The conferralist account of social properties that Ásta develops and defends in Categories We Live By is persuasive in many ways. Conferralism could however do better, by its own lights, at handling the phenomenon of intersectionality. This paper first suggests a friendly amendment to the schema for conferrals that Asta offers. This helps to explain the difficulty concerning intersectionality. Finally, the paper suggests a way of developing the conferralist account that would resolve this difficulty.
Hospitality can be considered a key institution in the social relationships in the ancient Mediterranean. To identify the people involved in a hospitality agreement, in certain contexts small objects were used in a similar way to a password, which the Greeks called symbolon and the Romans tessera hospitalis. We know how the latter were used thanks to Plautus' Poenulus. At least 64 pieces are currently known which may be identified as tesserae hospitales. All come from the Western Mediterranean. The majority (...) contain brief inscriptions, written in Etruscan, Latin, Greek, or Celtiberian. They share a series of common features, which impart a clear family resemblance beyond geographic, cultural, or linguistic borders. (shrink)
I argue that a central claim of Ásta’s conferralist framework – that it can account for all social properties of individuals – is false, by drawing attention to class. I then discuss an implication of this objection; conferralism does not meet its own conditions of adequacy, such as providing a theory that helps to understand oppression. My diagnosis is that this objection points to a methodological problem: Ásta and other social ontologists have been fed on a “one-sided diet” of (...) types of examples, resulting in a limited view of the paradigmatic social phenomena, thus making conferralism too narrow to fulfill its intended role. (shrink)
Realist essentialists face a prima facie challenge in accounting for our knowledge of the essences of things, and in particular, in justifying our engaging in thought experiments to gain such knowledge. In contrast, conferralist essentialism has an attractive story to tell about how we gain knowledge of the essences of things, and how thought experiments are a justified method for gaining such knowledge. The conferralist story is told in this essay.
According to the subset account of realization, a property, F, is realized by another property, G, whenever F is individuated by a non-empty proper subset of the causal powers by which G is individuated (and F is not a conjunctive property of which G is a conjunct). This account is especially attractive because it seems both to explain the way in which realized properties are nothing over and above their realizers, and to provide for the causal efficacy of realized properties. (...) It therefore seems to provide a way around the causal exclusion problem. There is reason to doubt, however, that the subset account can achieve both tasks. The problem arises when we look closely at the relation between properties and causal powers, specifically, at the idea that properties confer powers on the things that have them. If realizers are to be ontically prior to what they realize, then we must regard the conferral of powers by properties as a substantive relation of determination. This relation of conferral is at the heart of a kind of exclusion problem, analogous to the familiar causal exclusion problem. I argue that the subset account cannot adequately answer this new exclusion problem, and is for that reason ill-suited to be the backbone of a non-reductive physicalism. (shrink)
In this article I introduce a certain kind of anti-realist account of what makes a property essential to an object and defend it against likely objections. This account, which I call a ‘conferralist’ account, shares some of the attractive features of other anti-realist accounts, such as conventionalism and expressivism, but I believe, not their respective drawbacks.
