Virtue and Psychology: Pursuing Excellence in Ordinary Practices by Fowers represents the most extensive effort to date to mine the resources of virtue ethics for theory and practice in psychology. Building on this work, I explore some of the implications of the virtue ethics perspective for the fields of psychology and psychotherapy, including helping to overcome individualism and instrumentalism, elaborating a conception of “internal” as opposed to merely “external” goods, clarifying the nature of “character strengths,” developing further the idea of (...) “strong relationality” in the sphere of human action, and aiding psychology in general in the effort to characterize a good or successful life. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Despite the ubiquity of inner speech in our mental lives, methods for objectively assessing inner speech capacities remain underdeveloped. The most common means of assessing inner speech is to present participants with tasks requiring them to silently judge whether two words rhyme. We developed a version of this task to assess the inner speech of a population of patients with aphasia and corresponding language production deficits. As expected, patients’ performance on the silent rhyming task was severely impaired relative to controls. (...) More surprisingly, however, patients’ performance on this task did not correlate with their performance on a variety of other standard tests of overt language abilities. In particular, patients who were generally unimpaired in their abilities to overtly name objects during confrontation naming tasks, and who could reliably judge when two words spoken to them rhymed, were still severely impaired (relative to controls) at completing the silent rhyme task. This seems to suggest that inner speech was more severely impaired in these patients than outer speech. However, these results should also cause us to critically reflect on the relation between inner speech and silent rhyme judgments more generally. (shrink)
Despite the ubiquity of inner speech in our mental lives, methods for objectively assessing inner speech capacities remain underdeveloped. The most common means of assessing inner speech is to present participants with tasks requiring them to silently judge whether two words rhyme. We developed a version of this task to assess the inner speech of a population of patients with aphasia and corresponding language production deficits. Patients’ performance on the silent rhyming task was severely impaired relative to controls. Patients’ performance (...) on this task did not, however, correlate with their performance on a variety of other standard tests of overt language and rhyming abilities. In particular, patients who were generally unimpaired in their abilities to overtly name objects during confrontation naming tasks, and who could reliably judge when two words spoken to them rhymed, were still severely impaired (relative to controls) at completing the silent rhyme task. A variety of explanations for these results are considered, as a means to critically reflecting on the relations among inner speech, outer speech, and silent rhyme judgments more generally. (shrink)
In order to rescue human intentionality and mental causation from determinism and reductionism, it is necessary to clarify what we mean by intentionality, which is often coloured by a problematic, one-sided instrumentalism in both current theory and the wider culture. Rethinking this narrow instrumentalism requires distinguishing clearly between what has been termed 'means-end'and 'constituent- end'human practices and appreciating the primacy of the latter in human affairs. It also requires appreciation of the fact that social enquiry itself is a form of (...) practice that is shaped by at its core, and shapes in turn, the aims and practices of the human community. (shrink)
A key to the shortcomings and confusions afflicting 20th century social science seems to be problematic moral underpinnings or "disguised ideologies" that drive much of its research and theory. Philosophical hermeneutics shows great promise for diagnosing this condition and reorienting human science inquiry in helpful ways. However, it has been suggested by a number of thoughtful critics that hermeneutics has not yet taken the full measure of the kinds of "power" that can imbue and distort human communication, including social theory (...) and research. This paper addresses several of these critiques, finds merit in them, but argues that such concerns about power may be able to be addressed more adequately by a hermeneutic approach than by the viewpoints from which they are raised. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Yanchar, Slife, and their colleagues have described how mainstream psychology's notion of critical thinking has largely been conceived of as “scientific analytic reasoning” or “method-centered critical thinking.” We extend here their analysis and critique, arguing that some version of the one-sided instrumentalism and confusion about tacit values that characterize scientistic approaches to inquiry also color phenomenological, critical theoretical, and social constructionist viewpoints. We suggest that hermeneutic/dialogical conceptions of inquiry, including the idea of social theory as itself a form of ethically (...) motivated human practice, give a fuller account of critical thinking in the social disciplines. (shrink)
This article blends cultural history and theoretical psychology in a discussion of new treatment methods for psychiatric casualties that emerged early in World War II. It draws on philosophical hermeneutics and Hacking's historical ontology to clarify how our interpretation of this history inevitably reflects current struggles making sense of PTSD while efforts to understand this history can enrich present-day reflections about war neurosis and the social good. 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Robinson's defense of moral realism is stimulating, admirable, and convincing in many respects. He is particularly effective in mounting a multi-faceted attack on Mackie's famous "argument from queerness" and other views that deny that moral realities can be part of the furniture of the world. Certain other of his arguments about the ontological standing of moral entities, however, might be seen to open rather a wide gulf between them and ordinary experience. I suggest that hermeneutic philosophy, which I find more (...) consonant with Robinson's project than he does, might step in to heal the breach. