While there are alternative accounts, many virtue theories are character based, that is, they assert that the primary loci if moral evaluation are a person's character traits. According to these theories, any individual human being is good insogar as she possesses certain character traits, the virtues, and does not possess their antipodes, the vices. Gilbert Harman has attacked this view by citing evidence in empirical psychology that human behaviour is explained by situational factors to the exclusion of stable dispositions (...) of character. In this paper I argue that Harman's attack fails, firstly because his target is too wide, meaning that the traits tested for are not of the type most relevant to virtue theory, and secondly because he cannot dispense with character traits for explaining behaviour. (shrink)
Many contemporary philosophers favor coherence theories of knowledge (Bender 1989, BonJour 1985, Davidson 1986, Harman 1986, Lehrer 1990). But the nature of coherence is usually left vague, with no method provided for determining whether a belief should be accepted or rejected on the basis of its coherence or incoherence with other beliefs. Haack's (1993) explication of coherence relies largely on an analogy between epistemic justification and crossword puzzles. We show in this paper how epistemic coherence can be understood in (...) terms of maximization of constraint satisfaction, in keeping with computational models that have had a substantial impact in cognitive science. A coherence problem can be defined in terms of a set of elements and sets of positive and negative constraints between pairs of those elements. Algorithms are available for computing coherence by determining how to accept and reject elements in a way that satisfies the most constraints. Knowledge involves at least five different kinds of coherence - explanatory, analogical, deductive, perceptual, and conceptual - each requiring different sorts of elements and constraints. (shrink)
This paper responds to the recent situationist critique of practical rationality and decision-making. According to that critique, empirical evidence indicates that our choices are governed by morally irrelevant situational factors and not durable character traits, and rarely result from overt rational deliberation. This critique is taken to indicate that popular moral theories in the Western tradition are descriptively deficient, even if normatively plausible or desirable. But we believe that the situationist findings regarding the sources of, or influences over, our moral (...) agency do not reflect durable features of human nature, and claim that these findings are a byproduct of a deficient approach to moral education. Existing models of moral education, which are “positive” in nature, do a poor job of developing virtuous people. Instead, we argue that a “negative” approach to moral education, traceable to Locke, Smith, and Rousseau, would be more successful. This strategy represents something of a compromise between the strategies adopted by thinkers like Rachana Kamtekar : 458–491 2004), who argues that traditional moral categories escape largely untouched by findings in social psychology, and John Doris :504–530 1998) and Gilbert Harman : 87–94 2003), who argue that findings in psychology prove our traditional moral theories are defective. (shrink)
In Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence, I argued that coming into existence is always a harm and that procreation is wrong. In this paper, I respond to those of my critics to whom I have not previously responded. More specifically, I engage the objections of Tim Bayne, Ben Bradley, Campbell Brown, David DeGrazia, Elizabeth Harman, Chris Kaposy, Joseph Packer and Saul Smilansky.
The field of neuroimaging has reached a watershed. Brain imaging research has been the source of many advances in cognitive neuroscience and cognitive science over the last decade, but recent critiques and emerging trends are raising foundational issues of methodology, measurement, and theory. Indeed, concerns over interpretation of brain maps have created serious controversies in social neuroscience, and, more important, point to a larger set of issues that lie at the heart of the entire brain mapping enterprise. In this volume, (...) leading scholars -- neuroimagers and philosophers of mind -- reexamine these central issues and explore current controversies that have arisen in cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, computer science, and signal processing. The contributors address both statistical and dynamical analysis and modeling of neuroimaging data and interpretation, discussing localization, modularity, and neuroimagers' tacit assumptions about how these two phenomena are related; controversies over correlation of fMRI data and social attributions ; and the standard inferential design approach in neuroimaging. Finally, the contributors take a more philosophical perspective, considering the nature of measurement in brain imaging, and offer a framework for novel neuroimaging data structures. Contributors: William Bechtel, Bharat Biswal, Matthew Brett, Martin Bunzl, Max Coltheart, Karl J. Friston, Joy J. Geng, Clark Glymour, Kalanit Grill-Spector, Stephen José Hanson, Trevor Harley, Gilbert Harman, James V. Haxby, Rik N. Henson, Nancy Kanwisher, Colin Klein, Richard Loosemore, Sébastien Meriaux, Chris Mole, Jeanette A. Mumford, Russell A. Poldrack, Jean-Baptiste Poline, Richard C. Richardson, Alexis Roche, Adina L. Roskies, Pia Rotshtein, Rebecca Saxe, Philipp Sterzer, Bertrand Thirion, Edward Vul The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket. (shrink)
The Prince and the Wolf contains the transcript of a debate which took place on February 5, 2008 at the London School of Economics (LSE) between the prominent French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher Bruno Latour and the Cairo-based American philosopher Graham Harman.
