Understanding spoken words involves a rapid mapping from speech to conceptual representations. One distributed feature-based conceptual account assumes that the statistical characteristics of concepts’ features—the number of concepts they occur in and likelihood of co-occurrence —determine conceptual activation. To test these claims, we investigated the role of distinctiveness/sharedness and correlational strength in speech-to-meaning mapping, using a lexical decision task and computational simulations. Responses were faster for concepts with higher sharedness, suggesting that shared features are facilitatory in tasks like lexical decision (...) that require access to them. Correlational strength facilitated responses for slower participants, suggesting a time-sensitive co-occurrence-driven settling mechanism. The computational simulation showed similar effects, with early effects of shared features and later effects of correlational strength. These results support a general-to-specific account of conceptual processing, whereby early activation of shared features is followed by the gradual emergence of a specific target representation. (shrink)
Like David Silver before them, Erik Baldwin and Michael Thune argue that the facts of religious pluralism present an insurmountable challenge to the rationality of basic exclusive religious belief as construed by Reformed Epistemology. I will show that their argument is unsuccessful. First, their claim that the facts of religious pluralism make it necessary for the religious exclusivist to support her exclusive beliefs with significant reasons is one that the reformed epistemologist has the resources to reject. Secondly, they fail to (...) demonstrate that it is impossible for basic religious beliefs to return to their properly basic state after defeaters against them have been defeated. Finally, I consider whether there is perhaps a similar but better argument in the neighbourhood and conclude in the negative. Reformed Epistemology's defence of exclusivism thus remains undefeated. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 29–35. Translated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei from Jeroen Mettes. "Politieke Poëzie: Enige aantekeningen, Poëtica bij N30 (versie 2006)." In Weerstandbeleid: Nieuwe kritiek . Amsterdam: De wereldbibliotheek, 2011. Published with permission of Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek, Amsterdam. L’égalité veut d’autres lois . —Eugène Pottier The modern poem does not have form but consistency (that is sensed), no content but a problem (that is developed). Consistency + problem = composition. The problem of modern poetry is capitalism. Capitalism—which has (...) no image: the unrepresentable Idea of “everything.” The problem is that a poem cannot be justified. There is no excuse for it. Political poetry— pure poetry—has to be problematic, though not in a mannerist way. Yes, its problem is first its own problem—poetry’s existence in the same world as the newspaper—but therefore also always everybody’s problem (the problem of any world at all). The cult of the sublime points at a suspect desire for transcendence, nostalgia for paradise lost (the womb?). Melancholia of the post-. But a problem neither sorrows nor mourns, it is alive, and the fact that it is alive is the problem—the problem for death (rigidity, the status quo). Our symbols and ideologies do not hide any god: symbolic = state; imaginary = human; real = money. Problem: the possibility of communal speech (poetry) in the absence of a “we.” Or: what is a “we” that is not a collective subject (or in any case is not a volonté générale )? What is a universal history that is not a History? This work was started in the shade of the anti-globalization protests at the end of November 1999. I considered N30 to be the closure of the nineties, of my adolescence, and of the a seemingly total extinction of social desire. From the beginning I was skeptical about the alterglobalization movement as the avant-garde of a new politics, but something was happening . Maybe this event did not show that, as the slogan would have it, “another world” is possible, but for me it indicated that such possibility was at least still possible. That naked possibility is carrying forward. And if the fundamental tone of this work sounds more desperate than utopian, this is not caused by the catastrophic sequence that since 1999 has plunged us ever deeper into the right-wing nightmare—a nightmare that this work also gives an account for—but because my hope as yet remains empty. Composition . Composition is no design, but the production of an autonomous block of affects (i.e. a POEM), rhythmically subtracted from the language of a community. A poem does something. Is something. New Sentence . Choosing the non sequitur as compositional unit has the advantage that an abstract composition is subjected to the stress of concrete, social references. Where there is a sentence, there is always a world. (This does not hold necessarily for words on their own.) And where sentences collide, something akin to a textual civil war takes place. It is not about “undermining” whatever, or de-scribing the raging global civil war, but about writing social (or even: ontological) antagonism -- including all its catastrophic and utopian possibilities. Minor resistance. Why would poetry be the no protest zone par excellence? It is nothing but protest, not simply qua “content,” but in its most fundamental essence: rhythm. Rhythm is resistance against language, time, and space, and the basis of (what we will continue