The most successful theory in all of science--and the basis of one third of our economy--says the strangest things about the world and about us. Can you believe that physical reality is created by our observation of it? Physicists were forced to this conclusion, the quantum enigma, by what they observed in their laboratories. Trying to understand the atom, physicists built quantum mechanics and found, to their embarrassment, that their theory intimately connects consciousness with the physical world. Quantum Enigma explores (...) what that implies and why some founders of the theory became the foremost objectors to it. Schrodinger showed that it "absurdly" allowed a cat to be in a "superposition" simultaneously dead and alive. Einstein derided the theory's "spooky interactions." With Bell's Theorem, we now know Schrodinger's superpositions and Einstein's spooky interactions indeed exist. Authors Bruce Rosenblum and FredKuttner explain all of this in non-technical terms with help from some fanciful stories and bits about the theory's developers. They present the quantum mystery honestly, with an emphasis on what is and what is not speculation. Physics' encounter with consciousness is its skeleton in the closet. Because the authors open the closet and examine the skeleton, theirs is a controversial book. Quantum Enigma's description of the experimental quantum facts, and the quantum theory explaining them, is undisputed. Interpreting what it all means, however, is controversial. Every interpretation of quantum physics encounters consciousness. Rosenblum and Kuttner therefore turn to exploring consciousness itself--and encounter quantum physics. Free will and anthropic principles become crucial issues, and the connection of consciousness with the cosmos suggested by some leading quantum cosmologists is mind-blowing. Readers are brought to a boundary where the particular expertise of physicists is no longer a sure guide. They will find, instead, the facts and hints provided by quantum mechanics and the ability to speculate for themselves. (shrink)
Consciousness and the measurement problem of quantum mechanics have a logical connection and an historical involvement. Moreover, current issues in the two arenas have striking similarities. Whether or not consciousness warrants quantum mechanical consideration, analogies between quantum measurement and consciousness are tantalizing and suggestive. After a review of how the issue of consciousness arises in quantum mechanics , and after a brief discussion of the implications of the measurement problem for reductionism, we develop a series of analogies between consciousness and (...) quantum mechanics. We conclude that any substantial advance in one arena would at the least offer hints for routes to take in the other. (shrink)
A goal of most interpretations of quantum mechanics is to avoid the apparent intrusion of the observer into the measurement process. Such intrusion is usually seen to arise because observation somehow selects a single actuality from among the many possibilities represented by the wavefunction. The issue is typically treated in terms of the mathematical formulation of the quantum theory. We attempt to address a different manifestation of the quantum measurement problem in a theory-neutral manner. With a version of the two-slit (...) experiment, we demonstrate that an enigma arises directly from the results of experiments. Assuming that no observable physical phenomena exist beyond those predicted by the theory, we argue that no interpretation of the quantum theory can avoid a measurement problem involving the observer. (shrink)
We describe what seems to be the only objective evidence for the existence of consciousness as an entity beyond its neural correlates. We display this evidence, the nature of observation in quantum mechanics, with a theory-neutral version of the archetypal demonstration of quantum phenomena, the two-slit experiment. This undisputed empirical result provides objective evidence for consciousness, the straightforward alternative being the assumption of not only a completely deterministic world, but a conspiratorial one as well. The objection to this evidence for (...) consciousness, that a not-conscious robot could be the observer, is examined. (shrink)
This book presents an attempt to develop a theory of knowledge and a philosophy of mind using ideas derived from the mathematical theory of communication developed by Claude Shannon. Information is seen as an objective commodity defined by the dependency relations between distinct events. Knowledge is then analyzed as information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information in analog form for conceptual utilization by cognitive mechanisms. The final chapters attempt to develop a theory of meaning by viewing meaning as (...) a certain kind of information-carrying role. (shrink)
