Part I: The representation of life -- Can life be given a real definition? -- The representation of the living individual -- The representation of the life-form itself -- Part II: Naive action theory -- Types of practical explanation -- Naive explanation of action -- Action and time -- Part III: Practical generality -- Two tendencies in practical philosophy -- Practices and dispositions as sources of the goodness of individual actions -- Practice and disposition as sources of individual action.
The most widely debated conception of democracy in recent years is deliberative democracy--the idea that citizens or their representatives owe each other mutually acceptable reasons for the laws they enact. Two prominent voices in the ongoing discussion are Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson. In Why Deliberative Democracy?, they move the debate forward beyond their influential book, Democracy and Disagreement.What exactly is deliberative democracy? Why is it more defensible than its rivals? By offering clear answers to these timely questions, Gutmann and (...) Thompson illuminate the theory and practice of justifying public policies in contemporary democracies. They not only develop their theory of deliberative democracy in new directions but also apply it to new practical problems. They discuss bioethics, health care, truth commissions, educational policy, and decisions to declare war. In "What Deliberative Democracy Means," which opens this collection of essays, they provide the most accessible exposition of deliberative democracy to date. They show how deliberative democracy should play an important role even in the debates about military intervention abroad.Why Deliberative Democracy? contributes to our understanding of how democratic citizens and their representatives can make justifiable decisions for their society in the face of the fundamental disagreements that are inevitable in diverse societies. Gutmann and Thompson provide a balanced and fair-minded approach that will benefit anyone intent on giving reason and reciprocity a more prominent place in politics than power and special interests. (shrink)
_A provocative essay challenging the idea of Buddhist exceptionalism, from one of the world’s most widely respected philosophers and writers on Buddhism and science_ Buddhism has become a uniquely favored religion in our modern age. A burgeoning number of books extol the scientifically proven benefits of meditation and mindfulness for everything ranging from business to romance. There are conferences, courses, and celebrities promoting the notion that Buddhism is spirituality for the rational, compatible with cutting‑edge science, indeed, “a science of the (...) mind.” In this provocative book, Evan Thompson argues that this representation of Buddhism is false. In lucid and entertaining prose, Thompson dives deep into both Western and Buddhist philosophy to explain how the goals of science and religion are fundamentally different. Efforts to seek their unification are wrongheaded and promote mistaken ideas of both. He suggests cosmopolitanism instead, a worldview with deep roots in both Eastern and Western traditions. Smart, sympathetic, and intellectually ambitious, this book is a must‑read for anyone interested in Buddhism’s place in our world today. (shrink)
A renowned philosopher of the mind, also known for his groundbreaking work on Buddhism and cognitive science, Evan Thompson combines the latest neuroscience research on sleep, dreaming, and meditation with Indian and Western philosophy of the mind, casting new light on the self and its relation to the brain. Thompson shows how the self is a changing process, not a static thing. When we are awake we identify with our body, but if we let our mind wander or daydream, we (...) project a mentally imagined self into the remembered past or anticipated future. As we fall asleep, the impression of being a bounded self distinct from the world dissolves, but the self reappears in the dream state. If we have a lucid dream, we no longer identify only with the self within the dream. Our sense of self now includes our dreaming self, the "I" as dreamer. Finally, as we meditate--either in the waking state or in a lucid dream--we can observe whatever images or thoughts arise and how we tend to identify with them as "me." We can also experience sheer awareness itself, distinct from the changing contents that make up our image of the self. Contemplative traditions say that we can learn to let go of the self, so that when we die we can witness its dissolution with equanimity. Thompson weaves together neuroscience, philosophy, and personal narrative to depict these transformations, adding uncommon depth to life's profound questions. Contemplative experience comes to illuminate scientific findings, and scientific evidence enriches the vast knowledge acquired by contemplatives. (shrink)
