This book presents a comprehensive overview of what the criminal law would look like if organised around the principle that those who deserve punishment should receive punishment commensurate with, but no greater than, that which they deserve. Larry Alexander and Kimberly Kessler Ferzan argue that desert is a function of the actor's culpability, and that culpability is a function of the risks of harm to protected interests that the actor believes he is imposing and his reasons for acting in (...) the face of those risks. The authors deny that resultant harms, as well as unperceived risks, affect the actor's desert. They thus reject punishment for inadvertent negligence as well as for intentions or preparatory acts that are not risky. Alexander and Ferzan discuss the reasons for imposing risks that negate or mitigate culpability, the individuation of crimes, and omissions. (shrink)
In this paper I ask how educational researchers can believe the subjective perceptions of qualitative participant-observers given the concern for objectivity and generalisability of experimental research in the behavioural and social sciences. I critique the most common answer to this question within the educational research community, which posits the existence of two (or more) equally legitimate epistemological paradigms—positivism and constructivism—and offer an alternative that places a priority in educational research on understanding the purposes and meanings humans attribute to educational practices. (...) Only within the context of what I call a transcendent view from somewhere—higher ideals that govern human activities—can we make sense of quantitative as well as qualitative research findings. (shrink)
Sender–receiver games, first introduced by David Lewis (), have received increased attention in recent years as a formal model for the emergence of communication. Skyrms () showed that simple models of reinforcement learning often succeed in forming efficient, albeit not necessarily minimal, signalling systems for a large family of games. Later, Alexander et al. () showed that reinforcement learning, combined with forgetting, frequently produced both efficient and minimal signalling systems. In this article, I define a ‘dynamic’ sender–receiver game in (...) which the state–action pairs are not held constant over time and show that neither of these two models of learning learn to signal in this environment. However, a model of reinforcement learning with discounting of the past does learn to signal; it also gives rise to the phenomenon of linguistic drift. 1 Introduction2 Dynamic Signalling Games with Reinforcement Learning2.1 Introducing new states2.2 Swapping state–action pairs3 Discounting the Past3.1 Learning to signal in a dynamic world3.2 An unexpected outcome: linguistic drift4 ConclusionAppendix: A Markov Chain Analysis. (shrink)
Iconoclasts? Who, Us? A Reply to Dolinko Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11572-012-9143-3 Authors Larry Alexander, San Diego, CA, USA Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Camden, NJ, USA Journal Criminal Law and Philosophy Online ISSN 1871-9805 Print ISSN 1871-9791.
ABSTRACTIn this essay I agree with Nicholas Burbules that ‘Phronesis’ is an ethical and political category that grounds the possibility of intercultural communication in translation from one particular context to another rather than in the presumption of one or another account of universalism. After a brief review of the development of this idea in key milestones of Western philosophy, I argue that it requires an education in dialogue across difference that can foster hope for peaceful coexistence among diverse traditions and (...) perspectives in diverse democratic societies. (shrink)
In this provocative book, Alexander offers a sceptical appraisal of the claim that freedom of expression is a human right. He examines the various contexts in which a right to freedom of expression might be asserted and concludes that such a right cannot be supported in any of these contexts. He argues that some legal protection of freedom of expression is surely valuable, though the form such protection will take will vary with historical and cultural circumstances and is not (...) a matter of human right. Written in a clear and accessible style, this book will appeal to students and professionals in political philosophy, law, political science, and human rights. (shrink)
Bioethical Proposals to Face Social and Ethical Problems Generated by Neglected Infectious Diseases Propostas bioéticas ante os problemas sociais e éticos que geram as doenças infecciosas desatendidas This review article appointed to the topic of Neglected Tropical Diseases, a group of 18 disabling pathologies, which are sometimes fatal, and often deforming, that prevail in the populations of Asia, Africa and the tropical areas of South America. We presented, categorized, and analyzed, through a bibliographical review, the elements that relate to these (...) diseases from the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights, 2005, in terms of equality, justice and equity, the non-discrimination and stigmatization, social responsibility and health approach. Throughout the review, we concluded that the problem around NTDs is multifactorial and we propose solutions to mitigate and to attend the NTDs, from a perspective of focused bioethics around the dignity of the human person and the affected population. We proposed including bioethics in the debate about the care of the NTDs to analyze the problems and examine solutions through transdisciplinary research projects that involve collaborative and formative work among the affected communities, government entities, health professionals and veterinary sciences. Para citar este artículo / To reference this article / Para citar este artigo Sáenz V, Mazzanti di Ruggiero MA. Propuestas bioéticas frente a los problemas sociales y éticos que generan las enfermedades infecciosas desatendidas. Pers Bioet. 2019; 23: 84-110. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5294/pebi.2019.23.1.6 Recepción: 27/09/2018 Aceptación: 06/02/2019. (shrink)