Fred Feldman's fascinating new book sets out to defend hedonism as a theory about the Good Life. He tries to show that, when carefully and charitably interpreted, certain forms of hedonism yield plausible evaluations of human lives. Feldman begins by explaining the question about the Good Life. As he understands it, the question is not about the morally good life or about the beneficial life. Rather, the question concerns the general features of the life that is good in itself (...) for the one who lives it. Hedonism says (roughly) that the Good Life is the pleasant life. After showing that received formulations of hedonism are often confused or incoherent, Feldman presents a simple, clear, coherent form of sensory hedonism that provides a starting point for discussion. He then presents a catalogue of classic objections to hedonism, coming from sources as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Brentano, Ross, Moore, Rawls, Kagan, Nozick, Brandt, and others. One of Feldman's central themes is that there is an important distinction between the forms of hedonism that emphasize sensory pleasure and those that emphasize attitudinal pleasure. Feldman formulates several kinds of hedonism based on the idea that attitudinal pleasure is the Good. He claims that attitudinal forms of hedonism - which have often been ignored in the literature -- are worthy of more careful attention. Another main theme of the book is the plasticity of hedonism. Hedonism comes in many forms. Attitudinal hedonism is especially receptive to variations and modifications. Feldman illustrates this plasticity by formulating several variants of attitudinal hedonism and showing how they evade some of the objections. He also shows how it is possible to develop forms of hedonism that are equivalent to the allegedly anti-hedonistic theory of G. E. Moore and the Aristotelian theory according to which the Good Life is the life of virtue, or flourishing. He also formulates hedonisms relevantly like the ones defended by Aristippus and Mill. Feldman argues that a carefully developed form of attitudinal hedonism is not refuted by objections concerning 'the shape of a life'. He also defends the claim that all of the alleged forms of hedonism discussed in the book genuinely deserve to be called 'hedonism'. Finally, after dealing with the last of the objections, he gives a sketch of his hedonistic vision of the Good Life. (shrink)
Some puzzles about happiness -- Pt. I. Some things that happiness isn't. Sensory hedonism about happiness -- Kahneman's "objective happiness" -- Subjective local preferentism about happiness -- Whole life satisfaction concepts of happiness -- Pt. II. What happiness is. What is this thing called happiness? -- Attitudinal hedonism about happiness -- Eudaimonism -- The problem of inauthentic happiness -- Disgusting happiness -- Our authority over our own happiness -- Pt. III. Implications for the empirical study of happiness. Measuring happiness -- (...) Empirical research; philosophical conclusions -- The central points of the project as a whole. (shrink)
This collection of essays by eminent philosopher Fred Dretske brings together work on the theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind spanning thirty years. The two areas combine to lay the groundwork for a naturalistic philosophy of mind. The fifteen essays focus on perception, knowledge, and consciousness. Together, they show the interconnectedness of Dretske's work in epistemology and his more contemporary ideas on philosophy of mind, shedding light on the links which can be made between the two. The first (...) section of the book argues the point that knowledge consists of beliefs with the right objective connection to facts; two essays discuss this conception of knowledge's implications for naturalism. The next section articulates a view of perception, attempting to distinguish conceptual states from phenomenal states. A naturalized philosophy of mind, and thus a naturalized epistemology, is articulated in the third section. This collection will be a valuable resource for a wide range of philosophers and their students, and will also be of interest to cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers of biology. (shrink)
'Original and provocative . . . engagingly written. (C Fred Alford) counters Levinas's notorious obscurity with a goodly dose of transparency' - John Lechte, Macquarrie University Abstract and evocative, writing in what can only be ...
Fred Feldman is an important philosopher, who has made a substantial contribution to utilitarian moral philosophy. This collection of ten previously published essays plus a new introductory essay reveal the striking originality and unity of his views. Feldman's version of utilitarianism differs from traditional forms in that it evaluates behaviour by appeal to the values of accessible worlds. These worlds are in turn evaluated in terms of the amounts of pleasure they contain, but the conception of pleasure involved is (...) a novel one and the formulation of hedonism improved. In Feldman's view pleasure is not a feeling but a propositional attitude. He also deals with problems of justice that affect standard forms of utilitarianism. The collection is ideally suited for courses on contemporary utilitarian theory. (shrink)
The main claim of this book is that the very same distinction between semantic singularity and plurality that is fundamental to the semantics of nouns in the nominal domain is operative and fundamental in the verbal domain as well, applying ...
