While philosophers and scientists sometimes suggest (or take for granted) that consciousness is an essential condition for free will and moral responsibility, there is surprisingly little discussion of why consciousness (and what sorts of conscious experience) is important. We discuss some of the proposals that have been offered. We then discuss our studies using descriptions of humanoid robots to explore people’s attributions of free will and responsibility, of various kinds of conscious sensations and emotions, and of reasoning capacities, and examine (...) the relationships between these attributions. Our initial results suggest that people’s attributions of free will are strongly influenced by their attributions of conscious emotions, such as happiness and disappointment, including Strawsonian emotions, such as pride and regret. These results provide some support for an intriguing proposal: Free will requires the capacity to make decisions that really matter to the agent, and for anything to really matter to the agent, she must be able to consciously experience the good and bad effects of the decisions she makes—to suffer and regret, or to enjoy and feel proud of, their outcomes. (shrink)
I review Amy Allen's Book: The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory (2016) as part of a Review Symposium: -/- In her latest book, The End of Progress, Amy Allen embarks on an ambitious and much needed project: to decolonize contemporary Frankfurt School critical theory. As with all of her books, this is an exceptionally well-written and well-argued book. Allen strives to avoid making assertions without backing them up via close and careful textual (...) reading of the thinkers she engages with. In what follows I will state why this book makes a central contribution to contemporary critical theory (in the wider sense), after which I pose a few questions. These questions are not meant to prove that there are any serious problems with her argumentation. Rather, they are meant in the spirit of dialogue and to allow her to further elaborate her work for the audience... (shrink)
The aim of this paper will be to show that certain strongly realist forms of scientific realism are either misguided or misnamed. I will argue that, in the case of a range of robustly realist formulations of scientific realism, the ‘scientific’ and the ‘realism’ are in significant philosophical and methodological conflict with each other; in particular, that there is a tension between the actual subject matter and methods of science on the one hand, and the realists' metaphysical claims about which (...) categories of entities the world contains on the other. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that Quine's principal argument for the Indeterminacy of Translation requires an untenably strong account of the underdetermination of theories by evidence, namely that that two theories may be compatible with all possible evidence for them and yet incompatible with each other. In this article, I argue that Quine's conclusion that translation is indeterminate can be based upon the weaker, uncontroversial conception of theoretical underdetermination, in conjunction with a weak reading of the ‘Gavagai’ argument which establishes the (...) underdetermination of the sense and reference of subsentential terms. If underdetermination is considered to be a widespread phenomenon in science, or in inductive reasoning more generally, then the Indeterminacy of Translation will be widespread too. Finally, I briefly consider two issues concerning the scope of this conclusion about the Indeterminacy of Translation: first, whether the argument presupposes behaviourism; and second, whether indeterminacy is restricted to the case of radical translation. I argue that the answer to both these questions is negative, and thus that the thesis of semantic indeterminacy remains relevant to those who disagree with Quine about some issues concerning the nature of mind and language. (shrink)
Principled discussions of civil rights became inherently less likely as a direct result of the observation by Earl Warren, in Brown v. Board of Education, that, respecting freedmen, “Education of Negroes was almost non-existent, and practically all of the race were illiterate,” and in proportion as that observation increasingly became the foundation of common opinion on the subject. Warren's observation was not true in any meaningful or non-trivial sense. Nevertheless, it served to perpetuate the myth of a backward people needing (...) help to catch up instead of the truth of a people being held back. That is the perspective – the disadvantaged group perspective – that ultimately infected all discussion of civil rights, even after the designation of so-called “disadvantaged groups” had been extended beyond American blacks. To define civil rights, we may well begin with what all mankind would likely recognize. Thus the dictionary definition of “civil rights” stands: “the rights that belong to all individuals in a nation or community touching property, marriage, and the like.” In that definition the term “rights” may be further expanded to mean “legitimate claims,” following the definition of right as law – as “a claim or title or interest in anything whatever that is enforceable by law.” This definition applies with minimal distinction of regimes intruding and, therefore, without the host of recent complications in the United States that create the impression that civil rights have something to do with pluralism. Previously, the generic definition was thought to exhaust the meaning of the term in the United States. (shrink)
