Offering philosophical insights into the popular morning brew, _Coffee -- Philosophy for Everyone_ kick starts the day with an entertaining but critical discussion of the ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and culture of coffee. Matt Lounsbury of pioneering business Stumptown Coffee discusses just how good coffee can be Caffeine-related chapters cover the ethics of the coffee trade, the metaphysics of coffee and the centrality of the coffee house to the public sphere Includes a foreword by Donald Schoenholt, President at Gillies Coffee Company.
In this paper, the authors argue for two main claims: first, that the epistemic results of group deliberation can be superior to those of individual inquiry; and, second, that successful deliberative groups depend on individuals exhibiting deliberative virtues. The development of these group-deliberative virtues, the authors argue, is important not only for epistemic purposes but political purposes, as democracies require the virtuous deliberation of their citizens. Deliberative virtues contribute to the deliberative synergy of the group, not only in terms of (...) improving the quality of the group's present decisions, but also improving the background conditions for continued group deliberation. The authors sketch a preliminary schedule of these group-deliberative virtues modelled on Aristotle's conception of virtue as the mean between two extreme vices. The virtues discussed in this article include deliberative wit, friendliness, empathy, charity, temperance, courage, sincerity, and humility. (shrink)
Given immunity’s general role in the organism’s economy—both in terms of its internal environment as well as mediating its external relations—immune theory has expanded its traditional formulation of preserving individual autonomy to one that includes accounting for nutritional processes and symbiotic relationships that require immune tolerance. When such a full ecological alignment is adopted, the immune system becomes the mediator of both defensive and assimilative environmental intercourse, where a balance of immune rejection and tolerance governs the complex interactions of the (...) organism’s ecological relationships. Accordingly, immunology, which historically had affiliated with the biology of individuals, now becomes a science concerned with the biology of communities. With this translocation, the ontological basis of the organism is undergoing a profound change. Indeed, the recent recognition of the ubiquity of symbiosis has challenged the traditional notions of biological individuality and requires a shift in the metaphysics undergirding biology, in which a philosophy of the organism must be characterized by ecological dialectics “all-the-way-down.”. (shrink)
What follows is a taxonomy of arguments that regresses of inferential justification are vicious. They fall out into four general classes: conceptual arguments from incompleteness, conceptual arguments from arbitrariness, ought-implies-can arguments from human quantitative incapacities, and ought-implies can arguments from human qualitative incapacities. They fail with a developed theory of "infinitism" consistent with valuational pluralism and modest epistemic foundationalism.
Why We Argue : A Guide to Political Disagreement presents an accessible and engaging introduction to the theory of argument, with special emphasis on the way argument works in public political debate. The authors develop a view according to which proper argument is necessary for one’s individual cognitive health; this insight is then expanded to the collective health of one’s society. Proper argumentation, then, is seen to play a central role in a well-functioning democracy. Written in a lively style and (...) filled with examples drawn from the real world of contemporary politics, and questions following each chapter to encourage discussion, Why We Argue : A Guide to Political Disagreement reads like a guide for the participation in, and maintenance of, modern democracy. An excellent student resource for courses in critical thinking, political philosophy, and related fields, Why We Argue : A Guide to Political Disagreement is an important contribution to reasoned debate. (shrink)
My objective in this paper is to compare two philosophical problems, the problem of the criterion and the problem of deep disagreement, and note a core similarity which explains why many proposed solutions to these problems seem to fail along similar lines. From this observation, I propose a kind of skeptical solution to the problem of deep disagreement, and this skeptical program has consequences for the problem as it manifests in political epistemology and metaphilosophy.
I will assume here the defenses of epistemic infinitism are adequate and inquire as to the variety standpoints within the view. I will argue that infinitism has three varieties depending on the strength of demandingness of the infinitist requirement and the purity of its conception of epistemic justification, each of which I will term strong pure, strong impure, and weak impure infinitisms. Further, I will argue that impure infinitisms have the dialectical advantage.
In this paper, I will argue for a complex of three theses. First, that the problem of deep disagreement is an instance of the regress problem of justification. Second, that the problem of deep disagreement, as a regress problem, depends on a dialecticality requirement for arguments. Third, that the dialecticality requirement is plausible and defensible.
