In this paper I develop a novel challenge for sceptical theists. I present a line of reasoning that appeals to sceptical theism to support scepticism about divine assertions. I claim that this reasoning is at least as plausible as one popular sceptical theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil. Thus, I seek to impale sceptical theists on the horns of a dilemma: concede that either sceptical theism implies scepticism about divine assertions, or the sceptical theistic strategy for responding (...) to evidential arguments from evil fails. An implication of is that sceptical theism is at odds with any religious tradition according to which there are certain claims that we can know to be true solely in virtue of the fact that God has told us that they are true. This result will render conceding unattractive to many sceptical theists. (shrink)
Nobel-price winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen introduced in 2000 the concept of the Anthropocene as the name for the successor geological period to the Holocene. The Holocene started about 12,000 years ago and is characterized by the relatively stable and temperate climatic and environmental conditions that were conducive to the development of human societies. Until recently, human development had relatively little impact on the dynamics of geological time. Although disagreement exists over the exact birth date of the Anthropocene, it is (...) indisputable that the impact of human activity on the geo-climatic environment became more pronounced from the industrial revolution onwards, leading to a situation in which humans are now widely considered to have an eco-geologically critical impact on the earth's bio-physical system. The most obvious example is the accumulation of greenhouse gases like CO 2 and Methane in the atmosphere and the changes this induces in climatic dynamics. Others are the growing homogenization of biodiversity as a result of human-induced species migration, mass extinction and bio-diversity loss, the manufacturing of new species through genetic modification, or the geodetic consequences resulting from, for example, large dam construction, mining and changing sea-levels. (shrink)
Erik J. Wielenberg draws on recent work in analytic philosophy and empirical moral psychology to defend non-theistic robust normative realism, according to which there are objective ethical features of the universe that do not depend on God for their existence. He goes on to develop an empirically-grounded account of human moral knowledge.
Perspectives on global warming Content Type Journal Article Category Book Symposium Pages 1-29 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9639-9 Authors Steven Yearley, ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ UK David Mercer, Science and Technology Studies Program, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia Andy Pitman, Climate Change Research Centre, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia Naomi Oreskes, Department of History, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0104, USA Erik Conway, (...) Caltech, 1200 East California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91125, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
Logical pluralism is the view that there is more than one correct logic. This very general characterization gives rise to a whole family of positions. I argue that not all of them are stable. The main argument in the paper is inspired by considerations known as the “collapse problem”, and it aims at the most popular form of logical pluralism advocated by JC Beall and Greg Restall. I argue that there is a more general argument available that challenges all variants (...) of logical pluralism that meet the following three conditions: that there are at least two correct logical systems characterized in terms of different consequence relations, that there is some sort of rivalry among the correct logics, and that logical consequence is normative. The hypothesis I argue for amounts to conditional claim: If a position satisfies all these conditions, then that position is unstable in the sense that it collapses into competing positions. (shrink)
It is tempting to think that, if a person's beliefs are coherent, they are also likely to be true. This truth conduciveness claim is the cornerstone of the popular coherence theory of knowledge and justification. Erik Olsson's new book is the most extensive and detailed study of coherence and probable truth to date. Setting new standards of precision and clarity, Olsson argues that the value of coherence has been widely overestimated. Provocative and readable, Against Coherence will make stimulating reading (...) for epistemologists and anyone with a serious interest in truth. (shrink)
Evolutionary debunkers of morality hold this thesis: If S’s moral belief that P can be given an evolutionary explanation, then S’s moral belief that P is not knowledge. In this paper, I debunk a variety of arguments for this thesis. I first sketch a possible evolutionary explanation for some human moral beliefs. Next, I explain how, given a reliabilist approach to warrant, my account implies that humans possess moral knowledge. Finally, I examine the debunking arguments of Michael Ruse, Sharon Street, (...) and Richard Joyce. I draw on the account of moral knowledge sketched earlier to illustrate how these arguments fail. -/- . (shrink)
