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)
We characterize abstraction in computer science by first comparing the fundamental nature of computer science with that of its cousin mathematics. We consider their primary products, use of formalism, and abstraction objectives, and find that the two disciplines are sharply distinguished. Mathematics, being primarily concerned with developing inference structures, has information neglect as its abstraction objective. Computer science, being primarily concerned with developing interaction patterns, has information hiding as its abstraction objective. We show that abstraction through information hiding is a (...) primary factor in computer science progress and success through an examination of the ubiquitous role of information hiding in programming languages, operating systems, network architecture, and design patterns. (shrink)
Necessitists hold that, necessarily, everything is such that, necessarily, something is identical to it. Timothy Williamson has posed a number of challenges to contingentism, the negation of necessitism. One such challenge is an argument that necessitists can more wholeheartedly embrace possible worlds semantics than can contingentists. If this charge is correct, then necessitists, but not contingentists, can unproblematically exploit the technical successes of possible worlds semantics. I will argue, however, that the charge is incorrect: contingentists can embrace possible worlds (...) semantics as wholeheartedly as necessitists. Williamson offers a criterion for a class of models of quantified modal logic to be intended, and argues on its basis that contingentists must deny that there is an intended class of models. I argue that Williamson’s criterion is objectionable, supply an alternative that does not support Williamson’s argument, and adapt Williamson’s construction of an intended model structure to the needs of contingentist metaphysics. (shrink)
Computer science is an engineering science whose objective is to determine how to best control interactions among computational objects. We argue that it is a fundamental computer science value to design computational objects so that the dependencies required by their interactions do not result in couplings, since coupling inhibits change. The nature of knowledge in any science is revealed by how concepts in that science change through paradigm shifts, so we analyze classic paradigm shifts in both natural and computer science (...) in terms of decoupling. We show that decoupling pervades computer science both at its core and in the wider context of computing at large, and lies at the very heart of computer science’s value system. (shrink)
Abstract: This essay explores recent trends and major issues related to gay and lesbian philosophy in ethics (including issues concerning the morality of homosexuality, the natural function of sex, and outing and coming out); religion (covering past and present debates about the status of homosexuality and how biblical and qur'anic passages have been interpreted by both sides of the debate); the law (especially a discussion of the debates surrounding sodomy laws, same-sex marriage and its impact on transsexuals, and whether the (...) law should be used to enforce morality); scientific research into the origins of homosexuality (including discussion of arguments against such research); and metaphysics (especially the question of whether homosexuality is socially constructed during particular times and in particular cultures, or whether sexual orientation is an essential trait cutting across times and cultures). (shrink)
Abstract: Laws of computer science are prescriptive in nature but can have descriptive analogs in the physical sciences. Here, we describe a law of conservation of information in network programming, and various laws of computational motion (invariants) for programming in general, along with their pedagogical utility. Invariants specify constraints on objects in abstract computational worlds, so we describe language and data abstraction employed by software developers and compare them to Floridi's concept of levels of abstraction. We also consider Floridi's structural (...) account of reality and its fit for describing abstract computational worlds. Being abstract, such worlds are products of programmers' creative imaginations, so any "laws" in these worlds are easily broken. The worlds of computational objects need laws in the form of self-prescribed invariants, but the suspension of these laws might be creative acts. Bending the rules of abstract reality facilitates algorithm design, as we demonstrate through the example of search trees. (shrink)
