Over the course of more than two millennia the philosophical school of Mīmāṃsā has thoroughly analyzed normative statements. In this paper we approach a formalization of the deontic system which is applied but never explicitly discussed in Mīmāṃsā to resolve conflicts between deontic statements by giving preference to the more specific ones. We first extend with prohibitions and recommendations the non-normal deontic logic extracted in Ciabattoni et al. from Mīmāṃsā texts, obtaining a multimodal dyadic version of the deontic logic \. (...) Sequent calculus is then used to close a set of prima-facie injunctions under a restricted form of monotonicity, using specificity to avoid conflicts. We establish decidability and complexity results, and investigate the potential use of the resulting system for Mīmāṃsā philosophy and, more generally, for the formal interpretation of normative statements. (shrink)
Our perception of where touch occurs on our skin shapes our interactions with the world. Most accounts of cutaneous localisation emphasise spatial transformations from a skin-based reference frame into body-centred and external egocentric coordinates. We investigated another possible method of tactile localisation based on an intrinsic perception of ‘skin space’. The arrangement of cutaneous receptive fields (RFs) could allow one to track a stimulus as it moves across the skin, similarly to the way animals navigate using path integration. We applied (...) curved tactile motions to the hands of human volunteers. Participants identified the location midway between the start and end points of each motion path. Their bisection judgements were systematically biased towards the integrated motion path, consistent with the characteristic inward error that occurs in navigation by path integration. We thus showed that integration of continuous sensory inputs across several tactile RFs provides an intrinsic mechanism for spatial perception. (shrink)
This essay investigates the applicability of Grice’s theory of conversational implicatures to legal interpretation, in order to highlight some of its characteristics. After introducing the notions of language and discourse, and briefly explaining the most salient aspects of Grice’s theory, I will analyse the interpretation of two types of legal acts; authoritative legal acts and acts of private autonomy. Regarding the first class, exemplified by statutes, I will argue against the applicability of Gricean theory due to the conflictual behaviour of (...) the addressees and, above all, to the insurmountable indeterminacy of the contextual elements. As far as acts of private autonomy are concerned, exemplified by contracts, I will argue that the cooperative principle is applicable, at least in those legal systems that include the principle of bona fides among the interpretative regulations of such acts. (shrink)
This book offers a reconstruction of the debate on non-Euclidean geometry in neo-Kantianism between the second half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century. Kant famously characterized space and time as a priori forms of intuitions, which lie at the foundation of mathematical knowledge. The success of his philosophical account of space was due not least to the fact that Euclidean geometry was widely considered to be a model of certainty at his time. However, such (...) later scientific developments as non-Euclidean geometries and Einstein’s general theory of relativity called into question the certainty of Euclidean geometry and posed the problem of reconsidering space as an open question for empirical research. The transformation of the concept of space from a source of knowledge to an object of research can be traced back to a tradition, which includes such mathematicians as Carl Friedrich Gauss, Bernhard Riemann, Richard Dedekind, Felix Klein, and Henri Poincaré, and which finds one of its clearest expressions in Hermann von Helmholtz’s epistemological works. Although Helmholtz formulated compelling objections to Kant, the author reconsiders different strategies for a philosophical account of the same transformation from a neo-Kantian perspective, and especially Hermann Cohen’s account of the aprioricity of mathematics in terms of applicability and Ernst Cassirer’s reformulation of the a priori of space in terms of a system of hypotheses. This book is ideal for students, scholars and researchers who wish to broaden their knowledge of non-Euclidean geometry or neo-Kantianism. (shrink)
At Columbia University in 1906, William James gave a highly confrontational speech to the American Philosophical Association (APA). He ignored the technical philosophical questions the audience had gathered to discuss and instead addressed the topic of human energy. Tramping on the rules of academic decorum, James invoked the work of amateurs, read testimonials on the benefits of yoga and alcohol, and concluded by urging his listeners to take up this psychological and physiological problem. What was the goal of this unusual (...) speech? Rather than an oddity, Francesca Bordogna asserts that the APA address was emblematic—it was just one of many gestures that James employed as he plowed through the barriers between academic, popular, and pseudoscience, as well as the newly emergent borders between the study of philosophy, psychology, and the “science of man.” Bordogna reveals that James’s trespassing of boundaries was an essential element of a broader intellectual and social project. By crisscrossing divides, she argues, James imagined a new social configuration of knowledge, a better society, and a new vision of the human self. As the academy moves toward an increasingly interdisciplinary future, William James at the Boundaries reintroduces readers to a seminal influence on the way knowledge is pursued. (shrink)
