidentialism. When these theses are jointly accepted in conjunction with the basic principle of ethics that it is prima facie wrong to act in such a way that may subject others to serious but unnecessary and avoidable harm, it follows that many beliefs are morally wrong. (shrink)
Although most of the contemporary debates around subjectivity are framed by a rejection of the metaphysical subject, more time needs to be spent developing the implications of abandoning the meta-physics of constraint. Doing so provides the key to approaching our pressing problem that concerns freedom, and only once invisible, ideal "constraints" have been adequately understood will all of the contemporary puzzlement that concerns intentional resistance to power be assuaged. While Sartre does not solve the problem of freedom bequeathed to (...) us by Foucault, it is clear that he struggled with similar issues, and that his work sheds important light on the issue of ideal constraint. Once more, on Sartre's second view, power and freedom are not mutually exclusive, and in this he advances over much contemporary liberal thought. Thus, on the approach of what would be Sartre's hundredth birthday, I invite others to take this opportune moment to reevaluate the early work of this once shining philosophical star, only recently and perhaps prematurely eclipsed by anti-humanism, and recognize that now, more than ever, Sartre's thought is relevant to our very pressing concerns. (shrink)
The paper begins with a discussion of Philip Pettit's distinction between individualistic and collectivistic reasoning strategies. I argue that many of his examples, when correctly analysed, do not give rise to what he calls the discursive dilemma. I argue for a collectivistic strategy, which is a holistic premise-driven strategy. I will concentrate on three aspects of collective reasoning, which I call the publicity aspect, the collective acceptance aspect, and the historical constraint aspect: First, the premises of collective reasoning, (...) unlike the premises of a private individual, have to be public in some sense. Second, the group members collectively accept the public premises, and thereby commit themselves to following them in their collective practical reasoning.Third, a person need not be consistent with his earlier private judgements, he is free to change his mind, but prior collective judgements, if not collectively abandoned, constrain the member's future judgements and decisions. I conclude that collective practical reasoning can be accounted for without collectivist ontological commitments. (shrink)
This paper examines the problem of selecting a number of candidates to receive a good (admission) from a pool in which there are more qualified applicants than places. I observe that it is rarely possible to order all candidates according to some relevant criterion, such as academic merit, since these standards are inevitably somewhat vague. This means that we are often faced with the task of making selections between near-enough equal candidates. I survey one particular line of response, which says (...) that we should allow our choice of borderline candidates to be guided by non-relevant criteria such as gender-balancing. I argue that this would not, as commonly objected, be a case of sex discrimination if it is to be applied either in favour of men or women. Nonetheless, I argue that such policies are problematic because they violate the demand for publicity, which is required for legitimacy and to assure everyone that discrimination has not in fact taken place. Instead, I suggest that, if we are concerned to avoid discrimination, there may be a case for using lotteries as tie-breakers, not on grounds of fairness but to prevent taint of bias. (shrink)
According to the view that Peacocke elaborates in A Study of Concepts (1992), a concept can be individuated by providing the conditions a thinker must satisfy in order to possess that concept. Hence possessions conditions for concepts should be specifiable in a way that respects a non-circularity constraint. In a more recent paper “Implicit Conceptions, Understanding and Rationality” (1998a) Peacocke argues against his former view, in the light of the phenomenon of rationally accepting principles which do not follow from (...) what the thinker antecedently accepts. In this paper I defend the view of the book from his more recent criticisms, claiming that the noncircularity constraint should be respected, and that Peacocke's more recent insights could be accommodated in the framework of his former theory of concepts. (shrink)
Robert Adams, in Finite and Infinite Goods: A Framework for Ethics, suggests a moral constraint on our obedience to God's commands: if a purportedly divine command seems abhorrently evil, then we should infer that it is not really God so commanding. I suggest that in light of his commitments to God as the standard of goodness, to the transcendence of God, and to a critical stance towards ethics, Adams should be willing to consider the possibility of a good God (...) commanding us to do something that seems abhorrently evil to us, but really is good according to His transcendent goodness. I suggest that the ought-to-is moral constraint that Adams advocates is only appropriate when we are not certain that it is God giving the command, and that an is-to-ought constraint based on psychological certainty should be the ultimate constraint on our obedience to purportedly divine commands. This constraint advocates that if one is certain upon reflection that a command is from God, then one should obey that command, regardless of how evil it seems. After responding to several objections to this psychological constraint, I offer my own qualification, according to which it is appropriate to disobey a command that one is certain is from God if one cannot conceive that the command is good. Finally, I offer some reason to think that, contrary to Adams's assertions, the project of considering how to react to a purportedly divine command that also seems abhorrently evil is worth both philosophic and spiritual energy. (shrink)
Introduction -- Instrumental rationality -- Social order -- Deontic constraint -- Intentional states -- Preference noncognitivism -- A naturalistic perspective -- Transcendental necessity -- Weakness of will -- Normative ethics.
Those who endorse the Psychological Continuity Approach (PCA) to analyzing personal identity need to impose a non-branching constraint to get the intuitively correct result that in the case of fission, one person becomes two. With the help of Brueckner's (2005) discussion, it is shown here that the sort of non-branching clause that allows proponents of PCA to provide sufficient conditions for being the same person actually runs contrary to the very spirit of their theory. The problem is first presented (...) in connection with perdurantist versions of PCA. The difficulty is then shown to apply to endurantist versions as well. (shrink)
This paper offers a new definition of "adaptationism". An evolutionary account is adaptationist, it is suggested, if it allows for multiple independent origins for the same function -- i.e., if it violates the "Unique Origin Constraint". While this account captures much of the position Gould and Lewontin intended to stigmatize, it leaves it open that adaptationist accounts may sometimes be appropriate. However, there are many important cases, including that of human rationality, in which it is not.
