_The Quantum of Explanation_ advances a bold new theory of how explanation ought to be understood in philosophical and cosmological inquiries. Using a complete interpretation of Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophical and mathematical writings and an interpretive structure that is essentially new, Auxier and Herstein argue that Whitehead has never been properly understood, nor has the depth and breadth of his contribution to the human search for knowledge been assimilated by his successors. This important book effectively applies Whitehead’s philosophy to (...) problems in the interpretation of science, empirical knowledge, and nature. It develops a new account of philosophical naturalism that will contribute to the current naturalism debate in both Analytic and Continental philosophy. Auxier and Herstein also draw attention to some of the most important differences between the process theology tradition and Whitehead’s thought, arguing in favor of a Whiteheadian naturalism that is more or less independent of theological concerns. This book offers a clear and comprehensive introduction to Whitehead’s philosophy and is an essential resource for students and scholars interested in American philosophy, the philosophy of mathematics and physics, and issues associated with naturalism, explanation and radical empiricism. (shrink)
While it is widely acknowledged that Martin Luther King’s notion of the “Beloved Community” owes the origin of its name to Josiah Royce, what has not been noticed in the literature on the subject is the depth of the connection between King’s and Royce’s conception of such a community. It is known that King studied Royce as a graduate student at Boston University, and that his advisors -- both Edgar Sheffield Brightman and L. Harrold DeWolf -- were intimately familiar with (...) Royce's works. This article will explore those connections and make explicit the extent to which King's concept itself (and not merely the name) of the Beloved Community is rooted in Royce's development of the concept, especially as this is found in Royce's The Problem of Christianity. (shrink)
Encyclopedia entry for the British mathematician and American Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. Usefully summarizes his life and work for non-specialists and, more especially, interested persons outside of the philosophical disciplines per se.
At present liberal education is generally understood and justified as the acquisition of critical thinking skills and individual autonomy. Traditionally, however, the ultimate purpose of liberal education has been leisure. Freedom, it was thought, was not simply the result of critical thinking but also required the cultivation of leisure that involved a vigilant receptivity — a stillness from the busy world of work and the restive probing of a discursive mind. In this essay, Kevin Gary argues that the cultivation (...) of leisure has been and ought to be an essential part of what constitutes a liberal education. Focused on interior freedom, leisure offers a valuable way of learning that ushers in an authentic freedom that a critical approach to learning and liberal education does not. Accordingly, it offers a valuable defense against the hegemonic world of work that defines and appraises one’s value exclusively in terms of one’s doing. (shrink)
Exploring the peculiar nature of future generations and concluding that types of future people is the most promising object on which to project our concern for future generations the article poses two main questions: “Can future people have rights?” and, if so, “Do they in fact have any rights?” The article first explains why the non-existence of future people raises doubts whether future generations can have rights. Within the philosophical literature, the leading approach explaining how future people can, nevertheless, have (...) rights argues that they have rights as tokens of types of people. After presenting this account of the rights of future people and couching it in a jurisprudential context, this Article points out a possible deficiency in the approach’s metaphysical underpinnings. Assuming that future people can have rights the article goes on to explain that there is reason to doubt whether any such rights actually exist, which derive from the doubt whether future people will be harmed by most actions and choices in their prenatal past. According to what has come to be known as the “nonidentity argument,” actions and choices that are necessary parts of the causal chain leading up to the existence of a person cannot harm that person - had the act or choice not occurred that person would have never existed, and one is better off existing than not. Under the two prevalent theories of rights, the Will Theory and the Interest Theory, the nonidentity argument seemingly entails that future people have no rights. After exploring how this is the case, the conception of harm underlying the nonidentity argument is analyzed. Two types of interests future people may have in prenatal identity-determinative events (constitutive interests and threshold interests) are explored as possible sources of certain rights future people may have - the nonidentity argument notwithstanding. The article then elaborates and assesses the merits of these approaches. (shrink)
