It has often been suggested that people's ordinary understanding of morality involves a belief in objective moral truths and a rejection of moral relativism. The results of six studies call this claim into question. Participants did offer apparently objectivist moral intuitions when considering individuals from their own culture, but they offered increasingly relativist intuitions considering individuals from increasingly different cultures or ways of life. The authors hypothesize that people do not have a fixed commitment to moral objectivism but instead tend (...) to adopt different views depending on the degree to which they consider radically different perspectives on moral questions. (shrink)
Philosophy as a way of life (PWOL) places investigations of value, meaning, and the good life at the center of philosophical investigation, especially of one’s own life. I argue PWOL is compatible with general introductory philosophy courses, further arguing that PWOL-based general introductions have several philosophical and pedagogical benefits. These include the ease with which high impact practices, situated skill development, and students’ ability to ‘think like a disciplinarian’ may be incorporated into such courses, relative to more traditional introductory courses, (...) as well as the demonstration of philosophy’s value to students by explicitly tying philosophical investigation to students own lives. (shrink)
Introductory students regularly endorse naïve skepticism—unsupported or uncritical doubt about the existence and universality of truth—for a variety of reasons. Though some of the reasons for students’ skepticism can be traced back to the student—for example, a desire to avoid engaging with controversial material or a desire to avoid offense—naïve skepticism is also the result of how introductory courses are taught, deemphasizing truth to promote students’ abilities to develop basic disciplinary skills. While this strategy has a number of pedagogical benefits, (...) it prevents students in early stages of intellectual development from understanding truth as a threshold concept. Using philosophy as a case study, I argue that we can make progress against naïve skepticism by clearly discussing how metadisciplinary aims differ at the disciplinary and course levels in a way that is meaningful, reinforced, and accessible. (shrink)
‘Fake news’ has become an increasingly common refrain in public discourse, though the term itself has several uses, at least one of which constitutes Frankfurtian bullshit. After examining what sorts of fake news appeals do and do not count as bullshit, I discuss strategies for overcoming our openness to such bullshit. I do so by drawing a parallel between openness to bullshit and naïve skepticism—one’s willingness to reject the concept of truth on unsupported or ill-considered grounds—and suggest that this parallel (...) indicates three principles for how we ought to combat our openness to fake news and other bullshit. First, the root causes of bullshit openness are not monolithic; we should adopt anti-bullshit strategies in recognition of this fact. Second, our efforts to overcome bullshit openness should be collaborative efforts to create an environment that allows for sustained interrogation of our bullshit openness, rather than a confrontational provision of contrary evidence, despite the fact that such strategies are more time-intensive. Third, social media is unlikely to be a fertile ground on which we will make meaningful progress in the fight against bullshit because of the inherent nature of social media platforms as spaces for short, declarative, confrontational claims. (shrink)
Progressive stacking is a strategy for prioritizing in-class contributions that allows marginalized students to speak before non-marginalized students. I argue that this strategy is both pedagogically and ethically defensible. Pedagogically, it provides benefits to all students (e.g., expanded in-class discourse) while providing special benefits (e.g., increased self-efficacy) to marginalized students, helping to address historic educational inequalities. Ethically, I argue that neither marginalized nor non-marginalized students are wronged by such a policy. First, I present a strategy for self-disclosure that reduces the (...) risk of inadvertent, unwanted disclosure while respecting marginalized student autonomy in a manner analogous to accommodations provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Second, I argue that non-marginalized students are not wronged because such students are not silenced during discussion and because non-marginalized students benefit from the prioritization of marginalized voices. (shrink)
It has been claimed that the attempt to analyze know-how in terms of propositional knowledge over-intellectualizes the mind. Exploiting the methods of so-called “experimental philosophy”, we show that the charge of over-intellectualization is baseless. Contra neo-Ryleans, who analyze know-how in terms of ability, the concrete-case judgments of ordinary folk are most consistent with the view that there exists a set of correct necessary and sufficient conditions for know-how that does not invoke ability, but rather a certain sort of propositional knowledge. (...) To the extent that one’s considered judgments agree with those of the folk (or to the extent that one is unwilling to contravene widespread judgments), this constitutes a strong prima facie case against neo-Ryleanism. (shrink)
A philosopher once wrote the following words:If I examine the PTOLOMAIC and COPERNICAN systems, I endeavour only, by my enquiries, to know the real situation of the planets; that is, in other words, I endeavour to give them, in my conception, the same relations, that they bear towards each other in the heavens. To this operation of the mind, therefore, there seems to be always a real, though often an unknown standard, in the nature of things; nor is truth or (...) falsehood variable by the various apprehensions of mankind. Though all human race should for ever conclude, that the sun moves, and the earth remains at rest, the sun stirs not an inch from his place for all these reasonings; and such conclusions are eternally false and erroneous. (shrink)