Change in View offers an entirely original approach to the philosophical study of reasoning by identifying principles of reasoning with principles for revising one's beliefs and intentions and not with principles of logic. This crucial observation leads to a number of important and interesting consequences that impinge on psychology and artificial intelligence as well as on various branches of philosophy, from epistemology to ethics and action theory. Gilbert Harman is Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. A Bradford Book.
Gilbert harman has recently proposed a version of moral relativism which is markedly clearer than any earlier statement of that position. Besides consistency and clarity, Harman claims for his thesis a number of positive virtues. The thesis, He argues, "helps explain otherwise puzzling aspects of our moral views"; it accounts for "a previously unnoticed distinction between inner and non-Inner judgments"' and it allows us to meet traditional objections to related theories. In this paper, I argue that none of (...) these alleged virtues is adequately documented by harman's arguments. (shrink)
Ordinary moral thought often commits what social psychologists call 'the fundamental attribution error '. This is the error of ignoring situational factors and overconfidently assuming that distinctive behaviour or patterns of behaviour are due to an agent's distinctive character traits. In fact, there is no evidence that people have character traits in the relevant sense. Since attribution of character traits leads to much evil, we should try to educate ourselves and others to stop doing it.
Prince of Networks is the first treatment of Bruno Latour specifically as a philosopher. It has been eagerly awaited by readers of both Latour and Harman since their public discussion at the London School of Economics in February 2008. Part One covers four key works that display Latour’s underrated contributions to metaphysics: Irreductions, Science in Action, We Have Never Been Modern, and Pandora’s Hope. Harman contends that Latour is one of the central figures of contemporary philosophy, with a (...) highly original ontology centered in four key concepts: actants, irreduction, translation, and alliance. In Part Two, Harman summarizes Latour’s most important philosophical insights, including his status as the first ‘secular occasionalist.’ The problem of translation between entities is no longer solved by the fiat of God (Malebranche) or habit (Hume), but by local mediators. Working from his own ‘object-oriented’ perspective, Harman also criticizes the Latourian focus on the relational character of actors at the expense of their cryptic autonomous reality. This book forms a remarkable interface between Latour’s Actor-Network Theory and the Speculative Realism of Harman and his confederates. It will be of interest to anyone concerned with the emergence of new trends in the humanities following the long postmodernist interval. (shrink)
In this important new collection, Gilbert Harman presents a selection of fifteen interconnected essays on fundamental issues at the center of analytic philosophy. The book opens with a group of four essays discussing basic principles of reasoning and rationality. The next three essays argue against the once popular idea that certain claims are true and knowable by virtue of meaning. In the third group of essays Harman presents his own view of meaning and the possibility of thinking in (...) language The final three essays investigate the nature of mind, developing further the themes already set out. Reasoning, Meaning, and Mind offers an integrated presentation of this rich and influential body of work. which Harman has developed over thirty years. (shrink)
In this book the metaphysical system of Graham Harman is presented in lucid form, aided by helpful diagrams. In Chapter 1, Harman gives his most forceful critique to date of philosophies that reject objects as a primary reality. All such rejections are tainted by either an undermining or overmining approach to objects. In Chapters 2 and 3, he reviews his concepts of sensual and real objects. In the process, he attacks the prestige normally granted to philosophies of human (...) access, which Harman links for the first time to the already discredited Menos Paradox. In Chapters 4 through 7, Harman brings the reader up to speed on his interpretation of Heidegger, which culminates in a fourfold structure of objects linked by indirect causation. In Chapter 8, he speculates on the implications of this theory for the debate over panpsychism, which Harman both embraces and rejects. In Chapters 9 and 10, he introduces the term ontography as the study of the different possible permutations of objects and qualities, which he simplifies with easily remembered terminology drawn from standard playing cards. (shrink)
The current fashions in both analytic and continental philosophy are staunchly anti-metaphysical. There is supposedly no way to talk about the world itself — the philosopher is confined to antiseptic discussions of language, or of other modes of human access to the world. In this provocative work, Graham Harman expands the discussion from his previous book, Tool-Being, arguing for a theory of "the carpentry of things" — a more accessible way of viewing the world that incorporates ideas from Husserl, (...) Levinas, Lingis, and other philosophers. (shrink)
These writings chart Harman's rise from Chicago sportswriter to co-founder of one of Europe's most promising philosophical movements: Speculative Realism. In 1997, Graham Harman was an obscure graduate student covering Chicago sporting events for a California website. Unpublished in philosophy at the time, he was already a popular conference speaker on Heidegger and related themes. Little more than a decade later, as the author of stimulating and highly visible books on continental philosophy, he was Associate Vice Provost for (...) Research at the American University in Cairo, and a key member of the Speculative Realist movement along with Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Quentin Meillassoux. This fascinating collection of eleven essays and lectures from 1997-2009, anchored by Harman's rebellious transformation of Heideggerian philosophy, show the evolution of his object-oriented metaphysics from its early days into an increasingly developed philosophical position. Each chapter is preceded by Harman's delightful and witty scene-setting commentary. (shrink)
Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) influenced the work of such diverse thinkers as Sartre and Derrida. In Tool-Being, Graham Harman departs from the prevailing linguistic approach to analytic and continental philosophy in favor of Heideggerian object-oriented research into the secret contours of objects. Written in a colorful style, it will be of interest to anyone open to new trends in present-day philosophy.
