The present study examines whether deictic time and valence are mentally associated, with a link between future and positive valence and a link between past and negative valence. We employed a novel paradigm, the two-choice-sentence-completion paradigm, to address this issue. Participants were presented with an initial sentence fragment that referred to an event that was either located in time or of different valence. Participants chose between two completion phrases. When the given dimension in the initial fragment was time, the two (...) completion phrase alternatives differed in valence. However, when the given dimension in the initial fragment was valence, the two completion phrase alternatives differed in time. As expected, participants chose completion phrases consistent with the proposed association between time and valence. Additional analyses involving individual differences concerning optimism/pessimism revealed that this association is particularly pronounced for people with an optimistic attitude. (shrink)
Despite substantial research on overall decision-making capacity levels in schizophrenia, the factors that cause individuals to make errors when making decisions regarding research participation or treatment are relatively unknown. We examined the responses of 84 individuals, middle-aged or older, with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. We used a structured decision-making capacity measure, the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool for Clinical Research, to determine the frequency and apparent cause of participants’ errors. We found that most errors were due to difficulty recalling the disclosed (...) information, particularly the study’s procedures, potential risks, and purpose. Errors attributable to concrete thinking, psychotic symptoms, or perceived coercion were rarer. These results suggest that informed consent procedures for this population might be improved by providing information in a way that facilitates learning and memory, such as iterative disclosure of the information, corrective feedback, and emphasis of key points of the study—for instance, its purpose, procedures, and potential risks. (shrink)
Glenberg argues for embodied representations relevant to action. In contrast, we propose a grouping of representations, not necessarily all being directly embodied. Without assuming the existence of representations that are not directly embodied, one cannot account for the use of knowledge abstracted from direct experience.
H. B. D. Kettlewell's field experiments on industrial melanism in the peppered moth, Biston betularia, have become the best known demonstration of natural selection in action. I argue that textbook accounts routinely portray this research as an example of controlled experimentation, even though this is historically misleading. I examine how idealized accounts of Kettlewell's research have been used by professional biologists and biology teachers. I also respond to some criticisms of David Rudge to my earlier discussions of this case study, (...) and I question Rudge's claims about the importance of purely observational studies for the eventual acceptance and popularization of Kettlewell's explanation for the evolution of industrial melanism. (shrink)
This paper seeks to reinterpret the life and work of J. B. S. Haldane by focusing on an illuminating but largely ignored essay he published in 1927, "The Last Judgment" -- the sequel to his better known work, "Daedalus" (1924). This astonishing essay expresses a vision of the human future over the next 40,000,000 years, one that revises and updates Wellsian futurism with the long range implications of the "new biology" for human destiny. That vision served as a kind of (...) lifelong credo, one that infused and informed his diverse scientific work, political activities, and popular writing, and that gave unity and coherence to his remarkable career. (shrink)
Among moral attributes true virtue alone is sublime. … [I]t is only by means of this idea [of virtue] that any judgment as to moral worth or its opposite is possible. … Everything good that is not based on a morally good disposition … is nothing but pretence and glittering misery. 1.
If “perfectionism” in ethics refers to those normative theories that treat the fulfillment or realization of human nature as central to an account of both goodness and moral obligation, in what sense is “human flourishing” a perfectionist notion? How much of what we take “human flourishing” to signify is the result of our understanding of human nature? Is the content of this concept simply read off an examination of our nature? Is there no place for diversity and individuality? Is the (...) belief that the content of such a normative concept can be determined by an appeal to human nature merely the result of epistemological naiveté? What is the exact character of the connection between human flourishing and human nature? These questions are the ultimate concern of this essay, but to appreciate the answers that will be offered it is necessary to understand what is meant by “human flourishing.” “Human flourishing” is a relatively recent term in ethics. It seems to have developed in the last two decades because the traditional translation of the Greek term eudaimonia as “happiness” failed to communicate clearly that eudaimonia was an objective good, not merely a subjective good. (shrink)
In L. Frank Baum's story, Ozma of Oz, which is a sequel to Baum's much more famous story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her companion come upon a wound-down mechanical man bearing a label on which are printed the following words: Smith and Tinker's Patent Double-Action, Extra-Responsive, Thought-Creating Perfect-Talking MECHANICAL MAN Fitted with our Special Clock-Work Attachment Thinks, Speaks, Acts, and Does Everything but Live As Dorothy and her companion are made to discover when they wind up this (...) man, he is indeed capable of doing all the things of which his label boasts—acting, speaking and even thinking. But as Tik-Tok himself insists, and no one in the story casts doubt on the matter, he is not alive. (shrink)
Jean-Paul Sartre, in describing the realization of his freedom, was often inclined to say mysterious things like ‘I am what I am not’, ‘I am not what I am’ He was therefore plainly contradicting himself, but was this merely a playful literary figure , or was he really being incoherent? By the latter judgment I do not mean to reject his statements entirely ; for I believe there is an intimate link between contradiction and freedom, as I shall explain in (...) this paper. But a minor thing we must first have out of the way is the suggestion that Sartre's language was just a rhetorical trope, designed merely to express some banal platitude in a bemusing way: ‘I am not yet what I will be’, ‘I am no longer what I was’ are sane and sensible, for instance, but cannot be the meant content of Sartre's sayings, since, while they would indeed describe the reform of some character, they would be appropriate only before or after some metamorphosis, not, as Sartre clearly intended, in the midst of some process of riddance and conversion, whether radical or otherwise. Yet, in the turmoil of such a change, ‘I am not what I am’ still, surely, cannot be true, and if that is the case, Sartre must be being inocherent, and therefore, obfuscating and deliberately obscure, and hence, it seems, must properly be rejected by all right and clear thinking men. (shrink)
The Alligator's Child was full of 'satiable curtiosity. One day while rummaging in a trunk in the lumber room he came across a photograph of his father wearing an aardvark uniform and standing by a large ant hill. All excitement, he rushed to his father and breathlessly said, ‘Father, I didn't know that you had been an aardvark! What is it like to be an aardvark?’.