This study illuminates how a cross-sector social partnership legitimizes itself toward multiple internal and external stakeholders. Within a single-case study design, we collected retrospective and real time data on the partnership between Deutsche Post DHL and The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Within this partnership, Deutsche Post DHL provides corporate volunteers that support disaster response after natural disasters on a pro bono basis. The main objects that needed legitimacy as well as the audiences from which legitimacy (...) was mainly sought changed over time. In addition, we identified legitimation work as occurring across objects, audiences, and time. Thus, we introduce legitimation work as the purposeful effort of the legitimacy seeker to avoid certain issues while ensuring other issues that are of importance to the conferrer of legitimacy. These findings contribute to micro-level considerations within institutional theory which view legitimacy as socially constructed between legitimacy seeker and conferrer. Hence, we add another perspective on legitimation to the previously existing conceptualizations of legitimacy as a deterministic consequence of institutionalization. (shrink)
I aim to synthesize two issues within theistic metaphysics. The first concerns the metaphysics of creaturely properties and, more specifically, the nature of unshareable properties, or tropes. The second concerns the metaphysics of providence and, more specifically, the way in which God sustains creatures, or sustenance. I propose that creaturely properties, understood as what I call modifier tropes, are identical with divine acts of sustenance, understood as acts of property-conferral. I argue that this *theistic conferralism* is attractive because it (...) integrates trope theory and the doctrine of sustenance in a mutually enhancing way. Taking modifier tropes to be divine acts mitigates certain weaknesses of trope theory and safeguards divine sustenance from the threat of both deism and occasionalism. (shrink)
Categorical Monism (that is, the view that all fundamental natural properties are purely categorical) has recently been challenged by a number of philosophers. In this paper, I examine a challenge which can be based on Gabriele Contessa’s  defence of the view that only powers can confer dispositions. In his paper Contessa argues against what he calls the Nomic Theory of Disposition Conferral (NTDC). According to NTDC, in each world in which they exist, (categorical) properties confer specific dispositions on their (...) bearers; yet, which disposition a (categorical) property confers on its bearers depends on what the (contingent) laws of nature happen to be. Contessa, inter alia, rests his case on an intuitive analogy between cases of mimicking (in which objects do not actually possess the dispositions associated with their displayed behaviour) and cases of disposition conferral through the action of laws. In this paper, I criticize various aspects of Contessa’s argumentation and show that the conclusion he arrives at (that is, only powers can confer dispositions) is controversial. (shrink)
Richard Wollheim threatened George Dickie's institutional definition of art with a dilemma which entailed that the theory is either redundant or incomprehensible and useless. This article modifies the definition to avoid such criticism. First, it shows that the definition's concept of the artworld is not vague when understood as a conventional system of beliefs and practices. Then, based on Gaut's cluster theory, it provides an account of reasons artworld members have to confer the status of a candidate for appreciation. An (...) authorised member of an artworld has a good reason to confer the status on an object if it satisfies a subset of criteria respected as sufficient within this artworld. The first horn of the dilemma is averted because explaining the reasons behind conferral cannot eliminate references to the institution, and the second loses its sharpness, as accepting partial arbitrariness of the conferral does not deprive the theory of its explanatory power. (shrink)
International policies often make the conferral of aid, debt relief, or additional trading opportunities to a country depend upon its having successfully implemented specific policies, achieved certain social or economic outcomes, or demonstrated a commitment to conducting itself in specified ways. Such policies are conditionality arrangements. My aim in this article is to explore whether conditionality arrangements that would make the conferral of debt relief depend on whether the debtor country achieves a certain status with respect to the human right (...) fulfilment of its population can be justified. I argue that many objections that are typically advanced against conditionality arrangements are unconvincing, and that the possible benefits of human rights conditionality are sufficient to warrant serious intellectual and practical exploration. Whether or not particular arrangements are justified cannot be determined in advance of such exploration. (shrink)
What counts as global ‘harm’? This article explores this question through critical engagement with Thomas Pogge’s conception of negative duties not to harm. My purpose here is to show that while Pogge is right to orient global moral claims around negative duties not to harm, he is mistaken in departing from the standard understanding of these duties. Pogge ties negative duties to global institutions, but I argue that truly negative duties cannot apply to such institutions. In order to retain the (...) global force of negative duties, we need to dissociate these duties from global institutions: each society’s negative duty to stop harming specific other societies ought to be seen as independent of global institutional change. In order to establish this thesis, I criticize both the features and the derivation of Pogge’s variant of negative duties. I conclude that one must see global negative duties as applying to the relations between specific sovereign societies as unitary agents rather than to global institutions. I then show how this view of negative duties can yield significant global reform, based on Pogge’s own accusations concerning democracies’ conferral of trading privileges upon dictators who embezzle state resources. After presenting the normative, empirical, and strategic advantages of such reform, I anticipate Poggean objections. (shrink)
The nomic view of dispositions holds that properties confer dispositions on their bearers with nomological necessity. The argument against nomic dispositions challenges the nomic view: if the nomic view is true, then objects don't have dispositions, but 'mimic' them. This paper presents an explication of disposition conferral which shows that the nomic view is not vulnerable to this objection.
