Starting from R. K. Merton's now classic criticism of 'holistic' functionalism, i.e. of a functionalism which postulates social unity, universality and functional in-dispensability, the author stresses certain implications of this criticism more than they have been stressed hitherto. Classical and holistic functionalism) from H. Spencer, B. Malinowski, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, etc to T. Parsons, postulates certain total unities (a global culture, an integrated system, etc.) in which each item (existence, actions, structures, etc.) is considered and defined on the grounds of (...) its consequences for the maintenance of the system as a whole; therefore holistic functionalism as a method is, in effect, the study of the consequences of the system on the items that compose it, since each of these items is defined within the sphere of the system and of its integrative functions. Merton's 'neo-functionalism', on the other hand, is remarkable not only in that it takes into account the 'dysfunctional' and 'nonfunctional' consequences of certain items on the system, but more especially because, within the context of functional analysis, it stresses the possible existence of structural substitutes and alternatives of functions, and therefore of latent structures which are foreign to objective functional consequences, as well as being able to deal with unanticipated and unexpected items and their consequences on the system. 'Neo-functionalism', which is susceptible of further development, is not limited to the study of the consequences of the system on its items: it can also reverse this scheme and study the consequences of certain items on the system. Merton's criticism of holistic functionalism therefore implies a broadening of the scientific resources of this method and a renewal of its interpretative scheme, thanks to which functional analysis ceases to appear as 'the* method of explaining sociology as a science, and becomes an interpretative method which complements the analysis of social structures and relations. Seen in this light the concept of structure becomes emancipated and independent of the concept of system and function; whereas, within the framework of universal functionalism, it was ancillary to the concept of function. Finally, latent structures and unconscious structures, conditions of possibility and subjective dispositions are favourable to social structures and social relations, not excluding those that are neither visible nor observable. This analysis, the author notes, is extremely meaningful and has great possibilities of development, especially in view of the structuralism recently to be noted in the human and social sciences: anthropology, history, linguistics, etc. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued that truth is a norm of judgement and have provided a variety of formulations of this general thesis. In this paper, I shall side with these philosophers and assume that truth is a norm of judgement. What I am primarily interested in here are two core questions concerning the judgement-truth norm: (i) what are the normative relationships between truth and judgement? And (ii) do these relationships vary or are they constant? I argue for a pluralist picture—what (...) I call Normative Alethic Pluralism (NAP)—according to which (i) there is more than one correct judgement-truth norm and (ii) the normative relationships between truth and judgement vary in relation to the subject matter of the judgement. By means of a comparative analysis of disagreement in three areas of the evaluative domain—refined aesthetics, basic taste and morality—I show that there is an important variability in the normative significance of disagreement—I call this the variability conjecture. By presenting a variation of Lynch’s scope problem for alethic monism, I argue that a monistic approach to the normative function of truth is unable to vindicate the conjecture. I then argue that normative alethic pluralism provides us with a promising model to account for it. (shrink)
ABSTRACTEcumenical Alethic Pluralism is a novel kind of alethic pluralism. It is ecumenical in that it widens the scope of alethic pluralism by allowing for a normatively deflated truth property alongside a variety of normatively robust truth properties. We establish EAP by showing how Wright’s Inflationary Arguments fail in the domain of taste, once a relativist treatment of the metaphysics and epistemology of that domain is endorsed. EAP is highly significant to current debates on the nature of truth insofar as (...) it involves a reconfiguration of the dialectic between deflationists and pluralists. (shrink)