In _A Common Faith,_ eminent American philosopher John Dewey calls for the “emancipation of the true religious quality” from the heritage of dogmatism and supernaturalism that he believes characterizes historical religions. He describes how the depth of religious experience and the creative role of faith in the resources of experience to generate meaning and value can be cultivated without making cognitive claims that compete with or contend with scientific ones. In a new introduction, Dewey scholar Thomas M. Alexander contextualizes (...) the text for students and scholars by providing an overview of Dewey and his philosophy, key concepts in _A Common Faith,_ and reactions to the text. (shrink)
In this short essay I respond to Kevin Gary’s generous review of my book Reclaiming Goodness by considering his two main concerns, that I tend to conflate spirituality and morality and that I am not sufficiently sensitive to tensions between spirituality and critical thinking. I respond by noting that Gary has not taken adequate account of the distinction between deontological morality and aretaic ethics in the first instance and between the Aristotelian notions of Sophia and Phronesis, or pure reason and (...) practical wisdom, in the second. (shrink)
Do we live in a computer simulation? I will present an argument that the results of a certain experiment constitute empirical evidence that we do not live in, at least, one type of simulation. The type of simulation ruled out is very specific. Perhaps that is the price one must pay to make any kind of Popperian progress.
The statue and the lump of clay that constitutes it fail to share all of their kind and modal properties. Therefore, by Leibniz’s Law, the statue is not the lump. Question: What grounds the kind and modal differences between the statue and the lump? In virtue of what is it that the lump of clay, but not the statue, can survive being smashed? This is the grounding problem. Now a number of solutions to the grounding problem require that we substantially (...) revise our view of reality. In this paper, I provide a solution to this problem that does not require such a revision. I then show how my solution to the grounding problem can solve a related problem and answer a related question. The upshot is that the solution I offer is not only non-revisionary, but also fruitful. (shrink)
The question of whether humans represent grammatical knowledge as a binary condition on membership in a set of well-formed sentences, or as a probabilistic property has been the subject of debate among linguists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists for many decades. Acceptability judgments present a serious problem for both classical binary and probabilistic theories of grammaticality. These judgements are gradient in nature, and so cannot be directly accommodated in a binary formal grammar. However, it is also not possible to simply reduce (...) acceptability to probability. The acceptability of a sentence is not the same as the likelihood of its occurrence, which is, in part, determined by factors like sentence length and lexical frequency. In this paper, we present the results of a set of large-scale experiments using crowd-sourced acceptability judgments that demonstrate gradience to be a pervasive feature in acceptability judgments. We then show how one can predict acceptability judgments on the basis of probability by augmenting probabilistic language models with an acceptability measure. This is a function that normalizes probability values to eliminate the confounding factors of length and lexical frequency. We describe a sequence of modeling experiments with unsupervised language models drawn from state-of-the-art machine learning methods in natural language processing. Several of these models achieve very encouraging levels of accuracy in the acceptability prediction task, as measured by the correlation between the acceptability measure scores and mean human acceptability values. We consider the relevance of these results to the debate on the nature of grammatical competence, and we argue that they support the view that linguistic knowledge can be intrinsically probabilistic. (shrink)
. Moral systems are described as systems of indirect reciprocity, existing because of histories of conflicts of interest and arising as outcomes of the complexity of social interactions in groups of long‐lived individuals with varying conflicts and confluences of interest and indefinitely iterated social interactions. Although morality is commonly defined as involving justice for all people, or consistency in the social treatment of all humans, it may have arisen for immoral reasons, as a force leading to cohesiveness within human groups (...) but specifically excluding and directed against other human groups with different interests. (shrink)
