As the demand for explainable deep learning grows in the evaluation of language technologies, the value of a principled grounding for those explanations grows as well. Here we study the state-of-the-art in explanation for neural models for natural-language processing (NLP) tasks from the viewpoint of philosophy of science. We focus on recent evaluation work that finds brittleness in explanations obtained through attention mechanisms.We harness philosophical accounts of explanation to suggest broader conclusions from these studies. From this analysis, we assert the (...) impossibility of causal explanations from attention layers over text data. We then introduce NLP researchers to contemporary philosophy of science theories that allow robust yet non-causal reasoning in explanation, giving computer scientists a vocabulary for future research. (shrink)
From the very outset of his literary and intellectual career Rousseau saw himself as an uncompromising critic of contemporary society. As he has vividly related in his personal writings, the famous moment of ‘illumination’ when he was on the way to visit his friend Diderot imprisoned in the Chateau de Vincennes not only gave him a vision of ‘another universe’ but transformed him into ‘another man’. An overwhelming ‘enthusiasm for truth, freedom and virtue’ made him henceforth reject the corrupt values (...) of the society he saw around him; ‘to be free and virtuous and above fortune and opinion’ seemed a greater and nobler attitude than servile acquiescence in the ‘maxims of his age’. (shrink)
With the goal of better understanding how science, religion, and poetic art came together in the work of Christopher Southgate, the authors first explore his spiritual poetry. They come away with a better understanding of the author’s commitment to a broad naturalism that contributes, along with his own faith experience, to his prose works in the emerging field of ecotheology. The authors conclude that Southgate’s work is part of the worldwide emergence of a theological rationale that supports environmentalism, the (...) protection of species, and the conservation of biodiversity. The authors find Southgate’s poetry warm, appealing, accessible, and re-readable to good effect, but with a thread of danger and warning throughout. Both features are quite appropriate for the environmental movement in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
This paper argues that while Heidegger showed the importance of architecture in altering people's modes of being to avoid global ecological destruction, the work of Christopher Alexander offered a far more practical orientation to deal with this problem.
In 2012, the symposium "Christopher Boorse and the Philosophy of Medicine" was held at the University of Hamburg. The initial ideas presented at this event, which celebrated Chris's contribution to the development of what is now a vibrant area of research, especially to the theory of disease, form the core of the papers published in this issue. Similarly to what Robert Nozick once said about John Rawls's work, it can be demanded that philosophers of medicine must now either work (...) within Boorse's theory or explain why not. It is simply the main contender in the so-called naturalist camp of contributions to the theory of disease. All of the papers in this issue address his approach in some respect, and all of them are friendly toward his theory up to a point. In this brief introduction, I try to extract common threads. In doing so, I focus on three issues that have the capacity to determine future debates. The first is the methodology of developing a theory of disease, especially what conceptual analysis amounts to and what it may achieve. The second is the issue of value-ladenness of the concepts of health and disease, a topic that has been at the forefront of the philosophical debate, but which -- to my mind -- has often been misunderstood. The third issue is the problem of the unity of medical terminology. We can ask whether there is only one core medical concept, be it "disease," "pathology," "disorder," "malady," or something else. Alternatively, we might propose different concepts for different purposes. (shrink)
“Marlowe wrote Edward The Second in 1590. He found a suitable tragic theme in the Holinshed’s account of Edward II’s reign though it was not a promising dramatic material from the chronological point of view as the events were disjointed and uninspiring disastrous. Improper coordinates of the sources has left its mark on Marlowe’s play, nevertheless, this is his most finished and satisfactory of plays…Edward The Second can surely be regarded as Marlowe’s finest technical achievement.” (Edited, Dr. S. Sen…)[http://philpapers.org/profile/112741].
This article examines the philosophical teaching of a colorful Oxford alumnus and Roman Catholic convert, Christopher Davenport, also known as Franciscus à Sancta Clara or Francis Coventry. At the peak of Puritan power during the English Interregnum and after five of his Franciscan confrères had perished for their missionary work, our author tried boldly to claim modern cosmology and atomism as the unrecognized fruits of medieval Scotism. His hope was to revive English pride in the golden age of medieval (...) Oxford and to defend English Franciscans as more legitimately patriotic and scientifically progressive than Puritan millenarians. (shrink)
An introduction to the March, 2005 symposium “The Political Theory of Organizations: A Retrospective Examination of Christopher McMahon’s Authority and Democracy” held in San Francisco as part of the Society for Business Ethics Group Meeting at the Pacific Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association.
