Aspiration by Agnes Callard locates standing assumptions in the theory of rationality, moral psychology and autonomy that preclude the possibility of working to acquire new values. The book also explains what changes need to be made if we are to make room for this form of agency, which I call aspiration.
In this paper, I take scientific models to be epistemic representations of their target systems. I define an epistemic representation to be a tool for gaining information about its target system and argue that a vehicle’s capacity to provide specific information about its target system—its informativeness—is an essential feature of this kind of representation. I draw an analogy to our ordinary notion of interpretation to show that a user’s aim of faithfully representing the target system is necessary for securing this (...) feature. (shrink)
Objections to the use of historical case studies for philosophical ends fall into two categories. Methodological objections claim that historical accounts and their uses by philosophers are subject to various biases. We argue that these challenges are not special; they also apply to other epistemic practices. Metaphysical objections, on the other hand, claim that historical case studies are intrinsically unsuited to serve as evidence for philosophical claims, even when carefully constructed and used, and so constitute a distinct class of challenge. (...) We show that attention to what makes for a canonical case can address these problems. A case study is canonical with respect to a particular philosophical aim when the features relevant to that aim provide a reasonably complete causal account of the results of the historical process under investigation. We show how to establish canonicity by evaluating relevant contingencies using two prominent examples from the history of science: Eddington’s confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity using his data from the 1919 eclipse and Watson and Crick’s determination of the structure of DNA. (shrink)
A lively debate in the literature on moral progress concerns the role of practical reasoning: Does it enable or subvert moral progress? Rationalists believe that moral reasoning enables moral progress, because it helps enhance objectivity in thinking, overcome unruly sentiments, and open our minds to new possibilities. By contrast, skeptics argue that moral reasoning subverts moral progress. Citing growing empirical research on bias, they show that objectivity is an illusion and that moral reasoning merely rationalizes pre-existing biased moral norms. In (...) this article, I argue that both the rationalists and the skeptics fail to understand fully the role of practical reasoning by focusing exclusively on moral reasoning to the neglect of social reasoning. In the first half of the article, I argue against the skeptics by vindicating moral reasoning. I identify a Democratic Model of moral reasoning which is reliable and effective in overcoming bias. In the second part of the article, I argue against the rationalists. Drawing on a paradigmatic case of moral progress, i.e., the British abolition of the slave trade, I illustrate that moral reasoning, even when sound, is insufficient to motivate progressive action. The explanation for this puzzling phenomenon is not that the moral norm against cruelty is inert, as skeptics might suggest. Rather, it is that the moral norm against cruelty was overridden by the social norm of slavery which was tied to the British joint commitments to freedom and national honour. The debate between rationalists and skeptics centers around the moral rationality of human action, failing to recognize that human action is in fact primarily about social rationality. I defend a joint commitment account of social rationality, and offer a novel Communitarian Model of social reasoning which follows the logic of social rationality to revise social norms. I defend the reliability and efficacy of the Communitarian Model of social reasoning by applying it to the abolitionist social movement to show how Britons gave fellow Britons social reasons grounded in their joint commitments to freedom and national honour to end slavery. (shrink)
In this paper, I characterize visual epistemic representations as concrete two- or three-dimensional tools for conveying information about aspects of their target systems or phenomena of interest. I outline two features of successful visual epistemic representation: that the vehicle of representation contain sufficiently accurate information about the phenomenon of interest for the user’s purpose, and that it convey this information to the user in a manner that makes it readily available to her. I argue that actual epistemic representation may involve (...) tradeoffs between these and is successful to the extent that they are present. (shrink)
Standard dual-process models in the action domain postulate that stimulus-driven processes are responsible for suboptimal behavior because they take them to be rigid and automatic and therefore the default. We propose an alternative dual-process model in which goal-directed processes are the default instead. We then transfer the dual- process logic from the action domain to the emotion domain. This reveals that emotional behavior is often attributed to stimulus-driven processes. Our alternative model submits that goal-directed processes could be the primary determinant (...) of emotional behavior instead. We evaluate the type of empirical evidence required for validating our model and we consider implications of our model for behavior change, encouraging strategies focused on the expectancies and values of action outcomes. (shrink)
Agnes Heller conversó con la Redacción de Areté el 24 de abril de 2003, durante una visita a la Universidad Católica para dictar la Lección Inaugural del Año Académico de la Facultad de Letras y Ciencias Humanas. En la conversación estuvieron presentes los profesores Pepi Patrón, Fidel Tubino y Miguel Giusti.