El Foro Global de Bioética en Investigación (GFBR por sus siglas en inglés) se reunió el 3 y 4 de noviembre en Buenos Aires, Argentina, con el objetivo de discutir la ética de la investigación con mujeres embarazadas. El GFBR es una plataforma mundial que congrega a actores clave con el objetivo de promover la investigación realizada de manera ética, fortalecer la ética de la investigación en salud, particularmente en países de ingresos bajos y medios, y promover colaboración entre países (...) del norte y del sur.a Los participantes en el GFBR provenientes de Latinoamérica incluyeron a eticistas, investigadores, miembros de comités de ética y representantes de autoridades sanitarias provenientes de Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panamá, Perú, Nicaragua y la República Dominicana. Una legítima preocupación por la protección de las mujeres embarazadas y sus embriones o fetos ha llevado a la mayoría de los países de la Región de las Américas a limitar la realización de estudios con mujeres embarazadas exclusivamente a aquellos estudios específicos sobre el embarazo, y a requerir la exclusión sistemática de las mujeres embarazadas o de las mujeres que quedan embarazadas en el curso del estudio. Ciertamente, a lo largo de la historia de la ética de la investigación, se ha creído erróneamente que proteger a una población es sinónimo de excluirla de los estudios. Se sabe ahora que proceder así implica exponer a riesgos mucho mayores a la población que se busca proteger. El embarazo implica cambios fisiológicos sustantivos e impacta profundamente la manera como el cuerpo metaboliza los medicamentos. Sin embargo, por evitar hacer investigación con mujeres embarazadas, no se ha producido la evidencia científica necesaria para tomar decisiones sobre tratamientos e intervenciones preventivas con dosis eficaces y seguras para ellas y sus embriones o fetos. A manera de ilustración, en el 2001 había en los Estados Unidos apenas más de una docena de medicamentos aprobados para uso en el embarazo (1) y en el 2011 la Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aprobó por primera vez en 15 años un medicamento para su uso en el embarazo (2). Como consecuencia de no haber producido la evidencia necesaria, se pone en riesgo la salud de las mujeres embarazadas cada vez que se les da atención médica. Las mujeres embarazadas se enferman y las mujeres enfermas se embarazan, y no se sabe si los medicamentos que se les da son eficaces o siquiera seguros para ellas y sus embriones o fetos. (shrink)
In ‘Parental Virtues: A New Way of Thinking about the Morality of Reproductive Actions’ Rosalind McDougall proposes a virtue-based framework to assess the morality of child selection. Applying the virtue-based account to the selection of children with impairments does not lead, according to McDougall, to an unequivocal answer to the morality of selecting impaired children. In ‘Impairment, Flourishing, and the Moral Nature of Parenthood,’ she also applies the virtue-based account to the discussion of child selection, and claims that couples with (...) an impairment are morally justified in selecting a child with the same impairment. This claim, she maintains, reveals that the flourishing of a child should be understood as requiring environment-specific characteristics. I argue that McDougall's argument begs the question. More importantly, it does not do justice to virtue ethics. I also question to what extent a virtue ethics framework can be successfully applied to discussions about the moral permissibility of reproductive actions. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1 - 28 We still lack a systematic or complete theory of tradition. By referring to the works of many major figures of the last century – Arendt, Boyer, Eisenstadt, Eliot, Gadamer, Goody, Hobsbawm, Kermode, Leavis, MacIntyre, Oakeshott, Pieper, Pocock, Popper, Prickett, Shils and others – I show that a theory of tradition must include insights taken not only from the study of sociology and anthropology, but also from the study of literature and (...) religion. The proliferation of separate academic subjects does not make it any less necessary for us to attempt to say in general what we are talking about when we talk about tradition. In this article I distinguish three elements which are found in traditions. I call these continuity, canon, and core. The argument is that traditions can be distinguished in terms of whether there is a core in addition to canon and continuity, a canon in addition to continuity, or only mere continuity. Together these form a theory of tradition which enables us to see what is necessary to all traditions and also what it is which distinguishes different types of tradition from each other. (shrink)
Here is a sketch of a genealogy of political theory for the last century. This is a genealogy in Nietzsche’s sense: therefore, neither unhistorical taxonomy, nor a history of political theory as it is written by historians, but a typology in time. Four types of modern political theory are distinguished. These are called, with some justification, positive, normative, third way and sceptical political theory. Seen from the vantage of the twenty-first century, they form an instructive sequence, emerging as a series (...) of reactions to the canonical political theory that was established in the universities in the late nineteenth century. None of the four should be excluded from our conception of what political theory has been, though most of them, when seen genealogically, reveal their defects more clearly than they do when treated purely theoretically. Since this is a sceptical finding, the genealogy is a polemic against the first three types of modern political theory in favour of the last. (shrink)
