Systems thinking has emerged as a means of conceptualizing and addressing complex public health problems, thereby challenging more commonplace understanding of problems and corresponding solutions as straightforward explanations of cause and effect. Systems thinking tries to address the complexity of problems through qualitative and quantitative modeling based on a variety of systems theories, each with their own assumptions and, more importantly, implicit and unexamined values. To date, however, there has been little engagement between systems scientists and those working in bioethics (...) and public health ethics. The goal of this paper is to begin to consider what it might mean to combine systems thinking with public health ethics to solve public health challenges. We argue that there is a role for ethics in systems thinking in public health as a means of elucidating implicit assumptions and facilitating ethics debate and dialogue with key stakeholders. (shrink)
The contribution of this book to the field of reconciliation is both theoretical and practical, recognizing that good theory guides effective practice and practice is the ground for compelling theory. Using a Girardian hermeneutic as a starting point, a new conceptual Gestalt emerges in these essays, one not fully integrated in a formal way but showing a clear understanding of some of the challenges and possibilities for dealing with the deep divisions, enmity, hatred, and other effects of violence.
Schopenhauer argues, strikingly, that it would have been better if life had not come into existence. In this essay I consider this pessimistic judgment from a philosophical perspective. I take on the following three tasks. First, I consider whether such judgments, apparently products of temperament rather than reason, can be the subject of productive philosophical analysis. I argue that they can be, since, importantly, we can separate arguments for such judgments that establish them as plausible from those that do not. (...) Second, I evaluate Schopenhauer’s arguments for pessimism. I argue that although we must reject Schopenhauer’s main argument for pessimism, he has another, more plausible argument for pessimism that hitherto has been neglected by scholars. Finally, I argue that although pessimism can be established as the correct judgment about life in some possible worlds, in our world the question of pessimism or optimism cannot be definitively answered. (shrink)
The argument that cumulative technological culture originates in technical-reasoning skills is not the only alternative to social accounts; another possibility is that accumulation of both technical-reasoning skills and enhanced social skills stemmed from the onset of a more basic cognitive ability such as recursive representational redescription. The paper confuses individual learning of pre-existing information with creative generation of new information.
The papers published in this issue were presented at North American Nietzsche Society (NANS) sessions held in conjunction with the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association from the end of 2007 through 2009. I would like to thank Richard Schacht and the other members of the program committee for their continued service to Nietzsche studies, and I thank CameronSmith for invaluable editorial assistance in the production of this issue. The first three papers published here were presented (...) on December 29, 2007 at the Eastern Division Meeting in Baltimore, where NANS held an ‘Author Meets Critics’ session devoted to a discussion of Robert B. Pippin’s Nietzsche, moraliste français: La conception .. (shrink)
When Adam Smith published his celebrated writings on economics and moral philosophy he famously referred to the operation of an invisible hand. Adam Smith's Political Philosophy makes visible the invisible hand by examining its significance in Smith's political philosophy and relating it to similar concepts used by other philosophers, revealing a distinctive approach to social theory that stresses the significance of the unintended consequences of human action. This book introduces greater conceptual clarity to the discussion of the (...) invisible hand and the related concept of unintended order in the work of Smith and in political theory more generally. By examining the application of spontaneous order ideas in the work of Smith, Hume, Hayek and Popper, Adam Smith's Political Philosophy traces similarities in approach and from these builds a conceptual, composite model of an invisible hand argument. While setting out a clear model of the idea of spontaneous order the book also builds the case for using the idea of spontaneous order as an explanatory social theory, with chapters on its application in the fields of science, moral philosophy, law and government. (shrink)
The theory of Gestalt qualities arose from the attempt to explain how a melody is distinct from the collection of the tones which it comprehends. In this essay from 1890 Christian von Ehrenfels coined the term 'Gestaltqualität' to capture the idea of a pattern which is comprehensible in a single experience. This idea can be applied not only to melodies and other occurrent patterns, but also to continuant patterns such as shapes and colour arrays such as the array of a (...) chess board. Ehrenfel's essay gave birth to the Gestalt movement in psychology. (shrink)
What are the ontological commitments of a sentence? In this paper I offer an answer from the perspective of the truthmaker theorist that contrasts with the familiar Quinean criterion. I detail some of the benefits of thinking of things this way: they include making the composition debate tractable without appealing to a neo-Carnapian metaontology, making sense of neo-Fregeanism, and dispensing with some otherwise recalcitrant necessary connections.