This issue of the journal sees a number of exchanges on significant ethical problems. ‘Nudges’ have attracted a good deal of attention recently in the context of the ethics of public health interventions. Martin Wilkinson writes a guest editorial introducing important debate on Yashar Saghai's featured article, Salvaging the concept of nudge . Also, Timothy Murphy locks horns with Katrien Devolder and Ezio Di Nucci on the doctrine of double effect as it applies to research on embryos.One of the (...) exchanges published here involves the legitimacy of research ethics review. Murray Dyck and Gary Allen claim that only in a small minority of cases is research ethics review warranted and that, in the main, responsibility for the ethical conduct of research should lie with the researchers themselves.However, David Hunter Mark Israel (see …. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the connection between narrative ethics and the increasing emphasis on historical consciousness as a way to cultivate moral responsibility in history education. I use Timothy Findley’s World War I novel, The Wars, as an example of how teachers might help students to see history neither simply as a collection of artefacts from the past, nor as an effort to construct an objective view about what went on in those other times and places, but rather (...) as something that makes ethical demands on us here and now. Theoretically, this paper draws on Adam Zachary Newton’s conception of narrative ethics and Roger Simon’s conception of historical consciousness, both of which rest on the Levinasian themes of irreducible difference, the face, and subjectivity as a position of ethical responsibility to and for the other. (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)
This year's book award committee reviewed thirty nominated books. We identified seven finalists, each well worth our special attention: Milton Fisk's impressive Towards a Healthy Society, Gary Francione's feisty Introduction to Animal Rights, Timothy Gaffaney's engaging Freedom for the Poor, David Ingram's historically insightful Group Rights, Rachel Roth's poignant Making Women Pay, Karen Warren's finely articulated Ecofeminist Philosophy, and the eventual winning entry, Phillip Cole's Philosophies of Exclusion: Liberal Political Theory and Immigration. We're here today to discuss this (...) important book. (shrink)
The duality of computer programs is characterized, on the one hand, by their physical implementations on physical devices, and, on the other, by the conceptual implementations in programmers’ minds of the objects making up the computational processes they conceive. We contend that central to programmers’ conceptual implementations are the concept of type, at both the programming and the design level, and metaphors created to facilitate these implementations.
Table of contents : 1. The beginnings of phenomenology: Husserl and his predecessors Richard Cobb-Stevens, Boston College 2. Philosophy of existence 1: Heidegger Jacques Taminiaux, University of Louvain, Belgium 3. Philosophy of existence 2: Sartre Thomas Flynn, Emory University 4. Philosophy of existence 3: Merleau-Ponty Bernard Cullen, Queen's University, Belfast 5. Philosophies of religion: Jaspers, Marcel, Levinas William Desmond, Loyola College 6. Philosophies of science: Mach, Duhem, Bachelard Babette Babich, Fordham University 7. Philosophies of Marxism: Gramsci, Lukacs, Benjamin, Althusser Michael (...) Kelly, University of Southampton 8. Critical theory: from Adorno to Habermas David Rasmussen, Boston College 9. Hermeneutics: Gadamer, Ricoeur Gary Madison, McMaster University 10. Italian idealism and after: Croce, Gentile, Vattimo Giacomo Rinaldi, University of Urbino, Italy 11. French structuralism and after: Barthes, Lacan, Lévi-Strauss, Foucault Hugh Silverman, State University of New York at Stony Brook 12. French feminism and after: de Beauvoir, Kristeva, Irigaray, Cixious Alison Ainley, Oxford Brookes University 13. Deconstruction Simon Critchley, Essex University 14. Derrida Timothy Mooney, Essex University 15. Postmodernist theory: Lyotard, Baudrillard Thomas Docherty, Trinity College, Dublin. (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)
An interview with Timothy Williamson on Modality and other matters. Williams is asked three main questions: the first about the difference between philosophical and non-philosophical knowledge, the second concerns the epistemology of modality, and the third is on the emerging metaphysical picture.