I present a novel strategy to account for two thoughts concerning disagreements about taste: (i) that they need not involve any substantive fault (faultlessness); (ii) that the faultlessness of a contrary opinion can be coherently appreciated from within a committed perspective (parity). Under the assumption that judgments of taste are truth-apt and governed by the truth-norm, I argue that understanding how exactly truth is normative offers a strategy for accounting for both thoughts. I distinguish between different ways in which truth (...) governs judgment to substantiate the thesis that truth’s normative function varies according to the subject matter at issue. I then argue that truth’s normative guidance in the domain of taste is characteristically weak. I introduce an intuitive distinction between basic and refined taste, and show how this distinction affects questions of faultlessness and parity. Last, I discuss the idea of alethic suberogation in connection with disagreement about refined taste. (shrink)
Since the publication of Truth, Paul Horwich’s ‘Minimalism’ has become the paradigm of what goes under the label ‘the deflationary conception of truth’. Despite the many theoretical virtues of Horwich’s minimalism, it is usually contended that it cannot fully account for the normative role that truth plays in enquiry. As I see it, this concern amounts to several challenges. One such challenge—call it the axiological challenge—is about whether deflationists have the theoretical resources to explain the value of truth. Some philosophers (...) have argued that they do not. The thought is that by being valuable in the way it is, truth plays a non-trivial explanatory role with respect to core phenomena of enquiry. In order to account for this aspect of truth, the challenge goes, we need to inflate truth’s nature to an extent incompatible with core tenets of the minimalist conception. In this paper, I first provide some clarifications of what we mean exactly when we say that truth is valuable. By borrowing important distinction from the current debate in axiology, I elaborate a framework within which to conduct investigations into the value of truth. With reference to Horwich’s discussion of the issue, I then discuss the link between questions concerning the explanatory role of truth and the issue of its metaphysical inflation. I conclude by briefly exploring a few strategies on behalf of minimalists to address the axiological challenge. (shrink)
In this paper I offer some critical comments to MacFarlane's recent book "Assessment Sensitivity". I focus primarily on MacFarlane's understanding of the normative aspects of enquiry—in particular I take issue with the phenomena of retraction and disagreement as preclusion of joint accuracy. I argue that both notions are problematic and that—at least in the case of basic taste—they are not needed in order to account for our intuitions.
Assessment relativism, as developed by John MacFarlane, is the view that the truth of our claims involving a variety of English expressions—‘tasty’, ‘knows’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘might’, and ‘ought’—is relative not only to aspects of the context of their production but also to aspects of the context in which they are assessed. Assessment relativism is thus a form of truth relativism which is offered as a new way of understanding perspectival thought and talk. In this article, I present the main theses of (...) assessment relativism, focusing in particular on highlighting the points of commonality and contrast with other forms of truth relativism. I then offer some critical remarks concerning the motivation of assessment relativism in relation to matters of taste. (shrink)
According to the recent Perceptual Confidence view, perceptual experiences possess not only a representational content, but also a degree of confidence in that content. The motivations for this view are partly phenomenological and partly epistemic. We discuss both the phenomenological and epistemic motivations for the view, and the resulting account of the interface between perceptual experiences and degrees of belief. We conclude that, in their present state of development, orthodox accounts of perceptual experience are still to be favoured over the (...) perceptual confidence view. (shrink)
This paper considers Niccolò Machiavelli’s contribution to a theory of constituent power. Modern authors who have analysed the concept of constituent power generally agree on its ambiguous, paradoxical and apparently contradictory essence. With few exceptions, Machiavelli is absent from both the historical reconstructions of and the theoretical debates on the origin of constituent power. My argument is built around two main theses: reintroducing Machiavelli to the debate on constituent power offers an original response to the theoretical fallacies and inconsistencies identified (...) by modern scholars. In particular, Machiavelli’s philosophy contributes to the comprehension of constituent power as a living force within social order. My second thesis is that by tracing the source of constituent power back to Machiavelli, we can overcome the main theoretical problem implied by this concept, namely the problem of the priority of the factual or the juridical, by providing a vision that emphasises their immanent coexistence. (shrink)
In Savoring Disgust, Carolyn Korsmeyer argues that disgust is peculiar amongst emotions, for it does not need any of the standard solutions to the so-called paradox of fiction. I argue that Korsmeyer’s arguments in support of the peculiarity of disgust with respect to the paradox of fiction are not successful.
