The current literature on indeterminacy centers around two projects. One concerns the logic of indeterminacy; the other concerns its nature or source. The aim of this paper is to introduce, motivate and go some way toward addressing a new, third project: that of providing what I call a minimal characterization of indeterminacy. An MC, to a first approximation, is a relatively pre-theoretical characterization of indeterminacy that is neutral between the various substantive theories of the nature and logic of indeterminacy. An (...) MC thus captures a generic sense of indeterminacy that, at least in principle, is recognized by all parties to the debate over the phenomenon’s underlying nature and logic. I begin by introducing the concept of an MC and outlining some of the main theoretical virtues of providing an MC. I then establish some desiderata on a suitable MC, and use these desiderata to rule out various initially attractive proposals. In the final part of the paper I sketch the beginnings of my own MC and defend it against objections. (shrink)
Softlifting, or the illegal duplication of copyrighted software by individuals for personal use, is a serious and costly problem for software developers and distributors. Understanding the factors that determine attitude toward softlifting is important in order to ascertain what motivates individuals to engage in the behavior. We examine a number of factors, including personal moral obligation (PMO), perceived usefulness, and awareness of the laws and regulations governing software acquisition and use, along with facets of personal self-identity that may play a (...) role in the development of attitudes and therefore intentions regarding this behavior. These factors are examined across multiple settings expected to be pertinent to our survey respondents: home, work and school. Personal moral obligation and perceived usefulness are significant predictors of attitude across all settings. Past behavior is a significant predictor of intention across all settings, and a significant predictor of attitude in the home setting. We find evidence that awareness of the law causes a less favorable evaluation of softlifting in the school setting only, but has little effect in the home and work settings. As in previous studies, attitude is a significant predictor of intent. We do not find indications that one’s personal self-identity influences one’s attitude towards the behavior and the intention to perform it, except in the case of legal identity, where marginally significant effects are found in the work environment. (shrink)
Discussions of “indeterminacy” customarily distinguish two putative types: semantic indeterminacy (SI)—indeterminacy that’s somehow the product of the semantics of our words/concepts—and metaphysical indeterminacy (MI)—indeterminacy that exists as a mind/language-independent feature of reality itself. A popular and influential thought among philosophers is that all indeterminacy must be SI. In this paper we challenge this thought. Our challenge is guided by the question: What, exactly, does it take for a case of indeterminacy to count as SI? We argue that the only satisfactory (...) answer to this question must take SI to be grounded in a more basic type of MI. We conclude that SI cannot be made sense of without implicating MI. If there’s any indeterminacy, there must be indeterminacy in the world itself. (shrink)
Moral choice, as a precursor to behaviour, has an important influence on the success or failure of business entities. According to Rest, 1983, Morality, Moral Behavior and Moral Development (John Wiley & Sons, New York), moral choice is prompted, amongst other things, by a motivational component. With this in mind, data obtained from a sample of four hundred financial sector operatives, employed in a rapidly developing region of China, was used to construct a relatively stable set of motivational typologies which (...) could be used to predict choice within an agency-based context. A non-egoist version of the agency theory was developed, which permitted the modelling of alternative heuristic patterns. Altruists and persons identified as bordering on the verge of being classified as psychological egoists, refused to reorganize their motives when responding to a problem that included both moral hazard and adverse selection criteria. It was also possible to identify certain personal and contextual issues which discriminated between the typologies. (shrink)
This essay argues that deflationism is incompatible with the phenomenon of referential indeterminacy. This puts the deflationist in the difficult position of having to deny the possibility of what otherwise seems like a manifest and theoretically important phenomenon. Section 1 provides background on deflationism. Section 2 considers an intuitive argument by Stephen Leeds to the effect that deflationism precludes RI; the essay argues that this argument does not succeed. The rest of the essay presents its own, distinct argument for the (...) incompatibility of deflationism and RI. Section 3 argues that direct RI—RI that is not simply a derivative of some other, nonreferential instance of indeterminacy—is strictly incompatible with deflationism. Section 4 considers a couple of different ways the deflationist might try to achieve indirect RI—via indeterminate identity and indeterminate synonymy—and argues that each is unsatisfactory. (shrink)
ExcerptAnalysis of a possible intellectual affinity between philosopher Michel Foucault and political theorist Hannah Arendt is valuable in its own right, given the insight it offers into the work of these two important thinkers. At the same time, certain aspects of such an affinity are especially important because of what they illustrate about the unique ways in which harm manifests itself within the context of modern societies, and about how the terrain of modernity might be negotiated such that harm is (...) minimized and the practice of freedom is promoted.1 Of particular interest in this regard is the attitude toward modernity…. (shrink)
This article illustrates ways in which the concepts of the norm and normativity are implicated in relations of power. Specifically, I argue that these concepts have come to function in a normalizing manner. I outline Michel Foucault’s thinking on the norm and normalization and then provide an overview of Jürgen Habermas’s thinking on the norm and normativity in order to show that Habermas’s conceptualizations of the norm and normativity are not, as he posits, necessary foundations for ethics and politics, but (...) in fact simply one philosophical approach among many. Uncritically accepting a Habermasian framework therefore produces normalizing effects and inhibits alternative and potentially emancipatory thinking about ethics and politics. Having problematized the requirement of normative foundations as it is currently articulated, I conclude by examining the emancipatory potential of a particular aspect of Foucault’s work for the practice of philosophy. (shrink)
