Two cross-modal experiments provide partial support for O'Regan & Noë's (O&N's) claim that sensorimotor contingencies mediate perception. Differences in locating a target sound accompanied by a spatially disparate neutral light correlate with whether the two stimuli were perceived as spatially unified. This correlation suggests that internal representations are necessary for conscious perception, which may also mediate sensorimotor contingencies.
Recent and puzzling experimental results suggest that people’s judgments as to whether or not an action was performed intentionally are sensitive to moral considerations. In this paper, we outline these results and evaluate two accounts which purport to explain them. We then describe a recent experiment that allegedly vindicates one of these accounts and present our own findings to show that it fails to do so. Finally, we present additional data suggesting no such vindication could be in the offing and (...) that, in fact, both accounts fail to explain the initial, puzzling results they were purported to explain. (shrink)
In ethics, it is commonly supposed that we have both positive duties and negative duties, things we ought to do and things we ought not to do. Given the many parallels between ethics and epistemology, we might suppose that the same is true in epistemology, and that we have both positive epistemic duties and negative epistemic duties. I argue that this is false; that is, that we have negative epistemic duties, but no positive ones. There are things that we ought (...) not to believe, but there is nothing that we ought to believe, on purely epistemic grounds. I also consider why the parallels between ethics and epistemology break down at this particular point, suggesting that it is due to what I call the infinite justificational ‘fecundity’ of perceptual and propositional evidence. (shrink)
The Clarke/Rowe version of the Cosmological Argument is sound only if the Principle of Sufficient Reason is true, but many philosophers, including Rowe, think that there is not adequate evidence for the principle of sufficient reason. I argue that there may be indirect evidence for PSR on the grounds that if we do not accept it, we lose our best justification for an important principle of metaethics, namely, the Principle of Universalizability. To show this, I argue that all the other (...) justifications of the Principle of Universalizability on offer, including Richard Hare's, are inadequate. (shrink)
This article is not intended to state what I positively believe to be true, but to make a suggestion which I think it well-worth working out. The suggestion is not altogether unfamiliar, but it has certain implications that seem to have been so far overlooked, or at any rate have never been developed. I do not think that it is the duty of a philosopher to confine himself in his publications to working out theories of the truth of which he (...) is convinced.… It is a part of a philosopher's work, as it is of a scientist's, to try out tentative hypotheses and examine their advantages and disadvantages. (shrink)
The polymath Michael Polanyi first made his mark as a physical chemist, but his interests gradually shifted to economics, politics, and philosophy, in which field he would ultimately propose a revolutionary theory of knowledge that grew out of his firsthand experience with both the scientific method and political totalitarianism. In this sixth entry in ISI Books’ Library of Modern Thinkers’ series, Mark T. Mitchell reveals how Polanyi came to recognize that the roots of the modern political and spiritual (...) crisis lay in an errant conception of knowledge that served to foreclose any possibility of making meaningful statements about truth, goodness, or beauty. Polanyi’s theory of knowledge as ineluctably personal but also grounded in reality is not merely of historical interest, writes Mitchell, for it proposes an attractive alternative for anyone who would reject both the hubris of modern rationalism and the ultimately nihilistic implications of academic postmodernism. (shrink)
Alexander Miller has recently considered an ingenious extension of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit's account of 'program explanation' as a way of defending non-reductive naturalist versions of moral realism against Harman's explanatory criticism. Despite the ingenuity of this extension, Miller concludes that program explanation cannot help such moral realists in their attempt to defend moral properties. Specifically, he argues that such moral program explanations are dispensable from an epistemically unlimited point of view. I show that Miller's argument for this negative (...) claim is inadequate, and that he has, in spite of himself, identified a promising defence of moral realism. (shrink)
T. M. Scanlon suggests that the binding nature of promises itself plays a role in allowing a promisee rationally to expect follow through even while that binding nature itself depends on the promisee’s rational expectation of follow through. Kolodny and Wallace object that this makes the account viciously circular. The chapter defends Scanlon’s theory from this objection. It argues that the basic complaint is a form of wrong kinds of reason objection. The thought is that the promisee’s reason to (...) expect compliance are undermined if the promise is binding only when the promisee forms that very expectation. The chapter suggests that other uncontroversially rational processes of multi-person coordination involve beliefs with the very same feature. Focal point reasoning in the theory of games is one example. In coordination situations it can be rational to believe that another person will do something precisely because that person expects you to believe what one does about what they’ll do. An examination of the reasoning in such cases motivates a group reflection principle that vindicates the reasoning employed in Scanlon’s account. -/- . (shrink)
A higher order potential analysis of moral status clarifies the issues that divide Human Being Theorists who oppose embryo research from Person Theorists who favor embryo research. Higher order potential personhood is transitive if it is active, identity preserving and morally relevant. If the transition from the Second Order Potential of the embryo to the First Order Potential of an infant is transitive, opponents of embryo research make a powerful case for the moral status of the embryo. If it is (...) intransitive, then the Person Theorist can draw lines between levels of moral status that permit embryo research to proceed. (shrink)
Moral status ascribes equal obligations and rights to individuals on the basis of membership in a protected group. Substance change is an event that results in the origin or cessation of individuals who may be members of groups with equal moral status. In this paper, two substance changes that affect the moral status of human embryos are identified. The first substance change begins with fertilization and ends with the formation of the blastocyst, a biological individual with moral status comparable to (...) that ascribed to human organs. The second substance change begins at implantation and ends late in embryological development with the formation of the human body, an organism with moral status as a human being. The bioethical implications of each substance change are explored. The Two Substance Change theory is contrasted with continuity theories, which recognize no substance change in embryological development and with fertilization-only substance change theories. (shrink)
Traditional utilitarianism, when applied, implies a surprising prediction about the future, viz., that all experience of pleasure and pain must end once and for all, or infinitely dwindle. Not only is this implication surprising, it should render utilitarianism unacceptable to persons who hold any of the following theses: that evaluative propositions may not imply descriptive, factual propositions; that evaluative propositions may not imply contingent factual propositions about the future; that there will always exist beings who experience pleasure or pain.