In a remarkable and utterly original work of philosophical history, Richard Allen revivifies David Hartley's Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations (1749). Though it includes a detailed and richly annotated chronology, this is not a straight intellectual biography, attentive as it might be to the intricacies of Hartley's Cambridge contacts, or the mundane rituals of his medical practice, or the internal development of the doctrine of association of ideas. Instead Allen brings Hartley's book, a (...) psychological epic with a mystical finale, sympathetically to life in a generous and ambitious historical gesture of mutual recognition. Late 20th-century readers "are in a better position to understand Hartley's work" than were earlier sympathizers like Joseph Priestley and John Stuart Mill; and in turn, Allen argues that "Hartley has something to say to us" about just how rich and strange a full mechanistic psychology might be. (shrink)
Reflection on the wrongs done by characters in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy “Manhattan” helps us get clear about the evidence required to judge them responsible and so liable to blame them for those wrongs. On the positive side, what is required is evidence that trust remains a possibility, despite the fact that they wrong, and this in turn requires evidence that the wrongdoer had, but failed to exercise, the capacity to do the right thing when they did that wrong. (...) On the negative side, what is not required is evidence of some explanation of that failure. This counts against a well-known suggestion of Gary Watson’s in “Skepticism about Weakness of Will.”. (shrink)
For many years now Allen Buchanan has been one of the most important theorists working on the philosophy of human rights, producing a large number of papers and two books significantly devoted to the topic. In the work under consideration in this symposium, Buchanan breaks new ground by examining what he claims to be the “heart” of international human rights practice – the international legal human rights (“ILHR”) system, subjecting it to moral and philosophical analysis and criticism. Buchanan's book (...) was the subject of an author meets critics session sponsored by the APA Committee on Law and Philosophy at the 2015 Pacific APA Meeting. The following paper introduces the resulting special issue of the journal, _Law and Philosophy_, summarizing Buchanan's important contribution and criticisms by William Talbot, Brooke Ackerley, Erin Kelly, and Mathias Risse, as well as Buchanan's replies. (shrink)
Neste artigo, argumento que a abordagem de Amy Allen a respeito da questão de gênero em The Politics of Our Selves é precária e parcial na medida em que é focada em uma análise da sujeição que visa explicar “como indivíduos subordinados se tornam psiquicamente atados à sua própria subordinação”. Embora este seja um aspecto inegável da subordinação de gênero, não expressa a complexidade das suas causas materiais e simbólicas. A minha tese central é a de que Allen (...) não oferece o melhor modelo para a Teoria Crítica feminista à luz das complexidades das sociedades capitalistas, muito menos, ouso dizer, para as lutas feministas no Sul Global, profundamente marcado pela pobreza, pela desigualdade social, pelo racismo e outros tipos de violência contra a mulher. (shrink)
Two perennial doubts can linger in the minds of people working in the history of philosophy. Those who approach philosophical problems in a systematic, analytic spirit may come to think that work in the history of philosophy fails to amount to genuine philosophy; and those who are more historically-minded may come to think that the very same work fails to amount to genuine history. In this rich and rewarding new book, Allen Wood nevertheless succeeds in delivering a defense of (...) Kantian ethics that should satisfy, in terms of its philosophical credentials, any philosopher interested in ethics; and it should also satisfy, in terms of its historical credentials, anyone interested in the ethical thought of Immanuel Kant himself. (shrink)
Shriver and Allen (this volume, this journal; hereafter S&A) make three unconnected criticisms of my views concerning phenomenal consciousness and the question of animal consciousness. First, they claim that my dispositional higher-order thought theory of consciousness has much greater significance for ethics than I recognize. Second, they claim that, in the course of attempting to motivate that theory, I have presented inadequate criticisms of first-order theories (according to which phenomenal consciousness may well be rampant in the animal world). And (...) third, they claim that my argument that the question of animal consciousness might not matter a great deal for comparative psychology may prove too much, showing that such consciousness is genuinely epiphenomenal in ourselves, and undermining some of my own evolutionary arguments in support of higher-order theories. I shall focus mostly on the second and third criticisms. But I begin with a few remarks about the first. (shrink)