This paper is about Christopher Wren’s engravings for Thomas Willis’ The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves of 1664. It is a study in the intersection of medicine and art in 17th century Britain. Willis, an eminent English physician and anatomist, was a major figure in the development of modern neurology, and The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves was his most famous and influential book. Wren was Willis’ assistant and medical artist. I discuss the visual strategies employed by (...) Wren to present their research and frame it as genuine knowledge. (shrink)
The untimely passing of Reverend Canon Dr Christopher Newell, AM, came as a shock to many in the bioethics world. As well as an obituary, this article notes a number of important themes in his work, and provides a select bibliography. Christopher's major contribution to this field is that he was one of a handful of scholars who made disability not only an acceptable area of bioethics—indeed a vital, central, fertile area of enquiry. Crucially Christopher emphasised that (...) where we do ethics is actually in everyday life—while we mourn his passing, his rich work and example will continue to inspire bioethical inquiry. (shrink)
‘Greek Ethics’, an undergraduate class taught by the British moral philosopher N. J. H. Dent, introduced this reviewer to the ethical philosophy of ancient Greece. The class had a modest purview—a sequence of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle—but it proved no less effective, in retrospect, than more synoptic classes for having taken this apparently limited and (for its students and academic level) appropriate focus. This excellent Companion will now serve any such class extremely well, allowing students a broader exposure than that (...) traditional sequence, without sacrificing the class’s circumscribed focus. The eighteen chapters encompass some of what went before, and surprisingly much of what came after, those three central philosophers—including, for instance, a discussion of Plotinus and his successors, as well as a discussion of Horace. The book will therefore be useful in many different types of class on ethical philosophy in the ancient world. This Companion will be useful not only to students, but also to at least three further groups: specialists in ancient Greek philosophy (since some contributors advance significant new positions, e.g. R. Kamtekar on Plato’s ethical psychology and D. Charles on Aristotle’s ‘ergon argument’ as already implicitly invoking ‘to kalon’); scholars working in academic subjects adjacent to ancient Greek philosophy; and contemporary moral philosophers. (shrink)
With the goal of understanding how Christopher Southgate communicates his in-depth knowledge of both science and theology, we investigated the many roles he assumes as a teacher. We settled upon wide-ranging topics that all intertwine: (1) his roles as author and coordinating editor of a premier textbook on science and theology, now in its third edition; (2) his oral presentations worldwide, including plenaries, workshops, and short courses; and (3) the team teaching approach itself, which is often needed by others (...) because the knowledge of science and theology do not always reside in the same person. Southgate provides, whenever possible, teaching contexts that involve students in experiential learning, where they actively participate with other students.We conclude that Southgate’s ultimate goal is to teach students how to reconcile science and theology in their values and beliefs, so that they can take advantage of both forms of rational thinking in their own personal and professional lives. The co-authors consider several examples of models that have been successfully used by people in various fields to integrate science and religion. (shrink)
Christopher Peacocke’s A Study of Concepts is a dense and rewarding work. Each chapter raises many issues for discussion. I know three different people who are writing reviews of the volume. It testifies to the depth of Peacocke’s book that each reviewer is focusing on a quite different set of topics.
In this interview, Christopher Norris discusses a wide range of issues having to do with postmodernism, deconstruction and other controversial topics of debate within present-day philosophy and critical theory. More specifically he challenges the view of deconstruction as just another offshoot of the broader postmodernist trend in cultural studies and the social sciences. Norris puts the case for deconstruction as continuing the 'unfinished project of modernity' and—in particular—for Derrida's work as sustaining the values of enlightened critical reason in various (...) spheres of thought from epistemology to ethics, sociology and politics. Along the way he addresses a number of questions that have lately been raised with particular urgency for teachers and educationalists, among them the revival of creationist doctrine and the idea of scientific knowledge as a social, cultural, or discursive construct. In this context he addresses the 'science wars' or the debate between those who uphold t. (shrink)
For intellectuals, and probably others, one form of escapism is a kind of constricted and shallow hyper-realism—the hyper-realism of having a dead-end job, even though one has a PhD or an IQ of 170. And that sort of hyper-realism is pseudo-realism, because realism is not about having a bad life; it is having the courage to have a good life, which the intellectual with the dead end job does not have.
