Nancy Cartwright believes that we live in a Dappled World– a world in which theories, principles, and methods applicable in one domain may be inapplicable in others; in which there are no universal principles. One of the targets of Cartwright’s arguments for this conclusion is the Causal Markov condition, a condition which has been proposed as a universal condition on causal structures.1 The Causal Markov condition, Cartwright argues, is applicable only in a limited domain of special cases, and thus cannot (...) be used as a universal principle in causal discovery. I have no dispute with any of these claims here. Rather, I wish to argue for a very limited thesis: that the Causal Markov condition is applicable in the specific domain of microscopic quantum mechanical systems; further, that the condition can fruitfully be applied to the much discussed EPR setup. This is perhaps a surprising conclusion, for it is precisely in this domain that Cartwright’s arguments against the Causal Markov condition have been considered to be the most successful. (shrink)
In this paper, I criticize a common misinterpretation of Hans Reichenbach’s argument that indeterminism is both necessary and sufficient for temporal becoming. I show that Reichenbach’s argument rests on the assumption of a particular variety of verificationism (which I call ‘Weak Probabilistic Verificationism’) and that Reichenbach’s critics have failed to notice this premise. The purpose of the paper is not to defend Reichenbach’s thesis—I offer no argument in support of this verificationist premise. My aim is simply to set the historical (...) record straight by correcting a prevalent misinterpretation of Reichenbach’s argument. The argument, as I reconstruct it, is not only valid but also far more ingenious than is commonly allowed. Correct or not, I believe it remains worthy of study. (shrink)
A probabilistic theory of causation is a theory which holds that the central feature of causation is that causes raise the probability of their effects. In this dissertation, I defend Hans Reichenbach's original version of the probabilistic theory of causation, which analyses causal relations in terms of a three place statistical betweenness relation. Unlike most discussions of this theory, I hold that the statistical relation should be taken as a sufficient, but not as a necessary , condition for causal betweenness. (...) With this difference in interpretation, Reichenbach's theory is shown to be immune to all of the criticisms which have been raised against it in the last fifty years. ;Reichenbach's main purpose in defending a probabilistic theory of causation was to use it in giving an analysis of the direction of time. I defend this view, arguing that the arrow of causation is more basic than any of the other arrows of time---metaphysical, psychological or physical. In particular, I argue against the popular view that the direction of time is given by the physical fact that entropy only increases in one direction. I further show that the probabilistic theory of causation is particularly suited to the task of analysing the various arrows of time. In my final chapter, I also suggest that the probabilistic theory of causation may be fruitfully applied to the analysis of some important puzzles in the interpretation of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes's landmark work on political philosophy, James Martel argues that although Hobbes pays lip service to the superior interpretive authority of the sovereign, he consistently subverts this authority throughout the ...
Although Haitian revolutionaries were not the intended audience for the Declaration of the Rights of Man, they heeded its call, demanding rights that were not meant for them. This failure of the French state to address only its desired subjects is an example of the phenomenon James R. Martel labels "misinterpellation." Complicating Althusser's famous theory, Martel explores the ways that such failures hold the potential for radical and anarchist action. In addition to the Haitian Revolution, Martel shows (...) how the revolutionary responses by activists and anticolonial leaders to Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points speech and the Arab Spring sprang from misinterpellation. He also takes up misinterpellated subjects in philosophy, film, literature, and nonfiction, analyzing works by Nietzsche, Kafka, Woolf, Fanon, Ellison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and others to demonstrate how characters who exist on the margins offer a generally unrecognized anarchist form of power and resistance. Timely and broad in scope, _The Misinterpellated Subject_ reveals how calls by authority are inherently vulnerable to radical possibilities, thereby suggesting that all people at all times are filled with revolutionary potential. (shrink)
Introduction: divine violence and political fetishism -- The political theology of sovereignty -- In the maw of sovereignty -- Benjamin's dissipated eschatology -- Waiting for justice -- Forgiveness, judgment and sovereign decision -- The Hebrew republic -- Conclusion : the anarchist hypothesis.
