Scientists, humanists, and art lovers alike value art not just for its beauty, but also for its social and epistemic importance; that is, for its communicative nature, its capacity to increase one's self-knowledge and encourage personal growth, and its ability to challenge our schemas and preconceptions. However, empirical research tends to discount the importance of such social and epistemic outcomes of art engagement, instead focusing on individuals' preferences, judgments of beauty, pleasure, or other emotional appraisals as the primary outcomes of (...) art appreciation. Here, we argue that a systematic neuroscientific study of art appreciation must move beyond understanding aesthetics alone, and toward investigating the social importance of art appreciation. We make our argument for such a shift in focus first, by situating art appreciation as an active social practice. We follow by reviewing the available psychological and cognitive neuroscientific evidence that art appreciation cultivates socio-epistemic skills such as self- and other-understanding, and discuss philosophical frameworks which suggest a more comprehensive empirical investigation. Finally, we argue that focusing on the socio-epistemic values of art engagement highlights the important role art plays in our lives. Empirical research on art appreciation can thus be used to show that engagement with art has specific social and personal value, the cultivation of which is important to us as individuals, and as communities. (shrink)
Jonathan Lear in "Radical Hope" tackles the idea of cultural devastation, in the specific case of the Crow Indians. What do we mean by "annihilation" of a culture? The moral point of view that he imagines as he reconstructs the eve and aftermath of this annihilation is not second personal, of obligation, but first personal, in the collective and singular, as told by the Crows, with Lear as "analyst." "Radical Hope" is a study of representative character of a people—of virtue, (...) courage, resilience, and hope in the face of cultural collapse. The leading questions are shaped by ancient Greek ethics, but with a twist: On the brink of cultural death, what counts for us as good living and what is the nature of the virtues or excellences that constitute it? How might a leader, a phronimos, exemplify it? This puts it too narrowly. The questions, also, are Wittgensteinian: How does a nation go on, when the concepts and way of life it has lived by for centuries are no more? What does it mean to go on? What does it mean to stop when the marks of going on are no longer? (shrink)
Most traditional accounts of Aristotle's theory of ethical education neglect its cognitive aspects. This book asserts that, in Aristotle's view, excellence of character comprises both the sentiments and practical reason. Sherman focuses particularly on four aspects of practical reason as they relate to character: moral perception, choicemaking, collaboration, and the development of those capacities in moral education. Throughout the book, she is sensitive to contemporary moral debates, and indicates the extent to which Aristotle's account of practical reason provides an (...) alternative to theories of impartial reason. (shrink)
This book is the first to offer a detailed analysis of Aristotelian and Kantian ethics together, in a way that remains faithful to the texts and responsive to debates in contemporary ethics. Recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in the concept of virtue, and with it a reassessment of the role of virtue in the work of Aristotle and Kant. This book brings that re-assessment to a new level of sophistication. Nancy Sherman argues that Kant preserves (...) a notion of virtue in his moral theory that bears recognisable traces of the Aristotelian and Stoic traditions, and that his complex anthropology of morals brings him into surprising alliance with Aristotle. She develops her argument through close readings of major texts by both Aristotle and Kant, illustrating points of congruence and contrast. (shrink)
While few soldiers may have read the works of Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius, it is undoubtedly true that the ancient philosophy known as Stoicism guides the actions of many in the military. Soldiers and seamen learn early in their training "to suck it up," to endure, to put aside their feelings and to get on with the mission. Stoic Warriors is the first book to delve deeply into the ancient legacy of this relationship, exploring what the Stoic philosophy actually is, (...) the role it plays in the character of the military (both ancient and modern), and its powerful value as a philosophy of life. Marshalling anecdotes from military history--ranging from ancient Greek wars to World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq--Nancy Sherman illuminates the military mind and uses it as a window on the virtues of the Stoic philosophy, which are far richer and more interesting than our popularized notions. Sherman--a respected philosopher who taught at the US Naval Academy--explores the deep, lasting value that Stoicism can yield, in issues of military leadership and character; in the Stoic conception of anger and its control (does a warrior need anger to go to battle?); and in Stoic thinking about fear and resilience, grief and mourning, and the value of camaraderie and brotherhood. Sherman concludes by recommending a moderate Stoicism, where the task for the individual, both civilian and military, youth and adult, is to temper control with forgiveness, and warrior drive and achievement with humility and humor. Here then is a perceptive investigation of what makes Stoicism so compelling not only as a guiding principle for the military, but as a philosophy for anyone facing the hardships of life. (shrink)
Sherman presents a slightly revised definition of empathy, in which empathy is the cognitive ability to place oneself in the world of another, imagining all of the realities, feelings, and circumstances of that person in the context of their world.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with service women and men, Nancy Sherman weaves narrative with a philosophical and psychological analysis of the moral and emotional attitudes at the heart of the afterwars. Afterwar offers no easy answers for reintegration. It insists that we widen the scope of veteran outreach to engaged, one-on-one relationships with veterans.
