In my paper, I defend a view that many would regard as self-evidently false: the view that God’s freedom, his power to act, is in no way limited by his essential properties. I divide the paper into five sections. In section i, I call attention to a special class of non-contingent propositions and try to identify an important feature of these propositions; in section ii, I provide some initial reasons. based in part upon the unique features of these special propositions, (...) for thinking that God does have the power to perform actions which his essential properties entail he will never perform; in section iii, I call into question the assumption that a person has the power to do something only if it is logically possible that he will exercise that power; and, finally, in sections iv and v, I try to specify a sense in which divine freedom and the kind of human freedom required by the Free will Defense are in fact the same kind of freedom. (shrink)
Galton and subsequent investigators find wide divergences in people's subjective reports of mental imagery. Such individual differences might be taken to explain the peculiarly irreconcilable disputes over the nature and cognitive significance of imagery which have periodically broken out among psychologists and philosophers. However, to so explain these disputes is itself to take a substantive and questionable position on the cognitive role of imagery. This article distinguishes three separable issues over which people can be "for" or "against" mental images. Conflation (...) of these issues can lead to theoretical differences being mistaken for experiential differences, even by theorists themselves. This is applied to the case of John B. Watson, who inaugurated a half-century of neglect of image psychology. Watson originally claimed to have vivid imagery; by 1913 he was denying the existence of images. This strange reversal, which made his behaviorism possible, is explicable as a "creative misconstrual" of Dunlap's "motor" theory of imagination. (shrink)
Thomas clarifies his basic criticism of Yeager's book, Ethics as Social Science, emphasizing his concern about lack of clarity of argument rather than style. Thomas discusses the role of ethical standards in contextual moral reasoning and defends Rand's rejection of ethical altruism against criticisms that it represents a "corner solution" or an unrealistic slippery-slope argument.
This essay is part of a symposium on affirmative action that took place at the University of Cincinnati with the distinguished legal scholar Ronald Dworkin. I argue against affirmative action. And I discuss at length the votes of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas. I develop the idea of idiosyncratic excellence; and I argue that diversity is a weakness insofar as it (a) an excuse for social myopia and (b)an impediment to individuals seeing beyond (...) their differences and affirming the excellences that they witness. The expected publication date, Univ of Cinn Law Review, is March 2004. (shrink)
In late August 2012, artist Paul Thomas and philosopher Timothy Morton took a stroll up and down King Street in Newtown, Sydney. They took photographs. If you walk too slowly down the street, you find yourself caught in the honey of aesthetic zones emitted by thousands and thousands of beings. If you want to get from A to B, you had better hurry up. Is there any space between anything? Do we not, when we look for such a space, (...) encounter a plenitude of other things —a slice of plaster, an old vinyl record, a flattened piece of aluminum, painted metal surfaces, nameless interstitial powder, the reflection of sky, some letters of the alphabet, roughened concrete. Between what we take to be things there exist other things, as if the universe were jammed with entities like clowns in a crowded Expressionist painting. An abyss of things that emanates from them, not a yawning void that threatens to engulf them, but a sunlit nothingness filled with dust that seems to spray out of them like dry mist sparkling with firefly swarms. In these so-called spaces, we encounter the work of causality. Look: someone painted over this crack, some sunlight rippled in a mirage, a hole appeared. When we look for causes and effects, we don't encounter a basement of efficiently whirring machinery. Rather, we encounter these in-between spaces, where we had not thought to look. What we see are stage hands moving the scenery about—they are doing it in plain sight, the best place to hide, right in front of you, in the place we call the aesthetic dimension . In Tibetan Buddhism these spaces are called bardo , which just means the between. There is no such thing as a moment of your life that is not a between, according to this view. There is the between of living. There is the between of dying. There is the between of the transition between lives. There is the between of dreaming. There is the between of meditation. There is the between of two humans holding cameras walking down a street in Sydney. The between of two buildings, a space bursting with objects as if a billion jack in the boxes had exploded at once. Some of the lids are stuck, sometimes a nose bursts out and the hinge won't open any further; at other times, the jack in the box flies right out and pulps