The Importance of Time is a unique work that reveals the central role of the philosophy of time in major areas of philosophy. The first part of the book consists of symposia on two of the most important works in the philosophy of time over the past decade: Michael Tooley's Time, Tense, and Causation and D.H. Mellor's Real Time II. What characterizes these essays, and those that follow, are the interchanges between original papers, with original responses to them by commentators. (...) The wide range of interrelated topics covered in this book is one of its most distinctive features. The book is divided into six parts: I. Book Symposia, II. Temporal Becoming, III. The Phenomenology of Time, IV. God, Time and Foreknowledge, V. Time and Physical Objects, and VI. Time and Causation, and contains 24 essays by leading philosophers in the various areas: Laurie Paul, Quentin Smith, L. Nathan Oaklander, Hugh Mellor, John Perry, William Lane Craig, Brian Leftow, Ned Markosian, Ronald C. Hoy, Michael Tooley, Storrs McCall, David Hunt, Mark Hinchliff, Robin Le Poidevin, IainMartel and Eric M. Rubenstein. (shrink)
Although critical of what she calls the `antipolitical' forces of love and sovereignty, Arendt reluctantly embraces these aspects as the basis of politics itself. I explain this paradox by arguing that Arendt seeks to balance Greek and Roman notions of freedom with modern conceptions of the will. The solipsistic will poses a threat to politics (it is the source of sovereignty itself). Yet the will is a fact of modern life and cannot be ignored. I argue that despite her embrace (...) of classical understandings of freedom as contingency, Arendt seeks to limit contingency and even freedom itself. She does this to accommodate the will which must have some sense of agency and continuity in order to be able to function at all. Arendt argues that sovereignty can, if properly constrained, produce a `certain limited reality' and can (along with love) serve as a basis for politics. I claim that Arendt sacrifices her classical ideals, allowing for the possibility of a modern, lesser version of freedom (which in her view is better than no freedom at all). Key Words: love promising sovereignty will. (shrink)
In much of the literature on Hobbes, he is considered a proto-liberal, that is, he is seen as setting up the apparatus that leads to liberalism but his own authoritarian streak makes it impossible for liberals to completely claim him as one of their own. In this paper, I argue that, far from being a precursor to liberalism, Hobbes offers a political theory that is implicitly anti-liberal. I do not mean this in the conventional sense that Hobbes was too conservative (...) for liberalism. On the contrary, I will argue that in his writing, Hobbes evinces a concept of collective interpretation, theories of individualism and the nature and possibilities for democratic politics, that is radical and offers a completely developed alternative to liberalism even as it eschews conservative and reactionary models as well. I focus in particular on the idea of individualism and how the model offered by liberals and conservatives offers far less in terms of individual choice and justice than Hobbes’s own theory does, however paradoxical this may seem. (shrink)
The relationship between psychological research and the development of social policy is controversial, as is any discussion of the role of values and morals within science. Three particular instances of this controversy are evident in psychological research conducted on affirmative action, child abuse, and abortion. The American Psychological Association (APA) in fact takes a particular organizational stance on these issues. APA's Ethics Code provides some guidelines for dealing with issues of personal values as they impact psychological research and the development (...) of social policy. An important distinction can be made between the issues psychological research can reasonably address using empirical data and the issues about which psychologists should take a stand. Ethical guidelines can help psychologists make this distinction as well as inform their subsequent actions. One pertinent recommendation is that psychologists, when serving in their professional role, should be clear regarding whether empiricism or personal belief is guiding their public statements. (shrink)
Benjamin has long been known for his literary and aesthetic theory but political theorists, as well as other scholars who are interested in questions of politics, tend to downplay (or simply not notice) his contributions to an actionable rhetorical-political discourse. In terms of a politics that speaks directly to the ongoing crisis of global capitalism, existing power arrangements, and the effective depoliticization of the vast majority of people living under such conditions (very much including advanced liberal capitalist democracies such as (...) the United States), it often seems that Benjamin might not have all that much to say.That, at least, is the way that he is often read. Marxists, if they pay attention to .. (shrink)
Many theorists promote a decentralized politics but very few of them practice this decentralization textually. In this essay, I engage with three techniques Benjamin employs to decenter his authority in the text: allegory, montage and the production of text as “pure means.” Taken together, these practices amount to what I am calling Benjamin’s use of a “black flashlight.” Rather than illuminate his text with his own knowledge, seeking to win the reader over by persuasion and textual authority, Benjamin seeks to (...) obscure and complicate any meaning. He attempts to have his text fail to deliver a final verdict to the reader. The obscure, pitch black light Benjamin sheds on his own and other texts leaves us as readers to our own devices, deprived as we are of the usual guidance of the author. In this way, Benjamin not only encourages but requires the reader’s own intervention, a model for the anarchist politics he also describes in the text. (shrink)
In this essay, I comment on Andrew Benjamin’s recent book, Working with Walter Benjamin. I claim that in this book, Professor Benjamin has done a great deal to illuminate certain complicated aspects of Walter Benjamin’s philosophy. In particular, I focus on his distinction between theology and religion, his treatment of divine violence and the ways that it differs from any human actions, and the nature of what Professor Benjamin calls counter-measures, that is measures which not only challenge but actually unmake (...) certain aspects of our contemporary sense of reality and temporality. (shrink)
Although Arendt rejects all manifestations of what she calls “the absolute,” the way that theology trumps politics, she yet overlooks the theological basis of one of her most cherished models of political origins, the story of the Mayflower Compact. Arendt sees the Mayflower Compact as affording a basis for a community that is joined only through mutual promising, allowing a maximal amount of individualism and struggle within a collectively determined entity. Yet she downplays the role that theology serves in supporting (...) this compact. In overlooking the connection between the Pilgrim’s ideology and Rousseau’s concept of the general will which has its own Calvinist origins, Arendt evinces a tendency to forgive a basis for politics in America which she vehemently rejects in the European context. Insofar as liberalism is itself redolent of this Calvinist form of pseudo-individualism, Arendt demonstrates an alternative model even as it remains tangled with its theological origins. (shrink)
Lors d’une conférence à l’université de Iéna, Paul Klee construit une analogie entre la création artistique et la morphologie de l'arbre. Dans cette parabole, qui a depuis connu une fortune critique internationale, il associe les racines au flux des apparences et des expériences et l'artiste au tronc, celui-ci ordonnant et acheminant dans l’œuvre ce courant qui l'assaille. Cette démonstration, qui a pour intention de justifier les développements abstraits de l'art moderne, réserve à l'ar...