In _Media, Modernity and the Dynamic Plant_, Janet Janzen traces the motif of the “dynamic plant” through early 20th century German culture. In examples from film and literature, she demonstrates a shift in the perception of plants to living beings.
Combining phenomenological insights from Brentano and Sartre, but also drawing on recent work on consciousness by analytic philosophers, this book defends the view that conscious states are reflexive, and necessarily so, i.e., that they have a built-in, implicit awareness of their own occurrence, such that the subject of a conscious state has an immediate, non-objectual acquaintance with it. As part of this investigation, the book also explores the relationship between reflexivity and the phenomenal, or what-it-is-like, dimension of conscious experience, defending (...) the innovative thesis that phenomenal character is constituted by the implicit self-awareness built into every conscious state. This account stands in marked contrast to most influential extant theories of phenomenal character, including qualia theories, according to which phenomenal character is a matter of having phenomenal sensations, and representationalism, according to which phenomenal character is constituted by representational content. (shrink)
It is common parlance among philosophers who inquire into the nature of consciousness to speak of there being something it is like for the subject of a mental state to be in it. The popularity of the ‘what-it-is-like’ phrase stems, in part, from the assumption that it enables us to distinguish, in an intuitive and illuminating way, between conscious and unconscious mental states: conscious mental states, unlike unconscious mental states, are such that there is something it is like for their (...) subjects to be in them. The ‘what-it-is-like’ phrase, however, has not gone unopposed; some very clever philosophers have vigorously disputed it. Peter Hacker, for example, has argued that the phrase should be abandoned because it is ungrammatical, and Paul Snowdon has argued that it should be abandoned because the propositions expressed by its usage are either trivial or false. This paper mounts a case for the claim that neither of these conclusions is warranted. Against Hacker, it is argued that the arguments he produces for the ungrammaticality of the phrase are unpersuasive, and against Snowdon it is argued that he fails to consider a plausible and independently motivated interpretation of the phrase, and that, on this interpretation, the propositions expressed by its usage are non-trivially true. (shrink)
One of the more refractory problems in contemporary discussions of consciousness is the problem of determining what a mental state's being conscious consists in. This paper defends the thesis that a mental state is conscious if and only if it has a certain reflexive character, i.e., if and only if it has a structure that includes an awareness of itself. Since this thesis finds one of its clearest expressions in the work of Brentano, it is his treatment of the thesis (...) on which I initially focus, though I subsequently bring in Sartre where he addresses himself to an important point not considered by Brentano. As part of this investigation, the paper also, more specifically, aims to exhibit as perspicuously as possible the relationship between self-awareness and the phenomenal, or 'what-it- is-like', dimension of conscious experience. I attempt to show, in particular, that the phenomenal character of at least perceptual consciousness can be fully explained in terms of self-awareness, i.e., in terms of a low-level or 'implicit' self-awareness that is built into every conscious perceptual state. (shrink)
In his seminal paper ‘Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility’, Harry Frankfurt argues against the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP)—the principle that persons are morally responsible for what they have done only if they could have done otherwise—by presenting a case in which, apparently, a person is morally responsible for what he has done even though, due to the presence of a counterfactual intervener, he could not have done otherwise. According to a compelling (yet relatively under-discussed) response to Frankfurt’s attack on (...) PAP, Frankfurt has not succeeded in showing that the principle is false, since in the scenario he asks us to imagine the agent has an alternate possibility: he can (unwittingly) force the intervener’s hand by revising his decision to perform the action in question and thereby avoid performing the action himself. This response to Frankfurt has been objected to, however, on the grounds that the agent does not avoid performing the action since the intervener acts upon an involuntary prior sign. The goal of this article is to show that this objection fails. While it is true that the prior sign upon which the intervener acts is involuntary, it is a consequence of a change of mind that is voluntary. It follows that the agent does what is needed to avoid performing the action in question (in the counterfactual sequence). (shrink)
According to just war theory, a resort to war is justified only if it satisfies the right intention condition. This article offers a critical examination of this condition, defending the thesis that, despite its venerable history as part of the just war tradition, it ought to be jettisoned. When properly understood, it turns out to be an unnecessary element of jus ad bellum, adding nothing essential to our assessments of the justice of armed conflict.
