According to Glannon and Ross, for an act to be considered altruistic, it cannot be obligatory nor motivated by expectation of self-reward. Given that parents are obligated to help their children and stand to benefit greatly from donating, the authors conclude that parent to child organ donation is not altruistic. Are they correct? I am not sure. In my view, this is a semantic question and the answer depends upon how one defines altruism. Altruism is a complex subject that means (...) different things to different people. If we say that an altruistic act is one that is performed voluntarily, is risky or costly to the actor, and is designed only to benefit others with no expectation of self-reward, then it may be difficult or impossible to identify any such acts. When one risks her own life to save a stranger, others may ask: “Did she really act solely to benefit another or was she motivated, at least in part, by a need to satisfy her conscience or a desire to feel good about herself?” This question is relevant to the motivation of living organ donors. In contrast to the authors' answer that strangers who donate organs do so only out of concern for other people, Carl Fellner argued that many living organ donors, even those who are not related to their recipients, act to benefit themselves. If Fellner is correct, and if organ donation by parents is not altruistic because of the possibility of self-reward, perhaps the same is true of organ donation by strangers. (shrink)
"Science is rooted in conversations," wrote Werner Heisenberg, one of the twentieth century's great physicists. In Quantum Dialogue, Mara Beller shows that science is rooted not just in conversation but in disagreement, doubt, and uncertainty. She argues that it is precisely this culture of dialogue and controversy within the scientific community that fuels creativity. Beller draws her argument from her radical new reading of the history of the quantum revolution, especially the development of the Copenhagen interpretation. One of (...) several competing approaches, this version succeeded largely due to the rhetorical skills of Niels Bohr and his colleagues. Using extensive archival research, Beller shows how Bohr and others marketed their views, misrepresenting and dismissing their opponents as "unreasonable" and championing their own not always coherent or well-supported position as "inevitable." Quantum Dialogue, winner of the 1999 Morris D. Forkosch Prize of the Journal of the History of Ideas, will fascinate everyone interested in how stories of "scientific revolutions" are constructed and "scientific consensus" achieved. "[A]n intellectually stimulating piece of work, energised by a distinct point of view."—Dipankar Home, Times Higher Education Supplement "[R]emarkable and original. . . . [Beller's] arguments are thoroughly supported and her conclusions are meticulously argued. . . . This is an important book that all who are interested in the emergence of quantum mechanics will want to read."—William Evenson, History of Physics Newsletter. (shrink)
Aaron Zimmerman presents a new pragmatist account of belief, in terms of information poised to guide our more attentive, controlled actions. And he explores the consequences of this account for our understanding of the relation between psychology and philosophy, the mind and brain, the nature of delusion, faith, pretence, racism, and more.
The aim of this paper is to bring recent work on metaphysical grounding to bear on the phenomenon of social construction. It is argued that grounding can be used to analyze social construction and that the grounding framework is helpful for articulating various claims and commitments of social constructionists, especially about social identities, e.g., gender and race. The paper also responds to a number of objections that have been leveled against the application of grounding to social construction from Elizabeth Barnes, (...) Mari Mikkola, and Jessica Wilson. (shrink)
One of the most profound interactions that can occur between people, apologies have the power to heal humiliations, free the mind from deep-seated guilt, remove the desire for vengeance, and ultimately restore broken relationships. With On Apology, Aaron Lazare offers an eye-opening analysis of this vital interaction, illuminating an often hidden corner of the human heart. He discusses the importance of shame, guilt, and humiliation, the initial reluctance to apologize, the simplicity of the act of apologizing, the spontaneous generosity (...) and forgiveness on the part of the offended, the transfer of power and respect between two parties, and much more. Readers will not only find a wealth of insight that they can apply to their own lives, but also a deeper understanding of national and international conflicts and how we might resolve them. The act of apologizing is quite simply immensely fulfilling. On Apology opens a window onto this common occurrence to reveal the feelings and actions at the heart of this profound interaction. (shrink)
