It is controversial whether masses (what mass nouns refer to) exist. But on the assumption that they do, here are two uncontroversial facts about them: first, they satisfy a fusion principle which takes any set of masses of kind K and yields a mass fusion of kind K; secondly, a mass must have all and only the same parts at every time at which it exists. These two theses are usually built into the concept 'mass'. I argue that the latter (...) follows from the former. This shows that the concept 'mass' is unified, not gerrymandered. Moreover, since my arguments show that any entity which follows a certain fusion principle is also mereologically constant, and since these two properties are sufficient for being a mass, my arguments make it easier to argue that there are masses. (shrink)
The Charlie Hebdo massacre in January 2015 and the subsequent attacks of November 13 cast a garish light onto a conundrum at the center of how liberal democracies understand themselves. The Syrian emigrant crisis has added further color. How can a tolerant, liberal political culture tolerate the presence of intolerant, illiberal, sub-cultures while remaining true to its principles of tolerance? The problem falls within the intersection of two developments in the thinking of John Rawls, the great American political philosopher (...) who died in 2002. The later Rawls struggled with the problem of how society might stably survive the clash of plural sub-cultures that a liberal society - unless it is oppressively coercive - must itself foster and allow to flourish. And he separately struggled with the problem of how liberal peoples might peacefully share the planet with illiberal, but "decent" peoples elsewhere. This article shows that Rawls's two solutions do not easily mix. (shrink)
In this thesis, I use a close reading of the silent films of Charlie Chaplin to examine a question of listening posed by Jean-Luc Nancy, “Is listening something of which philosophy is capable” (Nancy 2007:1)? Drawing on the work of Nancy, Jacques Derrida and Gayatri Spivak, I consider a claim that philosophy has failed to address the topic of listening because a logocentric tradition claims speech as primary. In response to Derrida’s deconstruction of logocentrism, Nancy complicates the problem of (...) listening by distinguishing between l’écoute and l’entente. L’écoute is an attending to and answering the demand of the other and l’entente is an understanding directed inward toward a subject. Nancy could deconstruct an undervalued position of l’écoute, making listening essential to speech. I argue, Nancy rather asks what kind of listening philosophy is capable of. To examine this question, I focus on the peculiarly dialogical figure derived from Chaplin that communicates meaning without using speech. This discussion illustrates how Chaplin, in the role of a silent figure, listens to himself (il s’écoute) as other. Chaplin’s listening is Nancean resonance, a movement in which a subject refers back to itself as another subject, in constant motion of spatial and temporal non-presence. For Nancy, listening is a self’s relationship to itself, but without immediate self-presence. Moving in resonance, Chaplin makes the subject as other as he refers back to himself as other. I argue that Chaplin, through silent dialogue with himself by way of the other, makes his listening listened to. Chaplin refused to make his character speak because he believed speech would change the way in which his work would be listened to. In this way, Chaplin makes people laugh by making himself understood (se fait entendre) as he makes himself listened to (se fait écouter). In answer to Nancy’s question, I conclude philosophy is capable of meeting the demand of listening as both l’entente and l’écoute when it listens as Chaplin listens. (shrink)
This discussion follows a series of high profile cases involving a terminally ill child, Charlie Gard. These cases are significant as they trace the complexities that arise when parents and medical teams do not agree as well as addressing the question of whether there is a right to access experimental treatment.
