Recently, the debate on human enhancement has shifted from familiar topics like cognitive enhancement and mood enhancement to a new and – to no one's surprise – controversial subject, namely moral enhancement. Some proponents from the transhumanist camp allude to the ‘urgent need’ of improving the moral conduct of humankind in the face of ever growing technological progress and the substantial dangers entailed in this enterprise. Other thinkers express more sceptical views about this proposal. As the debate has revealed so (...) far, there is no shared opinion among philosophers about the meaning, prospects, and ethical evaluation of moral enhancement. In this article I will address several conceptual and practical problems of this issue, in order to encourage discussion about the prospects of moral enhancement in the future. My assumption is that for the short term, there is little chance of arriving at an agreement on the proper understanding of morality and the appropriateness of one single ethical theory; apart from this, there are further philosophical puzzles loosely referred to in the debate which add to theoretical confusion; and even if these conceptual problems could be solved, there are still practical problems to be smoothed out if moral enhancement is ever to gain relevance apart from merely theoretical interest. My tentative conclusion, therefore, will be that moral enhancement is not very likely to be made sense of – let alone realized – in the medium-term future. (shrink)
ZusammenfassungDer vorliegende Kommentar wirft, nach einer knappen Zusammenfassung der Argumentation des Beitrags von Tatjana Tarkian, einige grundsätzliche Fragen auf, welche die Geltungsreichweite und Anwendbarkeit der Prinzipien der reproduktiven Autonomie und der wohltätigen Fortpflanzung betreffen. Welche prospektiven Eltern sind Adressat*innen der Prinzipien der reproduktiven Freiheit und der wohltätigen Fortpflanzung? Stellen diese Prinzipien universell und überzeitlich gültige allgemeine Prinzipien dar, die generell in jeder Situation reproduktiver Entscheidung Berücksichtigung finden sollten? Lassen sie sich nur unter der Voraussetzung bestimmter Bedingungen bzw. im Rahmen bestimmter (...) Kontexte anwenden? Sind die beiden Prinzipien kompatibel oder widersprechen sie sich? Kommt prospektiven Eltern eine moralische Verantwortung für die Umsetzbarkeit ihrer reproduktiven Freiheit zu? (shrink)
Ulrich Beck's best selling Risk Society established risk on the sociological agenda. It brought together a wide range of issues centering on environmental, health and personal risk, provided a rallying ground for researchers and activists in a variety of social movements and acted as a reference point for state and local policies in risk management. The Risk Society and Beyond charts the progress of Beck's ideas and traces their evolution. It demonstrates why the issues raised by Beck (...) reverberate widely throughout social theory and covers the new risks that Beck did not foresee, associated with the emergence of new technologies, genetic and cybernetic. The book is unique because it offers both an introduction to the main arguments in Risk Society and develops a range of critical discussions of aspects of this and other works of Beck. (shrink)
Smilek, Eastwood, Reynolds, and Kingstone suggests that the studies reported in Beck, M. R., Levin, D. T. and Angelone, B. A. are not ecologically valid. Here, we argue that not only are change blindness and change blindness blindness studies in general ecologically valid, but that the studies we reported in Beck, Levin, and Angelone, 2007 are as well. Specifically, we suggest that many of the changes used in our study could reasonably be expected to occur in the real (...) world. Furthermore, the conclusion from Beck et al. that knowledge about the role of intention and scene complexity in change detection is not readily accessible applies not only to the laboratory studies we conducted but also to real world situations. (shrink)
Gunnar Beck provides the first comparative book-length introduction to Fichte's and Kant's theories of freedom, law, and politics, together with an overview of the metaphysical and epistemological edifice underpinning their thinking. He offers a critical analysis of the underlying normative foundations of Kant's and Fichte's theories of rights and questions the analytical link between the idea of freedom as rational self-determination or autonomy and a rights-based political liberalism.