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Slife and Reber issue a welcome challenge to "implicit biases" against the serious investigation of religious experience and phenomena in psychology. I agree with the main thrust of their article but express a few friendly reservations about their analysis and some concerns about how a productive dialogue between psychology and religion might best be pursued from this point forward. 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Suggests that acknowledging that social inquiry may be indelibly linked to ethical reflection raises difficult questions . There seem to be a few fundamental metatheoretical options available, each presuming some ontology of human existence and colored by at least a few basic moral or spiritual commitments. The options are briefly sketched, and their virtues and blind spots highlighted. The options include mainstream social science, "descriptivisms," liberal individualism, existential freedom, and contemporary hermeneutics. It is suggested that a hermeneutic view of social (...) theory as practice offers an alternative to both explanatory and constructionist accounts. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
This article and the following ones by Slife and Westerman represent a coordinated effort on the authors' part to begin to mine the resources of what has been termed the "practice turn in contemporary theory" for psychology. The liberal approach tends to focus on a fear of power and how it can corrupt our best ideals, while the postmodernist tends to focus on a fascination with power flowing through the social and institutional expressions of these very ideals. Given modern Western (...) culture's deep antiauthoritarian tenor, these two responses can be seen as reflecting what might be termed an underlying "control or be controlled" dilemma. We suggest the practice turn and hermeneutics offer an avenue for effectively getting past this basic dilemma. They make it clear that in everyday life, we are both profoundly shaped and influenced by the world and other people and influence them, in turn, by the way we interpret them and adjust to them as we engage in the fields of practices in which we find ourselves. Personal and social influences at play in the everyday business of human living create a continuum rather than a dichotomy regarding issues of control and power, leading to a dissolution of our taxing "control or be controlled" dilemma. Such an ontology clearly entails rethinking some prominent cultural ideals, leading us perhaps to think as much or more in terms of character than achievement, of cooperation than competition, of patience than striving restlessly to get somewhere. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Considerable fragmentation, and awareness of it, have characterized the field of psychology since its inception. It is suggested that over the years, efforts to reduce uncertainty and overcome fragmentation in psychology have clustered around two broad, opposite strategies which might be termed "scientism" and "constructionism." The first wishes to rely on secure methods and controlled experimentation, the second on a postmodern acceptance of radical heterogeneity and "no truth through method." Some of the shortcomings of these strategies are discussed. A hermeneutic (...) approach centering on dialogue and the idea of social inquiry as a kind of ethical practice is outlined which, it is argued, might have success in incorporating some of the virtues and avoiding the pitfalls of other responses to the problem of fragmentation. (shrink)
Reviews the book, Democracy’s discontent: America in search of a public philosophy by Michael Sandel . This book has been widely read by academics, politicians and others in public life, and interested citizens, giving him the stature of a leading public intellectual in contemporary America. Even though it is a work of political philosophy, I believe that Sandel’s writings have a special relevance for theoretical and philosophical psychology. At the outset of this book Sandel delivers his often-quoted observation that the (...) “anxiety of the age” is the “fear that, individually and collectively, we are losing control of the forces that govern our lives” and that “from family to neighborhood to nation...the moral fabric of community is unraveling around us” . He then describes how this loss of a sense of personal efficacy and meaningful human ties might derive from the dominance in our society of the “public philosophy of contemporary liberalism.” 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Suggests that the Popperian view of social science proposed by W. Matthews is too narrow a scientism to do justice to the full range of human experience. The present author, while applauding Matthews' effective criticisms of postmodern thought, offers a hermeneutic realism as an alternative. 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
This is an English translation of Descartes' seminal discourse, with an original essay by Richard Kennington. This text is designed to provide the student with a close translation, notes, and a glossary of key terms, facilitating access to ideas as they originally were presented and helping to make the translator's work transparent. Focus Philosophical Library translations are close to and are non-interpretative of the original text, with the notes and a glossary intending to provide the reader with some sense of (...) the terms and the concepts as they were understood by Decartes' immediate audience. The Focus Philosophical Library publishes clear, faithful editions enabling access for modern students to the essential ideas and wisdom of the world’s greatest thinkers. (shrink)
Richard Kennington, a professor for many years at Pennsylvania State University and the Catholic University of America, was renowned for his insight in reading and teaching early modern philosophy. Although he published articles and spoke widely, never before have his writings been collected in a book. On Modern Origins deftly shows how modern thinkers assessed the errors of the classical tradition and established in its place a philosophy that fuses a new meaning of nature and of theory with humanitarian goals. (...) This volume is an essential source for scholars seeking to understand the contemporary significance of the dawning of the modern era. (shrink)
The contribution of this book to the field of reconciliation is both theoretical and practical, recognizing that good theory guides effective practice and practice is the ground for compelling theory. Using a Girardian hermeneutic as a starting point, a new conceptual Gestalt emerges in these essays, one not fully integrated in a formal way but showing a clear understanding of some of the challenges and possibilities for dealing with the deep divisions, enmity, hatred, and other effects of violence.
