The “demos paradox” is the idea that the composition of a demos could never secure democratic legitimacy because the composition of a demos cannot itself be democratically decided. Those who view this problem as unsolvable argue that this insight allows them to adopt a critical perspective towards common ideas about who has legitimate standing to participate in democratic decision-making. We argue that the opposite is true and that endorsing the demos paradox actually undermines our ability to critically engage with common (...) ideas about legitimate standing. We challenge the conception of legitimacy that lurks behind the demos paradox and argue that the real impossibility is to endorse democracy without also being committed to significant procedure-independent standards for the legitimate composition of the demos. We show that trying to solve the problem of the demos by appeal to some normative conception of democratic legitimacy is a worthwhile project that is not undermined by paradox. (shrink)
Our aims are to set forth a multiprinciple system for selecting among clinical trials competing for limited space in an immunotherapy production facility that supplies products under investigation by scientific investigators; defend this system by appealing to justice principles; and illustrate our proposal by showing how it might be implemented. Our overarching aim is to assist manufacturers of immunotherapeutic products and other potentially breakthrough experimental therapies with the ethical task of prioritizing requests from scientific investigators when production capacity is limited.
Social and behavioral scientists — that is, students of human nature — nowadays hardly ever use the term ‘human nature’. This reticence reflects both a becoming modesty about the aims of their disciplines and a healthy skepticism about whether there is any one thing really worthy of the label ‘human nature’. For some feature of humankind to be identified as accounting for our ‘nature’, it would have to reflect some property both distinctive of our species and systematically influential enough to (...) explain some very important aspect of our behavior. Compare: molecular structure gives the essence or the nature of water just because it explains most of its salient properties. Few students of the human sciences currently hold that there is just one or a small number of such features that can explain our actions and/or our institutions. And even among those who do, there is reluctance to label their theories as claims about ‘human nature’. Among anthropologists and sociologists, the label seems too universal and indiscriminant to be useful. The idea that there is a single underlying character that might explain similarities threatens the differences among people and cultures that these social scientists seek to uncover. Even economists, who have explicitly attempted to parlay rational choice theory into an account of all human behavior, do not claim that the maximization of transitive preferences is ‘human nature’. I think part of the reason that social scientists are reluctant to use ‘human nature’ is that the term has traditionally labeled a theory with normative implications as well as descriptive ones. (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive guide to the conceptual methodological, and epistemological problems of biology, and treats in depth the major developments in molecular biology and evolutionary theory that have transformed both biology and its philosophy in recent decades. At the same time the work is a sustained argument for a particular philosophy of biology that unifies disparate issues and offers a framework for expectations about the future directions of the life sciences. The argument explores differences between autonomist and anti-autonomist (...) views of biology. The result is a vindication of reductionism, but one that is unexpectedly hollow. For it leaves the exponents of the autonomy of biology from physical science with as much as their view of biology really requires - and rather more than the reductionist might comfortably concede. Professor Rosenberg shows how the problems of the philosophy of biology are interconnected and how their solutions are interdependent, However, this book focuses more on the direct concerns of biologists, rather than the traditional agenda of philosophers' problems about biology. This departure from earlier books on the subject results both in greater understanding and relevance of the philosophy of science to biology as a whole. (shrink)
Is a government required or permitted to redistribute the gains and losses that differences in biological endowments generate? In particular, does the fact that individuals possess different biological endowments lead to unfair advantages within a market economy? These are questions on which some people are apt to have strong intuitions and ready arguments. Egalitarians may say yes and argue that as unearned, undeserved advantages and disadvantages, biological endowments are never fair, and that the market simply exacerbates these inequities. Libertarians may (...) say no, holding that the possession of such endowments deprives no one of an entitlement and that any system but a market would deprive agents of the rights to their endowments. Biological endowments may well lead to advantages or disadvantages on their view, but not to unfair ones. I do not have strong intuitions about answers to these questions, in part because I believe that they are questions of great difficulty. To begin, alternative answers rest on substantial assumptions in moral philosophy that seem insufficiently grounded. Moreover, the questions involve several problematical assumptions about the nature of biological endowments. Finally, I find the questions to be academic, in the pejorative sense of this term. For aside from a number of highly debilitating endowments, the overall moral significance of differences between people seems so small, so I interdependent and so hard to measure, that these differences really will 1 not enter into practical redistributive calculations, even if it is theoretically i permissible that they do so. Before turning to a detailed discussion of biological endowments and their moral significance, I sketch my doubts about the fundamental moral theories that dictate either the impermissibility or the obligation to compensate for different biological endowments. (shrink)