to call) autonomy. Rhythm starts with the anti-rhythmic caesura as Hölderlin remarked about Sophocles, a disruption of the quotidian drone. The destruction of everything that is dead inside of us. The noise of the avant-garde has never been the representation of the noise of (post)modernity (from the television or shopping mall), but the sober noise of the systematic exchange of an unbearable worldview. The poet does not describe, but looks for a way out: There is a Grain of Sand in Lambeth that Satan cannot find Nor can his Watch Fiends find it, tis translucent & has many Angles But he who finds it will find Oothoons palace, for within Opening into Beulah every angle is a lovely heaven William Blake was not mad. And there has always been only one poetry: the poetry of paradise. The principle is that there is something in art (the essentially creative element) that is disgusted by that which, unlike art, does not aim for the supreme. Wonder is not supreme, tranquility is not supreme, beauty is not supreme. Even amusement is not supreme! The supreme is supremely open, “das Einfache,/ Das Schwer zu machen ist” 1 : paradise. That is abstract. Literally. For me it is not about a concrete imagination, an idyll or utopia. There is no doubt a need for that, but it is not so much the supposed lack of imagination or ideals (human rights are ideals), but a fundamental lack of desire (human rights are no desires) that we suffer from, and from which we do not need to remove Nietzsche’s label of “nihilism.” “We.” George Oppen: “ Of Being Numerous asks the question whether or not we can deal with humanity as something which actually exists.” What is less actual than humanity? Nowadays it appears as a lifeless ideology of cynical power politics. Or as what makes one think. It is a shame to be human. The event is the caesura that defines rhythm. Writing toward the event is not the description of the event, but marking an abstract and intense space in which the event may unfold and keep itself. It is a task. “Remember that thou blesseth the day on which I seized thee, because such is thy obligation.” The event is a contraction (or a series of contractions) with its own rhythm and unique qualities. It is more than an explosion or demonstration. But at the same time less. The endless repetition of images and stories in the media points to a fear for the indeterminate and indeterminable void of the event. In the end there is nothing to see. We do not live in disaster’s shade or miracle’s light, but rather in the rhythm, which is contracted time, having little to do with omnipresent representations. For this book I did not intend a rhythm of evental representations (a narrative rhythm), but a rhythm which would be an event itself , because it draws the border between artwork and history. My desire for a direct engagement with the “extra-textual reality” has nothing to do with the representation of “rumor in the streets.” (What has less street cred than representation?) Naturally, a poem is no historical event and does not change anything. But a poem is a part of history that wants to be repeated forever, constructed in such a way that it is worthy of repetition. It is a part of desire (composition) made consistent (durable). The “historical event” flares up and burns down, and has to burn down to be effective. The leftovers are images and stories (representations), History—no event. The artwork—that is the ambition— remains event (though monumental and inefficient/inoperable). (No wonder that a historical singularity, a revolution, reminds us of a work of art; the resurrection yearns for a judgment, an affirmation; everything depends on it.) Hence the title does not summarize the book, let alone contract its “content” into a quasi-transcendental signifier. The title is juxtaposed to the book, like everything else inside the book, and in that relation it precisely forms a part of it. The ideal work is an open whole, lacking nothing but to which everything may be added. I have been interested in this “everything,” the world, or as I said above: capitalism. “Everything” is not the space for “wonder”—a code word, a shibboleth for petty bourgeois imagination (I recognize myself in the strangest things, a speaking dog, a canal, a pond standing straight—oh my god). No. The world is a social world, not YOUR world, poet. Power is number one. I will call “Dutch,” or “shitty,” whatever denies this power. That hurts, but this pain is an expression of the desire in the world to write another world, or as Blanchot says, “the other of all worlds” 2 : the world. Not as what “is there,” but rather as that which urges for an escape from what “is.” This is a testament of how radical reality has become, for me—or rather, a writing body—in a having-been-written. I am not interested in the problem of “meaning” as misunderstood by literary scholarsi: “order” in “chaos,” “symbolization.” Bullshit. What is there, hop, hope, now: the meaning of the taste in my mouth. Bullshit. I am not interested in the frustration of interpretation; I am writing for readers who do not want to interpret. I do not know how many “professional readers” will hear the music of a paragraph like: Sun. Sushi. Volvo. I hope more than I would think. There is a suggestion (or rather, an actual production) of speed and infinitive owing to the absence of plosives, i.e. articulations such as /k/, /t/, or /p/. Can you hear the slick suaveness? Driving car dark, vocal chiaroscuro of the word “sushi.” The unstressed /i/ stands in the middle of dark vowels and thus acquires its own special out of focus , like a momentary flash or brilliance—an obscure light. It is not about recognizing a story, but about avoiding any story whatsoever: the car disappears in the glow, cars and raw fish have nothing in common except their articulation in a language that brings them together, blurring them. A world appears in its disappearance. For a moment, light is a metaphor for language, though it cannot be reduced to tenor. It is not necessary to be a linguist or philosopher to hear this—a “difficult” poem all too often becomes an allegory of its own impenetrable being-language. The only demand: leave your hermeneutical fetish at home. This was no interpretation. Most shit has been stolen etcetera. That is no longer interesting. You cannot shoot the body with information and let your lawyers reclaim the bullets. So every sentence has been stolen. Also the ones “out” “of” “my” “head.” Why would I be allowed to steal from myself and not from others? Man takes what he needs to move forward. Whatever he encounters, finds in front of him, “occurs” to him. The writer as text editor, or singing pirate. Nothing new here. Important difference with for example Sybren Polet’s 4 montage technique: anti-thematicism. Most of the time ferocious citation from whatever I was reading, listening to, ended up in, and so on. I wrote chapter 12 on my laptop while watching CNN. On the air instead of en plein air . I often employed search engines to generate material. Chapter 20 offers the purest example of this. Often I stop recognizing a particular citation after some time. It is not uncommon for a stolen sentence to conform itself to the paragraph in which it finds itself. Sometimes I nearly arbitrarily replace words. Arbitrariness as a guarantee for absolute democracy. It is a poetics of the non sequitur : a conclusion that does not follow from the premises, the strange element in the discourse. A discourse of strangers. No logical, narrative, thematic unity. There is unity in speed/flight. It has to be read linearly, but not necessarily (not preferably) from beginning to end. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but this line precedes every point. The middle, the acceleration, comes first. A point occurs where two lines cross. It has been written from up close, at the level of the tension between sentences. Nothing to be seen from a distance: no form except the exchange of form, no geometrical or mythical meaning. You have to get in, “groping toward a continuous present, a using everything a beginning again and again” (Stein). 5 In Dutch, experimental poetry has been mainly dense: a small rectangular form filled with a maximum amount of poetic possibility. But at the moment the poem starts to relax, the anecdotical content seems to increase. This is what is called “epic”: long, narrative. I believe that an epic is more than that, in fact something completely different. An epic is “a poem including history,” 6 a long poem tied up with the life of community, that as a whole does not need to be narrative. The American poets of the twentieth century (Pound, Williams, Zukofsky, Oppen, Olson, Silliman) have put the epic back on the map by interpreting the poem itself as a map, and writing it as navigation. They have invented the experimental epic, a genre that has generated little original following in “our” poetry. N30 is the middle part—“always start in the middle”—of a trilogy, the contours of which remain as of yet unclear, although each episode investigates one of the three “ecstasies of time”—past, present, future—concerning society X. N30 concerns itself with the PRESENT: not with the description of actual facts but of the rhythm and the intense depth in which facts appear to us. Where are we? We are camping in the desert. Sometimes we are looking at the stars. As opposed to maximum density and minimal tension (a characteristic of most (post-)experimental lyricism), I have sought a minimal density and maximum tension in this book, considered as a long non-narrative prose poem. On the one hand, the minimal density is obtained by the inherent formlessness of prose, on the other hand by the conscious refusal of any active (formal, non-rhythmic) synthesis: the poem tells nothing, shows nothing, has no theme. I did not seek maximum tension either by loading the quotidian with epiphanic radioactivity (“wonder,” confirmation from above), or by means of the intensity of the linguistic structure. I want an abstract tension, but social in its abstraction, in other words, not neutralized by and subjected to Form. Instead of form (transcendent): composition (immanent). The concept is series. Ideal: every unit is necessary for the efficacy of the others and the whole, their relation is purely linear, i.e. non-hierarchic, non-syllogistic, non-discursive, non-narrative. Sentence related to sentence like paragraph to paragraph and chapter to chapter; the whole means nothing and represents nothing. Inside the sentence: syntax (Chomsky’s tree, a type of parallel circuit), outside: parataxis (coordination, an asyntactic line through language and world). I consider duration—the energy of duration (rhythm)—to be the fundament of a poem, the temporal inclination to delimit a “space.” Being as consistency, its consistency. A spatial part of time is not merely a metaphor for an inevitable trajectory, an inescapable time, something like “our time.” Not merely—because rhythm comes from language and is not projected onto it; the poem derives from the world like a scent and a color and a life from a flower. A series, a sequence: nothing potential, but truly infinite—the