A computer can come to understand natural language the same way Helen Keller did: by using “syntactic semantics”—a theory of how syntax can suffice for semantics, i.e., how semantics for natural language can be provided by means of computational symbol manipulation. This essay considers real-life approximations of Chinese Rooms, focusing on Helen Keller’s experiences growing up deaf and blind, locked in a sort of Chinese Room yet learning how to communicate with the outside world. Using the SNePS computational (...) knowledge-representation system, the essay analyzes Keller’s belief that learning that “everything has a name” was the key to her success, enabling her to “partition” her mental concepts into mental representations of: words, objects, and the naming relations between them. It next looks at Herbert Terrace’s theory of naming, which is akin to Keller’s, and which only humans are supposed to be capable of. The essay suggests that computers at least, and perhaps non-human primates, are also capable of this kind of naming. (shrink)
Helen Frowe has recently offered what she calls a “practical” account of self-defense. Her account is supposed to be practical by being subjectivist about permissibility and objectivist about liability. I shall argue here that Frowe first makes up a problem that does not exist and then fails to solve it. To wit, her claim that objectivist accounts of permissibility cannot be action-guiding is wrong; and her own account of permissibility actually retains an objectivist (in the relevant sense) element. In (...) addition, her attempt to restrict subjectivism primarily to “urgent” situations like self-defense contradicts her own point of departure and is either incoherent or futile. Finally, the only actual whole-heartedly objectivist account she criticizes is an easy target; while those objectivist accounts one finds in certain Western European jurisdictions are immune to her criticisms. Those accounts are also clearly superior to hers in terms of action-guidingness. (shrink)
In this paper the relations between the almost unknown Spanish mathematician Ventura Reyes Prósper (1863-1922) with Charles S. Peirce and Christine Ladd-Franklin are described. Two brief papers from Reyes Prósper published in El Progreso Matemático 12 (20 December 1891), pp. 297-300, and 18 (15 June 1892) pp. 170-173 on Ladd-Franklin, and on Peirce and Mitchell, respectively, are translated for first time into English and included at the end of the paper.
William Rapaport, in “How Helen Keller used syntactic semantics to escape from a Chinese Room,” (Rapaport 2006), argues that Helen Keller was in a sort of Chinese Room, and that her subsequent development of natural language fluency illustrates the flaws in Searle’s famous Chinese Room Argument and provides a method for developing computers that have genuine semantics (and intentionality). I contend that his argument fails. In setting the problem, Rapaport uses his own preferred definitions of semantics and syntax, (...) but he does not translate Searle’s Chinese Room argument into that idiom before attacking it. Once the Chinese Room is translated into Rapaport’s idiom (in a manner that preserves the distinction between meaningful representations and uninterpreted symbols), I demonstrate how Rapaport’s argument fails to defeat the CRA. This failure brings a crucial element of the Chinese Room Argument to the fore: the person in the Chinese Room is prevented from connecting the Chinese symbols to his/her own meaningful experiences and memories. This issue must be addressed before any victory over the CRA is announced. (shrink)
This paper argues that that political context of British science popularization in the inter-war period was intimately tied to contemporary debates about religion and science. A leading science popularizer, the Quaker astronomer A.S. Eddington, and one of his opponents, the materialist Chapman Cohen, are examined in detail to show the intertwined nature of science, philosophy, religion, and politics.