Harry Frankfurt has famously argued against the principle of alternate possibilities by presenting a case in which, apparently, a person is morally responsible for what he has done even though he could not have done otherwise. A number of commentators have proposed dispositionalist responses to Frankfurt, arguing that he has not produced a counterexample to PAP because, contrary to appearances, the ability to do otherwise is indeed present but is a disposition that has been ‘masked’ or ‘finked’ by the presence (...) of a counterfactual controller. This article argues that this response to Frankfurt does not undercut his attack on PAP, since there are Frankfurt-style counterexamples to the principle—‘brain-malfunction’ cases—that evade the dispositionalist analysis. (shrink)
This paper argues that Pascal's formulation of his famous wager argument licenses an inference about God's nature that ultimately vitiates the claim that wagering for God is in one's rational self-interest. In particular, it is argued that if we accept Pascal's premises, then we can infer that the god for whom Pascal encourages us to wager is irrational. But if God is irrational, then the prudentially rational course of action is to refrain from wagering for him.
In their recent book Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience, Max Bennett and Peter Hacker attack neural materialism (NM), the view, roughly, that mental states (events, processes, etc.) are identical with neural states or material properties of neural states (events, processes, etc.). Specifically, in the penultimate chapter entitled “Reductionism,” they argue that NM is unintelligible, that “there is no sense to literally identifying neural states and configurations with psychological attributes.” This is a provocative claim indeed. If Bennett and Hacker are right, then (...) a sizeable number of philosophers, cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, etc., subscribe to a view that is not merely false, but strictly meaningless. In this article I show that Bennett and Hacker's arguments against NM, whether construed as arguments for the meaninglessness of or the falsity of the thesis, cannot withstand scrutiny: when laid bare they are found to rest upon highly dubious assumptions that either seriously mischaracterize or underestimate the resources of the thesis. (shrink)
According to a currently popular approach to the analysis of phenomenal character, the phenomenal character of an experience is entirely determined by, and is in fact identical with, the experience's representational content. Two underlying assumptions motivate this approach to phenomenal character: (1) that conscious experiences are diaphanous or transparent, in the sense that it is impossible to discern, via introspection, any intrinsic features of an experience of x that are not experienced as features of x, and (2) that the immediate (...) objects of consciousness are not objects per se, but rather properties. This paper explores these assumptions, advancing the thesis that each is rejectable on phenomenological grounds. (shrink)
This article defends two theses: that a mental state is conscious if and only if it has phenomenal character, i.e., if and only if there is something it is like for the subject to be in that state, and that all state consciousness involves self-consciousness, in the sense that a mental state is conscious if and only if its possessor is, in some suitable way, conscious of being in it. Though neither of these theses is novel, there is a dearth (...) of direct arguments for them in the scholarly literature and the relationship between them has so far gone underrecognized. This article attempts to remedy this lack, advancing the claim that if all conscious states have phenomenal character, then all state consciousness involves self-consciousness. (shrink)
Adverbialism, broadly construed, is the thesis that pains (and other sensations) are modes of awareness, and objectualism, broadly construed, is the thesis that pains are objects of awareness. Why are we inclined to say that pains are modes of awareness and yet also inclined to say that they are objects of awareness? Each inclination leads to an account of pain that seems to be incompatible with the other. If adverbialism is correct, it would seem that objectualism is mistaken (and vice (...) versa). And yet each inclination is sufficiently well grounded that neither seems reasonably rejectable. It will not do to present each theory with greater and greater sophistication on the assumption that if it is correct the other must be mistaken. What we must do is give an account of pain that shows how it is possible to retain the central insights of both adverbialism and objectualism. I propose to do that in this paper, mounting a case for the claim that the most plausible view of pain is one that combines adverbialism and objectualism. (shrink)
