This essay examines Patočka’s reflections on the ideological battles in the middle of the 20th century and the nature of ideology as such. Drawing on Patočka’s texts from around the time of the Second World War and the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, the essay describes Patočka’s analysis of the main philosophical schools of the age, how they conceive of Man, and how they seek to use Man for their own purposes. The essay shows how this external materialization of Man dehumanizes (...) and thus abuses. Only an idea respecting human freedom will do justice to the human experience. Lastly the author reflects on whether Patočka’s analysis of the human situation 60 years ago under various types of totalitarianism is still relevant today. (shrink)
Based on anthropological fieldwork conducted in the Eastern Cape, the paper explores the interconnections between dreams and medicines as aspects of the Xhosa diviner’s culture, knowledge and experience. Background information is provided in the introduction, inter alia, on the Xhosa patrilineal clan, divination and religious and cultural change. The ability to dream, inter alia of the ancestors and medicines, is central to the diviner’s intuition and professional stock-in-trade, which are part and parcel of a religious healing tradition. Examples of dreams (...) involving the ancestors, diviners, clients and medicinal plants are presented and analysed in relation to relevant case material. The ritual significance of dreams is explored in some detail. The distinctions between diviner and herbalist, and between medicines and charms, receive attention in the section on medicines. The underlying purpose of traditional Xhosa religious ideology is discussed in the conclusion. (shrink)
Erwin Schrödinger’s 1944 publication What is Life? is a classic of twentieth century science writing. In his book, Schrödinger discussed the chromosome fibre as the seat of heredity and variation thanks to a hypothetical aperiodic structure – a suggestion that famously spurred on a generation of scientists in their pursuit of the gene as a physico-chemical entity. While historical attention has been given to physicists who were inspired by the book, little has been written about its biologist readers. This paper (...) examines the case of the English evolutionary botanist and cytologist Irène Manton, who took an interest in What is Life? for its relevance to her own research in chromosome structure as a clue to plant phylogeny. Drawing on recently discovered correspondence between Manton and Schrödinger, the paper reconstructs Manton ‘s path to the book and her response to it by way of throwing new light on a pivotal moment in the history of the debate on chromosome structure. (shrink)
In this essay I propose to explicate and defend a new and improved version of a Lockean proviso—the self-ownership proviso . I shall presume here that individuals possess robust rights of self-ownership. I shall take it that each individual has strong moral claims over the elements which constitute her person, e.g., her body parts, her talents, and her energies. However, in the course of the essay, I shall be challenging what I take to be the standard conception of self-ownership and (...) proposing an enrichment of that conception. The SOP is presented and in part justified as an implication of the right of self-ownership as it is more richly conceived—hence its designation as the self-ownership proviso. As an implication of the right of self-ownership which is also compatible, in theory and practice, with extensive and robust private property rights, the SOP is offered as an integral element of classical-liberal political theory. (shrink)
Most philosophers writing about personal identity in recent years claim that what it takes for us to persist through time is a matter of psychology. In this groundbreaking new book, Eric Olson argues that such approaches face daunting problems, and he defends in their place a radically non-psychological account of personal identity. He defines human beings as biological organisms, and claims that no psychological relation is either sufficient or necessary for an organism to persist. Olson rejects several famous thought-experiments (...) dealing with personal identity. He argues, instead, that one could survive the destruction of all of one's psychological contents and capabilities as long as the human organism remains alive--as long as its vital functions, such as breathing, circulation, and metabolism, continue. (shrink)
In this paper I offer three main challenges to James (2011). All three turn on the nature of philosophy and secure knowledge in Spinoza. First, I criticize James's account of the epistemic role that experience plays in securing adequate ideas for Spinoza. In doing so I criticize her treatment of what is known as the ‘conatus doctrine’ in Spinoza in order to challenge her picture of the relationship between true religion and philosophy. Second, this leads me into a criticism of (...) her account of the nature of philosophy in Spinoza. I argue it is less piecemeal and less akin to what we would recognize as ‘science’ than she suggests. Third, I argue against James's core commitment that Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge differ in degree; I claim they differ in kind. My argument will offer a new interpretation of Spinoza's conception of ‘common notions’. Moreover, I argue that Spinozistic adequate knowledge involves something akin to angelic disembodiment. (shrink)
My goal in this essay is to say something helpful about the philosophical foundations of deontic restraints, i.e., moral restraints on actions that are, roughly speaking, grounded in the wrongful character of the actions themselves and not merely in the disvalue of their results. An account of deontic restraints will be formulated and offered against the backdrop of three related, but broader, contrasts or puzzles within moral theory. The plausibility of this account of deontic restraints rests in part on how (...) well this account resolves the puzzles or illuminates the contrasts which make up this theoretical backdrop. (shrink)
