We carry out the Karttunen-Stalnaker pragmatic account of presupposition projection within a state-of-the art version of dynamic epistemic logic. It turns out that the basic projection facts can all be derived from a Gricean maxim ‘be informative’. This sheds light on a recent controversy on the appropriateness of dynamic semantics as a tool for analysing presupposition.
In this paper, I explain the curious role played by the Argument from Absolute Terms in Peter Unger's book Ignorance, I provide a critical presentation of the argument, and I consider some outstanding issues and the argument’s contemporary significance.
In these challenging pages, Unger argues for the extreme skeptical view that, not only can nothing ever be known, but no one can ever have any reason at all for anything. A consequence of this is that we cannot ever have any emotions about anything: no one can ever be happy or sad about anything. Finally, in this reduction to absurdity of virtually all our supposed thought, he argues that no one can ever believe, or even say, that anything (...) is the case. (shrink)
Unger (1974/2000) presents an argument for skepticism that significantly differs from the more traditional arguments for skepticism. The argument is based on two premises, to wit, that knowledge would entitle the knower to absolute certainty, and that an attitude of absolute certainty is always inadmissible from an epistemic viewpoint. The present paper scrutinizes the arguments that Unger provides in support of these premises and shows that none of them is tenable. It thus concludes that Unger's argument for (...) skepticism fails to threaten the possibility of knowledge. (shrink)
How do people decide which claims should be considered mere beliefs and which count as knowledge? Although little is known about how people attribute knowledge to others, philosophical debate about the nature of knowledge may provide a starting point. Traditionally, a belief that is both true and justiﬁed was thought to constitute knowledge. However, philosophers now agree that this account is inadequate, due largely to a class of counterexamples (termed ‘‘Gettier cases’’) in which a person’s justiﬁed belief is true, but (...) only due to luck. We report four experiments examining the effect of truth, justiﬁcation, and ‘‘Gettiering’’ on people’s knowledge attributions. These experiments show that: (1) people attribute knowledge to others only when their beliefs are both true and justiﬁed; (2) in contrast to contemporary philosophers, people also attribute knowledge to others in Gettier situations; and (3) knowledge is not attributed in one class of Gettier cases, but only because the agent’s belief is based on ‘‘apparent’’ evidence. These ﬁndings suggest that the lay concept of knowledge is roughly consistent with the traditional account of knowledge as justiﬁed true belief, and also point to a major difference between the epistemic intuitions of laypeople and those of philosophers. (shrink)
The philosophical work of Jean-Luc Marion has opened new ways of speaking about religious convictions and experiences. In this exploration of Marion’s philosophy and theology, Christina M. Gschwandtner presents a comprehensive and critical analysis of the ideas of saturated phenomena and the phenomenology of givenness. She claims that these phenomena do not always appear in the excessive mode that Marion describes and suggests instead that we consider degrees of saturation. Gschwandtner covers major themes in Marion’s work—the historical event, art, (...) nature, love, gift and sacrifice, prayer, and the Eucharist. She works within the phenomenology of givenness, but suggests that Marion himself has not considered important aspects of his philosophy. (shrink)
In this quite modestly ambitious essay, I'll generally just assume that, for the most part, our "scientifically informed" commonsense view of the world is true. Just as it is with such unthinking things as planets, plates and, I suppose, plants, too, so it also is with all earthly thinking beings, from people to pigs and pigeons; each occupies a region of space, however large or small, in which all are spatially related to each other. Or, at least, so it is (...) with the bodies of these beings. And, even as each of these ordinary entities extends through some space, so, also, each endures through some time. In line with that, each ordinary entity is at least very largely, and is perhaps entirely, an enduring physical entity (which allows that many might have certain properties that aren't purely physical properties.) Further, each ordinary enduring entity is a physically complex entity: Not only is each composed of parts, but many of these parts, whether or not absolutely all of them, are themselves enduring physical entities, and many of them also are such physically complex continuing entities. When an ordinary entity undergoes a significant change, then, at least generally, this change will involve changes concerning that entity's constituting physical parts, whether it be a rearrangement of (some of) these parts, or a loss of parts, or a gain of parts, or whatever. Often, the entity will still exist even after the change occurs. As we may well suppose, this happens when, from two strokes of an ax, an ordinary log loses just a chip of wood. As we may then say, such a change conforms with the log's "persistence conditions." Somewhat less often, such an ordinary entity undergoes a change that means an end to it: When a bomb's explosion makes our log become just so many widely scattered motes of dust, the log will no longer exist. Such a momentous change doesn't conform with the log's persistence conditions. (shrink)
In this paper, I present and explore some ideas about how factive emotional states and factive perceptual states each relate to knowledge and reasons. This discussion will shed light on the so-called ‘perceptual model’ of the emotions.