Are there good arguments from Is to Ought? Toomas Karmo has claimed that there are trivially valid arguments from Is to Ought, but no sound ones. I call into question some key elements of Karmo’s argument for the “logical autonomy of ethics”, and show that attempts to use it as part of an overall case for moral skepticism would be self-defeating.
If personal identity consists in non-branching psychological continuity, then the sharp breaks in psychological connectedness characteristic of Multiple Personality Disorder implicitly commit psychological continuity theories to a metaphysically extravagant reification of alters. Animalist theories of personal identity avoid the reification of alternate personalities by interpreting multiple personality as a failure to integrate alternative autobiographical memory schemata. In the normal case, autobiographical memory cross-classifies a human life, and in so doing provides access to a variety of interpretative frameworks with their associated (...) clusters of general event memory and episodic memory. Multiples exhibit erratic behavior because they cannot access reliably the intersecting autobiographical memory schemata that permit graceful transitions between social roles, behavioral repertoire and emotional dispositions. Selves, in both normal and certain pathological cases, are best understood as semi-fictional narratives created by human animals to serve their social, emotional and physical needs. (shrink)
Direct reprogramming of human skin cells makes available a source of pluripotent stem cells without the perceived evil of embryo destruction, but the advent of such a powerful biotechnology entangles stem cell research in other forms of moral complicity. Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) research had its origins in human embryonic stem cell research and the projected biomedical applications of iPS cells almost certainly will require more embryonic stem cell research. Policies that inhibit iPSC research in order to avoid moral (...) complicity are themselves complicit in preventable harms to patients. Moral complicity may be unavoidable, but a Blue Ribbon Panel charged with assessing the need for additional embryonic stem cell lines may ease a transition from embryonic stem cell research to clinical applications of iPS cells. (shrink)
I begin by asking the meta-epistemological question, 'What is justification?', analogous to the meta-ethical question, 'What is rightness?' I introduce the possibility of non-cognitivist, naturalist, non-naturalist, and eliminativist answers in meta-epistemology,corresponding to those in meta-ethics. I devote special attention to the naturalistic hypothesis that epistemic justification is identical to probability, showing its antecedent plausibility. I argue that despite this plausibility, justification cannot be identical with probability, under the standard interpretation of the probability calculus, for the simple reason that justification can (...) increase indefinitely but probability cannot. I then propose an alternative model for prima facie justification, based on an analogy with Ross's account of prima facie obligation, arguing that this model illuminates the differences between justification and probability and, given the plausible assumption of epistemic pluralism, explains them as well. (shrink)
Charles Pigden has argued for a logical Is/Ought gap on the grounds of the conservativeness of logic. I offer a counter-example which shows that Pigden’s argument is unsound and that there need be no logical gap between Is-premises and an Ought-conclusion. My counter-example is an argument which is logically valid, has only Is-premises and an Ought-conclusion, does not purport to violate the conservativeness of logic, and does not rely on controversial assumptions about Aristotelian biology or 'institutional facts.'.
Why have so many philosophers agonised over the possibility of valid arguments from factual premises to moral conclusions? I suggest that they have done so, because of worries over a sceptical argument that has as one of its premises, `All moral knowledge must be non-inferential, or, if inferential, based on valid arguments or strong inductive arguments from factual premises'. I argue that this premise is false.
