Psychopathy fascinates. Modernist writers construct out of it an image of alienated individualism pursuing the moment, killing they know not why, exploiting in passing, troubled, if troubled at all, not by guilt, but by perplexity (Camus 1989; Gide 1995; Mailer 1957; Musil 1996). Psychiatrists and psychologists—even those who should know better—are drawn by it to take off into philosophical speculation about morality, evil, and the beast in man (Mullen 1992; Simon 1996). Philosophers succumb to the temptation of attempting to (...) ground speculation in the supposed facticity of psychopathy. -/- Psychopathy is a cultural construct with roots going back to the eighteenth century, but which only came to full flower over the last fifty years (Hare 1998; Lewis 1974). The currently fashionable constructions of psychopathy find wide acceptance among clinicians and academics. The problem is, however, whether the concept has connections that have been established to the behavior, psychopathology, or the structure and function of brain worthy of according even a modest level of scientific status. There is little point in basing an argument on some supposed scientific gold standard if what glitters is iron pyrites (fools' gold). -/- Neil Levy's opening paragraph contains the statement "Yet in other respects they seem quite irrational; so much so that the term moral insanity has sometimes been applied to them" (p. 129). This both asserts that there is a category "them," namely the psychopaths, and connects them to "moral insanity." Moral insanity entered the language of psychiatry when Pritchard chose to use the term to translate Pinel's category of mania sans deliré (Pritchard 1836). Pinel was attempting to conceptualize a range of disorders that bordered on insanity in the sense of severe disturbances of affect, judgment, and behavior, but that were not accompanied by hallucinations or delusions (Pinel 1798/1964). In today's terminology, the cases he described would probably fall into diagnostic groups, including major depression, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and a range of personality disorders. A number of his more striking case histories involved antisocial and even murderous behavior, which probably reflected Pinel's role in assessing offenders for the criminal courts of Paris. Pritchard's use of the English word "moral" reflected an appeal first to its use at the time to designate something which was like or similar, but not identical (a usage the OED labels "vulgar"), and second moral in the sense of ethical, conforming to virtuous behavior. Anglophones seized on the latter meaning, although Pinel emphasized the former. Forty years later, Henry Maudsley, the most widely read psychiatrist of his generation, could assert that moral insanity was as real as Colour blindness, some people being Colour blind and some moral blind (Maudsley 1879). Moral insanity became connected variously to phrenology with its own bump over the underlying moral cortex, with the twisted genetics of degeneration, with atavistic theories of criminality, and with a range of disorders of brain from epilepsy to frontal lobe damage (Combed 1853; Ellis 1890; Pick 1989). Although it is anachronistic to use the terms "psychopathy" and "moral insanity" together, it is clear they occupied a similar social and psychiatric space, albeit in different era. This should caution against too ready acceptance of psychopathy which may turn out to be as empty and dangerous a conceptualization as moral insanity. Why dangerous? Dangerous to those labeled, because the morally insane and the moral imbeciles were placed in preventive detention in asylums and prisons, and even sterilized in some jurisdictions. Dangerous to society, because it gave a spurious scientific justification for viewing crime not as reflecting the social evils of deprivation, ignorance, and inequality but as the ravages of the born criminals. -/- Psychopaths are not, as Levy asserts, "(causally) responsible for … more than fifty percent of violent crime" (p. 129). A proportion of violent offenders, which varies widely between observers, are labeled psychopaths. This is often on the basis of Hare's psychopathy checklist, which is a subjective, albeit through training aspiring to be reproducible, and to some extent self-sustaining, evaluation system (Hare 1980, 2003). Part of the checklist gathers data on prior antisocial behavior; part constrains the examiner to subjectively estimate such matters as glibness and callousness, part requires judgments about whether the... (shrink)
Beyond Subjectivity and Representation extensively explores a connection in the thinking of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty in relation to the interconnections among perception, creation, truth, and value in a way that allows the work of each author to shed light upon the others' ideas. Deborah Carter Mullen develops a non-dualistic notion of truth and value rooted in embodied, earthly existence, and considers them as ongoing happenings of metamorphosis rather than as static ideas. This idea of metamorphosis leads to an (...) understanding of the relationships among self, other, and world as temporal happenings of the flesh. In an intertwining relationship with one another, I and other, I and world, past, present, and future are considered occurrences of the moment that are redefined in each perception and in each expression, as each questions and responds to the other, creating a "mirror-play of flesh." Mullen proposes that reversibility and metamorphosis give rise to an aesthetic sense of truth and values that are not absolute, but truths that happen as they are expressed and values that occur as they are lived. (shrink)
The traditional view that having a personality disorder, unlike other mental disorders, is not usually reason enough to consider a person incompetent to make healthcare decisions is challenged. The example of a case in which a woman was treated for a physical disorder without her consent illustrates that personality disorder can render a person incompetent to refuse essential treatment, particularly because it can affect the doctor–patient relationship within which consent is given.
