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)
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)
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 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 book provides an introduction to the emerging field of continental philosophy of religion by treating the thought of its most important representatives, including its appropriations by several thinkers in the United States. Part I provides context by examining religious aspects of the thought of Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jacques Derrida. Christina Gschwandtner contends that, although the work of these thinkers is not apologetic in nature, it prepares the ground for the more religiously motivated work of more recent (...) thinkers by giving religious language and ideas some legitimacy in philosophical discussions. Part II devotes a chapter to each of the contemporary French thinkers who articulate a phenomenology of religious experience: Paul Ricoeur, Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Jean-Yves Lacoste, and Emmanuel Falque. In it, the author argues that their respective philosophies can be read as an apologetics of sorts--namely, as arguments for the coherence of thought about God and the viability of religious experience--though each thinker does so in a different fashion and to a different degree. Part III considers the three major thinkers who have popularized and extended this phenomenology in the U.S. context: John D. Caputo, Merold Westphal, and Richard Kearney. The book thus both provides an introduction to important contemporary thinkers, many of whom have not yet received much treatment in English, and also argues that their philosophies can be read as providing an argument for Christian faith. (shrink)
This volume collects twenty original essays on the philosophy of film. It uniquely brings together scholars working across a range of philosophical traditions and academic disciplines to broaden and advance debates on film and philosophy. The book includes contributions from a number of prominent philosophers of film including Noël Carroll, Chris Falzon, Deborah Knight, Paisley Livingston, Robert Sinnerbrink, Malcolm Turvey, and Thomas Wartenberg. While the topics explored by the contributors are diverse, there are a number of thematic threads that connect (...) them. Overall, the book seeks to bridge analytic and continental approaches to philosophy of film in fruitful ways. Moving to the individual essays, the first two sections offer novel takes on the philosophical value and the nature of film. The next section focuses on the film-as-philosophy debate. Section IV covers cinematic experience, while Section V includes interpretations of individual films that touch on questions of artificial intelligence, race and film, and cinema's biopolitical potential. Finally, the last section proposes new avenues for future research on the moving image beyond film. This book will appeal to a broad range of scholars working in film studies, theory, and philosophy. (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)
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)
Academics across widely ranging disciplines all pursue knowledge, but they do so using vastly different methods. Do these academics therefore also have different ideas about when someone possesses knowledge? Recent experimental findings suggest that intuitions about when individuals have knowledge may vary across groups; in particular, the concept of knowledge espoused by the discipline of philosophy may not align with the concept held by laypeople. Across two studies, we investigate the concept of knowledge held by academics across seven disciplines (N (...) = 1,581) and compare these judgments to those of philosophers (N = 204) and laypeople (N = 336). We find that academics and laypeople share a similar concept of knowledge, while philosophers have a substantially different concept. These experiments show that (a) in contrast to philosophers, other academics and laypeople attribute knowledge to others in some “Gettier” situations; (b) academics and laypeople are much less likely to attribute knowledge when reminded of the possibility of error, but philosophers are not affected by this reminder; and (c) non‐philosophy academics are overall more skeptical about knowledge than laypeople or philosophers. These findings suggest that academics across a wide range of disciplines share a similar concept of knowledge, and that this concept aligns closely with the intuitions held by laypeople, and differs considerably from the concept of knowledge described in the philosophical literature, as well as the epistemic intuitions of philosophers themselves. (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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
Christina Rossetti’s short fiction has been long-neglected, we are told. In this paper, I respond to her fiction “Pros and Cons,” which perhaps provides a clue regarding why there has been neglect: it leaves the impression of being an imitation of George Eliot, a mocking imitation even. I identify two differences between Rossetti and Eliot.
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)
It's a bad time to be a boy in America. As the century drew to a close, the defining event for American girls was the triumph of the U.S. women's soccer team. For boys, the symbolic event was the mass killing at Columbine High School. It would seem that boys in our society are greatly at risk. Yet the best-known studies and the academic experts say that it's girls who are suffering from a decline in self-esteem. It's girls, they say, (...) who need extra help in school and elsewhere in a society that favors boys. The problem with boys is that they are boys, say the experts. We need to change their nature. We have to make them more like...girls. These arguments don't hold up to scrutiny, says Christina Hoff Sommers in this provocative, fascinating book. She analyzes the work of the leading academic experts, Carol Gilligan and William Pollack, and finds it lacking in scientific rigor. There is no girl crisis, says Sommers. Girls are outperforming boys academically, and girls' self-esteem is no different from boys'. Boys lag behind girls in reading and writing ability, and they are less likely to go to college. The "girl crisis" has been seized upon by some feminists and has been suffused with sexual politics. Under the guise of helping girls, many schools have adopted policies that penalize boys, often for simply being masculine. Sommers says that boys do need help, but not the sort they've been getting. They need help catching up with girls academically. They need love, discipline, respect, and moral guidance. They desperately need understanding. They do not need to be rescued from masculinity. (shrink)
Despite challenges for U.S.-Mexico border Indigenous activists in their efforts to counter dominant discourses about both border policy and Native rights, Indigenous activists assert their rights as they advocate for public policies and actions that affirm and protect these rights. This article explores some of the discursive strategies used by Indigenous activists to index Indigenous identities and lifeways and to counter mainstream conceptualizations of Native identity and Indigenous rights on the U.S.-Mexico border. Through such semiotic strategies, Indigenous border activists create (...) indigenized and legitimized political spaces for the assertion of their beliefs. Indigenous border activists achieve this through metasemiotic constructs that draw from stereotypes about Native people and their use of language as well as through the active mobilization of schemas for conceptualizing both Native American experiences and the U.S.-Mexico border. (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)
This book provides an introduction to the emerging field of Continental philosophy of religion by treating the philosophical thought of its most important representatives, including its appropriations by several thinkers in the US. Part I provides a context to the field by looking at the religious aspects of the thought of Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Lévinas, and Jacques Derrida. It contends that although the work of these thinkers is not apologetic in nature, it prepares the ground for the more religiously motivated (...) work of more recent thinkers by giving religious language and ideas some legitimacy in philosophical discussions. Part II devotes a chapter to each of the contemporary French thinkers who articulate a phenomenology of religious experience: Paul Ricoeur, Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Jean-Yves Lacoste and Emmanuel Falque. This part argues that their respective philosophies can be read as an apologetics of sort, namely as making arguments for the coherence of thought about God and the viability of religious experience, though each does so in a different fashion and to a different degree. Part III considers the three major thinkers who have popularized and extended this phenomenology in the US context: Merold Westphal, John D. Caputo, and Richard Kearney. The book thus both provides an introduction to important contemporary thinkers many of whom have not yet received much treatment in English and also argues that their philosophies can be read as providing an argument for Christian faith. (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)