‘Bioethics still has important work to do in helping to secure status equality for LGBT people’ writes Timothy F. Murphy in a recent Bioethics editorial. The focus of his piece, however, is much narrower than human rights, medical care for LGBT people, or ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Rather, he is primarily concerned with sexuality and gender identity, and the medical intersections thereof. It is the objective of this response to provide an alternate account of bioethics from a Queer perspective. (...) I will situate Queer bioethics within Queer studies, and offer three ‘lessons’ that bioethics can derive from this perspective. These are not definitive rules for Queer bioethics, since it is a field which fundamentally opposes categorizations, favoring pastiche over principles. These lessons are exploratory examples, which both complement and contradict LGBT bioethics. My latter two lessons – on environmental bioethics and disability – overlap with some of Murphy's concerns, as well as other conceptions of LGBT bioethics. However, the first lesson takes an antithetical stance to Murphy's primary focus by resisting all forms of heteroconformity and disavowing reproduction as consonant with Queer objectives and theory. The first lesson, which doubles as a primer in Queer theory, does heavy philosophical lifting for the remainder of the essay. This response to Timothy F. Murphy, whose work is certainly a legacy in bioethics, reveals the multiplicity of discourses in LGBT/Queer studies, many of which are advantageous – even essential – to other disciplines like bioethics. (shrink)
In a well-known paper, Timothy Williamson claimed to prove with a coin-flipping example that infinitesimal-valued probabilities cannot save the principle of Regularity, because on pain of inconsistency the event ‘all tosses land heads’ must be assigned probability 0, whether the probability function is hyperreal-valued or not. A premise of Williamson’s argument is that two infinitary events in that example must be assigned the same probability because they are isomorphic. It was argued by Howson that the claim of isomorphism fails, (...) but a more radical objection to Williamson’s argument is that it had been, in effect, refuted long before it was published. (shrink)
In A Million Years of Music, Gary Tomlinson develops an extensive evolutionary narrative that emphasises several important components of human musicality and proposes a theory of the coalescence of these components. In this essay I tie some of Tomlinson’s ideas to five constraints on theories of music’s evolution. This provides the framework for organising my reconstruction of his model. Thereafter I focus on Tomlinson’s description of ‘entraining’ Acheulean toolmakers and offer several criticisms. I close with some tentative proposals for (...) further theorising. (shrink)
A new book by Timothy Morton, Being Ecological, is reviewed. Being Ecological is a project into the ethics and discourse that emerge between speculative realism and ecological politics. This book is intended to build on the object-oriented ontology that Morton has espoused in previous volumes, however with a greater emphasis on the current state and future of ecological discussions. The book's core methodology is to outline the failures of the current modes of discussion environmental and ecological concerns and provide (...) ways of entering into a more authentic philosophical discussion. The book differs from Morton's usual verbose and highly poetic form in favor of a more grounded and accessible entry into his large project. (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)
In his essay ‘“Conceptual Truth”’, Timothy Williamson (2006) argues that there are no truths or entailments that are constitutive of understanding the sentences involved. In this reply I provide several examples of entailment patterns that are intuitively constitutive of understanding in just the way that Williamson rejects, and I argue that Williamson’s argument does nothing to show otherwise. Williamson bolsters his conclusion by appeal to a certain theory about the nature of understanding. I argue that his theory fails to (...) consider the role that the structure of a sentence plays in determining its meaning. The cases I present suggest that this role imposes greater cognitive requirements on understanding than Williamson can acknowledge. (shrink)
Even to disagree, we need to understand each other. If I reject what you say without understanding you, we will only have the illusion of a disagreement. You will be asserting one thing and I will be denying another. Even to disagree, we need some agreement.