Although Caenorhabditis elegans was chosen and modified to be an organism that would facilitate a reductionist program for neurogenetics, recent research has provided evidence for properties that are emergent from the neurons. While neurogenetic advances have been made using C. elegans which may be useful in explaining human neurobiology, there are severe limitations on C. elegans to explain any significant human behavior.
From the 1930s through the 1970s, C. H. Waddington attempted to reunite genetics, embryology, and evolution. One of the means to effect this synthesis was his model of the epigenetic landscape. This image originally recast genetic data in terms of embryological diagrams and was used to show the identity of genes and inducers and to suggest the similarities between embryological and genetic approaches to development. Later, the image became more complex and integrated gene activity and mutations. These revised epigenetic landscapes (...) presented an image of how mutations could alter developmental pathways to yield larger phenotypic changes. These diagrams became less important as the operon became used to model differential gene regulation. (shrink)
Developmental biology is a theory of interpretation. Developmental signals are interpreted differently depending on the previous history of the responding cell. Thus, there is a context for the reception of a signal. While this conclusion is obvious during metamorphosis, when a single hormone instructs some cells to proliferate, some cells to differentiate, and other cells to die, it is commonplace during normal development. Paracrine factors such as BMP4 can induce apoptosis, proliferation, or differentiation depending upon the history of the responding (...) cells. In addition, organisms have evolved to alter their development in response to differences in temperature, diet, the presence of predators, or the presence of competitors. This allows them to develop the phenotype, within the limits imposed by the genotype, best suited for the immediate habitat of the organism. Most developing organisms have also evolved to expect developmental signals from symbionts, and these organisms develop abnormally if the symbiont signals are not present. Thus Hoffmeyer’s “vertical semiotic system” of genetic communication and “horizontal semiotic system” of ecological communication are integrated during development. (shrink)
Pragmatism's naturalism is inconsistent with the phenomenological tradition's anti-naturalism. This poses a problem for the methodological consistency of phenomenological work in the pragmatist tradition. Solutions such as phenomenologizing naturalism or naturalizing phenomenology have been proposed, but they fail. As a consequence, pragmatists and other naturalists must answer the phenomenological tradition's criticisms of naturalism.
Though textbook tu quoque arguments are fallacies of relevance, many versions of arguments from hypocrisy are indirectly relevant to the issue. Some arguments from hypocrisy are challenges to the authority of a speaker on the basis of either her sincerity or competency regarding the issue. Other arguments from hypocrisy purport to be evidence of the impracticability of the opponent’s proposals. Further, some versions of hypocrisy charges from impracticability are open to a counter that I will term tu quoque judo.
Epistemic infinitism is the view that infinite series of inferential relations are productive of epistemic justification. Peirce is explicitly infinitist in his early work, namely his 1868 series of articles. Further, Peirce's semiotic categories of firsts, seconds, and thirds favors a mixed theory of justification. The conclusion is that Peirce was an infinitist, and particularly, what I will term an impure infinitist. However, the prospects for Peirce's infinitism depend entirely on the prospects for Peirce's early semantics, which are not good. (...) Peirce himself revised the semantic theory later, and in so doing, it seems also his epistemic infinitism. (shrink)
Holobionts, consisting of a host and diverse microbial symbionts, function as distinct biological entities anatomically, metabolically, immunologically, and developmentally. Symbionts can be transmitted from parent to offspring by a variety of vertical and horizontal methods. Holobionts can be considered levels of selection in evolution because they are well-defined interactors, replicators/reproducers, and manifestors of adaptation. An initial mathematical model is presented to help understand how holobionts evolve. The model offered combines the processes of horizontal symbiont transfer, within-host symbiont proliferation, vertical symbiont (...) transmission, and holobiont selection. The model offers equations for the population dynamics and evolution of holobionts whose hologenomes differ in gene copy number, not in allelic or loci identity. The model may readily be extended to include variation among holobionts in the gene identities of both symbionts and host. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue for three theses. First, that the problem of Deep Disagreement is usefully understood as an instance of the skeptical Problem of the Criterion. Second, there are structural similarities between proposed optimistic answers to deep disagreement and the problem of the criterion. Third, in light of these similarities, there are both good and bad consequences for proposed solutions to the problem of deep disagreement.