against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Time opens up. Each surface is a poem about the past. A myriad stories begin to proliferate, as if a thing were a crisscrossing of books, a whole library of them, each page whispering parts of paragraphs and broken pieces of word. The stories tell us things—they are quite literal, look, this guy painted part of this wall, then they came and stripped off the panel and touched up the holes. Form is the past. When you look at appearance, you are looking at the past. Where is the present? And essence is the future. The hints of unknown, unseen things, the absolute impossibility of grasping everything about this plastic pipe, the way photons entering the camera lens obey a speed limit and splash onto receptors, going into and out of coherence. At the electronic level, it's quite clear that causality is aesthetic. I can't see an electron without deflecting it. Everything is a refrigerator with a light on—or off—inside. For me, for you, for this arrangement of tiles sandwiched between a door and a slab of marble. To a photon, an electron is a refrigerator with a closed door, and a light that might be on—or off—inside. How can you know whether the light is on inside? Why, you open the door of course. But then you are looking at the past. You never see the light in the refrigerator before you open the door. This future is not a predictable future that is a specific number of now-points away. You will never reach it. You will never be able to sneak up from the side and see through the refrigerator. Nor can a photon see through the refrigerator of an electron. Nor can paint see through the refrigerator of this plastic pipe. You take a photo—click—the past appears, another open refrigerator. But the thing you have just made, the photograph, the graphing of the photons—it is another thing, another story. You can read the words, but the meaning always eludes you. It always lurks just off the edge of the sentence, just at the very edge of this ragged slice of paint, just at the edge of this building, between this one and that one. Thousands of secrets, everywhere. Masks that lie and tell the truth at the same time: this pink paint is not blue paint, that's true. But the thing, the thing in itself, that paint sliding off a brush onto that pipe—it is nowhere to be seen, like a light behind a closed door. When you walk too slowly down the street, you start walking into millions of levels of pastness, levels emitted not just by the humans or the dogs and cats, but also by this garbage can, this mottled pink surface pockmarked with nail holes. You walk surrounded by as many futures as there are things. You walk, or rather you occupy a peculiar shifting ground of nowness, created by the relative motion of the past sliding against the future, not touching. You begin to realize that the present does not exist. A thing is a train station where one train is always arriving and one train is always leaving. Hundreds of train stations everywhere, hundreds of relative motions. The idea of a universal, regular, atomic sequence of instants that contains everything is absolutely ludicrous, the philosophers have known this for thousands of years, and to hide the absurdity, to get from A to B, Houston to Sydney, crossing the International Date Line without too much laughter, you have embedded piezoelectric devices in as many pieces of hardware as possible, devices in which quartz talks to electrons, making train stations where the trains seem to run on time. When you walk too slowly down the street, you begin to realize that Zeno had a point. You can seemingly divide each moment, each step, infinitesimally. So perhaps there are no moments, no steps. Or perhaps time is not a box that everything goes in. Perhaps time is, as Einstein argued after all, a way that things send out ripples. Where one house touches another house, there arise hundreds of things, hundreds of meeting places (Old English thing , meeting place). Hundreds of times. I have a thing for you. Come over here, let's do a thing. Stay in the sunlight and shadow between worlds, in the sunlit canyon between this building and that building. See how paint touches this pipe, caressing then leaving, no one will notice if a surface is left exposed, not quite filled in. See how shadows are reflected in pale cream glass—see the luminous abyss of causality spreading out before your very eyes, right in front of security. All kinds of beautiful crimes are committed right here, and as American cars keep telling you, and you never notice, OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. They are here, or rather, here is them, and now is them. Kissing in the shadow. Tim Morton Rice University. (shrink)
