In this essay I argue that sports at their best qualify as final ends, that is, as ends whose value is such that they ground not only the practices whose ends they are, but everything else we do as human agents. The argument I provide to support my thesis is derived from Harry Frankfurt's provocative work on the importance of the things we care about, more specifically, on his claim that it is by virtue of caring about things and (...) practices, really caring about them ? even loving them ? we are able to regard and treat them as final ends. Sports, I claim, are paradigmatic examples of practices cared about and loved in these deep ways, and as such deserve to be considered, rather than dismissed because of their supposed triviality, as one of those ends around which a life most worth living can be legitimately forged. (shrink)
The question I want to pursue here is one that I have lifted from Harry Frankfurt’s recent surprising best-selling book, On Bullshit, in which he asks why there is so much bullshit today in Western cultures like the U. S. The scope of Frankfurt’s charge was deliberately broad. It’s not just that people bullshit about how much money they make or how important their jobs are, but that public discourse about just any topic of consequence in American culture is (...) filled with, one is even tempted to say consists of, such unseemly speech. Such is the case, I want to claim here, about public discourse about sport in the print and visual media, in everyday life, and even, as I will shortly comment upon, in so-called academic and civic forums. So I don’t think it is a stretch at all, nor do I believe Frankfurtwould regard it as such, to include sport among the topics about which bullshit abounds. He might, however, quibble with my claim that the preponderance of bullshit in and outside of sport circles has mainly to do with the incursion of the market into most of the social practices that people hold dear in our culture. This despite the fact that Frankfurt does recognize that one primary reason why bullshit dominates so much of our contemporary discourse is that people are frequently called upon to speak about things that exceed their grasp, their knowledge of the subject. What he seems not to appreciate in this regard, however, is that one especially important reason why people’s grasp of what they say and do leaves much to be desired is because more often than not it is market actors that are doing all the talking here, whether the topic be sports, or politics, or even science. And the reason they are doing all the talking is the same reason they are mostly responsible for what actually goes on in these disparate spheres, namely, they hold and control the purse strings. So I’m persuaded, more than Frankfurt apparently is, that it is because the money-changers dominate sports, as I have insinuated they dominate most everything else, that what gets said in and about sports is mostly bullshit. Convincing you that I’m right about this will be my aim today, and that’s no bullshit, I think. (shrink)
318 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 36:2 APRIL 1998 stress should not be placed on Spinoza's excommunication . One among many who held radical views and during a period of unrest brought on by an influx of emigration, Spinoza was dealt the same punishment as those who failed to pay their communal dues. The apt conclusion drawn is that from the perspective of the commu- nity, this excommunication was of no great significance. Such history corrects earlier interpretations and helps (...) readers to approach primary texts through the introduction of the problems and issues of the specific period. Devoting almost six hundred pages to ancient and medieval philosophy, the last third of the history is given over to modern and contemporary thought. Seymour Feldman's clear account of Spinoza sets the tone for Michael L. Morgan's presentation of Mendelssohn and Mordecai Finley's account of German Reform philosophy. Both represent stages in the accommodation of Judaism to the Enlightenment. What is important to keep in mind here and what becomes clear in the text is that Jewish philosophers were not just appropriators of the Enlightenment, but played central roles in its formation. Harry Lesser and David Ellenson present the other side of the story through balanced accounts of the emergence of Jewish Orthodoxy as a response to Reform philosophy. Continuing where Julius Guttmann left off in his classic history translated as Philoso- phies of Judaism.. (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)
How should we determine the distribution of psychological traits—such as Theory of Mind, episodic memory, and metacognition—throughout the Animal kingdom? Researchers have long worried about the distorting effects of anthropomorphic bias on this comparative project. A purported corrective against this bias was offered as a cornerstone of comparative psychology by C. Lloyd Morgan in his famous “Canon”. Also dangerous, however, is a distinct bias that loads the deck against animal mentality: our tendency to tie the competence criteria for cognitive (...) capacities to an exaggerated sense of typical human performance. I dub this error “anthropofabulation”, since it combines anthropocentrism with confabulation about our own prowess. Anthropofabulation has long distorted the debate about animal minds, but it is a bias that has been little discussed and against which the Canon provides no protection. Luckily, there is a venerable corrective against anthropofabulation: a principle offered long ago by David Hume, which I call “Hume’s Dictum”. In this paper, I argue that Hume’s Dictum deserves a privileged place next to Morgan’s Canon in the methodology of comparative psychology, illustrating my point through a discussion of the debate over Theory of Mind in nonhuman animals. (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)
Although recent research suggests that women are underrepresented in philosophy after initial philosophy courses, there have been relatively few empirical investigations into the factors that lead to this early drop-off in women’s representation. In this paper, we present the results of empirical investigations at a large American public university that explore various factors contributing to women’s underrepresentation in philosophy at the undergraduate level. We administered climate surveys to hundreds of students completing their Introduction to Philosophy course and examined differences in (...) women’s and men’s feelings of belonging, comfort, and confidence in the philosophy classroom. We present findings suggesting various factors that contribute to women’s lower willingness to continue in philosophy compared to men’s, including perceptions about intuition-based methods in philosophy, the usefulness of the philosophy major, philosophy as a male discipline, and philosophical abilities as innate talents. We conclude by providing some suggestions for improving undergraduate philosophy courses in ways that would increase women’s willingness to continue in philosophy and may improve the courses for all students. (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)
