Various social animal species have been noted to inhibit aggressive attacks when a conspecific displays submission cues. Blair (1993) has suggested that humans possess a functionally similar mechanism which mediates the suppression of aggression in the context of distress cues. He has suggested that this mechanism is a prerequisite for the development of the moral/conventional distinction; the consistently observed distinction in subject's judgments between moral and conventional transgressions. Psychopaths may lack this violence inhibitor. A causal model is developed showing (...) how the lack of this mechanism would explain the core behavioural symptoms associated with the psychopathic disorder. A prediction of such a causal model would be that psychopaths should fail to make the moral/conventional distinction. This prediction was confirmed. The implication of this finding for other theories of morality is discussed. (shrink)
Abstract The effect of inducing negative, positive or neutral affect on the recall of moral and conventional transgressions and positive moral and conventional acts was examined. It was found that inducing negative affect was associated with higher recall of moral transgressions while inducing positive affect was associated with higher recall of positive moral acts. Affect induction condition did not have a significant effect on the recall of the conventional transgressions or positive acts. The results are interpreted within the Violence Inhibition (...) Mechanism model of moral development (Blair, 1995) and by reference to a new, hypothesised system, the Smiling Reward Response. (shrink)
Blair, David David Tribe, in his article, 'On science, good, bad and ugly' (AH, No. 107, Spring 2012), criticises an earlier article by Victor Bien. Bien - rightly in my view - defends present-day science in respect of three areas where science is under attack; the most prominent of these three is anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Tribe claims that, Victor Bien appears to have inflated views on the sagacity, objectivity and probity of scientists, who can be called our new (...) priests. Much as I respected David Tribe for his work in philosophy, I must criticize much of what he says about science in his article. (shrink)
Steve Paulson, executive producer and host of To the Best of Our Knowledge, moderated a discussion with philosopher Christian Miller, neuroscientist Heather Berlin, and historian of science Michael Shermer to examine our moral ecology and its influence on our underlying assumptions about human nature.
Blair, David What's the best policy to deal with the catastrophe that looms due to global warming? Fundamentally, we must quickly change our sources of energy away from fossil fuels to non-carbon emitting sources - namely nuclear power and the various renewable sources. 'What's nuclear doing in there?' you may respond. 'Isn't the news about nuclear all bad?' But a growing chorus of scientists and thinkers is warning that, not only is nuclear power quite safe, but that to rule (...) it out poses a grave danger. I quote: Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilise the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilisation that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power. (shrink)
Blair, David Concerning David Tribe's rejoinder to my 'Science works better than that' , it's pleasing to see that there are some points on which we agree. Unfortunately he continues to make a strong and unjustified attack on the scientific community as a whole-essentially on the grounds that, of the conclusions of science that later turned out to be false, virtually all of them were at some time 'believed' by most scientists. In reply, I shall show that it is (...) his underlying framework that needs to be altered-quite radically. He does not understand what the activity of scientists is like-indeed what it has to be like, when faced with the task of extracting knowledge from the real world. (shrink)
During nearly two centuries, American storytellers have celebrated comic figures, ebullient showoffs who turned up on one frontier after another—in the old South, in Kentucky and Tennessee, along the great inland rivers, in the mountains and the mines and on the prairies. Often, the stories went, when these characters engaged in a favorite pastime—playfully bragging about their strength, their skill and their exploits—they used animal metaphors such as Opossum, Screamer, Half-Horse Half-Alligator, the Big Bear of Arkansas or Gamecock of the (...) Wilderness to furnish nicknames. Often they were also identified as fictional or real frontiersmen—Mike Fink, Nimrod Wildfire, Jim Doggett, Pecos Bill—and tall tales clustered around them. Explaining a metaphor and a nickname, an Ohio newspaper in 1830 cited the most famous braggart of this sort: "Ring-tailed roarer—A most vicious fellow—a Crockett." . . . The stories did not have to have roots in reality and often were not new. The real Crockett was well built, handsome, ruddy-cheeked. But traditional jokes made ugliness a funny quality. Falstaff claimed Bardolph's crimson proboscis glowed with a flame that made torches inoperative. The Spectator in 1711 told about "Spectator's" election to England's Ugly Club. Joke 177 in Joe Miller's Jests was about the British kingdom's champion ugly man. When Gus Longstreet entered law school in Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1813, a student welcomed him: "Here, sir, is a knife always given to the ugliest student. . . . Until now it has been mine, but beyond doubt, sir, since you are here, I have now no right to it any longer." Andy Jackson—"Old Hickory"—won a like award. Lore had it that Davy was so repulsive looking that if he grinned at a raccoon, it tumbled from its tree. Once, worried because he grinned and grinned without bringing down his victim, he was relieved when a close look showed he had mistaken a knot for a beast. All the same, he had grinned all the bark off the branch. Walter Blair is professor emeritus in the department of English at the University of Chicago. His many influential works include Native American Humor and Horse Sense in American Humor. "Americanized Comic Braggarts" appears in a slightly different version in the book America's Humor from Poor Richard to Doonesbury. (shrink)
Blair's new translation of Plato's Republic is more readable and accessible than any translation on the market. Blair makes a persuasive case for using "honesty" rather than "morality" when translating a key Greek term.
