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)
In the Second Meditation, Descartes famously asks at one point, ‘But what then am I?’ – to which his immediate answer is ‘A thing that thinks.’ It is this question, or rather the plural version of it, that Eric Olson examines in this excellent book. He thinks that it is – today, at least – a rather neglected question. He points out that it is wrong to confuse the question with the much more frequently examined question of what personal (...) identity consists in. In fact, he thinks that possible answers to the two questions, even if not entirely independent of one other, constrain each other only to a rather limited extent. It is important to appreciate that Olson is not inquiring into what persons in general are, but only into what we human persons are. Olson explores all the major, and some of the less well-known, answers that have been offered to this question. He begins with the answer that he himself has defended in an earlier book, The Human Animal – the answer that we are human animals, that is, biological organisms of a certain kind. Indeed, Olson is, along with Peter van Inwagen, one of the best known ‘animalists’ – although he admits to being a little more tentative in his endorsement of this position now, for reasons that we shall come to later. The other views that he considers are these: that we are entities that are ‘constituted’ by, but not identical with, human animals (the view of Lynne Rudder …. (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)
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)
The core of this book is a novel theory of distributive justice premised on the fundamental moral equality of persons. In the light of this theory, Rakowski considers three types of problems which urgently require solutions-- the distribution of resources, property rights, and the saving of life--and provides challenging and unconventional answers. Further, he criticizes the economic analysis of law as a normative theory, and develops an alternative account of tort and property law.
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)
From the time of Locke, discussions of personal identity have often ignored the question of our basic metaphysical nature: whether we human people are biological organisms, spatial or temporal parts of organisms, bundles of perceptions, or what have you. The result of this neglect has been centuries of wild proposals and clashing intuitions. What Are We? is the first general study of this important question. It beings by explaining what the question means and how it differs from others, such as (...) questions of personal identity and the mind-body problem. It then examines in some depth the main possible accounts of our metaphysical nature, detailing both their theoretical virtues and the often grave difficulties they face. The book does not endorse any particular account of what we are, but argues that the matter turns on more general issues in the ontology of material things. If composition is universal--if any material things whatever make up something bigger--then we are temporal parts of organisms. If things never compose anything bigger, so that there are only mereological simples, then we too are simples--perhaps the immaterial substances of Descartes--or else we do not exist at all (a view Olson takes very seriously). The intermediate view that some things compose bigger things and others do not leads almost inevitably to the conclusion that we are organisms. So we can discover what we are by working out when composition occurs. (shrink)
Do university ethics classes influence students’ real-world moral choices? We aimed to conduct the first controlled study of the effects of ordinary philosophical ethics classes on real-world moral choices, using non-self-report, non-laboratory behavior as the dependent measure. We assigned 1332 students in four large philosophy classes to either an experimental group on the ethics of eating meat or a control group on the ethics of charitable giving. Students in each group read a philosophy article on their assigned topic and optionally (...) viewed a related video, then met with teaching assistants for 50-minute group discussion sections. They expressed their opinions about meat ethics and charitable giving in a follow-up questionnaire (1032 respondents after exclusions). We obtained 13,642 food purchase receipts from campus restaurants for 495 of the students, before and after the intervention. Purchase of meat products declined in the experimental group (52% of purchases of at least $4.99 contained meat before the intervention, compared to 45% after) but remained the same in the control group (52% both before and after). Ethical opinion also differed, with 43% of students in the experimental group agreeing that eating the meat of factory farmed animals is unethical compared to 29% in the control group. We also attempted to measure food choice using vouchers, but voucher redemption rates were low and no effect was statistically detectable. It remains unclear what aspect of instruction influenced behavior. (shrink)
An enduring question in the philosophy of science is the question of whether a scientific theory deserves more credit for its successful predictions than it does for accommodating data that was already known when the theory was developed. In The Paradox of Predictivism, Eric Barnes argues that the successful prediction of evidence testifies to the general credibility of the predictor in a way that evidence does not when the evidence is used in the process of endorsing the theory. He (...) illustrates his argument with an important episode from nineteenth-century chemistry, Mendeleev's Periodic Law and its successful predictions of the existence of various elements. The consequences of this account of predictivism for the realist/anti-realist debate are considerable, and strengthen the status of the 'no miracle' argument for scientific realism. Barnes's important and original contribution to the debate will interest a wide range of readers in philosophy of science. (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)
Resource rationality may explain suboptimal patterns of reasoning; but what of “anti-Bayesian” effects where the mind updates in a direction opposite the one it should? We present two phenomena — belief polarization and the size-weight illusion — that are not obviously explained by performance- or resource-based constraints, nor by the authors’ brief discussion of reference repulsion. Can resource rationality accommodate them?