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)
The claim that a miracle is a violation of a law of nature has sometimes been used as part of an a priori argument against the possibility of miracle, on the grounds that a violation is conceptually impossible. I criticize these accounts but also suggest that alternative accounts, when phrased in terms of laws of nature, fail to provide adequate conceptual space for miracles. It is not clear what a ???violation??? of a law of nature might be, but this is (...) not relevant to the question of miracles. In practice, accounts of miracle tend to be phrased in terms of God's act not in terms of laws of nature. Finally, I suggest that the a priori argument reflects an intellectual commitment that is widely held, though wrongly built into the argument itself. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson (2002) has offered an argument for the claim that, necessarily, he exists, that is, that he is a necessary existent.1 Though this argument has attracted a great deal of attention (e.g., Rumfitt 2003 and Wiggins 2003), I present a new argument for the same conclusion which reveals a new way of denying the soundness of Williamson’s argument, one which denies not only that it is necessary that he exists but also that there are any true necessities about (...) Williamson at all. In conclusion, given that it is contingent that Williamson exists, I nevertheless distinguish a sense in which he is, after all, a necessary existent: Williamson necessarily exists, though it is not necessary that he exists. (shrink)
Timothy Michael Fowler has argued that, as a consequence of their commitment to neutrality in regard to comprehensive doctrines, political liberals face a dilemma. In essence, the dilemma for political liberals is that either they have to give up their commitment to neutrality (which is an indispensible part of their view), or they have to allow harm to children. Fowler’s case for this dilemma depends on ascribing to political liberals a view which grants parents a great degree of freedom (...) in deciding on the education of their children. I show that ascribing this view to political liberals rests upon a misinterpretation of political liberalism. Since political liberals have access to reasons based upon the interests of children, they need not yield to parent’s wishes about the education of their children. A correct understanding of political liberalism thus shows that political liberals do not face the dilemma envisaged by Fowler. (shrink)
Timothy Smiley has made ground-breaking contributions to modal logic, free logic, multiple-conclusion logic, and plural logic. He has illuminated Aristotle’s syllogistic, the ideas of logical form and consequence, and the distinction between assertion and rejection, and has worked to debunk the theory of descriptions. This volume brings together new articles by an international roster of leading logicians and philosophers in order to honour Smiley’s work. Their essays will be of significant interest to those working across the logical spectrum—in philosophy (...) of language, philosophical and mathematical logic, and philosophy of mathematics. (shrink)
One of the fundamental components of the concept of economic rationality is that preference orderings are “complete,” i.e., that all alternative actions an economic agent can take are comparable. The idea that all actions can be ranked may be called the single utility assumption. The attractiveness of this assumption is considerable. It would be hard to fathom what choice among alternatives means if the available alternatives cannot be ranked by the chooser in some way. In addition, the efficiency criterion makes (...) sense only if one can infer that an individual's choice reflects the best, in expected welfare terms, among all choices that individual could have made. The possibility that a rearrangement of resources could make someone “better off” without making others “worse off” can be understood only if the post-rearrangement world is comparable with the pre-rearrange-ment world. (shrink)
The use of vague language in law has important implications for legal theory. Legal philosophers have occasionally grappled with those implications, but they have not come to grips with the characteristic phenomenon of vagueness: the sorites paradox. I discuss the paradox, and claim that it poses problems for some legal theorists. I propose that a good account of vagueness will have three consequences for legal theory: Theories that deny that vagueness in formulations of the law leads to discretion in adjudication (...) cannot accommodate “higher-order” vagueness, A legal theory should accept that the law is partly indeterminate when it can be stated in vague language, However, the traditional formulation of the indeterminacy claim, that a vague statement is “neither true nor false” in a borderline case, is misconceived and should be abandoned. (shrink)
The early history of the attempts to unify quantum theory with the general theory of relativity is depicted through the work of the under--appreciated Italo-Brazilian physicist Gleb Wataghin, who is responsible for many of the ideas that the quantum gravity community is entertaining today.
Henry Knowles Beecher, an icon of human research ethics, and Timothy Francis Leary, a guru of the counterculture, are bound together in history by the synthetic hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide. Beecher was a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who received five battle stars, was inducted into the Legion of Merit, held the first endowed chair in his discipline, wrote at least three path-breaking papers, and is honored by two prestigious ethics awards in his name. Leary was a West Point dropout (...) who was obliged to leave a research assistant professorship, was convicted of violating the Marihuana Tax Act, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and broke out with the... (shrink)
The book is primarily an essay on the epistemology of the sort of armchair knowledge that we can hope to achieve in philosophy. The possibility of such knowledge is not to be explained by reinterpreting philosophical questions as questions about words or concepts. Although there are philosophical questions about words and concepts, most philosophical questions are not about words or concepts: they are, just as they seem to be, about the things, many of them independent of us, to which the (...) words or concepts refer. Nor is our linguistic or conceptual competence the basis for our philosophical knowledge; such competence merely …. (shrink)
If you keep removing single grains of sand from a heap, when is it no longer a heap? From discussions of the heap paradox in classical Greece, to modern formal approaches like fuzzy logic, Timothy Williamson traces the history of the problem of vagueness. He argues that standard logic and formal semantics apply even to vague languages and defends the controversial, realist view that vagueness is a form of ignorance - there really is a grain of sand whose removal (...) turns a heap into a non-heap, but we can never know exactly which one it is. (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.
