Fred Feldman's fascinating new book sets out to defend hedonism as a theory about the Good Life. He tries to show that, when carefully and charitably interpreted, certain forms of hedonism yield plausible evaluations of human lives. Feldman begins by explaining the question about the Good Life. As he understands it, the question is not about the morally good life or about the beneficial life. Rather, the question concerns the general features of the life that is good in itself (...) for the one who lives it. Hedonism says (roughly) that the Good Life is the pleasant life. After showing that received formulations of hedonism are often confused or incoherent, Feldman presents a simple, clear, coherent form of sensory hedonism that provides a starting point for discussion. He then presents a catalogue of classic objections to hedonism, coming from sources as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Brentano, Ross, Moore, Rawls, Kagan, Nozick, Brandt, and others. One of Feldman's central themes is that there is an important distinction between the forms of hedonism that emphasize sensory pleasure and those that emphasize attitudinal pleasure. Feldman formulates several kinds of hedonism based on the idea that attitudinal pleasure is the Good. He claims that attitudinal forms of hedonism - which have often been ignored in the literature -- are worthy of more careful attention. Another main theme of the book is the plasticity of hedonism. Hedonism comes in many forms. Attitudinal hedonism is especially receptive to variations and modifications. Feldman illustrates this plasticity by formulating several variants of attitudinal hedonism and showing how they evade some of the objections. He also shows how it is possible to develop forms of hedonism that are equivalent to the allegedly anti-hedonistic theory of G. E. Moore and the Aristotelian theory according to which the Good Life is the life of virtue, or flourishing. He also formulates hedonisms relevantly like the ones defended by Aristippus and Mill. Feldman argues that a carefully developed form of attitudinal hedonism is not refuted by objections concerning 'the shape of a life'. He also defends the claim that all of the alleged forms of hedonism discussed in the book genuinely deserve to be called 'hedonism'. Finally, after dealing with the last of the objections, he gives a sketch of his hedonistic vision of the Good Life. (shrink)
In this paper I describe the apparent differences between the views of Mizrahi and Seidel on the strength of arguments from expert opinion. I show that most of Seidel's objections rely on an understanding of the words 'expert' and 'opinion' different from those which Mizrahi employs. I also discuss certain inconsistencies found in both papers over the use of these key terms. The paper concludes by noting that Mizrahi is right to suggest that evidence shows expert predictions to (...) be unreliable, but Seidel is correct to observe that this finding should not be used to claim that expert opinion in general is not to be trusted. (shrink)
The main claim of this book is that the very same distinction between semantic singularity and plurality that is fundamental to the semantics of nouns in the nominal domain is operative and fundamental in the verbal domain as well, applying ...
This paper proposes a third meditation-category—automatic self-transcending— to extend the dichotomy of focused attention and open monitoring proposed by Lutz. Automaticself-transcending includes techniques designed to transcend their own activity. This contrasts with focused attention, which keeps attention focused on an object; and open monitoring, which keeps attention involved in the monitoring process. Each category was assigned EEG bands, based on reported brain patterns during mental tasks, and meditations were categorized based on their reported EEG. Focused attention, characterized by beta/gamma activity, (...) included meditations from Tibetan Buddhist, Buddhist, and Chinese traditions. Open monitoring, characterized by theta activity, included meditations from Buddhist, Chinese, and Vedic traditions. Automaticself-transcending, characterized by alpha1 activity, included meditations from Vedic and Chinese traditions. Between categories, the included meditations differed in focus, subject/object relation, and procedures. These findings shed light on the common mistake of averaging meditations together to determine mechanisms or clinical effects. (shrink)
This collection of essays by eminent philosopher Fred Dretske brings together work on the theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind spanning thirty years. The two areas combine to lay the groundwork for a naturalistic philosophy of mind. The fifteen essays focus on perception, knowledge, and consciousness. Together, they show the interconnectedness of Dretske's work in epistemology and his more contemporary ideas on philosophy of mind, shedding light on the links which can be made between the two. The first (...) section of the book argues the point that knowledge consists of beliefs with the right objective connection to facts; two essays discuss this conception of knowledge's implications for naturalism. The next section articulates a view of perception, attempting to distinguish conceptual states from phenomenal states. A naturalized philosophy of mind, and thus a naturalized epistemology, is articulated in the third section. This collection will be a valuable resource for a wide range of philosophers and their students, and will also be of interest to cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers of biology. (shrink)
Fred Feldman is an important philosopher, who has made a substantial contribution to utilitarian moral philosophy. This collection of ten previously published essays plus a new introductory essay reveal the striking originality and unity of his views. Feldman's version of utilitarianism differs from traditional forms in that it evaluates behaviour by appeal to the values of accessible worlds. These worlds are in turn evaluated in terms of the amounts of pleasure they contain, but the conception of pleasure involved is (...) a novel one and the formulation of hedonism improved. In Feldman's view pleasure is not a feeling but a propositional attitude. He also deals with problems of justice that affect standard forms of utilitarianism. The collection is ideally suited for courses on contemporary utilitarian theory. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that a moderate form of epistemic relativism that is inspired by the work of Thomas Kuhn fails. First of all, it is shown that there is evidence to the effect that Kuhn already in his 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' proposes moderate relativism. Second, it is argued that moderate relativism is confronted with a severe dilemma that follows from Kuhn’s own argument for his relativistic conclusion. By focusing on the work of moderate relativists like Bernd (...) Schofer and Gerald Doppelt this dilemma as well as the ultimate failure of Kuhn’s moderate relativism are exhibited. (shrink)
This book provides an introduction to measurement theory for non-specialists and puts measurement in the social and behavioural sciences on a firm mathematical foundation. Results are applied to such topics as measurement of utility, psychophysical scaling and decision-making about pollution, energy, transportation and health. The results and questions presented should be of interest to both students and practising mathematicians since the author sets forth an area of mathematics unfamiliar to most mathematicians, but which has many potentially significant applications.
