How do we define religious experiences? And what would be the relationship with spiritual experiences? The author claims that the cognitive turn in science gives us new opportunities to map the territory of religion and spirituality. In line with other authors, he proposes a building block approach of cognitive mechanisms that can deal with questions regarding the specificity, origin, and complexity of religious experiences. Two concepts are presented that bridge the great divide which is presumed to exist between sciences that (...) study the brain and humanities, namely the encultured brain and predictive minds. In section three, six building blocks of the structure of religious experience are formulated. New in his approach is the unexpected possible as distinctive ground between normal experiences and what we consider spiritual and religious experiences. Finally, the author presents a critical reflection on his proposal and challenges for the road ahead. (shrink)
Herman Dooyeweerd approached time in terms of order. By contrast, Dirk Vollenhoven saw time as continuous change and becoming. Hendrik Hart, in his article “Problems of Time: An Essay,” attempts to steer a middle course between Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven. However, Hart did not sufficiently take into account that temporality is primarily continuous succession in duration and continuous duration in succession. Nor has he been able to come to terms with the root of cosmic time.
Belgium and the Netherlands are the first countries in the world that have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide. Since September 23, 2002, Belgian physicians can perform an act of euthanasia without at the same time performing a criminal act. In the Netherlands, the act on euthanasia went into force already on April 1, 2002. This special issue of Ethical Perspectives on ‘Euthanasia in the Low Countries’ offers a forum for critical dialogue on the different aspects of this new legal situation (...) in Belgium and the Netherlands.First, the legal situation will be introduced. In his contribution, Herman Nys makes a careful comparison of both laws. In spite of the fact that Belgium and the Netherlands are the first countries in the world that legalized euthanasia, the differences between the Belgian and Dutch law are fundamental. As Nys indicates, the scope of the Dutch law is more specified since it explicitly includes physician-assisted suicide while it remains unclear whether the Belgian act is also applicable in cases of assisted suicide. There are also fundamental differences regarding the persons regulated by the law, the health condition of the patient, the obligations of the physician with respect to the request and the health status of the patient, and the notification procedure.However, not only are there fundamental differences between Belgium and the Netherlands on the level of the law. Also the public debate and the values underlying the the debate show dissimilarities. In the Netherlands this debate took more than twenty years and the subsequent law on euthanasia reflected an existing medical practice. In Belgium, on the contrary, the parliament came to vote on the euthanasia law after only half a decade of debate. In our contribution , we identify the right to autonomy understood as ‘self-possession’ as the central value in the Belgian debate. Guy Widdershoven asserts that the moral basis of euthanasia in the Netherlands is different. He argues that the Dutch debate — and by now Dutch practice — cannot be reduced to the "principlist canon of autonomy and beneficence". Instead, the values of responsibility, deliberation and care are claimed to be central to Dutch euthanasia practice.In his contribution, Daniel Sulmasy offers an exhaustive analysis of the notion of dignity that constantly arises in the debate on euthanasia. For Christian churches and Catholic healthcare institutions, the recent legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide is at least challenging. Jan Jans describes the way in which the main Christian churches in Belgium and the Netherlands engaged in the debate and reacted to the eventual legalization. Chris Gastmans presents the view of the Flemish Association of Catholic Healthcare Institutions.Law-making with respect to euthanasia is one thing. Bringing the law into practice is somewhat different. The question arises to what extent the new legal situation will bear upon the medical practice. Particularly, the responses of physicians are difficult to assess in advance. Physicians face the dilemma to report or not to report. They can take up their responsibility and report their practices of euthanasia, thereby exposing themselves to critical examination and possibly criminal prosecution. On the other hand, the physician can opt for safety and decide not to report his involvement in one of his patients’ euthanasia. In the latter case, the introduction of new legislation would have missed the mark. To this day, the only available data with regard to physicians’ reactions to an established legal