In this chapter I offer an interpretation of Judith Butler’s metaphysics of sex and gender and situate it in the ontological landscape alongside what has long been the received view of sex and gender in the English speaking world, which owes its inspiration to the works of Simone de Beauvoir. I then offer a critique of Butler’s view, as interpreted, and subsequently an original account of sex and gender, according to which both are constructed—or conferred, as I would put it— (...) albeit in different ways and subject to different constraints. (shrink)
Many philosophical discussions of the narrative self touch upon the end of life. End-related terms and concepts that occur in these discussions include finitude, completion, closure, telos, retroactive meaning-conferral, life shape, and a closed beginning-middle-and-end structure. Those who emphasise life’s end in non-philosophical narrative contexts are perhaps clearer on its significance. The end is thought to play a key role in the story of a life, securing or enhancing the life narrative’s meaning or value, and thereby warranting special treatment and (...) attention. Call this thought ‘the special-ends hypothesis’. In this paper, I test the applicability of the special-ends hypothesis within philosophical narrativist accounts of the self. I examine narrativist claims pertaining to the end of life, taking seriously the specific terms they deploy, and considering the contexts in which they occur. Superficially it seems that narrativists endorse the special-ends hypothesis, overtly or by implication. But as perspective is gained on the broader theoretical context in which the concepts are situated, this apparent support diminishes. Ultimately, for most narrativists, the end of life has no special role to play in securing or enhancing the meaning or value of life as a whole. (shrink)
Whenever one person’s conferral of a benefit on another is subject to a condition that the conferee not be married to a particular person or to a member of a specified class of persons, the question of whether the condition is enforceable is said to be a question of ‘public policy’. This ‘policy’ question is fundamentally a question of whether enforcing the condition contradicts or undermines any of the norms concerning the conduct of married persons to which the law is (...) committed. It is not a question of whether enforcing or not enforcing the condition in the particular case would advance a more general social goal of encouraging marriage and discouraging divorce. A principle of preserving the coherence of the law—that the law ‘refuses to give by its right hand what it takes away by its left hand’—is the animating principle of both the marriage condition cases and the illegality cases. (shrink)
Contemporary ethical and political discourses frequently refer to the moral force of needs as justifying access to resources and rights to goods. Can needs make normative claims on anyone, and if so, how? What obligations do moral agents have to respond to the needs of other people? As finite creatures, humans inevitably experience need. Certain kinds of needs, namely fundamental needs, must be met if individuals are to avoid the harm of compromised agency. Fundamental needs involve agency-threatening events or circumstances (...) to which another must respond in order to cultivate, sustain or restore the agency of the one in need. I establish that fundamental needs have moral significance through an argument demonstrating the good of agency. I develop a robust account of agency, one that moves beyond the traditional identification of agency with rational capacities, to incorporate both emotional and relational abilities. Following the Kantian duty of beneficence, I then argue that our mutual and inevitable interdependence gives rise to a duty to care for the fundamental needs of others. Next, drawing upon care ethics, I suggest that moral agents are obligated not only to meet fundamental needs present in others, but also to do so in a manner indebted to forms of dignifying care. It is not enough that we meet the needs of others. How we do so carries with it the conferral or denial of dignity and inclusion in a moral community. Finally, I demonstrate the applied ethical import of the foregoing theoretical account by discussing practices of caring for the fundamental needs of elderly individuals, who are often relegated to the margins of agency. Specifically, I consider two cases: recommended rationing of healthcare resources for the elderly and filial obligation. (shrink)
He tried to look into her face, to find out what she thought, but she was smelling the lilac and the lilies of the valley and did not know herself what she was thinking—what she ought to say or do.OblomovMuch of modern and contemporary philosophy of mind in the ‘analytic’ tradition has presupposed, since Descartes, what might be called a realist view about the mind and the mental. According to this view there are independently existing, determinate items that are the (...) truth-conferrers of our ascriptions of mental predicates. The view is also a cognitivist one insofar as it holds that when we correctly ascribe such a predicate to an individual the correctness consists in the discovery of a determinate fact of the matter about the state the individual is in—a state which is somehow cognized by the ascriber. Disputes have arisen about the nature of the truth-conferrers and about the status and the nature of the individual's own authority about the state he is in. A dissenting position in philosophy of mind would have to be handled carefully. It would, most importantly, need to allow for the objectivity of ascriptions of mental predicates at least insofar as it made sense to reject some and accept others on appropriate grounds. Perhaps such a position in the philosophy of mind can be likened in at least one way to what David Wiggins has characterized as a doctrine of ‘cognitive underdetermination’ about moral or practical judgments. (shrink)