Skepticism about the epistemic value of intuition in theoretical and philosophical inquiry has recently been bolstered by empirical research suggesting that people’s concrete-case intuitions are vulnerable to irrational biases (e.g., the order effect). What is more, skeptics argue that we have no way to ‘‘calibrate” our intuitions against these biases and no way of anticipating intuitional instability. This paper challenges the skeptical position, introducing data from two studies that suggest not only that people’s concrete-case intuitions are often stable, but also (...) that people have introspective awareness of this stability, providing a promising means by which to assess the epistemic value of our intuitions. (shrink)
Recent scholarship (Goodwin & Darley, 2008) on the meta-ethical debate between objectivism and relativism has found people to be mixed: they are objectivists about some issues, but relativists about others. The studies discussed here sought to explore this further. Study 1 explored whether giving people the ability to identify moral issues for themselves would reveal them to be more globally objectivist. Study 2 explored people's meta-ethical commitments more deeply, asking them to provide verbal explanations for their judgments. This revealed that (...) while people think they are relativists, this may not always be the case. The explanations people gave were sometimes rated by outside (blind) coders as being objective, even when given a relativist response. Nonetheless, people remained meta-ethical pluralists. Why this might be is discussed. (shrink)
The book is a defence of scientific realism. Its primary aim is to argue that it is possible to establish scientific realism without Inference to the Best Explanation. The idea that plays the central role in the book is an "Eddington-inference". Arthur Eddington once considered a hypothetical ichthyologist who concluded from the fact that his net contained no fish smaller than the holes in his net that there were in the sea no fish smaller than the holes in his net. (...) Although Eddington himself defended the inference, the author of the present volume argues on probabilistic grounds that it is likely such an inference is flawed. He generalises the argument to develop a probabilistic justification for scientific realist claims about the existence of unobservable entities. (shrink)
Abstract: Recent experimental research on the 'Knobe effect' suggests, somewhat surprisingly, that there is a bi-directional relation between attributions of intentional action and evaluative considerations. We defend a novel account of this phenomenon that exploits two factors: (i) an intuitive asymmetry in judgments of responsibility (e.g. praise/blame) and (ii) the fact that intentionality commonly connects the evaluative status of actions to the responsibility of actors. We present the results of several new studies that provide empirical evidence in support of this (...) account while disconfirming various currently prominent alternative accounts. We end by discussing some implications of this account for folk psychology. (shrink)
Lay persons may have intuitions about morality's objectivity. What do these intuitions look like? And what are their causes and consequences? In recent years, an increasing number of scholars have begun to investigate these questions empirically. This article presents and assesses the resulting area of research as well as its potential philosophical implications. First, we introduce the methods of empirical research on folk moral objectivism. Second, we provide an overview of the findings that have so far been made. Third, we (...) raise a number of methodological worries that cast doubt upon these findings. And fourth, we discuss ways in which lay persons' intuitions aboutmoral objectivity may bear on philosophical claims. (shrink)
It has often been suggested that people’s ordinary folk understanding of morality involves a rejection of moral relativism and a belief in objective moral truths. The results of six studies call this claim into question. Participants did offer apparently objectivist intuitions when confronted with questions about individuals from their own culture, but they offered increasingly relativist intuitions as they were confronted with questions about individuals from increasingly different cultures or ways of life. In light of these data, the authors hypothesize (...) that people do not have a fixed commitment to moral objectivism but instead tend to adopt different views depending on the degree to which they consider radically different perspectives on moral questions. [NOTE: This is a reprint of Sarkissian et al 2011]. (shrink)
This manuscript discusses the author’s experience implementing a secularized version of Lectio Divina, a medieval monastic contemplative reading practice, in an introductory philosophy classroom. Following brief discussion of Lectio Divina’s history and a description of how the practice was modified for the classroom, I discuss three benefits (increased attention to cognitive and noncognitive reactions to the text, willingness to engage with the material in novel ways, and the opportunity to engage in independent disciplinary practice) and three potential challenges (the time (...) required, student engagement, and the practice’s perceived religiosity) arising from the exercise. Following this, I discuss potential modifications to the exercise that instructors may wish to consider, namely strategies for addressing students’ status as novice meditators, focusing textual selections on course materials, and having students engage in some aspects of the practice as homework. (shrink)
Human social intelligence includes a remarkable power to evaluate what people know and believe, and to assess the quality of well- or ill-formed beliefs. Epistemic evaluations emerge in a great variety of contexts, from moments of deliberate private reflection on tough theoretical questions, to casual social observations about what other people know and think. We seem to be able to draw systematic lines between knowledge and mere belief, to distinguish justified and unjustified beliefs, and to recognize some beliefs as delusional (...) or irrational. This article outlines the main types of epistemic evaluations, and examines how our capacities to perform these evaluations develop, how they function at maturity, and how they are deployed in the vital task of sorting out when to believe what others say. (shrink)
Introduction A brief look at the competing present-day interpretations of Hume's philosophy will leave the uninitiated reader completely baffled. On the one hand , Hume is seen as a philosopher who attempted to analyse concepts with ...