Developmental biology is expanding into several new areas. One new area of study concerns the production of adult-onset phenotypes by exposure of the fetus or neonate to environmental agents. These agents include maternal nutrients, developmental modulators, and maternal care. In all three cases, a major mechanism for the generation of the altered phenotype is chromatin modification. Nutrient conditions, developmental modulators, and even maternal care appear to alter DNA methylation and other associated changes in chromatin that regulate gene expression. This brings (...) a new, under-appreciated, dimension of gene regulation into developmental biology, and it also demonstrates the poverty of the nature versus nurture framework for discussing phenotype production. Moreover, while such epigenetic mechanisms undermine genetic determinism, they add a layer of probabilistic biological causality for the maintenance of social inequalities. (shrink)
This essay summarizes the research program developed in our new book, Why We Argue : A Guide to Political Disagreement. Humans naturally want to know and to take themselves as having reason on their side. Additionally, many people take democracy to be a uniquely proper mode of political arrangement. There is an old tension between reason and democracy, however, and it was first articulated by Plato. Plato’s concern about democracy was that it detached political decision from reason. Epistemic democrats attempt (...) to show how the two can be re-attached. What is necessary is to couple the core democratic liberties with norms of rational exchange. Thus epistemology and argument provides a basis for democratic politics. Why We Argue makes a case for the connection and develops a toolkit for maintaining it. (shrink)
Theism is a cluster of views. The first of which is that God exists. Others are that God has all the relevant omni-attributes, that He created the world, and that He communicates with and performs miracles on behalf of humans. There is one additional view that is often overlooked. It is that humans are obligated to worship God. Importantly, this issue of worship is of central importance to traditional theism. And it extends into pagan thought that predates Christianity. Take, for (...) example Epicurus' deployment of the argument from evil: If god is willing to prevent evil, then he is not omnipotent. If he is able but unwilling, then he is malevolent. If he is able and willing, from whence comes evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god? (shrink)
Holobionts are multicellular eukaryotes with multiple species of persistent symbionts. They are not individuals in the genetic sense— composed of and regulated by the same genome—but they are anatomical, physiological, developmental, immunological, and evolutionary units, evolved from a shared relationship between different species. We argue that many of the interactions between human and microbiota symbionts and the reproductive process of a new holobiont are best understood as instances of reciprocal scaffolding of developmental processes and mutual construction of developmental, ecological, and (...) evolutionary niches. Our examples show that mother, fetus, and different symbiotic microbial communities induce or constitute conditions for the development and reproduction of one another. These include the direct induction of maternal or fetus physiological changes, the restructuring of ecological relations between communities, and evolutionary selection against undesirable competitors. The mutual scaffolding and niche constructing processes start early—prior to amniotic rupture. We are evolutionarily, physiologically, and developmentally integrated holobiont systems, strung together through mutual reliance and mutual construction. Bringing the processes of niche construction and developmental scaffolding together to interpret holobiont birth conceptually scaffolds two new directions for research: in niche construction, identifying the evolutionary implications of organisms actively constructing multiple overlapping niches and scaffolds, and in Evolutionary Developmental Biology, characterizing evolutionary and ecological processes as developmental causes. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the view that subjects should believe neither more than nor contrary to what their current evidence supports. I will critically present two arguments for the view. A common source of resistance to evidentialism is that there are intuitive cases where subjects should believe contrary to their evidence. I will present modest evidentialism as the view that subjects should believe in accord with what their evidence supports, but that this norm may be overridden under certain conditions. As such, a (...) modest evidentialismaccommodates the intuitions behind a good deal of traditional anti-evidentialism. (shrink)
This article poses two regresses for justification of moral knowledge and discusses three models for moral epistemic infinitism that arise. There are moral infinitisms dependent on empirical infinitism, what are called “piggyback” moral infinitisms. There are substantive empiricist moral infinitisms, requiring infinite chains of descriptive facts to justify normative rules. These empiricist infinitisms are developed either as infinitist egoisms or as infinitist sentimentalisms. And, finally, there are substantive rationalist moral infinitisms, requiring infinite chains of normative reasons to justify moral rules. (...) Rationalist moral infinitism is posed as a mixed view integrating moral intuitions with the demand for justifying reasons. (shrink)
A common argument for evidentialism is that the norms of assertion, specifically those bearing on warrant and assertability, regulate belief. On this assertoric model of belief, a constitutive condition for belief is that the believing subject take her belief to be supported by sufficient evidence. An equally common source of resistance to these arguments is the plausibility of cases in which a speaker, despite the fact that she lacks warrant to assert that p, nevertheless attributes to herself the belief that (...) p. In the following, I will outline a variety of ways a speaker may contrastively attribute a belief to herself. In light of what these contrastive statements communicate, cases of attributing beliefs with little or no warrant to oneself offer no substantive counter-example to the evidentialist argument from assertion. (shrink)
There is a tension with regard to regulative norms of inquiry. One’s commitments must survive critical scrutiny, and if they do not survive, they should be revised. Alternately, for views to be adequately articulated and defended, their proponents must maintain a strong commitment to the views in question. A solution is proposed with the notion of holding one’s own as the virtue of being reason-responsive with the prospects of improving the view in question.
