Terraforming is a process of planetary engineering by which the extant environment of a planetary body is transformed into an environment capable of supporting human inhabitants. The question I would like to consider in this paper is whether there is any reason to believe that the terraforming of another planet—for instance, the terraforming of Mars—is morally problematic. Topics related to the human exploration of space are not often discussed in philosophical circles. Nevertheless, there exists a growing body of philosophical literature (...) dedicated to sorting out the moral implications of the use of resources from (and in) space. Most of this literature is produced as environmental philosophy. Questions of .. (shrink)
The Negation Problem states that expressivism has insufficient structure to account for the various ways in which a moral sentence can be negated. We argue that the Negation Problem does not arise for expressivist accounts of all normative language but arises only for the specific examples on which expressivists usually focus. In support of this claim, we argue for the following three theses: 1) a problem that is structurally identical to the Negation Problem arises in non-normative cases, and this problem (...) is solved once the hidden quantificational structure involved in such cases is uncovered; 2) the terms ‘required’, ‘permissible’, and ‘forbidden’ can also be analyzed in terms of hidden quantificational structure, and the Negation Problem disappears once this hidden structure is uncovered; 3) the Negation Problem does not arise for normative language that has no hidden quantificational structure. We conclude that the Negation Problem is not really a problem about expressivism at all but is rather a feature of the quantificational structure of the required, permitted, and forbidden. (shrink)
The problem of the unity of the proposition asks what binds together the constituents of a proposition into a fully formed proposition that provides truth conditions for the assertoric sentence that expresses it, rather than merely a set of objects. Hanks’ solution is to reject the traditional distinction between content and force. If his theory is successful, then there is a plausible extension of it that readily solves the Frege–Geach problem for normative propositions. Unfortunately Hanks’ theory isn’t successful, but it (...) does point to significant connections between expressivism, unity, and embedding. (shrink)
Neuropsychological research on the neural basis of behaviour generally posits that brain mechanisms will ultimately sufﬁce to explain all psychologically described phenomena. This assumption stems from the idea that the brain is made up entirely of material particles and ﬁelds, and that all causal mechanisms relevant to neuroscience can therefore be formulated solely in terms of properties of these elements. Thus, terms having intrinsic mentalistic and/or experiential content (e.g. ‘feeling’, ‘knowing’ and ‘effort’) are not included as primary causal factors. This (...) theoretical restriction is motivated primarily by ideas about the natural world that have been known to be fundamentally incorrect for more than three-quarters of a century. Contemporary basic physical theory differs profoundly from classic physics on the important matter of how the consciousness of human agents enters into the structure of empirical phenomena. The new principles contradict the older idea that local mechanical processes alone can account for the structure of all observed empirical data. Contemporary physical theory brings directly and irreducibly into the overall causal structure certain psychologically described choices made by human agents about how they will act. This key development in basic physical theory is applicable to neuroscience, and it provides neuroscientists and psychologists with an alternative conceptual framework for describing neural processes. Indeed, owing to certain structural features of ion channels critical to synaptic function, contemporary physical theory must in principle be used when analysing human brain dynamics. The new framework, unlike its classic-physics-based predecessor, is erected directly upon, and is compatible with, the prevailing principles of physics. It is able to represent more adequately than classic concepts the neuroplastic mechanisms relevant to the growing number of empirical studies of the capacity of directed attention and mental effort to systematically alter brain function.. (shrink)
Abstract: Recently, the idea that every hypothetical imperative must somehow be 'backed up' by a prior categorical imperative has gained a certain influence among Kant interpreters and ethicists influenced by Kant. Since instrumentalism is the position that holds that hypothetical imperatives can by themselves and without the aid of categorical imperatives explain all valid forms of practical reasoning, the influential idea amounts to a rejection of instrumentalism as internally incoherent. This paper argues against this prevailing view both as an interpretation (...) of Kant and as philosophical understanding of practical reason. In particular, it will be argued that many of the arguments that claim to show that hypothetical imperatives must be backed up by categorical imperatives mistakenly assume that the form of practical reasoning must itself occur as a premise within the reasoning. An alternative to this assumption will be offered. I will conclude that while instrumentalism may well be false, there is no reason to believe it is incoherent. (shrink)