This essay presents deductive arguments to an introductory-level audience via a discussion of Aristotle's three types of rhetoric, the goals of and differences between deductive and non-deductive arguments, and the major features of deductive arguments (e.g., validity and soundness).
_ Source: _Page Count 32 In this paper we first set the stage with a brief overview of the tangled history of humility in theology and philosophy—beginning with its treatment in the Bible and ending with the more recent work that has been done in contemporary philosophy. Our two-fold goal at this early stage of the paper is to explore some of the different accounts of humility that have traditionally been developed and highlight some of the key debates in the (...) current literature. Next, we present the findings from several studies we recently conducted in an effort to explore people’s intuitions and beliefs about humility as well as their experiences with being humble. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our findings to the ongoing philosophical debates about humility—suggesting that while some varieties of humility are problematic, other varieties of humility are certainly worth wanting. (shrink)
David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature presents the most important account of skepticism in the history of modern philosophy. In this lucid and thorough introduction to the work, John P. Wright examines the development of Hume's ideas in the Treatise, their relation to eighteenth-century theories of the imagination and passions, and the reception they received when Hume published the Treatise. He explains Hume's arguments concerning the inability of reason to establish the basic beliefs which underlie science and morals, as (...) well as his arguments showing why we are nevertheless psychologically compelled to accept such beliefs. The book will be a valuable guide for those seeking to understand the nature of modern skepticism and its connection with the founding of the human sciences during the Enlightenment. (shrink)
Re-consent in research, the asking for a new consent if there is a change in protocol or to confirm the expectations of participants in case of change, is an under-explored issue. There is little clarity as to what changes should trigger re-consent and what impact a re-consent exercise has on participants and the research project. This article examines applicable policy statements and literature for the prevailing arguments for and against re-consent in relation to longitudinal cohort studies, tissue banks and biobanks. (...) Examples of re-consent exercises are presented, triggers and non-triggers for re-consent discussed and the conflicting attitudes of commentators, participants and researchers highlighted. We acknowledge current practice and argue for a greater emphasis on ‘responsive autonomy,’ that goes beyond a one-time consent and encourages greater communication between the parties involved. A balance is needed between respecting participants' wishes on how they want their data and samples used and enabling effective research to proceed. (shrink)
As John Rawls makes clear in A Theory of Justice, there is a popular and influential strand of political thought for which brute luck – that is, being lucky in the so-called “lottery of life” – ought to have no place in a theory of distributive justice. Yet the debate about luck, desert, and fairness in contemporary political philosophy has recently been rekindled by a handful of philosophers who claim that desert should play a bigger role in theories of distributive (...) justice. In the present paper, we present the results of our attempts to fill in some of the missing empirical details of this debate. Our findings provide some preliminary evidence that, contrary to what most contemporary political philosophers have assumed, people are not as worried by natural luck as previously thought. Instead, people’s worries seem to be focused exclusively on inequalities generated by social luck. (shrink)
Ascriptions of objectivity carry significant weight. But they can also cause confusion because wildly different ideas of what it means to be objective are common. Faced with this, some philosophers have argued that objectivity should be eliminated. I will argue, against one such position, that objectivity can be useful even though it is plural. I will then propose a contextualist approach for dealing with objectivity as a way of rescuing what is useful about objectivity while acknowledging its plurality.