In Subjectivity and Selfhood Dan Zahavi presents the fruits of his thinking on a nexus of issues regarding the experiential structure of consciousness and its relation to selfhood. The central theme of the book is that the “notion of self is crucial for a proper understanding of consciousness, and consequently it is indispensable to a variety of disciplines such as philosophy of mind, social philosophy, psychiatry, developmental psychology, and cognitive neuroscience” . Proceeding, as in his previously published work , on (...) the assumption that the study of consciousness can benefit from insights to be found in phenomenology, Zahavi defends his thesis largely by way of an investigation of the work of an array of phenomenologists, including Heidegger, Sartre, and, most notably, Husserl. In what follows I will not comment on the full range of topics dealt with in Subjectivity and Selfhood—e.g., reflection and attention , self and other , theory of mind —but will instead focus on two of the book’s more prominent strands of argument: that all conscious states are tacitly self-aware, and that the self is to be understood as an “experiential dimension.”. (shrink)
This paper sketches an evidential atheological argument that can be answered only if one of the central tenets of some theistic traditions is rejected, namely, that (propositional) belief in God is a necessary condition for salvation. The basic structure of the argument is as follows. Under theism, God is essentially omniscient, but no one can be both omniscient and irrational. So, if there is reason to hold that God is irrational, then it would follow that God doesn’t exist. And there (...) is reason to hold that God is irrational. To wit, God both hides and, according to some theistic traditions, requires belief. But it is irrational for God both to hide and require belief; therefore, God is irrational. Since a crucial – and controversial – premise in the argument is that it is irrational for God to both hide and require belief, a large part of the paper is devoted to defending that premise. (shrink)
Over the past decade, Canadian media coverage of street sex work has steadily increased. The majority of this interest pertains to graphic violence against street sex workers, most notably from Vancouver, British Columbia. In this article, the authors analyze newspaper coverage that appeared in western Canadian publications between 2006 and 2009. In theorizing the violence both depicted and perpetrated by newspapers, the authors propose an analytic framework capable of attending to the process of othering in all of its complexity. To (...) this end, the authors supplement a Foucauldian analysis of abjection by considering the work of Judith Butler along with Julia Kristeva's conceptualization of abjection. Using excerpts from western Canadian newspapers, the authors illustrate how the media's discursive practices function as triggers for the process of cultural abjection by inscribing street sex workers with images of defilement. The authors argue that newspaper coverage of street sex workers reinforces the inviolability of normalized life by constantly reiterating the horror reserved for abjected bodies. (shrink)
It is well known that, according to some, philosophical reflection on zombies (i.e., bodies without minds) poses a problem for physicalism. But what about ghosts, i.e., minds without bodies? Does philosophical reflection on them pose a problem for physicalism? Descartes, of course, thought so, and lately rumours have been surfacing that has was right after all, that ghosts pose a problem for both a priori and a posteriori physicalism, and for any kind of physicalism in between. This paper argues that (...) physicalists have nothing to fear from ghosts, since the central consideration employed to motivate ghostly arguments against physicalism--viz., that ghosts are conceivable--is false: ghosts aren't conceivable. (shrink)
This Collision examines photographs of Santiago Sierra’s “Line” installations, discovering in these works a unique formulation of the tension between the social and formal aspects of contemporary art. Developing the philosophical implications of this formulation, this essay connects divergent trajectories embodied by the work (i.e. trajectories initiated by the material elements of the works, the body and the line) to divergent trajectories in contemporary aesthetic theory (i.e. the trajectory that emphasises the socio-political possibilities of artistic representation versus the trajectory that (...) emphasises a distinction between the formal aspects of art and the political effects of art). Developing the socio-political approach, I draw on recent work by Claire Bishop who, emphasizing the distinction between consensus and antagonism, argues that Sierra’s work enacts a democratic politics more rigorous than that of “relational art.” Developing a specifically aesthetic understanding of Sierra’s installations, I understand the works in relation to the constructivist interrogation of the nature of the line. Drawing in part on the philosophies of Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière, I suggest that, whereas a social aesthetic tends to limit art to a didactic function, a geometric aesthetic enables a more rigorously materialist experience of the work without reducing the potential political force of the work. (shrink)
