Thom Brooks'sHegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Rightpresents a very clear and methodologically self-conscious series of discussions of key topics within Hegel's classic text. As one might expect for a ‘systematic’ reading, the main body of Brooks's text commences with an opening chapter on Hegel's system. Then follow seven chapters, the topics of which are encountered sequentially as one reads through thePhilosophy of Right. Brooks's central claim is that too often Hegel's theories or views on any (...) of these topics are misunderstood because of a tendency to isolate the relevant passages from the encompassing structure of thePhilosophy of Rightitself, and, in turn, from Hegel's system of philosophy as a whole, with its logical underpinnings. Brooks is clearly right in holding that Hegel hadintendedthePhilosophy of Rightto be read against the background of ‘the system’ and the ‘logic’ articulating it —nobody doubts that— but there is a further substantive issue here.Shouldcontemporary readers heed Hegel's advice? Brooks's answer is emphatically in the affirmative, and what results is a series of illuminating discussions in which he makes a case for his own interpretations on the basis of systematic considerations, presented against a range of alternatives taken from the contemporary secondary literature, which is amply covered, often in the extensive endnotes to the book. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis symposium brings together normative and empirical scholars in dialogue on Brooke Ackerly’s innovative and compelling recent monograph, Just Responsibility. Contributors discuss the book’s distinctive grounded normative theory methodology, its arguments for how individuals can take appropriate responsibility for global structural injustices, and its potential for practical impact.
Some form of utilitarian approach can be discerned as underlying much current medical ethical decision-making. Criticisms of the practical effects of such an approach are not parried by asserting the fundamental strengths of utilitarianism as theory.
Utilitarianism is commonly assumed to be the most appropriate sub-structure for medical ethics. This view is challenged. It is suggested that the utilitarian approach to euthanasia works against the patient's individual advantage and is a corrupting influence in the relationship between the physician and society. Dignity for the individual patient is not easily achieved by assessing that person's worth against the yardstick of others' needs and wishes.
Throughout history, many people, including Mother Teresa, have been troubled by God’s silence. In spite of the conflicting interpretations of the Bible, God has remained silent. What are the implications of divine hiddenness/silence for a meaning of life? Is there a good reason that explains God’s silence? If God created humanity to fulfill a purpose, then God would have clarified his purpose and our role by now, as I will argue. To help God carry out his purpose, we would need (...) to have a clear understanding of our role. Thus, by failing to clarify our role, God would be undermining himself in achieving the purpose he conceived, which would not make sense. Because God, if he exists, would not engage in this self-defeating behavior, this suggests that humanity was not created by God to fulfill a purpose. (shrink)
When pessimists claim that human life is meaningless, they often also assert that the universe is “blind to good and evil” and “indifferent to us”. How, if it all, is the indifference of the universe relevant to whether life is meaningful? To answer this question, and to know whether we should be concerned that the universe is indifferent, we need a clearer and deeper understanding of the concept of “cosmic indifference”, which I will seek to provide. I will argue that (...) the lives of many individuals are meaningful and that human life, in general, is somewhat meaningful, despite the indifference of the universe. Furthermore, I will seek to demonstrate that even if the universe cared about us, or had preferences for how we live our lives, that this likely would not enhance the quality of our lives. (shrink)
The most widespread interpretation amongst contemporary theorists of Kant's theory of punishment is that it is retributivist. On the contrary, I will argue there are very different senses in which Kant discusses punishment. He endorses retribution for moral law transgressions and consequentialist considerations for positive law violations. When these standpoints are taken into consideration, Kant's theory of punishment is more coherent and unified than previously thought. This reading uncovers a new problem in Kant's theory of punishment. By assuming a potential (...) offender's intentional disposition as Kant does without knowing it for certain, we further exacerbate the opportunity for misdiagnosis. (shrink)