Structures for Semantics offers an advanced course in logical and mathematical techniques and structures that are used in semantics, in relation to their semantic applications. The book helps students with a background in semantics to develop their skills of formalization and it makes research in semantics accessible. Workers in other disciplines will use it to discover more about the role of formal modelling in current semantic research, and about semantics itself. Following a chapter on logic and set theory there are (...) three parts of chapters: two pairs of chapters on partial order and equivalence relations in relation to semantic analyses of tense, partial information and vagueness; two chapters on methods for creating ordered structures in relation to intervals, events, and the semantics of change; two chapters on lattices and Boolean algebras in relation to types for noun phrases and verbs, and the semantics of plurals and mass nouns. For upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students in semantics: theoretical linguists, logicians, philosophers of language, computer scientists interested in natural language semantics. (shrink)
For much of its history, philosophy was not merely a theoretical discipline but a way of life, an "art of living." This practical aspect of philosophy has been much less dominant in modernity than it was in ancient Greece and Rome, when philosophers of all stripes kept returning to Socrates as a model for living. The idea of philosophy as an art of living has survived in the works of such major modern authors as Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Each of (...) these writers has used philosophical discussion as a means of establishing what a person is and how a worthwhile life is to be lived. In this wide-ranging, brilliantly written account, Alexander Nehamas provides an incisive reevaluation of Socrates' place in the Western philosophical tradition and shows the importance of Socrates for Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Why does each of these philosophers—each fundamentally concerned with his own originality—return to Socrates as a model? The answer lies in the irony that characterizes the Socrates we know from the Platonic dialogues. Socratic irony creates a mask that prevents a view of what lies behind. How Socrates led the life he did, what enabled or inspired him, is never made evident. No tenets are proposed. Socrates remains a silent and ambiguous character, forcing readers to come to their own conclusions about the art of life. This, Nehamas shows, is what allowed Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault to return to Socrates as a model without thereby compelling them to imitate him. This highly readable, erudite study argues for the importance of the tradition within Western philosophy that is best described as "the art of living" and casts Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault as the three major modern representatives of this tradition. Full of original ideas and challenging associations, this work will offer new ways of thinking about the philosophers Nehamas discusses and about the discipline of philosophy itself. (shrink)
Are our beliefs justified only relatively to a specific culture or society? Is it possible to give reasons for the superiority of our scientific, epistemic methods? Markus Seidel sets out to answer these questions in his critique of epistemic relativism. Focusing on the work of the most prominent, explicitly relativist position in the sociology of scientific knowledge – so-called 'Edinburgh relativism' or the 'Strong Programme' –, he scrutinizes the key arguments for epistemic relativism from a philosophical perspective: underdetermination and (...) norm-circularity. His main negative result is that these arguments fall short of establishing epistemic relativism. -/- Despite arguing for epistemic absolutism, Seidel aims to provide an account of non-relative justification that nevertheless integrates the basic, correct intuition of the epistemic relativist. His main positive result is that the epistemic absolutist can very well accept the idea that people using different standards of justification can be equally justified in holding their beliefs: Rational disagreement, he maintains, is perfectly possible. -/- The book provides a detailed critique of relativism in the sociology of scientific knowledge and beyond. With its constructive part it aims at making conciliatory steps in a highly embittered discussion between sociology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
"Taken as a trilogy, _consent not to be a single being_ is a monumental accomplishment: a brilliant theoretical intervention that might be best described as a powerful case for blackness as a category of analysis."—Brent Hayes Edwards, author of _Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination_ In _The Universal Machine_—the concluding volume to his landmark trilogy _consent not to be a single being_—Fred Moten presents a suite of three essays on Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, and Frantz Fanon in which he (...) explores questions of freedom, capture, and selfhood. In trademark style, Moten considers these thinkers alongside artists and musicians such as William Kentridge and Curtis Mayfield while interrogating the relation between blackness and phenomenology. Whether using Levinas's idea of escape in unintended ways, examining Arendt's antiblackness through Mayfield's virtuosic falsetto and Anthony Braxton's musical language, or showing how Fanon's form of phenomenology enables black social life, Moten formulates blackness as a way of being in the world that evades regulation. Throughout _The Universal Machine_—and the trilogy as a whole—Moten's theorizations of blackness will have a lasting and profound impact. (shrink)