In this paper I further elucidate and defend a metaontological position that allows you to have a minimal ontology without embracing an error-theory of ordinary talk. On this view 'there are Fs' can be strictly and literally true without bringing an ontological commitment to Fs. Instead of a sentence S committing you to the things that must be amongst the values of the variables if it is true, I argue that S commits you to the things that must exist as (...) truthmakers for S if it is true. I rebut some recent objections that have been levelled against this metaontological view. (shrink)
There is widespread disagreement as to what the facts are concerning just when a collection of objects composes some further object; but there is widespread agreement that, whatever those facts are, they are necessary. I am unhappy to simply assume this, and in this paper I ask whether there is reason to think that the facts concerning composition hold necessarily. I consider various reasons to think so, but find fault with each of them. I examine the theory of composition as (...) identity, but argue that the version of this doctrine that entails universalism is implausible. I consider the claim that the a priority of such facts leads to their necessity, but give a defence of substantial contingent a priori truths. I ask whether the contingency of such facts would lead to unwelcome possibilities, but argue that the worrying looking possibilities can be blocked if it is desired. Next, I argue against the thought that the Lewis-Sider argument against restricted composition might give us reason to accept the necessity of universalism. Lastly, I respond to two objections from the 2006 BSPC. I conclude in favour of the contingency of the facts concerning when some things compose some thing. (shrink)
How should we determine the distribution of psychological traits—such as Theory of Mind, episodic memory, and metacognition—throughout the Animal kingdom? Researchers have long worried about the distorting effects of anthropomorphic bias on this comparative project. A purported corrective against this bias was offered as a cornerstone of comparative psychology by C. Lloyd Morgan in his famous “Canon”. Also dangerous, however, is a distinct bias that loads the deck against animal mentality: our tendency to tie the competence criteria for cognitive capacities (...) to an exaggerated sense of typical human performance. I dub this error “anthropofabulation”, since it combines anthropocentrism with confabulation about our own prowess. Anthropofabulation has long distorted the debate about animal minds, but it is a bias that has been little discussed and against which the Canon provides no protection. Luckily, there is a venerable corrective against anthropofabulation: a principle offered long ago by David Hume, which I call “Hume’s Dictum”. In this paper, I argue that Hume’s Dictum deserves a privileged place next to Morgan’s Canon in the methodology of comparative psychology, illustrating my point through a discussion of the debate over Theory of Mind in nonhuman animals. (shrink)
Despite the fact that Ayn Rand did not influence the best artists, she did leave an important legacy for the American imagination and literary establishment. Rand's influence is arguably more multi-genre than any other author. Some multi-genre authors who were possibly influenced by Rand include: John Steinbeck (literature), Mickey Spillane and Ian Fleming (detective fiction), Ira Levin, Cameron Hawley, Erika Holzer and Kay Nolte Smith (popular fiction) and Terry Goodkind (science fiction). Her influence represents an important balance between (...) many various types of American Literature and is a credit to the hybrid and versatile nature of her fiction. (shrink)
Paul Sheehy has argued that the modal realist cannot satisfactorily allow for the necessity of God's existence. In this short paper I show that she can, and that Sheehy only sees a problem because he has failed to appreciate all the resources available to the modal realist. God may be an abstract existent outside spacetime or He may not be: but either way, there is no problem for the modal realist to admit that He exists at every concrete possible world.
