We present a hypothetical process of mind coalescence, where arti cial connections are created between two or more brains. This might simply allow for an improved form of communication. At the other extreme, it might merge the minds into one in a process that can be thought of as a reverse split-brain operation. We propose that one way mind coalescence might happen is via an exocortex, a prosthetic extension of the biological brain which integrates with the brain as seamlessly as (...) parts of the biological brain integrate with each other. An exocortex may also prove to be the easiest route for mind uploading, as a person's personality gradually moves away from the aging biological brain and onto the exocortex. Memories might also be copied and shared even without minds being permanently merged. Over time, the borders of personal identity may become loose or even unnecessary. (shrink)
Ethical objectivists hold that there is one and only one correct system of moral beliefs. From such a standpoint it follows that conflicting basic moral principles cannot both be true and that the only moral principles which are binding on rational human agents are those described by the single true morality. However sincerely they may be held, all other moral principles are incorrect. Objectivism is an influential tradition, covering most of the rationalist and naturalist standpoints which have dominated nineteenth and (...) twentieth century moral philosophy: there is widespread agreement amongst relativists themselves that objectivism is firmly rooted in common sense. (shrink)
In 1991 Redland Aggregates Ltd. put forward a proposal to embark upon the largest mining project in Europe, the chosen location being the remote island of Harris and Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland. The proposal sparked off an impassioned debate between planners, conservationists and developers, while the local residents have attempted to come to terms with an operation on a scale previously inconceivable on the island. This paper attempts to examine the proposed development from a sociological angle – (...) it is less concerned with justifying or condemning the project on economic or political grounds and more with analysing the roots of the various viewpoints held by those involved, willingly or unwillingly, in the debate. From this analysis arise implications regarding different perspectives on the environment and different interpretations of the term sustainable. It is argued that these diverse perceptions are grounded in different interpretations of the environment, shaped by the cultural and historical context within which the groups or individuals that hold these views exist and interact. Ultimately, the paper makes a plea for a wider recognition of the diversity of meanings and interpretations implied by the term 'environment', a broader definition of the term 'development', and an expansion of the concept of sustainability to incorporate the variety of situations and perceived needs of different cultures. (shrink)
This slim volume provides a bird’s eye view, in admirably clear Italian, of the philosophy, scientific and humane, of Errol Harris. It seems probable that Rinaldi’s attention was drawn to Harris when he found that the criticism of Husserl in his own Critica della gnoseologia fenomenologica had been largely anticipated in Harris’s articles of 1976 and 1977 in the Review of Metaphysics and Idealistic Studies. He has certainly studied the Harris corpus carefully and thoroughly—from the article on “The Philosophy of (...) Nature in Hegel’s System” down to the Idealistic Studies article. He speaks of the Interpretation of the Logic of Hegel as “presently in course of completion.” My own acquaintance with Harris’s works is less encyclopaedic, but I was sorry not to find any reference to Revelation Through Reason which is one of my own favorites. That, however, is the only missed bet that I can find. (shrink)
One of the most influential of contemporary philosophers, Harry Frankfurt has made major contributions to the philosophy of action, moral psychology, and the study of Descartes. This collection of essays complements an earlier collection published by Cambridge, The Importance of What We Care About. Some of the essays develop lines of thought found in the earlier volume. They deal in general with foundational metaphysical and epistemological issues concerning Descartes, moral philosophy, and philosophical anthropology. Some bear upon topics in political philosophy (...) and religion. (shrink)
Harry G. Frankfurt begins his inquiry by asking, “What is it about human beings that makes it possible for us to take ourselves seriously?” Based on The Tanner Lectures in Moral Philosophy, Taking Ourselves Seriously and Getting It Right delves into this provocative and original question. The author maintains that taking ourselves seriously presupposes an inward-directed, reflexive oversight that enables us to focus our attention directly upon ourselves, and “[it] means that we are not prepared to accept ourselves just as (...) we come. We want our thoughts, our feelings, our choices, and our behavior to make sense. We are not satisfied to think that our ideas are formed haphazardly, or that our actions are driven by transient and opaque impulses or by mindless decisions. We need to direct ourselves—or at any rate to believe that we are directing ourselves—in thoughtful conformity to stable and appropriate norms. We want to get things right.” The essays delineate two features that have a critical role to play in this: our rationality, and