???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)
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)
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)
ABSTRACT: Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentaries on Aristotle’s Organon are valuable sources for both Stoic and early Peripatetic logic, and have often been used as such – in particular for early Peripatetic hypothetical syllogistic and Stoic propositional logic. By contrast, this paper explores the role Alexander himself played in the development and transmission of those theories. There are three areas in particular where he seems to have made a difference: First, he drew a connection between certain passages from Aristotle’s (...) Topics and Prior Analytics and the Stoic indemonstrable arguments, and, based on this connection, appropriated at least four kinds of Stoic indemonstrables as Aristotelian. Second, he developed and made use of a specifically Peripatetic terminology in which to describe and discuss those arguments – which facilitated the integration of the indemonstrables into Peripatetic logic. Third, he made some progress towards a solution to the problem of what place and interpretation the Stoic third indemonstrables should be given in a Peripatetic and Platonist setting. Overall, the picture emerges that Alexander persistently (if not always consistently) presented passages from Aristotle’s logical œuvre in a light that makes it appear as if Aristotle was in the possession of a Peripatetic correlate to the Stoic theory of indemonstrables. (shrink)
The cognizability of the world according to Alexander von Humboldt: the experience of landscape. According to Alexander von Humboldt, geography ought to aim to go beyond the modern attitude of seeing knowledge as being the result of a spatial and temporal abstraction from the real world. Von Humboldt wishes to create a new theory of knowledge, one that instead of just simplifying, schematizing, and categorizing reality is able to highlight its multiple meanings, its diversity of perspectives, and its (...) hermeneutical keys. Von Humboldt’s project strives to achieve a universal cognition of the world (or a universal geography) by claiming the centrality of the experience of landscape. This is evidence for von Humboldt’s far-sightedness, since he anticipated the present day trend of considering landscape as a corner stone of interdisciplinary enquiries into the meaning of the world. (shrink)
According to Alexander of Aphrodisias, our potential intellect is a purely receptive capacity. Alexander also claims that, in order for us to actualise our intellectual potentiality, the intellect needs to abstract what is intelligible from enmattered perceptible objects. Now a problem emerges: How is it possible for a purely receptive capacity to perform such an abstraction? It will be argued that even though Alexander's reaction to this question causes some tension in his theory, the philosophical motivation for (...) it is a sound one. Rather than a calculation of actualities and potentialities, the doctrine of receptivity is supposed to explain how human beings come to grasp universal aspects of reality in an accurate manner. (shrink)
Experimental radiobiology represented a long-standing priority for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), but organizational issues initially impeded the laboratory progress of this government-funded work: who would direct such interdisciplinary investigations and how? And should the AEC support basic research or only mission-oriented projects? Alexander Hollaender's vision for biology in the post-war world guided AEC initiatives at Oak Ridge, where he created and presided over the Division of Biology for nearly two decades (1947-1966). Hollaender's scheme, at once entrepreneurial and (...) system-oriented, made good use of the unique resources provided by the AEC and by Oak Ridge's national laboratory setting, while at the same time it restructured wartime research practices to better reflect biologists' own priorities. Because Hollaender offered many academic experimental biologists a way of envisioning military-related patronage as integral - rather than antithetical - to their professional identities, his work provides an important lens through which to examine the early post-war intellectual and institutional development of radiobiology. (shrink)
Aristotle sometimes claims that the perception of special perceptibles by their proper sense is unerring. This claim is striking, since it might seem that we quite often misperceive things like colours, sounds and smells. Aristotle also claims that the perception of common perceptibles is more prone to error than the perception of special perceptibles. This is puzzling in its own right, and also places constraints on the interpretation of. I argue that reading Alexander of Aphrodisias on perceptual error can (...) help to make good sense of both of Aristotle’s claims. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: English translation of the 2nd/3rd century Peripatetic Philosopher's Alexander of Aphrodisias commentary on Aristotle's non-modal syllogistic, i.e. on one of the most influential logical texts of all times. -/- Volume includes introduction on Alexander of Aphrodisias and the early commentators, translation with notes and comments, appendices with a new translation of Aristotle's text, a summary of Aristotle's non-modal syllogistic and textual notes.