In American Sign Language narratives, signers map conceptualized spaces onto actual spaces around them that can reflect physical, conceptual, and metaphorical relations among entities. Because verb tenses are not attested in ASL, a question arises: How does a signer distinguish utterances about past events from utterances within a present conversational context? In narratives, the story-teller’s past-event utterances move the story along; accompanying these will often be subjective comments on the story, evaluative statements, and the like, that are geared, in the (...) present, to the conversational partner. This usage-based study looks at how the ASL signer integrates past and present spaces in a narrative and specifically, integrates the viewpoints associated with each. Blending past and present spaces, while a conceptual notion, is in ASL played out in utterance structure and also in the fact that signed language articulation takes place in a three-dimensional space upon which both the signer and addressee have embodied, perspectivized views. Past and present conceptual spaces both occupy the physical space of articulation, and so the blends are at once conceptual and perceivable. (shrink)
Judith Thomson, David Lewis, and Ted Sider have each formulated different arguments that apparently pose problems for our ordinary claims of diachronic sameness, i.e., claims in which we assert that familiar, concrete objects survive (or persist) through time by enduring as numerically the same entity despite minor changes in their intrinsic or relational properties. In this paper, I show that all three arguments fail in a rather obvious way--they beg the question--and so even though there may be arguments that provide (...) grounds to fuss about whether our ordinary claims of diachronic sameness are defective, Thomson, Lewis, and Sider's arguments are not among them. (shrink)
According to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic theological tradition, or "classical theism," disembodiment (or non-physicality) and psychologicality are two of God’s necessary or essential attributes. This paper mounts a case for the thesis that these attributes are incompatible. More exactly, it provides compelling evidentiary support for the claim that, given the basic structure of consciousness, it is impossible for a psychological being to be disembodied (and vice versa). But if it is impossible for a psychological being to be disembodied (and vice versa), then, (...) since psychologicality and disembodiment are both essential to God under classical theism, the God of classical theism does not--and cannot--exist. (shrink)
According to the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP), a person is morally responsible for what she has done only if she could have done otherwise. David Widerker, a prominent and long-time defender of this principle against Harry Frankfurt’s famous attack on it, has recently had an unexpected about-face: PAP, Widerker now contends, is (probably) false. His rejection of PAP is a result, in large part, of his coming to believe that there are conceptually possible scenarios, what he calls ‘IRR-situations,’ in (...) which circumstances that nowise bring it about that an agent performs a particular action are precisely the circumstances that make it impossible for her to avoid performing that action. The circumstances that guarantee that the agent will perform the action turn out to be immaterial, since the agent in an IRR-situation is blameworthy because she would have performed the action even if, contrary to the specified facts, an alternative course of action had been available to her. The goal of this article is to show that Widerker’s report of PAP’s demise has been an exaggeration: careful scrutiny reveals that the kind of scenario that he believes refutes the principle—his ‘brain-malfunction’ scenario—is not an IRR-situation at all. (shrink)
Saul Kripke has famously argued that the central question of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, at least in relation to Wittgenstein's discussion of meaning, is the question: what facts determine that a speaker is following a particular rule? For example, assuming that language-use is a rule-governed activity, what facts determine that the rule a speaker is complying with in her current usage of a word is equivalent to the rule she complied with in her previous usage of the word? According to Kripke, (...) Wittgenstein articulates this problem most perspicuously in the form of a paradox, which may be regarded as a new form of philosophical scepticism. This paper takes another look at Kripke's development of the Wittgensteinian paradox, advancing the thesis that the paradox admits of a very natural straight solution, one that has not been pursued in the scholarly literature, and one that Kripke himself entertains and then quickly disqualifies. Specifically, it is argued that Kripke's hypothetical sceptic errs in his response to the objection that he operates with a faulty model of the instruction one is given regarding a particular term or expression. Once the correct model of instruction is taken into account, the argument loses its plausibility. (shrink)