Lip reading is the ability to partially understand speech by looking at the speaker's lips. It improves the intelligibility of speech in noise when audio-visual perception is compared with audio-only perception. A recent set of experiments showed that seeing the speaker's lips also enhances sensitivity to acoustic information, decreasing the auditory detection threshold of speech embedded in noise [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 109 (2001) 2272; J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 108 (2000) 1197]. However, detection is different from comprehension, and it remains (...) to be seen whether improved sensitivity also results in an intelligibility gain in audio-visual speech perception. In this work, we use an original paradigm to show that seeing the speaker's lips enables the listener to hear better and hence to understand better. The audio-visual stimuli used here could not be differentiated by lip reading per se since they contained exactly the same lip gesture matched with different compatible speech sounds. Nevertheless, the noise-masked stimuli were more intelligible in the audio-visual condition than in the audio-only condition due to the contribution of visual information to the extraction of acoustic cues. Replacing the lip gesture by a non-speech visual input with exactly the same time course, providing the same temporal cues for extraction, removed the intelligibility benefit. This early contribution to audio-visual speech identification is discussed in relationships with recent neurophysiological data on audio-visual perception. (shrink)
The moral obligation to support space exploration follows from our obligations to protect the environment and to survive as a species. It can be justified through three related arguments: one supporting space exploration as necessary for acquiring resources, and two illustrating the need for space technology in order to combat extraterrestrial threats such as meteorite impacts. Three sorts of objections have been raised against this obligation. The first are objections alleging that supporting space exploration is impractical. The second is the (...) widely held notion that space exploration and environmentalism are at odds with one another. Finally, there are two objections to using space resources that Robert Sparrow has raised on the topic of terraforming. The obligation to support space exploration can be defended in at least three ways: (1) the "argument from resources," that space exploration is useful for amplifying our available resources; (2) the "argument from asteroids," that space exploration is necessary for protecting the environment and its inhabitants from extraterrestrial threats such as meteorite impacts; and (3) the "argument from solar burnout," that we are obligated to pursue interstellar colonization in order to ensure long-term human survival. (shrink)
Although molecular systematists may use the terminology of cladism, claiming that the reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships is based on shared derived states , the latter is not the case. Rather, molecular systematics is based on the assumption, first clearly articulated by Zuckerkandl and Pauling , that degree of overall similarity reflects degree of relatedness. This assumption derives from interpreting molecular similarity between taxa in the context of a Darwinian model of continual and gradual change. Review of the history of molecular (...) systematics and its claims in the context of molecular biology reveals that there is no basis for the “molecular assumption.”. (shrink)
: The Bush administration's military war on terrorism is a blunt, ineffective, and unjust response to the threat posed to innocent civilians by terrorism. Decentralized terrorist networks can only be effectively fought by international cooperation among police and intelligence agencies representing diverse nation‐states, including ones with predominantly Islamic populations. The Bush administration's allegations of a global Islamist terrorist threat to the national interests of the United States misread the decentralized and complex nature of Islamist politics. Undoubtedly there exists a “combat (...) fundamentalist” element within Islamism. But the threat posed to U.S. citizens by Islamist terrorism neither necessitates nor justifies as a response massive military invasions of other nations. Not only does the Bush administration's war on alleged “terrorist states” violate the doctrine of just war, but in addition these wars arise from a new, unilateral, imperial foreign‐policy doctrine of “preventive wars.” Such a doctrine will isolate the United States from international institutions and long‐standing allies. The weakening of these institutions and alliances will only weaken the ability of the international community to deter terrorism. (shrink)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a commonly occurring neuropsychiatric condition characterized by bothersome intrusive thoughts and urges that frequently lead to repetitive dysfunctional behaviours such as excessive handwashing. There are well-documented alterations in cerebral function which appear to be closely related to the manifestation of these symptoms. Controlled studies of cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques utilizing the active refocusing of attention away from the intrusive phenomena of OCD and onto adaptive alternative activities have demonstrated both significant improvements in clinical symptoms and systematic changes in (...) the pathological brain circuitry associated with them. Careful investigation of the relationships between the experiential and putative neurophysiological processes involved in these changes can offer useful insights into volitional aspects of cerebral function. (shrink)
