Many problems of inequality in developing countries resist treatment by formal egalitarian policies. To deal with these problems, we must shift from a distributive to a relational conception of equality, founded on opposition to social hierarchy. Yet the production of many goods requires the coordination of wills by means of commands. In these cases, egalitarians must seek to tame rather than abolish hierarchy. I argue that bureaucracy offers important constraints on command hierarchies that help promote the equality of workers in (...) bureaucratic organizations. Bureaucracy thus constitutes a vital if limited egalitarian tool applicable to developing and developed countries alike. (shrink)
In his article ‘Saints and Heroes’, Urmson argues that traditional moral theories allow at most for a threefold classification of actions in terms of their worth, and that they are therefore unsatisfactory. Since the conclusion of his argument has led to the widespread use of the term ‘acts of supererogation’, and since I do not believe that such acts exist, I propose to argue that the actions with which he is concerned not only can, but should, be contained within the (...) traditional classification. (shrink)
This article is an interview with Elizabeth Povinelli, by Mathew Coleman and Kathryn Yusoff. It addresses Povinelli’s approaches to ‘geontologies’ and ‘geontopower’, and the discussion encompasses an exploration of her ideas on biopolitics, her retheorization of power in the current conditions of late liberalism, and the situation of the inhuman within philosophical and anthropological economies. Povinelli describes a mode of power that she calls geontopower, which operates through the governance of Life and Nonlife. The interview is accompanied by a (...) brief contextualizing introduction. (shrink)
This article is an interview with Elizabeth Grosz by Kathryn Yusoff and Nigel Clark. It primarily addresses Grosz’s approaches to ‘geopower’, and the discussion encompasses an exploration of her ideas on biopolitics, inhuman forces and material experimentation. Grosz describes geopower as a force that subtends the possibility of politics. The interview is accompanied by a brief contextualizing introduction examining the themes of geophilosophy and the inhumanities in Grosz’s work.
In this paper, I argue that the relationship between belief and credence is a central question in epistemology. This is because the belief-credence relationship has significant implications for a number of current epistemological issues. I focus on five controversies: permissivism, disagreement, pragmatic encroachment, doxastic voluntarism, and the relationship between doxastic attitudes and prudential rationality. I argue that each debate is constrained in particular ways, depending on whether the relevant attitude is belief or credence. This means that epistemologists should pay attention (...) to whether they are framing questions in terms of belief or in terms of credence and the success or failure of a reductionist project in the belief-credence realm has significant implications for epistemology generally. (shrink)
Sometimes epistemologists theorize about belief, a tripartite attitude on which one can believe, withhold belief, or disbelieve a proposition. In other cases, epistemologists theorize about credence, a fine-grained attitude that represents one’s subjective probability or confidence level toward a proposition. How do these two attitudes relate to each other? This article explores the relationship between belief and credence in two categories: descriptive and normative. It then explains the broader significance of the belief-credence connection and concludes with general lessons from the (...) debate thus far. (shrink)
I explore how rational belief and rational credence relate to evidence. I begin by looking at three cases where rational belief and credence seem to respond differently to evidence: cases of naked statistical evidence, lotteries, and hedged assertions. I consider an explanation for these cases, namely, that one ought not form beliefs on the basis of statistical evidence alone, and raise worries for this view. Then, I suggest another view that explains how belief and credence relate to evidence. My view (...) focuses on the possibilities that the evidence makes salient. I argue that this makes better sense of the difference between rational credence and rational belief than other accounts. (shrink)
What is the proper role of politics in higher education? Many policies and reforms in the academy, from affirmative action and a multicultural curriculum to racial and sexual harassment codes and movements to change pedagogical styles, seek justice for oppressed groups in society. They understand justice to require a comprehensive equality of membership: individuals belonging to different groups should have equal access to educational opportunities; their interests and cultures should be taken equally seriously as worthy subjects of study, their persons (...) treated with equal respect and concern in communicative interaction. Conservative critics of these egalitarian movements represent them as dangerous political meddling into the disinterested pursuit of knowledge. They cast the pursuit of equality as a threat to freedom of speech and academic standards. In response, some radical advocates of such programs agree that the quest for equality clashes with free speech, but view this as an argument for sacrificing freedom of speech. (shrink)
Belief-credence dualism is the view that we have both beliefs and credences and neither attitude is reducible to the other. Pragmatic encroachment is the view that stakes alone can affect the epistemic rationality of states like knowledge or justified belief. In this paper, I argue that dualism offers a unique explanation of pragmatic encroachment cases. First, I explain pragmatic encroachment and what motivates it. Then, I explain dualism and outline a particular argument for dualism. Finally, I show how dualism can (...) explain the intuitions that underlie pragmatic encroachment. My basic proposal is that in high-stake cases, it is not that one cannot rationally believe that p; instead, one ought not to rely on one's belief that p. One should rather rely on one's credence in p. I conclude that we need not commit ourselves to pragmatic encroachment in order to explain the intuitiveness of the cases that motivate it. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that faith’s going beyond the evidence need not compromise faith’s epistemic rationality. First, I explain how some of the recent literature on belief and credence points to a distinction between what I call B-evidence and C-evidence. Then, I apply this distinction to rational faith. I argue that if faith is more sensitive to B-evidence than to C-evidence, faith can go beyond the evidence and still be epistemically rational.
