Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Consciousness is becoming an increasingly popular neuroscientific account of phenomenal experience. IIT claims that consciousness is integrated information in a system. I set this theory against the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 1996, 1995) as the goal for a theory of consciousness to meet. In this essay I look to examine and ultimately critique IIT’s use of the notion of information to base a theory of consciousness. I argue that the notion of information in IIT (...) is a purely structural-dynamical notion, and so falls afoul of the structure and dynamics argument (Chalmers, 2003). I bolster these claims by appeal to the explanatory gap argument and show how IIT succumbs to this argument as well. For these reasons, I call into doubt IIT’s ability to answer the hard problem of consciousness. Although this paper argues against the notion of information in IIT, in a broader context the criticisms which I raise here can be brought against any theory that attempts to explain consciousness as an information-theoretic phenomenon. (shrink)
In this paper, we examine the causal framework within which integrated information theory of consciousness makes it claims. We argue that, in its current formulation, IIT is threatened by the causal exclusion problem. Some proponents of IIT have attempted to thwart the causal exclusion problem by arguing that IIT has the resources to demonstrate genuine causal emergence at macro scales. In contrast, we argue that their proposed solution to the problem is damagingly circular as a result of inter-defining information and (...) causation. As a solution, we propose that IIT should adopt the specific interventionist causal framework that we offer and show how IIT can harness this interventionist framework to avoid the causal exclusion problem. We demonstrate how our argument remains fully compatible with the methodology, empirical data, and conceptual aims of the theory. (shrink)
It is widely believed that Hume often wrote carelessly and contradicted himself, and that no unified, sound philosophy emerges from his writings. Don Garrett demonstrates that such criticisms of Hume are without basis. Offering fresh and trenchant solutions to longstanding problems in Hume studies, Garrett's penetrating analysis also makes clear the continuing relevance of Hume's philosophy.
Beginning with an overview of Hume's life and work, Don Garrett introduces in clear and accessible style the central aspects of Hume's thought. These include Hume's lifelong exploration of the human mind; his theories of inductive inference and causation; skepticism and personal identity; moral and political philosophy; aesthetics; and philosophy of religion. The final chapter considers the influence and legacy of Hume's thought today. Throughout, Garrett draws on and explains many of Hume's central works, including his Treatise of (...) Human Nature , Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding , and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion . Hume is essential reading not only for students of philosophy, but anyone in the humanities and social sciences and beyond seeking an introduction to Hume's thought. (shrink)
_Personal Identity and Self-Consciousness_ is about persons and personal identity. What are we? And why does personal identity matter? Brian Garrett, using jargon-free language, addresses questions in the metaphysics of personal identity, questions in value theory, and discusses questions about the first person singular. Brian Garrett makes an important contribution to the philosophy of personal identity and mind, and to epistemology.
Readers of Spinoza's philosophy have often been daunted, and sometimes been enchanted, by the geometrical method which he employs in his philosophical masterpiece the Ethics. In Meaning in Spinoza's Method Aaron Garrett examines this method and suggests that its purpose, in Spinoza's view, was not just to present claims and propositions but also in some sense to change the readers and allow them to look at themselves and the world in a different way. His discussion draws not only on (...) Spinoza's works but also on those of the philosophers who influenced Spinoza most strongly, including Hobbes, Descartes, Maimonides and Gersonides. This controversial book will be of interest to historians of philosophy and to anyone interested in the relation between form and content in philosophical works. (shrink)
Garrett assesses the morality of leaders' political choices. Does the nature of leadership force us to tolerate or even accept marginally moral acts? Do acts considered unethical in one's private life become ethical when performed by a public servant for the good of the public?