Marx thinks that capitalism is exploitative, and that is a major basis for his objections to it. But what's wrong with exploitation, as Marx sees it? (The paper is exegetical in character: my object is to understand what Marx believed,) The received view, held by Norman Geras, G.A. Cohen, and others, is that Marx thought that capitalism was unjust, because in the crudest sense, capitalists robbed labor of property that was rightfully the workers' because the workers and not the capitalists (...) produced it. This view depends on a Labor Theory of Property (LTP), that property rights are based ultimately on having produced something. (A view oddly enough shared with the libertarian right, though the LTP is better support for egalitarian or socialist views; see my From Libertarianism to Egalitarianism, 18 Social Theory & Prac. 259-288 (1992).) -/- I show that the idea that Marx's objection to exploitation is based on injustice or LTP-grounded theft is mistaken. Marx's real objection to exploitation is based on unfreedom, that capitalist relations of production, he thinks, unnecessarily limit human freedom. In the first place Marx is quite clear that he vehemently rejects the concepts of justice, fairness, or rights as bourgeois ideology. It is true that he uses the language of "theft" on occasion, but either a literal interpretation of that language must be abandoned, or his consistent, life-long objection to rights- and justice talk must be given up. Second, the structure, indeed the point, of his analysis of the laws of motion of capitalism, is that capitalists make profits through exploitation of labor -- without cheating -- by the normal "legitimate" operation of the system. Other arguments make the same point. -/- The unfreedom or force-based view, though not necessarily my specific arguments advocated so far is shared by a minority of other writers, such as Nancy Holmstrom and Richard Arneson. What my paper offers that is novel, part from arguments for the foregoing that are different and better than those found elsewhere (although Holmstrom and Arneson are excellent), is an account of in detail of what Marx regards as the real problem with exploitation. -/- I analyze Marx's objection that capitalist exploitation causes unnecessary unfreedom by distinguishing and spelling out three different kinds of freedom that he invokes: classic negative freedom, or noninterference; positive freedom, understood as control over or access to the resources enabling one to exercise one's negative freedom; and "real" freedom, as he puts it, the ability to "give the law to oneself," to regulate one's own activities under rules chosen by oneself, to develop one's capacities by autonomous choice. This puts Marx in the tradition going back through Hegel and Kant to Rousseau, the first express advocate of this idea. The opposite of real freedom, the unfreedom due to lack of autonomy, is alienation. -/- I conclude by stating that I think that justice-based objections to exploitation that avoid Marx's objections to the concept are possible. I do not attempt to spell these out here. I take up that task in my subsequently published paper Relativism, Reflective Equilibrium, and Justice, 17 Legal Stud.,128-168 (1997). -/- The present paper is related to and partly overlaps with my paper In Defense of Exploitation, 11 Econ. & Phil. 49-81 (1995), a critique of John Roemer's equality based account of the nature of exploitation and its wrongness. The research and writing of this paper was financially supported by the philosophy department of The Ohio State University. -/- Keywords: Exploitation, Justice, Unjustice, Theft, Labor Theory of Property, Marx, Freedom, Unfreedom, Rights, Fairness, Critique of Justice, Negative Freedom, Positive Freedom, Real Freedom, Alienation, G.A. Cohen, Norman Geras. (shrink)
Widespread deflationistic readings of Quine misrepresent his view of disquotation’s significance and the truth predicate’s utility. I demonstrate this by answering a question that philosophers have not directly addressed: how does Quine understand the philosophical problem of truth? A primary thesis of this paper is that we can answer this question only by working from within Quine’s naturalistic framework. Drawing on neglected texts from Quine's corpus, I defend the view that, for Quine, the problem of truth emerges from the development (...) of science, in particular, from logical theorizing. I show that disquotation itself, from this Quinean point of view, is the problematic phenomenon calling for philosophical reflection. I conclude by arguing that Quine does not envisage the kind of explanatory role for disquotation taken up by contemporary deflationists, and he shows no interest in the task that animates deflationism, namely, to show that concerns with truth’s nature are fundamentally confused. (shrink)
clusions are only probably correct. On the other hand, algorithmic information theory provides a precise mathematical definition of the notion of random or patternless sequence. In this paper we shall describe conditions under which if the sequence of coin tosses in the Solovay– Strassen and Miller–Rabin algorithms is replaced by a sequence of heads and tails that is of maximal algorithmic information content, i.e., has maximal algorithmic randomness, then one obtains an error-free test for primality. These results are only of (...) theoretical interest, since it is a manifestation of the G¨ odel incompleteness phenomenon that it is impossible to “certify” a sequence to be random by means of a proof, even though most sequences have this property. Thus by using certified random sequences one can in principle, but not in practice, convert probabilistic tests for primality into deterministic ones. (shrink)