In this short essay I respond to Kevin Gary’s generous review of my book Reclaiming Goodness by considering his two main concerns, that I tend to conflate spirituality and morality and that I am not sufficiently sensitive to tensions between spirituality and critical thinking. I respond by noting that Gary has not taken adequate account of the distinction between deontological morality and aretaic ethics in the first instance and between the Aristotelian notions of Sophia and Phronesis, or pure (...) reason and practical wisdom, in the second. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson's new book, The Philosophy of Philosophy, has a number of central themes. The very idea that philosophy has a method which is different in kind from the sciences is one Williamson rejects. “… the common assumption of philosophical exceptionalism is false. Even the distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori turns out to obscure underlying similarities”. Although Williamson sees the book as “a defense of armchair philosophy”, he also argues that “the differences in subject matter (...) between philosophy and the other sciences are also less deep than is often supposed. In particular, few philosophical questions are conceptual questions in any distinctive sense. …”. In addition, Williamson argues that “the current philosophical mainstream has failed to articulate an adequate philosophical methodology, in part because it has fallen into the classic epistemological error of psychologizing the data. … The picture is wrong; we frequently have better epistemic access to our immediate physical environment than to our own psychology. … Our understanding of philosophical methodology must be rid of internalist preconceptions”. I am tremendously sympathetic with all of these views.In this review, I want to raise a number of questions about philosophical methodology which Williamson does not address. While Williamson is wonderfully forthright on many important issues about philosophical methodology, the view he presents is compatible with a surprisingly wide range of approaches to philosophical questions. This may be precisely what Williamson wants. At this stage in our understanding of the philosophical enterprise, it may be premature to narrow the range of methodological options more than Williamson does. There are some hints, however, that Williamson may favor some of these options more than others, and, if that is so, it would be useful to make that clear and …. (shrink)
In the January 6, 1991, issue of the Washington Post Magazine, reporter Walt Harrington wrote a profile of Bryan Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson is a 31-year-old working-class African-American from Delaware who graduated from Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. Like the typical graduate of Harvard Law School, Mr. Stevenson had the opportunity to join the worlds of six-figure corporate law or high-visibility politics. Rather than follow his colleagues, however, Mr. Stevenson works seven-day, eighty-hour weeks as director of the (...) Alabama Capital Representation Center. He appeals death sentences, handling twenty-four death-row cases himself, supervises five other lawyers who cover about thirty cases, and raises federal government and foundation funding. He does this living a Spartan existence on a salary of $24,000, refusing even the $50,000 directorship salary offered to him. (shrink)
In 1 Timothy 2:11-15 women are forbidden to teach and have authority over men in the church. The ground for this instruction is the creation account in Genesis 2 that asserts the priority of Adam over Eve in the order of creation. The second reason for the instruction is the deception of Eve according to the account of the Fall in Genesis 3. This pericope has elicited arguments between advocates of egalitarianism and complementarianism revolving over the issues of grammar, (...) the context of the Ephesian church with regard to false teachings and the comparison of this text with the other writings of Paul, for those that subscribe to the authorship of Paul. The contention of this article is that verse 15 provides a major clue as to how this text should be understood. In addition, the author's rhetoric in this text is interrogated with regard to the text's own internal literary and theological logic. In this regard, the author is found to be inconsistent in his outlook, for the grace that was poured out abundantly on him: a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man and on account of his ignorance and unbelief is apparently, being denied women on account of Eve's deception. (shrink)