I argue that on Aristotle’s account practical thinking is thinking whose origin (archē) is a desire that has as its object the very thing that one reasons about how to promote. This feature distinguishes practical from productive reasoning since in the latter the desire that initiates it is not (unless incidentally) a desire for the object that one productively reasons about. The feature has several interesting consequences: (a) there is only a contingent relationship between the desire that one practically reasons (...) about how to satisfy and the action one decides on; (b) practical thinking and action cannot be separated from the agent, whereas productive thinking and production can be outsourced to someone else. The view has consequences also for the distinction between action and production. Finally, I illustrate the usefulness and correctness of my account of practical thinking by using it to shed new light on Aristotle’s claim that the virtuous agent must decide on her virtuous actions ‘for themselves’. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the widely held view that Aristotle's vicious agent is a principled follower of a wrong conception of the good whose soul, just like the soul of the virtuous agent, is marked by harmony between his reason and non-rational desires is an exegetical mistake. Rather, Aristotle holds – consistently and throughout the Nicomachean Ethics – that the vicious agent lacks any real principles of action and that his soul lacks unity and harmony even more than (...) the soul of the uncontrolled agent. (shrink)
In this article the most important theistic arguments formulated by virtue of the achievements of contemporary cosmology are presented and critically discussed. In general, these are the so-called aposterioric arguments, i.e. those that descend from commonly accepted scientific facts in cosmology. In view of these facts an attempt is made to show that a theistic explanation is the best one among all the possible ones. Taking into consideration the fundamental essence of cosmological data, two the most important genera of formulated (...) arguments are pointed out. The first one refers to the Big Bang widely affirmed in cosmology. It assumes the shape of the previous argument from the beginning of the time of the Universe. The main difficulty of this argument is the fact of its groundless attribute of the Big Bang with the character of the absolute beginning of time forewent only by nothingness. The second genera of the argumentation refers to the so-called cosmic coincidences affirmed in cosmology. Depending on philosophical interpretations of these coincidences, one may speak about the argumentation from the plan, rationality, mathematicality, teleology, subtlety or contingency of the Universe. The cognitive value of these arguments on the one hand depends on the legitimacy of the interpretations of cosmic coincidences and on the other hand it depends on the possibility of demonstrating that the theistic interpretation of philosophically interpreted scientific facts is the best possible explanation. Because there is no easy way to demonstrate the validity and correctness of both ways of ratiocination, therefore the evidential strength of all these arguments evokes many questions. (shrink)
The paper defends three claims about Aristotle’s theory of uncontrolled actions (akrasia) in NE 7.3. First, I argue that the first part of NE 7.3 contains the description of the overall state of mind of the agent while she acts without control. Aristotle’s solution to the problem of uncontrolled action lies in the analogy between the uncontrolled agent and people who are drunk, mad, or asleep. This analogy is interpreted as meaning that the uncontrolled agent, while acting without control, is (...) still in possession of her knowledge but she is unable to use it as knowledge due to the temporary disablement of her reason by appetite. Due to this disablement, the uncontrolled agent is temporarily unable to be motivated to act by her knowledge and acts merely on her appetite. Second, I argue that the second part of NE 7.3 provides an analysis of the particular mental state from which the uncontrolled action issues. Its central passage is a description of the uncontrolled agent’s state of mind before the uncontrolled action and not, as it has been traditionally understood, a description of her state of mind during the uncontrolled action. Third, I argue that, on Aristotle’s view, the transition from the state before the uncontrolled action to the state in which the agent already acts without control does not involve any psychological state that would constitute the agent’s choice to abandon her decision and give in to her desires but proceeds on a purely physiological level. (shrink)
This book consists of the edited proceedings of a debate among Jurgen Habermas, Richard Rorty, and Leszek Kolakowski that was held in Warsaw in May of 1995. It includes also commentary from those in attendance, including extensive remarks by Ernest Gellner. The debate marked the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and focussed primarily on topics related to historicism and cultural relativism.
I defend two main theses. First, I argue that Aristotle’s account of voluntary action focuses on the conditions under which one is the cause of one’s actions in virtue of being (qua) the individual one is. Aristotle contrasts voluntary action not only with involuntary action but also with cases in which one acts (or does something) due to one’s nature (for example, in virtue of being a member of a certain species) rather than due to one’s own desires (i.e. qua (...) individual). An action can be attributed to one qua individual in two distinct ways depending on whether one is a rational or a non-rational animal. One is responsible for one’s action in both cases, but only in the former case is one also responsible for being the sort of individual that performs it. Aristotle also distinguishes two ways in which an action can be compelled while still being an action of the agent. In the first case, one is compelled by (physically) external forces or circumstances to act against one’s internal impulse. In the second case, one is compelled to act on (internal) impulses that are fixed by one’s nature against one’s own individual impulse. This latter kind of compelled action is only possible in the case of rational agents. Secondly, I argue that Aristotle’s conception of what it is to be a cause of an action inevitably brings in certain normative features which support evaluative judgments and the practice of praise and blame. On Aristotle’s view, any goal-directed behavior that is properly attributable to an individual is (normally) subject to standards that pertain to behavior of that sort. At the most basic level, these standards establish what counts as a successful realization of the goal that one aims at. Thus even in the case of non-rational animals (or children), one can judge the success of what they are doing and encourage (or discourage) similar behavior by praise or blame. These standards are applicable to one’s conduct simply insofar as one is the controlling origin (or efficient cause) of one’s action qua individual. In the case of rational agents the practice of praise and blame can involve a further normative layer since they can be praised or blamed not only for acting in a certain way so as to encourage or discourage them with a view to the future, but also for being – and having become – individuals of a certain sort. Nevertheless, the applicability of such evaluative judgments and of praise and blame is still warranted by one’s being the controlling origin of one’s actions qua the individual one is (in this case, qua rational individual). (shrink)