On October 1, 1988, thirty-five years after co-discovering the structure of the DNA molecule, Dr. James Watson launched an unprecedented experiment in American science policy. In response to a reporter's question at a press conference, he unilaterally set aside 3 to 5 percent of the budget of the newly launched Human Genome Project to support studies of the ethical, legal, and social implications of new advances in human genetics. The Human Genome Project, by providing geneticists with the molecular maps of (...) the human chromosomes that they use to identify specific human genes, will speed the proliferation of a class of DNA-based diagnostic and risk-assessment tests that already create professional ethical and health-policy challenges for clinicians. “The problems are with us now, independent of the genome program, but they will be associated with it,” Watson said. “We should devote real money to discussing these issues.” By 1994, the “ELSI program” had spent almost $20 million in pursuit of its mission, and gained both praise and criticism for its accomplishments. (shrink)
This article discusses the British Nationalization of Labour Society , a group formed in response to the political ideas brought forth by Edward Bellamy’s novel Looking Backward. The article traces the roots of this group in British radicalism in general, and in campaigns for land nationalization and the works of Henry George in particular. The NLS were grounded in a deeply materialist and rationalist worldview and the influence of this on their political ideas and practice is shown. Relationships between the (...) ideas of the British Bellamyites and the ideas of British socialists are also discussed. (shrink)
This paper presents an examination of the Fellowship of the New Life, a pioneering British socialist organization from the 1880s and 1890s. The paper outlines the organizations and some of the prominent individuals involved in the Fellowship, presents an overview of Fellowship analyses of existing society, and details their political programmes and actions. It shows that in both their analysis and their activities the Fellowship were very much of the socialist mainstream in their day. They rejected the dichotomies of their (...) society, such as individual-society, ends-means and materialism- ethicalism, and they sought to combine these facets of life in both their thought and their political campaigns. The conclusion reached is that this complex, resourceful and potent group have been ill-served by being given the simplistic and pejorative label of 'ethical' socialism. (shrink)
Introduction -- Sanctioning models : theories and their scope -- Methodology for a virtual world -- A tale of two methods -- When theories shake hands -- Models of climate : values and uncertainties -- Reliability without truth -- Conclusion.
This is a book about Kant's views on causality as understood in their proper historical context. Specifically, Eric Watkins argues that a grasp of Leibnizian and anti-Leibnizian thought in eighteenth-century Germany helps one to see how the critical Kant argued for causal principles that have both metaphysical and epistemological elements. On this reading Kant's model of causality does not consist of events, but rather of substances endowed with causal powers that are exercised according to their natures and circumstances. This (...) innovative conception of Kant's view of causality casts a light on Kant's philosophical beliefs in general, such as his account of temporality, his explanation of the reconciliation of freedom and determinism, and his response to the skeptical arguments of Hume. (shrink)
We are prone to gross error, even in favorable circumstances of extended reflection, about our own ongoing conscious experience, our current phenomenology. Even in this apparently privileged domain, our self-knowledge is faulty and untrustworthy. We are not simply fallible at the margins but broadly inept. Examples highlighted in this essay include: emotional experience (for example, is it entirely bodily; does joy have a common, distinctive phenomenological core?), peripheral vision (how broad and stable is the region of visual clarity?), and the (...) phenomenology of thought (does it have a distinctive phenomenology, beyond just imagery and feelings?). Cartesian skeptical scenarios undermine knowledge of ongoing conscious experience as well as knowledge of the outside world. Infallible judgments about ongoing mental states are simply banal cases of self-fulfillment. Philosophical foundationalism supposing that we infer an external world from secure knowledge of our own consciousness is almost exactly backward. (shrink)
Power and authority in terms of the Ten Commandments (TCs) are discussed. The paper reviews the TCs in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The treatment and basis for power and authority in each religion are clarified. Implications of power and authority using the perspective of the TCs are provided. The paper suggests that in today's business environment people tend to be selective in identifying only with certain elements of the TCs that fit their interest and that the TCs should be viewed (...) as general moral guidelines. (shrink)
There continues to be a vigorous public debate in our society about the status of climate science. Much of the skepticism voiced in this debate suffers from a lack of understanding of how the science works - in particular the complex interdisciplinary scientific modeling activities such as those which are at the heart of climate science. In this book Eric Winsberg shows clearly and accessibly how philosophy of science can contribute to our understanding of climate science, and how it (...) can also shape climate policy debates and provide a starting point for research. Covering a wide range of topics including the nature of scientific data, modeling, and simulation, his book provides a detailed guide for those willing to look beyond ideological proclamations, and enriches our understanding of how climate science relates to important concepts such as chaos, unpredictability, and the extent of what we know. (shrink)
This paper is about the neglected question of what sort of things we are metaphysically speaking. It is different from the mind-body problem and from familiar questions of personal identity. After explaining what the question means and how it differs from others, the paper tries to show how difficult it is to give a satisfying answer.