DAVID WARD, in his interesting essay, advances a number of propositions: -/- That moral (including evil) behavior must be governed by a principle. That the principles involved in evil actions are unconscious. That these unconscious evil principles may be the product of malignant narcissism. And somewhat tentatively, that evil is driven "independent of any conscious desires" and by implication the evil person may be stripped of moral responsibility for their behavior. -/- To begin with common ground: Those who act in (...) an evil manner, in my experience, do not usually acknowledge that they acted on an evil principle (nor do those who commit good acts, excepting the terminally self-righteous, usually explain their behavior in terms of adherence to principles). Among serious offenders, self-justification in terms of having no choice is more common or the hapless claim that "I don't know why I did that" or even "I can't believe I did that" (which all too often becomes "I can't remember doing that" for as Nietzche (1886) wrote "I have done that—says my memory. I could not have done that—says my pride and remains inexorable. Eventually memory gives in"). Those who do appeal to principle to justify their evil actions almost inevitably cite value systems that have considerable, if not universal, acceptance. I have encountered men who proudly declared their killings to be part of the pursuit of righteous aims, such as protecting children from pedophiles, stopping the killing of the unborn child, reducing AIDS, and cleansing their city of vice. Interestingly the combination of dreadful, and in many cases repeated, violence with self-righteous superiority often attracts from fellow prisoners and prison staff a label of evil. (shrink)
This study was a preliminary exploration of the value changes taking place in the United States since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, which was a significant emotional event or cultural upheaval. Rokeach told us that "a person's total value system may undergo change as a result of socialization, therapy, or cultural upheaval..." (Rokeach, The Nature of Human Values, 1973, p. 37). The researchers explored the value changes of 500 aviation industry employees (...) before the attack and 500 after the attack. The statistically significant research results showed a total of twenty-seven of thirty-six values changed. Before the attack respondents valued much higher self-esteem and self-actualization values like A Sense of Accomplishment and Self-Respect. After the attack respondents placed a much higher value importance on survival, safety and security values like A World at Peace, Freedom, Family Security, National Security, Mature Love, Salvation, and True Friendship. (shrink)
Determining the degree to which persistent human behaviors and traits are the result of genetics or environment is important for a host of theoretical reasons in psychology. This article asks whether the results of such determinations are relevant to the practical tasks of individual change as attempted, for example, through therapy, parenting techniques, or self-transformation. Examples from the psychological literature on happiness or "subjective well-being" illustrate the common idea that a trait being largely genetic implies that it is more difficult (...) to modify than one that is largely environmental. The most widely known theoretical approach to disentangling genetic from environmental effects in humans is behavioral genetics, with its central concept of heritability (h2). This article argues that measures of h2 do not predict the ease or difficulty of modifying behaviors or traits of individuals. A concept different from h2, that of innateness, is explicated, but it, too, is found not to be a useful predictor of individual modifiability. The general conclusion is that knowing only the degree to which a human characteristic results from nature or nurture has no implications for the ease or difficulty of altering that trait. (shrink)
Christian responses to the developing field of evolutionary psychology tend to be defensive, focusing on the task of showing that Christians have not beenpresented with any reason to abandon any central beliefs of the Christian faith. A more positive response would seek to show that evolutionary psychologycan provide some sort of epistemic support for one or more distinctively Christian doctrines. This paper is an attempt to supply such a response by focusing on the distinctively Christian doctrine of original sin, which (...) presents itself as an especially likely candidate for support from evolutionary psychology. I consider five versions of the doctrine in order of increasing content, arguing that all but the last can receive such support. However, in order to argue for the fourth version (which includes the doctrine traditionally described as “original guilt”), I enlist the aid of a Molinist understanding of divine providence. A consequence of this application of Molinism is that God holds us morally accountable, not only for what we actually do, but also for what we would do in any non-actual conditions, and that He acts on His knowledge of what we would do in such conditions. Because many may find this consequence problematic, I also argue that it is both morally acceptableand necessary for the perfection of the relationship between God and human beings. The last version of original sin that I consider insists that it must be thecausal product of the first sin of the first human being(s), but I argue that this is not a reasonable alternative if original sin is to be equated with behavioraltendencies inherited from an evolutionary ancestry. (shrink)