This unique collection brings together internationally recognized scholars of film, philosophy, and the philosophy of perception and aesthetics, as well as many established philosophers working on the Film as Philosophy problem. It also includes several young scholars working currently in the philosophy and film genre. It is especially poised to be used in university undergraduate and graduate courses, but appeals to the larger, more general audience as well as to those working in these particular areas of specialization. Philosophy in motion...
Microaggressions are a new moral category that refers to the subtle yet harmful forms of discriminatory behavior experienced by members of oppressed groups. Such behavior often results from implicit bias, leaving individual perpetrators unaware of the harm they have caused. Moreover, microaggressions are often dismissed on the grounds that they do not constitute a real or morally significant harm. My goal is therefore to explain why microaggressions are morally significant and argue that we are responsible for their harms. I offer (...) a conceptual framework for microaggressions, exploring the central mechanisms used for identification and the empirical research concerning their harm. The cumulative harm of microaggressions presents a unique case for understanding disaggregation models for contributed harms, blame allocation, and individual responsibility within structural oppression. Our standard moral model for addressing cumulative harm is to hold all individual contributors blameworthy for their particular contributions. However, if we aim to hold people responsible for their unconscious microaggressions and address cumulative harm holistically, this model is inadequate. Drawing on Iris Marion Young's social connection model, I argue that we, as individual perpetrators of microaggressions, have a responsibility to respond to the cumulative harm to which we have individually contributed. (shrink)
In recent years, most political theorists have agreed that shame shouldn't play any role in democratic politics because it threatens the mutual respect necessary for participation and deliberation. But Christina Tarnopolsky argues that not every kind of shame hurts democracy. In fact, she makes a powerful case that there is a form of shame essential to any critical, moderate, and self-reflexive democratic practice. Through a careful study of Plato's Gorgias, Tarnopolsky shows that contemporary conceptions of shame are far too (...) narrow. For Plato, three kinds of shame and shaming practices were possible in democracies, and only one of these is similar to the form condemned by contemporary thinkers. Following Plato, Tarnopolsky develops an account of a different kind of shame, which she calls "respectful shame." This practice involves the painful but beneficial shaming of one's fellow citizens as part of the ongoing process of collective deliberation. And, as Tarnopolsky argues, this type of shame is just as important to contemporary democracy as it was to its ancient form. Tarnopolsky also challenges the view that the Gorgias inaugurates the problematic oppositions between emotion and reason, and rhetoric and philosophy. Instead, she shows that, for Plato, rationality and emotion belong together, and she argues that political science and democratic theory are impoverished when they relegate the study of emotions such as shame to other disciplines. (shrink)
By contributing a few hundred dollars to a charity like UNICEF, a prosperous person can ensure that fewer poor children die, and that more will live reasonably long, worthwhile lives. Even when knowing this, however, most people send nothing, and almost all of the rest send little. What is the moral status of this behavior? To such common cases of letting die, our untutored response is that, while it is not very good, neither is the conduct wrong. What is the (...) source of this lenient assessment? In this contentious new book, one of our leading philosophers argues that our intuitions about ethical cases are generated not by basic moral values, but by certain distracting psychological dispositions that all too often prevent us from reacting in accord with our commitments. Through a detailed look at how these tendencies operate, Unger shows that, on the good morality that we already accept, the fatally unhelpful behavior is monstrously wrong. By uncovering the eminently sensible ethics that we've already embraced fully, and by confronting us with empirical facts and with easily followed instructions for lessening serious suffering appropriately and effectively, Unger's book points the way to a compassionate new moral philosophy. (shrink)
Positive emotions are highly valued and frequently sought. Beyond just being pleasant, however, positive emotions may also lead to long-term benefits in important domains, including work, physical health, and interpersonal relationships. Research thus far has focused on the broader functions of positive emotions. According to the broaden-and-build theory, positive emotions expand people’s thought–action repertoires and allow them to build psychological, intellectual, and social resources. New evidence suggests that positive emotions—particularly gratitude—may also play a role in motivating individuals to engage in (...) positive behaviors leading to self-improvement. We propose and offer supportive evidence that expressing gratitude leads people to muster effort to improve themselves via increases in connectedness, elevation, humility, and specific negative states including indebtedness. (shrink)
The topic of personal identity has prompted some of the liveliest and most interesting debates in recent philosophy. In a fascinating new contribution to the discussion, Peter Unger presents a psychologically aimed, but physically based, account of our identity over time. While supporting the account, he explains why many influential contemporary philosophers have underrated the importance of physical continuity to our survival, casting a new light on the work of Lewis, Nagel, Nozick, Parfit, Perry, Shoemaker, and others. Deriving from (...) his discussion of our identity itself, Unger produces a novel but commonsensical theory of the relations between identity and some of our deepest concerns. In a conservative but flexible spirit, he explores the implications of his theory for questions of value and of the good life. (shrink)