Extract from Hofstadter's revew in Bulletin of American Mathematical Society : http://www.ams.org/journals/bull/1980-02-02/S0273-0979-1980-14752-7/S0273-0979-1980-14752-7.pdf -/- "Aaron Sloman is a man who is convinced that most philosophers and many other students of mind are in dire need of being convinced that there has been a revolution in that field happening right under their noses, and that they had better quickly inform themselves. The revolution is called "Artificial Intelligence" (Al)-and Sloman attempts to impart to others the "enlighten- ment" which he clearly regrets not (...) having experienced earlier himself. Being somewhat of a convert, Sloman is a zealous campaigner for his point of view. Now a Reader in Cognitive Science at Sussex, he began his academic career in more orthodox philosophy and, by exposure to linguistics and AI, came to feel that all approaches to mind which ignore AI are missing the boat. I agree with him, and I am glad that he has written this provocative book. The tone of Sloman's book can be gotten across by this quotation (p. 5): "I am prepared to go so far as to say that within a few years, if there remain any philosophers who are not familiar with some of the main developments in artificial intelligence, it will be fair to accuse them of professional incom- petence, and that to teach courses in philosophy of mind, epistemology, aesthetics, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, ethics, metaphysics, and other main areas of philosophy, without discussing the relevant aspects of artificial intelligence will be as irresponsible as giving a degree course in physics which includes no quantum theory." -/- (The author now regrets the extreme polemical tone of the book.). (shrink)
If the global economy seems unfair, how should we understand what a fair global economy would be? What ideas of fairness, if any, apply, and what significance do they have for policy and law? Working within the social contract tradition, this book argues that fairness is best seen as a kind of equity in practice.
Obligations to reduce one’s green house gas emissions appear to be difficult to justify prior to large-scale collective action because an individual’s emissions have virtually no impact on the environmental problem. However, I show that individuals’ emissions choices raise the question of whether or not they can be justified as fair use of what remains of a safe global emissions budget. This is true both before and after major mitigation efforts are in place. Nevertheless, it remains difficult to establish an (...) obligation to reduce personal emissions because it appears unlikely that governments will in fact maintain safe emissions budgets. The result, I claim, is that under current conditions we lack outcome, fairness, promotional, virtue or duty based grounds for seeing personal emissions reductions as morally obligatory. (shrink)
I examine the link between extensionality principles of classical mereology and the anti‐symmetry of parthood. Varzi's most recent defence of extensionality depends crucially on assuming anti‐symmetry. I examine the notions of proper parthood, weak supplementation and non‐well‐foundedness. By rejecting anti‐symmetry, the anti‐extensionalist has a unified, independently grounded response to Varzi's arguments. I give a formal construction of a non‐extensional mereology in which anti‐symmetry fails. If the notion of ‘mereological equivalence’ is made explicit, this non‐anti‐symmetric mereology recaptures all of the structure (...) of classical mereology. (shrink)
Polarization is a topic of intense interest among social scientists, but there is significant disagreement regarding the character of the phenomenon and little understanding of underlying mechanics. A first problem, we argue, is that polarization appears in the literature as not one concept but many. In the first part of the article, we distinguish nine phenomena that may be considered polarization, with suggestions of appropriate measures for each. In the second part of the article, we apply this analysis to evaluate (...) the types of polarization generated by the three major families of computational models proposing specific mechanisms of opinion polarization. (shrink)
As is usually the case with what I work on, I read some stuff I liked. I 1 read an article on comics by Greg Hayman and Henry Pratt and some work on 2 videogames,GrantTavinor’sreallyexcellentworkonthattopic. Ifoundthematerial interesting and I thought I had something to say about it. That’s what usually motivates me and that’s what did in these cases. With comics, my interest in the medium played a big role. I was a child collector of Marvel. I got turned on (...) to independent and alternative comics about ten years ago by a good friend who’s a successful comics artist and that played a role in my writing about comics. (shrink)
Does a commitment to mereological universalism automatically bring along a commitment to the controversial doctrine of mereological extensionalism—the view that objects with the same proper parts are identical? A recent argument suggests the answer is ‘yes’. This paper attempts a systematic response to the argument, considering nearly every available line of reply. It argues that only one approach—the mutual parts view—can yield a viable mereology where universalism does not entail extensionalism.