A common justification for retributive views of punishment is the idea that injustice is intolerable and must be answered. For instance F. H. Bradley writes: Why … do I merit punishment? It is because I have been guilty. I have done ‘wrong’… Now the plain man may not know what he means by ‘wrong’, but he is sure that, whatever it is, it ‘ought’ not to exist, that it calls and cries for obliteration; that, if he can remove it, it (...) rests also upon him, and that the destruction of guilt, whatever be the consequences, and even if there be no consequences at all, is still a good in itself; and this, not because a mere negation is a good, but because the denial of wrong is the assertion of right. A wrong is something that ought not to exist and calls to be obliterated. If anyone is able to remove it, he is obligated to do so or the wrong will also be partly his. To deny or obliterate a wrong is to assert right, Bradley says—as if the two things were counterpoised, one able to cancel the other. It reminds us of the balance held by the figure of Justice, and of debts and credits in accounts. Paying a debt erases it; the debt no longer exists. In a similar way punishment is supposed to erase wrong. (shrink)
A popular objection to theistic commitment involves the idea that faith is irrational. Specifically, some seem to put forth something like the following argument: (P1) Everyone (or almost everyone) who has faith is epistemically irrational, (P2) All theistic believers have faith, thus (C) All (or most) theistic believers are epistemically irrational. In this paper, I argue that this line of reasoning fails. I do so by considering a number of candidates for what faith might be. I argue that, for each (...) candidate, either (P1) is false or (P2) is false. Then, I make two positive suggestions for how faith can be epistemically rational but nonetheless have a unique relationship to evidence: one, that Jamesian self-justifying attitudes describe a distinctive kind of faith in oneself and others, and two, that faith is not solely based on empirical evidence. (shrink)
In wrongful life litigation a congenitally impaired child brings suit against those, usually physicians, whose negligence caused him to be born into his suffering existence. A key conceptual question is whether we can predicate harm in such cases. While a few courts have permitted it, many courts deny that we can, and thus have refused these children standing to sue. In this article the author examines the wrongful life cases and literature enroute to a broader consideration of harm. This literature, (...) and philosophical discussions of harm generally, rely on a definition which ascribes harm by comparing an individual's current condition with that in which he would otherwise have been, but for the allegedly harmful event. The author shows this definition to be conceptually and morally flawed. A superior general definition is offered which, when then applied to wrongful life cases, shows that we can easily ascribe harm in these cases and can find clear potential for tort liability. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes between definiteness and determinacy. Definiteness is seen as a morphological category which, in English, marks a uniqueness presupposition, while determinacy consists in denoting an individual. Definite descriptions are argued to be fundamentally predicative, presupposing uniqueness but not existence, and to acquire existential import through general type-shifting operations that apply not only to definites, but also indefinites and possessives. Through these shifts, argumental definite descriptions may become either determinate or indeterminate. The latter option is observed in examples like (...) ‘Anna didn’t give the only invited talk at the conference’, which, on its indeterminate reading, implies that there is nothing in the extension of ‘only invited talk at the conference’. The paper also offers a resolution of the issue of whether possessives are inherently indefinite or definite, suggesting that, like indefinites, they do not mark definiteness lexically, but like definites, they typically yield determinate readings due to a general preference for the shifting operation that produces them. (shrink)
Epistemic paternalism is the practice of interfering with someone’s inquiry, without their consent, for their own epistemic good. In this chapter, I explore the relationship between epistemic paternalism and two other epistemological theses: epistemic permissivism and standpoint epistemology. I argue that examining this relationship is fruitful because it sheds light on a series of cases in which epistemic paternalism is unjustified and brings out notable similarities between epistemic permissivism and standpoint epistemology.