Cryonics—also known as cryopreservation or cryosuspension—is the preservation of legally dead individuals at ultra-low temperatures. Those who undergo this procedure hope that future technology will not only succeed in reviving them, but also cure them of the condition that led to their demise. In this sense, some hope that cryopreservation will allow people to continue living indefinitely. This book discusses the moral concerns of cryonics, both as a medical procedure and as an intermediate step toward life extension. In particular, Minerva (...) analyses the moral issues surrounding cryonics-related techniques by focusing on how they might impact the individuals who undergo cryosuspension, as well as society at large. (shrink)
Metaphor has been considered as a cognitive process, independent of the verbal versus visual mode, through which an unknown conceptual domain is understood in terms of another known conceptual domain. Metaphor might instead be viewed as a cognitive process, dependent on the mode, which leads to genuinely new knowledge via ignorance. First, I argue that there are two main senses of ignorance at stake when we understand a metaphor: we ignore some existing properties of the known domain in the sense (...) that we disregard or neglect them; we ignore some “non-existing” properties of the known domain in the sense that they are not a piece of information belonging to the known domain, but emerge in metaphor interpretation. Secondly, I consider a metaphor as a reasoning device, guiding the interpreters along a path of inferences to a conclusion, which attributes to the target some properties of the source. In this path, interpreters might discover the ignored existing properties of the known domain and/or recover the “non-existing” properties, inferring or imagining the missing piece of information. Finally, I argue that, especially in visual metaphors, this process is guided by a “sentiment of rationality”, tracking a disruption of existing familiar conceptualisations of objects and/or actions and a recovery of ignored properties. (shrink)
In 1870, Hermann von Helmholtz criticized the Kantian conception of geometrical axioms as a priori synthetic judgments grounded in spatial intuition. However, during his dispute with Albrecht Krause (Kant und Helmholtz über den Ursprung und die Bedeutung der Raumanschauung und der geometrischen Axiome. Lahr, Schauenburg, 1878), Helmholtz maintained that space can be transcendental without the axioms being so. In this paper, I will analyze Helmholtz’s claim in connection with his theory of measurement. Helmholtz uses a Kantian argument that can be (...) summarized as follows: mathematical structures that can be defined independently of the objects we experience are necessary for judgments about magnitudes to be generally valid. I suggest that space is conceived by Helmholtz as one such structure. I will analyze his argument in its most detailed version, which is found in Helmholtz (Zählen und Messen, erkenntnistheoretisch betrachtet 1887. In: Schriften zur Erkenntnistheorie. Springer, Berlin, 1921, 70–97). In support of my view, I will consider alternative formulations of the same argument by Ernst Cassirer and Otto Hölder. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide a definition of the the notion of complete and immediate formal grounding through the concepts of derivability and complexity. It will be shown that this definition yields a subtle and precise analysis of the concept of grounding in several paradigmatic cases.
In Poggiolesi we have introduced a rigorous definition of the notion of complete and immediate formal grounding; in the present paper our aim is to construct a logic for the notion of complete and immediate formal grounding based on that definition. Our logic will have the form of a calculus of natural deduction, will be proved to be sound and complete and will allow us to have fine-grained grounding principles.
Unethical and dishonest behavior has increasingly attracted the attention of scholars from various disciplines. Recent work has begun to focus on a previous overlooked factor predicting dishonest behavior: the beneficiary or victim of dishonest acts. In two laboratory experiments, we manipulate the level of resources allocated to our participants (their "wealth") and investigate whether perceived inequity from wealth that is randomly or subjectively assigned leads individuals to cross ethical boundaries through helping or hurting others. The results show that dishonest behavior (...) is influenced by positive and negative inequity that motivates helping and hurting acts. Furthermore, a third experiment shows that people tend to discount the wrongness of crossing ethical boundaries to hurt or help others when the action restores equity. (shrink)
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion (...) is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled. (shrink)
Sociopolitical attitudes are often the root cause of conflicts between individuals, groups, and even nations, but little is known about the origin of individual differences in sociopolitical orientation. We test a combination of economic and evolutionary ideas about the degree to which the mating market, sex, age, and income affect sociopolitical orientation. We collected data online through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk from 1108 US participants who were between 18 and 60, fluent in English, and single. While ostensibly testing a new online (...) dating website, participants created an online dating profile and described people they would like to date. We manipulated the participants’ popularity in the mating market and the size of the market and then measured participants’ sociopolitical attitudes. The sociopolitical attitudes were reduced to five dimensions via Principal Components Analysis. Both manipulations affected attitudes toward wealth redistribution but were largely not significant predictors of the other dimensions. Men reported more unrestricted sociosexual attitudes, and more support for benevolent sexism and traditional family values, than women did, and women supported wealth redistribution more than men did. There was no sex difference in accepting nonconforming behaviors. Younger people and people with lower incomes were more liberal than older people and people with higher incomes, respectively, regardless of sex. Overall, effects were largely not interactive, suggesting that individual differences in sociopolitical orientation may reflect strategic self-interest and be more straightforward than previously predicted. (shrink)