This paper is a systematic exploration of non-wellfounded mereology. Motivations and applications suggested in the literature are considered. Some are exotic like Borges’ Aleph, and the Trinity; other examples are less so, like time traveling bricks, and even Geach’s Tibbles the Cat. The authors point out that the transitivity of non-wellfounded parthood is inconsistent with extensionality. A non-wellfounded mereology is developed with careful consideration paid to rival notions of supplementation and fusion. Two equivalent axiomatizations are given, and are compared to (...) classical mereology. We provide a class of models with respect to which the non-wellfounded mereology is sound and complete. (shrink)
Abstract: Philosophers interested in Kant's relevance to contemporary debates over the nature of mental content—notably Robert Hanna and Lucy Allais—have argued that Kant ought to be credited with being the original proponent of the existence of ‘nonconceptual content’. However, I think the ‘nonconceptualist’ interpretations that Hanna and Allais give do not show that Kant allowed for nonconceptual content as they construe it. I argue, on the basis of an analysis of certain sections of the A and B editions of the (...) Transcendental Deduction, for a ‘conceptualist’ reading of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. My contention is that since Kant's notion of empirical intuition makes essential reference to the categories, it must be true for him that no empirical intuition can be given in sensibility independently of the understanding and its categories. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to make headway on a metaphysics of social construction. In recent work, I’ve argued that social construction should be understood in terms of metaphysical grounding. However, I agree with grounding skeptics like Wilson that bare claims about what grounds what are insufficient for capturing, with fine enough grain, metaphysical dependence structures. To that end, I develop a view on which the social construction of human social kinds is a kind of realization relation. Social kinds, (...) I argue, are multiply realizable kinds. I depart from the Wilson by further arguing that an appeal to grounding is not otiose when it comes to social construction. Social construction, I claim, belongs to the “big-G” Grounding genus, but it is the specific “small-g” relation of realization at work in cases of human kind social construction. (shrink)
Bayesian Conditionalization is a widely used proposal for how to update one’s beliefs upon the receipt of new evidence. This is in part because of its attention to the totality of one’s evidence, which often includes facts about what one’s new evidence is and how one has come to have it. However, an increasingly popular position in epistemology holds that one may gain new evidence, construed as knowledge, without being in a position to know that one has gained this evidence. (...) These are cases of KK-Failure, cases where one knows p but is not in a position to know that one knows p. This paper assumes that certain KK-Failures are possible and argues that Conditionalization goes wrong in those cases. (shrink)
The dominant theory of parts and wholes – classical extensional mereology – has faced a number of challenges in the recent literature. This article gives a sampling of some of the alleged counterexamples to some of the more controversial principles involving the connections between parthood and identity. Along the way, some of the main revisionary approaches are reviewed. First, counterexamples to extensionality are reviewed. The ‘supplementation’ axioms that generate extensionality are examined more carefully, and a suggested revision is considered. Second, (...) the paper considers an alternative approach that focuses the blame on antisymmetry but allows us to keep natural supplementation axioms. Third, we look at counterexamples to the idempotency of composition and the associated ‘parts just once’ principle. We explore options for developing weaker mereologies that avoid such commitments. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the relation between two important metaphysical notions, ‘truthmaking’ and ‘grounding’. I begin by considering various ways in which truthmaking could be explicated in terms of grounding, noting both strengths and weaknesses of these analyses. I go on to articulate a problem for any attempt to analyze truthmaking in terms of a generic and primitive notion of grounding based on differences we find among examples of grounding. Finally, I outline a more complex view of how truthmaking (...) and grounding could relate. On the view explored, truthmaking is a species of grounding differentiated from other species of grounding by the unique form of dependence it involves. (shrink)