Preface Introduction Christopher J. Berry: Adam Smith: Outline of Life, Times, and Legacy Part One: Adam Smith: Heritage and Contemporaries 1: Nicholas Phillipson: Adam Smith: A Biographer's Reflections 2: Leonidas Montes: Newtonianism and Adam Smith 3: Dennis C. Rasmussen: Adam Smith and Rousseau: Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment 4: Christopher J. Berry: Adam Smith and Early Modern Thought Part Two: Adam Smith on Language, Art and Culture 5: Catherine Labio: Adam Smith's Aesthetics 6: James (...) Chandler: Adam Smith as Critic 7: Michael C. Amrozowicz: Adam Smith: History and Poetics 8: C. Jan Swearingen: Adam Smith on Language and Rhetoric: The Ethics of Style, Character, and Propriety Part Three: Adam Smith and Moral Philosophy 9: Christel Fricke: Adam Smith: The Sympathetic Process and the Origin and Function of Conscience 10: Duncan Kelly: Adam Smith and the Limits of Sympathy 11: Ryan Patrick Hanley: Adam Smith and Virtue 12: Eugene Heath: Adam Smith and Self-Interest Part Four: Adam Smith and Economics 13: Tony Aspromourgos: Adam Smith on Labour and Capital 14: Nerio Naldi: Adam Smith on Value and Prices 15: Hugh Rockoff: Adam Smith on Money, Banking, and the Price Level 16: Maria Pia Paganelli: Commercial Relations: from Adam Smith to Field Experiments Part Five: Adam Smith on History and Politics 17: Spiros Tegos: Adam Smith: Theorist of Corruption 18: David M. Levy & Sandra J. Peart: Adam Smith and the State: Language and Reform 19: Fabrizio Simon: Adam Smith and the Law 20: Edwin van de Haar: Adam Smith on Empire and International Relations Part Six: Adam Smith on Social Relations 21: Richard Boyd: Adam Smith, Civility, and Civil Society 22: Gavin Kennedy: Adam Smith on Religion 23: Samuel Fleischacker: Adam Smith and Equality 24: Maureen Harkin: Adam Smith and Women Part Seven; Adam Smith: Legacy and Influence 25: Spencer J. Pack: Adam Smith and Marx 26: Craig Smith: Adam Smith and the New Right 27: Tom Campbell: Adam Smith: Methods, Morals and Markets 28: Amartya Sen: The Contemporary Relevance of Adam Smith. (shrink)
Recently, a number of philosophers have begun to question the commonly held view that choice or voluntary control is a precondition of moral responsibility. According to these philosophers, what really matters in determining a person’s responsibility for some thing is whether that thing can be seen as indicative or expressive of her judgments, values, or normative commitments. Such accounts might therefore be understood as updated versions of what Susan Wolf has called “real self views,” insofar as they attempt to ground (...) an agent’s responsibility for her actions and attitudes in the fact (when it is a fact) that they express who she is as a moral agent. As such, they seem to be open to some of the same objections Wolf originally raised to such accounts, and in particular to the objection that they cannot license the sorts of robust moral assessments involved in our current practices of moral responsibility. My aim in this paper is to try to respond to this challenge, by clarifying the kind of robust moral assessments I take to be licensed by (at least some) non-volitional accounts of responsibility and by explaining why these assessments do not in general require the agent to have voluntary control over everything for which she is held responsible. I also argue that the limited applicability of the distinction between “bad agents” and “blameworthy agents” on these accounts is in fact a mark in their favor. (shrink)
Leonidas Montes presents a new reading of Adam Smith's legacy. The classical influences, the meaning of some key concepts, and what other authors were saying at the time, are fundamental to understand what Smith really said. Starting with the famous Das Adam Smith Problem, Montes investigates the causes and the context of the Problem, and proposes the importance of the moral triad of the supposed impartial spectator, propriety and self-command for understanding Smith's broad concept of sympathy. (...)Smith's virtues are fundamental to his moral thought, and the nature of the meaning of self-command and propriety have important philosophical implications, reflecting the relevance of moral autonomy in Smith's thought. The concluding chapter gives an example of the mistake of simply looking at a problem through the eyes of today. It questions the popular version of Smith as a forerunner or founder of general economic equilibrium theory by investigating the real nature of Smith's Newtonianism. (shrink)
This paper explores one facet of Paul Russell’s unique “critical compatibilist” position on moral responsibility, which concerns his rejection of R. Jay Wallace’s “narrow construal” of moral responsibility as a concept tied exclusively to the Strawsonian reactive attitudes of resentment, indignation, and guilt. After explaining Russell’s critique of Wallace’s view, the paper considers a Wallace-inspired challenge based on the idea that questions of moral responsibility raise distinct issues of “fairness” that apply only to a narrow subset of the Strawsonian reactive (...) attitudes. The paper offers a defense of Russell’s view against this challenge. (shrink)