Legal and social norms regarding gender relations have undergone dramatic changes in the past 25 years. The changes have come about largely because of the confluence of changing economic and technological realities, the unfolding of the norm dictating equal treatment of individuals, the sexual revolution and its corollaries of improved contraception and legal abortion, the rise of women as a self-conscious group and a presence in the academy, and the interrelations of all of these factors. As men and women have (...) come to share dormitories and workplaces, and as the old mores governing sex—and male-female relations in general—have broken down, there has been struggle and uncertainty over what norms should apply to sexual relations. (shrink)
???Everyone agrees that the moral features of things supervene on their natural features??? , 22). Everyone is wrong, or so I will argue. In the first section, I explain the version of moral supervenience that Smith and others argue everyone should accept. In the second section, I argue that the mere conceptual possibility of a divine command theory of morality is sufficient to refute the version of moral supervenience under consideration. Lastly, I consider and respond to two objections, showing, among (...) other things, that while DCT is sufficient to refute this version of moral supervenience it is not necessary. (shrink)
My contribution to this symposium is short and negative: There are no theoretical problems that attach to one’s causing the conditions that permit him to claim a defense to some otherwise criminal act. If one assesses the culpability of an actor at each of the various times he acts in a course of conduct, then it is obvious that he can be nonculpable at T2 but culpable at T1, and that a nonculpable act at T2 has no bearing on whether (...) an actor was culpable at T1 when he caused the circumstances that are exculpatory with respect to his act (or conduct) at T2. Moreover, as I interpret the Model Penal Code, it gets matters close to right on this point. (shrink)
"Philosophy and Civilization" is one of Dewey's most important—and most neglected—essays. It is unsettling to anyone who wants to think of Dewey primarily as a "pragmatist." Dewey says the aim of philosophy should be to deal with the meaning of culture and not "inquiry" or "truth": "Meaning is wider in scope as well as more precious in value than is truth and philosophy is occupied with meaning rather than with truth" (LW 3:4).1 Truths are one kind of meaning, but they (...) are only an "island" lying in "the ocean of meanings to which truth and falsity are irrelevant. We do not inquire whether Greek civilization was true or false, but we are immensely concerned to penetrate its meaning," he adds, and continues, "In .. (shrink)
One of three basic types of desire, claims Aristotle, is thumos (‘spirit,’ ‘passion,’ ‘heart,’ ‘anger,’ ‘impulse’). The other two are epithumia (‘appetite’) and boulêsis (‘wish,’ ‘rational desire’). Yet, he never gives us an account of thumos; it has also received relatively little scholarly attention. I argue that thumos has two key features. First, it is able to cognize what I call ‘social value,’ the agent’s own perceived standing relative to others in a certain domain. In human animals, shame and honor (...) are especially important manifestations of social value. Second, thumos provides non-rational motivation to pursue what affirms the agent’s social value and avoid what denies it. Interpretations that hold thumos just is anger, or that its object is the fine (kalon), I argue, are mistaken. My account also explains the role of thumos in moral education. In a virtuous agent thumos will be affectively attuned to the correct social rankings; it will take the practically wise, the lovers of the fine, or moral exemplars, as authorities. (shrink)
We present several new studies focusing on “salience effects”—the decreased tendency to attribute knowledge to someone when an unrealized possibility of error has been made salient in a given conversational context. These studies suggest a complicated picture of epistemic universalism: there may be structural universals, universal epistemic parameters that influence epistemic intuitions, but that these parameters vary in such a way that epistemic intuitions, in either their strength or propositional content, can display patterns of genuine cross-cultural diversity.
In his book Attention, Professor Alan White says ‘When you see X, it follows that if X is Y, you see Y whether you realise it or not.’ If, in passing through Paris, I saw a tall complex iron structure and that structure is the Eiffel Tower, then I saw the Eiffel Tower whether I realised it or not. I accept this, but because recent philosophical writings and discussions have cast doubt on the validity of the inference-pattern I saw x (...) ; x is y ; so I saw y and certain related patterns, it is clear that we cannot be content with this unvarnished statement. Various entertaining examples are produced to show that some instances of this pattern are invalid and therefore that the pattern itself is invalid. If I saw Jones at noon and at noon Jones was bribing Smith then, it is alleged, I cannot conclude that I saw Jones bribing Smith. Similarly, it is said, from the facts that I saw a man in the far distance and that that man was my father, I cannot conclude that I saw my father in the far distance; from the facts that I saw a foot and that that foot was Lloyd George's I cannot conclude that I saw Lloyd George. (shrink)
In Law's Empire Dworkin remains committed to carving out a middleground between natural law and legal positivism. But natural law andlegal positivism are best viewed as complementary answers to differ-ent questions, There is no middle ground between them. Nor is thequestion that Dworkin's Integrity asks one that could be coherentlyanswered i f it were an important question. Fortunately, it is not.
