Nobilitas is a study of the history of aristocratic philosophy from ancient Greece to the early twentieth century that aims at providing an alternative to the liberal democratic norms, which are propagated today as the only viable socio-political system for the world community. Jacob reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the social and cultural development of European civilization has, for twenty-five centuries, been based not on democratic or communist notions but, rather on aristocratic and nationalist notions. Beginning with the (...) political philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and continuing through Renaissance and Baroque aristocratic philosophers, the German Idealists, and English and Italian nationalists, the study ends with the transformation of aristocratic philosophy in nineteenth century Germany into racist elitism. As such, the study includes a survey of the philosophical bases of racism and anti-Semitism. These topics have been systematically excluded from academic and political debate since the end of the last Great War. This study is a pioneering work in understanding and changing political ideologies. (shrink)
According to an influential view, one function of mirror neurons (MNs), first discovered in the brain of monkeys, is to underlie third-person mindreading. This view relies on two assumptions: the activity of MNs in an observer’s brain matches (simulates or resonates with) that of MNs in an agent’s brain and this resonance process retrodictively generates a representation of the agent’s intention from a perception of her movement. In this paper, I criticize both assumptions and I argue instead that the activity (...) of MNs in an observer’s brain is enhanced by a prior representation of the agent’s intention and that their task is to predictively compute the best motor command suitable to satisfy the agent’s intention. (shrink)
The tuning-fork model of human social cognition, based on the discovery of mirror neurons (MNs) in the ventral premotor cortex of monkeys, involves the four following assumptions: (1) mirroring processes are processes of resonance or simulation. (2) They can be motor or non-motor. (3) Processes of motor mirroring (or action-mirroring), exemplified by the activity of MNs, constitute instances of third-person mindreading, whereby an observer represents the agent's intention. (4) Non-motor mirroring processes enable humans to represent others' emotions. After questioning all (...) four assumptions, I point out that MNs in an observer's brain could not synchronically resonate with MNs in an agent's brain unless they discharged in a single brain in two distinct tasks at different times. Finally, I sketch a conceptualist alternative to the resonance model according to which a brain mechanism active in both the execution and the perception of e.g., the act of grasping is the neural basis of the concept of e.g., grasping. (shrink)
Alva Noë’s version of the enactive conception in _Action in Perception_ is an important contribution to the study of visual perception. First, I argue, however, that it is unclear (at best) whether, as the enactivists claim, work on change blindness supports the denial of the existence of detailed visual representations. Second, I elaborate on what Noë calls the ‘puzzle of perceptual presence’. Thirdly, I question the enactivist account of perceptual constancy. Finally, I draw attention to the tensions between enactivism and (...) two trends in cognitive neuroscience: the two-visual systems model of human vision and the theory of internal forward models of action. (shrink)
Intentionality is the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs. The puzzles of intentionality lie at the interface between the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. The word itself, which is of medieval Scholastic origin, was rehabilitated by the philosopher Franz Brentano towards the end of the nineteenth century. ‘Intentionality’ is a philosopher's word. It derives from the Latin word intentio, which in turn derives from the verb (...) intendere, which means being directed towards some goal or thing. The entry falls into eleven sections. (shrink)
What accounts for the continued lack of clarity over the legal procedures for the patenting of DNA sequences? The patenting system was built for a "bricks-and-mortar" world rather than an information economy. The fact that genes are both material molecules and informational systems helps explain the difficulty that the patent system is going to continue to have.
The article addresses the potential impact of functional brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron-emission tomography) on surrogate end-of-life decision-making in light of varying state-law definitions of consciousness, some of which define awareness behaviorally and others functionally. The article concludes that, in light of admonitions by neuroscientists that functional brain imaging cannot yet replace behavioral evaluation to determine the existence of consciousness, state legislatures, courts and drafters of written advance healthcare directives should consider treating behavior, not function, as the (...) touchstone for end-of-life decision-making. (shrink)
We use psychological concepts (e.g., intention and desire) when we ascribe psychological states to others for purposes of describing, explaining, and predicting their actions. Does the evidence reported by Knobe show, as he thinks, that moral evaluation shapes our mastery of psychological concepts? We argue that the evidence so far shows instead that moral evaluation shapes the way we report, not the way we think about, others' psychological states.
I examine and discuss Jaegwon Kim's arguments against non-reductive physicalism in his book, Mind in a Physical World. I first examine the supervenience argument and then the multiple realization argument. Finally, I raise some questions about Kim's overall attitude towards mental realism, i.e., realism about mental properties.