According to reductive intentionalism, the phenomenal character of a conscious experience is constituted by the experience's intentional (or representational) content. The goal of this article is to show that a phenomenon in visual perception called change blindness poses a problem for this doctrine. It is argued, in particular, that phenomenal character is not sensitive, as it should be if reductive intentionalism is correct, to fine-grained variations in content. The standard anti-intentionalist strategy is to adduce putative cases in which phenomenal character (...) varies despite sameness of content. This paper explores an alternative anti-intentionalist tack, arguing, by way of a specific example involving change blindness, that content can vary despite sameness of phenomenal character. (shrink)
FEATURED IN EVENTAL AESTHETICS RETROSPECTIVE 1. LOOKING BACK AT 10 ISSUES OF EVENTAL AESTHETICS. This Collision examines photographs of Santiago Sierra’s “Line” installations, discovering in these works a unique formulation of the tension between the social and formal aspects of contemporary art. Developing the philosophical implications of this formulation, this essay connects divergent trajectories embodied by the work to divergent trajectories in contemporary aesthetic theory. Developing the socio-political approach, I draw on recent work by Claire Bishop who, emphasizing the distinction (...) between consensus and antagonism, argues that Sierra’s work enacts a democratic politics more rigorous than that of “relational art.” Developing a specifically aesthetic understanding of Sierra’s installations, I understand the works in relation to the constructivist interrogation of the nature of the line. Drawing in part on the philosophies of Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière, I suggest that, whereas a social aesthetic tends to limit art to a didactic function, a geometric aesthetic enables a more rigorously materialist experience of the work without reducing the potential political force of the work. (shrink)
El propósito es una lectura de la tercera edición del Facundo como estrategia de Domingo Faustino Sarmiento para la concreción de fines políticos. El estudio se centra en el nuevo escrito que el autor inserta en esta edición: "El Chacho, último caudillo de la montonera de los llanos". Se aborda, desde el campo de la Historia Intelectual, la historicidad del concepto "caudillismo", analizando los usos que hace Sarmiento del término en sus diversos contextos de enunciación. A su vez se propone (...) un análisis de la historicidad del texto mismo, observando las estrategias discursivas con que opera su autor para intervenir en la escena política. The aim is a reading of the 3rd edition of Facundo as a strategy by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento to achieve political purposes. The study focuses on the addition by the author in this edition of: "El Chacho, último caudillo de la montonera de los llanos". It discusses, from the field of Intellectual History, the historicity of the concept of "warlordism", analyzing the uses that Sarmiento makes of the term in its various contexts of enunciation. At the same time it proposes an analysis of the historicity of the text itself, observing the discursive strategies that the author operates to intervene in the political scene. (shrink)
In the third chapter of Exodus we are told what the name of God intrinsically means, in such a way that we are to understand the biblical history from the name, rather than the name from the biblical history.
Analogien lassen sich aus unserem vernünftigen Nachdenken und Argumentieren kaum wegdenken. Ganz zurecht stellen sie eines der klassischen Themen der Argumentationstheorie dar. Doch wie genau sollte die argumentative Rolle von Analogien in Argumentrekonstruktionen dargestellt werden? Das ist die Leitfrage dieses Beitrags. Zunächst wird mit Michael Dummetts Schach-Analogie ein prominentes Beispiel dargestellt und eine genauere Charakterisierung des Analogiebegriffs vorgeschlagen. Danach wird die gängigste Rekonstruktionsform von Analogien diskutiert, das Analogieargument, und in einigen Punkten verfeinert. Vor diesem Hintergrund schlägt der Beitrag eine zweite, (...) alternative Rekonstruktionsform vor, in der zwei analoge Argumente an die Stelle eines einzelnen Analogiearguments treten. Nachdem diese beiden Rekonstruktionsformen an einem weiteren berühmten Beispiel vorgeführt wurden, an Peter Singers Teich-Analogie, wird diskutiert, wie sich diese beiden Varianten gegenseitig ergänzen und welche Stärken und Schwächen sie haben. Es zeigt sich, dass Analogien nicht nur in Form von Analogieargumenten einen zentralen Topos eines Einzelarguments darstellen. Darüber hinaus kann die Untersuchung analoger Argumente bereits selbst als argumentationstheoretische Topik verstanden werden. (shrink)