In Truth and Objectivity, Crispin Wright argues that because truth is a distinctively normative property, it cannot be as metaphysically insubstantive as deflationists claim.1 This argument has been taken, together with the scope problem,2 as one of the main motivations for alethic pluralism.3 We offer a reconstruction of Wright’s Inflationary Argument (henceforth IA) aimed at highlighting what are the steps required to establish its inflationary conclusion. We argue that if a certain metaphysical and epistemological view of a given subject matter (...) is accepted, a local counterexample to IA can be constructed. We focus on the domain of basic taste and we develop two variants of a subjectivist and relativist metaphysics and epistemology that seems palatable in that domain. Although we undertake no commitment to this being the right metaphysical cum epistemological package for basic taste, we contend that if the metaphysics and the epistemology of basic taste are understood along these lines, they call for a truth property whose nature is not distinctively normative—contra what IA predicts. This result shows that the success of IA requires certain substantial metaphysical and epistemological principles and that, consequently, a proper assessment of IA cannot avoid taking a stance on the metaphysics and the epistemology of the domain where it is claimed to be successful. Although we conjecture that IA might succeed in other domains, in this paper we don’t take a stand on this issue. We conclude by briefly discussing the significance of this result for the debate on alethic pluralism. (shrink)
Within the framework of Meinongianism, nothingness turns out to have contradictory features—it seems to be an object and not. In this paper, we explore two different kinds of Meinongian accounts of nothingness. The first one is the consistent account, which rejects the contradiction of nothingness, while the second one is the inconsistent account, which accepts the contradiction of nothingness. First of all, after showing that the consistent account of nothingness defended by Jacquette fails, we express some concerns on the general (...) possibility of consistently characterizing nothingness. Secondly, starting from Priest’s inconsistent characterization of nothingness :146–158, 2014b), we will introduce our own inconsistent account. The key idea of our account is to take nothingness as the complement of the totality. Finally, we will make formal sense of it by constructing an inconsistent mereological system, which is the development of the paraconsistent mereology proposed by Weber and Cotnoir. (shrink)
It has been recently argued, contrary to the received eighteenth-century view, that disgust is compatible with aesthetic pleasure. According to such arguments, what allows this compatibility is the interest that art appreciators sometimes bestow on the cognitive content of disgust. On this view, the most interesting aspect of this cognitive content is identified in meanings connected with human mortality. The aim of this paper is to show that these arguments are unsuccessful.
According to Meinongianism, some objects do not exist but we can legitimately refer to and quantify over them. Moreover, Meinongianism standardly regards nonexistent objects as contributing to the truth-makers of sentences about nonexistent objects. Recently, Tim Crane has proposed a weak form of Meinongianism, a reductionism, which denies any contribution of nonexistent objects to truth-making. His reductionism claims that, even though we can truly talk about nonexistent objects by using singular terms and quantifiers about them, any truth about nonexistent objects (...) is reducible to some truths about existent objects. In this paper, we critically examine the reductionism casting some doubts on the reducibility of truths of sentences like ‘a winged pig is possible’ or ‘some winged pig does not exist’ into truths about existent objects. We also argue that the truth of such sentences can be explained by adopting a strong form of Meinongianism which admits contribution of nonexistent objects to the truth-making of such sentences. (shrink)
Is truth itself natural? This is an important question for both those working on truth and those working on naturalism. For theorists of truth, answering the question of whether truth is natural will tell us more about the nature of truth (or lack of it), and the relations between truth and other properties of interest. For those working on naturalism, answering this question is of paramount importance to those who wish to have truth as part of the natural order. In (...) this paper, we focus primarily on the kinds of theories of truth that occupy the central positions in current debates about truth, namely correspondence theories, deflationary theories, epistemic theories, and pluralist theories, and aim to discern the extent to which truth is a natural property on each view. (shrink)
Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, there has been a widespread affirmation of economic ideologies that conceive the market as an autonomous sphere of human practice, holding that market principles should be applied to human action at large. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the ascendance of market reason has been countered by calls for reforms of financial markets and for the consideration of moral values in economic practice. This book intervenes in these debates by showing how (...) neoliberal market practices engender new forms of religiosity, and how religiosity shapes economic actions. It reveals how religious movements and organizations have reacted to the increasing prominence of market reason in unpredictable, and sometimes counterintuitive, ways. Using a range of examples from different countries and religious traditions, the book illustrates the myriad ways in which religious and market moralities are closely imbricated in diverse global contexts. (shrink)