Immoralists hold that in at least some cases, moral ﬂ aws in artworks can increase their aesthetic value. They deny what I call the valence constraint: the view that any effect that an artwork’s moral value has on its aesthetic merit must have the same valence. The immoralist offers three arguments against the valence constraint. In this paper I argue that these arguments fail, and that this failure reveals something deep and interesting about the relationship between cognitive and (...) moral value. In the ﬁ nal section I offer a positive argument for the valence constraint. (shrink)
Abstract. Revelations in the United States of secret legal opinions by the Department of Justice, dramatically altering the conventional interpretations of laws governing torture, interrogation, and surveillance, have made the issue of "secret law" newly prominent. The dangers of secret law from the perspective of democratic accountability are clear, and need no elaboration. But distaste for secret law goes beyond questions of democracy. Since Plato, and continuing through such non-democratic thinkers as Bodin and Hobbes, secret law has been seen as (...) a mark of tyranny, inconsistent with the notion of law itself. This raises both theoretical and practical questions. The theoretical questions involve the consistency of secret law with positivist legal theory. In principle, while a legal system as a whole could not be secret, publicity need not be part of the validity criteria for particular laws. The practical questions arise from the fact that secret laws, and secret governmental operations, are a common and often well-accepted aspect of governmental power. This paper argues that the flaw of secret law goes beyond accountability and beyond efficiency to the role that law plays, and can only play, in situating subjects' understanding of themselves in relation to the state. Secret law, as such, is inconsistent with this fundamental claim of the law to orient us in moral and political space, and undermines the claim to legitimacy of the state's rulers. (shrink)
I argue that we should not adopt categorial restrictions on the significance of syntactically well-formed strings. Even syntactically well-formed but semantically absurd strings, such as ‘Life is but a walking shadow’ and ‘Caesar is a prime number’, can express thoughts; and competent thinkers both can and ought to be able to grasp such thoughts. A more specific way of putting this claim is that Gareth Evans’ Generality Constraint should be viewed as a fully general constraint on concept possession (...) and propositional thought, even though Evans himself accepted only a categorially-restricted version of the Constraint. I establish this by arguing, first, that even well-formed but semantically cross-categorial strings often do possess substantive inferential roles; second, that hearers exploit these inferential roles in interpreting such strings metaphorically; and third, that there is no good reason to deny truth-conditions to strings with inferential roles. (shrink)
Consider the idea that moral rules must be suitable for public acknowledgement and acceptance, i.e., that moral rules must be suitable for being ‘widely known and explicitly recognized’, suitable for teaching as part of moral education, suitable for guiding behaviour and reactions to behaviour, and thus suitable for justifying one’s behaviour to others. This idea is now most often associated with John Rawls, who traces it back through Kurt Baier to Kant. My book developing ruleconsequentialism, Ideal Code, Real World, accepted (...) the ‘publicity requirement’ on moral rules. Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer attack my moral theory on precisely this matter. Here I reply to their attack. The question under discussion is whether moral rightness is a matter of the application of principles or rules that must be suitable for public acceptance. No, answered Henry Sidgwick, holding that perhaps the principles that determine moral right and wrong should be kept secret, because publicizing these principles would not maximize utility. Since I think not-purely utilitarian forms of consequentialism may be more plausible than purely utilitarian forms, let me make the point in terms of consequentialism instead of utilitarianism. The standard form of act-consequentialism is maximizing and ‘global’, i.e., direct about everything. This act-consequentialism includes, among the acts to be evaluated by their consequences, instances of espousing principles, teaching morality, blaming, feeling indignation, feeling guilt, and punishing. On this form of act-consequentialism, an act that maximizes good consequences might be one that others should blame and even punish, since blaming and punishing the agent of the good-maximizing act might also for some reason maximize good consequences. Likewise, on this standard form of act-consequentialism, it may be right to do what it would be right neither to advocate openly nor even to recommend privately. All these ideas are entailed by the kind of act-consequentialism that evaluates, by their consequences, all ‘acts’—in a very broad sense of the term that takes in not only acts of doing or allowing but also acts of blaming, punishing, and recommending. De Lazari-Radek and Singer accept that there are strong consequentialist considerations in support of ‘board support for transparency in ethics’ and avoiding esoteric morality in most circumstances.. (shrink)
This paper argues that there is a general constraint on the evolution of culture. This constraint – what I am calling the Fundamental Constraint – must be satisfied in order for a cultural system to be adaptive. The Fundamental Constraint is this: for culture to be adaptive there must be a positive correlation between the fitness of cultural variants and their fitness impact on the organisms adopting those variants. Two ways of satisfying the Fundamental Constraint (...) are introduced, structural solutions and evaluative solutions. Because of the limitations on these solutions, this constraint helps explain why there is not more culture in nature, why the culture that does exist has the form it has, and why complex, cumulative culture is restricted to the human species. (shrink)
The principle of maximum entropy is a method for assigning values to probability distributions on the basis of partial information. In usual formulations of this and related methods of inference one assumes that this partial information takes the form of a constraint on allowed probability distributions. In practical applications, however, the information consists of empirical data. A constraint rule is then employed to construct constraints on probability distributions out of these data. Usually one adopts the rule that equates (...) the expectation values of certain functions with their empirical averages. There are, however, various other ways in which one can construct constraints from empirical data, which makes the maximum entropy principle lead to very different probability assignments. This paper shows that an argument by Jaynes to justify the usual constraint rule is unsatisfactory and investigates several alternative choices. The choice of a constraint rule is also shown to be of crucial importance to the debate on the question whether there is a conflict between the methods of inference based on maximum entropy and Bayesian conditionalization. (shrink)