The publication of 'Animal Rights and Souls in the 18th Century' will be welcomed by everyone interested in the development of the modern animal liberation movement, as well as by those who simply want to savour the work of enlightenment thinkers pushing back the boundaries of both science and ethics. At last these long out-of-print texts are again available to be read and enjoyed - and what texts they are! Gems like Bougeant's witty reductio of the Christian view of animals (...) are included together with path-breaking works of ethics such as Primatt's A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals . There are works I have never seen before, including the remarkable Cry of Nature by the Scottish revolutionary Jacobin, John Oswald. In this set, everyone will find something novel, delightful and truly enlightening. - Peter Singer The discussion of animal rights and the moral status of animals, so prevalent in the late twentieth century, has its roots in the mid to late eighteenth century. Some of the themes we consider of recent invention - the legal standing of animals, the ethical status of vegetarians, cruelty towards animals, ultimately resulting in cruelty to humans - are of long standing. But in the eighteenth-century literature they are interconnected with theological issues surrounding animal souls, the birth of the life sciences, the great chain of being and other peculiarly eighteenth-century problems. This collection explores the exciting early discussions of moral theories concerning animals, placing them within their historical and social context. It reveals that issues such as vivisection, animal souls and vegetarianism were very much live philosophical subjects 200 years ago. The six volumes reprinted here includes complete works and edited extracts from such key eighteenth-century thinkers as Oswald, Primatt, Smellie, Monboddo and Jenyns. Many of the materials are extremely rare and never previously reprinted. The collection, edited with a new introduction and bio-bibliography by Aaron V. Garrett provides valuable original source material to supplement contemporary discussions of animal rights. --18th-century material on the theme of animal rights and practical ethics --an important supplement to contemporary animal rights discussions --provides a broader account of early discussions of the 'science of human nature' through animals --widens our understanding of 18th-century ethics through an important area of practical ethics --includes many scarce texts, most of which have never been reprinted before. (shrink)
Nowadays references to the afterlife-angels strumming harps, demons brandishing pitchforks, God enthroned on heavenly clouds-are more often encountered in New Yorker cartoons than in serious Christian theological reflection. Speculation about death and its sequel seems to embarrass many theologians; however, as Greg Garrett shows in Entertaining Judgment, popular culture in the U.S. has found rich ground for creative expression in the search for answers to the question: What lies in store for us after we die?The lyrics of Madonna, Los (...) Lonely Boys, and Sean Combs; the plotlines of TV's Lost, South Park, and The Walking Dead; the implied theology in films such as The Dark Knight, Ghost, and Field of Dreams; the heavenly half-light of Thomas Kinkade's popular paintings; the ghosts, shades, and after-life way-stations in Harry Potter; and the characters, situations, and locations in the Hunger Games saga all speak to our hopes and fears about what comes next. In a rich survey of literature and popular media, Garrett compares cultural accounts of death and the afterlife with those found in scripture. Denizens of the imagined afterlife, whether in heaven, hell, on earth, or in purgatory, speak to what awaits us, at once shaping and reflecting our deeply held-if often somewhat nebulous-beliefs. They show us what rewards and punishments we might expect, offer us divine assistance, and even diabolically attack us. Ultimately, we are drawn to these stories of heaven, hell, and purgatory--and to stories about death and the undead--not only because they entertain us, but because they help us to create meaning and to learn about ourselves, our world, and, perhaps, the next world. Garrett's deft analysis sheds new light on what popular culture can tell us about the startlingly sharp divide between what modern people profess to believe and what they truly hope and expect to find after death--and how they use those stories to help them understand this life. (shrink)
