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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
I defend the theory that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one promotes the good. Call this the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. It holds that the good effects that count towards the meaning of one's life need not be intentional. Nor must one be aware of the effects. Nor does it matter whether the same good would have resulted if one had not existed. What matters is that one is causally responsible for the (...) good. I argue that the best theory of the meaning of life should clearly distinguish between subjective fulfillment and objective meaningfulness. The GCA respects the distinction. And it is superior to its leading rivals in the recent literature, most notably those of Erik Wielenberg and Susan Wolf. (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.
Most philosophers since Sidgwick have thought that the various forms of pleasure differ so radically that one cannot find a common, distinctive feeling among them. This is known as the heterogeneity problem. To get around this problem, the motivational theory of pleasure suggests that what makes an experience one of pleasure is our reaction to it, not something internal to the experience. I argue that the motivational theory is wrong, and not only wrong, but backwards. The heterogeneity problem is the (...) principal source of motivation for this, otherwise, highly counterintuitive theory. I intend to show that the heterogeneity problem is not a genuine problem and that a more straightforward theory of pleasure is forthcoming. I argue that the various experiences that we call pleasures all feel good. (shrink)
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)
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)
I distill three somewhat interrelated approaches to the ethical criticism of humor: (1) attitude-based theories, (2) merited-response theories, and (3) emotional responsibility theories. I direct the brunt of my effort at showing the limitations of the attitudinal endorsement theory by presenting new criticisms of Ronald de Sousa’s position. Then, I turn to assess the strengths of the other two approaches, showing that that their major formulations implicitly require the problematic attitudinal endorsement theory. I argue for an effects-mediated responsibility theory , (...) holding that the strongest ethical criticism that can be made of our sense of humor is that it might indicate some omission on our part. This omission could only be culpable in so far as a particular joke could do harm to oneself or others. In response to Ted Cohen’s doubts that such a mechanism of harm is forthcoming, I argue that the primary vehicle of the harmful effects of humor is laughter. (shrink)
Neo-Cartesian approaches to belief place greater evidential weight on a subject's introspective judgments than do neo-behaviorist accounts. As a result, the two views differ on whether our absent-minded and weak-willed actions are guided by belief. I argue that simulationist accounts of the concept of belief are committed to neo-Cartesianism, and, though the conceptual and empirical issues that arise are inextricably intertwined, I discuss experimental results that should point theory-theorists in that direction as well. Belief is even less closely connected to (...) behaviour than most contemporary functionalists allow. (shrink)
Why do people seemingly want to be scared by movies and feel pity for fictional characters when they avoid situations in real life that arouse these same negative emotions? Although the domain of relevant artworks encompasses far more than just tragedy, the general problem is typically called the paradox of tragedy. The paradox boils down to a simple question: If people avoid pain then why do people want to experience art that is painful? I discuss six popular solutions to the (...) paradox: conversion, control, compensatory, meta-response, catharsis, and rich experience theories. (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)
Although I reject his argument, I defend Bernard Williams’s claim that we would lose reason to go on if we were to live forever. Through a consideration of Borges’s story "The Immortal," I argue that immortality would be motivationally devastating, since our decisions would carry little weight, our achievements would be hollow victories of mere diligence, and the prospect of eternal frustration would haunt our every effort. An immortal life for those of limited ability will inevitably result in endless frustration, (...) since the number of significant projects that one is capable of completing is finite, but the span of time is infinite. (shrink)
It is commonly suggested that empathy is a morally important quality to possess and that a failure to properly empathize with others is a kind of moral failure. This suggestion assumes that empathy involves caring for others’ well-being. Skeptics challenge the moral importance of empathy by arguing that empathy is neither necessary nor sufficient to care for others’ well-being. This challenge is misguided. Although some forms of empathy may not be morally important, empathy with another’s basic well-being concerns is both (...) necessary and sufficient to care for another’s well-being, provided that one’s empathy is both cognitive and affective. I further defend the idea that empathy of this form is a moral virtue. In doing so, I address three challenges to empathy’s status as a virtue: (1) that empathy is unnecessary for being ethical, (2) that it is not useful for promoting ethical behavior, and (3) that an empathetic person can lack other traits central to being virtuous, such as being motivated by the moral good and being disposed to do virtuous things whenever appropriate opportunities arise. I argue that these challenges are mistaken. (shrink)
Replication or even modelling of consciousness in machines requires some clariﬁcations and reﬁnements of our concept of consciousness. Design of, construction of, and interaction with artiﬁcial systems can itself assist in this conceptual development. We start with the tentative hypothesis that although the word “consciousness” has no well-deﬁned meaning, it is used to refer to aspects of human and animal informationprocessing. We then argue that we can enhance our understanding of what these aspects might be by designing and building virtual-machine (...) architectures capturing various features of consciousness. This activity may in turn nurture the development of our concepts of consciousness, showing how an analysis based on information-processing virtual machines answers old philosophical puzzles as well enriching empirical theories. This process of developing and testing ideas by developing and testing designs leads to gradual reﬁnement of many of our pre-theoretical concepts of mind, showing how they can be construed as implicitly “architecture-based” concepts. Understanding how humanlike robots with appropriate architectures are likely to feel puzzled about qualia may help us resolve those puzzles. The concept of “qualia” turns out to be an “architecture-based” concept, while individual qualia concepts are “architecture-driven”. (shrink)
Aaron Ridley explores Nietzsche's mature ethical thought as expressed in his masterpiece On the Genealogy of Morals. Taking seriously the use that Nietzsche makes of human types, Ridley arranges his book thematically around the six characters who loom largest in that work—the slave, the priest, the philosopher, the artist, the scientist, and the noble. By elucidating what the Genealogy says about these figures, he achieves a persuasive new assessment of Nietzsche's ethics. Ridley's intellectually supple interpretation reveals Nietzsche's ethical position (...) to be deeper and more interesting than is often supposed: the relation, for instance, between Nietzsche's ideal of the noble and the ascetic or priestly conscience does not emerge as a stark opposition but as a rich interplay between the tensions inherent in each. Equally, he shows that certain under-appreciated confusions in Nietzsche's thought reveal much about the positive aspects of the philosopher's moral vision. The only book devoted entirely to the Genealogy, Nietzsche's Conscience offers a sympathetic but tough-minded critical reading of the philosopher's most important work. Delivered in clear and vigorous language and employing a broadly analytical approach, Ridley's commentary makes Nietzsche's reflections on morality more accessible than they have been hitherto. (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.