Group selection is increasingly being viewed as an important force in human evolution. This paper examines the views of R.D. Alexander, one of the most influential thinkers about human behavior from an evolutionary perspective, on the subject of group selection. Alexander's general conception of evolution is based on the gene-centered approach of G.C. Williams, but he has also emphasized a potential role for group selection in the evolution of individual genomes and in human evolution. Alexander's views are (...) internally inconsistent and underestimate the importance of group selection. Specific themes that Alexander has developed in his account of human evolution are important but are best understood within the framework of multilevel selection theory. From this perspective, Alexander's views on moral systems are not the radical departure from conventional views that he claims, but remain radical in another way more compatible with conventional views. (shrink)
Why an emergentist account of subjectivity? On the one hand, emergentism provides a new paradigm to rethink subjectivity beyond any dualism. At the same time, the issue of subjectivity puts a strain on emergentism itself, and pushes it beyond its limits. To show it, in the present paper I address a fundamental question: How can we describe subjectivity from an emergentist perspective? To answer, I will tackle Samuel Alexander’s and Alfred North Whitehead’s emergentist accounts of subjectivity. Alexander locates (...) subjectivity into a consistent emergentist framework, but his model of subjectivity remains grounded in the classical interpretation of subjectivity as mind. Whitehead gives a more innovative model of subjectivity, which implies a radical revision of its temporality and connection to the world, but this leads him beyond emergentism as a whole. (shrink)
What Robots Can and Can't Be (hereinafter Robots) is, as Selmer Bringsjord says "intended to be a collection of formal-arguments-that-border-on-proofs for the proposition that in all worlds, at all times, machines can't be minds" (Bringsjord, forthcoming). In his (1994) "Précis of What Robots Can and Can't Be" Bringsjord styles certain of these arguments as proceeding "repeatedly . . . through instantiations of" the "simple schema".
This paper discusses the various rhetorical and argumentative uses to which Augustine puts Alexander the Great in his City of God. I argue that Alexander is a particularly useful figure for Augustine insofar as he is both non-Roman and a figure greatly admired by the Romans. Because of this unique position, Augustine is able to use Alexander to examine and discredit certain ideals and character traits present to the Romans without alienating his audience. I examine, in detail, (...) four instances of Augustine’s use of Alexander: book IV chapter 4, Book VIII chapter 5, Book VIII chapter 27 and book XII chapter 11. Finally, I conclude with some general observations about the role of Alexander in the broader argument of The City of God. I claim that Augustine’s use of Alexander exhibits a double movement. First, he privileges Alexander as an authoritative personification of certain glamorized traits or beliefs; second, he discredits Alexander thereby discrediting those traits or beliefs. (shrink)
Anselm’s Cur Deus homo [CDH hereafter] covers a number of topics related to the doctrine of redemption, but its main contribution to that doctrine is its account of how Christ’s death makes satisfaction for human sin. Anselm’s concept of satisfaction is correlated with his understanding of sin. According to Anselm, sin incurs a debt that one pays by making satisfaction. Anselm’s satisfaction theory of the Atonement came to dominate soteriology in the scholastic period. Despite numerous quotations from and references to (...) CDH among thirteenth- and fourteenth-century authors, we find that scholastics differ in how they interpret Anselm’s teaching on Christ’s satisfaction. This study will contribute to our .. (shrink)
This volume contains the Arabic translations of a lost treatise by Alexander of Aphrodisias (c. AD 200) "On the Principles of the Universe" with English translation, introduction and commentary. It also includes an Arabic and Syriac glossary. The introduction and commentary deal in detail with the manuscripts, the translators and the exegetical tendencies of the text, as well as with its reception in Arabic philosophy. The main theme of the work is the motion of the heavenly bodies and their (...) influence on the physical world. (shrink)
The Human Eros is an outstanding accomplishment, a work of genuine wisdom. It combines meticulous scholarship with an enviable mastery of cultural and philosophical history to address pressing concerns of human beings, nature, and philosophy itself. While comprised of essays spanning over two decades, the book presents a powerfully coherent philosophical vision which Alexander names, alternately, “eco-ontology,” “humanistic naturalism,” and “ecological humanism.” Whatever the name, the approach is humane and intellectually compelling, offering insight and direction to pragmatism, aesthetics, existentialism, (...) environmental philosophy, and anyone in search of wisdom. It is an immensely readable book, too, leavening .. (shrink)
Samuel Alexander was one of the first realists of the twentieth century to defend a theory of categories. He thought that the categories are genuinely real and grounded in the intrinsic nature of Space-Time. I present his reduction of the categories in terms of Space-Time, articulate his account of categorial structure and completeness, and offer an interpretation of what he thought the nature of the categories really were. I then argue that his theory of categories has some advantages over (...) competing theories of his day, and finally draw some important lessons that we can learn from his realist yet reductionist theory of categories. (shrink)