Eusebius' Life of Constantine is the most important single record of Constantine, the emperor who turned the Roman Empire from prosecuting the Church to supporting it, with huge and lasting consequences for Europe and Christianity. The only English version previously available is based on a seventeenth-century Greek edition, but two new critical editions produced this century make a new English version necessary. The authors of this edition present the results of the recent scholarly debate, as well as their own researches (...) so as to clarify the significance of Eusebius' work and introduce the student to the text and its interpretation, thus opening up the contentious issues. At face value much of what Eusebius wrote is false. This book shows how, once his partisan interpretations and rhetoric are properly understood, both Eusebius' text and the documents it contains give vital historical insights. (shrink)
One challenge in developing an account of the nature of epistemic blame is to explain what differentiates epistemic blame from mere negative epistemic evaluation. The challenge is to explain the difference, without invoking practices or behaviors that seem out of place in the epistemic domain. In this paper, I examine whether the most sophisticated recent account of the nature of epistemic blame—due to Jessica Brown—is up for the challenge. I argue that the account ultimately falls short, but does so in (...) an instructive way. Drawing on the lessons learned, I put forward an alternative approach to the nature of epistemic blame. My account understands epistemic blame in terms of modifications to the intentions and expectations that comprise our “epistemic relationships” with one another. This approach has a number of attractions shared by Brown’s account, but it can also explain the significance of epistemic blame. (shrink)
Non-actual model systems discussed in scientific theories are compared to fictions in literature. This comparison may help with the understanding of similarity relations between models and real-world target systems. The ontological problems surrounding fictions in science may be particularly difficult, however. A comparison is also made to ontological problems that arise in the philosophy of mathematics.
Climate change appears to be a classic aggregation problem, in which billions of individuals perform actions none of which seem to be morally wrong taken in isolation, and yet which combine to drive the global concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) ever higher toward environmental (and humanitarian) catastrophe. When an individual can choose between actions that will emit differing amounts of GHGs―such as to choose a vegan rather than carnivorous meal, to ride a bike to work rather than drive a car, (...) or to take a reusable bag to the supermarket rather than send another plastic bag to landfill―does she have any reason to choose the lower-emitting actions? In this chapter I'll reject the claim that individuals don't make a difference when it comes to climate change. I first discuss making a difference with every action, as a way of getting clearer about how individuals' actions impact causally on the harms resulting from climate change, making a distinction so far overlooked in the climate ethics discussion between 'macro' thresholds like ice-cap melt, and 'micro' thresholds like severe weather events. I set aside making a difference with every action as implausible, and then move on to discuss both low probability of major difference, and high probability of minor difference. I argue that both of these are plausible characterizations of individuals' causal contributions to climate change. I conclude by noting some policy implications of having (probabilistic) individual difference-making back in play. (shrink)
The connection between whole and part is intimate: not only can we share the same space, but I’m incapable of leaving my parts behind; settle the nonmereological facts and you thereby settle what is a part of what; wholes don’t seem to be an additional ontological commitment over their parts. Composition as identity promises to explain this intimacy. But it threatens to make the connection too intimate, for surely the parts could have made a different whole and the whole have (...) had different parts. In this paper I attempt to offer an account of parthood that is intimate enough but not too intimate: the parts generate the whole, but they are not themselves the whole. (shrink)
Smith's views on moral luck have attracted little attention in the relevant contemporary literature on this subject.* More surprising, perhaps, the material in the secondary literature directly concerned with Smith's moral philosophy is rather thin on this aspect of his thought. In this paper my particular concern is to provide an interpretation and critical assessment of Smith on moral luck. I begin with a description of the basic features of Smith's position; then I criticize two particularly (...) important claims that are fundamental to his position; and I conclude with an examination of the significance of Smith's discussion in relation to the contemporary debate. * There is some change in this situation since this paper was originally published. (shrink)