Questions about the function of consciousness have long been central to discussions of consciousness in philosophy and psychology. Intuitively, consciousness has an important role to play in the control of many everyday behaviors. However, this view has recently come under attack. In particular, it is becoming increasingly common for scientists and philosophers to argue that a significant body of data emerging from cognitive science shows that conscious states are not involved in the control of behavior. According to these theorists, nonconscious (...) states control most everyday behaviors. Andy Clark does an admirable job of summarizing and defending the most important data thought to support this view. In this paper, I argue that the evidence available does not in fact threaten the view that conscious states play an important and intimate role in the control of much everyday behavior. I thereby defend a philosophically intuitive view about the functions of conscious states in action. (shrink)
Recently, researchers have begun to empirically investigate the gender gap in philosophy and provide potential explanations for the underrepresentation of women in philosophy relative to their representation in other disciplines. This empirical research as well as research on the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields has shed light on a priori, armchair explanations of the gender gap. For example, implicit bias and stereotype threat may contribute much less to the philosophy gender gap than previously thought. However, new (...) candidate contributing factors have emerged. Drawing on the theoretical resources concerning fixed mindsets in response to difficult tasks, a new theory suggests that practitioners in various fields, including philosophy, hold the belief that success in their fields requires natural brilliance. Further, the extent to which members of a field hold that belief predicts the diversity of the members of that field. Initial findings suggest that among the set of students who hold these beliefs, women are disproportionately disinterested in continuing in philosophy. Other hypotheses seem plausible, such as the idea that lay people hold gendered schemas about philosophy, but require more empirical support to be partial explanations. Future empirical research should focus on these plausible hypotheses, replications of previous findings, and investigating the effects of intersectionality within the gender gap. (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)
What is education for? Should it produce workers or educate future citizens? Is there a place for faith schools - and should patriotism be taught? In this compelling and controversial book, Harry Brighouse takes on all these urgent questions and more. He argues that children share four fundamental interests: the ability to make their own judgements about what values to adopt; acquiring the skills that will enable them to become economically self-sufficient as adults; being exposed to a range of (...) activities and experiences that will enable them to flourish in their personal lives; and developing a sense of justice. He criticises sharply those who place the interests of the economy before those of children, and assesses the arguments for and against the controversial issues of faith schools and the teaching of patriotism. Clearly argued but provocative, On Education draws on recent examples from Britain and North America as well as famous thinkers on education such as Aristotle and John Locke. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the present state of education and its future. (shrink)
The paper identifies the phenomenal rise of increasingly invasive forms of elective cosmetic surgery targeted primarily at women and explores its significance in the context of contemporary biotechnology. A Foucauldian analysis of the significance of the normalization of technologized women's bodies is argued for. Three "Paradoxes of Choice" affecting women who "elect" cosmetic surgery are examined. Finally, two utopian feminist political responses are discussed: a Response of Refusal and a Response of Appropriation.
We develop an axiomatic theory of “generalized Routley-Meyer logics.” These are first-order logics which are can be characterized by model theories in a certain generalization of Routley-Meyer semantics. We show that all GRM logics are subclassical, have recursively enumerable consequence relations, satisfy the compactness theorem, and satisfy the standard structural rules and conjunction and disjunction introduction/elimination rules. We also show that the GRM logics include classical logic, intuitionistic logic, LP/K3/FDE, and the relevant logics.
This paper is mainly a response to Charles Morgan's criticisms (this journal, pp. 511-25) of the author's model of the (formal aspects of) explanation. It is claimed in the paper that with two modifications and some additional specifications the model withstands Morgan's criticisms.
In Discovering Levinas, Michael L. Morgan shows how this thinker faces in novel and provocative ways central philosophical problems of twentieth-century philosophy and religious thought. He tackles this task by placing Levinas in conversation with philosophers such as Donald Davidson, Stanley Cavell, John McDowell, Onora O'Neill, Charles Taylor, and Cora Diamond. He also seeks to understand Levinas within philosophical, religious, and political developments in the history of twentieth-century intellectual culture. Morgan demystifies Levinas by examining his unfamiliar and surprising (...) vocabulary, interpreting texts with an eye to clarity, and arguing that Levinas can be understood as a philosopher of the everyday. Morgan also shows that Levinas's ethics is not morally and politically irrelevant nor is it excessively narrow and demanding in unacceptable ways. Neither glib dismissal nor fawning acceptance, this book provides a sympathetic reading that can form a foundation for a responsible critique. (shrink)
'Mass terms', words like water, rice and traffic, have proved very difficult to accommodate in any theory of meaning since, unlike count nouns such as house or dog, they cannot be viewed as part of a logical set and differ in their grammatical properties. In this study, motivated by the need to design a computer program for understanding natural language utterances incorporating mass terms, Harry Bunt provides a thorough analysis of the problem and offers an original and detailed solution. (...) An extension of classical set theory, Ensemble Theory, is defined, and this provides the conceptual basis of a framework for the analysis of natural language meaning which Dr Bunt calls Two-level model-theoretic semantics. The validity of the framework is convincingly demonstrated by the formal analysis of a fragment of English including sentences with quantified and modified mass terms. Separate chapters of the book are devoted to an axiomatic definition of Ensemble Theory and a detailed discussion of its status as a mathematical formalism. (shrink)
Most people agree that murder is wrong. Yet, within computer games virtual murder scarcely raises an eyebrow. In one respect this is hardly surprising, as no one is actually murdered within a computer game. A virtual murder, some might argue, is no more unethical than taking a pawn in a game of chess. However, if no actual children are abused in acts of virtual paedophilia (life-like simulations of the actual practice), does that mean we should disregard these acts with the (...) same abandon we do virtual murder? In this paper I shall outline several arguments which attempt to permit virtual murder, whilst prohibiting virtual paedophilia. (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)
An conversation with Harry Frankfurt about his views on love, free will, and responsibility, as well as his general approach to philosophy. (Note: a revised version appears in Alex Voorhoeve, Conversations on Ethics, OUP 2009).