This review article defends Brook Ziporyn against the charge, quite common in graduate classroom discussions, if not in print, that his readings of early Chinese philosophy are ‘overly Buddhist’. These readings are found in his three most recent books: Ironies of Oneness and Difference: Coherence in Early Chinese Thought, Beyond Oneness and Difference: Li and Coherence in Chinese Buddhist Thought and Its Antecedents, and Emptiness and Omnipresence: An Essential Introduction to Tiantai Buddhism. His readings are clearly Buddhist-influenced, but this is (...) not in and of itself problematic. The core issue is rather to what degree these ‘Buddhist elements’ are actually already existent in, and have subsequently been carried over from, early Chinese thought in the development of Chinese Buddhism. Indeed, some scholars of Chinese Buddhism have pointed out that much of the vocabulary, concepts, and logic used in schools such as Tiantai may owe more to Daoist influences than to Buddhist ones. Accordingly, Ziporyn’s ‘overly Buddhist’ approach might simply be an avenue of interpretation that is actually quite in line with the thinking in the early texts themselves, albeit one that is less familiar. The article also aims to show how Ziporyn’s theory concerning the importance of ‘coherence’ in early and later Chinese philosophy is also quite important in his above work on Tiantai Buddhism, Emptiness and Omnipresence. While in this work Ziporyn almost entirely abstains from using the language of coherence, much of it actually rests on a strong coherence-based foundation, thereby demonstrating not Ziporyn’s own prejudice, but rather the thoroughgoing importance and versatility of his arguments on coherence. Indeed, understanding the importance of coherence in his readings of Tiantai Buddhism only bolsters the defense against the claims that he makes ‘overly Buddhist’ readings of early Chinese philosophy. (shrink)
Despite its pervasiveness, the concept of ‘levels of organization’ has received relatively little attention in its own right. I propose here an emerging approach that posits ‘levels’ as a fragmentary concept situated within an interest-relative matrix of operational usage within scientific practice. To this end I propose one important component of meaning, namely the epistemic goal motivating the term’s usage, which recovers a remarkably conserved and sufficiently unifying significance attributable to ‘levels’ across different instances of usage. This epistemic goal, to (...) provide structure to scientific problems, delegates tasks whose execution generates the term’s expressed content in a given instance. This treatment of levels does not diminish the concept’s general importance to science, but rather allows for its use in, and usefulness for, scientific practice to be better contextualized to particular tasks encompassing varying breadths of activity. (shrink)
Despite the ubiquity of “levels of organization” in the scientific literature, a nascent “levels skepticism” now claims that the concept of levels is an inherently flawed, misleading, or otherwise inadequate notion for understanding how life scientists produce knowledge about the natural world. However, levels skeptics rely on the maligned “layer-cake” account of levels stemming from Oppenheim and Putnam’s defense of the unity of science for their critical commentary. Recourse to layer-cake levels is understandable, as it is arguably the default conception (...) of levels in philosophy. However, relying on this conception of levels undermines the initial plausibility of general dismissals of the concept, because the problems skeptics identify within the “basic idea” of the concept “levels” are merely ones already widely acknowledged in this conception. I illustrate this “guilt by association” by looking at the embedded role of “levels” in articulating intertheoretical reductionism during the latter part of the 20th century. I conclude by suggesting a methodological framework focusing on local usage patterns as a promising means for future analysis of the levels concept. (shrink)
Poco más de dos décadas después de la publicación de Political Liberalism del filósofo estadounidense John Rawls, Thom Brooks y Martha Nussbaum se dieron la tarea de editar una compilación de seis ensayos que muestran la actualidad de este libro. Los escritos que participan en esta recopilación se aproximan al texto rawlsiano de manera variopinta, tanto a nivel disciplinar como en lo referido a la finalidad con la cual lo abordan. A grandes rasgos, estos se dividen en tres grupos: el (...) primer grupo, cuya pretensión es realizar una revisión crítica de la obra o de conceptos medulares de esta ; el segundo conjunto, donde se realiza una labor exegética capaz de responder a múltiples críticas que ha enfrentado el texto desde su publicación y, finalmente, un artículo ―el tercer grupo― que muestra la consistencia práctica en el modo en que Rawls concibió el derecho constitucional estadounidense. (shrink)
In Book 9 of Plato's Republic we find three proofs for the claim that the just person is happier than the unjust person. Curiously, Socrates does not seem to consider these arguments to be coequal when he announces the third and final proof as ‘the greatest and most decisive of the overthrows’. This remark raises a couple of related questions for the interpreter. Whatever precise sense we give to μέγιστον and κυριώτατον in this passage, Socrates is clearly appealing to an (...) argumentative standard of some kind, and claiming that his final argument alone meets this standard. But what precise standard is Socrates invoking here? And given that the first two arguments of Book 9 fall short of this standard, why does he not simply leap directly to the third, most decisive proof? (shrink)
The division of labor has typically been portrayed as a complementary strategy in which men and women work on separate tasks to achieve a common goal of provisioning the family. In this paper, we propose that task specialization between female kin might also play an important role in women’s social and economic strategies. We use historic group composition data from a population of Western Desert Martu Aborigines to show how women maintained access to same-sex kin over the lifespan. Our results (...) show that adult women had more same-sex kin and more closely related kin present than adult men, and they retained these links after marriage. Maternal co-residence was more prevalent for married women than for married men, and there is evidence that mothers may be strategizing to live with daughters at critical intervals—early in their reproductive careers and when they do not have other close female kin in the group. The maintenance of female kin networks across the lifespan allows for the possibility of cooperative breeding as well as an all-female division of labor. (shrink)