In artificial intelligence, recent research has demonstrated the remarkable potential of Deep Convolutional Neural Networks (DCNNs), which seem to exceed state-of-the-art performance in new domains weekly, especially on the sorts of very difficult perceptual discrimination tasks that skeptics thought would remain beyond the reach of artificial intelligence. However, it has proven difficult to explain why DCNNs perform so well. In philosophy of mind, empiricists have long suggested that complex cognition is based on information derived from sensory experience, often appealing to (...) a faculty of abstraction. Rationalists have frequently complained, however, that empiricists never adequately explained how this faculty of abstraction actually works. In this paper, I tie these two questions together, to the mutual benefit of both disciplines. I argue that the architectural features that distinguish DCNNs from earlier neural networks allow them to implement a form of hierarchical processing that I call “transformational abstraction”. Transformational abstraction iteratively converts sensory-based representations of category exemplars into new formats that are increasingly tolerant to “nuisance variation” in input. Reflecting upon the way that DCNNs leverage a combination of linear and non-linear processing to efficiently accomplish this feat allows us to understand how the brain is capable of bi-directional travel between exemplars and abstractions, addressing longstanding problems in empiricist philosophy of mind. I end by considering the prospects for future research on DCNNs, arguing that rather than simply implementing 80s connectionism with more brute-force computation, transformational abstraction counts as a qualitatively distinct form of processing ripe with philosophical and psychological significance, because it is significantly better suited to depict the generic mechanism responsible for this important kind of psychological processing in the brain. (shrink)
The paper critically examines recent work on justifications and excuses in epistemology. I start with a discussion of Gerken’s claim that the “excuse maneuver” is ad hoc. Recent work from Timothy Williamson and Clayton Littlejohn provides resources to advance the debate. Focusing in particular on a key insight in Williamson’s view, I then consider an additional worry for the so-called excuse maneuver. I call it the “excuses are not enough” objection. Dealing with this objection generates pressure in two directions: one (...) is to show that excuses are a positive enough normative standing to help certain externalists with important cases; the other is to do so in a way that does not lead back to Gerken’s objection. I show how a Williamson-inspired framework is flexible enough to deal with both sources of pressure. Perhaps surprisingly, I draw on recent virtue epistemology. (shrink)
Is there a distinctively epistemic kind of blame? It has become commonplace for epistemologists to talk about epistemic blame, and to rely on this notion for theoretical purposes. But not everyone is convinced. Some of the most compelling reasons for skepticism about epistemic blame focus on disanologies, or asymmetries, between the moral and epistemic domains. In this paper, I defend the idea that there is a distinctively epistemic kind of blame. I do so primarily by developing an account of the (...) nature of epistemic blame. My account draws on a prominent line of theorizing in moral philosophy that ties blame to our relationships with one another. I argue that with my account of epistemic blame on hand, the most compelling worries about epistemic blame can be deflated. There is a distinctively epistemic kind of blame. (shrink)
A plausible condition on having the standing to blame someone is that the target of blame's wrongdoing must in some sense be your “business”—the wrong must in some sense harm or affect you, or others close to you. This is known as the business condition on standing to blame. Many cases of epistemic blame discussed in the literature do not obviously involve examples of someone harming or affecting another. As such, not enough has been said about how an individual's epistemic (...) failing can really count as another person's business. In this paper, I deploy a relationship-based account of epistemic blame to clarify the conditions under which the business condition can be met in the epistemic domain. The basic idea is that one person's epistemic failing can be another's business in virtue of the way it impairs their epistemic relationship. (shrink)
We all think that science is special. Its products—its technological spin-off—dominate our lives which are thereby sometimes enriched and sometimes impoverished but always affected. Even the most outlandish critics of science such as Feyerabend implicitly recognize its success. Feyerabend told us that science was a congame. Scientists had so successfully hood-winked us into adopting its ideology that other equally legitimate forms of activity—alchemy, witchcraft and magic—lost out. He conjured up a vision of much enriched lives if only we could free (...) ourselves from the domination of the ‘one true ideology’ of science just as our ancestors freed us from the domination of the Church. But he told us these things in Switzerland and in California happily commuting between them in that most ubiquitous product of science—the aeroplane. (shrink)
