Every university student has his or her nemesis. Biology and social science students anticipate with great apprehension their required statistics course, while many philosophy students live in fear of formal logic. Math anxiety is the common thread uniting all of them. This article argues that since formal logic is an algebra requiring similar kinds of symbol-manipulation skills needed to succeed in a basic mathematics course, then if logic students have math anxiety, this can impede their progress. Further, it argues that (...) math anxiety is primarily caused by and exacerbated by poor instruction. Formal logic instructors who employ effective instructional techniques for reducing it can help their students overcome math anxiety to foster learning. Methods of instruction leading to anxiety reduction and evidence supporting their efficacy are discussed, including co-operative learning, the mastery goal approach, and self-paced learning. None of these methods holds back more advanced students. (shrink)
David Lewis’s property-centered account of belief falls prey to the problem of egocentric omniscience: In self-ascribing the property of being an eye doctor, an agent is thereby self-ascribing the property of being an oculist. It is argued that the problem of egocentric omniscience can be made palatable for Lewis’s property-centered account of belief, at least for the case of linguistic beliefs. Roughly, my solution is as follows: An agent can believe that he or she has the property of being an (...) eye doctor/oculist under the description ‘eye doctor’ without believing that he or she has this property under the description ‘oculist’. Believing that one has a property P under a description D involves the additional self-ascription of the propositional property of inhabiting a world with respect to which that description denotes the property P. This is not the same sort of solution as the one proposed for singular beliefs by Nathan Salmon. Unlike Salmon’s account, belief on the account I am defending is regarded as a two place-relation rather than a three-place relation. Since, on Lewis’s account, self-ascriptive belief subsumes de dicto belief, my solution also sheds light on the problem of logical omniscience. (shrink)
Three misrepresentations of informal and formal logic by two feminist writers are discussed. Andrea Nye's criticism that the semantics for formal logic abstracts from context is a misrepresentation of formal logic because Nye ignores the development of intensional logics. Second, Nye's criticism that informaIlogicians ignore the origins of arguments is a misrepresentation of fallacy theory. Prominent writers in the field specifiy numerous cases where the origins of an argument are relevant to its evaluation. Third, Valerie Plumwood's criticism that negation in (...) classical logic rests on an exclusivistic dualism that encourages the exclusion of women is shown to be false. (shrink)
According to one recent account, in the “preliberal epoch” before the seventeenth century people did not think of individuals “as possessing inalienable rights to anything — much less life, liberty, property, or even the pursuit of happiness.” The statement is not true, but it is excusable. Compared with the flood of writing on the classical rights theories of the early modern period, there has been only a thin trickle of work on medieval ideas concerning individual natural rights, or human rights (...) as we say nowadays, rights inhering in the human person as such. Some modern authors see the seventeenth-century rights theories as a radical departure from ancient and medieval ways of thought; they are content to explain the ideas of Hobbes and Locke and Pufendorf by reference to some aspect of the intellectual, political, or economic life of the seventeenth century itself. C. B. MacPherson, for instance, emphasizing economic factors, inaugurated a minor academic industry when he interpreted Locke's teaching that everyone had a property right in his own person as a reflection of the possessive individualism of early-modern capitalism. (shrink)
Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counterexample to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judgements to account for Gestalt switching. (...) I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position. (shrink)
Can the phenomenal character of perceptual experience be altered by the states of one's cognitive system, for example, one's thoughts or beliefs? If one thinks that this can happen then one thinks that there can be cognitive penetration of perceptual experience; otherwise, one thinks that perceptual experience is cognitively impenetrable. I claim that there is one alleged case of cognitive penetration that cannot be explained away by the standard strategies one can typically use to explain away alleged cases. The case (...) is one in which it seems subjects' beliefs about the typical colour of objects affects their colour experience. I propose a two-step mechanism of indirect cognitive penetration that explains how cognitive penetration may occur. I show that there is independent evidence that each step in this process can occur. I suspect that people who are opposed to the idea that perceptual experience is cognitively penetrable will be less opposed to the idea when they come to consider this indirect mechanism and that those who are generally sympathetic to the idea of cognitive penetrability will welcome the elucidation of this plausible mechanism. (shrink)