A misleading and apparently addictive practice is now prevalent in discussions of philosophy in general, and moral philosophy in particular. This is the habit of dichotomizing. We are led to believe that we have to choose between reason and sentiment as the basis of morality, that facts and values are to be found on either side of an unbridgeable gulf, and so on. This practice is harmful because it leads philosophers to take sides in unnecessary conflicts which cannot be won (...) by either side, and thus prevents progress in the discussion of extremely important issues. (shrink)
Psychology's fascination with memory and its imperfections dates back further than we can remember. The first careful experimental studies of memory were published in 1885 by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, and tens of thousands of memory studies have been conducted since. What has been learned, and what might the future of memory be?
"The location of the author’s investigations, the body itself rather than the sphere of subjective representations of self and of function in cultures, is wholly new.... I believe this work will be a landmark in future feminist thinking." —Alphonso Lingis "This is a text of rare erudition and intellectual force. It will not only introduce feminists to an enriching set of theoretical perspectives but sets a high critical standard for feminist dialogues on the status of the body." —Judith Butler Volatile (...) Bodies demonstrates that the sexually specific body is socially constructed: biology or nature is not opposed to or in conflict with culture. Human biology is inherently social and has no pure or natural "origin" outside of culture. Being the raw material of social and cultural organization, it is "incomplete" and thus subject to the endless rewriting and social inscription that constitute all sign systems. Examining the theories of Freud, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, etc. on the subject of the body, Elizabeth Grosz concludes that the body they theorize is male. These thinkers are not providing an account of "human" corporeality but of male corporeality. Grosz then turns to corporeal experiences unique to women—menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, menopause. Her examination of female experience lays the groundwork for developing theories of sexed corporeality rather than merely rectifying flawed models of male theorists. (shrink)
Although the theme of these papers is ‘Contemporary Moral Problems’ my paper is partly about Aristotelian ideas. I had originally intended to apologize for this, but I find there is no need: many other contributors have found Aristotle to be timelessly relevant, as I myself have.
More than forty years have passed since Congress, in response to the Civil Rights Movement, enacted sweeping antidiscrimination laws in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. As a signal achievement of that legacy, in 2008, Americans elected their first African American president. Some would argue that we have finally arrived at a postracial America, butThe Imperative of Integration indicates otherwise. Elizabeth Anderson demonstrates that, despite progress toward (...) racial equality, African Americans remain disadvantaged on virtually all measures of well-being. Segregation remains a key cause of these problems, and Anderson skillfully shows why racial integration is needed to address these issues. Weaving together extensive social science findings--in economics, sociology, and psychology--with political theory, this book provides a compelling argument for reviving the ideal of racial integration to overcome injustice and inequality, and to build a better democracy. -/- Considering the effects of segregation and integration across multiple social arenas, Anderson exposes the deficiencies of racial views on both the right and the left. She reveals the limitations of conservative explanations for black disadvantage in terms of cultural pathology within the black community and explains why color blindness is morally misguided. Multicultural celebrations of group differences are also not enough to solve our racial problems. Anderson provides a distinctive rationale for affirmative action as a tool for promoting integration, and explores how integration can be practiced beyond affirmative action. -/- Offering an expansive model for practicing political philosophy in close collaboration with the social sciences, this book is a trenchant examination of how racial integration can lead to a more robust and responsive democracy. (shrink)
This paper concerns the role that reference to subjects of experience can play in individuating streams of consciousness, and the relationship between the subjective and the objective structure of consciousness. A critique of Tim Bayne’s recent book indicates certain crucial choices that works on the unity of consciousness must make. If one identifies the subject of experience with something whose consciousness is necessarily unified, then one cannot offer an account of the objective structure of consciousness. Alternatively, identifying the subject of (...) experience with an animal means forgoing the conceptual connection between being a subject of experience and having a single phenomenal perspective. (shrink)
Permissivism is the view that there are evidential situations that rationally permit more than one attitude toward a proposition. In this paper, I argue for Intrapersonal Belief Permissivism (IaBP): that there are evidential situations in which a single agent can rationally adopt more than one belief-attitude toward a proposition. I give two positive arguments for IaBP; the first involves epistemic supererogation and the second involves doubt. Then, I should how these arguments give intrapersonal permissivists a distinct response to the toggling (...) objection. I conclude that IaBP is a view that philosophers should take seriously. (shrink)
In this brief interview, Jordan B. Kinder discusses Thunderbird Strike with Anishinaabe, Métis, and settler-Irish media theorist and artist Elizabeth LaPensée. Thunderbird Strike is a multiplatform, two-dimensional sidescrolling video game created by LaPensée in collaboration with Adrian Cheater and Aubrey Jane Scott, NÀHGĄ a.k.a. Casey Koyczan, and Kaitlin Rose Lenhard. The conversation is centred on the inspiration for Thunderbird Strike, its reception, and its possibilities as a pedagogical medium.