In a previous paper a theory of program size formally identical to information theory was developed. The entropy of an individual finite object was defined to be the size in bits of the smallest program for calculating it. It was shown that this is − log2 of the probability that the object is obtained by means of a program whose successive bits are chosen by flipping an unbiased coin. Here a theory of the entropy of recursively enumerable sets of objects (...) is proposed which includes the previous theory as the special case of sets having a single element. The primary concept in the generalized theory is the probability that a computing machine enumerates a given set when its program is manufactured by coin flipping. The entropy of a set is defined to be − log2 of this probability. (shrink)
Is the family subject to principles of justice? In "A Theory of Justice", John Rawls includes the (monogamous) family along with the market and the government as among the, "basic institutions of society", to which principles of justice apply. Justice, he famously insists, is primary in politics as truth is in science: the only excuse for tolerating injustice is that no lesser injustice is possible. The point of the present paper is that Rawls doesn't actually mean this. When it comes (...) to the family, and in particular its impact on fair equal opportunity, (the first part of the Difference Principle, Rawls' second principle of justice), he abandons the priority of justice. I also argue that he is right to do so. -/- The central argument is simple. As Rawls admits, what family one is raised by profoundly affects one's life chances: a child raised by a family has far greater life chances on every dimension than one raised in a poorer family that may lack books, education, and time to give the child attention. But the prevailing family arrangements in the industrialized West, assigning children to be raised by their biological parents, is guaranteed to perpetuate this injustice. While Rawls says an unjust institution in the basic structure of society, in which he includes the family, must be, "reformed or abolished," he refrains from calling for the reform or abolition of the family. We must simply work around it to compensate for the injustices he admits it involves. And this despite the fact that alternative arrangements involving communal child-rearing (Plato) or assigning children to those best qualified to raise them (Rousseau) are common in the philosophical literature. Moreover, the practice of having children raised by their biological parents is a relatively recent one, at least in the West, where, before the late 18th century, fostering-out or apprenticeship arrangements were normal and expected for both rich and poor for centuries. -/- Much of the paper is devoted to fine-grained textual analysis of Rawls' attempts to avoid the devastating implications of this argument for his theory of justice -- much of which are stated only in the original edition of "A Theory of Justice" and simply deleted, without substitution by anything better, in the second edition. In the end, Rawls has no way out. He cannot keep the priority of justice, fair equality of opportunity, and the monogamous family in which children are raised by their biological parents. As he admits, these are mutually inconsistent. -/- In the final part of the paper, I argue that Rawls should give up on the priority of justice. While child-rearing by the biological parents is a historical anomaly, in the real modern world it would be politically unfeasible to institute Platonic, Rousseauean, or similar legislation that purportedly assigned children to those best able to raise them, regardless of biological relationship. Since Rawls is committed to principles of political stability and feasibility, as he should be, and since ought implies can, such proposals are off the table. I concur with Rawls that we must work around this injustice, even those there are more just arrangements available in principle. But the cost of this -- less high than Rawls suggests -- is abandoning the principle of the priority of justice. Justice is one of a number of considerations that we must or may balance in deciding on the best attainable social relations. It is not a trump. However, this comes a great cost for Rawls: he must also abandon the lexical ordering of principles of justice or, in general, right or good principles of social order, in favor of the messy intuitionist balancing that his theory is designed to avoid. -/- One feature of the paper that is worth independent attention is a discussion of Marx's rejection of justice in the Critique of the Gotha Program, which I explicate, and urge, without adopting it, that it has a great deal more force than is widely understood. (shrink)
According to Stewart Shapiro's coherence principle, structures exist whenever they can be coherently described. I argue that Shapiro's attempts to justify this principle are circular, as he relies on criticisms of modal nominalism which presuppose the coherence principle. I argue further that when the coherence principle is not presupposed, his reasoning more strongly supports modal nominalism than ante rem structuralism.