The Eighteenth century is one of the most important periods in the history of Western philosophy, witnessing philosophical, scientific, and social and political change on a vast scale. In spite of this, there are few single volume overviews of the philosophy of the period as a whole. _The Routledge Companion to Eighteenth Century Philosophy _is an authoritative survey and assessment of this momentous period, covering major thinkers, topics and movements in Eighteenth century philosophy. Beginning with a substantial introduction by Aaron (...)Garrett, the thirty-five specially commissioned chapters by an outstanding team of international contributors are organised into seven clear parts: Context and Movements Metaphysics and Understanding Mind, Soul, and Perception Morals and Aesthetics Politics and Society Philosophy in relation to the Arts and Sciences Major Figures. Major topics and themes are explored and discussed, ranging from materialism, free will and personal identity; to the emotions, the social contract, aesthetics, and the sciences, including mathematics and biology. The final section examines in more detail three figures central to the period: Hume, Rousseau and Kant. As such _The Routledge Companion to Eighteenth Century Philosophy_ is essential reading for all students of the period, both in philosophy and related disciplines such as politics, literature, history and religious studies. (shrink)
Why is there something rather than nothing? Does God exist? Does time flow? What are we? Do we have free will? What is truth? Metaphysics is concerned with ourselves and reality, and the most fundamental questions regarding existence. This clear and accessible introduction covers the central topics in metaphysics in a concise but comprehensive way. Brian Garrett discusses the crucial concepts in a highly readable manner, easing the reader in with a look at some important philosophical problems. He addresses (...) key areas of metaphysics: God Existence Modality Universals and particulars Facts Paradoxes of material constitution Causation Time Free will Personal identity Truth. This second edition has been thoroughly revised. Most chapters include substantial amounts of new material, and there are additional chapters on Existence, Modality, Facts and Paradoxes of Material Constitution. _What is this thing called Metaphysics?_ contains many helpful student-friendly features. Each chapter concludes with a useful summary of the main ideas discussed, a glossary of important terms, study questions, annotated further reading, and a guide to web resources. Text boxes provide bite-sized summaries of key concepts and major philosophers, and clear and interesting examples are used throughout. (shrink)
Bioethicists invoke a duty to rescue in a wide range of cases. Indeed, arguably, there exists an entire medical paradigm whereby vast numbers of medical encounters are treated as rescue cases. The intuitive power of the rescue paradigm is considerable, but much of this power stems from the problematic way that rescue cases are conceptualized—namely, as random, unanticipated, unavoidable, interpersonal events for which context is irrelevant and beneficence is the paramount value. In this article, I critique the basic assumptions of (...) the rescue paradigm, reframe the ethical landscape in which rescue obligations are understood, and defend the necessity and value of a wider social and institutional view. Along the way, I move back and forth between ethical theory and a concrete case where the duty to rescue has been problematically applied: the purported duty to regularly return incidental findings and individual research results in genomic and genetic research. (shrink)
Is Hume a naturalist? Does he regard all or nearly all beliefs and actions as rationally unjustified? In order to settle these questions, it is necessary to examine their key terms and to understand the character-especially the normative character-of Hume's philosophical project. This paper argues that Hume is a naturalist-and, in particular, both a moral and an epistemic naturalist-in quite robust ways; and that Hume can properly regard many actions and beliefs as "rationally justified" in several different senses of that (...) term. (shrink)
Despite his well-known criticisms of popular religion, Hume refers in seemingly complimentary terms to ‘true religion’; in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, his character Philo goes so far as to express ‘veneration for’ it. This paper addresses three questions. First, did Hume himself really approve of something that he called ‘true religion’? Second, what did he mean by calling it ‘true’? Third, what did he take it to be? By appeal to some of his key doctrines about causation and probability, and (...) to some key features of the characters and content of the Dialogues, I argue, contrary to important recent interpretations by Immerwahr and Falkenstein, that Hume's ‘true religion’ is a doctrine, enunciated by Philo, that he regarded as true in an epistemic sense. (shrink)
Over the past decade, there has been an extensive debate about whether researchers have an obligation to disclose genetic research findings, including primary and secondary findings. There appears to be an emerging (but disputed) view that researchers have some obligation to disclose some genetic findings to some research participants. The contours of this obligation, however, remain unclear. -/- As this paper will explore, much of this confusion is definitional or conceptual in nature. The extent of a researcher’s obligation to return (...) secondary and other research findings is often limited by reference to terms and concepts like “incidental,” “analytic validity,” “clinical validity,” “clinical relevance,” “clinical utility,” “clinical significance,” “actionability,” and “desirability.” These terms are used in different ways by different writers to describe obligations in different sorts of cases. -/- Underneath this definitional confusion is a general notion, supported by much of the literature, that findings only need to be disclosed when they surpass certain presumably objective or measureable thresholds, such as medical importance or scientific reproducibility. The problem is that there is significant variability in the way that these terms and concepts are used in the literature and, as such, in defining the scope of an obligation to return findings that surpasses the relevant thresholds. -/- The goal of this paper is to analyze the definitional muddle underlying the debate about returning genetic research findings, with the hope of answering a few questions. First, what is the range of definitions being used in this debate? Based on an extensive literature review, Part 1 will lay out a range of articulated definitions for each relevant term, with the goal of categorizing them into a handful of distinct types. Part 2 explains the definitional redundancy and confusion in the current literature, and, drawing from the terminological patterns identified in Part 1, outlines more cohesive building blocks to inform the development of future disclosure frameworks.Our minimum goal in articulating these conceptual building blocks is to promote clearer articulations of, and distinctions between, future disclosure frameworks. More ambitiously, we suggest which definitions and conceptualizations we consider most appropriate to use in future disclosure frameworks. Here, we seek to balance benefits to participants through the disclosure of important information with the minimization of undue burdens on individual researchers and the research enterprise more generally. -/- Our analysis builds upon the central philosophical distinction between concepts and conceptions. The basic idea is that the “concept” of X refers to the general (and relatively uncontroversial) structure/shape of X, while various “conceptions” of X are more particular, filled out, and controversial elaborations of the concept. In other words, “concepts” of X will be formal representations of X, while “conceptions” of X will be substantive interpretations of the key elements and relationships operating within that formal framework. (Implicit in this distinction is an important point about the nature of disagreement – namely, that in order for two or more parties to “disagree” about X as opposed to simply talk past one another, there must be at least enough shared agreement about X to know that the parties are referring to the same thing. A concept of X provides this point of common agreement, while competing conceptions of X mark the areas where disagreement arises.) In this paper, we will employ this distinction in a fundamental way to clarify exactly where the primary disagreements arise in the debate over disclosing genetic research findings. -/- We propose that, underlying all the seeming confusion and disagreement, there are three central and widely agreed upon concepts at work in this debate—validity, value, and volition. The first two concepts concern the nature of the information itself. An obligation to disclose only exists when findings are valid and have value but there are competing conceptions of how to determine or define validity and valuableness. The third concept—volition—pertains not to the information but rather to the person to whom it will be disclosed. Does that person want or not want the information, and what is the best way of determining this? Here, too, competing conceptions arise. Our key point, though, is that almost all of the ethical disagreement arises because of competing conceptions of these three concepts. Understanding and appreciating this key point can help to refocus the substantive debate by providing some common ground to start from in determining how best to interpret these shared concepts. This refocusing can, ideally, produce more productive debate and facilitate some progress in resolving it. (shrink)
Hume is a naturalist in many different respects and about many different topics; this paper argues that he is also a naturalist about intentionality and representation. It does so in the course of answering four questions about his theory of mental representation: (1) Which perceptions represent? (2) What can perceptions represent? (3) Why do perceptions represent at all? (4) Howdo perceptions represent what they do? It appears that, for Hume, all perceptions except passions can represent; and they can represent bodies, (...) minds, and persons, with their various qualities. In addition, ideas can represent impressions and other ideas. However, he explicitly rejects the view that ideas are inherently representational, and he implicitly adopts a view according to which things (whether mental or non-mental) represent in virtue of playing, through the production of mental effects and dispositions, a significant part of the causal and/or functional role of what they represent. It is in virtue of their particular functional roles that qualitatively identical ideas are capable of representing particulars or general kinds; substances or modes; relations; past, present, or future; and individuals or compounds. (shrink)