framework wherein euthanasia is legalized come from the Netherlands. In his contribution, Albert Klijn presents the reactions of Dutch physicians to the new legal situation in their country and, particularly, the performance of their duty to report cases of euthanasia. Since the vote on the law in 2000 and the establishment of ‘regional review committees for termination of life on request and assisted suicide’ in 2001, the reports of euthanasia have declined. Klijn considers two possible explanations. On the one hand, there is insecurity about how the newly established regional review committees will evaluate physician' reports. On the other hand, the increased investment in research on palliative care and the availability of palliative sedation are held responsible for the drop in reported cases.This very interesting suggestion by Klijn needs further clarification. Therefore, the meaning of palliative care and the possibility of palliative sedation are elaborated in the contribution of Bert Broeckaert and Rien Janssens.With this special issue on ‘Euthanasia in the Low Countries’ we hope to have answered the numerous requests for further information on the Belgian and Dutch situation. Data, clarification and critical review may shed more light on the development of a practice, which some still consider as non-medical behaviour. This issue may therefore also function as a catalyst for further medical, ethical and legal debate. (shrink)
While recognising the power and fundamental importance of Wickham’s Framing the Early Middle Ages, this essay explores some of the problems associated with the relative silence within the text about the issue of the forces of production and their development. By contrast, Harman suggests that Wickham’s most important contribution to our understanding of the period, his concept of a peasant-mode of production, is best understood against the backdrop of prior developments of the forces of production. Moreover, the peasant-mode’s temporality is (...) itself best understood against the background of further developments of the forces of production. (shrink)
Herman Cappelen investigates how language and other representational devices can go wrong, and how to fix them. We use language to understand and talk about the world, but what if our language has deficiencies that prevent it from playing that role? How can we revise our concepts, and what are the limits on revision?
Sciabarra replies to the seven respondents to his Fall 2002 essay on Rand, Rush, and progressive rock music. He defends the view that Rand's dialectical orientation underlies a fundamentally radical perspective. Rand shared with the counterculture—especially its libertarian progressive rock representatives—a repudiation of authoritarianism, while embracing the "unknown ideal" of capitalism. Her ability to trace the interrelationships among personal, cultural, and structural factors in social analysis and her repudiation of false alternatives is at the heart of that ideal vision, which (...) transcends left and right. (shrink)
The standard view of philosophical methodology is that philosophers rely on intuitions as evidence. Herman Cappelen argues that this claim is false: it is not true that philosophers rely extensively on intuitions as evidence. At worst, analytic philosophers are guilty of engaging in somewhat irresponsible use of 'intuition'-vocabulary. While this irresponsibility has had little effect on first order philosophy, it has fundamentally misled meta-philosophers: it has encouraged meta-philosophical pseudo-problems and misleading pictures of what philosophy is.
Nurses in hard hit cities during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and family caregivers for people with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease present two puzzles. First, traditional accounts of supererogation cannot allow for the possibility of making enormous sacrifices that make one’s actions supererogatory simply to do what morality requires. These caregivers, however, are doing their moral duty, yet their actions also seem to be paradigmatic cases of supererogation. I argue that Dale Dorsey’s new account of supererogation can solve this (...) puzzle. Second, these caregivers often deny that they are heroic, but standard explanations of these assertions either diminish their sacrifice, say they are confused, or attribute to them a vice. If we want to understand them without diminishing them, we should instead see their denials as a response to what Beth DeVolder calls compulsory heroism. Compulsory heroism occurs when someone is foisted into the role of hero for doing their moral duty as a distraction from the social realities that make doing their duty involve inordinate sacrifice. (shrink)
The primary aim of this book is to understand how seemings relate to justification and whether some version of dogmatism or phenomenal conservatism can be sustained. It also addresses a number of other issues, including the nature of seemings, cognitive penetration, Bayesianism, and the epistemology of morality and disagreement.