What is death? Do people survive death? What do we mean when we say that someone is "dying"? Presenting a clear and engaging discussion of the classic philosophical questions surrounding death, this book studies the great metaphysical and moral problems of death. In the first part, Feldman shows that a definition of life is necessary before death can be defined. After exploring several of the most plausible accounts of the nature of life and demonstrating their failure, he goes on to (...) propose his own conceptual scheme for death and related concepts. In the second part, Feldman turns to ethical and value-theoretical questions about death. Addressing the ancient Epicurean ethical problem about the evil of death, he argues that death can be a great evil for those who die, even if they do not exist after death, because it may deprive them of the goods they would have enjoyed if they had continued to live. Confrontations with the Reaper concludes with a novel consequentialist theory about the morality of killing, applying it to such thorny practical issues as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia. (shrink)
This paper proposes a third meditation-category—automatic self-transcending— to extend the dichotomy of focused attention and open monitoring proposed by Lutz. Automaticself-transcending includes techniques designed to transcend their own activity. This contrasts with focused attention, which keeps attention focused on an object; and open monitoring, which keeps attention involved in the monitoring process. Each category was assigned EEG bands, based on reported brain patterns during mental tasks, and meditations were categorized based on their reported EEG. Focused attention, characterized by beta/gamma activity, (...) included meditations from Tibetan Buddhist, Buddhist, and Chinese traditions. Open monitoring, characterized by theta activity, included meditations from Buddhist, Chinese, and Vedic traditions. Automaticself-transcending, characterized by alpha1 activity, included meditations from Vedic and Chinese traditions. Between categories, the included meditations differed in focus, subject/object relation, and procedures. These findings shed light on the common mistake of averaging meditations together to determine mechanisms or clinical effects. (shrink)
Several years ago I came across a marvelous little paper in which Hector-Neri Castaneda shows that standard versions of act utilitarian l ism are formally incoherent. I was intrigued by his argument. It had long seemed to me that I had a firm grasp on act utilitarianism. Indeed, it had often seemed to me that it was the clearest and most attractive of normative theories. Yet here was a simple and relatively uncontrover sial argument that showed, with only some trivial (...) assumptions, that the doctrine is virtually unintelligible. The gist of Castaneda's argument is this: suppose we understand act utilitarianism to be the view that an act is obligatory if and only if its utility exceeds that of each alternative. Suppose it is obligatory for a certain person to perform an act with two parts - we can call it 'A & B'. Then, obviously enough, it is also obligatory for this person to perform the parts, A and B. If act utilitarianism were true, we appar ently could infer that the utility of A & B is higher than that of A, and higher than that of B (because A & B is obligatory, and the other acts are alternatives to A & B). (shrink)
Philosophical interest in situated cognition has been focused most intensely on the claim that human cognitive processes extend from the brain into the tools humans use. As we see it, this radical hypothesis is sustained by two kinds of mistakes, the confusion of coupling relations with constitutive relations and an inattention to the mark of the cognitive. Here we wish to draw attention to these mistakes and show just how pervasive they are. That is, for all that the radical philosophers (...) have said, the mind is still in the head. (shrink)
This book provides an introduction to measurement theory for non-specialists and puts measurement in the social and behavioural sciences on a firm mathematical foundation. Results are applied to such topics as measurement of utility, psychophysical scaling and decision-making about pollution, energy, transportation and health. The results and questions presented should be of interest to both students and practising mathematicians since the author sets forth an area of mathematics unfamiliar to most mathematicians, but which has many potentially significant applications.
For much of its history, philosophy was not merely a theoretical discipline but a way of life, an "art of living." This practical aspect of philosophy has been much less dominant in modernity than it was in ancient Greece and Rome, when philosophers of all stripes kept returning to Socrates as a model for living. The idea of philosophy as an art of living has survived in the works of such major modern authors as Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Each of (...) these writers has used philosophical discussion as a means of establishing what a person is and how a worthwhile life is to be lived. In this wide-ranging, brilliantly written account, Alexander Nehamas provides an incisive reevaluation of Socrates' place in the Western philosophical tradition and shows the importance of Socrates for Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Why does each of these philosophers—each fundamentally concerned with his own originality—return to Socrates as a model? The answer lies in the irony that characterizes the Socrates we know from the Platonic dialogues. Socratic irony creates a mask that prevents a view of what lies behind. How Socrates led the life he did, what enabled or inspired him, is never made evident. No tenets are proposed. Socrates remains a silent and ambiguous character, forcing readers to come to their own conclusions about the art of life. This, Nehamas shows, is what allowed Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault to return to Socrates as a model without thereby compelling them to imitate him. This highly readable, erudite study argues for the importance of the tradition within Western philosophy that is best described as "the art of living" and casts Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault as the three major modern representatives of this tradition. Full of original ideas and challenging associations, this work will offer new ways of thinking about the philosophers Nehamas discusses and about the discipline of philosophy itself. (shrink)
This comprehensive study of Aristotle's Politics argues that nature, justice, and rights are central to Aristotle's political thought. Miller challenges the widely held view that the concept of rights is alien to Aristotle's thought, and presents evidence for talk of rights in Aristotle's writings. He argues further that Aristotle's theory of justice supports claims of individual rights that are political and based in nature.