In this short paper, I shall answer the title’s question first in the context of criminal law and then in the context of tort law. In that latter section, I shall also mention in passing contractual and other forms of civil liability that are strict, although they will not be my principal focus. My conclusions will be that strict liability is never proper as the basis for retributive punishment; that it is a very crude device for achieving deterrence through nonretributive (...) penalties; and that with respect to tort liability, it is best justified as a means of defining insurance categories. (shrink)
The cost of health care imposes an extremely difficult, and often impossible, burden for many people to bear. It is also a burden that men and women do not experience in the same way. Evidence shows that “women have greater difficulty affording health care” (Patchias and Waxman 2007, 6). In the United States, 62 percent of working-age women in 2007—compared to 48 percent of working-age men—reported problems in affording health care, including not being able to pay medical bills, foregoing or (...) delaying needed care because of cost, or both (Rustgi, Doty, and Collins 2009). An additional 10 percent of working-age adults reported being uninsured or underinsured. The Affordable Health Care for America Act .. (shrink)
Simply put, this book is the best short introduction to John Dewey’s philosophy.1 It is lucidly written and is sensitively accurate in things both great and small. It is concise yet broadly informed. It is balanced without straining to say everything, focused without being compressed. It directs the reader to Dewey’s key writings and indicates reliable commentary. It concludes by indicating Dewey’s relevance for contemporary issues: medical ethics, environmentalism, feminism. Nevertheless, that the book appears in a series called “Beginner’s Guides” (...) should be taken therefore with a grain of salt, for it will be helpful to many advanced scholars starting to explore “pragmatism.” There are now so many strange .. (shrink)
In “Weak Inferential Internalism” I defended the frequently voiced criticism that any internalist account of inferential justification generates a vicious regress. My defense involved criticizing a recent form of internalism, “Weak Inferential Internalism” (WII) defended by Hookway and Rhoda. I argued that while WII does not generate a vicious regress, the position is only distinguishable from externalism insofar as it makes an arbitrary distinction between individuals who believe for the very same reason. Either way, WII is not a defensible internalist (...) account of inferential justification. In his “In Defense of Weak Inferential Internalism,” Rhoda has responded to my dilemma argument. He argues that it is mistaken to assume that WII must be incompatible with externalism, and that contrary to my claims, WII is distinguishable from externalism in several ways. In this reply, I explain why none of Rhoda’s replies suggest that there is a defensible internalist account of inferential justification. (shrink)
On the morning of the third day on Circe's island of Aeaea, Odysseus takes sword and spear in hand and leaves his demoralized and exhausted crew to seek out some sign of habitation. Eventually, from the height of a rocky point, he spies smoke rising in the distance. After debating with himself whether or not to investigate immediately, he determines first to return to his ships, in order to see about his comrades' dinner. Returning to the beach, he encounters an (...) enormous stag, which he takes to have been sent by a god who pitied him and which he kills, binds with a makeshift rope of brushwood and willow branches, and drags back to the camp. (shrink)
Mill predicted that “[t]he Liberty is likely to survive longer than anything else that I have written … because the conjunction of [Harriet Taylor’s] mind with mine has rendered it a kind of philosophic text-book of a single truth, which the changes progressively taking place in modern society tend to bring out in ever greater relief.” Indeed, _On Liberty_ is one of the most influential books ever written, and remains a foundational document for the understanding of vital political, philosophical and (...) social issues. In addition to its many useful appendices, this new edition includes a chronology, bibliography, and a substantial introduction which outlines Mill’s life and works, and sets this central work of 1859 in the context of both his own intellectual development and of the play of ideas and political forces in Victorian society. (shrink)
In “The Jesuits and the Method of Indivisibles” David Sherry criticizes a central thesis of my book Infinitesimal: that in the seventeenth century the Jesuits sought to suppress the method of indivisibles because it undermined their efforts to establish a perfect rational and hierarchical order in the world, modeled on Euclidean Geometry. Sherry accepts that the Jesuits did indeed suppress the method, but offers two objections. First, that the book does not distinguish between indivisibles and infinitesimals, and that whereas the (...) Jesuits might have reason to object to the first, the second posed no problem for them. Second, seeking an alternative explanation for the Jesuits’ hostility to the method, he proposes that its implicit atomism conflicted with the Catholic doctrine of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and was therefore heretical. In response to Sherry’s first criticism I point out that the Jesuits objected to all forms of the method of indivisibles, and that the distinction between indivisibles and infinitesimals consequently cannot explain the fight over the method in the seventeenth century. With regards to the Eucharist, I agree with Sherry that the Jesuits were indeed concerned about the method’s affinity to atomism and materialism, though for a different reason: these doctrines were antithetical to their efforts to impose divine hierarchy and order on the world. In as much as the technical details of the miracle of the Eucharist mattered, they provided no grounds for objecting to a mathematical doctrine. (shrink)
A new collection of critical essays from bell hooks takes as its theme the deep longing for a critical voice. I explore some motifs that operate across the divergent topics of her essays. She writes of the dangers of commodification, of “reassuring” images, of individualism. I also explore the paths of hooks's uniquely black postmodernism: her critique of various essentialisms, her philosophically important conception of subjectivity, and her beautiful and powerful transformations of multiple discourses.