One of the most contentious question in today’s discussions on the educational policies concerns the role and values of the humanities in contemporary society and education. Many see the humanities as empty, unnecessary, inefficient, phony and worthless. This paper offers a rundown of arguments adduced to support this view, followed by an overview of Helen Small’s The Value of the Humanities, which offers an exceptionally critical and insightful analysis into the current debate over the value of the humanities. The (...) paper ends by emphasizing further the need to recognize the contribution that the humanities make to the production of knowledge and enhancement of the quality of life, as well as to the much needed sense of purpose and meaning. (shrink)
An important part of making philosophy as a discipline gender equal is to ensure that female authors are not simply wiped out of the history of philosophy. This has implications for teaching as well as research. In this context, I reflect on my experience of teaching a text by medieval philosopher Christine de Pizan as part of an introductory history of philosophy course taught to Turkish students in law, political science, and international relations. I describe the challenges I encountered, (...) the ways in which I dealt with them, and draw some conclusions based on my observations and feedback obtained at the end of the course. (shrink)
ABSTRACTDifficulties with inhibiting fear have been associated with the emergence of anxiety problems and poor response to cognitive–behavioural treatment. Fear inhibition problems measured using experimental paradigms involving aversive stimuli may be inappropriate for vulnerable samples and may not capture fear inhibition problems evident in everyday life. We present the Fear Inhibition Questionnaire, a self-report measure of fear inhibition abilities. We assess the FIQ’s factor structure across two cultures and how well it correlates with fear inhibition indices derived experimentally. Adolescent participants (...) from Hong Kong and England completed the FIQ, with the English participants also completing a conditioning and extinction task to assess fear inhibition problems. Across both cultures, the FIQ showed a single factor structure and low FIQ scores, or worse fear inhibition problems, were associated with self-reports of heightened anxiety. Correlation of FIQ scores with experimental indices, whi... (shrink)
In The City of Ladies and Bell in Campo, Christine de Pizan and Margaret Cavendish imagine women’s participation to war as a metaphor of the sexual conflict that they must fight in order to conquer their visibility in history. While Pizan rewrites history from women’s stand point and acknowledges the universal value of sexual difference for the plan of salvation, Cavendish moves within a modern frame and thinks history as the result of human action. In both cases, the tale (...) of women’s participation to war allows criticizing the moral and normative implications of «nature». (shrink)
Helen Dean King's scientific work focused on inbreeding using experimental data collected from standardized laboratory rats to elucidate problems in human heredity. The meticulous care with which she carried on her inbreeding experiments assured that her results were dependable and her theoretical explanations credible. By using her nearly homozygous rats as desired commodities, she also was granted access to venues and people otherwise unavailable to her as a woman. King's scientific career was made possible through her life experiences. She (...) earned a doctorate from Bryn Mawr College under Thomas Hunt Morgan and spent a productive career at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia where she had access to the experimental subjects which made her career possible. In this paper I examine King's work on inbreeding, her participation in the debates over eugenics, her position at the Wistar Institute, her status as a woman working with mostly male scientists, and her involvement with popular science. (shrink)
Theorists working in both feminism and pragmatism lament that classical American philosophy appears to be relatively devoid of feminists.2 Charlene Seigfried (1991a), for example, has pointed out that historical reconstructions, bibliographies, and indices of classical American philosophy reveal a striking paucity of female philosophers. As a first step, Seigfried calls for both a feminist analysis of pragmatism (a detailed study and criticism of the attitudes of classical pragmatists toward women) and a “rediscovery of women pragmatists” (1991b:2; see 1991a:410). Seigfried’s rallying (...) cry for a feminist reading and reconstruction of classical American philosophy has not fallen on deaf ears as theorists have .. (shrink)
James Tabery Helen Longino’s Studying Human Behavior is an overdue effort at a nonpartisan evaluation of the many scientific disciplines that study the nature and nurture of human behavior, arguing for the acceptance of the strengths and weaknesses of all approaches. After years of conflict, Longino makes the pluralist case for peaceful coexistence. Her analysis of the approaches raises the following question: how are we to understand the pluralistic relationship among the peacefully coexisting approaches? Longino is ironically rather unpluralistic (...) about her pluralism, forcing a choice between integrative pluralism and her preferred ineliminative pluralism. I hope to show that the analysis of approaches she offers actually accommodates a pluralism that is both integrative and ineliminative.Approaches to studying human behaviorPhilosophy of biology took shape as a discipline in the 1970s. This disciplinary formation over. (shrink)
Philip Kitcher argued that the freedom to pursue one's version of the good life is the main aim of Mill's argument for freedom of expression. According to Kitcher, in certain scientific fields, political and epistemological asymmetries bias research toward conclusions that threaten this most important freedom of underprivileged groups. Accordingly, Kitcher claimed that there are Millian grounds for limiting freedom of inquiry in these fields to protect the freedom of the underprivileged. -/- I explore Kitcher's argument in light of the (...) interpretation Helen Longino gave to Mill's argument. She argued that free critical dialogue in the community allows bias to be overcome, through intersubjective criticism of hypotheses and the background assumptions that frame them. I suggest that Longino's approach allows for the identification of the fundamental problems of the research programs Kitcher targeted, and for the rejection of their claims to knowledge. Thus it is possible to address Kitcher's problem without limiting freedom of speech. (shrink)