Let us look first at poetry. It is well known that by the fifteenth century, lyric poetry had undergone a radical transformation; the early lyric fluidity and formal variability had hardened into the nonlyric and even, some maintain, antilyric forms fixes which characterize the poetic formalism of late medieval France. Dispensing with the details of how and why this occurred, the essential point is that by the end of the Middle Ages, the poet in France and Burgundy saw himself as (...) an artisan of words, not as a singer.6 He refers to himself as a craftsman , and it is plain, sometimes painfully so, to anyone who reads the works that the rhétoriqueur is, indeed, an artisan of forms—or, if you will, an architecte de la parole, a specialist in verbal matter. He works words, sounds, metric and strophic forms into intricate patterns and arranges his elaborate designs in blocks of exact and harmonious symmetry. He is, in fact, from Machaut on, a virtuoso of the verbal equivalent of the architectural art of carrelage which adorned the princely château in which he worked and lived. No one familiar with the period will avoid noticing the strikingly similar types of patters in the poet’s works and in his surroundings.I have gathered elsewhere the visual documentation which bears out Zumthor’s suggestions quoted above with respect to the meticulously constructivist mentality of the Franco-Burgundian artisan. But the analogies I found are much more than perceptual. It is true that the elaborate designs on the walls, floors, ceilings, windows, woodwork, and so forth of the early Renaissance château are, indeed, composed of intricate blocks of material; but their function is not merely decorative , it is also narrative, with emblematic motifs and allegorical figures arrayed in linear patterns of “visual” discourse—the invariable “discours de la gloire” which silently proclaims the magnificence of the patron prince and proprietor of the château .7 6. A summary of internal and external factors in the transformation of lyric to Rhetoric is provided in my review of Die musikalische Erscheinungsform der Trouvèrepoesie by Hans-Herbert S. Räkel , in Romance Philology 34 : 250-58.7. This following collage of fragments from ML was constructed ôto serve as commentary on photographs of tile designs compared with verbal texts, in an earlier version of this paper , from which the examples in figs. 1-4 are taken.Culte de l’objet subtilement travaillé, au-delà de toute fonctionnalité primaire *** primat du labeur ardu, patient, du difficile, de l’inattendu *** les mots mêmes semblent travaillés d’un besoin de scientificité fictive, d’anoblissement par le savoir *** les … mots ne sont plus que les particules d’une parole dont la seule signification est globale *** matériau émancipé des contraintes de la phrase, transposé sur un plan où le signe devient le nom vide de ce signe *** goût du bricolage plutôt que de l’industrie; … du bariolage plus que du fondu et de la nuance; de l’équilibre numéral des parties plus que de la synthèse; du multiple plus que de l’un. Outil forgé martelé d’ “aornures” sans fonction utilitaire; enchâssements cubiques, coniques, pyramidaux, cruciformes du bâtiment … meubles marquetés, forrés de tiroirs minuscules et secrets [and so forth].For the iconography of these examples , see Emile Amé, Less Carrelages émaillés du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance , pp. 61-108. Jonathan Beck is associate professor of French at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Théâtre et propaganda aux débuts de la Réforme , a sequel to his edition and study, Le Concil de Basle: Le Origines du theater réformiste et partisan en France. (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)
This paper surveys and evaluates the answers that philosophers and animal researchers have given to two questions. Do animals have thoughts? If so, are their thoughts conceptual? Along the way, special attention is paid to distinguish debates of substance from mere battles over terminology, and to isolate fruitful areas for future research.
The view that an account of personal identity can be provided in terms of psychological continuity has come under fire from an interesting new angle in recent years. Critics from a variety of rival positions have argued that it cannot adequately explain what makes psychological states co-personal (i.e. the states of a single person). The suggestion is that there will inevitably be examples of states that it wrongly ascribes using only the causal connections available to it. In this paper, I (...) describe three distinct attacks on the psychological continuity theory along these lines. While I acknowledge that a number of interesting issues arise, I argue that the theory can withstand all three attacks. (shrink)
(1) a. Satoshi sent Thilo the Schw¨abische W¨orterbuch. b. Satoshi sent the Schw¨abische W¨orterbuch to Thilo. Many have entertained the notion that there is a rule that relates sentences such as these. This is suggested by the fact that it is possible to learn that a newly coined verb licenses one of them and automatically know that it licenses the other. Marantz (1984) argues for the existence of such a rule in this way, noting that once one has learned of (...) the new verb shin by exposure to (2a), the grammaticality of (2b) is also learned. (2) a. Thilo shinned the ball to Satoshi. b. Thilo shinned Satoshi the ball. This is explained if there is a rule that ties the double object frame together with the NP+PP frame, making it sufﬁcient to know that a verb licenses one if it licenses the other. Frequently, the rule involved has been taken to be syntactic in nature. See, among many others, Fillmore (1965), Oehrle (1976), Baker (1988), and Larson (1988). The leading idea under this view is that the two frames are simply different surface manifestations of the same underlying structure. Typically, this approach posits that the NP+PP frame represents that underlying structure from which the double object frame is transformationally derived. There is evidence, however, that the two frames instead have different underlying structures, and are not related by transformation. This evidence, then. (shrink)
Realists about animal cognition confront a puzzle. If animals have real, contentful cognitive states, why can’t anyone say precisely what the contents of those states are? I consider several possible resolutions to this puzzle that are open to realists, and argue that the best of these is likely to appeal to differences in the format of animal cognition and human language.