Moral emotions are evolved mechanisms that function in part to optimize social relationships. We discuss two moral emotions— disgust and the “cuteness response”—which modulate social-engagement motives in opposite directions, changing the degree to which the eliciting entity is imbued with mental states (i.e., mentalized). Disgust-inducing entities are hypo-mentalized (i.e., dehumanized); cute entities are hyper-mentalized (i.e., “humanized”). This view of cuteness—which challenges the prevailing view that cuteness is a releaser of parental instincts (Lorenz, 1950/1971)—explains (a) the broad range of affiliative behaviors (...) elicited by cuteness, (b) the marketing of cuteness to children (by toy makers and animators) to elicit play, and (c) the apparent ease and frequency with which cute things are anthropomorphized. (shrink)
When epistemologists talk about knowledge, the discussions traditionally include only a small class of other epistemic notions: belief, justification, probability, truth. In this paper, we propose that epistemologists should include an additional epistemic notion into the mix, namely the notion of assuming or taking for granted.
John Hawthorne’s marvelous book contains a wealth of arguments and insights based on an impressive knowledge and understanding of contemporary discussion. We can address only a small aspect of the topic. In particular, we will offer our own answers to two questions about knowledge that he discusses.
Why can I not appropriately utter ‘It must be raining’ while standing outside in the rain, even though every world consistent with my knowledge is one in which it is raining? The common response to this problem is to hold that epistemic must, in addition to quantifying over epistemic possibilities, carries some additional evidential information concerning the source of one'S evidence. I argue that this is a mistake: epistemic modals are mere quantifiers over epistemic possibilities. My central claim is that (...) the seeming anomaly of the data above arises from a mistaken conception of what a possibility is. Instead of conceiving of possibilities as possible worlds, I argue that we should conceive of possibilities as answers to open questions. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker’s book Epistemic Injustice calls attention to an important sort of moral and intellectual wrongdoing, that of failing to give others their intellectual due. When we fail to recognize others’ knowledge, or undervalue their beliefs and judgments, we fail in two important respects. First, we miss out on the opportunity to improve and refine our own sets of beliefs and judgments. Second—and more relevant to the term “injustice”—we can deny people the intellectual respect they deserve. Along with describing the (...) wrong of epistemic injustice, Fricker proposes that epistemic justice is a virtue we “can, and should, aim for in practice”. But I argue that there are two major problems. First, it is not clear that it is reasonable to imagine there is any such stable disposition—that is, any such virtue—as the sort of justice she imagines. Second, even if there could be such a virtue, her theory of epistemic justice does not provide good guidance for avoiding epistemic injustice. While it could.. (shrink)
It is commonly held that the context with respect to which an indexical is interpreted is determined independently of the interpretation of the indexical. This view, which I call Context Realism, has explanatory significance: it is because the context is what it is that an indexical refers to what it does. In this paper, I provide an argument against Context Realism. I then develop an alternative that I call Context Constructivism, according to which indexicals are defined not in terms of (...) features of utterance situations, but rather in terms of roles that objects could play. (shrink)
IN THIS PAPER I CONSIDER THE VALUE OF FRIENDSHIP FROM AN ARISTOTELIAN POINT OF VIEW. THE ISSUE IS OF CURRENT INTEREST GIVEN RECENT CHALLENGES TO IMPARTIALIST ETHICS TO TAKE MORE SERIOUSLY THE COMMITMENTS AND ATTACHMENTS OF A PERSON. HOWEVER, I ENTER THAT DEBATE IN ONLY A RESTRICTED WAY BY STRENGTHENING THE CHALLENGE ARTICULATED IN ARISTOTLE'S SYSTEMATIC DEFENSE OF FRIENDSHIP AND THE SHARED LIFE. AFTER SOME INTRODUCTORY REMARKS, I BEGIN BY CONSIDERING ARISTOTLE'S NOTION THAT GOOD LIVING OR HAPPINESS ("EUDAIMONIA") FOR AN (...) INDIVIDUAL NECESSARILY INCLUDES THE HAPPINESS OF OTHERS. SHARED HAPPINESS ENTAILS THE RATIONAL CAPACITY FOR JOINTLY PROMOTING COMMON ENDS AS WELL AS THE CAPACITY TO IDENTIFY WITH AND COORDINATE SEPARATE ENDS. THIS EXTENDED NOTION OF HAPPINESS PRESUPPOSES THE EXTENSION OF SELF THROUGH ATTACHMENTS, AND I NEXT CONSIDER CERTAIN MINIMAL CONDITIONS NECESSARY FOR ATTACHMENT. FINALLY, I DISCUSS HOW ARISTOTLE'S NOTION OF A FRIEND AS "ANOTHER SELF" IS COMPATIBLE BOTH WITH A CONCEPTION OF THE SEPARATENESS OF THE INDIVIDUALS AND OF THE DISTINCTIVE WAYS IN WHICH EACH INDIVIDUAL REALIZES VIRTUE WITHIN A SHARED LIFE. (shrink)
The Equal Weight View holds that, when we discover we disagree with an epistemic peer, we should give our peer’s judgment as much weight as our own. But how should we respond when we cannot tell whether those who disagree with us are our epistemic peers? I argue for a position I will call the Earn-a-Spine View. According to this view, parties to a disagreement can remain confident, at least in some situations, by finding justifiable reasons to think their opponents (...) are less credible than themselves, even if those reasons are justifiable only because they lack information about their opponents. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the role of manners and morals. In particular, what is the connection between emotional demeanor and the inner stuff of virtue? Does the fact that we can pose faces and hide our inner sentiments, i.e., 'fake it,' detract from or add to our capacity for virtue? I argue, following a line from the Stoics, that it can add to our virtue and that, as a result, moral education needs to take seriously both a commitment to (...) good character and a commitment to the 'aesthetic' of character. (shrink)
Metasemantics presents new work on the philosophical foundations of linguistic semantics. Experts in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, and the theory of content provide new perspectives on old problems about linguistic meaning, pose questions that suggest novel research projects, and sharpen our understanding of linguistic representation.