1. Much of modern and contemporary philosophy of mind in the ‘analytic’ tradition has presupposed, since Descartes, what might be called a realist view about the mind and the mental. According to this view there are independently existing, determinate items (states, events, dispositions or relations) that are the truth-conferrers of our ascriptions of mental predicates. The view is also a cognitivist one insofar as it holds that when we correctly ascribe such a predicate to an individual the correctness consists in (...) the discovery of a determinate fact of the matter about the state the individual is in ( a state which is somehow cognized by the ascriber. Disputes have arisen about the nature of the truth-conferrers (e.g., whether they are physical or not) and about the status and the nature of the individual’s own authority about the state he is in. A dissenting position in philosophy of mind would have to be handled carefully. It would, most importantly, need to allow for the objectivity of ascriptions of mental predicates at least insofar as it made sense to reject some and accept others on appropriate grounds. Perhaps such a position in the philosophy of mind can be likened in at least one way to what David Wiggins has characterised as a doctrine of ‘cognitive underdetermination’ about moral or practical judgments. In comparing his position of cognitive underdetermination about moral or practical judgments to some things Wittgenstein has said about the philosophy of mathematics, Wiggins suggests that, ‘In the assertibility (or truth) of mathematical statements we see what perhaps we can never see in the assertibility of empirical (such as geographical or historical) statements: the compossibility of objectivity, discovery, and invention.’. (shrink)
This book articulates a cosmopolitan theory of the principles which ought to regulate belligerents' conduct in the aftermath of war. Throughout, it relies on the fundamental principle that all human beings, wherever they reside, have rights to the freedoms and resources which they need to lead a flourishing life, and that national and political borders are largely irrelevant to the conferral of those rights. With that principle in hand, the book provides a normative defence of restitutive and reparative justice, the (...) punishment of war criminals, the resort to transitional foreign administration as a means to govern war-torn territories, and the deployment of peacekeeping and occupation forces. It also outlines various reconciliatory and commemorative practices which might facilitate the emergence of trust amongst enemies and thereby improve prospects for peace. The book offers analytical arguments and normative conclusions, with many historical and/or contemporary examples. (shrink)
Despite the urgency of this issue, AI still struggles to represent social life. This article presents a comprehensive agent-based model that investigates status-power dynamics in groups. Kemper’s sociological status–power theory of social relationships, and a literature review on school children in middle youth, is its basis. The model allows us to investigate causation of the near-ubiquitous phenomenon that females have lower social status on average than males. Possible causes included in the model are children’s dispositional traits, schoolyard culture, behavioural strategy (...) and the balance between public and dyadic sources of status. An agent-based model of a virtual schoolyard was created in which the children assemble in changing groups and mutually confer status. The status conferred upon a child modifies the status it holds. Rough-and-tumble is modelled as ambiguous: it is intended as a status conferral, but may be perceived as a power move. Running many trials of the model we found that in time, depending on the parameter settings, a gender-based status gap emerged. Rough-and-tumble play had more impact on emergent status differences than did physical power differences. Social acceptability of fighting also strongly moderated the resulting status gap. Placing more weight on dyadic relationship could alleviate status loss. All these model behaviours are in line with empirical findings of child behaviour studies at schools. They have face validity for social status issues in the adult world. We conclude from this that this kind of agent-based model merits use in studying the status–power dynamics of other issues in child behaviour, or indeed in social behaviour in general. (shrink)
A concept of merit is used for spiritual accounting in many religious traditions, seemingly a substantial point of connection between religion and ordinary morality. Teachings of “merit transfer” might make us doubt this connection since they violate the principle that merit must be earned. If we examine the structure of ordinary schemes of desert, however, we find that personal worth is posited for a variety of reasons; the basic requirement in this realm is not earning by individuals but rather a (...) community’s program for cultivating desirable collaboration among its members. There are strong enough parallels between religiously envisioned merit transfer and socially normal conferrals and sharings of worth that we can conclude that the religious posits of transferred merit are indeed comprehensible as merit, whatever other problems of comprehensibility they pose. (shrink)