The parents of Charlie Gard, who was born August 4, 2016, with an exceedingly rare and incurable disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, fought a prolonged and heated legal battle to allow him access to experimental treatment that they hoped would prolong his life and to prevent his doctors from withdrawing life-sustaining care. Charlie's clinicians at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London believed that the brain damage Charlie had suffered as a result of frequent epileptic seizures, (...) along with many other severe disabilities, would render any innovative therapy futile, and they disagreed with his parents’ wishes to use an experimental therapy. They felt it in Charlie's best interest that he be allowed to die. A battle ensued among Charlie's parents, his doctors, and a guardian who had been appointed to represent him that drew the attention of politicians and prominent persons from all over the world. The case was much in the news over the past year, but it has also been frequently misunderstood. (shrink)
The televised Charlie Brown Christmas tale and its bawdy Peanuts characters taught me important lessons while growing up as the awkwardly drawn, “blockhead” sibling. This essay explores the down and dirty deities that reside in each of us, including Brown and Pig Pen, at once seen as contemporary symbols of the globally inter challenged-being and surprising instruments of sacred expression. Ruminations on the Bhagavad Gita, Immanuel Kant, Jessye Norman, bell hooks, and Thich Nhat Hahn encourage us to reimagine contexts (...) for power and authority, racial mistrust and injustice, and restoring our slumping spirits. (shrink)
Starting from support for James's critique of Clifford's dictum, the article argues for holding beliefs, whether secular or religious, firmly but provisionally, remaining open to fresh experience. This consideration prompts reflection on the debate following the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Alternative beliefs were opposing each other with seemingly equal certainty. The justification for insistence on the right to free speech itself requires scrutiny. The article finishes by noting the baleful effects of the intellectual apartheid which has tended to be (...) practised in the West which presumes that religion and reason have nothing to do with each other. (shrink)
"Nous vomissons sur tous ces gens qui, subitement, disent être nos amis," ["We vomit on all those people who suddenly declare themselves our friends"],1 Willem, one of the surviving cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo told the press shortly after the 2015 attack on the magazine's offices that left twelve dead, including six of its star cartoonists. Willem was speaking at the peak of demonstrations that were taking place across France in support of the paper, which became known as Republican marches. (...) Thrust suddenly into international prominence, CH editors made a show of their irreverence towards their new supporters, mocking the way their cause was being taken up by their erstwhile political... (shrink)
Using the work of Emmanuel Levinas, this article sheds light on Charlie Chaplin's The Circus, a piece that so far eluded the critics, despite its immense popularity with theater viewers. I show that it is not Chaplin's lack of inventiveness that makes the Tramp risk his life on the tightrope 'for nothing'. It is, on the contrary, Chaplin's intuitive sense that makes him believe, anticipating Levinas, that it is human and simple for a person to help another for no (...) benefit. It is this point that cinema-goers understood more easily than we, scholars, may think. Starting with The Circus I demonstrate that this film, which critics have underestimated due to its 'pointless' ending, becomes meaningful once interpreted as promoting radical for-the-other ethics. My argument about The Circus is supported by close reading as well as Chaplin's own remarks and his later talkie Limelight in which similar ideas are expressed more openly through language and through the ending scene, with the protagonist dying on stage, to the sounds of roaring laughter of the audience. (shrink)
In his new paper, “Eligibility and Inscrutability,” J. R. G. Williams presents a surprising new challenge to David Lewis’ theory of interpretation. Although Williams frames this challenge primarily as a response to Lewis’ criticisms of Putnam’s model-theoretic argument, the challenge itself goes to the heart of Lewis’ own account of interpretation. Further, and leaving Lewis’ project aside for a moment, Williams’ argument highlights some important—and some fairly general—points concerning the relationship between model theory and semantic determinacy.