Open-minded people should endorse dogmatism because of its explanatory power. Dogmatism holds that, in the absence of defeaters, a seeming that P necessarily provides non-inferential justification for P. I show that dogmatism provides an intuitive explanation of four issues concerning non-inferential justification. It is particularly impressive that dogmatism can explain these issues because prominent epistemologists have argued that it can’t address at least two of them. Prominent epistemologists also object that dogmatism is absurdly permissive because it allows a seeming to (...) provide justification even if the seeming was caused in some apparently inappropriate way. I conclude by disarming this objection. (shrink)
In _Reliable Reasoning_, Gilbert Harman and Sanjeev Kulkarni -- a philosopher and an engineer -- argue that philosophy and cognitive science can benefit from statistical learning theory, the theory that lies behind recent advances in machine learning. The philosophical problem of induction, for example, is in part about the reliability of inductive reasoning, where the reliability of a method is measured by its statistically expected percentage of errors -- a central topic in SLT. After discussing philosophical attempts to evade (...) the problem of induction, Harman and Kulkarni provide an admirably clear account of the basic framework of SLT and its implications for inductive reasoning. They explain the Vapnik-Chervonenkis dimension of a set of hypotheses and distinguish two kinds of inductive reasoning. The authors discuss various topics in machine learning, including nearest-neighbor methods, neural networks, and support vector machines. Finally, they describe transductive reasoning and suggest possible new models of human reasoning suggested by developments in SLT. (shrink)
Quentin Meillassoux has been described as the most rapidly prominent French philosopher in the Anglophone world since Jacques Derrida in the 1960s. With the publication of After Finitude (2006), this daring protege of Alain Badiou became one of the world's most visible younger thinkers. In this book, his fellow Speculative Realist, Graham Harman, assesses Meillassoux's publications in English so far. Also included are an insightful interview with Meillassoux and first-time translations of excerpts from L'Inexistence divine (The Divine Inexistence), his (...) famous but still unpublished major book. (shrink)
Explaining Value is a selection of the best of Gilbert Harman's shorter writings in moral philosophy. The thirteen essays are divided into four sections, which focus in turn on moral relativism, values and valuing, character traits and virtue ethics, and ways of explaining aspects of morality. Harman's distinctive approach to moral philosophy has provoked much interest; this volume offers a fascinating conspectus of his most important work in the area.
That laws of nature play a vital role in explanation, prediction, and inductive inference is far clearer than the nature of the laws themselves. My hope here is to shed some light on the nature of natural laws by developing and defending the view that they involve genuine relations between properties. Such a position is suggested by Plato, and more recent versions have been sketched by several writers.~ But I am not happy with any of these accounts, not so much (...) because they lack detail or engender minor difficulties, though they do, but because they share a quite fundamental defect. My goal here is to make this defect clear and, more importantly, to present a rather different version of this general conception of laws that avoids it. I begin by considering several features of natural laws and argue that these are best explained by the view that laws involve properties, that this involvement takes the form of a genuine relation between properties, and, finally, that the relation is a metaphysically necessary one. In the second section I start at the other end, and by reflecting on the nature of properties arrive at a similar account of natural laws. In the final section I develop this account in more detail, with emphasis on the nature of the relation between properties it invokes. Along the way several natural objections to the account are answered. (shrink)
Non-moral ignorance can exculpate: if Anne spoons cyanide into Bill's coffee, but thinks she is spooning sugar, then Anne may be blameless for poisoning Bill. Gideon Rosen argues that moral ignorance can also exculpate: if one does not believe that one's action is wrong, and one has not mismanaged one's beliefs, then one is blameless for acting wrongly. On his view, many apparently blameworthy actions are blameless. I discuss several objections to Rosen. I then propose an alternative view on which (...) many agents who act wrongly are blameworthy despite believing they are acting morally permissibly, and despite not having mismanaged their moral beliefs.1. (shrink)