Many appraisal theories claim that appraisal causes emotion. Critics have rejected this claim because they believe (a) it is incompatible with the claim that appraisal is a part of emotion, (b) it is not empirically supported, (c) it is circular and hence nonempirical, and (d) there are alternative causes. I reply that (a) the causal claim is incompatible with the part claim on some but not all interpretations of the causal claim and the part claim, (b) the lack of empirical (...) support can be remedied, (c) there may even be ways to cope with the circularity problem, and (d) it is unclear to what extent the alternative causes differ from appraisal. (shrink)
Agnes Arber's international reputation is due in part to her exceptional ability to interpret the German tradition of scholarship for the English-speaking world. The Mind and the Eye is an erudite book, revealing its author's familiarity with philosophy from Plato and Aristotle through Aquinas to Kant and Hegel; but it is not dull, because the quiet enthusiasm of the author shines through. In this book she turns from the work of a specialist in one science to those wider questions which (...) any scientist must ask at intervals. What, in short, is the relationship between the eye that sees and the mind that weighs and pronounces? An important feature of this Cambridge Science Classics reissue is the introduction provided by Professor P. R. Bell, who as a Cambridge botany student at the time that Agnes Arber was writing The Natural Philosopby of Plant Form, is uniquely able to set The Mind and the Eye in the context of contemporary biological research. (shrink)
Appraisal theories of emotion have two fundamental assumptions: that there are regularities to be discovered between situations and components of emotional episodes, and that the influence of these situations on these components is causally mediated by a mental process called appraisal. Appraisal theories come in different flavors, proposing different to-be-explained phenomena and different underlying mechanisms for the influence of appraisal on the other components.
Critics of appraisal theory have difficulty accepting appraisal (with its constructive flavor) as an automatic process, and hence as a potential cause of most emotions. In response, some appraisal theorists have argued that appraisal was never meant as a causal process but as a constituent of emotional experience. Others have argued that appraisal is a causal process, but that it can be either rule-based or associative, and that the associative variant can be automatic. This article first proposes empirically investigating whether (...) rule-based appraisal can also be automatic and then proposes investigating the automatic nature of constructive (instead of rule-based) appraisal because the distinction between rule-based and associative is problematic. Finally, it discusses experiments that support the view that constructive appraisal can be automatic. (shrink)
Humans seem to readily track their conspecifics’ mental states, such as their goals and beliefs from early infancy. However, the underlying cognitive architecture that enables such powerful abilities remains unclear. Here I will propose that a basic representational structure, the belief file, could provide the foundation for efficiently encoding, and updating information about, others’ beliefs in online social interactions. I will discuss the representational possibilities offered by the belief file and the ways in which the repertoire of mental state reasoning (...) is shaped by the characteristics of its constituents. A series of questions will be outlined concerning the representational skeleton of the belief file, sketching a possible structure that supports the rapid encoding and re-identification of belief related information. After analyzing the possible limitations of the belief attribution system, I will examine some of its characteristics that might enable a flexibility that is often neglected. I will suggest that operations involving belief files are not impeded by the absence of precise first-person information regarding their contents. In fact, the system permits manipulations with “empty” belief files, allowing humans to ascribe beliefs to conspecifics based on little or no direct information regarding the content of the mental state. Such an analysis aims to advance our understanding of how spontaneous belief attribution may be performed, and to provide an insight into the possible mechanisms that allow humans to successfully navigate the social world. (shrink)