Woody Allen’s uneasy relationship with organized religions, as represented in his entire work, has often drawn accusations of atheism and ethnic self-hatred, just as his personal behavior, as represented in the media, has stirred a series of allegations of immorality. However, Woody Allen’s exploration of religion, faith, and morality is far more complex and epitomizes the experience of modern man, living in a disenchanted universe. While most scholars focused on discussing the provocative debates over faith and religion in (...) Woody Allen’s films, the main purpose of this paper is to investigate what underlies Woody Allen’s obsessive preoccupation with the existence of divinity, as expressed in that part of his work which received little critical attention, namely his short fiction. The purpose of such an analysis is not to clear Woody Allen’s vexed reputation, but to understand the relevance of his individual ideology for the religious and moral conundrums of modern man. The corpus selected for this analysis consists of a series of relevant short stories and essays published in the 1991 edition of The Complete Prose of Woody Allen , a volume which gathers the texts published in three other short story collections. (shrink)
This volume, honoring the renowned historian of science, Allen G Debus, explores ideas of science - `experiences of nature' - from within a historiographical tradition that Debus has done much to define. As his work shows, the sciences do not develop exclusively as a result of a progressive and inexorable logic of discovery. A wide variety of extra-scientific factors, deriving from changing intellectual contexts and differing social millieus, play crucial roles in the overall development of scientific thought. These essays (...) represent case studies in a broad range of scientific settings - from sixteenth-century astronomy and medicine, through nineteenth-century biology and mathematics, to the social sciences in the twentieth-century - that show the impact of both social settings and the cross-fertilization of ideas on the formation of science. Aimed at a general audience interested in the history of science, this book closes with Debus's personal perspective on the development of the field. Audience: This book will appeal especially to historians of science, of chemistry, and of medicine. (shrink)
Democratic theorists often distinguish between two views of democratic procedures. ‘Outcomes theorists’ emphasize the instrumental nature of these procedures and argue that they are only valuable because they tend to produce good outcomes. In contrast, ‘proceduralists’ emphasize the intrinsic value of democratic procedures, for instance, on the grounds that they are fair. In this paper. I argue that we should reject pure versions of these two theories in favor of an understanding of the democratic ideal that recognizes a commitment to (...) both intrinsically valuable democratic procedures and democratic outcomes. In instances in which there is a conflict between these two commitments, I suggest they must be balanced. This balancing approach offers a justification of judicial review on the grounds that it potentially limits outcomes that undermine democracy. But judicial review is not justifiable in any instance in which a bad democratic outcome results from democratic procedures. When the loss that would result from overturning a democratic procedure is greater than the gain to democracy that would result from ensuring against an undemocratic outcome; judicial review is not justifiable. Loss or gain to democracy is defined by the negative or positive impact of each action on the core democratic values of equality and autonomy, aspects of the democratic ideal. Even when judicial review is justified, the fact that it overturns intrinsically valuable procedures suggests that such review is never ideal from the standpoint of democracy. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that exploitation is unjust; some think it is part of the very meaning of the word ‘exploitation’ that it is unjust. Those who think this will suppose that the just society has to be one in which people do not exploit one another, at least on a large scale. I will argue that exploitation is not unjust by definition, and that a society might be fundamentally just while nevertheless being pervasively exploitative. I do think that exploitation (...) is nearly always a bad thing, and wul try to identify the moral belief which makes most of us think it is. But I will argue that its badness does not always consist in its being unjust. (shrink)
In this paper I reply to two sets of criticisms—a first from Joshua Gert, and a second from Keith Allen—of the relationalist view of color developed and defended in my book, The Red and the Real: An Essay on Color Ontology.
Theories of autonomy commonly make reference to some form of endorsement: an action is autonomous insofar as the agent has a second-order desire towards the motivating desire, or takes it to be a reason for action, or is not alienated from it. In this paper I argue that all such theories have difficulty accounting for certain kinds of agents, what I call ‘Woody Allen cases’. In order to make sense of such cases, I suggest, it is necessary to disambiguate (...) two distinct forms of endorsement, both of which contribute to autonomy. (shrink)
In this paper I question Amy Allen’s reliance on a Habermasian model of critique and normativity, beyond which her own work points. I emphasize those places in Allen’s book, The Power of Our Selves, where she could set out on a different path, more consistent with the implications of her critique of Habermas, and more congenial with my own reformulation of the project of critical theory.
Evaluation of the contribution that Allen Carlson’s environmental aesthetics can make to environmental protection shows that Carlson’s positive aesthetics, his focus on the functionality of human environments for their proper aesthetic appreciation, and his integration of ethical concern with aesthetic appreciation all provide fruitful, though not unproblematic, avenues for an aesthetic defense of theenvironment.