our ability to love. Frankfurt incisively explores the roles of reason and of love in our active lives, and considers the relation between these two motivating forces of our actions. The argument is that the authority of practical reason is less fundamental than the authority of love. Love, as the author defines it, is a volitional matter, that is, it consists in what we are actually committed to caring about. Frankfurt adds that “The object of love can be almost anything—a life, a quality of experience, a person, a group, a moral ideal, a nonmoral ideal, a tradition, whatever.” However, these objects and ideals are difficult to comprehend and often in conflict with each other. Moral principles play an important supporting role in this process as they help us develop and elucidate a vision that inspires our love. The first section of the book consists of the two lectures, which are entitled “Taking Ourselves Seriously” and “Getting It Right.” The second section consists of comments in response by Christine M. Korsgaard, Michael E. Bratman, and Meir Dan-Cohen. The book includes a preface by Debra Satz. (shrink)
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions (...) it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, "we have no theory." Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all. Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are. (shrink)
The Routledge Classic Edition of Daniels’ influential 2001 text _Vygotsky and Pedagogy_ explores the growing interest in Vygotsky and the pedagogic implications of the body of work that is developing under the influence of his theories. With a new preface from Harry Daniels this book explores the growing interest in Vygotsky and the pedagogic implications of the body of work that is developing under the influence of his theories. It provides an overview of the ways in which the original writing (...) has been extended and identifies areas for future development. The author considers how these developments are creating new and important possibilities for the practices of teaching and learning in school and beyond, and illustrates how Vygotskian theory can be applied in the classroom. The book is intended for students and academics in education and the social sciences and will be of interest to all those who wish to develop an analysis of pedagogic practice within and beyond the field of education. (shrink)
The term ‘Empiricism’ has had at least two different, though not unconnected, applications in modern thought, one to scientific method and the other to philosophical theory. My intention in this lecture is to try to show that, while these two applications of the term have a common source, their actual referents are widely divergent and in large measure even mutually incompatible.
We introduce a St. Petersburg-like game, which we call the ‘Pasadena game’, in which we toss a coin until it lands heads for the first time. Your pay-offs grow without bound, and alternate in sign (rewards alternate with penalties). The expectation of the game is a conditionally convergent series. As such, its terms can be rearranged to yield any sum whatsoever, including positive infinity and negative infinity. Thus, we can apparently make the game seem as desirable or undesirable as we (...) want, simply by reordering the pay-off table, yet the game remains unchanged throughout. Formally speaking, the expectation does not exist; but we contend that this presents a serious problem for decision theory, since it goes silent when we want it to speak. We argue that the Pasadena game is more paradoxical than the St. Petersburg game in several respects. We give a brief review of the relevant mathematics of infinite series. We then consider and rebut a number of replies to our paradox: that there is a privileged ordering to the expectation series; that decision theory should be restricted to finite state spaces; and that it should be restricted to bounded utility functions. We conclude that the paradox remains live. (shrink)
Having outlined a theory of bullshit and falsehood, Harry G. Frankfurt turns to what lies beyond them: the truth, a concept not as obvious as some might expect. Our culture's devotion to bullshit may seem much stronger than our apparently halfhearted attachment to truth. Some people won't even acknowledge "true" and "false" as meaningful categories, and even those who claim to love truth cause the rest of us to wonder whether they, too, aren't simply full of it. Practically speaking, many (...) of us deploy the truth only when absolutely necessary, often finding alternatives to be more saleable, and yet somehow civilization seems to be muddling along. But where are we headed? Is our fast and easy way with the facts actually crippling us? Or is it "all good"? Really, what's the use of truth, anyway? With the same leavening wit and commonsense wisdom that animates his pathbreaking work On Bullshit, Frankfurt encourages us to take another look at the truth: there may be something there that is perhaps too plain to notice but for which we have a mostly unacknowledged yet deep-seated passion. His book will have sentient beings across America asking, "The truth—why didn't I think of that?". (shrink)
Solutions to Russell’s paradox of propositions and to Kaplan’s paradox are proposed based on an extension of von Neumann’s method of avoiding paradox. It is shown that Russell’s ‘anti-Cantorian’ mappings can be preserved using this method, but Kaplan’s mapping cannot. In addition, several versions of the Epimenides paradox are discussed in light of von Neumann’s method.