I argue that utilitarianism cannot accommodate a basic sort of moral judgment that many people want to make. I raise a real-life example of shockingly bad behavior and ask what can the utilitarian say about it. I concede that the utilitarian can say that this behavior caused pain to the victim; that pain is bad; that the agent’s behavior was impermissible; even that the agent’s treatment of the victim was vicious. However, there is still one thing the utilitarian cannot say, (...) namely that the agent wronged the victim, that they violated her. According to utilitarianism, moral offenses are offenses against global utility, right reason or the totality of sentient beings, but never against individual victims, yet this aspect of the action – that it is an offense against a particular person –is highlighted when we say that this action wronged that woman. (shrink)
Since the time of Hume, many philosophers have thought it impossible to deduce an ‘Ought’ from an ‘Is,’ or in general to deduce ‘ethical sentences’ from purely ‘factual sentences.’ Some of these philosophers claim that this is due, not to any Special feature of ethics, but to a general feature of logic, namely, its conservativeness:A conclusion containing an ‘ought’ cannot be derived from ‘ought’-free premises. Logic is conservative; the conclusions of a valid inference are contained within the premises. You don't (...) get out what you haven't put in. Hence if ‘ought’ appears in the conclusion of an argument but not in the premises, the inference is not logically valid.’. (shrink)
There is a world-wide shortage of kidneys for transplantation. Many people will have to endure lengthy and unpleasant dialysis treatments, or die before an organ becomes available. Given this chronic shortage, some doctors and health economists have proposed offering financial incentives to potential donors to increase the supply of transplantable organs. In this paper, I explore objections to the practice of buying and selling organs from the point of view 1) justice, 2) beneficence and 3) Commodification. Regarding objection to the (...) Commodification of transplant organs, I examine a number of possible justifications of this objection but conclude that each of these would, if true, rule out the donation of transplant organs or the selling of numerous accepted commodities, or is implausible for some other reason. (shrink)
In reviewing four works from the 1990s-monographs by Christopher Ives and Phillip Olson on Zen Buddhist ethics, Damien Keown's treatment of Indian Buddhist ethics, and an edited collection on Buddhism and human rights-this article examines recent scholarship on Zen Buddhist ethics in light of issues in Buddhist and comparative ethics. It highlights selected themes in the notional and real encounter of Zen Buddhism with Western thought and culture as presented in the reviewed works and identifies issues and problems for further (...) consideration, in particular, problems of comparative and cross-cultural understanding and the articulation and redefinition of Zen Buddhist tradition. (shrink)
Philosophical naturalism is a cluster of views and impulses typically taken to include atheism, physicalism, radical empiricism or naturalized epistemology, and some sort of relativism, subjectivism or nihilism about morality. I argue that a problem arises when the naturalist offers the argument from evil for atheism. Since the argument from evil is a moral argument, it cannot be effectively deployed by anyone who holds the denatured ethical theories that the naturalist typically holds. In the context of these naturalistic ethical theories, (...) the argument from evil typically fails to provide good reason for either the naturalist or the theist to disbelieve in the God of theism. This does not prove that naturalism is false, or that the argument from evil is unsound, but rather that certain naturalists’ use of the argument has been misguided. (shrink)
In this article I show that the argument in John Harris's famous "Survival Lottery" paper cannot be right. Even if we grant Harris's assumptions—of the justifiability of such a lottery, the correctness of maximizing consequentialism, the indistinguishability between killing and letting die, the practical and political feasibility of such a scheme—the argument still will not yield the conclusion that Harris wants. On his own terms, the medically needy should be less favored (and more vulnerable to being killed), than Harris suggests.
I present a problem for a prominent kind of conservatism, viz., the combination of traditional moral & religious values, patriotic nationalism, and libertarian capitalism. The problem is that these elements sometimes conflict. In particular, I show how libertarian capitalism and patriotic nationalism conflict via a scenario in which the thing that libertarian capitalists love – unregulated market activity – threatens what American patriots love – a strong, independent America. Unrestricted libertarian rights to buy and sell land would permit the sale (...) of all American territory by private individuals to foreign powers. Patriotic nationalists regard this as outrageous, but libertarian capitalists cannot refuse it. (shrink)
I define ethical intuitionism as the view that it is appropriate to appeal to inferentially unsupported moral beliefs in the course of moral reasoning. I mention four common objections to this view, including the view that all such appeals to intuition make ethical theory politically and noetically conservative. I defend intuitionism from versions of this criticism expressed by R.B. Brandt, R.M. Hare and Richard Miller.
Elaine Sternberg's Just Business is one of the first book-length Aristotelian treatments of business ethics. It is Aristotelian in the sense that Sternberg begins by defining the nature of business in order to identify its end, and, thence, normative principles to regulate it. According to Sternberg, the nature of business is 'the selling of goods or services in order to maximise long-term owner value', therefore all business behaviour must be evaluated with reference to the maximisation of long-term owner value, constrained (...) only by considerations of ordinary decency and distributive justice. This stands in sharp contrast to recently popular 'stakeholder' approaches to business decision making. I argue that Sternberg's definition of business, particularly in its maximising and long-term conditions, is flawed, that her teleological method raises more questions than it solves, and that her Aristotelianism cannot be wedded happily to her libertarianism. (shrink)
What do Ross’s The Right and the Good; Chisholm’s Theory of Knowledge; Kripke’s Naming and Necessity; and Audi’s The Architecture of Reason have in common? They all advance important philosophical positions, but not so much via analytic arguments as via formal schemas, distinctions, examples, and analogies. They use such formal schemas, etc, to describe the world so as to make some aspect of it manifest. That is, they simply try to ‘tell it like it is’. This ‘method of descriptive manifestation’ (...) is less commonly recognized than it should be given its divergence from the self-image of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Some beginning logic students find it hard to understand why a material conditional is true when its antecedent is false. I draw an analogy between conditional statements and conditional promises (especially between true conditional statements and unbroken conditional promises) that makes this point of logic less counter-intuitive.