Psychopaths continue to be demonised by the media and estimates suggest that a disturbing percentage of the population has psychopathic tendencies. This timely and controversial new book summarises what we already know about psychopathy and antisocial behavior and puts forward a new case for its cause - with far-reaching implications. Presents the scientific facts of psychopathy and antisocial behavior. Addresses key questions, such as: What is psychopathy? Are there psychopaths amongst us? What is wrong with psychopaths? Is psychopathy due to (...) nature or nurture? And can we treat psychopaths? Reveals the authors' ground-breaking research into whether an underlying abnormality in brain development leaves psychopaths with an inability to feel emotion or fear. The resulting theory could lead to early diagnosis and revolutionize the way society, the media and the state both views and contends with the psychopaths in our midst. (shrink)
Empathy is a lay term that is becoming increasingly viewed as a unitary function within the field of cognitive neuroscience. In this paper, a selective review of the empathy literature is provided. It is argued from this literature that empathy is not a unitary system but rather a loose collection of partially dissociable neurocognitive systems. In particular, three main divisions can be made: cognitive empathy , motor empathy, and emotional empathy. The two main psychiatric disorders associated with empathic dysfunction are (...) considered: autism and psychopathy. It is argued that individuals with autism show difficulties with cognitive and motor empathy but less clear difficulties with respect to emotional empathy. In contrast, individuals with psychopathy show clear difficulties with a specific form of emotional empathy but no indications of impairment with cognitive and motor empathy. (shrink)
Using measures developed by Singhapakdi et al. (1996, Journal of Business ethics 15, 1131–1140) the perceived importance of ethics and social responsibility (PRESOR) is measured among MBA students in the United States, Malaysia and Ukraine revealing a stockholder view and two stakeholder views. Relativism and Idealism are also measured. The scores of MBA students are compared among each other and with those of the U.S. managers who were part of the original study. Managers'' scores tend to be significantly higher on (...) the Stockholder and Stakeholder II views, and much lower on Relativism than the MBA students. The Malaysian MBA students scored higher than did the American MBA students on Relativism, Idealism and the Stockholder view. The Ukrainian MBA students'' scores on the three PRESOR factors are generally similar to those of the American MBAs, while they had the highest scores of any group on the Relativism scale. Overall, the patterns of responses, as much as the significant differences on specific scales, support the notion that culture, however defined, affects both values and ethics. Several directions for future research are identified.''. (shrink)
The question, “What norms are appropriate for the evaluation of the probative merits of visual arguments?” underlies the investigation of this paper. The notions of argument and of multimodal visual argument employed in the study are explained. Then four multimodal visual arguments are analyzed and their probative merits assessed. It turns out to be possible to judge these qualities using the same criteria that apply to verbally expressed arguments. Since the sample is small and not claimed to be representative, this (...) finding can at best be regarded as suggestive for the probative assessment of multimodal visual arguments in general. (shrink)
Do not define argument by its use to persuade. for other uses of arguments exist. An argument is a proposition and a reason for it. and argumentation is an interchange involving two or more parties resulting in the assertion of one or more arguments coupled with anticipated or actual critical responses. A logically good argument has grounds adeq uate for the purposes at hand (true, probable, plausible, acceptable to the audience) and the grounds provide adequate support for the conclusion. The (...) norms for good logic in arguments are different from the norms for the good use of arguments. (shrink)
The paper's thesis is that dialogue is not an adequate model for all types of argument. The position of Walton is taken as the contrary view. The paper provides a set of descriptions of dialogues in which arguments feature in the order of the increasing complexity of the argument presentation at each turn of the dialogue, and argues that when arguments of great complexity are traded, the exchanges between arguers are turns of a dialogue only in an extended or metaphorical (...) sense. It argues that many of the properties of engaged back-and-forth exchanges of paradigmatic argument dialogues are not found in âsoloâ arguments, and that at least some of the norms appropriate to the former type of argument, such as some of the pragma-dialectical rules of van Eemeren and Grootendorst's model, do not apply to the latter. (shrink)
In this paper, we will consider the neuro-cognitive systems involved in mediating morality. Five main claims will be made. First, that there are multiple, partially separable neuro-cognitive architectures that mediate specific aspects of morality: social convention, care-based morality, disgust-based morality and fairness/justice. Second, that all aspects of morality, including social convention, involve affect. Third, that the neural system particularly important for social convention, given its role in mediating anger and responding to angry expressions, is ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Fourth, that the (...) neural systems particularly important for care-based morality are the amygdala and medial orbital frontal cortex. Fifth, that while Theory of Mind is not a prerequisite for the development of affect-based 'automatic moral attitudes', it is critically involved in many aspects of moral reasoning. (shrink)