Focusing on contemporary Bolivia, this article examines promises and pitfalls of political and legal initiatives that have turned Pachamama into a subject of rights. The conferral of rights on the indigenous earth being had the potential to unsettle the Western ontological distinction between active human subjects who engage in politics and passive natural resources. This essay, however, highlights some paradoxical effects of the rights of nature in Bolivia, where Evo Morales’ model of development relies on the intensification of the export-oriented (...) extractive economy. Through the analysis of a range of texts, including paintings, legal documents, political speeches and activist interventions, I consider the equivocation between the normatively gendered Mother Earth that the state recognises as the subject of rights, and the figure of Pachamama evoked by feminist and indigenous activists. Pachamama, I suggest, has been incorporated into the Bolivian state as a being whose generative capacities have been translated into a rigid gender binary. As a gendered subject of rights, Pachamama/mother Earth is exposed to governmental strategies that ultimately increase its subordination to state power. The concluding remarks foreground the import of feminist perspectives in yielding insights concerning political ontological conflicts. (shrink)
The paper is an attempt to reflect on the valuing dimension of the category of the rationality of science, ontological and epistemological problems. Such problems should be solved should rationality be deemed a valuing category. Taking into consideration the discussions on the valuing character of the categories in ethics (good, evil) and the significance of moral judgements as the point of departure, I am posing a question about the importance of expressions with regard to the rationality of science, expressions treated (...) as valuing expressions. Since the beginning of the reflections on science until now it has contained valuing and normative elements. This was irrespective of whether it took the form of logic, epistemology, methodology or philosophy of science. Moreover, the above disciplines were treated as, of their nature, formulating the ideal of knowledge and providing rules of a valuing cognition. In the twentieth century the central concept on which the discussions focused was the category of rationality. The question was how to define a valuable scientific knowledge and how to pursue science. We find some problems when we want to interpret the category of rationality as a valuing category. These problems seem to be good examples of questions that should be answered, while interpreting other epistemic categories as valuing. Including the category of the rationality of science in the valuing categories is tantamount to the conferral of a valuing sense on the statements about the rationality of science, the predicator ,,rational\" and its antonyms. The standpoints in question, the interpretations of valuing statements are as follows: anti-naturalism, naturalism, cognitivism, and acognitivism. They answer such questions as: 1) what kind of feature is rationality? 2) what are its relationships with other features, in particular with the features examined by the natural, or broadly, empirical sciences? 3) does the feature of being rational or the relationship of being a good reason on behalf of something really exist? 4) what kind of predicator of the predicator ,,rational\" and its antonyms? 5) what are their relations to other predicators, in particular those predicators which the natural, or broadly, empirical sciences make use of? 6) what kind of propositions are the statements about the rationality of science? 7) what do the statements about the rationality of science denote, or do they denote anything really existing? 8) what are the relationships of the statements of the rationality of science to other statements, in particular the statements formulated by natural sciences, e.g. cognitive psychology? The review of various manners by which to use the category of rationality in the philosophy of science speaks on behalf of the rejection of extreme interpretations: both extremely cognitivist and acognitivist. In the statements about rationality there are now two components: descriptive (object-related) and valuing. The valuing component may be understood in at least three inseparable and often coexisting manners: approving/disapproving, perfectionist and normative. (shrink)
This article discusses a Confucian notion of cosmological life and its eco-philosophical implication. In contrast to the Kantian notion of the man who has exclusive moral worth, existing as the ultimate value-conferrer among beings, Confucian cosmological man understands his/her selfness through the lens of sacred unity with other beings. The modern ecological disaster is arguably caused by the reluctance to recognize the inherent value of nature, which is due to the anthropocentrism partly introduced by the enlightenment notion of humanity. The (...) Confucian cosmological person worships the ultimate value of the cosmos as a unity of heaven, humans, and earth, and in so doing delivers genuine care for the environment, not for the sake of its instrumental but for its inherent value. (shrink)