in a 2nd task (e.g., pleasant vs. unpleasant words for an evaluation attribute). When instructions oblige highly associated categories (e.g., liower + pleasant) to share a response key, performance is faster than when less associated categories (e.g., insect + pleasant) share a key. This performance difference implicitly measures differential association of the 2 concepts with the attribute. In 3..
This paper critiques the view, widely held by philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists, that psychological explanation is a matter of ascribing propositional attitudes (such as beliefs and desires) towards language-like propositions in the mind, and that cognitive mental states consist in intentional attitudes towards propositions of a linguistic quasi-linguistic nature. On this view, thought is structured very much like a language. Denial that propositional attitude psychology is an adequate account of mind is therefore, on this view, is tantamount to (...) eliminative materialism, the denial that human beings are thinking beings. -/- I dispute this on the basis of recent work in cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence. Mental models theory, on which thought is better understood as nonpropositional intentional psychology, accords better with the evidence and offers an alternative view to propositional attitude psychology -- one that means that the denial that that is propositional is not eliminative. However, I argue that propositional attitude psychology is a useful idealization, as classical mechanics is of relativity theory, strictly but not radically false, and useful for prediction and indeed, as long as its idealized character is born in mind, for explanation of behavior. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen defends and Jon Elster criticizes Marxist use of functional explanation. But Elster's mechanical conception of explanation is, contrary to Elster's claims, a better basis for vindication of functional explanation than Cohen's nomological conception, which cannot provide an adequate account of functional explanation. Elster also objects that functional explanation commits us to metaphysically bizarre collective subjects, but his argument requires an implausible reading of methodological individualism which involves an unattractive eliminativism about social phenomena.
A standard natural rights argument for libertarianism is based on the labor theory of property: the idea that I own my self and my labor, and so if I "mix" my own labor with something previously unowned or to which I have a have a right, I come to own the thing with which I have mixed by labor. This initially intuitively attractive idea is at the basis of the theories of property and the role of government of John Locke (...) and Robert Nozick. Locke saw and Nozick agreed that fairness to others requires a proviso: that I leave "enough and as good" for others. The same considerations apply to legitimate acquisition by voluntary exchange, gift, or bequeathal. -/- This sort of argument has been critiqued for the purely hypothetical and counterfactual nature of its premises, for the coherence of the idea of self-ownership, for the notion that mixing what I own with what I do not gives me a right in what I do not rather than wasting what I own, and for the unacceptably cruel and heartless consequences of adopting it, among other reasons. -/- However, I accept the premises and waive (though note) these objections, and formulate a new objection, showing that to give me a right in what I do not own, the labor theory of property requires a commitment to a right to what I need. I distinguish several senses of need and show that the sense of need the argument requires is "use need," the need I have to to use something to exercise my labor on it. This turns out to have a startling counter-intuitive result: the libertarian principle, so understood, turns out to be "to each according to his needs," which Marx identified as the principle of the highest phase of communism as he understood it. If communism is understood as in some sense egalitarian, this argument for libertarianism turns itself inside out into an argument for egalitarian communism. Libertarians therefore cannot use the Labor Theory of Property to defend the positions they typically wish to hold. (shrink)