This paper proposes that autonomous vehicles should be designed to reduce light pollution. In support of this specific proposal, a moral assessment of autonomous vehicles more comprehensive than the dilemmatic life-and-death questions of trolley problem-style situations is presented. The paper therefore consists of two interrelated arguments. The first is that autonomous vehicles are currently still a technology in development, and not one that has acquired its definitive shape, meaning the design of both the vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure is open-ended. (...) Design for values is utilized to articulate a path forward, by which engineering ethics should strive to incorporate values into a technology during its development phase. Second, it is argued that nighttime lighting—a critical supporting infrastructure—should be a prima facie consideration for autonomous vehicles during their development phase. It is shown that a reduction in light pollution, and more boldly a better balance of lighting and darkness, can be achieved via the design of future autonomous vehicles. Two case studies are examined through which autonomous vehicles may be designed for “driving in the dark.” Nighttime lighting issues are thus inserted into a broader ethics of autonomous vehicles, while simultaneously introducing questions of autonomous vehicles into debates about light pollution. (shrink)
We show in rather informal terms how witness sets can be useful in both explicating some basic intuitions about scope and understanding how particular denotational semantic differences between noun phrases affect their abilities to bear out certain scopal patterns. More generally we suggest that the usual notion of scope needs to be factored into variation distributivity and maximality. This part lays some groundwork for several of the subsequent chapters and is thus of interest to all readers. The second part shows (...) that already in this initial raw form the above insights can be applied to make a novel claim concerning the availability of so-called branching readings. In logical terms a branching reading can be defined for any sentence with a subject and a direct object. However speakers of English accept only a fraction of these readings, so the question arises how the data can be predicted from the meanings of the participating quantifiers and the syntactic structure of the sentence. We propose that thinking about the behavior of quantifiers along the lines introduced in the first part leads to a simple answer to this question. (shrink)
Some philosophers, like Mark Richard and Paul Boghossian, have argued against relativism that it cannot account for the possibility of faultless disagreement. However, I will contend that the objections they moved against relativism do not target its ability to account for the possibility of faultless disagreement per se. Ra- ther, they should be taken to challenge its capacity to account for another element of our folk conception of disagreement in certain areas of discourse—what Cris- pin Wright has dubbed parity. What (...) parity demands is to account for the possibil- ity of coherently appreciating, within a committed perspective, that our oppo- nent’s contrary judgement is somehow on a par with our own judgement. Under- stood in this way, Boghossian’s and Richard’s objections put indeed considerable pressure on relativism—or so I will argue. I will consider John MacFarlane’s at- tempt to resist their objections and I will show that, once their arguments are properly understood as targeting parity, the attempt is not successful. In the last section of the paper I will offer a diagnosis of what is at the heart of the relativist inability to account for parity—namely its assumption of a monistic conception of the normativity of truth. (shrink)
Mimicry, camouflage, transvestism, chance or cryptic anamorphism, fascination – all ways of changing clothes, habits and habitats in nature as well as in culture, in any symbolic field created by human beings during their history. Art and artification, aestheticization, stylization and beautification are all practices reflecting the need and desire for biological as well as social adaptation, all performances producing functional and fictional frames, boundaries or hierarchies in ordinary life, including the artworld. They can persuade and convince by creating consensus (...) and belief, but they can also lead to a different common sense, a sensorium – a sensorial medium and an aesthetic mediation open to a new world and to new experiences. -/- By investigating mimetism as a fundamental and polymorphic aesthetic performance, this issue of «Aisthesis» aims to rethink the concept, value, and function of mimesis and its media in the context of camouflage, simulation, and dissimulation, where images do not reveal themselves as such, but are to be perceived unambiguously as what they are not – as hieroglyphs or puzzles. In the animal kingdom, as well as in war or in ordinary public life, camouflage consists in taking on the traits, colours, and shapes of a given form or environment. This is a twofold process: on the one hand, by blending two or more shapes in one, the camoufleur seeks to remain hidden and to mislead the others in order to keep a vital secret or an ephemeral whim; on the other hand, however, he/she aims to be recognized by a specific milieu or group, thus betraying a craving for communication and familiarity, as well as a need to convey an agreeable appearance and to share a way of life. (shrink)