In the penultimate chapter of his book, Art as Language, G. L. Hagberg presents an argument against Arthur Danto, George Dickie, and other advocates of the Institutional Theory (IT), arguing that a tension exists within the theory. Through conferral, a spokesperson declares what artifacts are accepted into the artworld. Hagberg finds this problematic because, while the criterion one uses is something that the later Wittgenstein would endorse, it points back to an essentialism that he clearly rejected. But Hagberg believes he (...) can avoid this problem by applying Wittgenstein’s notion of certainty to specific artifacts in aesthetics. By relying on Wittgenstein’s notion of certitude, however, he exposes himself to a tension that exists in On Certainty: is certainty natural, or is it social? Although the propositions Hagberg uses have the potential to become certain, he treats them as if they begin that way. In this paper I present two ways in which Wittgenstein classifies or understands certainty: a bottom-up approach, where certainty is part of our natural and instinctual predisposition, and a top-down approach, where certainty is acquired through positive reinforcement. I believe Hagberg fails to appreciate this distinction as well as the consequences for his claim. (shrink)
The Hobbesian social contract is effectively a repudiation of politics. And the story of humanity it tells is that of alienation. The multitude left politics behind in the state of nature, demarcating it as the power and domain of the Sovereign, as they surrendered their political capacities — their wills and judgments — to constitute the commonwealth. What they got in return is the guarantee to safely pursue the necessities of life. Thus, the politics of the modern state, as applied (...) to subjects, has always been the administration and care of mere life. This interpretation depends on a Hegelian and Arendtian reading of Hobbes. The only way to erect such a Common Power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of Foraigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby secure them in such sort, as that by their owne industrie, and by the fruites of the Earth, they may nourish themselves and live contentedly; is to conferre all their power and strength on one Man… and therein submit their Wills, every one to his Will, and their Judgements, to his Judgement.—Thomas Hobbes. (shrink)
Some commentators argue that conception constitutes the onset of human personhood in a metaphysical sense. This threshold is usually invoked as the basis both for protecting zygotes and embryos from exposure to risks of death in clinical research and fertility medicine and for objecting to abortion, but it also has consequences for certain religious perspectives, including Catholicism whose doctrines directly engage questions of personhood and its meanings. Since more human zygotes and embryos are lost than survive to birth, conferral of (...) personhood on them would mean – for those believing in personal immortality – that these persons constitute the majority of people living immortally despite having had only the shortest of earthly lives. For those believing in resurrection, zygotes and embryos would also be restored to physical lives. These outcomes do not mean that conception cannot function as a metaphysical threshold of personhood, but this interpretation carries costs that others do not. For example, treating conception as a moral threshold of respect for human life in general, rather than as a metaphysical threshold of personhood, would obviate the prospect of the afterlife being populated in the main by persons who have never lived more than a few hours or days. (shrink)
Criminalization is a form of social marginalization that is little appreciated as a determinant of poor health. Criminalization can be understood in at least two ways — in the narrow sense as the imposition of criminal penalties for a certain behavior, and more broadly as the conferral of a criminalized status on all individuals in the population, whether proven guilty of a specific offense or not. Both criminal penalties and criminalized status threaten the mental and physical health of these populations (...) in many ways. Incarceration, abandonment by families and communities, social disdain, physical abuse, discrimination, and relentless fear undermine their ability to enjoy their right to the highest attainable standard of health goods and services. Understanding the social determinants of health in these populations and formulating programs to address them have rarely been high priorities in national or international policy. (shrink)
The Byzantine rite of ordination to the presbyterate culminates in the conferral of a portion of the Eucharist upon the newly-ordained by the bishop. After reviewing the historical roots of this rite, this article examines the philological and biblical background of the term. Parakatathêkê coincides with the notion of paradosis but goes beyond it in personal and eschatological senses. Three simultaneous but distinct acts of personal transmission are highlighted: the personal participation of the newly-ordained in the apostolic ministry of the (...) bishop; the handing over of Christ personally present in the Eucharist to the newly-ordained; and the corresponding personal surrender of the new priest to Christ, to whom he will render an account of his own realization of Christ's priesthood in the service of His Mystical Body, the Church. (shrink)
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