In everyday life we often act adequately, yet without deliberation. For instance, we immediately obtain and maintain an appropriate distance from others in an elevator. The notion of normativity implied here is a very basic one, namely distinguishing adequate from inadequate, correct from incorrect, or better from worse in the context of a particular situation. In the ﬁrst part of this paper I investigate such ‘situated normativity’ by focusing on unreﬂective expert action. More particularly, I use Wittgenstein’s examples of craftsmen (...) (tailors and architects) absorbed in action to introduce situated normativity. Situated normativity can be understood as the normative aspect of embodied cognition in unreﬂective skillful action. I develop Wittgenstein’s insight that a peculiar type of aﬀective behaviour, ‘directed discontent’, is essential for getting things right without reﬂection. Directed discontent is a reaction of appreciation in action and is introduced as a paradigmatic expression of situated normativity. In the second part I discuss Wittgenstein’s ideas on the normativity of what he calls ‘blind’ rule-following and the ‘bedrock’ of immediate action. What matters for understanding the normativity of (even ‘blind’) rule-following, is not that one has the capacity for linguistic articulation or reﬂection but that one is reliably participating in a communal custom. In the third part I further investigate the complex relationships between unreﬂective skillful action, perception, emotion, and normativity. Part of this entails an account of the link between normativity at the level of the expert’s socio-cultural practice and the individual’s situated and lived normativity. (shrink)
Suppose there is no God. This might imply that human life is meaningless, that there are no moral obligations and hence people can do whatever they want, and that the notions of virtue and vice and good and evil have no place. Erik J. Wielenberg believes this view to be mistaken and in this book he explains why. He argues that even if God does not exist, human life can have meaning, we do have moral obligations, and virtue is (...) possible. Naturally, the author sees virtue in a Godless universe as different from virtue in a Christian universe, and he develops naturalistic accounts of humility, charity, and hope. The moral landscape in a Godless universe is different from the moral landscape in a Christian universe, but it does indeed exist. Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe is a tour of some of the central landmarks of this under-explored territory. (shrink)
This book is a comprehensive account of what it means to try to quantify health in distributing resources for health care. It examines the concept of QALYs which supposedly makes it more accurate to talk about life in terms of both quality and quantity of years lived when referring to health care policy. It offers an elegant new approach to comparing the costs and benefits of medical interventions. Cost-Utility Analysis is a method designed by economists to aid decision makers distribute (...) scarce resources to areas of health care where they will yield the greatest benefits. Erik Nord questions the feasibility of measuring patients' quality of life meaningfully in numerical terms, as CUA presupposes. He presents an alternative approach called cost-value analysis in which representative samples of the general public express preferences between different health-care programs. In this approach, subjects are allowed to include concerns for fairness that go beyond concerns for efficiency of conventional health economics. (shrink)
There are important structural similarities in the way that animals and humans engage in unreflective activities, including unreflective social interactions in the case of higher animals. Firstly, it is a form of unreflective embodied intelligence that is ‘motivated’ by the situation. Secondly, both humans and non-human animals are responsive to ‘affordances’ (Gibson 1979); to possibilities for action offered by an environment. Thirdly, both humans and animals are selectively responsive to one affordance rather than another. Social affordances are a subcategory of (...) affordances, namely possibilities for social interaction offered by an environment: a friend’s sad face invites comforting behavior, a person waiting for a coffee machine can afford a conversation, and an extended hand affords a handshake. I will review recent insights in the nature of the bodily intentionality characteristic of unreflective action. Such ‘motor intentionality’ can be characterized as “our direct bodily inclination to act in a situated, environmental context” (Kelly 2005, p. 106). Standard interpretations of bodily intentionality see grasping an object as the paradigmatic example of motor intentionality. I will discuss the implications of another, novel perspective that emphasizes the importance of unreflective switches from one activity to another (Rietveld 2004) and understands bodily intentionality in terms of adequate responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances. In the final section I will discuss some implications for cognitive neuroscientists who use empirical findings related to the ‘mirror neuron system’ as a starting point for a theory of motor intentionality and social cognition. (shrink)
Within philosophy there is not yet an integrative account of unreflective skillful action. As a starting point, contributions would be required from philosophers from both the analytic and continental traditions. Starting from the McDowell-Dreyfus debate, shared Aristotelian-Wittgensteinian common ground is identified. McDowell and Dreyfus agree about the importance of embodied skills, situation-specific discernment and responsiveness to relevant affordances. This sheds light on the embodied and situated nature of adequate unreflective action and provides a starting point for the development of an (...) account that does justice to insights from both philosophical traditions. (shrink)