Martha Nussbaum has argued in support of the view (supposedly that of Aristotle) that we can, through thought-experiments involving personal identity, find an objective foundation for moral thought without having to appeal to any authority independent of morality. I compare the thought-experiment from Plato’s Philebus that she presents as an example to other thought-experiments involving identity in the literature and argue that this reveals a tension between the sources of authority which Nussbaum invokes for her thought-experiment. I also argue that (...) each of her sources of authority presents further difficulties for her project. Finally, I argue that it is not clear that her thought-experiment is one that actually involves identity in any crucial way. As a result, the case she offers does not offer any satisfactory support for her view on the relation between identity, morality and thought-experiments, but we do gain some insights into what that relation really is along the way. (shrink)
Eric Olson argues in The Human Animal that thought-experiments involving body-swapping do not in the end offer any support to psychological continuity theories, nor do they pose any threat to his Biological View. I argue that he is mistaken in at least the second claim.
How are causal judgements such as 'The ice on the road caused the traffic accident' connected with counterfactual judgements such as 'If there had not been any ice on the road, the traffic accident would not have happened'? This volume throws new light on this question by uniting, for the first time, psychological and philosophical approaches to causation and counterfactuals. Traditionally, philosophers have primarily been interested in connections between causal and counterfactual claims on the level of meaning or truth-conditions. More (...) recently, however, they have also increasingly turned their attention to psychological connections between causal and counterfactual understanding or reasoning. At the same time, there has been a surge in interest in empirical work on causal and counterfactual cognition amongst developmental, cognitive, and social psychologists--much of it inspired by work in philosophy. In this volume, twelve original contributions from leading philosophers and psychologists explore in detail what bearing empirical findings might have on philosophical concerns about counterfactuals and causation, and how, in turn, work in philosophy might help clarify the issues at stake in empirical work on the cognitive underpinnings of, and relationships between, causal and counterfactual thought. (shrink)
Observers have difficulty detecting visual changes. However, they are unaware of this inability, suggesting that people do not have an accurate understanding of visual processes. We explored whether this error is related to participants’ beliefs about the roles of intention and scene complexity in detecting changes. In Experiment 1 participants had a higher failure rate for detecting changes in an incidental change detection task than an intentional change detection task. This effect of intention was greatest for complex scenes. However, participants (...) predicted equal levels of change detection for both types of changes across scene complexity. In Experiment 2, emphasizing the differences between intentional and incidental tasks allowed participants to make predictions that were less inaccurate. In Experiment 3, using more sensitive measures and accounting for individual differences did not further improve predictions. These findings suggest that adults do not fully understand the role of intention and scene complexity in change detection. (shrink)
Marya Schechtman's The Constitution of Selves presented an impressive attempt to persuade those working on personal identity to give up mainstream positions and take on a narrative view instead. More recently, she has presented new arguments with a closely related aim. She attempts to convince us to give up the view of identity as a matter of psychological continuity, using Derek Parfit's story of the “Nineteenth Century Russian” as a central example in making the case against Parfit's own view, and (...) offers a form of narrative theory as a way out of the problem. In this paper I consider this new case, and argue that we should not be persuaded towards the narrative. (shrink)
Philosophers have traditionally used thought-experiments in their endeavours to find a satisfactory account of the self and personal identity. Yet there are considerations from empirical psychology as well as related ones from philosophy itself that appear to completely undermine the method of thought-experiment. This paper focuses on both sets of considerations and attempts a defence of the method.
In this paper I discuss a set of problems concerning the method of cases as it is used in applied ethics and in the metaphysical debate about personal identity. These problems stem from research in social psychology concerning our access to the data with which the method operates. I argue that the issues facing ethics are more worrying than those facing metaphysics.