Professor Christopher Stead was Ely Professor of Divinity from 1971 until his retirement in 1980 and one of the great contributors to the Oxford Patristic Conferences for many years. In this paper I reflect on his work in Patristics, and I attempt to understand how his interests diverged from the other major contributors in the same period, and how they were formed by his philosophical milieu and the spirit of the age. As a case study to illustrate and diagnose (...) his approach, I shall focus on a debate between Stead and Rowan Williams about the significance of the word idios in Arius's theology (in the course of which I also make some suggestions of my own about the issue). (shrink)
I have argued that substance ontology cannot be used to determine the moral status of embryos. Patrick Lee, Christopher Tollefsen, and Robert George wrote a Reply to those arguments in this Journal. In that Reply, Lee, Tollefsen, and George defended and clarified their position that their substance ontology arguments prove that the zygote and the adult into which it develops are the same entity that share the same essence. Here, I show the following: Even using the substance ontology framework (...) to which Lee, Tollefsen, and George subscribe, we cannot know when in development substance changes cease. Substance ontology cannot therefore be used to assign moral status to embryos. The Lee, Tollefsen, and George substance ontology framework should not be applied to the study of development or to biological discourse in general, because this framework depends on premises that do not apply. (shrink)
Observer memories, memories where one sees oneself in the remembered scene, from-the-outside, are commonly considered less accurate and genuine than visual field memories, memories in which the scene remembered is seen as one originally experienced it. In Remembering from the Outside (OUP, 2019), Christopher McCarroll debunks this commonsense conception by offering a detailed analysis of the nature of observer memories. On the one hand, he explains how observer and field perspectives are not really mutually exclusive in an experience, including (...) memory experiences. On the other hand, he argues that in observer memories there is no additional explicit representation of oneself experiencing the event: the self-presence is transparent and given by the mode of presentation. Whereas these are two lines of strategic and original argumentation, they are not exempt of problems. In this critical notice, I focus on the problematic aspects of McCarroll’s account. I show that it presents some issues that affect the internal coherence of the overall framework, and that some aspects and central notions would have needed more development to offer a precise picture of the nature of observer memories. (shrink)
In his recent book, Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus, Christopher Brown has argued that the metaphysics of St. Thomas is preferable to contemporary analyticviews because it can solve the “problem of material constitution” without requiring us to relinquish any of the common-sense beliefs that generate that problem. In this critical study, I show that in the case of both substances and aggregates, Brown’s Aquinas endorses views that are extremely implausible. Consequently, even if it is granted that the solutions (...) to the PMC fall right out of his views, it is still not clear that this gives us reason to prefer his ontology to its competitors. I also consider Brown’s take on the status of the human being after death. (shrink)
This “open letter” to Christopher Boorse is a response to his influential naturalist analysis of disease from the perspective of linguistic-analytic value theory. The key linguistic-analytic point against Boorse is that, although defining disease value free, he continue to use the term with clear evaluative connotations. A descriptivist analysis of disease would allow value-free definition consistently with value-laden use: but descriptivism fails when applied to mental disorder because it depends on shared values whereas the values relevant to mental disorders (...) are highly diverse. A part-function analysis, similarly, although initially persuasive for physical disorders, fails with the psychotic mental disorders because these, characteristically, involve disturbances of the rationality of the person as a whole. The difficulties encountered in applying naturalism to mental disorders point, linguistic-analytically, to the possibility that there is, after all, an evaluative element of meaning, deeply hidden but still logically operative, in the concept of disease. (shrink)
Review of Integrationism and the Self: Reflections on the Legal Personhood of Animals [Series Routledge Advances in Communication and Linguistic Theory] by Christopher Hutton. London: Routledge, 2019, 190 pp.