Researchers have long suspected that grapheme-color synaesthesia is useful, but research on its utility has so far focused primarily on episodic memory and perceptual discrimination. Here we ask whether it can be harnessed during rule-based Category learning. Participants learned through trial and error to classify grapheme pairs that were organized into categories on the basis of their associated synaesthetic colors. The performance of synaesthetes was similar to non-synaesthetes viewing graphemes that were physically colored in the same way. Specifically, synaesthetes learned (...) to categorize stimuli effectively, they were able to transfer this learning to novel stimuli, and they falsely recognized grapheme-pair foils, all like non-synaesthetes viewing colored graphemes. These findings demonstrate that synaesthesia can be exploited when learning the kind of material taught in many classroom settings. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to advance the theory of argument or inference schemes by suggesting answers to questions raised by Walton's Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning (1996), specifically on: the relation between argument and reasoning; distinguishing deductive from presumptive schemes, the origin of schemes and the probative force of their use; and the motivation and justification for their associated critical questions.
This study investigated the performance of boys with psychopathic tendencies and comparison boys, aged 9 to 17 years, on two tasks believed to be sensitive to amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex func- tioning. Fifty-one boys were divided into two groups according to the Psychopathy Screening Device (PSD, P. J. Frick & R. D. Hare, in press) and presented with two tasks. The tasks were the gambling task (A. Bechara, A. R. Damasio, H. Damasio, & S. W. Anderson, 1994) and the Intradimensional/ (...) Extradimensional (ID/ED) shift task (R. Dias, T. W. Robbins, & A. C. Roberts, 1996). The boys with psychopathic tendencies showed impaired performance on the gambling task. However, there were no group differences on the ID/ED task either for response reversal or extradimensional set shifting. The implications of these results for models of psychopathy are discussed. (shrink)
This study investigates the ability of individuals with psychopathy to perform passive avoidance learning and whether this ability is modulated by level of reinforcement/punishment. Nineteen psychopathic and 21 comparison individuals, as defined by the Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised (Hare, 1991), were given a passive avoidance task with a graded reinforcement schedule. Response to each rewarding number gained a point reward specific to that number (i.e., 1, 700, 1400 or 2000 points). Response to each punishing number lost a point punishment specific (...) to that number (i.e., the loss of 1, 700, 1400 or 2000 points). In line with predictions, individuals with psychopathy made more passive avoidance errors than the comparison individuals. In addition, while the performance of both groups was modulated by level of reward, only the performance of the comparison population was modulated by level of punishment. The results are interpreted with reference to a computational account of the emotional learning impairment in individuals with psychopathy. (shrink)
In Logical Self-Defense , Johnson and I introduced the criteria of acceptability, relevance and sufficiency as appropriate for the evaluation of arguments in the sense of reasons offered in support of a claim. These three criteria have been widely adopted, but each has been subjected to a number of criticisms; and also 30 years of research have intervened. How do these criteria stand up today? In this paper I argue that they still have a place in argument analysis and evaluation, (...) but in much-modified roles. (shrink)
Psychopathy is a developmental disorder associated with specific forms of emotional dysfunction and an increased risk for both frustration-based reactive aggression and goal-directed instrumental antisocial behavior. While the full behavioral manifestation of the disorder is under considerable social influence, the basis of this disorder appears to be genetic. At the neural level, individuals with psychopathy show atypical responding within the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Moreover, the roles of the amygdala in stimulus-reinforcement learning and responding to emotional expressions and vmPFC (...) in the representation of reinforcement expectancies are compromised. The implications of these functional impairments for responsibility are discussed. (shrink)
The history of note?taking has only begun to be written. On the one hand, the basic functions of selecting, summarizing, storing and sorting information garnered from reading, listening, observing and thinking can be identified in most literate contexts in some form or other. On the other hand, Renaissance humanists emphasized with unprecedented success the virtues of stockpiling notes on large scales and for the long term, thanks to the availability of paper and a new abundance of books, but also to (...) their ability to transmit their own keen motivation to avoid any future loss of learning. We continue to share many early modern ideals for insuring the collection and retrievability of information and have built on early modern practices that facilitate the accumulation and the organization of information, including collaborative work and the use of rearrangeable slips. (shrink)
In this overview article, we first explain what we take informal logic to be, discussing misconceptions and distinguishing our conception of it from competing ones; second, we briefly catalogue recent informal logic research, under 14 headings; third, we suggest four broad areas of problems and questions for future research; fourth, we describe current scholarly resources for informal logic; fifth, we discuss three implications of informal logic for philosophy in particular, and take note ofpractical consequences of a more general sort.