It is natural to think that many of our beliefs are rational because they are based on seemings, or on the way things seem. This is especially clear in the case of perception. Many of our mathematical, moral, and memory beliefs also appear to be based on seemings. In each of these cases, it is natural to think that our beliefs are not only based on a seeming, but also that they are rationally based on these seemings—at least assuming there (...) is no relevant counterevidence. This piece is an introduction to a volume dedicated to the question of what the connection is between seemings and justified belief: under what conditions, if any, can a seeming justify its content? (shrink)
This paper is an enquiry into the logical, metaphysical, and physical possibility of time travel understood in the sense of the existence of closed worldlines that can be traced out by physical objects. We argue that none of the purported paradoxes rule out time travel either on grounds of logic or metaphysics. More relevantly, modern spacetime theories such as general relativity seem to permit models that feature closed worldlines. We discuss, in the context of Gödel's infamous argument for the ideality (...) of time based on his eponymous spacetime, what this apparent physical possibility of time travel means. Furthermore, we review the recent literature on so-called time machines, i.e., of devices that produce closed worldlines where none would have existed otherwise. Finally, we investigate what the implications of the quantum behaviour of matter for the possibility of time travel might be and explicate in what sense time travel might be possible according to leading contenders for full quantum theories of gravity such as string theory and loop quantum gravity. (shrink)
This volume unites various contributions reflecting the intellectual interests exhibited by Professor Herman Parret, who has continued to observe, and often critically assess, ongoing developments in pragmatics throughout his career. In fact, Parret's contributions to philosophical and empirical/linguistic pragmatics present substantive proposals in the epistemics of communication, while simultaneously offering meta-comments on the ideological premises of extant pragmatic analyses. In a lengthy introduction, an overview is provided of his achievements in promoting an integrated, "maximalist" pragmatics, as well as of the (...) links between his own work in philosophy of language and in semiotics and aesthetics. The remaining 12 essays address relevant pragmatic themes or look into the relation between pragmatics and neighboring disciplines. They deal with grammatical deixis and mood, performativity, speech-act types and their praxeological dimensions, Wittgensteinian language games, cultural and intercultural identities, and the visual arts. (shrink)
After examining the ethical and political writings of Immanuel Kant, one finds an apparent paradox in his philosophy as his perfectionist moral teachings appear to be linked to his anti-perfectionist political theory. Specifically, he writes that the perfection of moral character can only take place for an individual who is inside of civil society, a condition where no laws may legitimately be implemented expressly for the purpose of trying to make individuals moral. Kant believes that living in civil society is (...) a necessary condition for an individual to refine his talents and reason completely, a process required by morality. I believe, however, that the connection between his moral and political theory runs much deeper than simply facilitating the refinement of talents. Kant's moral theory focuses on an individual's cultivation of virtue, but this cultivation cannot be most satisfactorily completed unless that individual is a member of civil society. Put differently, civil society plays a necessary role in cultivating an individual's character so that he is able to act from maxims consistent with the moral law, out of the respect for the law itself. However, because he believes that civic laws primarily intended to encourage moral cultivation cannot be implemented legitimately, it seems curious that this condition should play such a significant role in Kant's moral philosophy. Through this examination of Kant's moral and political theory, it will be shown that Kant's political society establishes a condition necessary for an individual's complete cultivation of virtue, not by implementing laws that make men moral but by weakening the forces of heteronomy, thereby removing barriers to moral action. (shrink)
In his 1959–1960 seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan states that one can only fully understand the intellectual problems Freud addresses when one recognizes the filiation or cultural paternity that exists between him and a new direction of thought represented by Luther. In this article Lacan’s interest in Luther’s theological voluntarism, his conception of God, his articulation of what Lacan identifies as the modern crisis in ethics and his view on the law in relation to (...) desire is presented and analysed. It is argued that Lacan is primarily interested in Luther as a religious author radically expressing the problem of the foundation of moral law and addressing the question how and where a person finds moral orientation after the break with the medieval Aristotelian-scholastic universal order and given man’s sinful desires. (shrink)