Sometimes we engage in a pursuit before we can fully access its value. When we embark upon, for example, the project of coming to appreciate classical music, we make a foray into a new domain of value. The chapter introduces a new kind of reason—a proleptic reason—to rationalize such large-scale transformative pursuits. The proleptic reasoner is aware of the defect in her appreciation of some value, and feels the need to improve. It is explained that the work done by proleptic (...) reasons cannot be done by more familiar kinds of reasons. The implications of proleptic rationality for reasons-internalism are considered. Internalists hold that what I have reason to do can be arrived at by a procedurally rational extrapolation from my current desires. However, because the act of learning some new form of valuation cannot be analyzed as satisfying the values one already has, proleptic reasons are not internal. (shrink)
The acquisition of complex motor, cognitive, and social skills, like playing a musical instrument or mastering sports or a language, is generally associated with implicit skill learning . Although it is a general view that SL is most effective in childhood, and such skills are best acquired if learning starts early, this idea has rarely been tested by systematic empirical studies on the developmental pathways of SL from childhood to old age. In this paper, we challenge the view that childhood (...) and early school years are the prime time for skill learning by tracking age-related changes in performance in three different paradigms of SL. We collected data from participants between 7 and 87 years for a Serial Reaction Time Task testing the learning of motor sequences, an Artificial Grammar Learning task testing the extraction of regularities from auditory sequences, and Probabilistic Category Learning in the Weather Prediction task , a non-sequential categorization task. Results on all three tasks show that adolescence and adulthood are the most efficient periods for skill learning, since instead of becoming less and less effective with age, SL improves from childhood into adulthood and then later declines with aging. (shrink)
Animal welfare scientific literature has accumulated rapidly in recent years, but bias may exist which influences understanding of progress in the field. We conducted a survey of articles related to animal welfare or well being from an electronic database. From 8,541 articles on this topic, we randomly selected 115 articles for detailed review in four funding categories: government; charity and/or scientific association; industry; and educational organization. Ninety articles were evaluated after unsuitable articles were rejected. The welfare states of animals in (...) new treatments, conventional treatments or control groups with no treatment were classified as high, medium or low according to one or more. More articles were published in which the welfare of animals in new treatments was better than that of animals in the conventional or no treatment groups, demonstrating a positive result bias. Failure to publish studies with negative or inconclusive results may lead to other scientists unnecessarily repeating the research. The authors’ assessments of the welfare state of the groups were similarly rated high, medium or low, and it was found that new treatments were rated lower if the research was funded by industry, and higher when funded by charities, with government funding agencies intermediate. These differences were not evident in the Five Freedoms assessment, demonstrating an authors’ assessment bias that appeared to support the funding agencies’ interests. North American funded publications rated the welfare of animals in New treatments higher and those in a Conventional or No Treatment lower, compared with European-funded publications. It is concluded that preliminary evidence was provided of several forms of publication bias in animal welfare science. (shrink)
The issue of openness/secrecy has not received adequate attention in current discussion on the public sphere. Drawing on ideas in critical theory, political sociology, and cultural sociology, this article explores the cultural and political dynamics involved in the public sphere in modern society vis-à-vis the practice of open/secret politics by the state. It argues that the media, due to their publicist quality, are situated at the interface between publicity and secrecy, which thereby allows for struggles over the boundary of state (...) openness/secrecy in the public sphere. A theory of boundary politics is introduced that is contextualized in the relationship among state forms, the means of making power visible/invisible , and symbolic as well as discursive practices in the public sphere. In explaining the dynamics of boundary politics over openness/secrecy, three ideal-types of boundary creation are conceptualized: open politics, secrecy, and leak. The theory is illustrated with a case study of the Patten controversy in Hong Kong. (shrink)