The "non-identity argument" has been applied to reject the validity of claims for historic justice, often generating highly unintuitive conclusions. George Sher has suggested a solution to this problem, explaining the harm to descendants of historically wronged peoples as deriving not from the historic wrongs but from the failure to provide rectification to the previous generation for harm they suffered. That generation was likewise owed rectification for harm they suffered from failure to provide rectification to the generation preceding them. In (...) this chain of injustices each failure to provide rectification to one is the source of wrongful harm to the next. Such chains form a "bridge" between the historic wrong and the harm suffered by living individuals. I call this approach the subsequent-wrong solution (SWS). I argue that bypassing the non-identity argument in this way is problematic. First, SWS cannot justify rectification in seemingly legitimate historic-justice claims, such as historic wrongs generating delayed harms that skip generations. Second, SWS justifies rectification for the wrong reasons, denying the essence of historic-justice claims: that past wrongs, for which original wrongdoers are responsible, harm descendants of original victims. Finally, SWS does not fully account for group membership's role in historic injustice, unable to distinguish between claims of descendants of historic victims and claims made by others with unrelated interests in the rectification of the previous generation. A supplementary solution is needed, focusing on the role of group harm and group membership. The plausibility of this approach, tying individual harm to group harm, derives from these three limitations of the subsequent-harm solution. I give a rudimentary account of what such a solution would look like. (shrink)
Some claim slavery did not harm the descendants of slaves since, without slavery, its descendants would never have been born and a life worth living, even one including the subsequent harms of past slavery, is preferable to never having been born at all. This creates a classic puzzle known as the non-identity argument, applied to reject the validity of claims for historic justice based on harms to descendants of victims of historic wrongs: since descendants are never harmed by historic wrongs, (...) they have no right to rectification. This conclusion is unintuitive. This article explains the nature of harm involved in historic injustice, overcoming the hurdle the non-identity argument poses to historic justice claims. Historic injustice and the harms it generates are best understood as group harms. Claims for historic justice can be grounded in harms currently living individuals suffer as a function of the harms their group or community currently suffers as a consequence of historic wrongs. One form of harm, constitutive harm, differs from the aggregative account of harm assumed by the non-identity argument and is immune to it. It is the type of harm people suffer as members of certain historically wronged groups and communities. Therefore, the constitutive harm people suffer in cases of historic injustice may serve as a basis for justifying claims for historic justice. (shrink)
Donald Davidsons classic argument for the impossibility of reducing mental events to physicallistic ones is analyzed and formalized in relational logic. This makes evident the scope of Davidsons argument, and shows that he is essentially offering a negative transcendental argument, i.e., and argument to the impossibility of certain kinds of logical relations. Some final speculations are offered as to why such a move might, nevertheless, have a measure of plausibility.
In examining Ennead VI 4, we find Plotinus in conflict with modern, i.e., Cartesian or Kantian, assumptions about the relation of soul and body and the identification of the self with the subject. Curiously, his images and exposition are more in tune with Twentieth Century notions such as wave and field. With these as keys, we are in a position to unlock the subtlety of Plotinus' analysis of the way soul and body are present together, with sensation structured through the (...) body and judgment coming from the soul. The problem of the self concerns not only the unity of the self in terms of body and soul, but also how the self is constituted in relation to other selves, both keeping its individuality and sharing its experiences at the same time. (shrink)