The view that we are human animals, " animalism ", is deeply unpopular. This paper explains what that claim says and why it is so contentious. It then argues that those who deny it face an awkward choice. They must either deny that there are any human animals, deny that human animals can think, or deny that we are the thinking things located where we are.
Unconscious logical inference seems to rely on the syntactic structures of mental representations (Quilty-Dunn & Mandelbaum 2018). Other transitions, such as transitions using iconic representations and associative transitions, are harder to assimilate to syntax-based theories. Here we tackle these difficulties head on in the interest of a fuller taxonomy of mental transitions. Along the way we discuss how icons can be compositional without having constituent structure, and expand and defend the “symmetry condition” on Associationism (the idea that associative links and (...) transitions are perfectly symmetric). In the end, we show how a BIT (“bare inferential transition”) theory can cohabitate with these other non-inferential mental transitions. (shrink)
Augustine—for all of his influence on Western culture and politics—was hardly a liberal. Drawing from theology, feminist theory, and political philosophy, Eric Gregory offers here a liberal ethics of citizenship, one less susceptible to anti-liberal critics because it is informed by the Augustinian tradition. The result is a book that expands Augustinian imaginations for liberalism and liberal imaginations for Augustinianism. Gregory examines a broad range of Augustine’s texts and their reception in different disciplines and identifies two classical themes which (...) have analogues in secular political theory: love—and related notions of care, solidarity, and sympathy—and sin—as well as related notions of cruelty, evil, and narrow self-interest. From an Augustinian point of view, Gregory argues, love and sin constrain each other in ways that yield a distinctive vision of the limits and possibilities of politics. In providing a constructive argument for Christian participation in liberal democratic societies, Gregory advances efforts to revive a political theology in which love’s relation to justice is prominent. _Politics and the Order of Love _will provoke new conversations for those interested in Christian ethics, moral psychology, and the role of religion in a liberal society. (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection improves moral behavior, one might expect ethics professors to behave morally better than socially similar non-ethicists. Under the assumption that forms of political engagement such as voting have moral worth, we looked at the rate at which a sample of professional ethicists—and political philosophers as a subgroup of ethicists—voted in eight years’ worth of elections. We compared ethicists’ and political philosophers’ voting rates with the voting rates of three other groups: philosophers not specializing in ethics, political (...) scientists, and a comparison group of professors specializing in neither philosophy nor political science. All groups voted at about the same rate, except for the political scientists, who voted about 10–15% more often. On the face of it, this finding conflicts with the expectation that ethicists will behave more responsibly than non-ethicists. (shrink)
A successful theory of the language of subjective uncertainty would meet several important constraints. First, it would explain how use of the language of subjective uncertainty aﬀects addressees’ states of subjective uncertainty. Second, it would explain how such use affects what possibilities are treated as live for purposes of conversation. Third, it would accommodate 'quantifying in' to the scope of epistemic modals. Fourth, it would explain the norms governing the language of subjective uncertainty, and the diﬀerences between them and the (...) norms governing the language of subjective certainty. Neither truth conditional nor traditional force modfier theories of the language of subjective uncertainty look adequate to the task of satisfying all four of these constraints. (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)
This paper examines the relationship between simulation and experiment. Many discussions of simulation, and indeed the term "numerical experiments," invoke a strong metaphor of experimentation. On the other hand, many simulations begin as attempts to apply scientific theories. This has lead many to characterize simulation as lying between theory and experiment. The aim of the paper is to try to reconcile these two points of viewto understand what methodological and epistemological features simulation has in common with experimentation, while at the (...) same time keeping a keen eye on simulation's ancestry as a form of scientific theorizing. In so doing, it seeks to apply some of the insights of recent work on the philosophy of experiment to an aspect of theorizing that is of growing philosophical interest: the construction of local models. (shrink)