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)
In this article I defend innocuousism– a weak form of Epicureanism about the putative badness of death. I argue that if we assume both mental statism about wellbeing and that death is an experiential blank, it follows that death is not bad for the one who dies. I defend innocuousism against the deprivation account of the badness of death. I argue that something is extrinsically bad if and only if it leads to states that are intrinsically bad. On my view, (...) sometimes dying may be less good than living, but it is never bad to die. (shrink)
Emotions involve complex processes produced by interactions between motives, beliefs, percepts, etc. E.g. real or imagined fulfilment or violation of a motive, or triggering of a 'motive-generator', can disturb processes produced by other motives. To understand emotions, therefore, we need to understand motives and the types of processes they can produce. This leads to a study of the global architecture of a mind. Some constraints on the evolution of minds are disussed. Types of motives and the processes they generate are (...) sketched. (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)
Hannah Arendt's essays about the 1957 crisis over efforts of a group of youth, the “Little Rock Nine,” to desegregate a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, reveal a tension in her vision of the “public.” In this article Aaron Schutz and Marie Sandy look closely at the experiences of the youth desegregating the school, especially those of Elizabeth Eckford, drawing upon them to trace a continuum of forms of public engagement in Arendt's work. This ranges from arenas of (...) “deliberative friendship,” where unique individuals collaborate on common efforts, to a more conflictual “public stage,” where groups act in solidarity to change aspects of the public world. While Arendt famously asserted in her essay “The Crisis in Education” that political capacities should not be taught in schools, it makes more sense to see this argument as focused on what she sometimes called the conflictual “public stage,” reflecting the experience of the Little Rock Nine. In contrast, Schutz and Sandy argue that Arendt's own work implies that “deliberative friendship,” as described in her essay “Philosophy and Politics” and elsewhere, should be part of everyday practices in classrooms and schools. (shrink)
Many of the most popular genres of narrative art are designed to elicit negative emotions: emotions that are experienced as painful or involving some degree of pain, which we generally avoid in our daily lives. Melodramas make us cry. Tragedies bring forth pity and fear. Conspiratorial thrillers arouse feelings of hopelessness and dread, and devotional religious art can make the believer weep in sorrow. Not only do audiences know what these artworks are supposed to do; they seek them out in (...) pursuit of prima facie painful reactions.Traditionally, the question of why people seek out such experiences of painful art has been presented as the paradox of tragedy. Most solutions to the paradox of tragedy assume that the reason we seek out tragedies, horror films, melodramas, and the like is because they afford pleasureful experiences. From there, theorists attempt to account for the source of this pleasure, a pleasure assumed to be had from representations of events from which we do not derive pleasure in real life. I argue that this assumption is suspect: the motive for seeking out devotional religious art, melodrama, tragedy, and some horror is not clearly to find pleasure. (shrink)
Ridley's book is both an introduction to philosophy of music generally and an introduction to an individual, pungently flavoured philosophy of music. His arguments are lively and provocative, and to boot, he writes like a dream. This is the kind of book that reminds one why philosophy matters, especially as applied to the things we love most.-Jerrold Levinson, professor of philosophy, University of Maryland This outstanding book provides new and distinctive approaches to the five central topics of musical aesthetics: understanding, (...) representation, expression, performance and profundity. The central theme is the failure of the orthodox view-that pieces of music are more or less self-contained structures of sound-accounts for important features of our musical experience, and explains why music should matter to us. Each chapter is built around a single musical work. Readers are introduced to the main positions in the philosophy of music. Ridley exposes and corrects the failure of the orthodox view and proposes fresh solutions. Additionally, Ridley offers innovative approaches to the philosophy of song, musical ontology, and to questions about the value of music. P>Features * Broad, accessible introductory overview to philosophy of music * Original and stimulating insights. (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)
I argue that genuine moral flaws never enhance amusement, but they sometimes detract.I argue against comic immoralism--the position that moral flaws can make attempts at humor more amusing.Two common errors have made immoralism look attractive.First, immoralists have confused outrageous content with genuine moral flaws.Second, immoralists have failed to see that it is not sufficient to show that a morally flawed joke is amusing; they need to show that a joke can be more amusing because of the fact that it is (...) morally flawed.I argue that the immoralist lacks a plausible account of how this could be the case.I reject immoralism and argue for comic moralism—the position that moral flaws can make attempts at humor less amusing. (shrink)