Skepticism about the epistemic value of intuition in theoretical and philosophical inquiry fueled by the empirical discovery of irrational bias (e.g., the order effect) in people's judgments has recently been challenged by research suggesting that people can introspectively track intuitional instability. The two studies reported here build upon this, the first by demonstrating that people are able to introspectively track instability that was experimentally induced by introducing conflicting expert opinion about certain cases, and the second by demonstrating that it was (...) the presence of instability?not merely the presence of conflicting information?that resulted in changes in the relevant attitudinal states (i.e., confidence and belief strength). The paper closes with the suggestion that perhaps the best explanation for these (and other) findings may be that intuitional instability is not actually ?intuitional.? (shrink)
The article discusses the varying conceptions of the faculty of ‘the understanding’ in 18th-century British philosophy and logic. Topics include the distinction between the understanding and the will, the traditional division of three acts of understanding and its critics, the naturalizing of human understanding, conceiving of the limits of human understanding, British innatism and the critique of empiricist conceptions of the understanding, and reconceiving the understanding and the elimination of scepticism. Authors discussed include Richard Price, James Harris, Zachary Mayne, Edward (...) Bentham, Isaac Watts, Dugald Stewart, John Norris—as well as Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Reid. (shrink)
The sceptical positions philosophers have adopted with respect to neuroimaging data are based on detailed evaluations of subtraction, which is one of many data analysis techniques used with neuroimaging data. These positions are undermined when the epistemic implications of the use of a diversity of data analysis techniques are taken into account. I argue that different data analysis techniques reveal different patterns in the data. Through the use of multiple data analysis techniques, researchers can produce results that are locally robust. (...) Thus, the epistemology of neuroimaging must take into consideration the details of the different data analysis techniques that are used to evaluate neuroimaging data, and the specific theoretical aims those techniques are deployed towards. _1_ Introduction _2_ Scepticism about Neuroimaging _3_ Data Analysis and Evidence _4_ Deconvolution and Pattern Classification Analysis _4.1_ Deconvolution analysis _4.2_ Region of interest selection _4.3_ Pattern classification analysis _5_ The Strength of Multiple Analyses _6_ Conclusion. (shrink)
The publication of a new intellectual biography of George Cheyne provides a "propitious" occasion for "a thoroughly skeptical review" of the question which has long exercised Hume scholars, whether Cheyne was the intended recipient of David Hume's fascinating pre-Treatise Letter to a Physician, the letter which describes his own hypochondriacal physical and mental symptoms and gives an account of his early philosophical development. Hume's nineteenth-century biographer, John Hill Burton, argued that Hume was probably writing to Cheyne, while Ernest Mossner claimed (...) to definitively refute that hypothesis in an article entitled "Hume's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot," published in 1944. Anita Guerrini's intellectual biography does not discuss Cheyne as a possible recipient of Hume's letter, but she does present a well-rounded picture of this interesting eighteenth-century physician from which we can judge his appropriateness as its addressee. In the following discussion I will make use of the biographical material found in this new biography of Cheyne, as well as other sources, to show that Mossner's arguments are less than definitive, and that it would be wrong to dismiss the possibility that the letter was sent to George Cheyne. This is a possibility that, for reasons that I will make clear, makes good biographical and philosophical sense. At the same time, it is important to keep a proper suspense of judgment as Burton did, for the evidence that the letter was either intended for or actually sent to Cheyne is not definitive. (shrink)
The new field of experimental philosophy has emerged as the methods of psychological science have been brought to bear on traditional philosophical issues. Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy will be the place to go to see outstanding new work in the field. It will feature papers by philosophers, papers by psychologists, and papers co-authored by people in both disciplines. The series heralds the emergence of a truly interdisciplinary field in which people from different disciplines are working together to address a (...) shared set of questions. The inaugural volume is roughly structured into four sections. The first three papers focus on recent developments in moral psychology, a topic that has seen lively debate and a great deal of progress over the last decade. The second section highlights three contributions that bring new methods to moral psychology: formal modeling and special populations. The third section brings together four papers that adopt an experimental philosophy approach to novel topics, including intuitive dualism, generics, joint action, and happiness. And the last two papers provide critical and historical context to the development of experimental philosophy. (shrink)