In this memorial essay on Sir Frank Kermode (1919–2010), the author focuses on his own exchange of views with Kermode during the 1970s. In Kermode's book The Sense of an Ending (1966), he had criticized Frank's essay “Spatial Form in Modern Literature” (1945) as part of a larger critique of what the Romantic-Symbolist tradition of English poetry had become in the twentieth century. Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and other late Symbolists had turned artists into advocates of an irrational wisdom (...) superior to reason and common sense, thus isolating—so Kermode argued—the world of art from that of ordinary human concerns. Rejecting their view of art, he turned instead to a pre-Romantic tradition (including Spenser and Milton) that the Symbolists had rejected. Among modern writers, Kermode turned to Wallace Stevens, who became his foil for Yeats, Eliot, and Pound, as well as the most important influence on his own later thinking. Joseph Frank, in this essay, recalls the combination of acerbic intelligence, social concern, gentility, and finally friendship that characterized his debate over these questions with Kermode. Frank recalls as an indication of his respect and admiration for Kermode that he wrote, in 1977, that, even if his own theory of spatial form were to be shown worthless, it would still have value in having provided some of the stimulus for Kermode to write The Sense of an Ending. (shrink)
The principle that One cannot deliberate over what one already knows is going to happen, when suitably qualified, has seemed to many philosophers to be about as secure a truth as one is likely to find in this life.Fortunately, poses little restriction on human deliberation, since the conditions which would trigger its prohibition seldom arise for us: our knowledge of the future is intermittent at best, and those things of which we do have advance knowledge are not the sorts of (...) things over which we would deliberate in any case. But matters appear to stand otherwise with an all-knowing agent such as God is traditionally conceived to be; for what an omniprescient deity ‘already knows is going to happen’ is everything that is going to happen; and if He cannot deliberate over such things, there is nothing over which He can deliberate. (shrink)
The paper that follows continues a discussion with Tomis Kapitan in the pages of this journal over the compatibility of divine agency with divine foreknowledge. I had earlier argued against two premises in Kapitan's case for omniscient impotence: that intentionally A-ing presupposes prior acquisition of the intention to A, and that acquiring the intention to A presupposes prior ignorance whether one will A. In response to my criticisms, Kapitan has recently offered new defences for these two premises. I show in (...) reply why neither defence succeeds in rehabilitating the case against omniscient agency. (shrink)
I am going to be discussing a mode of moral responsibility that anglophone philosophers have largely neglected. It is a type of responsibility that looks to the future rather than the past. Because this forward-looking moral responsibility is relatively unfamiliar in the lexicon of analytic philosophy, many of my locutions will initially strike many readers as odd. As a matter of everyday speech, however, the notion of forward-looking moral responsibility is perfectly familiar. Today, for instance, I said I would be (...) responsible for watching my nieces while they swam. Neglecting this responsibility would have been a moral fault. When people marry, they undertake responsibilities, of moral import, of fidelity and mutual support. When people have children, they accrue moral responsibilities to feed, rear, and educate them. Not all forward-looking responsibilities are moral. While finishing this essay, I have had to keep an eye on a number of my administrative responsibilities, and, while reading it, you may well be occasionally distracted by some of your own. The notion of a responsibility that we accrue or take on, to look out for some range of concerns over some range of the future, is, then, perfectly familiar. Because this common notion of forward-looking responsibility has not been integrated into recent moral theory, however, my philosophical discussion of it will initially seem strange. (shrink)
Our intention here is to present the essential character of classical, sunnī kalām within a strictly formal perspective and to set out its basic aspects. It was conceived by the mutakallimīn as a rational, conceptual, and critical science and, although kalām differed in a number of basic concepts and constructs and in its analytic system, the topical organisation of the major compendia parallels that of metaphysics as understood in the contemporary Aristotelian tradition. The debates between kalām and falsafa need to (...) be examined within this context. Kalām, however, is theological in the strict sense of the term and it is as such that its problematic and its procedures are primarily to be understood. Thus seen, the object of kalām is to rationalise the cognitive content presented to Believers in the symbolic language of the koranic revelation. It has, then, four principal tasks, sc, to conceptualise, to order, to explain, and where possible to justify the primary doctrines of the community whose belief is held to be normative. Within this framework the differences that characterise the major schools as such and the various tendencies of individual masters within each school may readily be brought to light. On se propose ici de présenter, d'un