A new edition of the first systematic reading of Hegel's political philosophy Elements of the Philosophy of Right is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important works in the history of political philosophy. This is the first book on the subject to take Hegel's system of speculative philosophy seriously as an important component of any robust understanding of this text. Key Features •Sets out the difference between 'systematic' and 'non-systematic' readings of Philosophy of Right •Outlines the unique structure (...) of Hegel's philosophical arguments •Explores key areas of Hegel's political philosophy: his theories of property, punishment, morality, law, monarchy, war, democracy and history This significantly expanded second edition includes: a more detailed explanation of Hegel's philosophical system, two new chapters on his theories of democracy and history and an appendix detailing the implications this work has for future interpretations of Hegel's philosophy. (shrink)
The concept of 'levels of organization' has come under fire recently as being useless for scientific and philosophical purposes. In this paper, we show that 'levels' is actually a remarkably resilient and constructive conceptual tool that can be, and in fact is, used for a variety of purposes. To this effect, we articulate an account of the importance of the levels concept seen in light of its status as a major organizing concept of biology. We argue that the usefulness of (...) ‘levels’ is best seen in the heuristic contributions the concept makes to treating and structuring scientific problems. We illustrate this with two examples from biological research. (shrink)
From the diverse work and often competing insights of women's human rights activists, Brooke Ackerly has written a feminist and a universal theory of human rights that bridges the relativists' concerns about universalizing from particulars and the activists' commitment to justice. Unlike universal theories that rely on shared commitments to divine authority or to an 'enlightened' way of reasoning, Ackerly's theory relies on rigorous methodological attention to difference and disagreement. She sets out human rights as at once a research (...) ethic, a tool for criticism of injustice and a call to recognize our obligations to promote justice through our actions. This book will be of great interest to political theorists, feminist and gender studies scholars and researchers of social movements. (shrink)
Children's comprehension of the universal quantifiers all and each was explored in a series of experiments using a picture selection task. The first experiment examined children's ability to restrict a quantifier to the noun phrase it modifies. The second and third experiments examined children's ability to associate collective, distributive, and exhaustive representations with sentences containing universal quantifiers. The collective representation corresponds to the "group" meaning (for All the flowers are in a vase all of the flowers are in the same (...) vase). The distributive representation implies a pairing (e.g., each flower paired with a vase for Each flower is in a vase). The exhaustive representation exhausts both sets (e.g., for The flowers are in the vases all the flowers are in vases and all the vases have flowers in them). Four- to 10-year-olds children had little difficulty restricting the quantifier all to the noun it modified in a task which required them to attend to the group feature of all. In contrast, only 9- and 10-year-olds were able to solve the task when the quantifier was each and the pictures showed entities in partial one-to-one correspondence. Children showed a preference for associating collective pictures with sentences containing all and distributive pictures with sentences containing each. The results suggest that between the ages of 5 and 10 years, children's semantic representations undergo less radical changes than others have proposed. Instead, developmental change may occur gradually as children acquire linguistic cues which map onto existing semantic representations. (shrink)
Thom Brooks criticizes utilitarian and retributive theories of punishment but argues that utilitarian and retributive goals can be incorporated into a coherent and unified theory of punitive restoration, according to which punishment is a means of reintegrating criminals into society and restoring rights. I point to some difficulties with Brooks’ criticisms of retributive and utilitarian theories, and argue that his theory of punitive restoration is not unified or coherent. I argue further that a theory attempting to capture the complex set (...) of rules and behaviors that constitute the practice of legal punishment cannot persuasively be unified and coherent: legitimate features of the practice advance goals and promote values that in some cases conflict. (shrink)
This paper addresses two interpretive puzzles in Plato’s Philebus. The first concerns the claim, endorsed by both interlocutors, that the most godlike of lives is a pleasureless life of pure thinking. This appears to run afoul of the verdict of the earlier so-called ‘Choice of Lives’ argument that a mixed life is superior to either of its ‘pure’ rivals. A second concerns Socrates’ discussion of false pleasure, in which he appears to be guilty of rank equivocation. I argue that we (...) can solve both puzzles by attributing to Plato an account of pleasure as a species of intentional attitude. (shrink)