"Taken as a trilogy, _consent not to be a single being_ is a monumental accomplishment: a brilliant theoretical intervention that might be best described as a powerful case for blackness as a category of analysis."—Brent Hayes Edwards, author of _Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination_ In _The Universal Machine_—the concluding volume to his landmark trilogy _consent not to be a single being_—Fred Moten presents a suite of three essays on Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, and Frantz Fanon in which he (...) explores questions of freedom, capture, and selfhood. In trademark style, Moten considers these thinkers alongside artists and musicians such as William Kentridge and Curtis Mayfield while interrogating the relation between blackness and phenomenology. Whether using Levinas's idea of escape in unintended ways, examining Arendt's antiblackness through Mayfield's virtuosic falsetto and Anthony Braxton's musical language, or showing how Fanon's form of phenomenology enables black social life, Moten formulates blackness as a way of being in the world that evades regulation. Throughout _The Universal Machine_—and the trilogy as a whole—Moten's theorizations of blackness will have a lasting and profound impact. (shrink)
Abstract According to the Deprivation Approach, the evil of death is to be explained by the fact that death deprives us of the goods we would have enjoyed if we had lived longer. But the Deprivation Approach confronts a problem first discussed by Lucretius. Late birth seems to deprive us of the goods we would have enjoyed if we had been born earlier. Yet no one is troubled by late birth. So it’s hard to see why we should be troubled (...) by its temporal mirror image, early death. In a 1986 paper, Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer appealed to a version of Derek Parfit’s “Bias toward the Future”; they claimed that early death deprives us of future goods that we care about, while late birth deprives us of past goods that we don’t care about. In this paper I show that the Brueckner–Fischer principle is open to several possible interpretations, but that it does not solve the Lucretius problem no matter how we understand it. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9766-6 Authors Fred Feldman, Department of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
By contributing a few hundred dollars to a charity like UNICEF, a prosperous person can ensure that fewer poor children die, and that more will live reasonably long, worthwhile lives. Even when knowing this, however, most people send nothing, and almost all of the rest send little. What is the moral status of this behavior? To such common cases of letting die, our untutored response is that, while it is not very good, neither is the conduct wrong. What is the (...) source of this lenient assessment? In this contentious new book, one of our leading philosophers argues that our intuitions about ethical cases are generated not by basic moral values, but by certain distracting psychological dispositions that all too often prevent us from reacting in accord with our commitments. Through a detailed look at how these tendencies operate, Unger shows that, on the good morality that we already accept, the fatally unhelpful behavior is monstrously wrong. By uncovering the eminently sensible ethics that we've already embraced fully, and by confronting us with empirical facts and with easily followed instructions for lessening serious suffering appropriately and effectively, Unger's book points the way to a compassionate new moral philosophy. (shrink)
We will show that there is a strong form of emergence in cell biology. Beginning with C.D. Broad’s classic discussion of emergence, we distinguish two conditions sufficient for emergence. Emergence in biology must be compatible with the thought that all explanations of systemic properties are mechanistic explanations and with their sufficiency. Explanations of systemic properties are always in terms of the properties of the parts within the system. Nonetheless, systemic properties can still be emergent. If the properties of the components (...) within the system cannot be predicted, even in principle, from the behavior of the system’s parts within simpler wholes then there also will be systemic properties which cannot be predicted, even in principle, on basis of the behavior of these parts. We show in an explicit case study drawn from molecular cell physiology that biochemical networks display this kind of emergence, even though they deploy only mechanistic explanations. This illustrates emergence and its place in nature. (shrink)
Kuttner and Rosenblum's presentation of the "only objective evidence for consciousness" is criticized for not adequately defining consciousness , not providing at the outset an explanation of the philosophical-theoretical interpretation of quantum theory that would lead to a direct rationale for their "impossible" quantum experiments, and suggesting that data from their impossible experiments could be treated as non-theoretical "facts." It is concluded that Kuttner and Rosenblum fail to objectify consciousness.