This study investigates the performance of psychopathic individuals on tasks believed to be sensitive to dorsolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) functioning. Psychopathic and non-psychopathic individuals, as defined by the Hare psychopathy checklist revised (PCL-R) [Hare, The Hare psychopathy checklist revised, Toronto, Ontario: Multi-Health Systems, 1991] completed a gambling task [Cognition 50 (1994) 7] and the intradimensional/extradimensional (ID/ED) shift task [Nature 380 (1996) 69]. On the gambling task, psychopathic participants showed a global tendency to choose disadvantageously. Specifically, they showed an (...) impaired ability to show learning over the course of the task. On the ID/ED task, the performance of psychopathic individuals was not significantly different from incarcerated controls on attentional set-shifting, but significant impairments were found on response reversal. These results are interpreted with reference to an OFC and amygdala dysfunction explanation of psychopathy. (shrink)
Traditional just war theory maintains that the two types of rules that govern justice in times of war, jus ad bellum (justice of war) and jus in bello (justice in war), are logically independent of one another. Call this the independence thesis. According to this thesis, a war that satisfies the ad bellum rules does not guarantee that the in bello rules will be satisfied; and a war that violates the ad bellum rules does not guarantee that the in bello (...) rules will be violated. A controversial implication of this is that it’s possible for soldiers to undergo acts that are instrumental in bringing about victory in an unjust war and yet do nothing morally wrong. Some authors – call them purists – claim that this cannot be correct. Participating in an unjust war is by itself morally wrong. Yitzhak Benbaji has given what is to my mind the strongest defense of the independence thesis. In this paper I critically examine Benbaji’s argument and conclude that it is not persuasive. My argument against Benbaji incorporates the concept of honor in the military. I seek to show, in part, that if the recent literature is correct concerning both the nature of honor and the importance of instilling it in soldiers, then Benbaji hasn’t given the purist a compelling reason to give up her view. (shrink)
A nation commits mitigated aggression by threatening to kill the citizens of a victim nation if and only if they do not submit to being ruled in a non-egregiously oppressive way. Such aggression primarily threatens a nation’s common way of life . According to David Rodin, a war against mitigated aggression is automatically disproportionate, as the right of lethal self-defense only extends to protecting against being killed or enslaved. Two strategies have been adopted in response to Rodin. The first strategy (...) grants that CWL is insufficiently valuable to lethally defend, however, other considerations can satisfy the proportionality requirement. I argue that this strategy is not persuasive. The second strategy argues for the sufficient value of CWL. This, however, fails to answer the forceful ‘benign dictator’ objection. I respond to this objection by grounding the proportionality of a defensive war in the value of what Phillip Pettit calls ‘anti-power’. (shrink)
Premissary relevance is a property of arguments understood as speech act complexes. It is explicable in terms of the idea of a premise's lending support to a conclusion. Premissary relevance is a function of premises belonging to a set which authoritatively warrants an inference to a conclusion. An authoritative inference warrant will have associated with it a conditional proposition which is true— that is to say, which can be justified. The study of the Aristotelian doctrine of topoi or argument schemes (...) may contribute to the task of identifying authoritative warrants. (shrink)
I argue that argumentation is not to be identified with (attempted) rational persuasion, because although rational persuasion appears to consist of arguments, some uses of arguments are not attempts at rational persuasion. However, the use of arguments in argumentative communication to try to persuade is one kind of attempt at rational persuasion. What makes it rational is that its informing ideal is to persuade on the basis of adequate grounds, grounds that make it reasonable and rational to accept the claim (...) at issue. (shrink)