What are words? What makes two token words tokens of the same word-type? Are words abstract entities, or are they (merely) collections of tokens? The ontology of words tries to provide answers to these, and related questions. This article provides an overview of some of the most prominent views proposed in the literature, with a particular focus on the debate between type-realist, nominalist, and eliminativist ontologies of words.
Purpose This paper aims to formalize long-term trajectories of human civilization as a scientific and ethical field of study. The long-term trajectory of human civilization can be defined as the path that human civilization takes during the entire future time period in which human civilization could continue to exist. -/- Design/methodology/approach This paper focuses on four types of trajectories: status quo trajectories, in which human civilization persists in a state broadly similar to its current state into the distant future; catastrophe (...) trajectories, in which one or more events cause significant harm to human civilization; technological transformation trajectories, in which radical technological breakthroughs put human civilization on a fundamentally different course; and astronomical trajectories, in which human civilization expands beyond its home planet and into the accessible portions of the cosmos. -/- Findings Status quo trajectories appear unlikely to persist into the distant future, especially in light of long-term astronomical processes. Several catastrophe, technological transformation and astronomical trajectories appear possible. -/- Originality/value Some current actions may be able to affect the long-term trajectory. Whether these actions should be pursued depends on a mix of empirical and ethical factors. For some ethical frameworks, these actions may be especially important to pursue. (shrink)
This chapter considers the view that a central concern of metaphysics is what is possible. That is, the idea is that, unlike science, metaphysics studies not only what is actual, but the ways that reality could be. This view, if right, provides metaphysics with a distinct subject matter from that of science, and, depending on what modal epistemology we adopt, a distinct methodology too. In this chapter, I first provide an overview of the view, before highlighting some of the most (...) prominent objections, and possible routes of response. (shrink)
Edward Jonathan Lowe (usually cited as E. J. Lowe) was one of the most significant philosophers of the twentieth and early twenty-first century. He made sustained and significant contributions to debates in metaphysics, ontology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and philosophy of religion, as well as contributing important scholarly work in early modern philosophy (most notably on Locke). Over the length of his career, Lowe published eleven single-authored books, four co-edited collections, and well over 300 papers and (...) book reviews in journals and edited volumes. The range of topics covered in his published work is highly eclectic. Given this, and his prolific rate of publication, this article cannot aim to cover all of the questions that Lowe contributed work on. Instead, it will focus on some of his most significant contributions in metaphysics and ontology, and related topics in other areas of philosophy. This choice of focus stems, in part, from Lowe’s strong belief in the inescapability of metaphysical questions. Lowe argued for the need to approach metaphysics, and philosophy more broadly, in a serious, systematic fashion, likening metaphysics to putting together the pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, working with, rather than trying to overrule or being secondary to, natural science. Although the sections in this article focus on different topics, the highly systematic nature of Lowe’s work means that there are many potential points of intersection that could be drawn between them. In the interests of providing a navigable summary of Lowe’s work, this article highlights only some of these connections. (shrink)
The objectively best language is intended to refer to some metaphysically privileged language that ‘carves reality at its joints’ perfectly. That is, it is the kind of language that various ‘metaphysical deflationists’ have argued is impossible. One common line of argument amongst deflationists is that we have no means to compare languages that all express true facts about the world in such a way to decide which is ‘better’. For example, the language is physics is not objectively better than the (...) language of economics, as each language has the semantic purpose of expressing some domain of truths about the world inexpressible in the other language, and therefore neither could be ‘objectively best’. -/- In this paper, I argue that metaphysical deflationists have failed to recognise a distinction between fine- and coarse-grained semantic purposes of languages, and that a recognition of that distinction provides us grounds to compare languages to see which is objectively best. I argue that once we recognise the distinction between fine- and coarse-grained semantic purposes, then we can see that it is relative to the coarse-grained purpose that we must compare putative objectively best ontological languages. (shrink)
A crucial question for both philosophy and for science concerns the kind of relationship that obtains between entities—objects, properties, states, processes, kinds and so on—that exist at apparently higher and lower ‘levels’ of reality. According to reductionism, seeming higher-level entities can in fact be fully accounted for by more fundamental, lower-level entities. Conversely, emergentists of various stripes hold that whilst higher-level entities depend in some important sense on lower-level entities, they are nevertheless irreducible to them. This introductory paper outlines the (...) context of the debate between emergentists and reductionists; offers a broad characterisation of ‘strong’ or ontological emergence, and provides summaries of each of the papers to come in this special issue. (shrink)
Metaphysical and epistemological dualism informs much contemporary discussion of the relationships of science and religion, in particular in relation to the neurosciences and the religious understanding of the human person. This dualism is a foundational artifact of modern culture; however, contemporary scientific research and historical theological scholarship encourage a more holistic view wherein human personhood is most fittingly understood as an emergent phenomenon of, but not simply reducible to, evolutionary and developmental neurobiology.
In the last decade, it has become something of a cliché to note that Marxism lacks a theory of politics. As Jürgen Habermas said more than 15 years ago: “Due to the introduction of the superstructure into the base itself, the classical dependency relationship of politics to the economy was disrupted.” Similar theses have taken a variety of forms. For some, the inadequacy of Marxist political theory is the result of recent developments, particularly the appearance of the welfare state in (...) place of the watchdog state; the novel political arrangements characterizing this new historical epoch require a new theory of the state. (shrink)
An opinion piece discussing the role of the realist novel and the concept of realism itself when reality seems so deranged in light of Trump, Brexit and the present Anglo-American crisis of legitimacy. The essay also acts as a critical-reflective 'companion' to my novel 'UnAmerican Activities' as the final part - calling for writers to respond with a 'deranged realism' - articulate the aesthetic behind my latest novel.