We present a reformulation of loop quantum gravity with a cosmological constant and no matter as a Fermi-liquid theory. When the topological sector is deformed and large gauge symmetry is broken, we show that the Chern–Simons state reduces to Jacobson’s degenerate sector describing 1+1 dimensional propagating fermions with nonlocal interactions. The Hamiltonian admits a dual description which we realize in the simple BCS model of superconductivity. On one hand, Cooper pairs are interpreted as wormhole correlations at the de Sitter horizon; (...) their number yields the de Sitter entropy. On the other hand, BCS is mapped into a deformed conformal field theory reproducing the structure of quantum spin networks. When area measurements are performed, Cooper-pair insertions are activated on those edges of the spin network intersecting the given area, thus providing a description of quantum measurements in terms of excitations of a Fermi sea to superconducting levels. The cosmological constant problem is naturally addressed as a nonperturbative mass-gap effect of the true Fermi-liquid vacuum. (shrink)
On the morning of the third day on Circe's island of Aeaea, Odysseus takes sword and spear in hand and leaves his demoralized and exhausted crew to seek out some sign of habitation. Eventually, from the height of a rocky point, he spies smoke rising in the distance. After debating with himself whether or not to investigate immediately, he determines first to return to his ships, in order to see about his comrades' dinner . Returning to the beach, he encounters (...) an enormous stag, which he takes to have been sent by a god who pitied him and which he kills, binds with a makeshift rope of brushwood and willow branches, and drags back to the camp. (shrink)
In this special issue, our objective is to clarify what biosemioticians may mean insofar as they claim that living systems are capable of making choices or that biosemiotic interpretations are partially indeterminate. A number of different senses of the term “chance” are discussed as we move toward a consensus. We find that biosemiosic chance may arise out of conditions involving quantum indeterminacy, randomness, deterministic chaos, or unpredictability, but biosemiosic chance is mainly due to the fact that living entities invest their (...) environments with different meanings and values, which are not inherent in the material aspects. Accordingly, interpretive responses are in part self-determined. A self-determined interpretation may be thought of as a process in which localized biases constrain the probabilities of the outcomes of the interactions between an agent and its environment. The agent’s internal formal constraints that are defined by similarity and proximity are relative and, as such, vague, and thus interpretation may be somewhat underdetermined and involve an element of chance. (shrink)
Ethics, in the sense of a recognized branch of inquiry, reputedly began with Socrates and the Sophists, at least for the western world. Ethics, understood as a set of moral standards, traditionalized by maxims and admonitions, has existed in human cultures from so early a time that it would be hazardous indeed to conjecture the date of its probable origin. The "Hopi Ethics" which Mr. Brandt has studied is obviously that of this second sense, whereas his own study, at least (...) insofar as it is a "theoretical analysis" and goes beyond mere description, is "ethics" in the first sense. That the Hopi Indians were somewhat astonished and perplexed by Mr. Brandt's line of inquiry is indicated by some of their quoted remarks, such as their mention of the "hard questions" being put to them, and their amazement at the suggestion of the possibility that "there is no right answer to ethical questions." One gathers, thus, that while the problem of ethical relativism was of high concern to Mr. Brandt, such an idea was nigh unthinkable to the Hopi. (shrink)