Legal codes, such as the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) examined in this article, are good points of entry for AI and ontology work because of their more straightforward adaptability to relationship linking and rules-based encoding. However, approaches relying on encoding solely on formal code structure are incomplete, missing the rich experience of practitioner expertise that identifies key relationships and decision criteria often supplied by experienced practitioners and process experts from various disciplines (e.g., sociology, political economics, logistics, operations research). This research (...) focuses on the UCC because it transcends the limitations of a formal code, functioning essentially as a composite. AI work can benefit from real-world codes like the UCC, which are essentially formal codes enlightened from a more realistic experience-base from centuries of development in international commercial transactions settings. This paper then describes our initial work in converting an expert system on the U.S. law governing the sale of goods from Article II of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), into a knowledge-based system using the Web Ontology Language OWL. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that there is some sort of tacit ’inference’ involved when we form the belief that intentional activity on the part of some (perhaps unidentified) person is causally relevant to the occurrence of some event. Against this "inferential model" of design belief formation I argue that in many ordinary cases we do not ’infer’ design beliefs at all, but that they form spontaneously and ’properly’ whenever certain conditions are met. This alternative model has a respectable historical precedent, (...) better matches our introspective judgments about design beliefs, and helps resolve a puzzling objection to the standard "fine-tuning" argument. (shrink)
Psychopathology has two styles. On the one hand, a tradition of phenomenological inquiry, associated in particular with the work of Karl Jaspers, that may be considered as the continental way of approaching psychopathology. On the other hand, an empirical approach more associated with the English-speaking world, which emphasizes the need for objectivity of measurement, and is as close as psychiatry gets to dustbowl empiricism. Stanghellini’s book, Disembodied Spirits and Deanimated Bodies (2004), is undoubtedly in the first tradition. It is part (...) of the growing International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry series, the success of which suggests some recognition that much of importance in .. (shrink)
In her early work on Modernist poetry and avant-garde poetics, Julia Kristeva proposed a bifurcated view of the poetic text as simultaneously constituted by both a “genotext” and a “phenotext.” Reading the “genotext” of any given poem might start by “pointing out the transfers of drive energy that can be detected in phonematic devices and melodic devices ”; and, in her words, it would also need to take into consideration “the way semantic and categorial fields are set out in syntactic (...) and logical features.” This essay seeks to demonstrate how Harryette Mullen’s Muse & Drudge might be analyzed at the level of its genotext, taking as its primary example the first of the book’s eighty poems to illustrate how a straightforwardly genotextual analysis might proceed. The essay contends that, by closely observing the genotext of Mullen’s poetry in Muse & Drudge, one may eventually arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of the “polyvocal” and “polymorphous” nature of the language and poetic design of the poems in this enigmatic collection. (shrink)
Philosophy of Science is a mid-level text for students with some grounding in philosophy. It introduces the questions that drive enquiry in the philosophy of science, and aims to educate readers in the main positions, problems and arguments in the field today. Alex Rosenberg is certainly well qualified to write such an introduction. His works cover a large area of the philosophy of natural and social sciences. In addition, the author of the argument that the ‘queen of the social (...) sciences’, economics, is not a science at all, can be counted on to show how the philosophy of science can be relevant to the understanding of the status of scientific knowledge and can provide a critical assessment of practitioners’ view of their field. (shrink)
Origens : Alex Atala, Fernando e Humberto Campana -- Presente : Fernando e Humberto Campana e Jum Nakao -- Intermezzo : convívio : Jam Nakao e colaboradores -- Destinos : Alex Atala e Jum Nakao -- Entrevistas -- Um pouco de história.