In the Museum of Science and Technology in San Jose, California, there is a display dedicated to advances in biotechnology. Most prominent in the display is a double helix of telephone books stacked in two staggered spirals from the floor to the ceiling twenty-five feet above. The books are said to represent the current state of our knowledge of the eukaryotic genome: the primary sequences of DNA polynucleotides for the gene products which have been discovered so far in the twenty (...) years since cloning and sequencing the genome became possible. (shrink)
Do the sciences aim to uncover the structure of nature, or are they ultimately a practical means of controlling our environment? In Instrumental Biology, or the Disunity of Science, Alexander Rosenberg argues that while physics and chemistry can develop laws that reveal the structure of natural phenomena, biology is fated to be a practical, instrumental discipline. Because of the complexity produced by natural selection, and because of the limits on human cognition, scientists are prevented from uncovering the basic structure (...) of biological phenomena. Consequently, biology and all of the disciplines that rest upon it--psychology and the other human sciences--must aim at most to provide practical tools for coping with the natural world rather than a complete theoretical understanding of it. (shrink)
Weintraub is not really interested in whether economics is “science” or not. “Economists are not so unsophisticated as to think that calling economics a ‘science’ says anything about what economists do or should do”. But can it really be a matter of indifference to him whether the subject has the character of chemistry as opposed to literary criticism?
What place does consciousness have in the natural world? If we reject materialism, could there be a credible alternative? In one classic example, philosophers ask whether we can ever know what is it is like for bats to sense the world using sonar. It seems obvious to many that any amount of information about a bat's physical structure and information processing leaves us guessing about the central questions concerning the character of its experience. A Place for Consciousness begins with reflections (...) on the existence of this gap. Is it just a psychological shortcoming in our merely human understanding of the physical world? Is it a trivial consequence of the simple fact that we just cannot be bats? Or does it mean there really are facts about consciousness over and above the physical facts? If so, what does consciousness do? Why does it exist? Rosenberg sorts out these problems, especially those centering on the causal role of consciousness. He introduces a new paradigm called Liberal Naturalism for thinking about what causation is, about the natural world, and about how to create a detailed model to go along with the new paradigm. Arguing that experience is part of the categorical foundations of causality, he shows that within this new paradigm there is a place for something essentially like consciousness in all its traditional mysterious respects. A striking feature of Liberal Naturalism is that its central tenets are motivated independently of the mind-body problem, by analyzing causation itself. Because of this approach, when consciousness shows up in the picture it is not introduced in an ad hoc way, and its most puzzling features can be explained from first principles. Ultimately, Rosenberg's final solution gives consciousness a causally important role without supposing either that it is physical or that it interacts with the physical. (shrink)
Economics today cannot predict the likely outcome of specific events any better than it could in the time of Adam Smith. This is Alexander Rosenberg's controversial challenge to the scientific status of economics. Rosenberg explains that the defining characteristic of any science is predictive improvability--the capacity to create more precise forecasts by evaluating the success of earlier predictions--and he forcefully argues that because economics has not been able to increase its predictive power for over two centuries, it is (...) not a science. (shrink)
After the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953, scientists working in molecular biology embraced reductionism—the theory that all complex systems can be understood in terms of their components. Reductionism, however, has been widely resisted by both nonmolecular biologists and scientists working outside the field of biology. Many of these antireductionists, nevertheless, embrace the notion of physicalism—the idea that all biological processes are physical in nature. How, Alexander Rosenberg asks, can these self-proclaimed physicalists also be antireductionists? With clarity (...) and wit, Darwinian Reductionism navigates this difficult and seemingly intractable dualism with convincing analysis and timely evidence. In the spirit of the few distinguished biologists who accept reductionism—E. O. Wilson, Francis Crick, Jacques Monod, James Watson, and Richard Dawkins—Rosenberg provides a philosophically sophisticated defense of reductionism and applies it to molecular developmental biology and the theory of natural selection, ultimately proving that the physicalist must also be a reductionist. (shrink)
This is an expanded and thoroughly revised edition of the widely adopted introduction to the philosophical foundations of the human sciences. Ranging from cultural anthropology to mathematical economics, Alexander Rosenberg leads the reader through behaviorism, naturalism, interpretativism about human action, and macrosocial scientific perspectives, illuminating the motivation and strategy of each.Rewritten throughout to increase accessibility, this new edition retains the remarkable achievement of revealing the social sciences’ enduring relation to the fundamental problems of philosophy. It includes new discussions of (...) positivism, European philosophy of history, causation, statistical laws, quantitative models, and postempiricist social science, along with a completely updated literature guide that keys chapters to widely anthologized papers. (shrink)
Jay Rosenberg offers a systematic philosophical theory of knowledge which is specifically responsive to the fact that we always engage the world from a particular perspective within it. It consequently calls into question in a fundamental way many received understandings regarding the relationships among the concepts of knowledge, belief, justification, and truth.
