Ancient Peripatetics and Neoplatonists had great difficulty coming up with a consistent, interpretatively reasonable, and empirically adequate Aristotelian theory of complete mixture or complexion. I explain some of the main problems, with special attention to authors with whom Avicenna was familiar. I then show how Avicenna used a new doctrine of the occultness of substantial form to address these problems. The result was in some respects an improvement, but it also gave rise to a new set of problems, which were (...) later to prove fateful in the history of early modern philosophy. (shrink)
Abraham Pais's Subtle Is the Lord was a publishing phenomenon: a mathematically sophisticated exposition of the science and the life of Albert Einstein that reached a huge audience and won an American Book Award. Reviewers hailed the book as "a monument to sound scholarship and graceful style", "an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man", and "a fine book". In this groundbreaking new volume, Pais undertakes a history of the physics of matter and of physical forces since the discovery of (...) x-rays. The book attempts to relate not only what has happened over the last hundred years but why it happened the way it did, what it was like for those scientists involved, and how what at the time may have seemed a series of bizarre or unrelated events, now with hindsight emerges as a logical sequence of events. Pais, a noted physicist, was personally involved in many of the developments he describes, and thus Inward Bound, like his earlier book, is filled with unique insights into the world of big and small physics. Between 1895 and 1983, the period he covers, the smallest distances explored have shrunk a hundred millionfold, Pais notes. Along this incompletely traveled "road inward," scientists have established markers that later generations will rank among the principal monuments of the twentieth century. In alternating technical and nontechnical sections, this magisterial survey richly conveys what has been discovered about the constituents of matter, the laws to which they are subject, and the forces that act on them. But the advances have certainly not come smoothly. The book shows that these have been times of progress and stagnation, of order and chaos, of clarity and confusion, of belief and incredulity, of the conventional and the bizarre; also of revolutionaries and conservatives, of science by individuals and by consortia, of little gadgets and big machines, and of modest funds and big money. About the Author: Abraham Pais is Detlev W. Bronk Professor of Physics at the Rockefeller University. The author of the prizewinning biography of Einstein now undertakes a history of modern physics. (shrink)
Abraham Verghese proposes to renew medicine by training physicians to read the right texts—literary fiction and patients' bodies—with skilled attention. Analyzing Verghese's proposal with reference to Foucault's idea of the "clinical gaze," I find that Verghese conceives of patients as texts that only physicians can read, meaning that physicians become the storytellers of the bodies, lives, and deaths of the people they meet as patients. I conclude that Verghese's project is unsustainable and alternatively propose thinking analogically of physicians as (...) ship captains who maintain therapeutic distance to reopen interpretative spaces for communities outside of medicine. (shrink)
This paper offers the concept of “justice failure,” as a counterpart to the familiar idea of market failure, in order to better understand managers’ ethical obligations. This paper takes the “market failures approach” to business ethics as its point of departure. The success of the MFA, I argue, lies in its close proximity with economic theory, particularly in the idea that, within a larger scheme of social cooperation, markets ought to pursue efficiency and leave the pursuit of equality to the (...) welfare state. As a result, the core ethical responsibility of business actors is to avoid profiting off of market failure. After reviewing this approach I challenge its emphasis on efficiency. I argue that just as we note the suboptimal efficiency of actual markets, we should also take seriously the suboptimal equality of actual welfare states. Taking this idea seriously results in a whole other set of ethical responsibilities for businesses to take into account; in addition to market imperfections and regulatory lacunae, managers should also avoid profiting from, and exacerbating, structural inequalities and injustices. I offer an outline of the kinds of injustices and inequalities that would have bearing on business ethics, and the kinds of ethical responsibilities that this approach suggests that business actors should take into account. (shrink)
The work _De spiritu_ is an important but neglected work by Aristotle. It clearly shows for the first time that Aristotle assumed a special body as the ‘instrument’ of the soul. By means of this soul/body the soul forms the visible body of plants, animals and human beings.