Cohn's (2013) theory of “Visual Narrative Grammar” argues that sequential images take on categorical roles in a narrative structure, which organizes them into hierarchic constituents analogous to the organization of syntactic categories in sentences. This theory proposes that narrative categories, like syntactic categories, can be identified through diagnostic tests that reveal tendencies for their distribution throughout a sequence. This paper describes four experiments testing these diagnostics to provide support for the validity of these narrative categories. In Experiment 1, participants reconstructed (...) unordered panels of a comic strip into an order that makes sense. Experiment 2 measured viewing times to panels in sequences where the order of panels was reversed. In Experiment 3, participants again reconstructed strips but also deleted a panel from the sequence. Finally, in Experiment 4 participants identified where a panel had been deleted from a comic strip and rated that strip's coherence. Overall, categories had consistent distributional tendencies within experiments and complementary tendencies across experiments. These results point toward an interaction between categorical roles and a global narrative structure. (shrink)
This paper begins with an examination of Amelie Rorty’s claim that although “emotions cannot be rational in the narrow sense of being logically derived from accepted premises, they can be deemed rational . . . as ‘appropriately formed to serve our thriving.’” This is the background against which (i) I develop a notion of ‘emotional holism’ based on the aetiology of emotion in infantile phantasy; and (ii) introduce a dark corollary about the likelihood that our emotions do not, on the (...) whole, match the myths we use to describe them to ourselves. The paper has five sections: (1) The Rationality of Kinds of Emotion and the Argument Against the Rationality of Particular Emotions; (2) Alternative Views of the Rationality of Emotions; (3) Is EmotionaI Behavior RationaI?; (4) Do Particular Emotions Generally Serve Our Thriving?; and (5) Are There Emotions Not Worth Having?: EmotionaI Holism and Manipulating One’s Emotional Repertoire. (shrink)
This paper examines how, building on earlier filmic representations such as Ousmane Sembene’s La Noire de… and Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako, Khady Sylla’s Le Monologue de la muette traces a continuum of women’s exploitation, from slavery to colonization to globalization.
This paper begins with an examination of Amelie Rorty’s claim that although “emotions cannot be rational in the narrow sense of being logically derived from accepted premises, they can be deemed rational... as ‘appropriately formed to serve our thriving.’” This is the background against which I develop a notion of ‘emotional holism’ based on the aetiology of emotion in infantile phantasy; and introduce a dark corollary about the likelihood that our emotions do not, on the whole, match the myths we (...) use to describe them to ourselves. The paper has five sections: The Rationality of Kinds of Emotion and the Argument Against the Rationality of Particular Emotions; Alternative Views of the Rationality of Emotions; Is EmotionaI Behavior RationaI?; Do Particular Emotions Generally Serve Our Thriving?; and Are There Emotions Not Worth Having?: EmotionaI Holism and Manipulating One’s Emotional Repertoire. (shrink)
"In 'I Don't Know, Just Wait: Remembering Remarriage in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', William Day shows how Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind should be considered part of the film genre known as remarriage comedy; but he also shows how Kaufman contributes something new to the genre. Day addresses, in particular, how the conversation that is the condition for reunion involves discovering 'what it means to have memories together as a way of learning how to be together'. (...) One of the most innovative aspects of Kaufman's filmic representation of such a conversation is its effect on the audience: how the narrative structure 'replicates for the viewer the felt contingency of memory that we attribute' to the characters we see onscreen - a couple contending with the interrelated experiences of remarriage and remembering." --David LaRocca, Introduction to The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman, 12. (shrink)
This book explores how the practice of art, in particular of avant-garde art, keeps our relation to time, history and even our own humanity open. Examining key moments in the history of both technology and art from the beginnings of industrialisation to today, Charlie Gere explores both the making and purpose of art and how much further it can travel from the human body.