Jay Rosenberg introduces Immanuel Kant's masterwork, the Critique of Pure Reason, from a "relaxed" problem-oriented perspective which treats Kant as an especially insightful practicing philosopher, from whom we still have much to learn, intelligently and creatively responding to significant questions that transcend his work's historical setting. Rosenberg's main project is to command a clear view of how Kant understands various perennial problems, how he attempts to resolve them, and to what extent he succeeds. At the same time the (...) book is an introduction to the challenges of reading the text of Kant's work and, to that end, selectively adopts a more rigorous historical and exegetical stance. Accessing Kant will be an invaluable resource for advanced students and for any scholar seeking Rosenberg's own distinctive insights into Kant's work. (shrink)
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)
Rosenberg applies current thinking in philosophy of science to neoclassical economics in order to assess its claims to scientific standing. Although philosophers have used history and psychology as paradigms for the examination of social science, there is good reason to believe that economics is a more appropriate subject for analysis: it is the most systematized and quantified of the social sciences; its practitioners have reached a measure of consensus on important aspects of their subject; and it encompasses a large (...) number of apparently law-like propositions. (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)
This user-friendly text covers key issues in the philosophy of science in an accessible and philosophically serious way. It will prove valuable to students studying philosophy of science as well as science students. Prize-winning author Alex Rosenberg explores the philosophical problems that science raises by its very nature and method. He skilfully demonstrates that scientific explanation, laws, causation, theory, models, evidence, reductionism, probability, teleology, realism and instrumentalism actually pose the same questions that Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant and their (...) successors have grappled with for centuries. (shrink)
EM Music Education /EM is a collection of thematically organized essays that present an historical background of the picture of education first in Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, then Early-Modern Europe. The bulk of the book focuses on American education up to the present. This third edition includes readings by Orff, Kodály, Sinichi Suzuki, William Channing Woodbridge, Allan Britton, and Charles Leonhard. In addition, essays include timely topics on feminism, diversity, cognitive psych, testing (the Praxis exam) and the No (...) Child Left Behind Act. (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.
Is life a purely physical process? What is human nature? Which of our traits is essential to us? In this volume, Daniel McShea and Alex Rosenberg – a biologist and a philosopher, respectively – join forces to create a new gateway to the philosophy of biology; making the major issues accessible and relevant to biologists and philosophers alike. Exploring concepts such as supervenience; the controversies about genocentrism and genetic determinism; and the debate about major transitions central to contemporary thinking (...) about macroevolution; the authors lay out the broad terms in which we should assess the impact of biology on human capacities, social institutions and ethical values. (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)
This book is nominally about linguistic representation. But, since it is we who do the representing, it is also about us. And, since it is the universe which we represent, it is also about the universe. In the end, then, this book is about everything, which, since it is a philosophy book, is as it should be. I recognize that it is nowadays unfashionable to write books about every thing. Philosophers of language, it will be said, ought to stick to (...) writing about language; philosophers of science, to writing about science; epis temologists, to writing about knowing; and so on. The real world, however, perversely refuses to carve itself up so neatly, and, although I recognize that the real w,orld is nowadays also unfashionable, in the end I judged that one might get closer to the truth of various matters by going along with it. So I have done so. lt was Wilfrid Sellars who initially convinced me of the virtues of this way of proceeding. At this point one normally says something like "The debt that this book owes him is immense". I would say it too, were it not to understate the case, From Wilfrid, I learned to think about things. If the upshot of my thinking tends, as it obviously does, to show a general con silience with the upshot of his, it is primarily because he is so very good at it - and he had a head start. (shrink)
Reductionism is a widely endorsed methodology among biologists, a metaphysical theory advanced to vindicate the biologist's methodology, and an epistemic thesis those opposed to reductionism have been eager to refute. While the methodology has gone from strength to strength in its history of achievements, the metaphysical thesis grounding it remained controversial despite its significant changes over the last 75 years of the philosophy of science. Meanwhile, antireductionism about biology, and especially Darwinian natural selection, became orthodoxy in philosophy of mind, philosophy (...) of science, and philosophy of biology. This Element expounds the debate about reductionism in biology, from the work of the post-positivists to the end of the century debates about supervenience, multiple realizability, and explanatory exclusion. It shows how the more widely accepted 21st century doctrine of 'mechanism' - reductionism with a human face - inherits both the strengths and the challenges of the view it has largely supplanted. (shrink)
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)
Rosenberg concludes with a critical reassessment of widely accepted views regarding the relationships among natural languages, mathematical formalisms, and philosophical commitments. The culmination of twenty years' reflection, Beyond Formalism is an original and sophisticated book of importance to both philosophers and linguists.