To address the underrepresentation of women in philosophy effectively, we must understand the causes of the early loss of women. In this paper we challenge one of the few explanations that has focused on why women might leave philosophy at early stages. Wesley Buckwalter and Stephen Stich offer some evidence that women have different intuitions than men about philosophical thought experiments. We present some concerns about their evidence and we discuss our own study, in which we attempted to replicate their (...) results for 23 different responses to 14 scenarios . We also conducted a literature search to see if other philosophers or psychologists have tested for gender differences in philosophical intuitions. Based on our findings, we argue that that it is unlikely that gender differences in intuitions play a significant role in driving women from philosophy. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that grounding relations are asymmetric. Here I develop and argue for a theory of metaphysical structure that takes grounding to be nonsymmetric rather than asymmetric. Even without infinite descending chains of dependence, it might be that every entity is grounded in some other entity. Having first addressed an immediate objection to the position under discussion, I introduce two examples of symmetric grounding. I give three arguments for the view that grounding is nonsymmetric (I call this view (...) ‘metaphysical interdependence’). These arguments are: (i) that metaphysical interdependence is the only theory able to reconcile competing intuitions about grounding; (ii) that it is the only theory consistent with both ‘gunk’ and ‘junk’; and (iii) that offers a satisfactory solution to the problem concerning whether or not grounding is itself grounded. (shrink)
This paper explores some of the differences between the enactive approach in cognitive science and the extended mind thesis. We review the key enactive concepts of autonomy and sense-making . We then focus on the following issues: (1) the debate between internalism and externalism about cognitive processes; (2) the relation between cognition and emotion; (3) the status of the body; and (4) the difference between ‘incorporation’ and mere ‘extension’ in the body-mind-environment relation.
Attempts to elucidate grounding are often made by connecting grounding to metaphysical explanation, but the notion of metaphysical explanation is itself opaque, and has received little attention in the literature. We can appeal to theories of explanation in the philosophy of science to give us a characterization of metaphysical explanation, but this reveals a tension between three theses: that grounding relations are objective and mind-independent; that there are pragmatic elements to metaphysical explanation; and that grounding and metaphysical explanation share a (...) close connection. Holding fixed the mind-independence of grounding, I show that neither horn of the resultant dilemma can be blunted. Consequently, we should reject the assumption that grounding relations are mind-independent. (shrink)
This article examines two questions about scientists’ search for knowledge. First, which search strategies generate discoveries effectively? Second, is it advantageous to diversify search strategies? We argue pace Weisberg and Muldoon, “Epistemic Landscapes and the Division of Cognitive Labor”, that, on the first question, a search strategy that deliberately seeks novel research approaches need not be optimal. On the second question, we argue they have not shown epistemic reasons exist for the division of cognitive labor, identifying the errors that led (...) to their conclusions. Furthermore, we generalize the epistemic landscape model, showing that one should be skeptical about the benefits of social learning in epistemically complex environments. (shrink)
Colour fascinates all of us, and scientists and philosophers have sought to understand the true nature of colour vision for many years. In recent times, investigations into colour vision have been one of the main success stories of cognitive science, for each discipline within the field - neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer science and artificial intelligence, and philosophy - has contributed significantly to our understanding of colour. Evan Thompson's book is a major contribution to this interdisciplinary project. Colour Vision provides an (...) accessible review of the current scientific and philosophical discussions of colour vision. Thompson steers a course between the subjective and objective positions on colour, arguing for a relational account. This account develops a novel `ecological' approach to colour vision in cognitive science and the philosophy of perception. It is vital reading for all cognitive scientists and philosophers whose interests touch upon this central area. (shrink)
For many years emotion theory has been characterized by a dichotomy between the head and the body. In the golden years of cognitivism, during the nineteen-sixties and seventies, emotion theory focused on the cognitive antecedents of emotion, the so-called “appraisal processes.” Bodily events were seen largely as byproducts of cognition, and as too unspecific to contribute to the variety of emotion experience. Cognition was conceptualized as an abstract, intellectual, “heady” process separate from bodily events. Although current emotion theory has moved (...) beyond this disembodied stance by conceiving of emotions as involving both cognitive processes (perception, attention, and evaluation) and bodily events (arousal, behavior, and facial expressions), the legacy of cognitivism persists in the tendency to treat cognitive and bodily events as separate constituents of emotion. Thus the cognitive aspects of emotion are supposedly distinct and separate from the bodily ones. This separation indicates that cognitivism’s disembodied conception of cognition continues to shape the way emotion theorists conceptualize emotion. (shrink)
The question "Why?" that is deployed in these exchanges evidently bears the "special sense" Elizabeth Anscombe has linked to the concepts of intention and of a reason for action; it is the sort of question "Why?" that asks for what Donald Davidson later called a "rationalization".2 The special character of what is given, in each response, as formulating a reason ── a description, namely, of the agent as actually doing something, and, moreover, as..