A recent skeptical challenge denies deliberation is essential to virtuous agency: what looks like genuine deliberation is just a post hoc rationalization of a decision already made by automatic mechanisms (Haidt 2001; Doris 2015). Annas’s account of virtue seems well-equipped to respond: by modeling virtue on skills, she can agree that virtuous actions are deliberation-free while insisting that their development requires significant thought. But Annas’s proposal is flawed: it over-intellectualizes deliberation’s developmental role and under-intellectualizes its significance once virtue is acquired. (...) Doing better requires paying attention to a distinctive form of anxiety—one that functions to engage deliberation in the face of decisions that automatic mechanisms alone cannot resolve. (shrink)
Negative emotions are often thought to lack value—they’re pernicious, inherently unpleasant, and inconsistent with human virtue. Taking anxiety as a case study, I argue that this assessment is mistaken. I begin with an account of what anxiety is: a response to uncertainty about a possible threat or challenge that brings thoughts about one’s predicament (‘I’m worried,’ ‘What should I do?’), negatively valenced feelings of concern, and a motivational tendency toward caution regarding the potential threat one faces. Given this account of (...) what anxiety is, I show it can be instrumentally valuable: in sensitizing us to uncertainty and prompting caution and risk assessment efforts, it’s an emotion that can help us better recognize and respond to uncertain threats and challenges. But anxiety can also be aretaically valuable—that is, it’s an emotion that can contribute positively to one’s character. For instance, your anxiety about how best to care for your aging mother not only prompts helpful brainstorming about what you should do, but also reflect well on you—your unease demonstrates both an admirable sensitivity and emotional attunement to what’s at stake. (shrink)
Theories of children's developing understanding of mind tend to emphasize either individualistic processes of theory formation, maturation, or introspection, or the process of enculturation. However, such theories must be able to account for the accumulating evidence of the role of social interaction in the development of social understanding. We propose an alternative account, according to which the development of children's social understanding occurs within triadic interaction involving the child's experience of the world as well as communicative interaction with others about (...) their experience and beliefs (Chapman 1991; 1999). It is through such triadic interaction that children gradually construct knowledge of the world as well as knowledge of other people. We contend that the extent and nature of the social interaction children experience will influence the development of children's social understanding. Increased opportunity to engage in cooperative social interaction and exposure to talk about mental states should facilitate the development of social understanding. We review evidence suggesting that children's understanding of mind develops gradually in the context of social interaction. Therefore, we need a theory of development in this area that accords a fundamental role to social interaction, yet does not assume that children simply adopt socially available knowledge but rather that children construct an understanding of mind within social interaction. Key Words: language; Piaget; social interaction; theories of mind; Vygotsky; Wittgenstein. (shrink)
A familiar feature of moral life is the distinctive anxiety that we feel in the face of a moral dilemma or moral conflict. Situations like these require us to take stands on controversial issues. But because we are unsure that we will make the correct decision, anxiety ensues. Despite the pervasiveness of this phenomenon, surprisingly little work has been done either to characterize this “ moral anxiety” or to explain the role that it plays in our moral lives. This paper (...) aims to address this deficiency by developing an empirically informed account of what moral anxiety is and what it does. (shrink)
where ‘aa’ is a plural term, and ‘F’ a plural predicate. Following George Boolos (1984) and others, many philosophers and logicians also think that plural expressions should be analysed as not introducing any new ontological commitments to some sort of ‘plural entities’, but rather as involving a new form of reference to objects to which we are already committed (for an overview and further details, see Linnebo 2004). For instance, the plural term ‘aa’ refers to Alice, Bob and Charlie (...) simultaneously, and the plural predicate ‘F’ is true of some things just in case these things cooperate. A natural question that arises is whether the step from the singular to the plural can be iterated. Are there terms that stand to ordinary plural terms the way ordinary plural terms stand to singular terms? Let’s call such terms superplural. A superplural term would thus, loosely speaking, refer to several ‘pluralities’ at once, much as an ordinary plural term refers to several objects at once.1 Further, let’s call a predicate superplural if it can be predicated of superplural terms. It is reasonably straightforward to devise a formal logic of superplural terms, superplural predicates, and even superplural quantifiers (see Rayo 2006). But does this formal logic reflect any features of natural languages? In particular, does ordinary English contain superplural terms and predicates? The purpose of this article is to address these questions. We examine some earlier arguments for the existence of superplural expressions in English and find them to be either.. (shrink)