Our digital technologies have inspired new ways of thinking about old religious topics. Digitalists include computer scientists, transhumanists, singularitarians, and futurists. Digitalists have worked out novel and entirely naturalistic ways of thinking about bodies, minds, souls, universes, gods, and life after death. Your Digital Afterlives starts with three digitalist theories of life after death. It examines personality capture, body uploading, and promotion to higher levels of simulation. It then examines the idea that reality itself is ultimately a system of self-surpassing (...) computations. On that view, you will have infinitely many digital lives across infinitely many digital worlds. Your Digital Afterlives looks at superhuman bodies and infinite bodies. Thinking of nature in purely computational terms has the potential to radically and positively change our understanding of life after death. (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)
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)
How should we deal with mental disorder - as an "illness" like diabetes or bronchitis, as a "problem in living", or what? This book seeks to answer such questions by going to their roots, in philosophical questions about the nature of the human mind, the ways in which it can be understood, and about the nature and aims of scientific medicine. The controversy over the nature of mental disorder and the appropriateness of the "medical model" is not just an abstract (...) theoretical debate: it has a bearing on very practical issues of appropriate treatment, as well as on psychiatric ethics and law. A major contention of this book is that these questions are ultimately philosophical in character: they can be resolved only if we abandon some widespread philosophical assumptions about the "mind" and the "body", and about what it means for medicine to be "scientific". The "phenomenological" approach of the twentieth-century French philosopher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty is used to question these assumptions. His conception of human beings as "body-subjects" is argued to provide a more illuminating way of thinking about mental disorder and the ways in which it can be understood and treated. The conditions we conventionally call "mental disorders" are, it is argued, not a homogeneous group: the standard interpretation of the medical model fits some more readily than others. The core mental disorders, however, are best regarded as disturbed ways of being in the world, which cause unhappiness because of deviation from "human" rather than straightforwardly "biological" norms. That is, they are problems in how we experience the world and especially other people, rather than in physiological functioning - even though the nature of our experience cannot ultimately be separated from the ways in which our bodies function. This analysis is applied within the book both to issues in clinical treatment and to the special ethical and legal questions of psychiatry. Written by a well known philosopher in an accessible and clear style, this book should be of interest to a wide range of readers, from psychiatrists to social workers, lawyers, ethicists, philosophers and anyone with an interest in mental health. (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.
One version of the Humean Theory of Motivation holds that all actions can be causally explained by reference to a belief–desire pair. Some have argued that pretense presents counter-examples to this principle, as pretense is instead causally explained by a belief-like imagining and a desire-like imagining. We argue against this claim by denying imagination the power of motivation. Still, we allow imagination a role in guiding action as a script . We generalize the script concept to show how things besides (...) imagination can occupy this same role in both pretense and non-pretense actions. The Humean Theory of Motivation should then be modified to cover this script role. (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)
There are a variety of topics in the philosophy of science that need to be rethought, in varying degrees, after one pays careful attention to the ways in which computer simulations are used in the sciences. There are a number of conceptual issues internal to the practice of computer simulation that can benefit from the attention of philosophers. This essay surveys some of the recent literature on simulation from the perspective of the philosophy of science and argues that philosophers have (...) a lot to learn by paying closer attention to the practice of simulation. (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)
The thesis that mental states are physical states enjoys widespread popularity. After the abandonment of typeidentity theories, however, this thesis has typically been framed in terms of state tokens. I argue that token states are a philosopher’s fiction, and that debates about the identity of mental and physical state tokens thus rest on a mistake.
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.