The thesis that aesthetic testimony cannot provide aesthetic justification or knowledge is widely accepted--even by realists about aesthetic properties and values. This Kantian position is mistaken. Some testimony about beauty and artistic value can provide a degree of aesthetic justification and, perhaps, even knowledge. That is, there are cases in which one can be justified in making an aesthetic judgment purely on the basis of someone else's testimony. But widespread aesthetic unreliability creates a problem for much aesthetic testimony. Hence, most (...) testimony about art does not have much epistemic value. The situation is somewhat different with respect to aesthetic testimony about nature, proofs, and theories. (shrink)
Mereological nihilists are faced with a difficult challenge: explaining ordinary talk about material objects. Popular paraphrase strategies involve plurals, arrangements of particles, or fictions. In this paper, a new paraphrase strategy is put forward that has distinct advantages over its rivals: it is compatible with gunk and emergent properties of macro-objects. The only assumption is a commitment to a liberal view of the nature of simples; the nihilist must be willing to accept the possibility of heterogeneous extended simples. The author (...) suggests reinterpreting the parthood and composition relations as modal. According to this paraphrase, composition is a kind of counterpart relation. The author shows that one can accept that mereological nihilism is metaphysically necessary, while endorsing all the claims of classical mereology. As a result, the nihilists are in exactly the same position as the classical mereologist when it comes to explaining talk about ordinary objects, but without the additional ontology. (shrink)
Caregivers should usually accede to parents’ requests for life-sustaining treatment. For such decision-making, the best interests standard is too limited. John Arras’s “relational potential standard,” con-joined to a contemporary care ethics framework, provides a better guide.
Anthropology and the other cognitive science (CS) subdisciplines currently maintain a troubled relationship. With a debate in topiCS we aim at exploring the prospects for improving this relationship, and our introduction is intended as a catalyst for this debate. In order to encourage a frank sharing of perspectives, our comments will be deliberately provocative. Several challenges for a successful rapprochement are identified, encompassing the diverging paths that CS and anthropology have taken in the past, the degree of compatibility between (1) (...) CS and (2) anthropology with regard to methodology and (3) research strategies, (4) the importance of anthropology for CS, and (5) the need for disciplinary diversity. Given this set of challenges, a reconciliation seems unlikely to follow on the heels of good intentions alone. (shrink)
Kyle Stanford has recently given substance to the problem of unconceived alternatives, which challenges the reliability of inference to the best explanation (IBE) in remote domains of nature. Conjoined with the view that IBE is the central inferential tool at our disposal in investigating these domains, the problem of unconceived alternatives leads to scientific anti-realism. We argue that, at least within the biological community, scientists are now and have long been aware of the dangers of IBE. We re-analyze the nineteenth-century (...) study of inheritance and development (Stanford’s case study) and extend it into the twentieth century, focusing in particular on both classical Mendelian genetics and the studies by Avery et al. on the chemical nature of the hereditary substance. Our extended case studies show the preference of the biological community for a different methodological standard: the vera causa ideal, which requires that purported causes be shown on non-explanatory grounds to exist and be competent to produce their effects. On this basis, we defend a prospective realism about the biological sciences. (shrink)
Readers of Spinoza's philosophy have often been daunted, and sometimes been enchanted, by the geometrical method which he employs in his philosophical masterpiece the Ethics. In Meaning in Spinoza's Method Aaron Garrett examines this method and suggests that its purpose, in Spinoza's view, was not just to present claims and propositions but also in some sense to change the readers and allow them to look at themselves and the world in a different way. His discussion draws not only on (...) Spinoza's works but also on those of the philosophers who influenced Spinoza most strongly, including Hobbes, Descartes, Maimonides and Gersonides. This controversial book will be of interest to historians of philosophy and to anyone interested in the relation between form and content in philosophical works. (shrink)
The Deed is Everything offers an engaging new interpretation of Nietzsche as committed to an 'expressivist' conception of agency. Aaron Ridley shows that Nietzsche develops highly distinctive accounts of freedom, morality, and selfhood, with a robust commitment to the value of human excellence in all of its forms.