This article interrogates the relationship between two apparently disjointed themes: the consensual presentation and mainstreaming of the global problem of climate change on the one hand and the debate in political theory/philosophy that centers around the emergence and consolidation of a post-political and post-democratic condition on the other. The argument advanced in this article attempts to tease out this apparently paradoxical condition. On the one hand, the climate is seemingly politicized as never before and has been propelled high on the (...) policy agenda. On the other hand, a number of increasingly influential political philosophers insist on how the post-politicization of the public sphere have been key markers of the political process over the past few decades. We proceed in four steps. First, we briefly outline the basic contours of the argument and its premises. Second, we explore the ways in which the present climate conundrum is predominantly staged through the mobilization of particular apocalyptic imaginaries. Third, we argue that this specific presentation of climate change and its associated policies is sustained by decidedly populist gestures. Finally, we discuss how this particular choreographing of climate change is one of the arenas through which a post-political frame and post-democratic political configuration have been mediated. (shrink)
The E-Z Reader model (Reichle et al. 1998; 1999) provides a theoretical framework for understanding how word identification, visual processing, attention, and oculomotor control jointly determine when and where the eyes move during reading. In this article, we first review what is known about eye movements during reading. Then we provide an updated version of the model (E-Z Reader 7) and describe how it accounts for basic findings about eye movement control in reading. We then review several alternative models of (...) eye movement control in reading, discussing both their core assumptions and their theoretical scope. On the basis of this discussion, we conclude that E-Z Reader provides the most comprehensive account of eye movement control during reading. Finally, we provide a brief overview of what is known about the neural systems that support the various components of reading, and suggest how the cognitive constructs of our model might map onto this neural architecture. Key Words: attention; eye-movement control; E-Z Reader; fixations; lexical access; models; reading; regressions; saccades. (shrink)
Many believe that objective morality requires a theistic foundation. I maintain that there are sui generis objective ethical facts that do not reduce to natural or supernatural facts. On my view, objective morality does not require an external foundation of any kind. After explaining my view, I defend it against a variety of objections posed by William Wainwright, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland.
We propose to understand social affordances in the broader context of responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances in general. This perspective clarifies our everyday ability to unreflectively switch between social and other affordances. Moreover, based on our experience with Deep Brain Stimulation for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients, we suggest that psychiatric disorders may affect skilled intentionality, including responsiveness to social affordances.
Logical pluralism is the view that there is more than one correct logic. Most logical pluralists think that logic is normative in the sense that you make a mistake if you accept the premisses of a valid argument but reject its conclusion. Some authors have argued that this combination is self-undermining: Suppose that L1 and L2 are correct logics that coincide except for the argument from Γ to φ, which is valid in L1 but invalid in L2. If you accept (...) all sentences in Γ, then, by normativity, you make a mistake if you reject φ. In order to avoid mistakes, you should accept φ or suspend judgment about φ. Both options are problematic for pluralism. Can pluralists avoid this worry by rejecting the normativity of logic? I argue that they cannot. All else being equal, the argument goes through even if logic is not normative. (shrink)
In this article we move beyond the problematic distinction between ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ cognition by accounting for so-called ‘higher’ cognitive capacities in terms of skillful activities in practices, and in terms of the affordances exploited in those practices. Through ethnographic research we aim to further develop the new notion of skilled intentionality by turning to the phenomenon of the tendency towards an optimal grip on a situation in real-life situations in the field of architecture. Tending towards an optimal grip is (...) an inherently affective and dynamic phenomenon. It has been under explored in philosophy, despite its central place in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. When the architects experience discontent, attention is typically solicited by the affordances through which possible ways of continuing the improvement of the design can be explored. In various ways this tension or disequilibrium - fueling a tendency towards an optimal grip - is encountered in the complex architectural design practices that we observed. Based on our field material we distinguish between: a) grip in visual perception, b) grip on the design, and c) grip on ‘how to design’. The move towards an optimal grip takes shape by joining forces with a landscape of affordances. This landscape includes, for instance, affordances for grasping a cup of coffee, affordances provided by a cardboard model to improve it, as well as for engaging with a person who is not physically present. Because they are skilled, the architects can be responsive to these different affordances in similar ways. Furthermore, in practice the architects are responsive to multiple affordances simultaneously. Through our analysis of the tendency towards an optimal grip we show that our surroundings contribute to skillful action and cognition in a far more complex way than is currently acknowledged in philosophy and cognitive science. (shrink)