This seminal work by political philosopher C.B. Macpherson was first published by the Clarendon Press in 1962, and remains of key importance to the study of liberal-democratic theory half-a-century later. In it, Macpherson argues that the chief difficulty of the notion of individualism that underpins classical liberalism lies in what he calls its "possessive quality" - "its conception of the individual as essentially the proprietor of his own person or capacities, owing nothing to society for them." Under such (...) a conception, the essence of humanity becomes freedom from dependence on the wills of others; society is little more than a system of economic relations; and political society becomes a means of safeguarding private property and the system of economic relations rooted in property. As the New Statesman declared: "It is rare for a book to change the intellectual landscape. It is even more unusual for this to happen when the subject is one that has been thoroughly investigated by generations of historians.... Until the appearance of Professor Macpherson's book, it seemed unlikely that anything radically new could be said about so well-worn a topic. The unexpected has happened, and the shock waves are still being absorbed." A new introduction by Frank Cunningham puts the work in a twenty-first-century context. (shrink)
Introduction. The roots of liberal-democratic theory -- Problems of interpretation -- Hobbe : the political obligation of the market. Philosophy and political theory -- Human nature and the state of nature -- Models of society -- Political obligation -- Penetration and limits of Hobbe's political theory -- The Levellers : franchise and freedom. The problem of franchise -- Types of franchise -- The record -- Theoretical implications -- Harrington : the opportunity state. Unexamined ambiguities -- The balance and the gentry (...) -- The bourgeois society -- The equal commonwealth and the equal agrarian -- The self-cancelling balance principle -- Harrington's stature --Locke : the political theory of appropriation. Interpretations -- The theory of property right -- Class differentials in natural rights and rationality -- The ambiguous state of nature -- The ambiguous civil society -- Unsettled problems reconsidered -- Possessive individualism and liberal democracy. The seventeenth-century foundations -- The twentieth-century dilemma -- Appendix : Social classes and franchise classes in England, circa 1648. (shrink)
Philosophers and scientists have studied sensory perception and, in particular, vision for many years. Increasingly, however, they have become interested in the nonvisual senses in greater detail and the problem of individuating the senses in a more general way. The Aristotelian view is that there are only five external senses—smell, taste, hearing, touch, and vision. This has, by many counts, been extended to include internal senses, such as balance, proprioception, and kinesthesis; pain; and potentially other human and nonhuman senses. This (...) “multisensory turn” has been driven partly by developments in contemporary psychology and neuroscience, which have revealed a host of complex interrelations and interactions between sensory modalities previously thought to be distinct. Contrasts between modalities and other crossmodal phenomena, including multisensory integration, synesthesia, and sensory substitution, have also begun to receive more attention in a burgeoning scientific and philosophical literature on multisensory perception and other crossmodal effects. This article focuses on recent empirically informed contributions to the philosophy of perception, as well as key scientific works that provide important background information and insights into the nature of the senses and sensory perception. Indeed, one of the lessons of the multisensory turn, and of contemporary philosophy of mind more generally, is that philosophers ignore this body of empirical research at their peril because many human and animal senses turn out to be richer and more complex than philosophers and scientists had previously imagined, making this a fruitful area for interdisciplinary interaction and research. (shrink)
The senses, or sensory modalities, constitute the different ways we have of perceiving the world, such as seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. But how many senses are there? How many could there be? What makes the senses different? What interaction takes place between the senses? This book is a guide to thinking about these questions. Together with an extensive introduction to the topic, the book contains the key classic papers on this subject together with nine newly commissioned essays.One reason (...) that these questions are important is that we are receiving a huge influx of new information from the sciences that challenges some traditional philosophical views about the senses. This information needs to be incorporated into our view of the senses and perception. Can we do this whilst retaining our pre-existing concepts of the senses and of perception or do we need to revise our concepts? If they need to be revised, then in what way should that be done? Research in diverse areas, such as the nature of human perception, varieties of non-human animal perception, the interaction between different sensory modalities, perceptual disorders, and possible treatments for them, calls into question the platitude that there are five senses, as well as the pre-supposition that we know what we are counting when we count them as five.This book will serve as an inspiring introduction to the topic and as a basis from which further new research will grow. (shrink)
This paper provides a categorization of cross-modal experiences. There are myriad forms. Doing so allows us to think clearly about the nature of different cross-modal experiences and allows us to clearly formulate competing hypotheses about the kind of experiences involved in different cross-modal phenomena.