point de vue strictement formel, la nature du kālam classique sunnite et d'identifier ses caractéristiques principales. II avait été conçu par les mutakallimin comme une science rationelle, conceptuelle et critique. L'organisation des matières dans ses traités reprend celle de la métaphysique dans la tradition aristotélicienne de l'époque, bien que le kalām s'en distingue par plusieurs de ses structures et concepts fondamentaux, ainsi que par son système analytique. C'est dans ce contexte qu'il faut considérer les debats qui s'instaurèrent entre kalām et falsafa. Le kalām, cependant, est d'ordre strictement théologique et c'est principalement dans ce cadre qu'il faut comprendre sa problématique et ses procédures. Le kalām a pour fonction de rationaliser le contenu cognitif offert aux croyants dans le langage symbolique de la révélation coranique. Il en résulte quatre tâches principales; il s'agit de conceptualiser, ordonner, expliquer et, dans le mesure du possible, justifier les doctrines principales reconnues par la communauté faisant référence en matière de croyance. Dans ce cadre, il sera possible de mettre en lumière les différences entre les principales écoles, ainsi que les tendances qui distinguent certains de leurs grands maîtres respectifs. (shrink)
Frances Kamm has for some time now been a foremost champion of non-consequentialist ethics. One of her most powerful non-consequentialist themes has been the idea of inviolability. Morality's prohibitions, she argues, confer on persons the status of inviolability. This thought helps articulate a rationale for moral prohibitions that will resist the protean threat posed by the consequentialist argument that anyone should surely be willing to violate a constraint if doing so will minimize the overall number of such violations. As Kamm (...) put it in a 1992 article, ‘If morality permitted minimizing violations of persons by violating other persons, then each of those saved as well as those persons used to save others would be less inviolable. It is the permission, not any actual violation of persons, that makes this so.’ Now, as thus baldly asserted, this claim borders on the conclusory. It is almost as if the claim were that morality conferred on persons the following status: that of being protected from consequentialism. One wants to hear in what inviolability consists, in more detail, so that we can understand it independently of the negation of consequentialism. And there is also an opposite problem: if inviolability is a good, then why can't consequentialism take it into account? Hence, one also wants to hear why this would not be the case. (shrink)
Early in Peter Abelard's Dialogue between a Philosopher, a Jew, and a Christian, the philosopher and the Christian easily come to agreement about what the point of ethics is: “[T]he culmination of true ethics … is gathered together in this: that it reveal where the ultimate good is and by what road we are to arrive there.” They also agree that, since the enjoyment of this ultimate good “comprises true blessedness,” ethics “far surpasses other teachings in both usefulness and worthiness.” (...) As Abelard understood them, both fundamental elements of his twelfth-century ethical culture — Greek philosophy and Christian religion — held a common view of the nature of ethical inquiry, one that was so obvious to them that his characters do not even state it in a fully explicit way. They take for granted, as we take the ground we stand on, the premise that the most important function of ethical theory is to tell you what sort of life is most desirable, or most worth living. That is, the point of ethics is that it is good for you, that it serves your self-interest. (shrink)
When Wittgenstein moved from Manchester to Cambridge he was following a path from the study of the natural sciences to the study of philosophy which was then not unusual, and has since become increasingly common. Russell had preceded him in that intellectual emigration and many more were to follow. Of the three philosophy departments I have been in, two were headed by natural scientists. Both my research supervisors in philosophy were natural scientists. Less surprising, but still significant, a considerable proportion (...) of Presidents of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science were originally trained as natural scientists. Yet it is a subject still unrecognized by the Royal Society. The editors of both the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science and the journal Analysis were both originally natural scientists. Eminent scientists seem to feel impelled to discuss there own subjects in a wider context of philosophy. Bohr, Schrodinger, Kilmister, Hoyle, Hawking and Penrose, are but a few from a long list. (shrink)
Recent decades have seen a resurgence of contractarian thinking about the nature and origins of the state. Scholars in this tradition ask what constraints rational, self-interested actors might deliberately impose upon themselves. In response, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, and other early contractarians answered that laws of property were an attractive alternative to “the war of all against all.” More recently, James Buchanan, Russell Hardin, Mancur Olson, Gordon Tullock, and others have used contractarian principles to justify laws that solve a variety of (...) Prisoner's Dilemmas and other collective-action problems. And in the distributional realm, John Rawls and others have applied contractarian analysis to investigate how material wealth ought to be allocated among people. (shrink)