Between the later views of Wittgenstein and those of connectionism 1 on the subject of the mastery of language there is an impressively large number of similarities. The task of establishing this claim is carried out in the second section of this paper.
It is commonly believed that Quine's principal argument for the Indeterminacy of Translation requires an untenably strong account of the underdetermination of theories by evidence, namely that that two theories may be compatible with all possible evidence for them and yet incompatible with each other. In this article, I argue that Quine's conclusion that translation is indeterminate can be based upon the weaker, uncontroversial conception of theoretical underdetermination, in conjunction with a weak reading of the ‘Gavagai’ argument which establishes the (...) underdetermination of the sense and reference of subsentential terms. If underdetermination is considered to be a widespread phenomenon in science, or in inductive reasoning more generally, then the Indeterminacy of Translation will be widespread too. Finally, I briefly consider two issues concerning the scope of this conclusion about the Indeterminacy of Translation: first, whether the argument presupposes behaviourism; and second, whether indeterminacy is restricted to the case of radical translation. I argue that the answer to both these questions is negative, and thus that the thesis of semantic indeterminacy remains relevant to those who disagree with Quine about some issues concerning the nature of mind and language. (shrink)
The aim of this paper will be to show that certain strongly realist forms of scientific realism are either misguided or misnamed. I will argue that, in the case of a range of robustly realist formulations of scientific realism, the ‘scientific’ and the ‘realism’ are in significant philosophical and methodological conflict with each other; in particular, that there is a tension between the actual subject matter and methods of science on the one hand, and the realists' metaphysical claims about which (...) categories of entities the world contains on the other. (shrink)
Many views rely on the idea that it can never be rational to have high confidence in something like, “P, but my evidence doesn’t support P.” Call this idea the “Non-Akrasia Constraint”. Just as an akratic agent acts in a way she believes she ought not act, an epistemically akratic agent believes something that she believes is unsupported by her evidence. The Non-Akrasia Constraint says that ideally rational agents will never be epistemically akratic. In a number of recent papers, the (...) Non-Akrasia Constraint has been called into question. The goal of this paper is to defend it... for the most part. (shrink)
Liberalism is the political philosophy of equal persons, yet liberalism has denied equality to those it saw as black sub-persons. In Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism, political philosopher Charles Mills challenges mainstream accounts that ignore this history and its current legacy in the United States today.
White supremacy is the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today. You will not find this term in introductory, or even advanced, texts in political theory. A standard undergraduate philosophy course will start off with plato and Aristotle, perhaps say something about Augustine, Aquinas, and Machiavelli, move on to Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and Marx, and then wind up with Rawls and Nozick. It will introduce you to notions of aristocracy, democracy, absolutism, liberalism, representative government, (...) socialism, welfare capitalism, andlibertarianism. But though it covers more than two thousand years of Western political thought and runs the ostensible gamut of political systems, there will be no mention of the basic political system that has shaped the world for the past several hundred years. And this omission is not accidental. Rather, it reflects the fact that standard textbooks and courses have for the most part been written and designed by whites, who take their racial privilege so much for granted that they do not even see it as political, as a form of domination. Ironically, the most important political system of recent global history-the system of domination by which white people have historically ruled over and, in certain important ways, continue to rule over nonwhite people-is not seen as a political system at all. It is just taken for granted; it is the background against which other systems, which we are to see as political are highlighted. This book is an attempt to redirect your vision, to make you see what, in a sense, has been there all along. (shrink)
In his insightful review, Eugene V. Koonin discusses various aspects of CRISPR-Cas systems with a strong focus on their qualities as "adaptive immune systems". The CRISPR-Cas system is most famous for its application as a gene-editing tool. Koonin provides a deeper insight into its biological function in bacteria, which is to immunize the cell against parasite DNA. I shall comment on one issue discussed in the text, in two steps. First, I shall elaborate on CRISPR-Cas systems and their supposed Lamarckian (...) character. Criteria for calling biological phenomena genuinely Lamarckian will be narrowed down and then applied to the CRISPR-Cas system, considering interference-driven spacer acquisition as an instantiation of a truly Lamarckian paradigm. Second, I shall consider whether Lamarckian and "canonical" instances of inheritance are a case of theoretical pluralism, being two non-reducible, yet interconnected paradigms. (shrink)
The Stance team spoke with Charles Mills, noted philosopher and John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at Northwestern University whose work focuses on issues of social class, gender, and race, on December 1, 2014. Dr. Mills reviewed Stance’s transcription of the interview and made slight corrections for grammar, style, and reduction of repetition. He also inserted a sentence or two to add clarity. We hope readers find the result illuminating.