Hermann von Helmholtz’s geometrical papers have been typically deemed to provide an implicitly group-theoretical analysis of space, as articulated later by Felix Klein, Sophus Lie, and Henri Poincaré. However, there is less agreement as to what properties exactly in such a view would pertain to space, as opposed to abstract mathematical structures, on the one hand, and empirical contents, on the other. According to Moritz Schlick, the puzzle can be resolved only by clearly distinguishing the empirical qualities of spatial perception (...) from those describable in terms of axiomatic geometry. This paper offers a partial defense of the group-theoretical reading of Helmholtz along the lines of Ernst Cassirer in the fourth volume of The Problem of Knowledge of 1940. In order to avoid the problem raised by Schlick, Cassirer relied on a Kantian view of space not so much as an object of geometry, but as a precondition for the possibility of measurement. Although the concept of group does not provide a description of space, the modern way to articulate the concept of space in terms of transformation groups reveals something about the structure and the transformation of spatial concepts in mathematical and natural sciences. (shrink)
One central tenet of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis , and the consensus view among biologists until now, is that all genetic mutations occur by “chance” or at “random” with respect to adaptation. However, the discovery of some molecular mechanisms enhancing mutation rate in response to environmental conditions has given rise to discussions among biologists, historians and philosophers of biology about the “chance” vs “directed” character of mutations . In fact, some argue that mutations due to a particular kind of mutator (...) mechanisms challenge the Modern Synthesis because they are produced when and where needed by the organisms concerned. This paper provides a defense of the Modern Synthesis’ consensus view about the chance nature of all genetic mutations by reacting to Jablonka and Lamb’s analysis of genetic mutations and the explicit Lamarckian flavor of their arguments. I argue that biologists can continue to talk about chance mutations according to what I call and define as the notion of “evolutionary chance,” which I claim is the Modern Synthesis’ consensus view and a reformulation of Darwin’s most influential idea of “chance” variation. Advances in molecular genetics are therefore significant but not revolutionary with respect to the Modern Synthesis’ paradigm. (shrink)
The goal of this article is to introduce a philosophical analysis of a widely neglected condition which affects between 3% and 18% of the population. People affected by this condition experience a lower level of wellbeing than the average population and are discriminated against in both their professional and their personal life. I will argue that this form of discrimination should be taken more seriously in philosophical debate and that social, legal and medical measures ought to be taken in order (...) to improve the quality of life of people affected by this condition. (shrink)
In this article we discuss the moral and legal aspects of causing the death of a terminal patient in the hope of extending their life in the future. We call this theoretical procedure cryothanasia. We argue that administering cryothanasia is ethically different from administering euthanasia. Consequently, objections to euthanasia should not apply to cryothanasia, and cryothanasia could also be considered a legal option where euthanasia is illegal.
This paper is a critical response to Andreas Bartels’ sophisticated defense of a structural account of scientific representation. We show that, contrary to Bartels’ claim, homomorphism fails to account for the phenomenon of misrepresentation. Bartels claims that homomorphism is adequate in two respects. First, it is conceptually adequate, in the sense that it shows how representation differs from misrepresentation and non-representation. Second, if properly weakened, homomorphism is formally adequate to accommodate misrepresentation. We question both claims. First, we show that homomorphism (...) is not the right condition to distinguish representation from misrepresentation and non-representation: a “representational mechanism” actually does all the work, and it is independent of homomorphism – as of any structural condition. Second, we test the claim of formal adequacy against three typical kinds of inaccurate representation in science which, by reference to a discussion of the notorious billiard ball model, we define as abstraction, pretence, and simulation. We first point out that Bartels equivocates between homomorphism and the stronger condition of epimorphism, and that the weakened form of homomorphism that Bartels puts forward is not a morphism at all. After providing a formal setting for abstraction, pretence and simulation, we show that for each morphism there is at least one form of inaccurate representation which is not accommodated. We conclude that Bartels’ theory – while logically laying down the weakest structural requirements – is nonetheless formally inadequate in its own terms. This should shed serious doubts on the plausibility of any structural account of representation more generally. (shrink)
Why do many autistic people develop outstanding abilities in domains like drawing, music, computation, and reading? What aspects of autism predispose some to talent? This book explores the origin and prevalence of exceptional talent, its basis in the brain, the current theories, and the representation of talent and autism in biography and fiction.