In her analysis of the politics of biotechnology, Sheila Jasanoff argued that modern democracy cannot be understood without an analysis of the ways knowledge is created and used in society. She suggested calling these ways to “know things in common” civic epistemologies. Jasanoff thus approached knowledge as fundamentally social. The focus on the social nature of knowledge allows drawing parallels with some developments in philosophy of science. In the first part of the paper, I juxtapose Jasanoff’s account with the philosopher (...)Helen Longino’s approach. Longino argued that objectivity of scientific knowledge is made possible by the social nature of knowledge production. In the process of community-wide discussion, claims that are not intersubjectively acceptable are rejected and communally acceptable knowledge emerges. Longino called this knowledge-creating critical dialogue transformative. I suggest that Longino’s account can be seen as providing epistemological support for the civic epistemologies Jasanoff described. They are capable of producing knowledge in the normative philosophical sense of the word to the degree that they are able to support this transformative critical dialogue. In the second part of the paper, I explore in the light of Longino’s criteria for effective knowledge-productive dialogue one of the controversies in biotechnology policy that Jasanoff analysed. I suggest that Longino’s criteria allow identifying some fundamental obstacles for initiating and maintaining this kind of responsive critical dialogue and that the controversy can be seen as caused by inability to overcome these obstacles. In such a case, the controversy signals an epistemic failure as well as a failure of democratic policy. (shrink)
According to Helen Longino, objectivity is necessarily social as it depends on critical interactions in com- munity. Justin Biddle argues that Longino’s account presupposes individuals that are completely open to any criticism; as such individuals are in principle able to criticise their beliefs on their own, Longino’s account is not really social. In the first part of my paper I argue that even for completely open individuals, criticism for maintaining objectivity is only possible in community. In the second part (...) I question Biddle’s interpretation of Longino’s conception of the individual. I conclude that objectivity as Longino describes it is necessarily social. (shrink)
Ford’s Helen Keller Was Never in a Chinese Room claims that my argument in How Helen Keller Used Syntactic Semantics to Escape from a Chinese Room fails because Searle and I use the terms ‘syntax’ and ‘semantics’ differently, hence are at cross purposes. Ford has misunderstood me; this reply clarifies my theory.
Helen's self-disparagement is an anomaly in epic diction, and this is especially true of those instances where she refers to herself as "dog" and "dog-face." This essay attempts to show that Helen's dog-language, in that it remains in conflict with other features of her characterization, has some generic significance for epic, helping to establish the superiority of epic performance over competing performance types which treated her differently. The metaphoric use of χύων and its derivatives has not been well (...) understood: the scholiast's gloss "shameless" is no more than a functional equivalent, and interpretations linking it primarily with reckless courage or with sexual misconduct are not well founded. An analysis of contexts suggests that "dog" as an insult has a fundamental association with physical greed and even cannibalism. The implied notion of avarice, however, may also be extended into other behavioral spheres, including those of fighting and sexuality. A character may also be called "dog" for reviling or slandering another unjustly. These strongly negative implications are out of keeping with the character given to Helen in epic. For where tragedy and lyric generally represent Helen as blameworthy, Homeric epic tends to absolve her of blame and to make her personally as well as physically attractive. The unexpected application of dog-terms to her may therefore be read as an allusion to other versions of the Troy legend which were more hostile to Helen. Negative portrayals of Helen are likely to have figured in the ancient kitharodic narrative which was a precursor of both tragedy and lyric; these are perhaps the unfriendly "songs" mentioned by Helen at Il. 6.357. By referring to such defamatory narratives through the dog-insult and through other instances of Helen's self-blame, the epic performer marks his own more favorable treatment as a generic preference. (shrink)
To understand the human capacity for psychological altruism, one requires a proper understanding of how people actually think and feel. This paper addresses the possible relevance of recent findings in experimental economics and neuroeconomics to the philosophical controversy over altruism and egoism. After briefly sketching and contextualizing the controversy, we survey and discuss the results of various studies on behaviourally altruistic helping and punishing behaviour, which provide stimulating clues for the debate over psychological altruism. On closer analysis, these studies prove (...) less relevant than originally expected because the data obtained admit competing interpretations – such as people seeking fairness versus people seeking revenge. However, this mitigated conclusion does not preclude the possibility of more fruitful research in the area in the future. Throughout our analysis, we provide hints for the direction of future research on the question. (shrink)
Many forms of virtue ethics, like certain forms of utilitarianism, suffer from the problem of indirection. In those forms, the criterion for status of a trait as a virtue is not the same as the criterion for the status of an act as right. Furthermore, if the virtues for example are meant to promote the nourishing of the agent, the virtuous agent is not standardly supposed to be motivated by concern for her own flourishing in her activity. In this paper, (...) I propose a virtue ethics which does not suffer from the problem. Traits are not virtues because their cultivation and manifestation promote a value such as agent flourishing. They are virtues in so far as they are habits of appropriate response to various relevant values. This means that there is a direct connection between the rationale of a virtue and what makes an action virtuous or right. (shrink)
Kantian ethics has struggled terribly with the challenge of incorporating non-human animals as beings to which we can owe obligations. Christine Korsgaard’s Fellow Creatures is a bold, substantial attempt to meet that challenge. In this essay review, I set the scene for the book’s core argument, offer a reconstruction of that argument, and reflect on its strengths and limitations, arguing that it is ultimately unconvincing.
