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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
Organizations have long struggled to find ways to reduce the occurrence of unethical behaviors by employees. Unfortunately, time theft, a common and costly form of ethical misconduct at work, has been understudied by ethics researchers. In order to remedy this gap in the literature, we used the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to investigate the antecedents of time theft, which includes behaviors such as arriving later to or leaving earlier from work than scheduled, taking additional or longer breaks than is (...) acceptable, and on-the-job daydreaming. We surveyed 135 employed undergraduate business students regarding the TPB variables at Time 1. Two months later, participants reported the frequency they engaged in time theft since Time 1. Results indicate that behavioral, normative, and control beliefs significantly predicted attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control, respectively. Attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control, in turn, were significantly related to time theft intentions, which predicted later enactment of time theft. Thus, employers can decrease time theft by primarily focusing on altering employees' attitudes toward time theft, followed by reducing social pressures to engage in it, and lastly, by implementing organizational practices that make it difficult to commit time theft. (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)
Safety is a notion familiar to epistemologists principally because of the way in which it has been used in the attempt to cast light on the nature of knowledge. In particular, some have argued that an important constraint on knowledge is that one knows p only if one believes p safely. In this paper, I use safety for a different purpose: to cast light on the nature of assertion. I introduce what I call the safety account of assertion, according to (...) which one asserts p properly only if one asserts p safely. The central idea is that an assertion’s propriety depends on whether one could easily have asserted falsely in a similar case. I argue that the safety account is well motivated, since it neatly explains our intuitions about a wide range of assertions of different kinds. Of particular interest is the fact that the account explains our intuitions about several kinds of assertions which appear to raise problems for well-known rival accounts. (shrink)
In earlier work, I have argued that self-referential assertions of the form ‘this assertion is improper’ are paradoxical for the truth account of assertion. In this paper, I argue that such assertions are also paradoxical, though in a different way, for the knowledge account of assertion.
The need to distinguish between logical and extra-logical varieties of inference, entailment, validity, and consistency has played a prominent role in meta-ethical debates between expressivists and descriptivists. But, to date, the importance that matters of logical form play in these distinctions has been overlooked. That’s a mistake given the foundational place that logical form plays in our understanding of the difference between the logical and the extra-logical. This essay argues that descriptivists are better positioned than their expressivist rivals to provide (...) the needed account of logical form, and so better able to capture the needed distinctions. This finding is significant for several reasons: First, it provides a new argument against expressivism. Second, it reveals that descriptivists can make use of this new argument only if they are willing to take a controversial—but plausible—stand on claims about the nature and foundations of logic. (shrink)
There has been much recent interest in questions about epistemic norms of assertion. Is there a norm specific to assertion? Is it constitutive of the speech act? Is there a unique norm of this sort? What is its content? These are important questions, so it's understandable that they have received the attention which they have. By contrast, little attention?little separate attention, at least?has been given to parallel questions about telling: Which norm or norms govern telling, etc.? A natural explanation for (...) this disparity in interest is that it's felt generally to be obvious that there can be no significant distinction between the two types of norms, and hence no need to consider them separately. This paper challenges that general feeling. The first part argues that it's not obvious that the same norms govern assertion and telling. The second part argues that far from being obvious, this idea is mistaken: there are significant differences between the two types of norms. (shrink)
Late in their architectural career, Alison and Peter Smithson designed an eighty-square-foot, indoor-outdoor space for a man and his cat. The Smithsons described this modest space in methodological and phenomenal terms, noting that the addition to Axel Bruchhäuser’s Hexenhaus could be read “as an exemplar of a method by which a small physical change—a layering-over of air adhered to an existing fabric—can bring about a delicate tuning of persons with place.” The Hexenhaus’ tuning elements—second skin, tree screen, and double-acting mesh—create (...) a “treillage’d space” that supplants mediation, reframes attunement, and elicits an active weaving of person, place, and phenomena. This paper seeks to understand what the architects meant by “tuning” and in the process to outline operations for spatial weaving. (shrink)