How should autonomous vehicles be programmed to behave in the event of an unavoidable accident in which the only choice open is one between causing different damages or losses to different objects or persons? This paper addresses this ethical question starting from the normative principles elaborated in the law to regulate difficult choices in other emergency scenarios. In particular, the paper offers a rational reconstruction of some major principles and norms embedded in the Anglo-American jurisprudence and case law on the (...) “doctrine of necessity”; and assesses which, if any, of these principles and norms can be utilized to find reasonable guidelines for solving the ethical issue of the regulation of the programming of autonomous vehicles in emergency situations. The paper covers the following topics: the distinction between “justification” and “excuse”, the legal prohibition of intentional killing outside self-defence, the incommensurability of goods, and the legal constrains to the use of lethal force set by normative positions: obligations, responsibility, rights, and authority. For each of these principles and constrains the possible application to the programming of autonomous vehicles is discussed. Based on the analysis, some practical suggestions are offered. (shrink)
Martin Heidegger is a towering figure in the history of continental philosophy, but his work has recently been brought into productive engagement with analytic philosophy. This paper introduces and explores two channels along which such engagement has been taking place. The first is in metaphysics, where Heideggerian thought has been interpreted either as making the metaphysical concept of being literally senseless or as mandating a revision to classical logic. The second is in philosophy of mind, and more particularly in philosophy (...) of cognitive science, where Heideggerian thought has been used to mount a challenge to representational theories of mind. (shrink)
Radical relativism was born with a promise: to account for certain phenomena that opposite views are unable to explain. One example is the phenomenon of “faultless disagreement”, according to which two people, while disagreeing, are not at fault in any substantive way. The phenomena of retraction and assessments of truth in cases of eavesdropping are others. All these phenomena have been claimed to pose serious problems for rival views and be best accounted for within a radical relativistic framework. While “faultless (...) disagreement” and the notion of disagreement in general has benefited from extensive discussion in current debates over semantic content, retraction has not been in the spotlight that much. In particular, very few things have been said about what retraction exactly amounts to and how to conceive of its normative profile. This will be the focus of our paper. (shrink)
This thesis engages with three topics and the relationships between them: (i) the phenomenon of disagreement (paradigmatically, where one person makes a claim and another denies it); (ii) the normative character of disagreements (the issue of whether, and in what sense, one of the parties is “at fault” for believing something that’s untrue); (iii) the issue of which theory of what truth is can best accommodate the norms relating belief and truth. People disagree about all sorts of things: about whether (...) climate is changing, death penalty is wrong, sushi is delicious, or Louis C.K. is funny. However, even focusing on disagreements in the evaluative domain (e.g., taste, moral and comedic), where people have the intuition that there is ‘no fact of the matter’ about who is right, there are significant differences that require explanation. For instance, disagreement about taste is generally perceived as shallow. People accept to disagree and live comfortably with that fact. By contrast, moral disagreement is perceived as deep and sometimes hard to tolerate. Comedic disagreement is similar to taste. However, it may involve an element of ‘intellectual snobbery’ that is absent in taste disagreement. The immediate questions are whether these contrasts allow of precise characterization and what is responsible for them. I argue that, once a case is made for the truth-aptness of judgments in these areas, the contrast can be explained in terms of variable normative function of truth – as exerting a lightweight normative constraint in the domain of taste and a stricter constraint in the moral domain. In particular I claim that while truth in the moral domain exerts a sui generis deontic control, this normative feature of truth is silent in both the taste and the comedic domains. This leads me to investigate how to conceive of truth in the light of normative variability. I argue that an amended version of deflationism – minimally inflated deflationism – can account for the normative variability of truth. (shrink)