Agrarian political philosophies since ancient Greece stress the role of agriculture in forming political solidarity and civic virtue. More recent transformations suggest a way to conjoin these elements of what makes a polity politically sustainable with environmental sensitivity and literacy.
In the past decade, the notion of a neural correlate of consciousness (or NCC) has become a focal point for scientific research on consciousness (Metzinger, 2000a). A growing number of investigators believe that the first step toward a science of consciousness is to discover the neural correlates of consciousness. Indeed, Francis Crick has gone so far as to proclaim that ‘we … need to discover the neural correlates of consciousness.… For this task the primate visual system seems especially attractive.… No (...) longer need one spend time attempting … to endure the tedium of philosophers perpetually disagreeing with each other. Con- sciousness is now largely a scientific problem’ (Crick, 1996, p. 486).2 Yet the question of what it means to be a neural correlate of consciousness is actually far from straightforward, for it involves fundamental empirical, methodological, and _philosophical _issues about the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the brain. Even if one assumes, as we do, that states of consciousness causally depend on states of the brain, one can nevertheless wonder in what sense there is, or could be, such a thing as a neural correlate of consciousness. (shrink)
The enactive approach offers a distinctive view of how mental life relates to bodily activity at three levels: bodily self-regulation, sensorimotor coupling, and intersubjective interaction. This paper concentrates on the second level of sensorimotor coupling. An account is given of how the subjectively lived body and the living body of the organism are related via dynamic sensorimotor activity, and it is shown how this account helps to bridge the explanatory gap between consciousness and the brain. Arguments by O'Regan, Noë, and (...) Myin that seek to account for the phenomenal character of perceptual consciousness in terms of ‘bodiliness’ and ‘grabbiness’ are considered. It is suggested that their account does not pay sufficient attention to two other key aspects of perceptual phenomenality: the autonomous nature of the experiencing self or agent, and the pre-reflective nature of bodily self-consciousness. (shrink)
After centuries of neglect, the ethics of food are back with a vengeance. Justice for food workers and small farmers has joined the rising tide of concern over the impact of industrial agriculture on food animals and the broader environment, all while a global epidemic of obesity-related diseases threatens to overwhelm modern health systems. An emerging worldwide social movement has turned to local and organic foods, and struggles to exploit widespread concern over the next wave of genetic engineering or nanotechnologies (...) applied to food. Paul B. Thompson's book applies the rigor of philosophy to key topics in the first comprehensive study explore interconnections hidden deep within this welter of issues. Bringing to bear more than thirty years of experience working closely with farmers, agricultural researchers and food system activists, he explores the eclipse of food ethics during the rise of nutritional science, and examines the reasons for its sudden re-emergence in the era of diet-based disease. Thompson discusses social injustice in the food systems of developed economies and shows how we have missed the key insights for understanding food ethics in the developing world. His discussions of animal production and the environmental impact of agriculture break new ground where most philosophers would least expect it. By emphasizing the integration of these issues, Thompson not only brings a comprehensive philosophical approach to moral issues in the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food -- he introduces a fresh way to think about practical ethics that will have implications in other areas of applied philosophy. (shrink)
In visual science the term filling-inis used in different ways, which often leads to confusion. This target article presents a taxonomy of perceptual completion phenomena to organize and clarify theoretical and empirical discussion. Examples of boundary completion (illusory contours) and featural completion (color, brightness, motion, texture, and depth) are examined, and single-cell studies relevant to filling-in are reviewed and assessed. Filling-in issues must be understood in relation to theoretical issues about neuralignoring an absencejumping to a conclusionanalytic isomorphismCartesian materialism, a particular (...) neural stage that forms the immediate substrate of perceptual experience enactiveanimatesubpersonal” considerations about internal processing, but rather by considerations about the task of vision at the level of the animal or person interacting with the world. (shrink)