In her Why Have Children?, Christine Overall takes issue with my anti-natalist arguments that it is better never to come into existence. She provides three criticisms of my arguments and then, in a fourth criticism, suggests that my conclusions are bad for women. I respond to her criticisms, arguing that they fail.
ABSTRACT In A Metaphysics for Freedom and related papers, Helen Steward advances a new argument for incompatibilism. Though she concedes that the luck objection is persuasive with regard to existing versions of libertarianism, she claims that agency itself is incompatible with determinism: we are only agents at all if we are able to settle matters concerning our movements, where settling something requires that prior to our settling it lacked sufficient conditions. She argues that genuine agents settle very fine-grained aspects (...) of their movements: when and how they move, even when and how their neurons fire. In this paper, I advance two linked arguments against agency incompatibilism. I argue, first, that we do not exercise direct control over the fine-grained aspects of our movements. Rather, we control these movements indirectly, by intentionally engaging in broadly individuated action types. Second, I argue that these aspects of our movements are lucky for us and, since this is true, they cannot play the role of grounding our agency. (shrink)
Christine Korsgaard’s 1996 book, The Sources of Normativity, attracted a great deal of attention. And rightly so. It is a highly engaging attempt to answer what she calls the normative question, which is the question of what could justify morality’s demands. Korsgaard’s latest book, Self-Constitution, develops and defends the broadly Kantian account of action and agency that hovers in the background of Sources, drawing out its implications for the normative question. In this review, we present the main lines of (...) argument in Self-Constitution, raising objections to both Korsgaard’s account of action and agency and her most recent attempt to address the normative question. (shrink)
This is the introduction and the translation of Gorgias' "Helen". The speech is considered to be one of the most interesting pieces of early Greek rhetoric not only because of its rhetorical, but also because of its philosophical value. There is no doubt that it sets out the outlines of the sophistic conception of logos and (along with another Gorgias' speech Palamedes) represents the starting point for the Plato's critique of Gorgias' rhetoric in the dialogue "Gorgias'.
Ancient commentators identify several passages in the Iliad as “epigrams.” This paper explores the consequences of taking the scholia literally and understanding these passages in terms of inscription. Two tristichs spoken by Helen in the teikhoskopia are singled out for special attention. These lines can be construed not only as epigrams in the general sense, but more specifically as captions appended to an image of the Achaeans encamped on the plain of Troy. Since Helen's lines to a certain (...) extent correspond to the function and style of catalogic poetry, reading them specifically as captions leads to a more nuanced understanding of both Homeric poetry and Homeric self-reference. By contrasting Helen's “epigrams” with those of Hektor, one can also discern a gender-based differentiation of poetic functions. (shrink)
In a celebrated passage in ‘Of the Standard of Taste’, Hume tells us that those readers who prefer Bunyan's writings to Addison's are merely ‘pretended critics’ whose judgment is ‘absurd and ridiculous’; this is ‘no less an extravagance, than if he had maintained a mole-hill to be as high as TENERIFFE, or a pond as extensive as the ocean’. Hume shows a decisiveness and vehemence in his judgment against Bunyan that has greater significance than that of being a mere reflection (...) of his aesthetic principles. Hume does, after all, wish to make ‘durable admiration’ the foundation of his standard of taste, and both the number of eighteenth-century reprints of The Pilgrim's Progress and Johnson's comment that this work has as ‘the best evidence of its merit, the general and continued approbation of mankind’ testify to the lasting popularity of Bunyan's work. Hume's critical judgment on Bunyan is not merely a consequence of a mechanical application of his standard of taste, but is rather a reflection of what I will term Hume's ‘epistemology of ease’. (shrink)
Une œuvre majeure de Christine de Pizan vient de faire l'objet d'une édition : Le Livre de l'Advision Christine dont Liliane Dulac et Christine Reno ont établi le texte, précédé d'une longue et précieuse introduction. Événement éditorial de premier ordre, l'édition antérieure (en 1932) ne pouvant satisfaire aux exigences des médiévistes et plus largement de ceux qui s'intéressent à la voix des femmes au Moyen Âge. Dans le parcours de l'écrivaine, l'Advision, œuvre de maturité, associe ..
I defend my earlier argument for incompatibilism, against Helen Beebee’s reply. Beebee’s reply would allow one to have free will despite that nothing one does counts as an exercise of that freedom, and would grant one the ability to do A even when one’s doing A requires something to happen that one cannot bring about and that in fact will not happen.
Block's notion of P-consciousness catches too much in its net. He would do better to exclude all states that do not have a sensory component. I question what he says about my work with the “blind” monkey, Helen.