From the Introduction: The present essay provides an introduction to the treatment of human existence and individuality in Marxist thought. The work will be primarily concerned with two related topics: the evaluation by Marxists of individual emancipation and their assessment of subjective factors in social theory. By taking up these taking up these topics within a systematic and historical framework, I hope to generate some fresh light on several familiar issues. First, I pursue a reading of Marx focused on his (...) treatment of subjectivity, individuation, and related methodological and practical matters; second, I apply this interpretation to analyzing the dispute between Marxist orthodoxy and heterodoxy over such matters as class consciousness and the philosophy of materialism; finally, I employ this historical context to clarify the significance of "existential Marxism," Maurice Merleau-Ponty's and Jean-Paul Sartre's contribution to Marxist thought. (shrink)
Originally published in 1938. This compact treatise is a complete treatment of Aristotle’s logic as containing negative terms. It begins with defining Aristotelian logic as a subject-predicate logic confining itself to the four forms of categorical proposition known as the A, E, I and O forms. It assigns conventional meanings to these categorical forms such that subalternation holds. It continues to discuss the development of the logic since the time of its founder and address traditional logic as it existed in (...) the twentieth century. The primary consideration of the book is the inclusion of negative terms - obversion, contraposition etc. – within traditional logic by addressing three questions, of systematization, the rules, and the interpretation. (shrink)
Originally published in 1938. This compact treatise is a complete treatment of Aristotle’s logic as containing negative terms. It begins with defining Aristotelian logic as a subject-predicate logic confining itself to the four forms of categorical proposition known as the _A, E, I _and_ O_ forms. It assigns conventional meanings to these categorical forms such that subalternation holds. It continues to discuss the development of the logic since the time of its founder and address traditional logic as it existed in (...) the twentieth century. The primary consideration of the book is the inclusion of negative terms - obversion, contraposition etc. – within traditional logic by addressing three questions, of systematization, the rules, and the interpretation. (shrink)
Research on children raises major ethical issues, the most important being the inability of the subjects to provide freely given informed consent. Committees in Canada and the United States charged with formulating recommendations for the protection of human subjects in research came to some fundamentally different conclusions. Two of these are discussed as they apply to children: first the distinction between therapeutic and non-therapeutic research, recognized implicitly by the National Commission and deliberately avoided by the Medical Research Council Working Group (...) ; and second, the looser relation between local committees and Council as defined by guidelines in Canada and the tighter relation between the institutional review committees and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare defined by regulations in the United States. (shrink)
It is hard to believe that the ancient philosophers were as rationally consistent in word and deed as they appear in the surviving lore about their lives. The myths are certainly charming – but they also make Socrates, Plato, and Diogenes the Cynic feel alien, remote, more like polished marble statues than fallible creatures of flesh and blood.
The development and changes in Merleau-Ponty's Marxism are analyzed by an examination of the relationship of his phenomenology to the rationalism and determinism of the Marxist dialectic. From Humanism and Terror to Adventures of the Dialectic Merleau-Ponty made explicit and worked out the philosophical dilemmas in his own Marxism and eventually abandoned the determinism of the Hegelian-Marxist autonomous dialectic of history. This rejection of a determinism "executed behind humanity's back" was the heart of Merleau-Ponty's social thought, and meant that the (...) teleological meaning of history incarnate in the proletariat had to be criticized. Merleau-Ponty put the practical focus of the emancipatory social philosophy on the individual conceived concretely "as a potential participant in a universal history.". (shrink)
In the case of the Parmenides, I thought that I had sufficiently protected myself by saying that the details were not to be pressed. But, if I am required to take Plato's version of Parmenides au pied de la lettre, I can still reply that quite possibly it is historically accurate, that scholars know far less about Parmenides than they could wish, that perhaps they have erred in not taking Plato's testimony into serious account in their reconstruction of the philosophy (...) of Parmenides, and that perhaps Plato's dialogue--in which Parmenides is old--represents a late stage in the development of Parmenides' philosophy whereas the fragments of the poem come from an earlier period. (shrink)
By Burnet's principle I mean the theory that, contrary to the usual belief of scholars in the nineteenth century, the character "Socrates" in the dialogues of Plato is to be regarded not as an idealized figure, not as the mouthpiece for Plato's original philosophical doctrines, but as Plato's accurate representation of the historical Socrates whom he had known.
This is a description of an avian-shaped feature that rests below a network of cellular structures found on a mound within the Argyre Basin of Mars in Mars Global Surveyor image M14-02185, acquired on April 30, 2000, and released to the public on April 4, 2001. The area examined is located near 48.0° South, 55.1° West. The formation is approximately 2,400 meters long from the tip of its beak to the tip of its farthest tail feather. There is a minimum (...) of six different variations in appearance of the surface material over this small area. Utilizing the public targeting request form provided on the Mars Global Surveyor website, co-author Miller secured a second image of the area that was obtained on July 3, 2006, showing this feature under different conditions S20-00165. The new image was then released to the public on August 11, 2006. A third image of the formation identified as MGS S13-01480 was acquired on December 15, 2005, and although officially processed on June 20, 2006, it was not made available to the public until August 22, 2009, on NASA’s Planetary Data System website. All three of the MGS images reveal defining aspects of this avian feature, including a head, beak, body, eye, leg, foot, toes, wing, and feathers. When taken together, these components induce the visual impression of an avian-shaped formation that exhibits a unique set of proportional features. Adjoining this formation is a composite of complex cellular features that form a compartmentalized infrastructure. The three authors who are veterinarians provide a critical analysis of the avian features, and the geologist and geoscientist authors examine natural mechanisms that could contribute to the formation of this feature. An extensive search of comparable regions within and beyond the area of the Argyre Basin was conducted. A list of these sites is provided, and terrestrial comparisons are also offered. (shrink)