The paper presents a research programme for the neuroscience of consciousness called 'neurophenomenology' and illustrates it with a recent pilot study . At a theoretical level, neurophenomenology pursues an embodied and large-scale dynamical approach to the neurophysiology of consciousness . At a methodological level, the neurophenomenological strategy is to make rigorous and extensive use of first-person data about subjective experience as a heuristic to describe and quantify the large-scale neurodynamics of consciousness . The paper focuses on neurophenomenology in relation to (...) three challenging methodological issues about incorporating first-person data into cognitive neuroscience: first-person reports can be biased or inaccurate; the process of generating first-person reports about an experience can modify that experience; and there is an 'explanatory gap' in our understanding of how to relate first-person, phenomenological data to third-person, biobehavioural data. (shrink)
This will be the best way of explaining ‘Paris is the lover of Helen’, that is, ‘Paris loves, and by that very fact [et eo ipso] Helen is loved’. Here, therefore, two propositions have been brought together and abbreviated as one. Or, ‘Paris is a lover, and by that very fact Helen is a loved one’.
Different explanations of color vision favor different philosophical positions: Computational vision is more compatible with objectivism (the color is in the object), psychophysics and neurophysiology with subjectivism (the color is in the head). Comparative research suggests that an explanation of color must be both experientialist (unlike objectivism) and ecological (unlike subjectivism). Computational vision's emphasis on optimally prespecified features of the environment (i.e., distal properties, independent of the sensory-motor capacities of the animal) is unsatisfactory. Conceiving of visual perception instead as the (...) visual guidance of activity in an environment that is determined largely by that very activity suggests new directions for research. (shrink)
I propose a theory of domination derived from republican political theory that is in contrast to the neo-republican theory of domination as arbitrary interference and domination as dependence. I suggest that, drawing on of the writings of Machiavelli and Rousseau, we can see two faces of domination that come together to inform social relations. One type of domination is extractive dominance where agents are able to derive surplus benefit from another individual, group, or collective resource, natural or human. Another is (...) what I call constitutive domination where the norms, institutions, and values of the community shape the rationality of subjects to accept forms of power and social relations and collective goals as legitimate forms of authority. Each of these make up two faces of a broader theory of social domination that is more concrete and politically compelling than that put forth by contemporary neo-republican theory. I argue that this understanding of domination should be seen as a kind of ‘radical... (shrink)
Although recent research suggests that women are underrepresented in philosophy after initial philosophy courses, there have been relatively few empirical investigations into the factors that lead to this early drop-off in women’s representation. In this paper, we present the results of empirical investigations at a large American public university that explore various factors contributing to women’s underrepresentation in philosophy at the undergraduate level. We administered climate surveys to hundreds of students completing their Introduction to Philosophy course and examined differences in (...) women’s and men’s feelings of belonging, comfort, and confidence in the philosophy classroom. We present findings suggesting various factors that contribute to women’s lower willingness to continue in philosophy compared to men’s, including perceptions about intuition-based methods in philosophy, the usefulness of the philosophy major, philosophy as a male discipline, and philosophical abilities as innate talents. We conclude by providing some suggestions for improving undergraduate philosophy courses in ways that would increase women’s willingness to continue in philosophy and may improve the courses for all students. (shrink)
This article makes five main points. Individual human consciousness is formed in the dynamic interrelation of self and other, and therefore is inherently intersubjective. The concrete encounter of self and other fundamentally involves empathy, under- stood as a unique and irreducible kind of intentionality. Empathy is the precondi- tion of the science of consciousness. Human empathy.