My goal in this paper is to advance a long-standing debate about the nature of moral rights. The debate focuses on the questions: In virtue of what do persons possess moral rights? What could explain the fact that they possess moral rights? The predominant sides in this debate are the status theory and the instrumental theory. I aim to develop and defend a new instrumental theory. I take as my point of departure the influential view of Joseph Raz, which for (...) all its virtues is unable to meet the challenge to the instrumentalist that I will address: the problem of justifying the enforcement of rights. I then offer a new instrumental theory in which duties are grounded on individuals’ interests, and individuals rights exist in virtue of the duties owed to them. I argue that my theory enables the instrumentalist to give the right sort of justification for enforcing rights. (shrink)
When people disagree about what is moral, we face an epistemological challenge—when the answer to a moral question is not obvious, how do we determine who is right? What if, under the circumstances, we do not have the means to show one party or the other is right? In recent years, a number of epistemologists have turned their attention to the general epistemic problem of how to respond reasonably to disagreement, and we can look to their work for guidance. While (...) there remains significant disagreement about how to respond to disagreement, I will focus on what I take to be the best position in the debate, known as the “Conciliatory” position (or “Conciliation” for short), which holds that parties to a disagreement should become less confident of their initial opinions to some degree, according to the credibility of the parties involved. Conciliation, if interpreted straightforwardly, has some counter-intuitive implications for unpopular opinions, including unpopular moral judgments. If a moral non-conformist becomes somewhat less confident of her view in response to each disagreement with a presumed epistemic peer, she will eventually have such a low degree of confidence in her initial view that she will effectively have switched positions. This result is troubling because almost everyone accepts moral views that were non-conforming views at some point in time, and these views probably would not have become widespread if non-conformists had changed their positions. I propose a modified version of Conciliation which would enable moral non-conformists to engage in cautious “experiments in living.” This modified view, I argue, is reasonable for those who are concerned, not only with correcting their own mistaken moral views, but with promoting moral progress in general. (shrink)
This article introduces and discusses a series of problems which any adequate account of legitimate practical authority must be able to solve. I then argue that Joseph Raz's influential Service Conception of Authority is unable to solve them. I develop a new account of legitimate authority by integrating many of the important insights of the Service Conception into my own framework for understanding the nature of moral rights and duties. I argue that this account has the resources to solve these (...) problems. (shrink)
Sarah McGrath argues that, when it comes to our controversial moral views, we have no reason to think that we are less likely to be in error than those who disagree with us. I refer to this position as the Moral Peer View. Under pressure from Nathan King, McGrath admits that the MPV need not always have been true, though she maintains it is true now. Although King seems to think that there should be current counterexamples to the MPV, he (...) holds back from actually proposing any. I argue that those of us who favor marriage equality and gender equality are currently in a position to reject the MPV with regard to these issues, and I propose conditions under which people can reasonably take their moral beliefs to be epistemically advantaged. King and McGrath agree that opponents of slavery like William Wilberforce could reasonably believe that they enjoyed an epistemic advantage over proponents of slavery, and I suggest that proponents of marriage equality and gender equality might make similar claims. I propose that we can make additional claims to epistemic advantages if we believe that almost everyone who considers the matter admits that there are advantages, those who disagree with us would admit that there are advantages and we can give a plausible explanation as to why those who we think are epistemically disadvantaged have not noticed that they are disadvantaged. Finally, I argue that it is reasonable to think that our controversial beliefs are justified if we can find reasons to think that our opponents are mistaken, and do not see similar reasons to think ourselves mistaken. This is a better policy than supposing that we are just as prone to mistakes as our opponents, as the latter is both less defensible in theory, and more likely to stifle intellectual progress. (shrink)
We often hold people morally responsible for their emotions. We praise individuals for their compassion, think less of them for their ingratitude or hatred, reproach self-righteousness and unjust anger. In the cases I have in mind, the ascriptions of responsibility are not simply for offensive behaviors or actions which may accompany the emotions, but for the emotions themselves as motives or states of mind. We praise and blame people for what they feel and not just for how they act. In (...) cases where people may subtly mask their hatred or ingratitude through more kindly actions, we still may find fault with the attitude we see leaking through the disguise. (shrink)