In recent years, the idea has been gaining ground that our traditional conceptions of knowledge and cognition are unduly limiting, in that they privilege what goes on inside the ‘skin and skull’ of an individual reasoner. Instead, it has been argued, knowledge and cognition need to be understood as embodied, situated, and extended. Whether these various interrelations and dependencies are ‘merely’ causal, or are in a more fundamental sense constitutive of knowledge and cognition, is as much a matter of controversy (...) as the degree to which they pose a challenge to ‘traditional’ conceptions of cognition, knowledge and the mind. In this paper we argue that when the idea of ‘extendedness’ is applied to a core concept in epistemology and the philosophy of science—namely, scientific evidence—things appear to be on a much surer footing. The evidential status of data gathered through extended processes—including its utility as justification or warrant—do not seem to be weakened by virtue of being extended, but instead are often strengthened because of it. Indeed, it is often precisely by virtue of this extendedness that scientific evidence grounds knowledge claims, which individuals may subsequently ascribe to themselves. The functional equivalence between machine-based gathering, filtering, and processing of data and human interpretation and assessment is the crucial factor in deciding whether evidence has been gathered, rather than the distinction between intra- and extracranial processes or individual and social processes. To prioritize biological processes here, and to assert the superiority of human cognitive capacities seems both arbitrary and unwarranted with respect to gathering evidence, and ultimately would lead to an unattractive skepticism about many of the methods used in science to gather evidence. In other words, conceiving of scientific evidence as ‘impersonal’ not only better captures the character of evidence-gathering in practice, but also makes sense of a large amount of evidence-gathering that ‘personal’ accounts fail to either acknowledge or accurately describe. Whilst we suggest it is likely that all internally-distributed evidence-gathering processes are merely contingently internal processes, a significant number of externally-distributed evidence-gathering processes are necessarily externally-distributed. Some evidence can only be gathered by extended epistemic agents. (shrink)
Some key political challenges today, e.g. climate change, are future oriented. The intergenerational setting differs in some notable ways from the intragenerational one, creating obstacles to theorizing about intergenerational justice. One concern is that as the circumstances of justice do not pertain intergenerationally, intergenerational justice is not meaningful. In this paper, I scrutinize this worry by analysing the presentations of the doctrine of the circumstances of justice by David Hume and John Rawls. I argue that we should accept the upshot (...) of their idea, that justice is context sensitive, even if this at first sight seems to invalidate intergenerational justice. On the basis of moral constructivism, I subsequently provide a fresh reading of the doctrine according to which it conveys the idea that justice is the solution to a practical problem. However, as the problem background is evolving, we need to properly characterize the relevant practical problem in order to make ethical theorizing relevant. Contrary to what has been claimed, the circumstances of justice do not then clash with intergenerational justice, but are the necessary presuppositions for its advancement. (shrink)
If community is determined primarily in consciousness as a mental state of oneness, can community exist when there is no accompanying mental state or collective intentionality that makes us realise that we are one community? Walther would respond affirmatively, arguing that there is a deep psychological structure of habit that allows us to continue to experience ourselves as a community. The habit of community works on all levels of our person, including our bodies, psyches and spirits. It allows us (...) to continue to be in community even though we are not always conscious of it. Husserl would describe this as part of the passive synthesis of Vergemeinschaftung. Walther’s analysis of the passive structure of habit opens up important possibilities for the inner consciousness of time. Drawing from Husserl’s and Walther’s analyses, I argue for the possibility of a communal inner time consciousness, or an inner awareness of timeconsciousness of the community, which gives rise to three constitutive moments: communal retention or communal memory, a sense of the communal present or a communal “now,” and communal protentions or anticipations. Ultimately, I will show how Walther’s treatment of habit demonstrates that time conditions the lived experience of community. One can, therefore, speak of a time of the community—its past, present and future—even though Walther herself does not explicitly develop this possibility. (shrink)
In trying to establish the view that there are no non-living macrophysical objects, Trenton Merricks has produced an influential argument—the Overdetermination Argument—against the causal efficacy of composite objects. A serious problem for the Overdetermination Argument is the ambiguity in the notion of overdetermination that is being employed, which is due to the fact that Merricks does not provide any theory of causation to support his claims. Once we adopt a plausible theory of causation, viz. interventionism, problems with the Overdetermination will (...) become evident. After laying out the Overdetermination Argument and examining one extant objection to it, I will explicate the relevant aspects of an interventionist theory of causation and provide a characterization of overdetermination that follows from such an account. From this, I will argue that the Causal Principle that undergirds the Overdetermination Argument is false and hence the argument is invalid; and I claim that the only other available characterization of overdetermination would render a key premise in the argument false. Thus, the Overdetermination Argument fails to provide us with any reason to deny the causal efficacy of macrophysical objects, and therefore provides no reason to doubt their existence. (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)
Can computers think? This book is intended to demonstrate that thinking, understanding, and intelligence are more than simply the execution of algorithms--that is, that machines cannot think. Written and edited by leaders in the fields of artificial intelligence and the philosophy of computing.
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