Deconstructive and poststructuralist theories are commonly accused of rejecting all principles of justice and therefore “collaborating with evil.” A canonical example is Martha Nussbaum’s “The Professor of Parody” on the work of Judith Butler. The merits of Nussbaum’s argument and of the “common critique” turn on choosing between two alternative interpretations of Butler’s corpus and of poststructuralism in general. First, assumed in Nussbaum’s critique, is “universal poststructuralism.” Second is “contextual poststructuralism,” which is not susceptible to the common critique. According to (...) the latter and better reading of Butler, subversion and deconstruction take place within a background comprising relatively stable sets of norms, structures of meaning, practices and values. A background that is a necessary enabling condition of deconstructing and performing subversion or parody, and which may include moral norms and principles. Moreover, Nussbaum’s critique may be incommensurable with Butler’s project. Finally, ascribing Butler’s theory the general proposition of rejecting all norms and moral principles ignores the temporal and particularistic nature of Butler’s deconstructive agenda. (shrink)
L’Autrice si propone di tracciare la genealogia della posizione neoliberale, partendo soprattutto dai testi di Gary Becker. Il pensiero economico neoliberale è posto in relazione con la rivoluzione scientifica e l’operazione di matematizzazione della natura che da essa scaturisce. Questo percorso porterà poi a Jeremy Bentham, il cui sistema è spesso visto come antesignano degli studiosi neoliberali. Secondo la tesi sostenuta dall’Autrice, il neoliberalismo presenta il proprio sguardo come una neutra e scientifica descrizione del reale, sennonché in tale mossa (...) si annida pur sempre una tendenza normativa. È così che gli economisti neoliberali elaborano un sistema che è altresì prescrittivo, proponendo un modello che si pone sul piano politico; modello il quale viene qui designato con il nome di «utopia economica». (shrink)
With his 1998 book, In Nature’s Interests? Gary Varner proved to be one of our most original and trenchant of environmental ethicists. Here, in the first of a promised two volume set, he makes his mark on another field, animal ethics, leaving an even deeper imprint. Thoroughly grounded in the relevant philosophical and scientific literatures, Varner is as precise in analysis as he is wide-ranging in scope. His writing is clear and rigorous, and he explains philosophical nuances with extraordinary (...) economy of expression. Never one to add an unnecessary clause to a sentence, Varner nonetheless constructs a formidable edifice while always dealing fairly with the authors he criticizes. His explication of the properties and moral status of what he calls near-persons is a crucial addition to the discussion of personhood initiated by Parfit in Reasons and Persons and subsequently applied to animals by McMahan in The Ethics of Killing. The comparison to McMahan is intentional for, to my mind, Varner vies with him as the most important animal ethicist since Singer and Regan. (shrink)
Gary Marcus has written a very interesting book about mental development from a nativist perspective. For the general readership at which the book is largely aimed, it will be interesting because of its many informative examples of the development of cognitive structures and because of its illuminating explanations of ways in which genes can contribute to these developmental processes. However, the book is also interesting from a theoretical point of view. Marcus tries to make nativism compatible with the central (...) arguments that anti-nativists use to attack nativism and with many recent discoveries about genetic activity and brain development. In so doing, he reconfigures the nativist position to a considerable extent. (shrink)
Although Foucault’s 1979 lectures on The Birth of Biopolitics promised to treat the theme of biopolitics, the course deals at length with neoliberalism while mentioning biopolitics hardly at all. Some scholars account for this elision by claiming that Foucault sympathized with neoliberalism; I argue on the contrary that Foucault develops a penetrating critique of the neoliberal claim to preserve individual liberty. Following Foucault, I show that the Chicago economist Gary Becker exemplifies what Foucault describes elsewhere as biopolitics: a form (...) of power applied to the behavior of a population through the normalizing use of statistics. Although Becker’s preference for indirect intervention might seem to preserve the independence of individuals, under biopolitics individual liberty is itself the means by which populations are governed indirectly. In my view, by describing the history and ambivalence of neoliberal biopolitics, Foucault fosters a critical vigilance that is the precondition for creative political resistance. (shrink)
A review of Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition: Situating Animals in Hare’s Two-Level Utilitarianism, by Gary E. Varner. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. xv + 336. H/b £40.23. and The Philosophy of Animal Minds, edited by Robert W. Lurz. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. 320. P/b £20.21.