The properties colored and red stand in a special relation. Namely, red is a determinate of colored, and colored is determinable relative to red. Many other properties are similarly related. The determination relation is an interesting topic of logical investigation in its own right, and the prominent philosophical inquiries into this relation have, accordingly, operated at a high level of abstraction.1 It is time to return to these investigations, not just as a logical amusement, but for the payoffs such investigation (...) can yield in solving some basic metaphysical problems. The goal in what follows is twofold. First, I argue for a novel understanding of the determination relation. Second, this understanding is applied to yield insights into property instance (e.g., trope) individuation, how different property types can share an instance, the relation between property types and property instances, as well as applications to causation (mental causation, in particular). (shrink)
Was sind wir? Wie immer man sich zu dieser Frage stellt, eines scheint offenkundig: Wir sind Tiere, genauer gesagt: menschliche Tiere, Mitglieder der Art Homo sapiens. Dabei mag es überraschen, daß viele Philosophen diese vermeintlich banale Tatsache abstreiten. Plato, Augustinus, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant und Hegel, um nur einige herausragende zu nennen, waren alle der Meinung, wir seien keine Tiere. Es mag zwar sein, daß unsere Körper Tiere sind. Doch sind wir nicht mit unseren Körpern gleichzusetzen. Wir sind etwas (...) anderes als Tiere. Kaum anderer Meinung sind Denker nicht-westlicher Traditionen. Und rund neun von zehn Philosophen, die heutzutage über Probleme der personalen Identität nachdenken, vertreten Ansichten, die ausschließen, daß wir Tiere sind. (shrink)
This book focuses on the unity, diversity, and centrality of the notion of law as it is employed in Kant's theoretical and practical philosophy. Eric Watkins argues that, by thinking through a number of issues in various historical, scientific, and philosophical contexts over several decades, Kant is able to develop a univocal concept of law that can nonetheless be applied to a wide range of particular cases, despite the diverse demands that these contexts give rise to. In addition, Watkins (...) shows how Kant comes to view both the generic conception of law which he develops and its different particular instances as crucial components of his systematic philosophy as a whole. This volume's new and unified account of a major current running through Kant's work will be important for scholars interested in numerous aspects of his philosophy, from the theoretical and abstract to the practical and empirical. (shrink)
This paper develops a compositional, type-driven constraint semantic theory for a fragment of the language of subjective uncertainty. In the particular application explored here, the interpretation function of constraint semantics yields not propositions but constraints on credal states as the semantic values of declarative sentences. Constraints are richer than propositions in that constraints can straightforwardly represent assessments of the probability that the world is one way rather than another. The richness of constraints helps us model communicative acts in essentially the (...) same way that we model agents’ credences. Moreover, supplementing familiar truth-conditional theories of epistemic modals with constraint semantics helps capture contrasts between strong necessity and possibility modals, on the one hand, and weak necessity modals, on the other. (shrink)
If you’re a materialist, you probably think that rabbits are conscious. And you ought to think that. After all, rabbits are a lot like us, biologically and neurophysiologically. If you’re a materialist, you probably also think that conscious experience would be present in a wide range of naturally-evolved alien beings behaviorally very similar to us even if they are physiologically very different. And you ought to think that. After all, to deny it seems insupportable Earthly chauvinism. But a materialist who (...) accepts consciousness in weirdly formed aliens ought also to accept consciousness in spatially distributed group entities. If she then also accepts rabbit consciousness, she ought to accept the possibility of consciousness even in rather dumb group entities. Finally, the United States would seem to be a rather dumb group entity of the relevant sort. If we set aside our morphological prejudices against spatially distributed group entities, we can see that the United States has all the types of properties that materialists tend to regard as characteristic of conscious beings. (shrink)
When we say we 'act for a reason', what do we mean? And what do reasons have to do with being good or bad? Introducing readers to a foundational topic in ethics, Eric Wiland considers the reasons for which we act. You do things for reasons, and reasons in some sense justify what you do. Further, your reasons belong to you, and you know the reasons for which you act in a distinctively first-personal way. Wiland lays out and critically (...) reviews some of the most popular contemporary accounts of how reasons can function in all these ways, accounts such as psychologism, factualism, hybrid theories, constitutivist theories, and finally Anscombean views of reasons. Reasons also includes a brief guide to further reading to help readers master this important topic in contemporary writing in ethics and the philosophy of action. (shrink)