To what extent is the external world the way that it appears to us in perceptual experience? This perennial question in philosophy is no doubt ambiguous in many ways. For example, it might be taken as equivalent to the question of whether or not the external world is the way that it appears to be? This is a question about the epistemology of perception: Are our perceptual experiences by and large veridical representations of the external world? Alternatively, the question might (...) be taken as asking whether or not the external world is like its ways of appearing to us, where the expression “ways of appearing” is intended to pick out aspects of our perceptual experiences themselves. This is a metaphysical version of the question of the relationship between appearance and reality: What is the relationship between the phenomenal features that characterize perceptual experience, on the one hand, and the mind-independent features of the external objects of perception, on the other? There are some philosophers who might resist distinguishing between these two questions. For them, “ways of appearing” in the phenomenal sense just are the ways that things appear to be (let’s call the latter the “intentional sense” of “ways of appearing”).1 That is, the phenomenal character of an experience is nothing over and above its representational content. Phenomenal properties are represented properties—the properties that an experience attributes to the external objects of perception. The question of whether or not phenomenal properties can be identified with the represented properties of an experience mirrors traditional questions in the philosophy of perception. If they can be identified with each other, then in veridical perception we might be said to “directly grasp” features of the external world through perception. The properties that are present to the mind are the very same properties that belong to the external objects of perception. Such a view affords.... (shrink)
If two subjects have phenomenally identical experiences, there is an important sense in which the way the world appears to them is precisely the same. But how are we to understand this notion of 'ways of appearing'? Most philosophers who have acknowledged the existence of phenomenal content have held that the way something appears is simply a matter of the properties something appears to have. On this view, the way something appears is simply the way something appears to be . (...) This identification supports a Russellian theory of phenomenal content, according to which phenomenal content is exhausted by facts about what specific properties are represented by an experience. The present paper motivates and develops an alternative Fregean theory of phenomenal colour content. According to Fregean theories, the phenomenal content that is shared by any two phenomenally identical experiences is a matter of how the world is represented, and need not involve sameness in what is represented. It is argued that ways of appearing are modes of presentations of external properties and objects, and a detailed theory is presented about the nature of the modes of presentation involved in colour experience. (shrink)
Social scientists report difficulties in drawing out testable predictions from the literature on intersectionality theory. We alleviate that difficulty by showing that some characteristic claims of the intersectionality literature can be interpreted causally. The formalism of graphical causal modeling allows claims about the causal effects of occupying intersecting identity categories to be clearly represented and submitted to empirical testing. After outlining this causal interpretation of intersectional theory, we address some concerns that have been expressed in the literature claiming that membership (...) in demographic categories can have causal effects. (shrink)
The central thesis of this book is that the semantic conception is a logical methodologically and heuristically richer and more accurate account of scientific theorizing, and in particular of theorizing in evolutionary biology, than the ...
One hundred and three participants solved conflict and non-conflict versions of four reasoning tasks using a two-response procedure: a base rate task, a causal reasoning task, a denominator neglect task, and a categorical syllogisms task. Participants were asked to give their first, intuitive answer, to make a Feeling of Rightness judgment, and then were given as much time as needed to rethink their answer. They also completed a standardized measure of IQ and the actively open-minded thinking questionnaire. The FORs of (...) both high- and low-capacity reasoners were responsive to conflict, such that FORs were lower for conflict relative to non-conflict problems. Consistent with the quantity hypothesis, high-capacity reasoners made a greater distinction between conflict and non-conflict items on measures of Type 2 thinking, namely, rethinking time and probability of changing answers. In contrast to the quality hypothesis, however, this rethinking time did not advantage the ability of the high-capacity group to produce normative answers, except for the base rate task. Indeed, we observed that the correlation between capacity and the probability of normative answers emerged at the initial response, rather than after rethinking. (shrink)