The science fiction films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Solaris and Stalker, are complex responses to the repressive atmosphere of Brezhnev’s rule, after the 7-year delay in seeing Andrei Rublev released publicly. By using science fiction—a genre that Tarkovsky openly maligned—he was able to fly beneath the radar of State censorship, and develop a nuanced response to the application of Marxist theory of religion in the Soviet experience. Arguing in these films that humans still need the affective dimension of religion, Tarkovsky hid (...) within his science fiction films a thoroughgoing critique of the Soviet application of Marx. This article uses the concept of “war machine” from the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to analyze how Tarkovsky did this, and demonstrates that Tarkovsky’s engagement with Marx’s philosophy in these two films shares much in common with Deleuze and Guattari’s way of understanding human meaning making. (shrink)
J. H. Lambert proved important results of what we now think of as non-Euclidean geometries, and gave examples of surfaces satisfying their theorems. I use his philosophical views to explain why he did not think the certainty of Euclidean geometry was threatened by the development of what we regard as alternatives to it. Lambert holds that theories other than Euclid's fall prey to skeptical doubt. So despite their satisfiability, for him these theories are not equal to Euclid's in justification. Contrary (...) to recent interpretations, then, Lambert does not conceive of mathematical justification as semantic. According to Lambert, Euclid overcomes doubt by means of postulates. Euclid's theory thus owes its justification not to the existence of the surfaces that satisfy it, but to the postulates according to which these "models" are constructed. To understand Lambert's view of postulates and the doubt they answer, I examine his criticism of Christian Wolff's views. I argue that Lambert's view reflects insight into traditional mathematical practice and has value as a foil for contemporary, model-theoretic, views of justification. (shrink)
Much of children's early syntactic development can be seen as the acquisition of sentence-level constructions that correspond to relatively complex events and states of affairs. The current study was an attempt to determine the relative concreteness (verb-specificity) or abstractness (verb-generality) of such constructions for children just beginning to produce large numbers of multi-word utterances. Sixteen children at 2.0 years of age and sixteen children at 2,5 years of age participated (all English speaking). Each child was taught two novel verbs for (...) a highly transitive action: one in a transitive construction (Ernie is tamming the car) and one in an intransitive construction (with patient äs subject: The ball is meeking). They were then given opportunities to use their newly learned verbs, in many cases in discourse situations that encouraged use of the "opposite" construction (i.e., agent and patient-focused questions). Results showed that 2.0-year-old children almost never produced an utterance using a novel verb in anything other than the construction in which it had been modeled. Children at 2.5 years of age were somewhat more productive, but still the large majority of these children avoided using the experimental verbs in nonmodeled constructions. These results suggest that when English-speaking children produce simple transitive and intransitive utterances in their spontaneous speech, they are doing so on a verb-specific basis (verb Island constructions), schematizing more abstract constructions only later äs they discover patterns that apply across many such lexically specific constructions. (shrink)
Summary The object of this study is to analyse certain aspects of the debate between David Brewster and William Whewell concerning the probability of extra-terrestrial life, in order to illustrate the nature, constitution and condition of natural theology in the decades immediately preceding the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin's Origin of species. The argument is directed against a stylised picture of natural theology which has been drawn from a backward projection of the Darwinian antithesis between natural selection and certain (...) forms of the design argument. Contrary to the popular image of natural theology as an essentially static, autonomous and monolithic set of presuppositions about the existence of design in nature, the paper underlines the existence of a fundamental divergence of strategies within natural theology, a divergence that, in the case of Brewster and Whewell, can be correlated with the religious cultures to which they most closely belonged. The fact that, in the plurality of worlds debate, their respective positions became mutually exclusive suggests that the fragmented and disordered state of natural theology, only too apparent before the Darwinian impact, was occasioned as much by the ulterior problem of rationalising the excessive space of the astronomers and the excessive time of the geologists as it was by any principle of the uniformity of nature in the biological sphere. The argument is substantiated with particular reference to the breakdown in communication as Brewster and Whewell developed conflicting strategies to expose the ?development hypothesis? that had appeared in Vestiges. Their altercation also reveals a certain conflict of status concerning the conclusions of astronomy and geology which, in turn, suggests that tensions between the physical and life sciences were not peculiar to the period following the publication of Darwin's theory. (shrink)