Abstract According to the Deprivation Approach, the evil of death is to be explained by the fact that death deprives us of the goods we would have enjoyed if we had lived longer. But the Deprivation Approach confronts a problem first discussed by Lucretius. Late birth seems to deprive us of the goods we would have enjoyed if we had been born earlier. Yet no one is troubled by late birth. So it’s hard to see why we should be troubled (...) by its temporal mirror image, early death. In a 1986 paper, Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer appealed to a version of Derek Parfit’s “Bias toward the Future”; they claimed that early death deprives us of future goods that we care about, while late birth deprives us of past goods that we don’t care about. In this paper I show that the Brueckner–Fischer principle is open to several possible interpretations, but that it does not solve the Lucretius problem no matter how we understand it. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9766-6 Authors Fred Feldman, Department of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
In this paper I will introduce a practical explication for the notion of expertise. At first, I motivate this attempt by taking a look on recent debates which display great disagreement about whether and how to define expertise in the first place. After that I will introduce the methodology of practical explications in the spirit of Edward Craig’s Knowledge and the state of nature along with some conditions of adequacy taken from ordinary and scientific language. This eventually culminates in the (...) respective explication of expertise according to which this term essentially refers to a certain kind of service-relation. This is why expertise should be considered as a predominantly social kind. This article will end up with a discussion of advantages and prima facie plausible objections against my account of expertise. (shrink)
This comprehensive study of Aristotle's Politics argues that nature, justice, and rights are central to Aristotle's political thought. Miller challenges the widely held view that the concept of rights is alien to Aristotle's thought, and presents evidence for talk of rights in Aristotle's writings. He argues further that Aristotle's theory of justice supports claims of individual rights that are political and based in nature.
By contributing a few hundred dollars to a charity like UNICEF, a prosperous person can ensure that fewer poor children die, and that more will live reasonably long, worthwhile lives. Even when knowing this, however, most people send nothing, and almost all of the rest send little. What is the moral status of this behavior? To such common cases of letting die, our untutored response is that, while it is not very good, neither is the conduct wrong. What is the (...) source of this lenient assessment? In this contentious new book, one of our leading philosophers argues that our intuitions about ethical cases are generated not by basic moral values, but by certain distracting psychological dispositions that all too often prevent us from reacting in accord with our commitments. Through a detailed look at how these tendencies operate, Unger shows that, on the good morality that we already accept, the fatally unhelpful behavior is monstrously wrong. By uncovering the eminently sensible ethics that we've already embraced fully, and by confronting us with empirical facts and with easily followed instructions for lessening serious suffering appropriately and effectively, Unger's book points the way to a compassionate new moral philosophy. (shrink)
The link between justice and climate change is becoming increasingly prominent in public debates on climate policy. This clear and concise philosophical introduction to climate justice addresses the hot topic of climate change as a moral challenge. Using engaging everyday examples the authors address the core arguments by providing a comprehensive and balanced overview of this heated debate, enabling students and practitioners to think critically about the subject area and to promote discussion on questions such as: Why do anything in (...) the face of climate change? How much do we owe our descendants – a better world, or nothing at all? How should we distribute the burden of climate action between industrialized and developing countries? Should I adopt a green lifestyle even if no one else makes an effort? Which means of reducing emissions are permissible? Should we put hope in technological solutions? Should we re-design democratic institutions for more effective climate policy? With chapter summaries, illustrative examples and suggestions for further reading, this book is an ideal introduction for students in political philosophy, applied ethics and environmental ethics, as well as for practitioners working on one of the most urgent issues of our time. (shrink)
How do we reconstruct our world when modernist ideas have been refuted and many social problems appear unsolvable? Fred Newman and Lois Holzman offer the alternative of "performed activity"--a non-academic way forward to develop and add meaning to our lives. The authors believe that it is through participation in cultural, educational and psychological projects that one can achieve personal enrichment. These projects and ideas have been formulated from 25 years of practice in the authors' own "anti-institution," a development community (...) free of political and academic affiliations. (shrink)