1. Introduction This essay deals with the hard topic of the permissible killing of the innocent. The relevance of this topic to the morality of war is obvious. For even the most defensive and just wars, i.e., the most defensive and just responses to existing or imminent large-scale aggression, will inflict harm upon – in particular, cause the deaths of – innocent bystanders. 1 The most obvious and relevant example is that of innocent Soviet noncombatants who would be killed by (...) even the most precise defensive strike against Soviet strategic weapons or troop formations that is now possible. Should there be no vindication or, at least, no excuse for some killings of such innocent bystanders, morality would dictate that even defensive counterforce measures against largescale attacks should be renounced. (shrink)
kant’s critique of pure reason undertakes a systematic investigation of the possibility of synthetic cognition a priori so as to determine whether this kind of cognition is possible in the case of traditional metaphysics.1 While much scholarly attention has been devoted to the distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments as well as to that between the a priori and the a posteriori, less attention has been devoted to understanding exactly what cognition is for Kant. In particular, it is often insufficiently (...) clear what kind of mental state cognition is, what the exact nature of the conditions on cognition is, and how they are satisfied in the case of human beings. To bring greater clarity to... (shrink)
Simulations (both digital and analog) and experiments share many features. But what essential features distinguish them? I discuss two proposals in the literature. On one proposal, experiments investigate nature directly, while simulations merely investigate models. On another proposal, simulations differ from experiments in that simulationists manipulate objects that bear only a formal (rather than material) similarity to the targets of their investigations. Both of these proposals are rejected. I argue that simulations fundamentally differ from experiments with regard to the background (...) knowledge that is invoked to argue for the “external validity” of the investigation. (shrink)
The current debate on “free agency” seems to highlight the romantic aspects of free agent and considers it a genuine response to changing economic conditions (e.g., high-unemployment rate, importance of knowledge in the labor market, the eclipse of organizational loyalty, and self pride). Little attention, if any, has been given to the religious root of the free agency concept and its persistent existence across history. In this paper, the current discourse on free agency and the conditions that have led to (...) its emergence are briefly discussed. The paper focuses on the theological perspectives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on the concept. Implications for management and business organizations are provided. (shrink)
Do you dream in color? If you answer Yes, how can you be sure? Before you recount your vivid memory of a dream featuring all the colors of the rainbow, consider that in the 1950s researchers found that most people reported dreaming in black and white. In the 1960s, when most movies were in color and more people had color television sets, the vast majority of reported dreams contained color. The most likely explanation for this, according to the philosopher (...) class='Hi'>Eric Schwitzgebel, is not that exposure to black-and-white media made people misremember their dreams. It is that we simply don't know whether or not we dream in color. In Perplexities of Consciousness, Schwitzgebel examines various aspects of inner life and argues that we know very little about our stream of conscious experience. Drawing broadly from historical and recent philosophy and psychology to examine such topics as visual perspective, and the unreliability of introspection, Schwitzgebel finds us singularly inept in our judgments about conscious experience. (shrink)
According to Eric Olson, the Thinking Animal Argument (TAA) is the best reason to accept animalism, the view that we are identical to animals. A novel criticism has been advanced against TAA, suggesting that it implicitly employs a dubious epistemological principle. I will argue that other epistemological principles can do the trick of saving the TAA, principles that appeal to recent issues regarding disagreement with peers and experts. I conclude with some remarks about the consequence of accepting these modified (...) principles, drawing out some general morals in defending animalism. (shrink)
In recent years, the notion of a reason has come to occupy a central place in both metaethics and normative theory more broadly. Indeed, many philosophers have come to view reasons as providing the basis of normativity itself . The common conception is that reasons are facts that count in favor of some act or attitude. More recently, philosophers have begun to appreciate a distinction between objective and subjective reasons, where (roughly) objective reasons are determined by the facts, while subjective (...) reasons are determined by one's beliefs. My goal in this paper is to offer a plausible theory of subjective reasons. Although much attention has been focused on theories of objective reasons, very little has been offered in the literature regarding what sort of account of subjective reasons we should adopt; and what has been offered is rather perfunctory, and requires filling-out. Taking what has been said thus far as a starting point, I will consider several putative theories of subjective reasons, offering objections and amendments along the way, will settle on what I take to be a highly plausible account, and will defend that account against objections. (shrink)
The historical debate on representation in cognitive science and neuroscience construes representations as theoretical posits and discusses the degree to which we have reason to posit them. We reject the premise of that debate. We argue that experimental neuroscientists routinely observe and manipulate neural representations in their laboratory. Therefore, neural representations are as real as neurons, action potentials, or any other well-established entities in our ontology.