The principle that people's lives and fundamental interests are of equal value and that they must therefore be given equal weight has immense intellectual appeal and intuitive force. It is often enough to discredit a theory or proposal simply to show that it violates this principle. When measures are said to be discriminatory or unfair it is this principle which is in play. Recent philosophers of widely differing schools and outlooks give versions of this principle a central role in their (...) theories. (shrink)
A chemostratigraphic study of a 300 m long core recovered from the southeastern central Ordos depocenter reveals thick intervals of fine-grained, organic-rich lacustrine strata, interpreted to represent deepwater deposition under meromictic conditions during lake highstand phases, interspersed with thick intervals of arkosic sandstones, reflective of fluvio-deltaic deposition during lake lowstand phases. Along with elevated concentrations of %Al, traditionally a proxy for clay content, maximum total-organic-carbon values in the deepwater lacustrine facies reach 8%, with average values of approximately 3%. The fine-grained, (...) organic-rich facies is also characterized by elevated S and As concentrations, both proxies for pyrite, an indicator of more stagnant, reducing conditions in the hypolimnion during lake highstand phases. Enrichment factors for redox-sensitive trace elements are not significantly elevated throughout the TOC-rich intervals, but they are punctuated in thinner intervals. Punctuated enrichments in RSTEs reflect episodes of enhanced suboxia/anoxia in the hypolimnion during lake highstand phases resulting from sustained meromixis. Although dramatic shifts between fluvio-deltaic and deepwater lacustrine deposition are recorded in the Yanchang strata, no evidence indicates that the lacustrine system ever built up a significant salt concentration, suggesting that an outlet was maintained throughout much of the depositional history. A chemofacies framework for the Yanchang Formation is developed based on hierarchical cluster analysis and ranking of major element chemostratigraphic results. The outcome of chemofacies analysis is similar to the lithofacies analysis, subdividing the stratigraphic record of calcite-cemented sandstone/siltstone lithologies and silty to finer grained mudstone lithologies based on changes in elemental concentrations that equate to shifts in the relative abundance of mineral contents. (shrink)
In 1975 the Clarendon Press at Oxford published Peter Nidditch's edition of John Locke's An Essay concerning Human Understanding. In his Introduction Nidditch says that his edition “offers a text that is directly derived, without modernization, from the early published versions; it notes the provenance of all its adopted readings ; and it aims at recording all relevant differences between these versions”. As Nidditch goes on to acknowledge, the “relevant differences” were many, “requiring several thousand registrations both in the case (...) of material variants and in the case of formal variants ”. The textual history of Locke's Essay is extremely complicated. While there is no manuscript of the first edition of the book, there were four editions in Locke's lifetime, each new one containing extensive and significant revisions, as well as a posthumous edition published shortly after the author's death. There was a translation into French made with Locke's cooperation and published in 1700, and a Latin translation came out a year later. Nevertheless, Nidditch managed to record all the material variants in footnotes to the text, in a way that makes it fairly easy to track the changes that Locke made to successive editions of the book, and to locate points at which judgements had to be made as a critical text was established on the basis of the chosen copy text. Sometimes a critical edition succeeds in completely changing the way that a text is read. Peter Laslett's 1960 edition of Locke's Two Treatises of Government is a good example. Nidditch's edition of the Essay did not have that kind of very dramatic effect on Locke scholarship. Rather, it made it possible for those without direct access to all the early editions to engage in careful, historically sensitive studies of Locke's account of human understanding. The result was a slow revolution in Locke studies that continues to shed new light on even the most familiar aspects of the Lockean philosophy. (shrink)
There is a popular and widely accepted version of the precautionary principle which may be expressed thus: “If you are in a hole—stop digging!”. Tom Baldwin, as Deputy Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority , may be excused for rushing to the defence of the indefensible,1 the HFEA’s sex selection report,2 but not surely for recklessly abandoning so prudent a principle. Baldwin has many complaints about my misrepresenting the HFEA and about my supposed elitist contempt for public opinion; (...) readers of this exchange will decide for themselves.REDRAFTING THE REPORTBaldwin begins with a piece of wishful thinking:"Harris objects that in this recommendation “an absurdly high standard of caution is employed”, since a theoretical risk is associated with almost all medical procedures. This objection is misplaced: as paragraph 142 of the report indicates, the phrase “theoretical risk” is to be understood here in the light of the earlier discussion of the risks arising from the fact that flow cytometry exposes sperm to laser energy, a procedure which is known to be liable to damage DNA."Paragraph 142 does not make that clear. It does indeed refer back to a set of earlier paragraphs but these give, if anything, an upbeat assessment of the safety of flow cytometry. Paragraph 121 states: “However whilst potentially less intrusive, and with potentially lower risk to the health of patients, flow cytometry …” .2 But even if the overall burden of the report does indicate unresolved fears, the standard is still absurdly high. However, so far from endorsing the report’s judgement that flow cytometry has “potentially lower risk to the health of patients”, Baldwin now regards the risk of flow cytometry as “serious”1:"Since the application of flow cytometry to humans is a new procedure, the risk of … ". (shrink)