The first book length study of property-owning democracy, Republic of Equals argues that a society in which capital is universally accessible to all citizens is uniquely placed to meet the demands of justice. Arguing from a basis in liberal-republican principles, this expanded conception of the economic structure of society contextualizes the market to make its transactions fair. The author shows that a property-owning democracy structures economic incentives such that the domination of one agent by another in the market is structurally (...) impossible. The result is a renovated form of capitalism in which the free market is no longer a threat to social democratic values, but is potentially convergent with them. It is argued that a property-owning democracy has advantages that give it priority over rival forms of social organization such as welfare state capitalism and market socialist institutions. The book also addresses the currently high levels of inequality in the societies of the developed West to suggest a range of policies that target the "New Inequality" of our times. For this reason, the work engages not only with political philosophers such as John Rawls, Philip Pettit and John Tomasi, but also with the work of economists and historians such as Anthony B. Atkinson, François Bourguignon, Jacob S. Hacker, Lane Kenworthy, and Thomas Piketty. (shrink)
We have synthesized a 582,970-base pair Mycoplasma genitalium genome. This synthetic genome, named M. genitalium JCVI-1.0, contains all the genes of wild-type M. genitalium G37 except MG408, which was disrupted by an antibiotic marker to block pathogenicity and to allow for selection. To identify the genome as synthetic, we inserted "watermarks" at intergenic sites known to tolerate transposon insertions. Overlapping "cassettes" of 5 to 7 kilobases (kb), assembled from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, were joined by in vitro recombination to produce intermediate (...) assemblies of approximately 24 kb, 72 kb ("1/8 genome"), and 144 kb ("1/4 genome"), which were all cloned as bacterial artificial chromosomes in Escherichia coli. Most of these intermediate clones were sequenced, and clones of all four 1/4 genomes with the correct sequence were identified. The complete synthetic genome was assembled by transformation-associated recombination cloning in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, then isolated and sequenced. A clone with the correct sequence was identified. The methods described here will be generally useful for constructing large DNA molecules from chemically synthesized pieces and also from combinations of natural and synthetic DNA segments. 10.1126/science.1151721. (shrink)
Moral distress is one of the core topics of clinical ethics. Although there is a large and growing empirical literature on the psychological aspects of moral distress, scholars, and empirical investigators of moral distress have recently called for greater conceptual clarity. To meet this recognized need, we provide a philosophical taxonomy of the categories of what we call ethically significant moral distress: the judgment that one is not able, to differing degrees, to act on one’s moral knowledge about what one (...) ought to do. We begin by unpacking the philosophical components of Andrew Jameton’s original formulation from his landmark 1984 work and identify two key respects in which that formulation remains unclear: the origins of moral knowledge and impediments to acting on that moral knowledge. We then selectively review subsequent literature that shows that there is more than one concept of moral distress and that explores the origin of the values implicated in moral distress and impediments to acting on those values. This review sets the stage for identifying the elements of a philosophical taxonomy of ethically significant moral distress. The taxonomy uses these elements to create six categories of ethically significant moral distress: challenges to, threats to, and violations of professional integrity; and challenges to, threats to, and violations of individual integrity. We close with suggestions about how the proposed philosophical taxonomy of ethically significant moral distress sheds light on the concepts of moral residue and crescendo effect of moral distress and how the proposed taxonomy might usefully guide prevention of and future qualitative and quantitative empirical research on ethically significant moral distress. (shrink)
Research has demonstrated that feeling-of-knowing judgments are affected by the amount of accessible information related to an inaccessible target. Further, studies have demonstrated that, in some situations, FOK judgment magnitude is not only related to the amount of accessed features, but also the correctness of those features . The present study examined the conditions under which the correctness of features would influence FOK judgment magnitude. We hypothesized that accuracy of retrieved features would influence FOK judgments, but only in situations where (...) semantically meaningful information was accessible. In three experiments, we manipulated accessibility of semantic information. In all experiments, the quantity, or amount of retrieved partial information had a greater impact on FOK judgments than the accuracy of that information. However, in situations where semantic information was accessible, accuracy of retrieved semantic features also influenced FOK judgment magnitude, and later recognition. (shrink)
In this brief reply to Walls's challenging critique, I try to do two things: first, clarify the most fundamental point on which I think Walls and I disagree, and second, argue that, as surprising as it may first appear, Walls's free-will theodicy of hell requires that God interfere with human freedom in inappropriate ways. (Published Online April 21 2004).