I investigate whether degreed beliefs are able to play the predictive, explanatory, and modeling roles that they are frequently taken to play. The investigation focuses on evidence—both from sources familiar in epistemology as well as recent work in behavioral economics and cognitive psychology—of variability in agents' apparent degrees of belief. Although such variability has been noticed before, there has been little philosophical discussion of its breadth or of the psychological mechanisms underlying it. Once these are appreciated, the inadequacy of degrees (...) of belief becomes clear. I offer a theoretical alternative to degrees of belief, what I call the filter theory. (shrink)
Much has been made of the apparent tensions in Nietzsche’s ethical and metaethical views. In this essay I examine a kind of value standard available to Nietzsche that is present in his work. I offer an interpretation of honesty as both a Nietzschean virtue and a means of ethical assessment. Despite Nietzsche’s well-known criticisms of truth, he upholds honesty as the only remaining virtue of his free spirits. Honesty has been treated in the literature primarily in the contexts of truth (...) or life affirmation, but I argue that we should instead recognize honesty as a virtue within the context of valuing. I defend honesty as a distinct kind of truthfulness and sincerity involving what I call confrontation. The seeds of Nietzsche’s mature view are first evident in his work on tragedy, then developed further in Zarathustra, ultimately revealing a constraint on valuing that is essential to Nietzsche’s broader normative projects. (shrink)
Contemporary metaphysicians have been drawn to a certain attractive picture of the structure of the world. This picture consists in classical mereology, the priority of parts over wholes, and the well-foundedness of metaphysical priority. In this short note, I show that this combination of theses entails superatomism, which is a significant strengthening of mereological atomism. This commitment has been missed in the literature due to certain sorts of models of mereology being overlooked. But the entailment is an important one: we (...) must either accept superatomism or reject one (or other) of the most widespread theses of contemporary metaphysics. (shrink)
We present a new axiomatization of classical mereology in which the three components of the theory—ordering, composition, and decomposition prin-ciples—are neatly separated. The equivalence of our axiom system with other, more familiar systems is established by purely deductive methods, along with additional results on the relative strengths of the composition and decomposition axioms of each theory.
This paper introduces a new approach to the theory of truthmaking. According to this approach, there are multiple forms of truthmaking. Here, I characterize and motivate a specific version of this approach, which I call a ‘Pluralist Theory of Truthmaking.’ It is suggested that truthmaking is a plural, variegated phenomenon wherein different kinds of truths, e.g., positive truths, negative truths, counterfactual truths, etc., are made true in different ways. While the paper only aims to lay the groundwork for a Pluralist (...) Theory of Truthmaking, I show how the theory can be applied to positive and negative truths. The upshot of this application is that truthmaking pluralism allows us to provide negative truths with ‘non-suspicious’ truthmakers. Finally, it is argued that Truthmaker Maximalists would do well to endorse truthmaking pluralism, as it offers a new strategy for upholding Maximalism while diminishing controversial ontological commitments. (shrink)
Deontic reasoning is thinking about whether actions are forbidden or allowed, obligatory or not obligatory. It is proposed that social norms, imposing constraints on individual actions, constitute the fundamental concept for the system of these four deontic modalities, and that people reason from such norms flexibly according to deontic core principles. Two experiments are presented, one on deontic conditional reasoning, the other on “pure” deontic reasoning. Both experiments demonstrate people's high deontic competence and confirm the proposed representational and inferential principles. (...) Experiment 1 additionally shows small effects of the conditional formulations. These findings support the dual source approach (Beller & Spada, 2003) that distinguishes between domain-specific and domain-general inferences. Implications for other theories of deontic reasoning are discussed. (shrink)
The idea that intentions make the difference between voluntary and non-voluntary behaviors is simple and intuitive. At the same time, we lack an understanding of how voluntary actions actually come about, and the unquestioned appeal to intentions as discrete causes of actions offers little if anything in the way of an answer. We cite evidence suggesting that the origin of actions varies depending on context and effector, and argue that actions emerge from a causal web in the brain, rather than (...) a central origin of intentional action. We argue that this causal web need not be confined to the central nervous system, and that proprioceptive feedback might play a counterintuitive role in the decision process. Finally we argue that the complex and dynamic origins of voluntary action and their interplay with the brain’s propensity to predict the immediate future are better studied using a dynamical systems approach. (shrink)