A common objection to moral enhancement is that it would undermine our moral freedom and that this is a bad thing because moral freedom is a great good. Michael Hauskeller has defended this view on a couple of occasions using an arresting thought experiment called the 'Little Alex' problem. In this paper, I reconstruct the argument Hauskeller derives from this thought experiment and subject it to critical scrutiny. I claim that the argument ultimately fails because (a) it assumes that (...) moral freedom is an intrinsic good when, in fact, it is more likely to be an axiological catalyst; and (b) there are reasons to think that moral enhancement does not undermine moral freedom. (shrink)
In his essay ‘Transparency, Belief, Intention’, Alex Byrne (2011) argues that transparency—our ability to form beliefs about some of our intentional mental states by considering their subject matter, rather than on the basis of special psychological evidence—involves inferring ‘from world to mind’. In this reply I argue that this cannot be correct. I articulate an intuitive necessary condition for a pattern of belief to count as a rule of inference, and I show that the pattern involved in transparency does (...) not meet that condition. As a result, I conclude that transparency does not involve inference. (shrink)
In “Prediction, Understanding, and Medicine,” Alex Broadbent rejects the curative thesis, the view that the core medical competence is to cure, in favor of his predictive thesis that the main intellectual medical competence is to explain and the main practical medical competence is to predict. Broadbent thinks his account explains the phenomenon of multiple consultation, which is the fact that people persist in consulting alternative medical traditions despite having access to mainstream medicine. I argue that Broadbent’s explanation of multiple (...) consultation makes sense only from the perspective of patients who migrate from mainstream to alternative consultation. His explanation is not as convincing when we consider alternative-to-mainstream migration. I also provide an argument against Broadbent’s view that prediction is medicine’s main practical competence and argue that, when it comes to explaining most cases of multiple consultation, the curative thesis provides a more convincing explanation than the predictive thesis. (shrink)
Using an economic bargaining game, we tested for the existence of two phenomena related to social norms, namely norm manipulation – the selection of an interpretation of the norm that best suits an individual – and norm evasion – the deliberate, private violation of a social norm. We found that the manipulation of a norm of fairness was characterized by a self-serving bias in beliefs about what constituted normatively acceptable behaviour, so that an individual who made an uneven bargaining offer (...) not only genuinely believed it was fair, but also believed that recipients found it fair, even though recipients of the offer considered it to be unfair. In contrast, norm evasion operated as a highly explicit process. When they could do so without the recipient's knowledge, individuals made uneven offers despite knowing that their behaviour was unfair. (shrink)
El presente trabajo de Alex Ibarra Peña recoge los resultados de una investigación cuyo tema es la constitución de un campo de estudios ligado a la filosofía analítica en Chile. El autor se propone una tarea informativa y crítica en la que cifra la novedad de su propuesta. En otros términos, la suya es una labor de rescate, de algunos filósofos y corrientes de pensamiento relegados en las narraciones hegemónicas de la institucionalización de la filosofía en Chile y una (...) tarea que busca corregir el papel asignado a Chile en las visiones panorámicas de mayor circulación sobre la emergencia de la filosofía analítica en nuestro continente. En el cruce de estos dos vectores radica la novedad de la empresa de Ibarra Peña: proponer una visión más ajustada de la recepción de los filósofos analíticos en Chile. En nuestra reseña comentamos los núcleos centrales del trabajo y proponemos algunas hiótesis sobre los conflictos internos al campo cultural que subyacen a las opciones realizadas por el autor. Para finalizar indicamos lo que nos parece ser una falencia del trabajo: un estudio de la constitución de la filosofía analística como campo de estudios no debería dejar de tener en cuenta que el énfasis en la delimitación de la cientificidad por la filosofía analítica tenía en los años 60 y 70 adversarios concretos en el marxismo y el psicoanálisis. (shrink)
Alex Mesoudi’s book shows cultural evolution to be a mature field, which has already illuminated many instances of cultural change. Mesoudi’s presentation of the discipline nonetheless invites three objections. First, the culture concept it makes use of is not clearly defined; second, Mesoudi’s historical argument which looks back to the modern synthesis in order to predict an analogous synthesis in the social sciences is flawed; third, Mesoudi’s understanding of the positions held by leading figures within social science is shaky.
Alex Gourevitch’s From Slavery to the Cooperative Commonwealth is a valuable contribution to republican historiography: in reconstructing the ideas of the 19th century American labour republicans, this work significantly expands and enriches our appreciation of the classical republican tradition. While the labour republicans are convincingly shown to have made important contributions to that tradition, stronger claims that they fundamentally transformed republicanism are less persuasive.