John Dewey points out in A Common Faith (1934) that what stands in the way of religious belief for many is the apparent commitment of Western religious traditions to supernatural phenomena and questionable historical claims. We are to accept claims that in any other context we would find laughable. Are we to believe that water can be turned into wine without the benefit of the fermentation process? Are we to swallow the claim that there is such a phenomenon as the (...) spontaneous conception of a child without the intervention of the traditional technique? Were we to confront these claims in any but a religious context, we would dismiss them as the workings of an overactive imagination or simple cover for an overactive sex life. But for the devout believer, there is no doubt even with a paucity of evidence. At the same time, the rise of science has forcibly suggested the idea that the natural world is self-contained and, if explainable, that explanation will come from within. There seems to be no room for the traditional God and, much as one might wish otherwise, nothing for him to do. Perhaps... (shrink)
The straw man fallacy consists in inappropriately constructing or selecting weak versions of the opposition’s arguments. We will survey the three forms of straw men recognized in the literature, the straw, weak, and hollow man. We will then make the case that there are examples of inappropriately reconstructing stronger versions of the opposition’s arguments. Such cases we will call iron man fallacies. The difference between appropriate and inappropriate iron manning clarifies the limits of the virtue of open-mindedness.
Restating an interlocutor’s position in an incredulous tone of voice can sometimes serve legitimate dialectical ends. However, there are cases in which incredulous restatement is out of bounds. This article provides an analysis of one common instance of the inappropriate use of incredulous restatement, which the authors call “modus tonens.” The authors argue that modus tonens is vicious because it pragmatically implicates the view that one’s interlocutor is one’s cognitive subordinate and provides a cue to like-minded onlookers that dialectical opponents (...) are not to be treated as epistemic peers. (shrink)
William James' main argument in “The Will to Believe” against evidentialism is that there are facts that cannot come to be without a preliminary faith in their coming. James primarily makes this case with the argument from friendship. I will critically present James' argument from friendship and show that the argument does not yield a counter-example to evidentialism and is in the end unsound.
Xenophanes famously noted that if horses could draw, they would draw their gods as horses. This connection between those who depict the gods and how the gods are depicted is posed as part of a critical theological program. What follows is an argumentative reconstruction of how these observations determine the extent and content of Xenophanes’ theological reforms. In light of the strength of the critical epistemic program, it is likely Xenophanes posed ambitious theological reforms.
In response to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Nicholas of Cusa wrote De pace fidei defending a commitment to religious tolerance on the basis of the notion that all diverse rites are but manifestations of one true religion. Drawing on a discussion of why Nicholas of Cusa is unable to square the two objectives of arguing for pluralistic tolerance and explaining the contents of the one true faith, we outline why theological pluralism is compromised by its own meta-exclusivism.
Scholarship on Xenophanes’s F1 has had two foci, one on the rules of the symposium and the other on the religious program posed at its close. Thus far, the two areas of focus have been treated as either separate issues or as the religious program proposed in the service of the sympotic objectives. Instead, I will argue that the sympotic norms Xenophanes espouses are in the service of the broader program of rational theology.