This review of 122 research reports (184 independent samples, 14,900 subjects) found average r ϭ .274 for prediction of behavioral, judgment, and physiological measures by Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures. Parallel explicit (i.e., self-report) measures, available in 156 of these samples (13,068 subjects), also predicted effectively (average r ϭ .361), but with much greater variability of effect size. Predictive validity of self-report was impaired for socially sensitive topics, for which impression..
Arguments from disagreement against moral realism begin by calling attention to widespread, fundamental moral disagreement among a certain group of people. Then, some skeptical or anti-realist-friendly conclusion is drawn. Chapter 2 proposes that arguments from disagreement share a structure that makes them vulnerable to a single, powerful objection: they self-undermine. For each formulation of the argument from disagreement, at least one of its premises casts doubt either on itself or on one of the other premises. On reflection, this shouldn’t be (...) surprising. These arguments are intended to support very strong metaphysical or epistemological conclusions about morality. They must therefore employ very strong metaphysical or epistemological premises. But, given the pervasiveness of disagreement in philosophy, especially about metaphysics and epistemology, very strong premises are virtually certain to be the subject of widespread, intractable disagreement—precisely the sort of disagreement that proponents of these arguments think undermine moral claims. Thus, these arguments undermine their own premises. If Chapter 2’s argument is sound, it provides realists with a single, unified strategy for responding to any existing or forthcoming arguments from disagreement. (shrink)
In computer simulations of physical systems, the construction of models is guided, but not determined, by theory. At the same time simulations models are often constructed precisely because data are sparse. They are meant to replace experiments and observations as sources of data about the world; hence they cannot be evaluated simply by being compared to the world. So what can be the source of credibility for simulation models? I argue that the credibility of a simulation model comes not only (...) from the credentials supplied to it by the governing theory, but also from the antecedently established credentials of the model building techniques employed by the simulationists. In other words, there are certain sorts of model building techniques which are taken, in and of themselves, to be reliable. Some of these model building techniques, moreover, incorporate what are sometimes called “falsifications.” These are contrary-to-fact principles that are included in a simulation model and whose inclusion is taken to increase the reliability of the results. The example of a falsification that I consider, called artificial viscosity, is in widespread use in computational fluid dynamics. Artificial viscosity, I argue, is a principle that is successfully and reliably used across a wide domain of fluid dynamical applications, but it does not offer even an approximately “realistic” or true account of fluids. Artificial viscosity, therefore, is a counter-example to the principle that success implies truth – a principle at the foundation of scientific realism. It is an example of reliability without truth. (shrink)
I develop an account of counterfactual conditionals using “causal models”, and argue that this account is preferable to the currently standard account in terms of “similarity of possible worlds” due to David Lewis and Robert Stalnaker. I diagnose the attraction of counterfactual theories of causation, and argue that it is illusory.
Standard animalists are committed to a stringent form of restricted composition, thereby denying the existence of brains, hands, and other proper parts of an organism . One reason for positing this near-nihilistic ontology comes from various challenges to animalism such as the Thinking Parts Argument, the Unity Argument, and the Argument from the Problem of the Many. In this paper, I show that these putatively distinct arguments are all instances of a more general problem, which I call the ‘Too Many (...) Candidates Problem’ . Given my formulation of the problem, it is evident that standard animalists are mistaken in believing that restricting composition is the only solution. I show that there is another option for solving the TMC. The advantage of such a position, which I call ‘unrestricted animalism’, is that it is compatible with unrestricted composition and the existence of brains and other proper parts of an organism. I conclude by sketching several strategies one can take regarding this latter solution to the TMC. (shrink)
Using an example of a computer simulation of the convective structure of a red giant star, this paper argues that simulation is a rich inferential process, and not simply a "number crunching" technique. The scientific practice of simulation, moreover, poses some interesting and challenging epistemological and methodological issues for the philosophy of science. I will also argue that these challenges would be best addressed by a philosophy of science that places less emphasis on the representational capacity of theories (and ascribes (...) that capacity instead to models) and more emphasis on the role of theory in guiding (rather than determining) the construction of models. (shrink)
The Conceptual Mind’s twenty-four newly commissioned essays cover the most important recent theoretical developments in the study of concepts, identifying and exploring the big ideas that will guide further research over the next decade. Topics include concepts and animals, concepts and the brain, concepts and evolution, concepts and perception, concepts and language, concepts across cultures, concept acquisition and conceptual change, concepts and normativity, concepts in context, and conceptual individuation.