Roemer's attempt to undermine the normative reasons that Marxists have thought exploitation important (domination, alienation, and inequality) is vitiated by several crucial errors. First, Roemer ignores the dimension of freedom which is Marx's main concern and replaces it with an interest in justice, which Marx rejected. This leads him to misconstrue the nature of exploitation as Marx understands it. Second, his procedure for disconnecting these evils from exploitation, or denying their importance, involves the methodological assumption that exploitation must strictly imply (...) these evils. He thus fails to see that exploitation may 'cause' domination, alienation, and inequality; this assumption and the focus on justice also lead him to overlook the sort of alienation that is most important to Marx and the way exploitation, as Marx understands it, does imply coercion. Roemer's alternative conception of exploitation thus fails to capture basic Marxist normative and explanatory concerns. But Roemer's insistence on the importance of justice and the need for an articulated alternative to capitalism are a necessary supplement to a Marxist account. (shrink)
This essay explores the phenomenon of common sense through a contextual analysis of Hannah Arendt’s political application of Kant’s Critique of Judgment. I begin by tracing the development of Arendt’s thinking on judgment and common sense during the 1950s which led her to turn to the third Critique. I then consider the justification of her move by examining the philosophical context and political applications of the third Critique, arguing that within it Kant made an original and profound discovery: that the (...) phenomenon of common sense contains a hidden faculty that may anchor moral and political judgments. I conclude by arguing that Arendt was on firmer ground than is often thought in adapting Kantian common sense to politics, a fact that may afford new possibilities for the practice of moral and political thought. (shrink)
Philosophers have argued that on the prevailing theory of mind, functionalism, the fact that mental states are multiply realizable or can be instantiated in a variety of different physical forms, at least in principle, shows that materialism or physical is probably false. A similar argument rejects the relevance to psychology of connectionism, which holds that mental states are embodied and and constituted by connectionist neural networks. These arguments, I argue, fall before reductios ad absurdam, proving too much -- they apply (...) as well to genes, which are multiply realizable, but the reduction of which to DNA is one the core cases of scientific reductive explanation, a reduction if anything is. -/- I suggest that psychology, like biology, be what I call "provincialized," abandon claims to universal validity, except as an idealization, and treat different classes of cognizers differently from an an explanatory perspective. This would permit specifies specific, or more precisely, provincial reductions of different psychologies that might be multiply realized if such reductions were available. Connectionism may be the foundation of a reduction of human psychology, and thus biology and connectionism retain their relevance to psychology, and physicalism or materialism is consistent with functionalism. (shrink)
Publication of the Vestiges and the rather primitive theory of evolution it expounded thus played a significant role in the careers of Darwin and Wallace. In addition, in spite of his poor opinion of the Vestiges, it presented Huxley with a convenient topic for critical discussion and the opportunity to focus more attention on the subject of evolution. The dynamic interactions among these leading figures of nineteenth-century natural science helped spur the development of more sophisticated models of evolution.Darwin had a (...) proper appreciation of Chambers's contribution to evolutionary thought, although he fully recognized the shortcomings of this work. He understood the importance of allowing fresh ideas about organic change to be ventilated. However, he was primarily concerned with his own theory and viewed all developments in evolutionary biology from this perspective. If he did not give full consideration to Chambers and his book early on, it was due mainly to his feeling that the concepts in the Vestiges were very different from his own; he was therefore reluctant to embrace them as the forerunners of his own theory. As a scholar, he was also troubled by the scientific errors in the book. However, the record demonstrates that he attempted to make amends for any oversight on his part. His generous letter to Chambers's daughter, and his gracious treatment of Chambers during the brief time the latter lived in London, are ample proof of that.The attacks of Huxley, Sedgwick, and other prominent natural historians and geologists at the time, the problems inherent in Chambers's evolutionary theory, and the publication of the Origin, are the major reasons why the Vestiges became a neglected work. Nevertheless, Chambers's contribution will always stand out because, together with those of other late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century predecessors of Darwin, it laid the foundations of modern evolutionary thought and, more importantly, helped prepare the scientific community for the more fully developed ideas of Darwin and Wallace. (shrink)