Alex Zamalin's Black Utopia: The History of an Idea from Black Nationalism to Afrofuturism offers the most thorough scholarly survey of African American utopian literature currently available. The scope of the project is ambitious—the book's chapters proceed chronologically from the genre's utopian beginnings in Martin Delany's Blake; Or, the Huts of America, through the anti-utopian turn of the twentieth century found in texts such as George Schuyler's Black Empire, and concluding with the ambiguous utopias and heterotopias of Octavia Butler (...) and Samuel Delany. Unlike recent scholarship on black speculative fiction (andré m. carrington, Sandra Jackson... (shrink)
Reply to Alex Byrne and Fred Dretske Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9814-2 Authors Christopher S. Hill, Department of Philosophy, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
In her newest book, Alex Sharpe makes a persuasive case against the bringing of sexual offence prosecutions on the basis of “gender identity fraud”. Adopting a perspective in which queer and gender non-conforming identities are acknowledged and centred rather than doubted and dissected, Sharpe aims to destabilise the conceptual foundations upon which such prosecutions depend. In this review I place Sharpe’s contribution in its legal context, and offer an overview of her argument along with some reservations.
Alex Broadbent’s Philosophy of Epidemiology is the latest volume in Palgrave Macmillan’s New Directions in the Philosophy of Science series. Other monographs in the series focus on mathematics, biology, astronomy, et al.—the usual topics of discourse when philosophers engage science. The present volume is a welcome addition not just to the series but also for the field of epidemiology. As Broadbent notes, “Although a few philosophers have studied epidemiology, there have been no philosophical studies of epidemiology” . There is (...) one now.As noted in the book’s foreword, the core theme of Philosophy of Epidemiology “has to do with the nature and role of explanation and prediction in epidemiological analyses” . These are practical matters which are familiar to epidemiologists, but being largely mechanical in nature, “this explains why philosophers of science have neglected epidemiology” .Broadbent is a young philosopher, trained at Cam .. (shrink)
Analyzing two harm reduction comics campaigns—one early in the AIDS crisis and one more recent, I explore tensions between queer safer sexual erotics and national discourses of sexual norms/deviation raised by Cindy Patton and William Haver at the height of AIDS discourse theory in 1996, approximately halfway between the comics. Using these theorists’ reflections on the history of AIDS activism/representation as a hinge, I explore the manifestation/transformation a decade later of the ethical, educational, and erotic issues they raise. Both foreground (...) the ways that HIV, safer sex, and/or eroticism pose difficulties for systems of linguistic and visual representation. Combining text and image, comics—a common harm reduction medium—epitomize this representational issue. While the GMHC addresses an immediate need for information about safer sex, Alex attempts to tackle the unrepresentability/unthinkability of safer and/or seropositive sex. Safer Sex Comix, while largely prioritizing directness above formal experimentation, employ strategies of transgressing the borders of the comics panel to emphasize a plethora of lower-risk sexual acts. The most visually inventive moments in Alex represent Alex’s feelings of unintelligbility post-diagnosis, but the comic restricts its representation of sex only to anal intercourse, and it proves unable to visualize alternative formulations of the erotic, turning to more normative narratives and images as earlier, visually explicit unsafe sexual encounters are replaced with more a/illusive representations post-conversion, literalizing the unrepresentability of seropositive erotic life. (shrink)
The fiction of Australian novelist Alex Miller has long been exploring the dynamics of friendship, but in Landscape of Farewell (2007) he provides the most ambitious, and in my view the most comprehensive and perceptive, treatment of the subject of any contemporary novel, Australian or otherwise. This essay explores this profound view of friendship, which goes quite beyond mateship, and examines the ways in which Miller represents and embodies that vision in fiction. Through its brilliant handling of the complexities (...) of tone and its rich deployment of the dynamics of gift exchange, Landscape of Farewell confronts the stark realities of suffering and death and finds within the darkness itself the deepest sources of light. (shrink)
This paper argues that the utterances made by the renowned talking parrot, Alex, were not only meaningful and sincere, they counted as a language. Three arguments are considered in favor of this claim: 1) Alex demonstrated the capacity for recursion, 2) Alex satised the Davidsonian requirements for a talking entity to have language, and 3) Alex satised the Searlean requirements for making speech acts. The paper concludes that the pieces of human language that Alex most (...) readily acquired and those pieces that he lacked might point out a kind of evolutionary path by which our ancestors acquired the language that we now speak. (shrink)