This essay makes a case for the relevance of Foucault’s critique of modern Western subjectivity for feminist efforts toward countering sexual violence against women. In his last four Collège de France courses, Foucault shows that subjectivity produces a normalizing relation of the self to itself, the effects of which extend beyond the self in equally harmful ways. As I see it, this harm is especially damaging to women who have experienced sexual violence; moreover, it inhibits effective feminist resistance to such (...) violence. Through analyzing a particular instance of feminist activism, I argue for the anti-normalizing potential of a contemporary mode of self-relation that functions in a way analogous to that fostered by the ancient practice of parrhēsia. (shrink)
Many of Hannah Arendt's readers argue that differences between her earlier and later work on judgment are significant enough to constitute an actual break or rupture. Of Arendt's completed works, the 'Postscriptum' to Thinking , the first volume of The Life of the Mind , and her Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy are widely considered to be her definitive remarks on judgment. These texts are privileged for two primary reasons. First, they were written after Arendt's controversial text, Eichmann in Jerusalem (...) . It was Arendt's recognition of the role that Eichmann's inability to think played in his war crimes which motivated her to analyse more fully not only the 'mental activity' of thinking, but those of willing, and judging as well. Second, in The Life of the Mind and the Kant Lectures , Arendt treats judgment as a distinct mental activity; in her earlier work judgment is connected to both politics and thought. In this essay I argue that while Arendt does indeed reformulate her notion of judgment, she does not depoliticize it. I begin by calling into question Ronald Beiner's claim that Arendt's later work on judgment can stand in for the unwritten third volume of The Life of the Mind . I then consider two more specific claims, the first of which is that judgment is relevant only in 'rare' times of 'crisis'. I argue that a crisis as Arendt understands it is not necessarily and merely a 'rare' and short-lived phenomenon. The effects of what Arendt refers to as 'dark times' are long-term and pervasive and, moreover, the function of making judgments within such an expanded context is politically germane. Second, I problematize the idea that conceiving of judgment as a distinct mental faculty necessarily disconnects it from politics. I examine the nature of Arendt's relationship to Kant and argue that she appropriates and reconceptualizes his work in such a way that judgment, while a distinct faculty, nonetheless retains its political relevance. I conclude by suggesting that the impulse to systematize Arendt's unsystematic treatment of judgment ought to be resisted. (shrink)
ExcerptIn interviews he gave during the 1970s and 80s, Michel Foucault acknowledged points of intersection between his work and that of the group of thinkers (the “Critical Theorists”) associated with the German Institute for Social Research, or Frankfurt School.1 While admittedly broad in nature, the shared concerns that Foucault identifies are nonetheless important; perhaps foremost among them is the extent to which the preoccupation with certainty that characterizes modern Western thought has led to the uncritical acceptance of what is merely (...) prevailing as being necessary. As Nietzsche observes, within the modern West a comprehensible reality, even if it is terrible,…. (shrink)
According to Sextus Empiricus, (i) the principal aim of Pyrrhonian skepticism is to achieve tranquility, and (ii) the skeptic is uniquely positioned to realize this aim. I challenge (ii) by arguing that the value nihilist—who believes that nothing is good or bad—can achieve the exact same tranquility as the skeptic. From this comparison I draw important conclusions about the relations among skepticism, tranquility and the value of knowledge.
The idea of there being “no fact of the matter” features centrally in Quine’s indeterminacy theses. Yet there has been little discussion of how exactly Quine understands this idea. In this paper I identify, develop and then critically evaluate Quine’s conception of NFM. In Sects. 3–4 I consider a handful of intuitive semantic and ontological conceptions of NFM and argue that none is workable from within Quine’s philosophy. I conclude that the failure of each of these proposals is due to (...) the immanent status of truth and existence for Quine. In Sect. 5 I then present Quine’s official conception of NFM. Briefly, Quine’s idea is that there is NFM between two theories of translation iff those theories are physically equivalent. I develop this idea in detail. Finally, I raise two independent problems for this conception of NFM. In Sect. 6 I argue that Quine’s definition is too strong: given what he means by NFM, his arguments for indeterminacy—even granting all their premises and internal reasoning—simply cannot support his claim that there is NFM regarding translation; instead they establish a strictly weaker conclusion. In Sect. 7 I argue that Quine’s conception of NFM is in significant tension with his thesis of physicalism, and that he must give up one or the other. (shrink)
In this 1970 introduction to philosophy Mr Taylor concentrates on two central topics - explanation and meaning. He takes the argument far enough to acquaint the reader first-hand with the methods and approach of analytical philosophy, and yet because of the scope of these two topics he is able to introduce many of the traditional philosophical problems in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, and logic. By this approach he avoids the dangers both of superficiality and of undue technicality. Philosophers are concerned (...) to analyse and describe certain concepts and modes of argument, not to establish facts or conclusions of any sort that can be tested by formal demonstration or controlled observation; their findings cannot be conveniently categorized or graded into a comprehensive and progressive course of studies. Mr Taylor meets this difficulty with his extended discussions of specific topics and questions which have implications over the whole subject. (shrink)
What could an empirical theory of the Mind be? Surely one which demonstrated that questions about the existence of minds were empirical questions – to be decided by observation, by the senses. This in turn would require an explanation of the meaning of statements about minds or mental states in terms referring to observable events, states and objects.