Mainstream economics evaluates capitalism primarily from the perspective of efficiency. Social philosophy typically applies other or additional normative criteria, such as equality, democracy, and community. This essay examines the implications of these contrasting sets of criteria in the evaluation of capitalism. Its first two sections consider the criteria themselves, assuming that a trade-off exists between them. The last three sections question whether such a trade-off necessarily occurs, and explore the claim that improvements in nonefficiency dimensions of capitalist society may enhance, (...) rather than conflict with, efficiency. (shrink)
Gary S. Slater's C. S. Peirce & Nested Continua Model of Religious Interpretation comes to readers in the Oxford University Press series Oxford Theology and Religion Monographs. Before I say more about Slater's complex book, a story: Much philosophical scholarship on C. S. Peirce tends either to neglect the religious dimensions of his work or to secularize, demystify, and detheologize it. These secularized interpretations alienate those who read Peirce within the Christian and Jewish theological traditions and estrange the Transcendentalists (...) within American Philosophy who rely on religious language to talk and think about the natural world and personhood.There are significant divisions among Peirce scholars: the... (shrink)
In Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, a central teaching calls on humanity to be "true to the earth," to affirm "the meaning [Sinn] of the earth." Scholars commonly read this as a call to embrace natural life, countering any transcendent or life-denying doctrine in the tradition. While certainly an apt reading, Gary Shapiro's remarkable new book draws attention to and articulates the many ways in which Nietzsche celebrates the actual earthen characteristics of human habitats: the concrete places, locales, climates, and (...) environments that sustain our dwelling on earth. Here, geology and geography are brought to bear and expanded into an enriched, meaning-laden "geo-philosophy." Shapiro interprets Nietzsche's... (shrink)
Law Professor Gary Chartier, of La Sierra University, has joined the journal’s Editorial Board. Professor Chartier, author of the forthcoming The Conscience of an Anarchist, was recently awarded the La Sierra University Faculty Senate’s once-every-three-years Distinguished Scholarship Award. We are honored to have his participation.
In this essay I hope to make some new contributions to the philosophical opening occasioned by John Sallis’ articulation of an “elementology” more broadly and by his turn to Guo Xi’s exquisite Song Dynasty shan-shui scroll painting, Early Spring more particularly. I do so by bringing the remarkable writings by the American poet and thinker Gary Snyder, especially in relationship to his reading of the great Kamakura Zen Master Eihei Dōgen, directly into the fray of contemporary Continental discourses on (...) the elemental and the ecological. At the heart of this project is Snyder’s development of Dōgen’s elemental discourse of “mountains, rivers, and the great earth.” Like Sallis’ own efforts to recast language into a more elemental discourse, this essay will also focus on the manners of speaking specific to the philosophical and poetic self-presentation of the elements, including the relationship between the philosophical and the artistic as such. (shrink)
In his recent article Should Trees Have Standing? Revisited" Christopher D. Stone has effectively withdrawn his proposal that natural objects be granted legal rights, in response to criticism from the Feinberg/McCloskey camp. Stone now favors a weaker proposal that natural objects be granted what he calls legal "considerateness". I argue that Stone's retreat is both unnecessary and undesirable. I develop the notion of a "de facto" legal right and argue that species already have de facto legal rights as statutory beneficiaries (...) of the "Endangered Species Act of 1973." I conclude that granting certain nonhuman natural entities legal rights is both more important and less costly that Stone and his critics have realized, and that it is not Stone's original proposal which needs rethinking, but the concept of interests at work in the Feinberg/McCloskey position. (shrink)
The defence of the market and economic freedom have been the main objectives of the investigations by liberal thinkers such as Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, F Hayek and L Von Mises. Bearing in mind that the first two economists are the maximum exponents of the Chicago School and the last two of the Austrian School, it is often concluded that the theories of both schools are similar. This book demonstrates that in reality, there is no convergence or complementariness to (...) be found between both schools of thought. The anthropological categories, contributed by Mises, allow us to understand all human phenomena from the view of the man who acts. In this view, economics is part of a philosophical system whose core is the creative capacity of people. Becker’s work, on the other hand, is concentrated on the generalization of the _homo economicus_ as the basis for explaining all human behaviour. He generalizes the maximizing principle to explain all human reality, and extends the scope of the application of a so-called scientific and technical view of the world. In this key volume, an important read for those in the fields of economic theory and political economy, Javier Aranzadi argues, in essence, that the tradition of Hayek and Mises encourages a humanistic liberalism, whereas the Chicago School proposes only a technical humanism. (shrink)
No one has written more insightfully on the promises and perils of human agency than Gary Watson, who has spent a career thinking about issues such as moral responsibility, blame, free will, addiction, and psychopathy. This special edition of OSAR pays tribute to Watson's work by taking up and extending themes from his pioneering essays.