Unlike those with type 1 blindsight, people who have type 2 blindsight have some sort of consciousness of the stimuli in their blind field. What is the nature of that consciousness? Is it visual experience? I address these questions by considering whether we can establish the existence of any structural—necessary—features of visual experience. I argue that it is very difficult to establish the existence of any such features. In particular, I investigate whether it is possible to visually, or more generally (...) perceptually, experience form or movement at a distance from our body, without experiencing colour. The traditional answer, advocated by Aristotle, and some other philosophers, up to and including the present day, is that it is not and hence colour is a structural feature of visual experience. I argue that there is no good reason to think that this is impossible, and provide evidence from four cases—sensory substitution, achomatopsia, phantom contours and amodal completion—in favour of the idea that it is possible. If it is possible then one important reason for rejecting the idea that people with type 2 blindsight do not have visual experiences is undermined. I suggest further experiments that could be done to help settle the matter. (shrink)
I argue that we should reject the sparse view that there are or could be only a small number of rather distinct senses. When one appreciates this then one can see that there is no need to choose between the standard criteria that have been proposed as ways of individuating the senses—representation, phenomenal character, proximal stimulus and sense organ—or any other criteria that one may deem important. Rather, one can use these criteria in conjunction to form a fine-grained taxonomy of (...) the senses. We can think of these criteria as defining a multidimensional space within which we can locate each of the senses that we are familiar with and which also defines the space of possible senses there could be. (shrink)
Is there a space of the sensory modalities? Such a space would be one in which we can represent all the actual, and at least some of the possible, sensory modalities. The relative position of the senses in this space would indicate how similar and how different the senses were from each other. The construction of such a space might reveal unconsidered features of the actual and possible senses, help us to define what a sense is, and provide grounds that (...) we might use to decide what is one token sense rather than multiple token senses. -/- In this paper, I explore, refine, and defend the idea that we can construct such a space—an idea that I briefly proposed in earlier work (Macpherson 2011a and 2011b). In doing so, I defend the idea from an objection that Richard Gray (2012) has voiced. Gray claims that the dimensions of the space of sensory modalities must generate a non-‐arbitrary ordering of the senses. He argues that we cannot find dimensions that do so. I disagree. I identify different ways in which a space could be arbitrary but I argue that we can define a space of the sensory modalities in a non-arbitrary manner. I give examples of what the dimensions might be. (shrink)
In ‘The ethics of belief and Christian faith as commitment to assumptions’, Rik Peels attacks the views that I advanced in ‘Christianity and the ethics of belief’. Here, I rebut his criticisms of the claim that it is wrong to believe without sufficient evidence, of the contention that Christians are committed to that claim, and of the notion of that faith is not belief but commitment to assumptions in the hope of salvation. My original conclusions still stand.
In this paper I examine whether representationalism can account for various thought experiments about colour inversions. Representationalism is, at minimum, the view that, necessarily, if two experiences have the same representational content then they have the same phenomenal character. I argue that representationalism ought to be rejected if one holds externalist views about experiential content and one holds traditional exter- nalist views about the nature of the content of propositional attitudes. Thus, colour inver- sion scenarios are more damaging to externalist (...) representationalist views than have been previously thought. More specifically, I argue that representationalists who endorse externalism about experiential content either have to become internalists about the content of propositional attitudes or they have to adopt a novel variety of externalism about the content of propositional attitudes. This novel type of propositional attitude externalism is investigated. It can be seen that adopting it forces one to reject Putnam. (shrink)
In the preface to his book God the Problem , Gordon Kaufman writes ‘Although the notion of God as agent seems presupposed by most contemporary theologians … Austin Farrer has been almost alone in trying to specify carefully and consistently just what this might be understood to mean.’.
Brian Skyrms offers a fascinating demonstration of how fundamental signals are to our world. He uses various scientific tools to investigate how meaning and communication develop. Signals operate in networks of senders and receivers at all levels of life, transmitting and processing information. That is how humans and animals think and interact.