The conventional view of Hobbes’s commonwealth is that it was inspired by contemporary theories of tyranny. This article explores the idea that a paradigm for Hobbes’s state could in fact be found in early modern readings of Aristotle on democracy, as found in Book Three of the Politics. It argues that by the late sixteenth century, these meditations on the democratic body politic had developed claims about unity, mythology, and personation that would become central to Hobbes’s own theory of the (...) commonwealth. Tracing the history of commentary on the relevant passages in Aristotle reveals new perspectives not only on the political theories of both Aristotle and Hobbes but also introduces modern readers to the richness of early modern commentaries on classical political texts. The article ends with some thoughts on why attention to traditions of commentary might be valuable for political theorists today. (shrink)
Believing rationally is epistemically valuable, or so we tend to think. It’s something we strive for in our own beliefs, and we criticize others for falling short of it. We theorize about rationality, in part, because we want to be rational. But why? I argue that how we answer this question depends on how permissive our theory of rationality is. Impermissive and extremely permissive views can give good answers; moderately permissive views cannot.
The concept of "fitness" is a notion of central importance to evolutionary theory. Yet the interpretation of this concept and its role in explanations of evolutionary phenomena have remained obscure. We provide a propensity interpretation of fitness, which we argue captures the intended reference of this term as it is used by evolutionary theorists. Using the propensity interpretation of fitness, we provide a Hempelian reconstruction of explanations of evolutionary phenomena, and we show why charges of circularity which have been levelled (...) against explanations in evolutionary theory are mistaken. Finally, we provide a definition of natural selection which follows from the propensity interpretation of fitness, and which handles all the types of selection discussed by biologists, thus improving on extant definitions. (shrink)
Despite the fact that Davidson's theory of the causal relata is crucial to his response to the problem of mental causation - that of anomalous monism - it is commonly overlooked within discussions of his position. Anomalous monism is accused of entailing property epiphenomenalism, but given Davidson's understanding of the causal relata, such accusations are wholly misguided. There are, I suggest, two different forms of property epiphenomenalism. The first understands the term 'property' in an ontological sense, the second in a (...) linguistic sense. Anomalous monism cannot plausibly be accused of either. The first cannot legitimately be applied to anomalous monism as it is incompatible with Davidson's ontology. And accusations of predicate epiphenomenalism, although consistent with Davidson's ontology, are ungrounded regarding Davidson's anomalous monism. Philosophers of mind have mislocated the problem with Davidson's anomalous monism, which in fact lies with the implausible theory of the causal relata upon which it rests. (shrink)
Diverse agricultural technologies are promoted to increase yields and incomes, save time, improve food and nutritional security, and even empower women. Yet a gender gap in technology adoption remains for many agricultural technologies, even for those that are promoted for women. This paper complements the literature on gender and technology adoption, which largely focuses on reasons for low rates of female technology adoption, by shifting attention to what happens within a household after it adopts a technology. Understanding the expected benefits (...) and costs of adoption, from the perspective of women users in households with adult males, can help explain observed technology adoption rates and why technology adoption is often not sustained in the longer term. Drawing on qualitative data from Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania, this paper develops a framework for examining the intrahousehold distribution of benefits from technology adoption, focusing on small-scale irrigation technologies. The framework contributes to the conceptual and empirical exploration of joint control over technology by men and women in the same household. Efforts to promote technology adoption for agricultural development and women’s empowerment would benefit from an understanding of intrahousehold control over technology to avoid interpreting technology adoption as an end in and of itself. (shrink)
There are many conflicting attitudes to technological progress: some people are fearful that robots will soon take over, even perhaps making ethical decisions for us, whilst others enthusiastically embrace a future largely run for us by them. Still others insist that we cannot predict the long term outcome of present technological developments. In this paper I shall be concerned with the impact of the new technology on medicine, and with one particularly agonizing ethical dilemma to which it has already given (...) rise. (shrink)
This book develops a unique phenomenology of plurality by introducing Hannah Arendt’s work into current debates taking place in the phenomenological tradition. Loidolt offers a systematic treatment of plurality that unites the fields of phenomenology, political theory, social ontology, and Arendt studies to offer new perspectives on key concepts such as intersubjectivity, selfhood, personhood, sociality, community, and conceptions of the "we." _Phenomenology of Plurality_ is an in-depth, phenomenological analysis of Arendt that represents a viable third way between the "modernist" and (...) "postmodernist" camps in Arendt scholarship. It also introduces a number of political and ethical insights that can be drawn from a phenomenology of plurality. This book will appeal to scholars interested in the topics of plurality and intersubjectivity within phenomenology, existentialism, political philosophy, ethics, and feminist philosophy. (shrink)
This book argues that the philosophical history of India contains a tradition of skepticism about philosophy represented most clearly by three figures: Nāgārjuna, Jayarāśi, and Śrī Harṣa. Furthermore, understanding this tradition ought to be an important part of our contemporary metaphilosophical reflections on the purposes and limits of philosophy.