I argue that Aristotelian decisions (προαιρέσεις) cannot be conceived of as based solely on wish (βούλησις) and deliberation (βούλευσις), as the standard picture (most influentially argued for in Anscombe's "Thought and Action in Aristotle", in R. Bambrough ed. New Essays on Plato and Aristotle. London: Routledge, 1965) suggests. Although some features of the standard view are correct (such as that decisions have essential connection to deliberation and that wish always plays a crucial role in the formation of a decision), Aristotelian (...) decisions sometimes must include non-rational desires such as appetite. Consequently, any exegetical account of Aristotle’s notion of decision must be able to accommodate this feature. (shrink)
During the past decade, we have seen the introduction of market-based mechanisms in biodiversity policy. Biodiversity markets are considered powerful tools to slow down or even stop the ongoing loss of biodiversity by internalizing costs that are traditionally externalized. This paper questions these optimistic expectations. Can we save nature by selling it? Is conservation through commodification a viable option? This paper maps both the social and ecological problems of the commodification of nature that is a necessary precondition for biodiversity markets (...) to function. (shrink)
The Struggle for Nature outlines and examines the main aspects of current environmental philosophy including deep ecology, social and political ecology, eco-feminism and eco-anarchism. It criticizes the dependency on science of these philosophies and the social problems engendered by them. Jozef Keulartz argues for a post-naturalistic turn in environmental philosophy. The Struggle for Nature presents the most up-to-date arguments in environmental philosophy, which will be valuable reading for anyone interested in applied philosophy, environmental studies or geography.
This paper illuminates a variety of issues that speak to the question of whether ‘captivity for conservation’ can be an ethically acceptable goal of the modern zoo. Reflecting on both theoretical disagreements and practical challenges , the paper explains why the ‘Noah’s Ark’ paradigm is being replaced by an alternative ‘integrated approach.’ It explores the changes in the zoo’s core tasks that the new paradigm implies. And it pays special attention to the changes that would have to be made in (...) zoos’ collection policies: connection with in situ projects, emphasizing local species and the local biogeographical region, exchange of animals among zoos and between zoos and wildlife, and a shift towards smaller species. Finally the question will be addressed whether the new paradigm will achieve a morally acceptable balance between animal welfare costs and species conservation benefits. (shrink)
Stephen Clark’s article The Rights of Wild Things from 1979 was the starting point for the consideration in the animal ethics literature of the so-called ‘predation problem’. Clark examines the response of David George Ritchie to Henry Stephens Salt, the first writer who has argued explicitly in favor of animal rights. Ritchie attempts to demonstrate—via reductio ad absurdum—that animals cannot have rights, because granting them rights would oblige us to protect prey animals against predators that wrongly violate their rights. This (...) article navigates the reader through the debate sparked off by Clarke’s article, with as final destination what I consider to be the best way to deal with the predation problem. I will successively discuss arguments against the predation reductio from Singer’s utilitarian approach, Regan’s deontological approach, Nussbaum’s capability approach, and Donadson and Kymlicka’s political theory of animal rights. (shrink)
Two protracted debates about the moral status of animals in ecological restoration projects are discussed that both testify to the troubling aspects of our inclination to think in terms of dualisms and dichotomies. These cases are more or less complementary: the first one is about the (re)introduction of species that were once pushed out of their native environment; the other one concerns the elimination or eradication of “exotic” and “alien” species that have invaded and degraded ecosystems. Both cases show the (...) detrimental impact of dualistic thinking on ecological restoration projects. In the first case, communication and cooperation between stakeholders is frustrated by the opposition of zoocentrism and ecocentrism; in the second case the opposition of nativism and cosmopolitanism appears to be a major stumbling block for consensus building and conflict management. I will argue that “gradualization”—thinking in terms of degrees instead of boundaries—can offer a way out of this black-and-white thinking and can open up space for negotiation and deliberation among different and sometimes diverging perspectives. (shrink)
The paper is aimed at defining reduction, oxidation, and redox reactions based both on the oxidation number and charge changes in reacting species. It is rationalized that the processes of oxidation and reduction, usually occurring simultaneously, can occur also as independent processes. It is explained that in balancing chemical equations of redox reactions the “gain” or “loss” of electrons should be understood as changes in oxidation number. A formal expressions “+n e−” and “−n e−” represent in reality a decrease and (...) increase in oxidation number by n units, respectively. (shrink)
From Clouds to Corsair: Kierkegaard, Aristophanes, and Socrates -- The pure fool and the knight of faith: Wolfram's Parzival and the stages of existence -- From romantic aesthete to Christian analogue: Don Quixote's sallies in Kierkegaard's authorship -- Saying not quite "everything just as it is": Shakespeare on life's way -- "Sorrow's changeling": irony, humor, and laughter in Kierkegaard and Carlyle.
The paper presents research into the effects of the use of negations in directives. Three experiments are described that tested the effects of instructions formulated in various ways: direct and negated commands to focus the attention. Indicators of attention focusing that were used include: the correctness of answers to questions about a selection of comic book pages ; the time needed to name the colours of stimulus words and the level of recall of these words after completion of the colour (...) naming task. The results showed that a direct command influenced all indicators of attention focusing. However, a negated command increased the level of recall of details about the comic book pages, as well as the level of key word recall. Both the automatic process that generates the paradoxical effects of negated commands, as well as the controlled process of reasoning, may be responsible for the results of the memory task. (shrink)