The aim of this paper is to set out some of the ontologies amongst which some forms of anti-realism must select. This provides the appropriate setting for presenting an alternative realist ontology. The argument is that the choice between the varieties of anti-realism and realism is inevitably a choice between ontologies.
This essay explains the inescapability of moral demands. I deny that the individual has genuine reason to comply with these demands only if she has desires that would be served by doing so. Rather, the learning of moral reasons helps to shape and channel self- and other-interested motivations so as to facilitate and promote social cooperation. This shaping happens through the “embedding” of reasons in the intentional objects of motivational propensities. The dominance of the instrumental conception of reason, according to (...) which reasons must be based in desires of the individual, has made it harder to recognize that reasons shape desires. I attempt to undermine this dominance by arguing that the concept of a self that extends over time is constructed to meet the demands of social cooperation. Prudential reasons to act on behalf of the persisting self's desires are often taken to constitute the paradigm of reasons based on desires of the individual. But such reasons, along with the very concept of the persisting self, are constructed to promote human cooperation and to shape the individual's desires. (shrink)
This skit of Bertrand Russell’s philosophy was originally published in 1918 by Russell’s correspondent friend Jourdain. The introduction explains that the contents purport to be lost papers written by Mr. B*rtr*nd R*ss*ll, a contemporary of Bertrand Russell. This politically humorous volume from the early 20 th Century parodies the writing style of Russell as well as his theories.
According to both deontologists and consequentialists, if there is a reason to promote the general happiness – or to promote any other state of affairs unrelated to one's own projects or self-interest – then the reason must apply to everyone. This view seems almost self-evident; to challenge it is to challenge the way we think of moral reasons. I contend, however, that the view depends on the unwarranted assumption that the only way to restrict the application scope of a reason (...) for action is by restricting it to those agents whose interests or projects are involved in the reason. In fact normative theories may coherently restrict application scopes in other ways. Thus we must take seriously the possibility that the reason to promote the general happiness, although genuine, does not apply to everyone. (shrink)
In the paper I offer a brief sketch of one of the sources of utilitarianism. Our biological ancestry is a matter of fact that is not altered by the way we describe ourselves. With philosophical theories it is otherwise. Utilitarianism can be described in ways that make it look as if it is as old as moral philosophy – as J. S. Mill thought it was. For my historical purposes, it is more useful to have an account that brings out (...) what is specific about Benthamism and its descendants. Let us try to make do with the following. First, utilitarianism asserts that the fundamental requirement of morality is that we are to maximize good, for everyone and not just for the agent. This basic principle presupposes that it makes sense to think of aggregating goods to make a total, and of comparing amounts of good thus aggregated. Second, the good to be brought about is located in feelings of pleasure, and the evil to be avoided in feelings of pain. These feelings have inherent value or disvalue regardless of how they are caused to exist and regardless of their own consequences. Third, all moral principles can be derived from the requirement that good be maximized. The principles involved in evaluating agents as well as in giving moral direction to action are nothing but applications of the basic principle. (shrink)
This paper seeks to examine two conflicting strands in the United States Supreme Court's treatment of “freedom of association,” by exploring some aspects of the historical development of the doctrine. It suggests that there are two conceptions of “freedom of association,” an older, traditional one, that eschews forcing odious contact on members of associations, and a newer one which privileges antidiscrimination doctrines over “freedom from association.” These two conceptions still exist on the Court, resulting in irreconcilable decisions such as those (...) permitting the Boy Scouts to exclude gay scoutmasters, but forcing the Jaycees to accept women. The preference of one conception over the other is also evident in the work of different scholars, whose doctrinal approaches are similarly irreconcilable. The Supreme Court has explained the discontinuities in the doctrine by seeking to characterize it in terms of the First Amendment's “freedom of speech” clause, but the paper argues that it makes more sense, in the context of these two cases, to regard them as related to the First Amendment's “freedom of religion” clauses. (shrink)
Does the recent success of Podemos and Syriza herald a new era of inclusive, egalitarian left populism? Because leaders of both parties are former students of Ernesto Laclau and cite his account of populism as guiding their political practice, this essay considers whether his theory supports hope for a new kind of populism. For Laclau, the essence of populism is an “empty signifier” that provides a means by which anyone can identify with the people as a whole. However, the concept (...) of the empty signifier is not as neutral as he assumes. As I show by analyzing the role of race in his theory, some subjects are constituted in a way that prevents their unmediated identification with the people. Consequently, Laclau’s view should be read as symptomatic of the problems with populist logic if its adherents are to avoid reproducing its exclusions and practice a more inclusive politics. (shrink)