Ad hominem arguments are generally dismissed on the grounds that they are not attempts to engage in rational discourse, but are rather aimed at undermining argument by diverting attention from claims made to assessments of character of persons making claims. The manner of this dismissal however is based upon an unlikely paradigm of rationality: it is based upon the presumption that our intellectual capacities are not as limited as in fact they are, and do not vary as much as they (...) do between rational people. When we understand rationality in terms of intellectual virtues, however, which recognize these limitations and provide for the complexity of our thinking, ad hominem considerations can sometimes be relevant to assessing arguments. (shrink)
The sovereignty of the people, it is widely said, is the foundation of modern democracy. The truth of this claim depends on the plausibility of attributing sovereignty to “the people” in the first place, and I shall express skepticism about this possibility. I shall suggest as well that the notion of popular sovereignty is complex, and that appeals to the notion may be best understood as expressing several different ideas and ideals. This essay distinguishes many of these and suggests that (...) greater clarity at least would be obtained by focusing directly on these notions and ideals and eschewing that of sovereignty. My claim, however, will not merely be that the notion is multifaceted and complex. I shall argue as well that the doctrine that the people are, or ought to be, sovereign is misleading in potentially dangerous ways, and is conducive to a misunderstanding of the nature of politics, governance, and social order. It would be well to do without the doctrine, but it may be equally important to understand its errors. Our understandings and justifications of democracy, certainly, should dispense with popular sovereignty. (shrink)
In this review of Christopher Winch's new book, Education, Autonomy and Critical Thinking (2006), I discuss its main theses, supporting some and criticising others. In particular, I take issue with several of Winch's claims and arguments concerning critical thinking and rationality, and deplore his reliance on what I suggest are problematic strains of the later Wittgenstein. But these criticisms are not such as to upend Winch's powerful critique of antiperfectionism and 'strong autonomy' or his defence of 'weak autonomy'. His (...) account of autonomy as an educational aim is important and in several respects compelling. (shrink)
Paul Grice warned that ‘the nature of conventional implicature needs to be examined before any free use of it, for explanatory purposes, can be indulged in’ (1978/1989: 46). Christopher Potts heeds this warning, brilliantly and boldly. Starting with a definition drawn from Grice’s few brief remarks on the subject, he distinguishes conventional implicature from other phenomena with which it might be confused, identifies a variety of common but little-studied kinds of expressions that give rise to it, and develops a (...) formal, multidimensional semantic framework for systematically capturing its distinctive character. The book is a virtuosic blend of astute descriptive observations and technically sophisticated formulations. Fortunately for the technically unsophisticated reader, the descriptive observations can be appreciated on their own. (shrink)
Medical analogies are commonly invoked in both Indian Buddhist dharma and Hellenistic philosophy. In the Pāli Canon, nirvana is depicted as a form of health, and the Buddha is portrayed as a doctor who helps us attain it. Much later in the tradition, Śāntideva described the Buddha’s teaching as ‘the sole medicine for the ailments of the world, the mine of all success and happiness.’ Cicero expressed the view of many Hellenistic philosophers when he said that philosophy is ‘a medical (...) science for the mind.’ He thought we should ‘hand ourselves over to philosophy, and let ourselves be healed.’ ‘For as long as these ills [of the mind] remain,’ he wrote, ‘we cannot attain to happiness.’ There are many different forms of medical analogy in these two traditions, but the most general form may be stated as follows: just as medicine cures bodily diseases and brings about physical health, so Buddhist dharma or Hellenistic philosophy cures mental diseases and brings about psychological health—where psychological health is understood as the highest form of happiness or well-being. Insofar as Buddhist dharma involves philosophy, as it does, both renditions of the analogy may be said to declare that philosophy cures mental diseases and brings about psychological health. This feature of the analogy—philosophy as analogous to medical treatment—has attracted considerable attention. (shrink)
One of the most noteworthy features of David Gauthier's rational choice, contractarian theory of morality is its appeal to self-interested rationality. This appeal, however, will undoubtedly be the source of much controversy and criticism. For while self-interestedness is characteristic of much human behavior, it is not characteristic of all such behavior, much less of that which is most admirable. Yet contractarian ethics appears to assume that humans are entirely self-interested. It is not usually thought a virtue of a theory that (...) its assumptions are literally false. What may be said on behalf of the contractarian? (shrink)
Christopher Johnson has put forward in this journal the view that ad hominem reasoning may be more generally reasonable than is allowed by writers such as myself, basing his view on virtue epistemology. I review his account, as well as the standard account, of ad hominem reasoning, and show how the standard account would handle the cases he sketches in defense of his own view. I then give four criticisms of his view generally: the problems of virtue conflict, vagueness, (...) conflation of speech acts, and self-defeating counsel. I then discuss four reasons why the standard account is superior: it better fits legal reality, the account of other fallacies, psychological science, and political reality. (shrink)