Scientific Essentialism defends the view that the fundamental laws of nature depend on the essential properties of the things on which they are said to operate, and are therefore not independent of them. These laws are not imposed upon the world by God, the forces of nature or anything else, but rather are immanent in the world. Ellis argues that ours is a dynamic world consisting of more or less transient objects which are constantly interacting with each other, and whose (...) identities depend on their roles in these processes. Natural objects must behave as they do, because to do otherwise would be contrary to their natures. The laws of nature are, therefore, metaphysically necessary, and consequently, there are necessary connections between events. Brian Ellis calls for the rejection of the theory of Humean Supervenience and an implementation of a new kind of realism in philosophical analysis. (shrink)
I propose a counterexample to naturalistic representational theories of phenomenal character. The counterexample is generated by experiences of novel colours reported by Crane and Piantanida. I consider various replies that a representationalist might make, including whether novel colours could be possible colours of objects and whether one can account for novel colours as one would account for binary colours or colour mixtures. I argue that none of these strategies is successful and therefore that one cannot fully explain the nature of (...) the phenomenal character of perceptual experiences using a naturalistic conception of representation. (shrink)
C.B. Macpherson's “Possessive Individualist” reading of Locke is one of the most radical and influential interpretations in the history of exegesis. Despite a substantial critical response over the past five decades, Macpherson's reading remains orthodox in various circles in the humanities generally, particularly in legal studies, and his interpretation of several crucial passages has unwittingly been followed even by his sharpest critics within Lockean scholarship. In order to present the definitive rebuttal to this interpretation, and so finally to (...) lay it to rest, I argue that every one of Macpherson's key pieces of textual evidence can be rejected entirely on its own terms; that is, by reference to no more than its immediate context. In this way I contend that fault of the Possessive Individualist reading lies far deeper than mere cherry-picking of the Lockean corpus, but centrally involves misreading, misplacing and misrepresenting the very parts of Locke's work Macpherson cites as evidence for his reading. (shrink)
Climate change harms health and damages and diminishes environmental resources. Gradually it will cause health systems to reduce services, standards of care, and opportunities to express patient autonomy. Prominent public health organizations are responding with preparedness, mitigation, and educational programs. The design and effectiveness of these programs, and of similar programs in other sectors, would be enhanced by greater understanding of the values and tradeoffs associated with activities and public policies that drive climate change. Bioethics could generate such understanding by (...) exposing the harms and benefits in different cultural, socioeconomic, and geographic contexts, and through interdisciplinary risk assessments. Climate change is a bioethics problem because it harms everyone and involves health, values, and responsibilities. This article initiates dialog about the responsibility of bioethics to promote transparency and understanding of the social values and conflicts associated with climate change, and the actions and public policies that allow climate change to worsen. (shrink)
In this brief but powerful book, acclaimed political philosopher C.B. Macpherson sets out in bold relief the essence of liberal democracy, both as it is currently conceived and as it might be reimagined. The Wynford edition includes a new Introduction by Frank Cunningham.
William Hasker replies to my arguments against Social Trinitarianism, offers some criticism of my own view, and begins a sketch of another account of the Trinity. I reply with some defence of my own theory and some questions about his.
One manifestation of climate change is the increasingly severe extreme weather that causes injury, illness and death through heat stress, air pollution, infectious disease and other means. Leading health organisations around the world are responding to the related water and food shortages and volatility of energy and agriculture prices that threaten health and health economics. Environmental and climate ethics highlight the associated challenges to human rights and distributive justice but rarely address health or encompass bioethical methods or analyses. Public health (...) ethics and its broader umbrella, bioethics, remain relatively silent on climate change. Meanwhile global population growth creates more people who aspire to Western lifestyles and unrestrained socioeconomic growth. Fulfilling these aspirations generates more emissions; worsens climate change; and undermines virtues and values that engender appreciation of, and protections for, natural resources. Greater understanding of how virtues and values are evolving in different contexts, and the associated consequences, might nudge the individual and collective priorities that inform public policy toward embracing stewardship and responsibility for environmental resources necessary to health. Instead of neglecting climate change and related policy, public health ethics and bioethics should explore these issues; bring transparency to the tradeoffs that permit emissions to continue at current rates; and offer deeper understanding about what is at stake and what it means to live a good life in today's world. (shrink)
Is linguistic meaning to be accounted for independently of the states of mind of language users, or can it only be explained in terms of them? If the latter, what account of the mental states in question avoids circularity? In this book Brian Loar offers a subtle and comprehensive theory that both preserves the natural priority of the mind in explanations of meaning, and gives an independent characterisation of its features. the nature of meaning and its relation to the (...) mind is probably the area of paramount concern among philosophers. The theory presented here, by its reach and substance and the thoroughness and sophistication of its development, makes a major contribution to the debate. (shrink)
In teaching jurisprudence, I typically distinguish between two different families of theories of adjudication—theories of how judges do or should decide cases. “Formalist” theories claim that the law is “rationally” determinate, that is, the class of legitimate legal reasons available for a judge to offer in support of his or her decision justifies one and only one outcome either in all cases or in some significant and contested range of cases ; and adjudication is thus “autonomous” from other kinds of (...) reasoning, that is, the judge can reach the required decision without recourse to nonlegal normative considerations of morality or political philosophy. I also note that “formalism” is sometimes associated with the idea that judicial decision-making involves nothing more than mechanical deduction on the model of the syllogism—Beccaria, for example, expresses such a view. I call the latter “Vulgar Formalism” to emphasize that it is not a view to which anyone today cares to subscribe. (shrink)