The new prominence given to science for economic growth and industry comes with an increased policy focus on the promotion of commodification and commercialization of academic science. This paper posits that this increased interest in commodification is a new steering mechanism for governing science. This is achieved by first outlining what is meant by the commodification of scientific knowledge through reviewing a selection of literatures on the concept of commodification. The paper concludes with a discussion of how commodification functions as (...) a means for governing science. (shrink)
Although researchers have been concerned with the effects of parental socialisation on children's outcomes, there has been surprisingly little work on the socialisation of children's moral emotions and behaviour. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of observed parental affect and encouragement in children's empathy-related responding and moral behaviour (i.e. cheating). Moreover, the moderating influence of children's characteristics (i.e. sex) on this relationship was investigated. Ninety-seven girls and 119 boys (mean age = 73 months) with a parent (...) participated in the study. Children completed a dispositional sympathy and empathy questionnaire and were observed in a resistance-to-temptation task. Further, parents' affect and encouragement were assessed during two parent-child interactive situations. Results indicated that parents' positive affect and encouragement were positively related to children's sympathy. In contrast, parents' interactive style was not related to children's empathy. In terms of children's moral behaviour, findings revealed that parental interactive style was related to boys' but not girls' cheating on a puzzle task. These findings offer support for the notion that parental practices involving emotion contribute to children's moral development. (shrink)
As more and more historians acknowledge the central signifcance of science and technology with that of modern society, the need for a good, general history of the achievements of the Scientific Revolution has grown. Scientific Culture and The Making of the Industrial West seeks to explain this historical process by looking at how and why scientific knowledge became such an integral part of the culture of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and how this in turn lead to the (...) Industrial Revolution. This comparative study not only looks at England, and its success, but follows through with the history of France, the Netherlands, and Germany. (shrink)
Three key contributions of Iris Young to democratic political theory, and three challenges that have arisen in response to Young's theory, are examined here in relation to education. First, Young has argued that oppression and domination, not distributive inequality, ought to guide discussions about justice. Second, eliminating oppression requires establishing a politics that welcomes difference by dismantling and reforming structures, processes, concepts and categories that sustain difference‐blind, impartial, neutral, universal politics and policies. The infatuation with merit and standardized tests, both (...) of which are central to measuring educational achievement, are chief amongst the targets in need of reform. Third, a politics of difference requires restructuring the division of labour and decision‐making so as to include disadvantaged social groups but allow them to contribute without foregoing their particularities. The challenges that have arisen in response to Young's theory are first, that difference is merely another way of getting at inequality of resources or opportunities, and if it is not, then, second, a politics of difference values difference for the sake of difference rather than for the sake of alleviating social disadvantage. Third, in theory and in practice a politics that focuses on difference putatively jeopardizes a politics whose aim is to improve the redistribution of resources. (shrink)
First, I argue that the narrow content of a thought cannot be identical with the linguistic meaning of the sentence used to express it. Secondly, I argue that the distinction between narrow content and linguistic meaning is not fatal to content-dualism. Thirdly I argue for the view that the proposition contributed by the clause prefixed by "that" is an interpretation of the believer's thought. Finally, I use this insight to provide an individualist account of Burge's thought-experiments such that recognition that (...) the truth-conditions of belief-ascriptions include aspects of the believer's environment does not entail that those environmental aspects are thereby parts of the contents of the person's thoughts. (shrink)
Dretske has argued that, unlike the content of beliefs and desires, the contents of innate representations cannot in principle play a role in the causal explanation of an individual's behavior. I examine this "asymmetry" and against it, I argue that the content of innate mental representations too can play a causal role in the explanation of behavior.
There are presently three broad approaches the project of naturalizing intentionality: a purely informational approach (Dretske and Fodor), a purely teleological approach (Millikan and Papineau), and a mixed informationally-based teleological approach (Dretske again). I will argue that the last teleosemantic theory offers the most promising approach. I also think, however, that the most explicit version of a pure teleosemantic theory of content, namely Millikan’s admirable theory, faces a pair of objections. My goal in this paper is to spell out Millikan’s (...) pure teleosemantic theory; then to present two objections; and finally to ask the question whether a teleosemantic framework can be saved from the objections. (shrink)
Why is it that most among the relatively few moral philosophers since Kant who, like J. S. Mill, have discussed the question whether there can be moral duties to oneself, have answered it negatively? One reason is that those philosophers have supposed that all moral action must be, inter alia, social; and they may have thought so because of their commitment to what is here called a 'corporationist' moral view. But such a conception of morality as social is objectionable because (...) it does not square with ordinary opinion and because it introduces an artificial division between types of action which go together in real life. (shrink)
Preston & de Waal minimized differences among constructs such as empathy, sympathy, and personal distress. However, such distinctions have been shown to relate differently to altruistic behavior. Moreover, although the authors discussed the role of regulation in empathy, they did not consider the possibility that sometimes empathy is not well-regulated and likely leads to personal distress rather than sympathy.