Unlike many recent studies on the notion of lifestyle, Christopher Mayes’ The Biopolitics of Lifestyle balances theoretical rigour with empirical investigation to problematize the use of lifestyle in public health strategies. Not only does Mayes’ book expose the unjustified emphasis on individual autonomy undergirding neoliberal strategies of governance and contemporary ethical theory, it also marks a significant step forward in enhancing our understanding of one of Foucault’s most underappreciated concepts, the dispositif. In clearly framing the import of Foucaultian analysis (...) and placing it against the backdrop of the obesity epidemic, Mayes continues his contributions towards a productive space wherein practitioners, social theorists, and ethicists can genuinely and self-reflectively exchange knowledges in order to respond to living issues of ethical import. (shrink)
Christopher Bennett has argued that state support of conjugal relationships can be founded on the unique contribution such relationships make to the autonomy of their participants by providing them with various forms of recognition and support unavailable elsewhere. I argue that, in part because a long history of interaction between two people who need each other’s validation tends to produce less meaningful responses over time, long-term conjugal relationships are unlikely to provide autonomy-enhancing support to their participants. To the extent (...) that intimate relationships can provide a unique form of reciprocal support, Bennett fails to show that couples have an advantage over multiple-partner arrangements in doing so. (shrink)
A relatively detailed review (~ 4000 words) of Christopher Mole's (2010) book "Attention is Cognitive Unison". I suggest that Mole makes a good case against many types of reductivist accounts of attention, using the right kind of methodology. Yet, I argue that his adverbialist theory is not the best articulation of the crucial anti-reductivist insight. The distinction between adverbial and process-first phenomena he draws remains unclear, anti-reductivist process theories can escapte his arguments, and finally I provide an argument for (...) why no personal level adverbialism can provide a complete and unified theory of attention. Despite my disagreements, I have learned a lot from engaging with Mole's book. It's a central contribution to the new philosophical literature on attention. (shrink)
The Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism of Philippa Foot and Rosalind Hursthouse purports to establish a naturalistic criterion for the virtues. Specifically, by developing a parallel between the natural ends of nonhuman animals and the natural ends of human beings, they argue that character traits are justified as virtues by the extent to which they promote and do not inhibit natural ends such as self-preservation, reproduction, and the well-being of one’s social group. I argue that the approach of Foot and Hursthouse cannot (...) provide a basis for moral universalism, the widely-accepted idea that each human being has moral worth and thus deserves significant moral consideration. Foot and Hursthouse both depict a virtuous agent as implicitly acting in accord with moral universalism. However, with respect to charity, a virtue they both emphasize, their naturalistic criterion at best provides a warrant for a restricted form of charity that extends only to a limited number of persons. There is nothing in the natural ends of human beings, as Foot and Hursthouse understand these, that gives us a reason for having any concern for the well-being of human beings as such. (shrink)
As author Christopher Prendergast acknowledges, Counterfactuals: Paths of the Might have Been does not attempt to offer a theory of counterfactuals, nor does it develop a contribution to an existing theory. Instead, it is as the author puts it an “anthropology of the counterfactual”. However, it is nothing as systematic as that. It is not a survey, but a series of “listening exercises” which roam over literature, history, art, philosophy, music, and popular culture. He admits that this exercise of (...) collecting counterfactuals is “quirky business” akin “wool gathering” and “purposeless daydreaming”. However, Prendergast does have some aims in Counterfactuals. He claims that he wants to show the variety of counterfactuals, how they are used, and how they resonate in human experience. If the book aims to support an overarching conclusion, it is probably this: “What we do with counterfactuals and what they do to us are integral to making sense of humanity”. (shrink)
Christopher Insole argues that we have underestimated the importance of the following theological problem in the development of Kant’s mature, critical philosophy: “How can it be said that we are free, given that we are created by God?” (p. 5). The author makes a strong case that this problem was formative for a range of Kant’s pre-critical views. What role it continues to play in the 1780s and beyond will be, as the author himself notes, controversial. Chapters 1–3 contain (...) lucid and, especially for those familiar only with Kant’s critical period, helpful discussions of several pre-critical texts together with an engagement with selected secondary literature. Thus, readers who know only Kant’s destruction of the divine proofs, in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 1787), may be surprised to find him defending versions of the ontological and cosmological proofs in The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God (1763). Here Insole’s exposition is nuanced... (shrink)