When there is truth, there must be some thing (or things) to account for that truth: some thing(s) that couldn’t exist and the true proposition fail to be true. That is the truthmaker principle. True propositions are made true by entities in the mind-independently existing external world. The truthmaker principle seems attractive to many metaphysicians, but many have wanted to weaken it and accept not that every true proposition has a truthmaker but only that some important class of propositions require (...) truthmakers.1 Let us, following Armstrong, call the claim that all true propositions, without exception, have a truthmaker, Truthmaker Maximalism. Why might one be tempted to the spirit of truthmaker theory but reject Truthmaker Maximalism? Well, you might deny that necessary truths need truthmakers, for one, and insist that only contingent truths have truthmakers. But I think it’s fair to say that the most common motivation for rejecting maximalism concerns negative truths. The thought that negative truths are exempt from the demand for truthmakers could be justified in one of two ways: there is the claim that we don’t need truthmakers for negative truths, and there is the claim that we can’t have.. (shrink)
Our prominent definitions of cognition are too vague and lack empirical grounding. They have not kept up with recent developments, and cannot bear the weight placed on them across many different debates. I here articulate and defend a more adequate theory. On this theory, behaviors under the control of cognition tend to display a cluster of characteristic properties, a cluster which tends to be absent from behaviors produced by non-cognitive processes. This cluster is reverse-engineered from the empirical tests that comparative (...) psychologists use to determine whether a behavior was generated by a cognitive or a non-cognitive process. Cognition should be understood as the natural kind of psychological process that non-accidentally exhibits the properties assessed by these tests (as well as others we have not yet discovered). Finally, I review two plausible neural accounts of cognition's underlying mechanisms?one based in localization of function to particular brain regions and another based in the more recent distributed networks approach to neuroscience?which would explain why these properties non-accidentally cluster. While this notion of cognition may be useful for a number of debates, I here focus on its application to a recent crisis over the distinction between cognition and association in comparative psychology. (shrink)
Debates about the ethics of health care and medical research in contemporary pluralistic democracies often arise partly from competing religious and secular values. Such disagreements raise challenges of balancing claims of religious liberty with claims to equal treatment in health care. This paper proposes several mid-level principles to help in framing sound policies for resolving such disputes. We develop and illustrate these principles, exploring their application to conscientious objection by religious providers and religious institutions, accommodation of religious priorities in biomedical (...) research, and treatment of patients’ religious views in doctor–patient encounters. Given that no sound set of guiding principles yields precise solutions for every policy dispute, we explore how morally sound democracies might deliberatively resolve such policy issues, following our proposed principles. Taken together and carefully interpreted, these principles may help in guiding difficult decision making in the indefinitely large realm where government, medical providers, and patients encounter problems concerning religion and medicine. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the objection to truthmaker theory, forcibly made by David Lewis and endorsed by many, that it violates the Humean denial of necessary connections between distinct existences. In Sect. 1 I present the argument that acceptance of truthmakers commits us to necessary connections. In Sect. 2 I examine Lewis’ ‘Things-qua-truthmakers’ theory which attempts to give truthmakers without such a commitment, and find it wanting. In Sects. 3–5 I discuss various formulations of the denial of necessary connections (...) and argue that each of them is either false or compatible with truthmaker theory. In Sect. 6 I show how the truthmaker theorist can resist the charge that they are committed to necessary exclusions between possible existents. I conclude that there is no good objection to truthmaker theory on the grounds that it violates the Humean dictum. (shrink)
Philosophers and cognitive scientists have worried that research on animal mind-reading faces a ‘logical problem’: the difficulty of experimentally determining whether animals represent mental states (e.g. seeing) or merely the observable evidence (e.g. line-of-gaze) for those mental states. The most impressive attempt to confront this problem has been mounted recently by Robert Lurz. However, Lurz' approach faces its own logical problem, revealing this challenge to be a special case of the more general problem of distal content. Moreover, participants in this (...) debate do not agree on criteria for representation. As such, future debate should either abandon the representational idiom or confront underlying semantic disagreements. (shrink)
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