My concern here is to motivate some theses in the philosophy of mind concerning the interpersonal character of intentions. I will do so by investigating aspects of shared agency. The main point will be that when acting together with others one must be able to act directly on the intention of another or others in a way that is relevantly similar to the manner in which an agent acts on his or her own intentions. What exactly this means will become (...) clearer once we understand what it is to act directly on one’s own intentions. But I take it to be a fundamental assumption of the prevailing individualism of the theory of action— one at the core of its conception of the separateness of individuals— that one person cannot act directly on another’s intention. I agree that there is an important way in which we are or can be separate and autonomous thinkers and agents. But the way the individualist tries to capture this separateness is misguided. (shrink)
Accepting a promise is normatively significant in that it helps to secure promissory obligation. But what is it for B to accept A’s promise to φ? It is in part for B to intend A’s φ-ing. Thinking of acceptance in this way allows us to appeal to the distinctive role of intentions in practical reasoning and action to better understand the agency exercised by the promisee. The proposal also accounts for rational constraints on acceptance, and the so-called directedness of promissory (...) obligation. Finally, the proposal, conjoined with Cognitivism about intentions, addresses recent criticism of Scanlon’s expectation-based view of promissory obligation. (shrink)
Sometimes individuals act together, and sometimes each acts on his or her own. It's a distinction that often matters to us. Undertaking a difficult task collectively can be comforting, even if only for the solidarity it may engender. Or, to take a very different case, the realization (or delusion) that the many bits of rudeness one has been suffering of late are part of a concerted effort can be of significance in identifying what one is up against: the accumulation of (...) grievances (no doubt well catalogued) is seen, not as an unfortunate coincidence of affronts stemming from various quarters, but as itself a product of a unified exercise of agency. A paranoid conspiracy theorist is not usually to be taken seriously. But he does get right that it certainly would be awful, for example, if everyone were out to get him and were working together to do so. After all, the stability and impact of agency that's shared can be expected to be more serious than the effects of a mere collection of individual acts.[1.. (shrink)
Shared activity is often simply willed into existence by individuals. This poses a problem. Philosophical reflection suggests that shared activity involves a distinctive, interlocking structure of intentions. But it is not obvious how one can form the intention necessary for shared activity without settling what fellow participants will do and thereby compromising their agency and autonomy. One response to this problem suggests that an individual can have the requisite intention if she makes the appropriate predictions about fellow participants. I argue (...) that implementing this predictive strategy risks derailing practical reasoning and preventing one from forming the intention. My alternative proposal for reconciling shared activity with autonomy appeals to the idea of acting directly on another's intention. In particular, I appeal to the entitlement one sometimes has to another's practical judgment, and the corresponding authority the other sometimes has to settle what one is to do. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:In his 2018 presidential address to the Society of Business Ethics, Jeffery Smith claimed that political approaches to business ethics must be attentive to both the distinctive nature of commercial activity and, at the same time, the degree to which such commercial activity is structured by political decisions and choices. In what we take to be a friendly extension of the argument, we claim that Smith does not go far enough with this insight. Smith’s political approach to business ethics focuses (...) solely on the outcomes of political choices. But if we think of politics in terms of processes—as in, ongoing disagreement and contest—and not merely a series of legal, administrative, or institutional outcomes, a different view of business ethics emerges. In particular, we argue that such an emphasis points us toward seeing business actors as having a normative duty to preserve the integrity and functioning of democracy. (shrink)
My concern here is to motivate some theses in the philosophy of mind concerning the interpersonal character of intentions. I will do so by investigating aspects of shared agency. The main point will be that when acting together with others one must be able to act directly on the intention of another or others in a way that is relevantly similar to the manner in which an agent acts on his or her own intentions. What exactly this means will become (...) clearer once we understand what it is to act directly on one’s own intentions. But I take it to be a fundamental assumption of the prevailing individualism of the theory of action—one at the core of its conception of the separateness of individuals—that one person cannot act directly on another’s intention. I agree that there is an important way in which we are or can be separate and autonomous thinkers and agents. But the way the individualist tries to capture this separateness is misguided. (shrink)
The explicit topic of Fear and Trembling's third Problema (the longest single section, accounting for a third of the book's total length), the theme of Abraham's silence stands not far in the background in every other section, and its importance is flagged by the pseudonym—Johannes de silentio—under which Kierkegaard had the book published. Here I aim to defend an interpretation of the meaning of the third Problema's central claim—that Abraham cannot explain himself, 'cannot speak'—and to argue on its (...) basis for an interpretation of the work as a whole. (shrink)
The human microbiome is the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that cover our skin, line our intestines, and flourish in our body cavities. Work on the human microbiome is new, but it is quickly becoming a leading area of biomedical research. What scientists are learning about humans and our microbiomes could change medical practice by introducing new treatment modalities. This new knowledge redefines us as superorganisms comprised of the human body and the collection of microbes that inhabit it and reveals how (...) much we are a part of our environment. The understanding that microbes are not only beneficial but sometimes necessary for survival recasts our interaction with microbes from adversarial to neighborly. This volume explores some of the science that makes human microbiome research possible. It then considers ethical, legal, and social concerns raised by microbiome research. Chapters explore issues related to personal identity, property rights, and privacy. The authors reflect on how human microbiome research challenges reigning views on public health and research ethics. They also address the need for thoughtful policies and procedures to guide the use of the biobanked human samples required for advancing this new domain of research. In the course of these explorations, they introduce examples from the history of biomedical science and recent legal cases that shed light on the issues and inform the policy recommendations they offer at the end of each topic's discussion.This volume is the product of an NIH Human Microbiome Project grant. It represents three years of conversations focused on consensus formation by the twenty-seven members of the interdisciplinary Microbiome Working Group. (shrink)
Four Island Utopias provides a convenient compilation of four key texts, important for the understanding of utopian thinking in the ancient world and middle ages, along with maps and an extensive introduction to Classical Utopian thought. Ideal for courses in utopian thought.