Otto Neurath's everyday "cabby"-language would only have preserved its appearance of a conceptual system-neutrality to the extent at which it were to retain its semantic amorphousness as well as its user's shallow pragmatic mtentions. This neutrality would be irretrievably lost the moment the constituent parts of the everyday "cabby"-language were to be precised to a degree which transcended all conceivable pragmatic mtentions reasonably attributable to a cabman or to any other everyday speaker-. Dilemma: Either we settle for a semantically and (...) pragmatically unambitious, superficial chatter, typical of a cabman, whereby we shall gam conceptual neutrality, or we relinquish all aspirations towards system neutrality in favor of a higher level of preciseness, which might in turn open the possibüities for some sort of meaningful, even philosophically relevant, discourse. (shrink)
RésuméUne justification d'institutions morales ou politiques doit fournir aux gens une motivation pour agir en conformité avec ses diktats. Cela étant admis, je soutiens que le contractualisme est la seule méthode plausible par laquelle une telle justification puisse être fournie. Les contractualistes soutiennent que les institutions morales ou politiques sont justifiées dans la mesure où elles seraient le résultat d'une entente conclue par des agents rationnels. Les agents rationnels agissent de façon à maximiser lew utilité attendue. Lorsque tous les facteurs (...) sont pris en considération, une entente conclue par des agents rationnels doit done maximiser leur utilité attendue. À partir de cela, et de l'observation du lieu commun selon lequel des personnes différentes ont des préférences différentes, je soutiens que les justifications contractualistes sont relatives à la fois sur le plan normatif et sur leplan méta-éthique. Tant les règies ainsi justifiées que la procédure employée pour produire la justification doivent être identifiées relativement à des populations particulières. (shrink)
Ethicists increasingly reject the scale as a useful metaphor for weighing reasons. Yet they generally retain the metaphor of a reason’s weight. This combination is incoherent. The metaphor of weight entails a very specific scale-based model of weighing reasons, Dual Scale. Justin Snedegar worries that scale-based models of weighing reasons can’t properly weigh reasons against an option. I show that there are, in fact, two different reasons for/against distinctions, and I provide an account of the relationship between the various kinds (...) of reason for and against. With this account in hand, we’ll see that Dual Scale has no problem weighing any kind of reason against. (shrink)
Herman Philipse puts forward a powerful new critique of belief in God. He examines the strategies that have been used for the philosophical defence of religious belief, and by careful reasoning casts doubt on the legitimacy of relying on faith instead of evidence, and on probabilistic arguments for the existence of God.
It is commonplace that whenever a metahistorian attempts to rule out some more or less general approaches to history, or certain methods, procedures as being impossible in history: “it just can’t be done!”—then, invariably, there is another metahistorian who will point to some historians who did just that, which allegedly could not be done. Equally predictable are the objections to such “contrary cases,” viz.: “That isn’t history!” What is it then? It may be religion, metaphysics, Spengler-ism, Toynbeeism,—or worse: social science, (...) sociology, and even: psychology! (shrink)
Phenomenal conservatism holds, roughly, that if it seems to S that P, then S has evidence for P. I argue for two main conclusions. The first is that phenomenal conservatism is better suited than is proper functionalism to explain how a particular type of religious belief formation can lead to non-inferentially justified religious beliefs. The second is that phenomenal conservatism makes evidence so easy to obtain that the truth of evidentialism would not be a significant obstacle to justified religious belief. (...) A natural objection to phenomenal conservatism is that it makes evidence too easy to obtain, but I argue this objection is mistaken. (shrink)
The chapter introduces and characterizes the notion of fittingness. It charts the history of the relation and its relevance to contemporary debates in normative and metanormative philosophy and proceeds to survey issues to do with fittingness covered in the volume’s chapters, including the nature and epistemology of fittingness, the relations between fittingness and reasons, the normativity of fittingness, fittingness and value theory, and the role of fittingness in theorizing about responsibility. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of issues to (...) do with fittingness that aren’t covered extensively by the volume’s chapters in order to indicate avenues for further research. (shrink)