The Nobel prize-winning molecular biologist Walter Gilbert described the mapping and sequencing of the human genome as “the grail of molecular biology.” The implication, endorsed by enthusiasts for the new genetics, is that possessing a comprehensive knowledge of human genetics, like possessing the Holy Grail, will give us miraculous powers to heal the sick, and to reduce human suffering and disabilities. Indeed, the rhetoric invoked to garner public support for the Human Genome Project appears to appeal to the best of (...) the Western tradition's enthusiasm for progress: the idea of improving human lives through the practical application of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Garland E. Allen’s 1978 biography of the Nobel Prize winning biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan provides an excellent study of the man and his science. Allen presents Morgan as an opportunistic scientist who follows where his observations take him, leading him to his foundational work in Drosophila genetics. The book was rightfully hailed as an important achievement and it introduced generations of readers to Morgan. Yet, in hindsight, Allen’s book largely misses an equally important part of Morgan’s work (...) – his study of development and regeneration. It is worth returning to this part of Morgan, exploring what Morgan contributed and also why he has been seen by contemporaries and historians such as Allen as having set aside some of the most important developmental problems. A closer look shows how Morgan’s view of cells and development that was different from that of his most noted contemporaries led to interpretation of his important contributions in favor of genetics. This essay is part of a special issue, revisiting Garland Allen's views on the history of life sciences in the twentieth century. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper is a critical response to Amy Allen’s The End of Progress: Decolonising the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory. We take up her book’s call for a “problematizing” history which challenges “taken-for-granted” preconceptions in order to contest Allen’s own representation of the thought of the enlightenment. Allen accepts that all the enlighteners agreed upon a stadial, progressive account of history, which she critiques epistemically and normatively. But we show in Part 2, drawing on the work of (...) Henri Vyverberg and other historians of eighteenth century ideas, that a cyclical, rise and fall account of historical succession was more prominent than the progressive narrative in leading enlighteners such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, D’Alembert, Condillac, Jancourt, Grimm, and Raynal, all of whom Allen does not mention. In Part 3, we show that not all thinkers of the enlightenment were pro-colonial or pro-imperialist, as Allen also presupposes in The End of Progress. By examining Abbé Raynal’s History of The Two Indies in Part 3, and notably its Diderotian interpolations, we show that many enlighteners propounded fierce criticisms of European colonialism and the slave trade, even calling directly for armed resistance against European infractions. In critical theorists’ search for chastened normative foundations, our concluding remarks contend, there is a need to develop more accurate, balanced, post-postmodern reckonings of the enlightenment. (shrink)
A appreciation and critical discussion of RE Allen's Plato's Parmenides. I argue that, contra Allen, the Parmenides is not an aporetic dialogue and that the eight hypotheses are not governed by the so-called "dilemma of participation." Rather, the apparent contradictions between and within the hypotheses function to elicit from the reader a distinction in kind between the sorts of one that forms, on the one hand, and their sensible participants, on the other, are and to illumine the 'relation' (...) of participation. (shrink)
This commentary provides a critical examination of a recent article by Allen and Knight in which the authors claim to provide the long-sought explanation for the Madelung, or n + ℓ, n rule for the order of orbital filling in many-electron atoms. It is concluded that the explanation is inadequate for several reasons.
In this extended essay, Vittorio Hösle develops a theory of the comical and applies it to interpret both the recurrent personae played by Woody Allen the actor and the philosophical issues addressed by Woody Allen the director in his films. Taking Henri Bergson’s analysis of laughter as a starting point, Hösle integrates aspects of other theories of laughter to construct his own more finely-articulated and expanded model. With this theory in hand, Hösle discusses the incongruity in the characters (...) played by Woody Allen and describes how these personae are realized in his work. Hösle focuses on the philosophical issues in Allen’s major films by exploring the identity problem in _Play It Again, Sam_ and _Zelig_, the shortcomings of the positivist concept of reality in _A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy_, the relation between reality and art in _The Purple Rose of Cairo_, the objective validity of morality in _Crimes and Misdemeanors_, the power of evil in _Shadows and Fog_, and the relation between art and morality in _Bullets over Broadway_. He cites Allen’s virtuosic reinterpretation of older forms of expression and his integration of the fantastic into the comic universe—elements like the giant breasts, anxious sperm, extraterrestrials, ghosts, and magicians that populate his movies—as formal moves akin to those of Aristophanes. Both an overview of Allen’s work and a philosophical analysis of laughter, Hösle’s study demonstrates why Allen’s films have more to offer us—morally, philosophically, and artistically—than just a few laughs. “In _Woody Allen_, Vittorio Hösle goes a long way toward explaining everything you wanted to know about Allen but were afraid to ask. Just why exactly is he funny, and why does his humor have a strong appeal for academics? In his comprehensive analysis of Allen’s work, Hösle outlines a workable theory of humor, illustrates his conclusions by referring to the films and prose, and points out several philosophic motifs underlying Allen’s deceptively complex comedies. Hösle’s work elevates the enjoyment of Allen’s films from guilty pleasure to satisfying intellectual engagement with an intriguing contemporary thinker and artist.” —Richard A. Blake, S.J., Boston College “Vittorio Hösle presents a compelling overview of Allen’s work in which he discusses different theories of laughter and argues for the priority of the incongruity theory as the only one able to answer the normative question, what distinguises good from bad laughter? On this theoretical basis he goes on to delve into both the humor and the philosophical profundity of Allen’s films.” —Sander Lee, Keene State College. (shrink)