Today, thanks to biomedical technologies advances, some persons with fertility issues can conceive. Transgender persons benefit also from these advances and can not only actualize their self-identified sexual identities but also experience parenthood. Based on clinical multidisciplinary seminars that gathered child psychiatrists and psychoanalysts interested in the fields of assisted reproduction technology and gender dysphoria, philosophers interested in bioethics, biologists interested in ART, and endocrinologists interested in pubertal suppression, we explore how new biotechnical advances, whether in gender transition or procreation, (...) could create new ways to conceive a child possible. After reviewing the various medical/surgical techniques for physical gender transition and the current ART options, we discuss how these new ways for persons to self-actualize and to experience parenthood can not only improve the condition of transgender persons but also introduce some elements of change in the habitual patterns of thinking especially in France. Finally, we discuss the ethical issues that accompany the arrival of these children and provide creative solutions to help society handle, accept, and support the advances made in this area. (shrink)
BackgroundInformed consent as stipulated in regulatory human research guidelines requires that a volunteer is well-informed about what will happen to them in a trial. However researchers are faced with a challenge of how to ensure that a volunteer agreeing to take part in a clinical trial is truly informed. We conducted a qualitative study among volunteers taking part in two HIV clinical trials in Uganda to find out how they defined informed consent and their perceptions of the trial procedures, study (...) information and interactions with the research team.MethodsBetween January and December 2012, 23 volunteers who had been in the two trials for over 6 months, consented to be interviewed about their experience in the trial three times over a period of nine months. They also took part in focus group discussions. Themes informed by study research questions and emerging findings were used for content analysis.ResultsVolunteers defined the informed consent process in terms of their individual welfare. Only two of the volunteers reported having referred during the trial to the participant information sheets given at the start of the trial. Volunteers remembered the information they had been given at the start of the trial on procedures that involved drawing blood and urine samples but not information about study design and randomisation. Volunteers said that they had understood the purpose of the trial. They said that signing a consent form showed that they had consented to take part in the trial but they also described it as being done to protect the researcher in case a volunteer later experienced side effects.ConclusionVolunteers pay more attention during the consent process to procedures requiring biological tests than to study design issues. Trust built between volunteers and the research team could enhance the successful conduct of clinical trials by allowing for informal discussions to identify and review volunteers’ perceptions. These results point to the need for researchers to view informed consent as a process rather than an event. (shrink)
It is shown that the many-dimensional modal logic K n , determined by products of n-many Kripke frames, is not finitely axiomatisable in the n-modal language, for any $n > 2$ . On the other hand, K n is determined by a class of frames satisfying a single first-order sentence.
Socrates says that everyone desires the good. Does he mean that people desire what appears to them to be good? Or does he mean that they desire what really is good? This article argues, with reference passages in the Meno and Gorgias, that these alternatives are less opposed than they seem: each identifies something Socrates takes to be a necessary but insufficient condition on desiring. If what we desire must both be and appear to us to be good, then people (...) desire a subset of the things they take themselves to desire, and a subset of the things that really are good. Pointing this out to people incites them to inquire about the good, since they will be motivated to discover which appearances are mistaken and which goods they have missed out on. This explains why Socrates so frequently asserts that everyone desires the good: it serves his protreptic purposes. (shrink)