Emotion plays an important role in securing social stability. But while emotions like fear, anger, and guilt have received much attention in this context, little work has been done to understand the role that anxiety plays. That’s unfortunate. I argue that a particular form of anxiety—what I call ‘practical anxiety’—plays an important, but as of yet unrecognized, role in norm-based social regulation. More specifically, it provides a valuable form of metacognition, one that contributes to social stability by helping individuals negotiate (...) the challenges that come from having to act in the face of unclear norms. (shrink)
Epistemic relationism in the theory of assertion is the view that an assertion's epistemic propriety depends purely on the relation between the asserter and the proposition asserted. Many accounts of assertion are relationist in this sense, including the familiar knowledge, belief, and justification accounts. A notable feature of such accounts is that they give no direct importance to the role of hearer: as far as such accounts are concerned, we need make no mention of hearers in characterising an assertion's propriety (...) conditions. This paper develops an account which rejects relationism, by giving central importance to the role of hearer. The paper introduces the knowledge provision account, according to which an assertion that p is proper only if it is fit to give a hearer knowledge that p. The paper aims to show: (i) that we can understand this account in a way which does not leave it open to obvious counterexamples, (ii) that it does not reduce to any familiar relationist account, and (iii) that it carries certain advantages over familiar relationist accounts. (shrink)
Conducting large multi-site research within universities highlights inconsistencies between universities in approaches, requirements and responses of research ethics committees. Within the context of a social science research study, we attempted to obtain ethical approval from 101 universities across England to recruit students for a short online survey. We received varied responses from research ethics committees of different universities with the steps to obtaining ethics approval ranging from those that only required proof of approval from our home institution, to universities that (...) facilitated fast-track applications to those that required a full ethics review. Some universities also completely refused. After contacting all 101 universities in England, 60 universities gave clearance to our study. In this article, we present the different approaches universities adopted in response to our application to sample from students in their institution. We consider a number of conceptual and ethical issues pertinent to considering ethics approval for researchers from other universities in England and critically discuss three possible models of ethics governance that would cover all universities in England. (shrink)
Allan Gibbard maintains that his plan-based expressivism allows for a particular type of innocent mistake: I can agree that your plan to X makes sense (say, because it was based on advice from someone you trust), while nonetheless insisting that it is incorrect (e.g., because you chose a bad advisor). However, Steve Daskal has recently argued that there are significant limitations in Gibbard’s account of how we can be mistaken about the normative judgments we make. This essay refines Gibbard’s account (...) in order to show--contra Daskal--that expressivists can deliver a surprisingly robust form of normative objectivity. (shrink)
Can one gain testimonial knowledge from unsafe testimony? It might seem not, on the grounds that if a piece of testimony is unsafe, then any belief based on it in such a way as to make the belief genuinely testimonial is bound itself to be unsafe: the lack of safety must transmit from the testimony to the testimonial belief. If in addition we accept that knowledge requires safety, the result seems to be that one cannot gain testimonial knowledge from unsafe (...) testimony. In a pair of recent papers, however, Sanford Goldberg has challenged this apparently plausible line of thought. Goldberg presents two examples intended to show that a testimonial belief can be safe, even if the testimony on which it is based is unsafe: the lack of safety need not transmit from the testimony to the testimonial belief. In this paper, I question whether Goldberg’s examples really do show that one can gain safe testimonial belief from unsafe testimony. The problem, I explain, is that both examples appear (for different reasons) to be open to objection. Nevertheless, I argue that although Goldberg’s examples do not establish his conclusion, the conclusion itself is true: one can gain safe testimonial belief from unsafe testimony. I base my argument on an example which differs in structure from Goldberg’s examples, and I argue that due to this difference, my example avoids the problems which Goldberg’s examples face. (shrink)
A prominent argument for moral realism notes that we are inclined to accept realism in science because scientific inquiry supports a robust set of critical practices—error, improvement, explanation, and the like. It then argues that because morality displays a comparable set of critical practices, a claim to moral realism is just as warranted as a claim to scientific realism. But the argument is only as strong as its central analogy—and here there is trouble. If the analogy between the critical practices (...) of science and morality is loosely interpreted, the argument does not support moral realism—for paradigmatically constructivist discourses like fashion display the relevant critical practices just as well. So if the argument is to have force, the realist must say more about why the critical practices of morality are sufficiently like those of science to warrant realism. But this cannot be done—moral inquiry differs from scientific inquiry in too many important ways. So the analogy with the critical practices of science fails to vindicate moral realism. But there are further lessons: in looking closely at the critical practices of our moral discourse—and in comparing them to the critical practices of science and fashion—we gain insight into what is distinctive about morality objectivity and moral metaphysics. (shrink)