Singer’s utilitarian and Regan’s deontological views must be rejected because: (1) they rely on criteria for moral standing that can only be known a priori and (2) if these criteria were successful, they’d be too restrictive. I hold that while mental properties may be sufficient for moral standing, they are not necessary. (3) Their criteria of moral standing do not unambiguously abrogate needless harm to animals. I defend a theory of biocentric individualism that upholds the principle of species egalitarianism while (...) at the same time recognizing that in certain cases, human needs must outweigh the needs of non-humans. On this view, moral consideration is not conferred only on beings that have human-like mental properties. Finally, it offers an unambiguous recommendation for the abolition of harmful animal experimentation, factory farming, and killing animals for sport. (shrink)
A survey which views philosophical positions as the result of the conflict of the "Vital Instinct," and the "Instinct of Knowledge." The latter, it turns out, is always in the end the pawn of the former.--A. A. T.
Singer's study of the technical problems of Santayana's systematic thought will not satisfy his friends nor his detractors. Her reduction of Santayana's Lucretian materialism to epiphenomenalism will seem inadequate to the former. The latter may see Santayana as merely technically inept. While Singer does not claim to offer a comprehensive study of Santayana's thought, her theses " that Santayana was a naturalist and a materialist in the same sense and on the same grounds throughout; that despite even radical changes in (...) terminology his 'later' ontology is a development of, and not inconsistent with, his 'earlier' philosophy; and that, nevertheless, from the start his materialism was touched with ambiguity", do need a comprehensive understanding of Santayana's materialism. The "ambiguities" of his materialism and his social theory in Dominations and Powers derive from the ontological complexities of his realms of Being. Santayana plays with the perspectives possible from each realm and Singer sometimes misses his viewpoint. Santayana's challenge to the liberalism of democracy is indeed based on his a-teleological materialism. Singer's study does draw attention to the analogy of the individual to the state implicit in Santayana's philosophy; she offers refutations of M. K. Munitz's theory of "early and "late" Santayana and W. K. Dennes' interpretation of Santayana's materialism.--A. T. (shrink)
Shaffer takes a tour of some perennial questions in this lucid and simply written primer. How do I know I am not dreaming? How does reality differ from a dream? How can we be certain of our knowledge? Varying viewpoints are briefly summarized. The fallibilist view that even a priori mathematical truths and first person reports of feelings and perceptions are subject to error is examined, as is the anti-fallibilist reply that the theoretical possibility of error, without actual evidence, is (...) not sufficient to disturb the certainty of certain kinds of knowledge. Our knowledge of the external world is questioned by Berkeleyan idealism, which treats matter as nothing but a perception of our minds, and by phenomenalism, which treats material objects as nothing but collections of sense data. Opposed to these views are causal theories, which view physical objects as existing independently of observers, and sense data as the result of the causal interaction of material objects and particular bodies. It should be noted that the book's format requires such drastic foreshortening of Descartes' and Berkeley's views that its characterization of the former's system as "one of the great achievements in man's intellectual history" is in no way confirmed by the textual references. Other questions discussed in lively fashion are the self ; identity theory ; epiphenomenalism ; and interactionism. Is the mind best defined as the collection of mental events one has during a lifetime? If these events are all connected with the same body, the mind seemingly cannot survive the death of the body. Finally, theistic and atheistic views about the meaning of life are compared, with the Aristotelian view of teleological causation as the common denominator. The book asks many questions, provides few answers, but serves as an enticement to further exploration.--A. T. (shrink)
The development of Plato's dialectical method is traced through a number of dialogues. Beginning with the Meno, the evolution of a "pre-critical" dialectic ending with the Phaedo is considered. This first dialectic is described as an ascending or inductive movement from sensible things, through which the Forms are apprehended intuitively and independently. The problem of the mutual participation of the Forms, and of sensible things in them, occasions a growing crisis which comes to a head in the first part of (...) the Parmenides, where, according to Montes, the inadequacy of such a dialectic is established. The second part of that dialogue is then interpreted as an exercise in a new "critical dialectic," which is to be applied later in the Sophist to a rational deduction of the Forms in which the problems of participation are overcome. As might be expected of a work originally in thesis form, the book is heavy with footnotes, references, and Greek quotations, making for cumbersome reading.--A. T. (shrink)
A well organized introductory book which classifies its readings by schools of thought. Classical Realism, Idealism, Naturalism, Positivism, Analytic Philosophy, and Existentialism are represented.--A. A. T.
Open peer commentary on the article “Developing a Dialogical Platform for Disseminating Research through Design” by Abigail C. Durrant, John Vines, Jayne Wallace & Joyce Yee. Upshot: The experimental conference format described by Durrant et al. is intended to create an open platform for dissemination and knowledge creation. The field of open design, in which designers create structures to support creative action by others, offers relevant insights and alternative approaches. For example: while it is logical to see openness as open (...) choice, it can be productive to instead think of openness as constructed through a balance of structure and choice. (shrink)
Transoral laser microsurgery applies to the piecemeal removal of malignant tumours of the upper aerodigestive tract using the CO2 laser under the operating microscope. This method of surgery is being increasingly popularised as a single modality treatment of choice in early laryngeal cancers (T1 and T2) and occasionally in the more advanced forms of the disease (T3 and T4), predomi- nantly within the supraglottis. Thomas Kuhn, the American physicist turned philosopher and historian of science, coined the phrase ‘paradigm shift’ in (...) his groundbreaking book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. He argued that the arrival of the new and often incompatible idea forms the core of a new paradigm, the birth of an entirely new way of thinking. This article discusses whether Steiner and col- leagues truly brought about a paradigm shift in oncological surgery. By rejecting the principle of en block resection and by replacing it with the belief that not only is it oncologically safe to cut through the substance of the tumour but in doing so one can actually achieve better results, Steiner was able to truly revolutionise the man- agement of laryngeal cancer. Even though within this article the repercussions of his insight are limited to the upper aerodigestive tract oncological surgery, his willingness to question other peoples’ dogma makes his contribution truly a genuine paradigm shift. (shrink)