In this paper I develop a novel challenge for sceptical theists. I present a line of reasoning that appeals to sceptical theism to support scepticism about divine assertions. I claim that this reasoning is at least as plausible as one popular sceptical theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil. Thus, I seek to impale sceptical theists on the horns of a dilemma: concede that either (a) sceptical theism implies scepticism about divine assertions, or (b) the sceptical theistic strategy (...) for responding to evidential arguments from evil fails. An implication of (a) is that sceptical theism is at odds with any religious tradition according to which there are certain claims that we can know to be true solely in virtue of the fact that God has told us that they are true. This result will render conceding (a) unattractive to many sceptical theists. (shrink)
In cognitive science, long-term anticipation, such as when planning to do something next year, is typically seen as a form of ‘higher’ cognition, requiring a different account than the more basic activities that can be understood in terms of responsiveness to ‘affordances,’ i.e. to possibilities for action. Starting from architects that anticipate the possibility to make an architectural installation over the course of many months, in this paper we develop a process-based account of affordances that includes long-term anticipation within its (...) scope. We present a framework in which situations and their affordances unfold, and can be thought of as continuing a history of practices into a current situational activity. In this activity affordances invite skilled participants to act further. Via these invitations one situation develops into the other; an unfolding process that sets up the conditions for its own continuation. Central to our process account of affordances is the idea that engaged individuals can be responsive to the direction of the process to which their actions contribute. Anticipation, at any temporal scale, is then part and parcel of keeping attuned to the movement of the unfolding situations to which an individual contributes. We concretize our account by returning to the example of anticipation observed in architectural practice. This account of anticipation opens the door to considering a wide array of human activities traditionally characterized as ‘higher’ cognition in terms of engaging with affordances. (shrink)
One can (for the most part) formulate a model of a classical system in either the Lagrangian or the Hamiltonian framework. Though it is often thought that those two formulations are equivalent in all important ways, this is not true: the underlying geometrical structures one uses to formulate each theory are not isomorphic. This raises the question of whether one of the two is a more natural framework for the representation of classical systems. In the event, the answer is yes: (...) I state and sketch proofs of two technical results—inspired by simple physical arguments about the generic properties of classical systems—to the effect that, in a precise sense, classical systems evince exactly the geometric structure Lagrangian mechanics provides for the representation of systems, and none provided by Hamiltonian. The argument not only clarifies the conceptual structure of the two systems of mechanics, but also their relations to each other and their respective mechanisms for representing physical systems. It also shows why naïvely structural approaches to the representational content of physical theories cannot work. [Lagrange] grasped that he had gained a method of stating dynamical truths in a way, which is perfectly indifferent to the particular methods of measurement employed in fixing the positions of the various parts of the system. Accordingly, he went on to deduce equations of motion, which are equally applicable whatever quantitative measurements have been made, provided that they are adequate to fix positions. The beauty and almost divine simplicity of these equations is such that these formulae are worthy to rank with those mysterious symbols which in ancient times were held directly to indicate the Supreme Reason at the base of all things. (Whitehead , p. 63)1. Introduction2.Classical Systems3. The Possible Interactions of a Classical System and the Structure of Its Space of States4. Classical Systems Are Lagrangian5. Classical Systems Are Not Hamiltonian6. How Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics Represent Classical Systems7. The Conceptual Structure of Classical Mechanics. (shrink)
In a seminal book, Alvin I. Goldman outlines a theory for how to evaluate social practices with respect to their “veritistic value”, i.e., their tendency to promote the acquisition of true beliefs in society. In the same work, Goldman raises a number of serious worries for his account. Two of them concern the possibility of determining the veritistic value of a practice in a concrete case because we often don't know what beliefs are actually true, and even if we did, (...) the task of determining the veritistic value would be computationally extremely difficult. Neither problem is specific to Goldman's theory and both can be expected to arise for just about any account of veritistic value. It is argued here that the first problem does not pose a serious threat to large classes of interesting practices. The bulk of the paper is devoted to the computational problem, which, it is submitted, can be addressed in promising terms by means of computer simulation. In an attempt to add vividness to this proposal, an up-and-running simulation environment is presented and put to some preliminary tests. (shrink)