It is well known that Hermann Cohen was one of the first philosophers who engaged in the debate about non-Euclidean geometries and the concept of space. His relation to Hermann von Helmholtz, who played a major role in the same debate, is an illuminating example of how some of the leading ideas of Marburg neo-Kantianism, although motivated independently of scientific debates, naturally led to the examination of scientific works and scientists’ epistemological views. This paper deals with Cohen’s view of magnitudes (...) and measurement and with his – less known – review of Helmholtz’s paper “Zählen und Messen, erkenntnistheoretisch betrachtet”, which contains one of the first attempts to formulate a theory of measurement in the modern sense. The first part provides a brief introduction to this debate in its connection with the earlier discussion on geometrical axioms and the concept of space. The main sections deal with Helmholtz’s and Cohen’s approaches to the foundations of measurement. Cohen’s criticism of some of Helmholtz’s assumptions notwithstanding, my emphasis is on some unexpected affinities between these two approaches. In the concluding section, I rely on the constructive side of Cohen’s criticisms to reconsider the philosophical aspects of Helmholtz’s theory and draw a few comparisons with contemporary measurement theory. (shrink)
The contradictions between food poverty affecting a large section of the global population and the everyday wastage of food, particularly in high income countries, have raised significant academic and public attention. All actors in the food chain have a role to play in food waste prevention and reduction, including farmers, food manufacturers and processors, caterers and retailers and ultimately consumers. Food surplus redistribution is considered by many as a partial solution to food waste reduction and food poverty mitigation, while others (...) criticize charitable initiatives as inadequate responses, that inhibit governments from responsibly protecting the citizens right to food. This paper frames food assistance as “hybrid systems”, situating at the intersection of territorial food, public welfare and third sector voluntary systems. Based on available literature and reflections on previous research examining food banks in Italy, we develop a system dynamics conceptual mapping. The aim is to model a set of relations and dynamic mechanisms associated with variables relevant to food waste generation, food recovery for social purposes and food poverty alleviation. The analysis of feedback interactions highlights the vulnerabilities of food assistance systems that occur when addressing food poverty by reducing food surplus. In summary, as the awareness on food poverty and food surplus arises, incentives to food recovery and redistribution strengthen the role of food assistance actors, increasing their exposure to drivers of change, such as retailers’ standards for food surplus prevention. This paper contributes to the current academic debate on charitable food assistance, with insights for policy makers and other systems’ actors. (shrink)
In his paper ‘The truth behind conscientious objection’ Nir Ben-Moshe develops a new approach aimed at justifying conscientious objection without relying on respect of moral integrity of the conscientious objector or tolerance towards her moral views.1 According to Ben-Moshe, the problem with justifications of CO based on moral integrity and tolerance is that ‘truth of conscience’s claims is irrelevant to their justification’. He argues, to the contrary, that whether the claims of the conscientious objector are true or false makes a (...) difference in assessing whether their objection is justifiable or not. He goes on explaining that someone’s CO can be justified if it can be proved that ‘conscience can express true moral claims’. Ben-Moshe then proceeds to explain how one can determine true moral claims. He develops an account of conscience that is modelled on that of Adam Smith. In particular, he uses the idea of the ‘impartial spectator’ to show how a true claim of conscience can emerge after careful thinking from the point of view of an impartial perspective. So, if the healthcare practitioner wants to object to a certain medical procedure after considering the issue at hand from the moral standpoint of such impartial spectator, then her claims of conscience are true (or …. (shrink)
This work proposes research on a still unexplored psychical world: thoughts, emotions, and real events experienced by racket victims of the three largest criminal organizations of the South of Italy: Mafia, Camorra, and ‘Ndrangheta. The purpose is to understand the multifaceted psycho-anthropological and social issues criminal organizations have settled on, and particularly which psycho-relational dynamics and sociocultural codes come into play in the complex and controversial relationship between victim and criminal system, between victim and support systems. With entrepreneurs and tradesmen (...) victims of organized crime, we have analyzed lived experiences—in particular fear—and psychological problems they had to cope with; events and motivations that allowed them “breaking” the silence and asking for help; the representation of a support network before and after their possible pressing charges; the kind of help offered by support systems. Dignity and self-respect, the fight for one's own freedom and honor,.. (shrink)
Using a specific case as an example, the article argues that the Internet allows dissemination of academic ideas to the general public in ways that can sometimes pose a threat to academic freedom. Since academic freedom is a fundamental element of academia and since it benefits society at large, it is important to safeguard it. Among measures that can be taken in order to achieve this goal, the publication of anonymous research seems to be a good option.