Author of _The Fountainhead_ and _Atlas Shrugged_, Ayn Rand is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century. Yet, despite the sale of over thirty million copies of her works, there have been few serious scholarly examinations of her thought. _Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical_ provides a comprehensive analysis of the intellectual roots and philosophy of this controversial thinker. It has been nearly twenty years since the original publication of Chris Sciabarra’s _Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical_. (...) Those years have witnessed an explosive increase in Rand sightings across the social landscape: in books on philosophy, politics, and culture; in film and literature; and in contemporary American politics, from the rise of the Tea Party to recent presidential campaigns. During this time Sciabarra continued to work toward the reclamation of the dialectical method in the service of a radical libertarian politics, culminating in his book _Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism_. This new edition of _Ayn Rand_ adds two chapters that provide in-depth analysis of the most complete transcripts to date documenting Rand’s education at Petrograd State University. It includes a new preface that places the book in the context of Sciabarra’s own research and the recent expansion of interest in Rand’s beliefs. And finally, this edition adds a postscript that answers a recent critic of Sciabarra’s historical work on Rand. Shoshana Milgram, Rand’s biographer, has tried to cast doubt on Rand’s own recollections of having studied with the famous Russian philosopher N. O. Lossky. Sciabarra shows that Milgram’s analysis fails to cast doubt on Rand’s recollections—or on Sciabarra’s historical thesis. (shrink)
This response to insightful commentaries on my book, from Richard Shusterman, Susan Dieleman, Raff Donelson, and Colin Koopman, takes up the recurring theme of the nature of normativity on a Rortyan view. To frame my individual replies, I revisit the Davidsonian account of epistemic interaction that influences Rorty’s mature view and suggest that the norms implicit in Davidsonian triangulation are insufficient to support Rorty’s antiauthoritarianism in ethics and epistemology. To address the resulting question of how to account for norms of (...) responsibility and obligation within Rorty’s thought, I highlight key strands of the pragmatic tradition, originating with Peirce but extending through James, Addams, and Dewey, that Rorty reconstructs in the process of developing the full implications of prioritizing democracy over philosophy. (shrink)
This book takes concepts developed by researchers in theoretical computer science and adapts and applies them to the study of natural language meaning. Summarizing over a decade of research, Chris Barker and Chung-chieh Shan put forward the Continuation Hypothesis: that the meaning of a natural language expression can depend on its own continuation.
Classical acquaintance theory is any version of classical foundationalism that appeals to acquaintance in order to account for non-inferential justification. Such theories are well suited to account for a kind of infallible non-inferential justification. Why am I justified in believing that I’m in pain? An initially attractive (partial) answer is that I’m acquainted with my pain. But since I can’t be acquainted with what isn’t there, acquaintance with my pain guarantees that I’m in pain. What’s less clear is whether, given (...) classical acquaintance theory, it’s possible to have non-inferential justification to believe something false. Classical acquaintance theorists try to make room for such a possibility, but I argue that the attempts of Richard Fumerton, Ali Hasan, and Evan Fales are inadequate. I’ll focus on introspective justification, but similar issues arise for a priori justification as well. (shrink)
Can humans and artificial intelligences share concepts and communicate? Making AI Intelligible shows that philosophical work on the metaphysics of meaning can help answer these questions. Herman Cappelen and Josh Dever use the externalist tradition in philosophy to create models of how AIs and humans can understand each other. In doing so, they illustrate ways in which that philosophical tradition can be improved. The questions addressed in the book are not only theoretically interesting, but the answers have pressing practical implications. (...) Many important decisions about human life are now influenced by AI. In giving that power to AI, we presuppose that AIs can track features of the world that we care about (for example, creditworthiness, recidivism, cancer, and combatants). If AIs can share our concepts, that will go some way towards justifying this reliance on AI. This ground-breaking study offers insight into how to take some first steps towards achieving Interpretable AI. (shrink)
Just as theory of representation is deficient if it can’t explain how misrepresentation is possible, a theory of computation is deficient if it can’t explain how miscomputation is possible. Nonetheless, philosophers have generally ignored miscomputation. My primary goal in this paper is to clarify both what miscomputation is and how to adequately explain it. Miscomputation is a special kind of malfunction: a system miscomputes when it computes in a way that it shouldn’t. To explain miscomputation, you must provide accounts of (...) computational behavior, computational norms, and how computational behavior can deviate from computational norms. A secondary goal of this paper is to defend an (quasi-)individualist, mechanistic theory of miscomputation. Computational behavior is narrowly individuated. Computational norms are widely individuated. A system miscomputes when its behavior manifests a narrow computational structure that the widely individuated norms say that it should not have. (shrink)