This bold and original work of philosophy presents an exciting new picture of concrete reality. Peter Unger provocatively breaks with what he terms the conservatism of present-day philosophy, and returns to central themes from Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Russell. Wiping the slate clean, Unger works, from the ground up, to formulate a new metaphysic capable of accommodating our distinctly human perspective. He proposes a world with inherently powerful particulars of two basic sorts: one mental but not physical, (...) the other physical but not mental. Whether of one sort or the other, each individual possesses powers for determining his or her own course, as well as powers for interaction with other individuals. It is only a purely mental particular--an immaterial soul, like yourself--that is ever fit for real choosing, or for conscious experiencing. Rigorously reasoning that the only satisfactory metaphysic is one that situates the physical alongside the non-physical, Unger carefully explains the genesis of, and continual interaction of, the two sides of our deeply dualistic world. Written in an accessible and entertaining style, while advancing philosophical scholarship, All the Power in the World takes readers on a philosophical journey into the nature of reality. In this riveting intellectual adventure, Unger reveals the need for an entirely novel approach to the nature of physical reality--and shows how this approach can lead to wholly unexpected possibilities, including disembodied human existence for billions of years. All the Power in the World returns philosophy to its most ambitious roots in its fearless attempt to answer profoundly difficult human questions about ourselves and our world. (shrink)
Peter Unger has recently attempted to defend skepticism by means of a novel and ingenious theory about certain general features of our language. According to his theory, skepticism is a logical consequence of the fact that certain epistemic terms, including ‘certain’ and ‘know,’ belong to a much wider class of absolute terms whose strict meaning is such that they have little or no positive application to things in the world. The purpose of this paper is to enquire whether (...) class='Hi'>Unger's theory of absolute terms provides a stronger basis for skepticism than do other, more familiar, approaches. I shall argue that the theory cannot be regarded as an explication of the ordinary meaning of the terms in question; that the ordinary meaning of these terms can be understood by means of an alternative, if less exciting, model; and that the logic of our language does not commit us to skepticism. (shrink)
In this short but meaty book, Peter Unger questions the objective answers that have been given to central problems in philosophy. As Unger hypothesizes, many of these problems are unanswerable, including the problems of knowledge and scepticism, the problems of free will, and problems of causation and explanation. In each case, he argues, we arrive at one answer only relative to an assumption about the meaning of key terms, terms like "know" and like "cause," even while we arrive (...) at an opposite answer relative to quite different assumptions, but equally arbitrary assumptions, about what the key terms mean. (shrink)
Through a wide-ranging international collection of papers, this volume provides theoretical and historical insights into the development and application of phenomenological sociology and ethnomethodology and offers detailed examples of research into social phenomena from these standpoints. All the articles in this volume join together to testify to the enormous efficacy and potential of both phenomenological sociology and ethnomethodology.
Every day situations arising in health care contain ethical issues influencing care providers' conscience. How and to what extent conscience is influenced may differ according to how conscience is perceived. This study aimed to explore the relationship between perceptions of conscience and stress of conscience among care providers working in municipal housing for elderly people. A total of 166 care providers were approached, of which 146 (50 registered nurses and 96 nurses' aides/enrolled nurses) completed a questionnaire containing the Perceptions of (...) Conscience Questionnaire and the Stress of Conscience Questionnaire. A multivariate canonical correlation analysis was conducted. The first two functions emerging from the analysis themselves explained a noteworthy amount of the shared variance (25.6% and 17.8%). These two dimensions of the relationship were interpreted either as having to deaden one's conscience relating to external demands in order to be able to collaborate with coworkers, or as having to deaden one's conscience relating to internal demands in order to uphold one's identity as a `good' health care professional. (shrink)
Offender populations experience their incarceration through different lenses and often as a spiritual journey of suffering. During 2017 and 2018 a study was conducted by the authors with 30 men serving long-term sentences in Correctional Centre A, Zonderwater Management Area in the Gauteng province of South Africa. Following interviews and focus group sessions, the authors report on participants’ representations on how their constructed views of God assist them to find meaning in suffering while incarcerated. Narrative inquiry as a philosophical framework (...) was applied, which presupposes equality between the researcher and the participant, the unmediated representation of words as data, the researcher as auto-ethnographer and respectful submission to subjectivity. Participants’ views of God are thematised according to sets of God-images, firstly, as identified by Van der Ven in his book God Reinvented?, adapted by the authors to suit the contents of the participants’ God talk. Secondly, the ‘God-images in Africa’ were applied. The participants’ constructed God-images are divided into two categories: images that feed on the binary between divine and human and images that function in the dialogical spaces between divine and human where the incarcerated have internalised an external God. Binary images of God are presented by the apathetic God, retributive God, controlling God and the purifying God. However, a significant number of participants expressed their belief in God through the dialogical image of the compassionate God, and the suffering God as co-sufferer. The role of Africanness in constructing these God-images constitutes a special point of inquiry in this article, as reflected in the images of God defined by God the Great Ancestor and Divine Spirit, and God with whom a mystical union is formed. (shrink)