One of the cornerstones of western theology is the doctrine of divine omnipotence. God is traditionally conceived of as an omnipotent or all-powerful being. However, satisfactory analyses of omnipotence are notoriously elusive. In this paper, I first consider some simple attempts to analyze omnipotence, showing how each fails. I then consider two more sophisticated accounts of omnipotence. The first of these is presented by Edward Wierenga; the second by Thomas Flint and Alfred Freddoso. I argue that both of these accounts (...) fail. Finally, I propose and defend a novel account of omnipotence. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss three interrelated questions. First: is explanation in mathematics a topic that philosophers of mathematics can legitimately investigate? Second: are the specific aims that philosophers of mathematical explanation set themselves legitimate? Finally: are the models of explanation developed by philosophers of science useful tools for philosophers of mathematical explanation? We argue that the answer to all these questions is positive. Our views are completely opposite to the views that Mark Zelcer has put forward recently. Throughout this (...) paper, we show why Zelcer’s arguments fail. (shrink)
When scientist investigate why things happen, they aim at giving an explanation. But what does a scientific explanation look like? In the first chapter (Theories of Scientific Explanation) of this book, the milestones in the debate on how to characterize scientific explanations are exposed. The second chapter (How to Study Scientific Explanation?) scrutinizes the working-method of three important philosophers of explanation, Carl Hempel, Philip Kitcher and Wesley Salmon and shows what went wrong. Next, it is the responsibility of current philosophers (...) of explanation to go on where Hempel, Kitcher and Salmon failed. However, we should go on in a clever way. We call this clever way the pragmatic approach to scientific explanation and clarify briefly what this approach consists in. The third chapter (A Toolbox for Describing and Evaluating Explanatory Practices) elaborates the pragmatic approach by presenting a toolbox for analysing scientific explanation. In the last chapter (Examples of Descriptions and Evaluations of Explanatory Practices) the approach is illustrated with real-life examples of scientists aiming at explaining. (shrink)
We address some frequently encountered criticisms of Radical Embodied/Enactive Cognition. Contrary to the claims that the position is too radical, or not sufficiently so, we claim REC is just radical enough.
For Merleau-Ponty,consciousness in skillful coping is a matter of prereflective ‘I can’ and not explicit ‘I think that.’ The body unifies many domain-specific capacities. There exists a direct link between the perceived possibilities for action in the situation (‘affordances’) and the organism’s capacities. From Merleau-Ponty’s descriptions it is clear that in a flow of skillful actions, the leading ‘I can’ may change from moment to moment without explicit deliberation. How these transitions occur, however, is less clear. Given that Merleau-Ponty suggested (...) that a better understanding of the self-organization of brain and behavior is important, I will re-read his descriptions of skillful coping in the light of recent ideas on neurodynamics. Affective processes play a crucial role in evaluating the motivational significance of objects and contribute to the individual’s prereflective responsiveness to relevant affordances. (shrink)
In a recent Utilitas article, Neil Feit argues that every person occupies a well-being level of zero at all times and possible worlds at which she fails to exist. Views like his face the problem of the subject': how can someone have a well-being level in a scenario where she lacks intrinsic properties? Feit argues that this problem can be solved by noting, among other things, that a proposition about a person can be true at a possible world in which (...) neither she nor the proposition exists. In this response, we argue that Feit has not solved the problem of the subject, and also raise various related problems for his approach. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Federica Russo and Jon Williamson argue that an analysis of causality in terms of probabilistic relationships does not do justice to the use of mechanistic evidence to support causal claims. I will present Ronald Giere's theory of probabilistic causation, and show that it can account for the use of mechanistic evidence (both in the health sciences—on which Russo and Williamson focus—and elsewhere). I also review some other probabilistic theories of causation (of Suppes, Eells, (...) and Humphreys) and show that they cannot account for the use of mechanistic evidence. I argue that these theories are also inferior to Giere's theory in other respects. (shrink)
The book revives the neutral monism of Mach, James, and Russell and applies the updated view to the problem of redefining physicalism, explaining the origins of sensation, and the problem of deriving extended physical objects and systems from an ontology of events.
In this paper we explore the relation between health-care needs and patients’ desires within shared decision-making in a context of priority setting in health care. We begin by outlining some general characteristics of the concept of health-care need as well as the notions of SDM and desire. Secondly we will discuss how to distinguish between needs and desires for health care. Thirdly we present three cases which all aim to bring out and discuss a number of queries which seem to (...) arise due to the double focus on a patient’s need and what that patient desires. These queries regard the following themes: the objectivity and moral force of needs, the prediction about what kind of patients which will appear on a micro level, implications for ranking in priority setting, difficulties regarding assessing and comparing benefits, and implications for evidence-based medicine. (shrink)