Benedict de Spinoza has been one of the most inspiring and influential philosophers of the modern era, yet also one of the most difficult and most frequently misunderstood. Spinoza sought to unify mind and body, science and religion, and to derive an ethics of reason, virtue, and freedom 'in geometrical order' from a monistic metaphysics. Of all the philosophical systems of the seventeenth century it is his that speaks most deeply to the twentieth century. The essays in this volume provide (...) a clear and systematic exegesis of Spinoza's thought informed by the most recent scholarship. They cover his metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, psychology, ethics, political theory, theology, and scriptural interpretation, as well as his life and influence on later thinkers. (shrink)
"Animal right" is an important political and philosophical concept that has its roots in the work of Francis Hutcheson. Developing ideas derived from his natural-law predecessors, Hutcheson stressed the category of acquired or adventitious right to explain how animals might gain rights through becoming members of a community guided by a moral sense. This theoretical innovation had consequences not just for animals, but for making sense of how all of the formerly rightless might gain rights. Examining Hutcheson's development of an (...) important, if problematic, concept allows us to think of rights not through the natural right tradition of Locke, but rather in connection with Bentham—as granted to those who become useful to the community and grounded in feeling and utility, not reason or language. (shrink)
When corporations are accused of unethical behaviour by external actors, executives from those organizations are usually compelled to offer communicative responses to defend their corporate image. To demonstrate the effect that corporate executives'' communicative responses have on third parties'' perception of corporate image, we present the Corporate Communicative Response Model in this paper. Of the five potential communicative responses contained in this model (no response, denial, excuse, justification, and concession), results from our empirical test demonstrate that a concession is the (...) most effective and robust communicative option. (shrink)
The latter part of the twentieth century saw the Chinese economy moving towards a socialist market economy rather than a planned system. Despite growing interest in Chinese business ethics, little work has examined ethical issues concerning the Chinese sales force. This study draws from existing work on Chinese and Western business and sales ethics to develop hypotheses regarding the perceptions of unethical selling behaviour of modern Chinese salespeople. A survey of Chinese sales executives is conducted and statistically analysed. Results are (...) compared with those reported in previous US-based research with regard to differences in perceptions of unethical selling behaviour. The results indicate that contemporary Chinese salespeople were more favourably disposed than expected towards unethical selling behaviour, and also more favourably disposed than previously studied US salespeople. Younger Chinese salespeople evaluated unethical behaviours more favourably than older ones. The results are discussed, along with implications for theory, practice and future work. (shrink)
Daniel Dennett has claimed that if Chalmers' argument for the irreducibility of consciousness were to succeed, an analogous argument would establish the truth of Vitalism. Chalmers denies that there is such an analogy. I argue that the analogy does have merit and that skepticism is called for.
The thesis that there can be vague objects is the thesis that there can be identity statements which are indeterminate in truth-value (i.e., neither true nor false) as a result of vagueness (as opposed, e.g., to reference-failure), "the singular terms of which do not have their references fixed by vague descriptive means". (if this is "not" what is meant by the thesis that there can be vague objects, it is not clear what "is" meant by it.) the possibility of vague (...) objects should not be taken, in itself, to imply the more radical thesis that the identity relation can be one of "degree". one can hold that the concept of degrees of identity is absurd (how can one thing be more or less identical to another?) "and" that indeterminacy in identity is possible; hence, any incoherence in the idea of degrees of identity does not thereby undermine the idea of indeterminate identity. (shrink)
This paper argues that Spinoza's main political writings are concerned, in part, with knowledge of essences as detailed in the Ethics. It is further argued that knowledge of the essences of states, and essential properties that belong to states, may be an example of the elusive scientia intuitiva or third kind of knowledge. The paper concludes by considering Spinoza's goals in his political writings and the importance of metaphysics and the theory of knowledge more broadly for early modern political philosophers.