Strengthening the abilities of smallholder farmers in developing countries, particularly women farmers, to produce for both home and the market is currently a development priority. In many contexts, ownership of assets is strongly gendered, reflecting existing gender norms and limiting women’s ability to invest in more profitable livelihood strategies such as market-oriented agriculture. Yet the intersection between women’s asset endowments and their ability to participate in and benefit from agricultural interventions receives minimal attention. This paper explores changes in gender relations (...) and women’s assets in four agricultural interventions that promoted high value agriculture with different degrees of market-orientation. Findings suggest that these dairy and horticulture projects can successfully involve women and increase production, income and the stock of household assets. In some cases, women were able to increase their control over production, income and assets; however in most cases men’s incomes increased more than women’s and the gender-asset gap did not decrease. Gender- and asset-based barriers to participation in projects as well as gender norms that limit women’s ability to accumulate and retain control over assets both contributed to the results. Comparing experiences across the four projects, especially where projects implemented adaptive measures to encourage gender-equitable outcomes, provides lessons for gender-responsive projects targeting existing and emerging value chains for high value products. Other targeted support to women farmers may also be needed to promote their acquisition of the physical assets required to expand production or enter other nodes of the value chain. (shrink)
An incidental extension of the central domain of argumentation theory with non-classical ways of constructing arguments seems to automatically raise a question that is otherwise rarely posed, namely whether or not it is useful to consider the sex of the arguer. This question is usually posed with regard to argumentation by women in particular. Do women rely more, or differently than men do on non-canonical modes of reasoning stemming from the realm of the emotional, physical and intuitive, instead of the (...) logical? One may simply refer this question to folk-linguistics. One may also take the question seriously, given the findings on women's linguistic behaviour, and for various other reasons that will be explained below.Section 1 sums up the most frequently quoted differences in language use between women and men. This is followed by a non-exhaustive, interdisciplinary review of studies on male/female differences in verbal and written argumentation.Section 2 discusses the role of language and texts in generating and maintaining ideas on gender. These gender messages not only influence the actual argumentation behaviour of women and men, but also the way such behaviour is valued.Section 3 subsequently shows that our ideas on rationality are gendered, and therefore also our ideas on the proper central domain of argumentation theory.Section 4 briefly reflects on why this kind of wrong question about the reasoning of women should sometimes be addressed seriously anyway. (shrink)
Hoffnung als einer Form der Kontingenzbewältigung kommt im menschlichen Existenzzusammenhang eine zentrale Funktion zu, weshalb sie in zahlreichen theoretischen und literarischen Texten verhandelt wird. Dennoch bildet eine wissenschaftliche Analyse des Hoffnungsdiskurses bislang ein Desiderat. Der vorliegende Band verfolgt ausgehend von diesem Befund eine doppelte Zielsetzung: In einer historischen Perspektivierung nimmt er zunächst eine Archäologie des Hoffnungsdiskurses vor, indem wesentliche kulturgeschichtliche Stationen von den mythischen Anfängen bis in die Spätmoderne nachgezeichnet und Traditionsstränge offengelegt werden. In systematischer Hinsicht erfolgt dann eine typologische (...) Annäherung an Verfahrensweisen mit der Hoffnung in Philosophie und Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts. Denn in der Spätmoderne mit ihren historischen Bedrohungen und Katastrophen findet eine paradigmatische Umwertung der Hoffnung statt. Bislang gültige Attribute wie Komplexitätsreduktion und Linearität werden verabschiedet. Stattdessen rückt nun vermehrt der ungewisse Prozess des Hoffens in den Fokus, der in absurden, dialektischen und paradoxen Denkmodellen seinen Ausdruck findet und eine sprachliche Annäherung an die unsichere Zukunft ermöglicht. (shrink)
Written by one of the most influential figures in post-World-War-II social thought, _A Theory of Modernity_ is a comprehensive analysis of the main dynamics of modernity, which discusses the technological, social and political elements of modernism.
From the point of view of reflected postmodernity, Ágnes Heller constructs her own discourse of aesthetics on the basis of György Lukács’s contribution. She locates aesthetics in her social philosophy, philosophy of history, and ethics, transforming aesthetics from a ‘Marxist Renaissance’ to a ‘post-Marxist’ position, and points out that the paradoxes of modern culture can be avoided by a personality that is autonomous and moral in action. The notion of the beautiful character in everyday life is a symbol of the (...) ideal type of society and of the good life in contrast to the God-forsaken world of modern dilemmas and the domination of the sublime in postmodernism. It is the expression of freedom and democracy in the contemporary age. Heller’s neo-humanist aesthetics is in essence the presentation of her cultural politics as a Great Republic. (shrink)