Recent work in behavioral economics and psychology provides valuable resources for religious ethicists. This book discussion examines contributions by Cass Sunstein, Daniel Kahneman, George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton, Uri Gneezy and John A. List, and Douglas Hough. This literature raises important questions about ethical decision-making, moral agency and responsibility, and the ethics of life in global capitalism. It also opens up promising areas for interdisciplinary dialogue between economics and religious studies. This book discussion concludes that religious ethicists have much to (...) contribute to the conversations about moral anthropology that are now being held in behavioral economic research, and to the broader political economic debates in which this research participates. (shrink)
In certain contemporary theories of the politics of shame, shame is considered a pernicious emotion that we need to avoid in, or a salutary emotion that serves as an infallible guide to, democratic deliberation. The author argues that both positions arise out of an inadequate notion of the structure of shame and an oversimplistic opposition between shame and shamelessness. Plato's dialogue, the Gorgias, actually helps to address these problems because it supplies a deeper understanding of the place of shame in (...) democratic politics in ways that address our contemporary dilemmas. It does this first, by avoiding the simple opposition between shame and shamelessness and secondly, by articulating three different kinds of "politics of shame" that can characterize democratic deliberations. Finally, Plato's treatment of shame extends upon contemporary ethical and psychoanalytic notions of shame in ways that are directly relevant to the our contemporary political situation. (shrink)
This book is an unusually readable and lucid account of the development of Derrida's work, from his early writings on phenomenology and structuralism to his most recent interventions in debates on psychoanalysis, ethics and politics. Christina Howells gives a clear explanation of many of the key terms of deconstruction - including differance, trace, supplement and logocentrism - and shows how they function in Derrida's writing. She explores his critique of the notion of self-presence through his engagement with Husserl, and (...) his critique of humanist conceptions of the subject through an account of his ambivalent and evolving relationship to the philosophy of Sartre. The question of the relationship between philosophy and literature is examined through an analysis of the texts of the 1970s, and in particular Glas, where Derrida confronts Hegel's totalizing dialectics with the fragmentary and iconoclastic writings of Jean Genet. The author addresses directly the vexed questions of the extreme difficulty of Derrida's own writing and of the passionate hostility it arouses in philosophers as diverse as Searle and Habermas. She argues that deconstruction is a vital stimulus to vigilance in both the ethical and political spheres, contributing significantly to debate on issues such as democracy, the legacy of Marxism, responsibility, and the relationship between law and justice. Comprehensive, cogently argued and up to date, this book will be an invaluable text for students and scholars alike. (shrink)
Peter Unger’s book has both substantive and methodological aims. Substantively, it aims to prove the following four claims in the following order: we must, in general, suffer great losses of property to prevent suffering and death; we may, in general, impose such losses on others for the same goals; we may, in general, kill others to prevent more deaths; and we must, in general, kill ourself to prevent more deaths. Methodologically, it aims to show that intuitive judgments about cases (...) that would be presented as evidence against the four substantive claims—the standard technique of nonconsequentialists arguing against consequentialists—are worthless because we can construct cases that generate the opposite intuitive judgment; further, we can show that the factors that distinguish the cases yielding such different intuitions are not morally significant; and hence, we must decide which judgments are correct by consulting such general moral values as the importance of reducing suffering and death. Thus, Unger offers an error theory of nonconsequentialist restrictions on harming others and prerogatives not to make large sacrifices to aid. This error theory is based on the psychological effects of morally insignificant factors. (shrink)
Nagel, San Juan, and Mar report an experiment investigating lay attributions of knowledge, belief, and justification. They suggest that, in keeping with the expectations of philosophers, but contra recent empirical findings [Starmans, C. & Friedman, O. (2012). The folk conception of knowledge. Cognition, 124, 272–283], laypeople consistently deny knowledge in Gettier cases, regardless of whether the beliefs are based on ‘apparent’ or ‘authentic’ evidence. In this reply, we point out that Nagel et al. employed a questioning method that biased participants (...) to deny knowledge. Moreover, careful examination of participants’ responses reveals that they attributed knowledge in Gettier cases. We also note that Nagel et al. misconstrue the distinction between ‘apparent’ and ‘authentic’ evidence, and use scenarios that do not feature the structure that characterizes most Gettier cases. We conclude that NS&M’s findings are fully compatible with the claim that laypeople attribute knowledge in Gettier cases in general, but are significantly less likely to attribute knowledge when a belief is generated based on apparent evidence. (shrink)