Suppose you believe you’re morally required to φ but that it’s not a big deal; and yet you think it might be deeply morally wrong to φ. You are in a state of moral uncertainty, holding high credence in one moral view of your situation, while having a small credence in a radically opposing moral view. A natural thought is that in such a case you should not φ, because φing would be too morally risky. The author argues that this (...) natural thought is misguided. If φing is in fact morally required, then you should φ, and this is so even taking into account your moral uncertainty. The author argues that if the natural thought were correct, then being caught in the grip of a false moral view would be exculpatory: people who do morally wrong things thinking they are acting morally rightly would be blameless. But being caught in the grip of a false moral view is not exculpatory. So the natural thought is false. The author develops the claim that you should act as morality actually requires as a candidate answer to the question “how should one act in the face of moral uncertainty?” This answer has been dismissed in discussion up to this point. The author argues that not only is this answer a serious contender; it is the correct answer. (shrink)
Instead of treating art as a unique creation that requires reason and refined taste to appreciate, Elizabeth Grosz argues that art-especially architecture, music, and painting-is born from the disruptive forces of sexual selection.
Marking a ground-breaking moment in the debate surrounding bodies and "body politics," Elizabeth Grosz's Space, Time and Perversion contends that only by resituating and rethinking the body will feminism and cultural analysis effect and unsettle the knowledges, disciplines and institutions which have controlled, regulated and managed the body both ideologically and materially. Exploring the fields of architecture, philosophy, and--in a controversial way--queer theory, Grosz shows how these fields have conceptually stripped bodies of their specificity, their corporeality, and the vestigal (...) traces of their production as bodies. Her tour de corpe investigates the work of Michel Foucault, Teresa de Lauretis, Gilles Deleuze, Judith Butler and Alphonso Lingis. Grosz considers their work by examining the ways in which the functioning of bodies transforms understandings of space and time, knowledge and desire. Begining with an exposition of the epistemological implications of bodily and sexual difference, Grosz examines the effects such knowledge have on the reception of meaning. She looks at the relationship between the knowledge of difference and the way that knowledge validates, affirms, avows and valorizes subjects. Grosz then extends this analysis to an investigation of the relationship between space, time, bodies and the spatial "arts" such as architecuture, urban planning and geography. In the last section, Grosz moves toward a radical consideration of bodies and their relationship to transgression and perversity. Controversially showing the ways in which "queer" theory fails to offer a truly transformative conception of bodies and their politics, Grosz finds "queer" a reactive category "which sees itself in opposition to a straight norm and thus defines itself in terms of this norm." Consequentially, "queer" theory inherits the acceptance of an entire range of sexual practices, without "asking what they share and without taking into account the profound tension that may exist among these practices." Grosz's Space, Time and Perversity is a diverse and incisive collection of essays from a renowned feminist philosopher. (shrink)
Radical moral encroachment is the view that belief itself is morally evaluable, and that some moral properties of belief itself make a difference to epistemic rationality. To date, almost all proponents of radical moral encroachment hold to an asymmetry thesis: the moral encroaches on rational belief, but not on rational credence. In this paper, we argue against the asymmetry thesis; we show that, insofar as one accepts the most prominent arguments for radical moral encroachment on belief, one should likewise accept (...) radical moral encroachment on credence. We outline and reject potential attempts to establish a basis for asymmetry between the attitude types. Then, we explore the merits and demerits of the two available responses to our symmetry claim: (i) embracing moral encroachment on credence and (ii) denying moral encroachment on belief. (shrink)
Elizabeth Schechter explores the implications of the experience of people who have had the pathway between the two hemispheres of their brain severed, and argues that there are in fact two minds, subjects of experience, and intentional agents inside each split-brain human being: right and left. But each split-brain subject is still one of us.
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