Samuel Alexander was one of the foremost philosophical figures of his day and has been argued by John Passmore to be one of ‘fathers’ of Australian philosophy as well as a novel kind of physicalist. Yet Alexander is now relatively neglected, his role in the genesis of Australian philosophy if far from widely accepted and the standard interpretation takes him to be an anti-physicalist. In this paper, I carefully examine these issues and show that Alexander has been (...) badly, although understandably, misjudged by most of his contemporary critics and interpreters. Most importantly, I show that Alexander offers an ingenious, and highly original, version of physicalism at the heart of which is a strikingly different view of the nature of the microphysical properties and associated view of emergent properties. My final conclusion will be that Passmore is correct in his claims both that Alexander is significant as one of the grandfather’s of Australian philosophy and that he provides a novel physicalist position. I will also suggest that Alexander’s emergentism is important for addressing the so-called ‘problem of mental causation’ presently dogging contemporary non-reductive physicalists. (shrink)
Jeffrey Alexander argues that despite Bourdieu’s considerable achievements ultimately his work is reductionist and determinist. He further argues that though Bourdieu is a middle range theorist he is implicitly realist in his meta-theoretical assumptions. This article accepts these conclusions but argues that Bourdieu’s meta-theoretical realism is a virtue rather than a vice and that the manner in which he is a reductionist and determinist necessitate a re-thinking of what is meant by these notions. Alexander uses Bourdieu’s concept of (...) habitus to demon-strate a fundamental contradiction in Bourdieu’s theorising. According to him habitus presents us with the oxymoron of unconscious strategisation. This article uses a discussion of habitus in order to demonstrate that in its relationship with the concept of field it instead produces a practical resolution of long standing theoretical problems concerning structural determination and human agency. It is also argued that these problems are resolved at the meta-theoretical level in the form of critical realist ontology and that it is Alexander’s misunderstandings on this level which cause him to fail to appreciate the significance of Bourdieu’s achievements. (shrink)
Context: Neurophenomenology is a relatively new field, with scope for novel and informative approaches to empirical questions about what structural parallels there are between neural activity and phenomenal experience. Problem: The overall aim is to present a method for examining possible correlations of neurodynamic and phenodynamic structures within the structurally-coupled work of Alexander Technique practitioners with their pupils. Method: This paper includes the development of an enkinaesthetic explanatory framework, an overview of the salient aspects of the Alexander Technique, (...) and the presentation of an elicitation interview technique as part of a neurophenomenological method. It will propose a way of testing the hypothesis that if, in the effective practice of Alexander Technique, there is a union between the nervous systems of teacher and pupil, it should be visible neurologically and affective phenomenologically, and thus it should be possible to investigate both its neural and phenomenal signatures. Results: The proposed means of testing the hypothesis is to use the elicitation interview technique alongside neural monitoring during the teaching of the Alexander Technique in four paired sets of subjects. Constructivist content: At the heart of this paper is the claim that all activity is co-activity. I make no assumption of an ontological primacy of mental or physical, or explanatory primacy of any methodology. Implications: This has important ramifications for somatic education and therapies, for establishing frameworks of co-engagement and care in health-care situations, and for understanding empathy. (shrink)
Super-substantivalism is the thesis that space is identical to matter; it is currently under discussion ? see Sklar (1977, 221?4), Earman (1989, 115?6) and Schaffer (2009) ? in contemporary philosophy of physics and metaphysics. Given this current interest, it is worth investigating the thesis in the history of philosophy. This paper examines the super-substantivalism of Samuel Alexander, an early twentieth century metaphysician primarily associated with (the movement now known as) British Emergentism. Alexander argues that spacetime is ontologically fundamental (...) and it gives rise to an ontological hierarchy of emergence, involving novel properties such as matter, life and mind. Alexander's super-substantivalism is interesting not just because of its historical importance but also because Alexander unusually attempts to explain why spacetime is identical to matter. This paper carefully unpacks that explanation and shows how Alexander is best read as conceiving of spacetime as a Spinozistic substance, worked upon by evolution. (shrink)
When Alexander Nehamas’s pathbreaking, elegantly conceived and executed book, Nietzsche: Life as Literature,1 first appeared in 1985, the reception of Nietzsche in the Anglo-American philosophical community was still in its initial, hesitant stages, even after the relative success of Walter Kaufmann’s much earlier, 1950 book, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Anti-Christ,2 and its postwar “decontamination” of Nietzsche after his appropriation by the Nazis.3 Arthur Danto’s 1964 book, Nietzsche as Philosopher,4 was also an important if somewhat isolated event, and there finally began (...) to appear in the seventies high-quality secondary literature, like John Wilcox’s 1974 book, Truth and Value in Nietzsche,5 and .. (shrink)
I pursue three aims in this article: (1) a contextualization of Jeffrey Alexander’s cultural sociology within the broader trajectory of his intellectual development; (2) a sketch of the key ideas of his approach to cultural analysis against the backdrop of contemporary debates regarding culture and social structure; and (3) an appreciation and critical assessment of Alexander’s program.