William James famously tells us that there are two main goals for rational believers: believing truth and avoiding error. I argues that epistemic consequentialism—in particular its embodiment in epistemic utility theory—seems to be well positioned to explain how epistemic agents might permissibly weight these goals differently and adopt different credences as a result. After all, practical versions of consequentialism render it permissible for agents with different goals to act differently in the same situation. -/- Nevertheless, I argue that epistemic consequentialism (...) doesn’t allow for this kind of permissivism and goes on to argue that this reveals a deep disanalogy between decision theory and the formally similar epistemic utility theory. This raises the question whether epistemic utility theory is a genuinely consequentialist theory at all. (shrink)
This paper offers a critique of ‘powerful knowledge’ – a concept in Education Studies that has been presented as a just basis for school curricula. Powerful knowledge is disciplinary knowledge produced and refined through a process of ‘specialisation’ that usually occurs in universities. Drawing on postcolonial, decolonial and Indigenous studies, we show how powerful knowledge seems to focus on the progressive impulse of modernity while overlooking the ruination of colonial racism. We call on scholars and practitioners working with the powerful (...) knowledge framework to address more fully the hegemonic relations of disciplinary specialisation and its historical connections to colonial-modernity. This, we argue, would enable curriculum knowledge that is ‘powerful’ in its interrogation of racial violence, rather than in its epistemic reproduction of it. (shrink)
Issues in reproductive ethics, such as the capacity of parents to ‘choose children’, present challenges to philosophical ideas of freedom, responsibility and harm. This book responds to these challenges by proposing a new framework for thinking about the ethics of reproduction that emphasizes the ways that social norms affect decisions about who is born. The book provides clear and thorough discussions of some of the dominant problems in reproductive ethics - human enhancement and the notion of the normal, reproductive liberty (...) and procreative beneficence, the principle of harm and discrimination against disability - while also proposing new ways of addressing these. The author draws upon the work of Michel Foucault, especially his discussions of biopolitics and norms, and later work on ethics, alongside feminist theorists of embodiment to argue for a new bioethics that is responsive to social norms, human vulnerability and the relational context of freedom and responsibility. This is done through compelling discussions of new technologies and practices, including the debate on liberal eugenics and human enhancement, the deliberate selection of disabilities, PGD and obstetric ultrasound. (shrink)
‘Exclusivity’ is the claim that when deliberating about whether to believe that p one can only be consciously motivated to reach one's conclusion by considerations one takes to pertain to the truth of p. The pragmatist tradition has long offered inspiration to those who doubt this claim. Recently, a neo-pragmatist movement, Keith Frankish (), and Conor McHugh ()) has given rise to a serious challenge to exclusivity. In this article, I defend exclusivity in the face of this challenge. First, I (...) dispute a crucial assumption underlying the challenge, namely, that one can have evidence sufficient to enable but not compel belief. Secondly, I examine several cases that McHugh in particular offers to call exclusivity into question and argue on independent grounds that these cases do not threaten exclusivity. Whether or not exclusivity holds, in addition to being of intrinsic interest, has a decisive consequence for the contemporary debate over Bernard Williams’ () claim that “beliefs aim at truth”. If exclusivity is true, as David Owens () has argued, the deliberator cannot be said to literally aim at truth. So, in defending exclusivity, I thereby show that the notion of ‘aiming’ fails to illuminate the nature of belief. (shrink)
Mills argues for a new critical theory that develops the insights of the black radical political tradition. While challenging conventional interpretations of key Marxist concepts and claims, the author contends that Marxism has been 'white' insofar as it has failed to recognize the centrality of race and white supremacy to the making of the modern world.
It is impossible to imagine contemporary critical theory without the work of Michel Foucault. His radical reworkings of the concepts of power, knowledge, discourse and identity have influenced the widest possible range of theories and impacted upon disciplinary fields from literary studies to anthropology. Aimed at students approaching Foucault's texts for the first time, this volume offers: * an examination of Foucault's contexts * a guide to his key ideas * an overview of responses to his work * practical hints (...) on 'using Foucault' * an annotated guide to his most influential works * suggestions for further reading. Challenging not just what we think but how we think, Foucault's work remains the subject of heated debate. Sara Mills' Michel Foucault offers an introduction to both the ideas and the debate, fully equipping student readers for an encounter with this most influential of thinkers. (shrink)