In this paper the concept of supervenience is employed to explain the relationship between fitness as employed in the theory of natural selection and population biology and the physical, behavioral and ecological properties of organisms that are the subjects of lower level theories in the life sciences. The aim of this analysis is to account simultaneously for the fact that the theory of natural selection is a synthetic body of empirical claims, and for the fact that it continues to be (...) misconstrued, even by biologists, for a tautological system. The notion of supervenience is then employed to provide a new statement of the relation of Mendelian predicates to molecular ones in order to provide for the commensurability and potential reducibility of Mendelian to molecular genetics in a way that circumvents the theoretical complications which appear to stand in the way of such a reduction. (shrink)
This paper argues that the consensus physicalist antireductionism in the philosophy of biology cannot accommodate the research strategy or indeed the recent findings of molecular developmental biology. After describing Wolperts programmatic claims on its behalf, and recent work by Gehring and others to identify the molecular determinants of development, the paper attempts to identify the relationship between evolutionary and developmental biology by reconciling two apparently conflicting accounts of bio-function – Wrights and Nagels (as elaborated by Cummins). Finally, the paper seeks (...) a way of defending the two central theses of physicalist antireductionism in the light of the research program of molecular developmental biology, by sharply reducing their metaphysical force. (shrink)
The diversity, complexity and adaptation of the biological realm is evident. Until Darwin, the best explanation for these three features of the biological was the conclusion of the “argument from design.” Darwin's theory of natural selection provides an explanation of all three of these features of the biological realm without adverting to some mysterious designing entity. But this explanation's success turns on the meaning of its central explanatory concept, ‘fitness’. Moreover, since Darwinian theory provides the resources for a purely causal (...) account of teleology, wherever it is manifested, its reliance on the concept of ‘fitness’ makes it imperative that conceptual problems threatening the explanatory legitimacy of this notion be solved. (shrink)
A collection of essays by Alexander Rosenberg, the distinguished philosopher of science. The essays cover three broad areas related to Darwinian thought and naturalism: the first deals with the solution of philosophical problems such as reductionism, the second with the development of social theories, and the third with the intersection of evolutionary biology with economics, political philosophy, and public policy. Specific papers deal with naturalistic epistemology, the limits of reductionism, the biological justification of ethics, the so-called 'trolley problem' in (...) moral philosophy, the political philosophy of biological endowments, and the Human Genome Project and its implications for policy. Rosenberg's important writings on a variety of issues are here organized into a coherent philosophical framework which promises to be a significant and controversial contribution to scholarship in many areas. (shrink)
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)
The current essay introduces the guidance theory of representation, according to which the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. The guidance theory offers a way of fixing representational content that gives the causal and evolutionary history of the subject only an indirect role, and an account of representational error, based on failure of action, that does not rely on any such notions as proper functions, ideal conditions, or (...) normal circumstances. Moreover, because the notion of error is defined in terms of failure of action, the guidance theory meets the “meta-epistemological requirement” that representational error should be potentially detectable by the representing system itself. In this essay, we offer a brief account of the biological origins of representation, a formal characterization of the guidance theory, some examples of its use, and show how the guidance theory handles some traditional problem cases for representation: the representation of fictional and abstract entities. Being both representational and actiongrounded, the guidance theory may provide some common ground between embodied and cognitivist approaches to the study of the mind. (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.