In this article I contrast 17th and 18th explanations of hysteria including those of Sydenham and Willis with those given by Plato and pre-modern medicine. I show that beginning in the second decade of the 17th century the locus of the disorder was transferred to the nervous system and it was no longer connected with the womb as in Hippocrates and Galen; hysteria became identified with hypochondria, and was a disease contracted by men as well as women. I discuss the (...) purely mechanical explanation of hysteria given by Robert Boyle who attributed its cause to corporeal ideas as well as overly sensitive disposition of the nervous system. I relate this the mechanical theory of the nervous system prominent in Descartes' writings on physiology. The paper closes with a discussion of the contrast between early modern explanations of hysteria and the nature of man with those of Freud in the early 20th century. (shrink)
Our primary aim in this paper is to sketch the account of virtue that we think most amenable to virtue measurement. Our account integrates Whole Trait Theory from psychology with a broadly neo-Aristotelian approach to virtue. Our account is ‘ecumenical’ in that it has appeal for a wide range of virtue ethicists. According to WTT, a personality trait is composed of a set of situation-specific trait-appropriate responses, which are produced when certain “social-cognitive” mechanisms are triggered by the perception of trait-relevant (...) stimuli in a person’s external and/or internal environment. Moving from this starting point, we discuss our conception of a virtue and respects in which it both aligns with and diverges from Aristotle’s conception. We discuss roles for practical wisdom and motivation in our conception of virtue, and highlight respects in which WTT provides an amenable empirical framework into which key Aristotelian elements can be integrated. We conclude with brief remarks about our conception as an empirically adequate and measurable account. (shrink)
The Character Gap by Christian Miller is an excellent discussion of how the empirical research conducted on virtue bears upon the larger question of whether or not people are virtuous, especially when we consider the question through the lens of a philosophically rigorous account of virtue. His conclusion is that overall people are not virtuous—but then, neither are they vicious. In this commentary, I challenge the latter. I explore two alternative ways of conceiving of vice and utilize a range of (...) empirical findings—on topics ranging from bullying, to sexual assault, to factory farming—to argue that perhaps vice is much more prevalent than Miller believes, a worry that deserves our attention and concern. (shrink)
Psyche and Soma is a multi-disciplinary exploration of the history of understanding of the human mind or soul and its relationship to the body, through the course of more than two thousand years. Thirteen specially commissioned chapters, each written by a recognized expert, discuss such figures as the doctors Hippocrates and Galen, the theologians St Paul, Augustine, and Aquinas, and philosophers from Plato to Leibniz.
A laboratory-testable, solid-state Maxwell demon is proposed that utilizes the electric field energy of an open-gap p-n junction. Numerical results from a commercial semiconductor device simulator (Silvaco International–Atlas) verify primary results from a 1-D analytic model. Present day fabrication techniques appear adequate for laboratory tests of principle.
The problem of inadequate professional training for graduate students in teaching and pedagogy has recently come into sharp relief. Pro- viding teacher training for philosophy graduate students through for-credit courses has been recommended as a solution to this problem. This paper provides an overview of the problem, identifies several aims such a course should have, and provides a detailed overview of a course satisfying those aims. By providing a detailed outline of the course, this paper can act as a resource (...) for faculty tasked with teaching such a course. Finally, we justify the pedagogical decisions made in the design of this course to prepare fa- cilitators to more effectively teach it, to allow facilitators to make informed and intentional decisions when adapting the course to their program, and as a demonstration of what we take to be some of the best practices in teach- ing and pedagogy. That is, the design of the course is informed by the very material covered in the course. (shrink)
This paper considers the role of physicaleducation researchers within current publicconcerns about body shape and weight. UsingUlrich Beck's notion of `risk' it examines howcertainty about children, obesity, exercise andhealth is produced in the contexts of `expert'knowledge and recontextualised in the academicand professional physical education literature.It is argued that the unquestioning acceptanceof the obesity discourses in physical educationhelps to construct anxieties about the body,which are detrimental to students and silencesalternative ways of thinking and doing physicaleducation.
This is a review article discussing James Harris’s excellent study of David Hume’s full philosophical career including his epistemology, moral philosophy, politics, economics, religion, and history. Harris argues against a common view that in his later writings Hume is merely working out and developing the ideas of his Treatise of Human Nature. He even argues that Hume’s two Enquiries are substantially new works and not mere recasting of his youthful Treatise. Harris writes that philosophy for Hume is a ‘a style (...) of thought and of writing rather than a subject matter or body of doctrine.’. He carefully analyses Hume’s many essays, including those on economics and politics and provides the context which is needed to understand their significance. He explains how Hume modified and built his views on his reading of both contemporary and ancient authors. Each chapter provides a careful study of Hume’s writings in the context of his extant letters and manuscripts. Harris’s Intellectual Biography is recommended for anyone who wishes to understand his individual writings as well as those who seek to an overall understanding of his intellectual development. (shrink)