Grounding talk has become increasingly familiar in contemporary philosophical discussion. Most discussants of grounding think that grounding talk is useful, intelligible, and accurately describes metaphysical reality. Call them realists about grounding. Some dissenters reject grounding talk on the grounds that it is unintelligible, or unmotivated. They would prefer to eliminate grounding talk from philosophy, so we can call them eliminitivists about grounding. This paper outlines a new position in the debate about grounding, defending the view that grounding talk is intelligible (...) and useful. Grounding talk does not, however, provide a literal and veridical description of mind-independent metaphysical reality. This irrealism about grounding treads a path between realism and eliminativism. (shrink)
Although widely studied in other domains, relatively little is known about the metacognitive processes that monitor and control behaviour during reasoning and decision-making. In this paper, we examined the conditions under which two fluency cues are used to monitor initial reasoning: answer fluency, or the speed with which the initial, intuitive answer is produced, and perceptual fluency, or the ease with which problems can be read. The first two experiments demonstrated that answer fluency reliably predicted Feeling of Rightness judgments to (...) conditional inferences and base rate problems, which subsequently predicted the amount of deliberate processing as measured by thinking time and answer changes; answer fluency also predicted retrospective confidence judgments. Moreover, the effect of answer fluency on reasoning was independent from the effect of perceptual fluency, establishing that these are empirically independent constructs. In five experiments with a variety of reasoning problems similar to those of Alter et al., we found no effect of perceptual fluency on FOR, retrospective confidence or accuracy; however, we did observe that participants spent more time thinking about hard to read stimuli, although this additional time did not result in answer changes. In our final two experiments, we found that perceptual disfluency increased accuracy on the CRT, but only amongst participants of high cognitive ability. As Alter et al.’s samples were gathered from prestigious universities, collectively, the data to this point suggest that perceptual fluency prompts additional processing in general, but this processing may results in higher accuracy only for the most cognitively able. (shrink)
_sciousness called ‘neurophenomenology’ (Varela 1996) and illustrates it with a_ _recent pilot study (Lutz et al., 2002). At a theoretical level, neurophenomenology_ _pursues an embodied and large-scale dynamical approach to the_ _neurophysiology of consciousness (Varela 1995; Thompson and Varela 2001;_ _Varela and Thompson 2003). At a methodological level, the neurophenomeno-_ _logical strategy is to make rigorous and extensive use of first-person data about_ _subjective experience as a heuristic to describe and quantify the large-scale_ _neurodynamics of consciousness (Lutz 2002). The paper (...) foocuses on_ _neurophenomenology in relation to three challenging methodological issues_ _about incorporating first-person data into cognitive neuroscience: (i) first-person_ _reports can be biased or inaccurate; (ii) the process of generating first-person_ _reports about an experience can modify that experience; and (iii) there is an ‘ex-_ _planatory gap’ in our understanding of how to relate first-person, phenomeno-_ _logical data to third-person, biobehavioural data._. (shrink)
It’s a familiar fact that there is something it is like to see red, eat chocolate or feel pain. More recently philosophers have insisted that in addition to this objectual phenomenology there is something it is like for me to eat chocolate, and this for-me-ness is no less there than the chocolatishness. Recognizing this subjective feature of consciousness helps shape certain theories of consciousness, introspection and the self. Though it does this heavy philosophical work, and it is supposed to be (...) relatively obvious to anyone who introspects, it is rather difficult to see just what this phenomenal me-ness is supposed to be; indeed, many philosophers deny it exists. In this paper we try to provide a clear sense of what phenomenal me-ness involves, and then then consider some arguments for the existence of phenomenal me-ness experience as well as some accounts of what gives rise to it. In the end, we argue that the plausible senses of me-ness are a good deal thinner than what often seems to be claimed. (shrink)
My immediate aim in this lecture is to contribute something to the apt characterization of our representation and knowledge of the speciﬁcally human life form, as I will put it - and, to some extent, of things ‘human’ more generally. In particular I want to argue against an exaggerated empiricism about such cognition. Meditation on these themes might be pursued as having a kind of interest of its own, an epistemological and in the end metaphysical interest, but my own purpose (...) in the matter is practical-philosophical. I want to employ my theses to make room for a certain range of doctrines in ethical theory and the theory of practical rationality - doctrines, namely, of natural normativity or natural goodness, as we may call them. I am not proposing to attempt a positive argument for any such ‘neo-Aristotelian’ position, but merely to defend such views against certain familiar lines of objection; and even here my aims will be limited, as will be seen. (shrink)