This paper investigates the semantics of adverbials like ‘page by page’ and ‘stone upon stone’. An analysis is developed in which sentences containing such adverbials have a pluractional semantics; that is, pluralization affects simultaneously the event- and the individual-argument slot of a predicate. Sternefeld's (1998) system of plural operators is used and extended for this purpose. The adverbial constrains the relation that is pluralized and makes visible a higher plural operator. In the case of ‘page by page’-type adverbials, this is (...) a fairly standard operator that leads to a simple divisional interpretation. In the case of ‘stone upon stone’-type adverbials, the operator has a stronger semantics that leads to a sequence interpretation. The generality of our theory permits straightforward extension to data like ‘she ran and ran’ and ‘she climbed higher and higher’, among others. Finally we propose that inclusive alternative ordering reciprocals (Dalrymple et al. 1998) have a pluractional sequence interpretation as well. (shrink)
While theories about interpreting biblical and other parables have long realised the importance of readers’ responses to the topic, recent results in social psychology concerning systematic self-deception raise unforeseen problems. In this paper I first set out some of the problems these results pose for the authority of fictional thought-experiments in moral philosophy. I then consider the suggestion that biblical parables face the same problems and as a result cannot work as devices for moral or religious instruction in the way (...) that they are usually understood to work. I examine a number of influential theories about interpretation of the parables which might appear to deflect the problems, and argue that none of them are ultimately successful in doing so. (shrink)
This paper presents a systematic empirical investigation of so-called Rullmann Ambiguities (The helicopter was flying less high than a plane can fly). It is shown that many examples constructed after this pattern are in fact unambiguous, and that some but not all examples which replace less with ordinary more/-er are ambiguous. An analysis is proposed which takes into account the inferential properties of the degree predicate in the than-clause plus the way contextual information can be integrated into its meaning. The (...) analysis predicts which Rullmann examples are ambiguous and which are not. Consequences for the analysis of comparatives and for the meaning of adjectives are derived. (shrink)
This paper proposes a novel semantic analysis of the quantificational variability data discovered by Berman (1991). We suggest that the adverb of quantification in those data quantifies over semantic questions. Its domain is a division of the original question into subquestions, where a legitimate division into subquestions is one in which each member contributes towards the answer to the original question, and together the answers to all subquestions provide the complete answer to the original question. Thus the question itself is (...) associated with a part/whole structure, based on information. We show that there are quantificational variability effects in which the matrix verb is exclusively question‐embedding. These data pose a problem for other theories of quantificational variability in questions (specifically Berman 1991 and Lahiri 2002) and motivate our analysis. There are other desirable consequences of our theory, including flexibility in what counts as a subquestion and flexibility in what counts as a complete answer. Beyond quantificational variability, associating questions with a part/whole structure receives independent motivation from questions that occur in collective and cumulative embedded contexts. (shrink)
In reaching his narrative view of the self in Oneself as Another, Paul Ricoeur argues that, while literature offers revealing insights into the nature of the self, the sort of fictions involving brain transplants, fission, and so on, that philosophers often take seriously do not (and cannot). My paper is a response to Ricoeur's charge, contending that the arguments Ricoeur rejects are not flawed in the way he suggests, and that his own arguments are sometimes guilty of the very charges (...) he lays at the door of his opponents. (shrink)
Recently, a number of experiments have emphasized the degree to which subjects fail to detect large changes in visual scenes. This finding, referred to as “change blindness,” is often considered surprising because many people have the intuition that such changes should be easy to detect. Levin, Momen, Drivdahl, and Simons documented this intuition by showing that the majority of subjects believe they would notice changes that are actually very rarely detected. Thus subjects exhibit a metacognitive error we refer to as (...) “change blindness blindness.” Here, we test whether CBB is caused by a misestimation of the perceptual experience associated with visual changes and show that it persists even when the pre- and postchange views are separated by long delays. In addition, subjects overestimate their change detection ability both when the relevant changes are illustrated by still pictures, and when they are illustrated using videos showing the changes occurring in real time. We conclude that CBB is a robust phenomenon that cannot be accounted for by failure to understand the specific perceptual experience associated with a change. (shrink)
This paper examines the effect that focus has on repetitive versus restitutive again. It is argued that a pragmatic explanation of the effect is the right strategy. The explanation builds largely on a standard focus semantics. To this we add an anaphoric analysis of again’s presupposition and a detailed analysis of the alternatives triggered when focus falls on again.