In order to uphold the claim that referential intuitions are a reliable source of evidence for theories of reference, Machery et al. conducted an empirical research by testing truth-value judgments. First, we discuss a conceptual limitation of Machery et al. ’s experiment on truth-value judgments. Then, we present the data of an empirical survey that shows that people’s truth-value judgments are not congruent with their use of proper names. We explain why the results of our empirical research refute the conclusions (...) of Machery et al. ’s experiment on truth-value judgments. We conclude that referential intuitions are still problematic. (shrink)
In Spinoza, what I call the ‘Being Individual Multiple’ is the multitudo. Its form of life is Democracy, understood as the autonomous and conflictual organization of collective dynamics and not one form of government among others. Combining an original mode of argumentation with a critical discussion of opposing interpretations, I maintain that democracy is the translation into politics of the third and highest kind of knowledge in Spinoza, intuitive science. I argue moreover that the multitudo self-organized in a democracy has (...) the capacity to experiment and express a different rationality with respect to the singular individual. Wisdom and democracy thus converge to give life to something unknown and original in western political modernity. (shrink)
When should we use care robots? In this paper we endorse the shift from a simple normative approach to care robots ethics to a complex one: we think that one main task of a care robot ethics is that of analysing the different ways in which different care robots may affect the different values at stake in different care practices. We start filling a gap in the literature by showing how the philosophical analysis of the nature of healthcare activities can (...) contribute to robot ethics. We rely on the nature-of-activities approach recently proposed in the debate on human enhancement, and we apply it to the ethics of care robots. The nature-of-activities approach will help us to understand why certain practice-oriented activities in healthcare should arguably be left to humans, but certain goal-directed activities in healthcare can be fulfilled with the assistance of a robot. In relation to the latter, we aim to show that even though all healthcare activities can be considered as practice-oriented, when we understand the activity in terms of different legitimate ‘fine-grained’ descriptions, the same activities or at least certain components of them can be seen as clearly goal-directed. Insofar as it allows us to ethically assess specific functionalities of specific robots to be deployed in well-defined circumstances, we hold the nature-of-activities approach to be particularly helpful also from a design perspective, i.e. to realize the Value Sensitive Design approach. (shrink)
Since the mid?1950s the spread of formal models and econometric method has greatly improved the study of the past, giving rise to the ?new? economic history; at the same time, the influence of economic history on economists and economics has markedly declined. This paper argues that the contribution of history to the advancement of economics is still paramount, as is evident from the evolution of monetary theory and institutions.JEL classification: NO1, A12.
We asked some of the best philosophers of pragmatics to offer their original perspectives on the following question: to what extent do the novelties developed in these last years shed new light on defining the content of what is said? They answered with passion and without avoiding strong criticism of central ideas on opposite sides. The primary purpose of this collection is to provide a survey of what may be considered the main contemporary debate in the philosophy of language. Scholars (...) and people already involved in the debate will find in the papers new challenges. As Aristotle would say “what is said is said in many ways”. TOC 1 CARLO PENCO, FILIPPO DOMANESCHI What is said: a Short History in Quotes 2 UNA STOJNIC AND ERNEST LEPORE What’s What’s said? 3 JASON STANLEY Context and Logical Form 4 MASSIMILIANO VIGNOLO Surprise Indexicalism 5 KENT BACH The Lure of Linguistification 6 MANUEL GARCIA CARPINTERO Explicit Performatives 7 CLAUDIA BIANCHI Illocutions in Context 8 CATHERINE WEARING Metaphor and the Scope Argument 9 FRANCOIS RECANATI Reference through Mental Files 10 ROBYN CARSTON Word Meaning, What is Said and Explicature 11 KEPA KORTA Grice’s Requirements on What is Said 12JOANA GARMENDIA Ironically Saying and Implicating 13 JOHN MACFARLANE Non Indexical Contextualism 14 EROS CORAZZA AND JEROM DOKIC On Situationalism: Situations with an Attitude 15 MICHAEL DEVITT Three Methodological Flaws of Linguistic Pragmatism 16 JOHN PERRY Direct Discourse, Indirect Discourse and Belief. (shrink)
Niccolo Machiavelli is one of the very few authors to assign a positive role and political value to the theme of social conflict. Although not repudiating this principle, in the Discourses Machiavelli seems to distinguish between a form of conflict that is moderate and positive and another form that is violent and extreme, ultimately leading to the ruin of Rome. In his more mature work Florentine Histories, the tone changes and the distinction becomes less consistent. Moreover, analysis of the institutional (...) results of conflict is enriched by novel elements, revealing Machiavelli's attention to the economic causes and motives of social struggles. While in the first model crisis and power are counter-posed to one another, in the second they are inseparable and this couplet becomes the key to a theoretical understanding of Machiavelli's political thought. (shrink)