movement of an infinitude. The infinite series = everything minus totality. That means that there is no container—no Form, no Self, no Image, no Structure, not even a Fragment—just “the prose of the world.” No representation, but also no staging of the impossibility of representation (the postmodern sublime). These are no fragments, no image of a fragmented world or personality, no cautious incantations around the Void. It does not exist. It is a movement. Buying bread, a flock of birds, a bomb falling—they do not depict or represent anything, not literally, not metaphorically. There is an Idea, which is however nothing more than a rhythm, in the same way that capitalism is nothing more than a pure function. Parataxis: the white space between two sentences stresses, which is nevertheless always there, also between words, even between letters: the out of focus of idle talk, the gutter, the irreducible Mallarméan mist which renders even the seemingly most transparent text legible. The white space suggests a neutral medium for free signification, a substance of language. A non sequitur is an element from a foreign discourse, which stresses the white space as space, and problematizes freedom for supra-sentential signification. I start by withdrawing material, leaving the initiative to the sentences. In general a word presupposes less often a discourse than a sentence. What discourse is presupposed by “dog”? We could think of several, but why would we? It is more probable that, when faced with the naked word, we think of its naked (dictionary) meaning, of its denotative signified. By means of two simple interventions we may also write the word as sentence: Dog. In no way this suggests the discourse from which this sentence originates, but in any case we’re presupposing one. This is shown by questions like: “Whose dog? Who’s a dog? What kind of dog?” Etc. (Sentences are question marks.) A sentence implies/is a microcosm—a subject, a verb, an object, and so on. Even an incomplete or ungrammatical sentence does so. My main fascination while writing this book is the worldly and social aspect of language, an aspect that often becomes invisible, or rather, transparent in narrativity—the stretching of sentences into stories. Narrativity organizes a new discourse and a new world, and places a sometimes all too dispersing relation of transparence in between. The conventional novel is the brothel of being. I do not intend to prohibit brothels, and I have certainly not intended to write an anti-novel (THIS IS A POEM), but I do consider narrativity (in general, in poetry, in the news, in daily life) to be ontologically secondary with regard to an immediate being in the world through sentences, also if the latter have been withdrawn from a narrative or otherwise externally structured discourse (which in that case would therefore be chronologically primary ). Naturally, two or more sentences are always in danger of telling stories or arguing, just like the world is always in danger of becoming an objective representation, facing us, strangers. That is why need to wage war—against representation and against the interface, against interaction. AGAINST THE “READER.” To the extent that a sentence is worldly, writing is a condensed global war, and in so far as there is ultimately only one world and one open continuum of languages, it is a global civil war. Nice subject for an epic. The elaboration of a singular problem—prose as the outside of poetry, the form of the novel as purely prosodic composition scheme—“expresses” the universal problem: capitalism as Idea of the world vs. poetry as language of an (im)possible community. The paragraphs are blocks of rhythmically contracted social material. By choosing the sentence as the basic compositional component, an abstract whole may contain social sounds, without telling a story or showing an image. Composition is subrepresentative —a rhythmic, passive synthesis, or rather: a synthesis of syntheses. I never write large blocks of prose in one sitting, because there is no obvious organizational vector —plot, theme, conscience—outside the inherent qualities of the material itself. Usually I write down one sentence, sometimes two, but rarely more than three. Those sentences are usually placed in the text which I am editing at the time. In fact, there is no original composition, new chapters split off from chapters which became too long during the editing process. (Revision mainly consists of adding and inserting, displacing and dividing; only during the last phase, when the text has gained enough consistency, there may be subtraction to tighten the composition; each chapter requires a season of daily revision). This constant revision, accompanied by a continuous influx of collective background noise (to speak with Van Bastelaere), 7 makes every chapter a block condensed (“historical” and “personal”) time. The block itself is a-personal and a-historic; it is ontologically autonomous. If there is such a thing as a spirit of the times, I do not try to offer an image of it, but rather to cancel something of it by erecting a monument of its own excrement within its own boundaries. Tuning and dis-tuning , “in de taal der neerslachtigen een eigen geluid doen klinken,” 8 in other words, desiring in an Elysian way. In this sense I have intended to be able to write a political poetry. The ultimate political poem is the epic, “the tale of the tribe.” I consider N30 to be a prolegomenon to a future epic (of which it in the end will form a part a structural moment, as introduction-in-the-middle), an extended pile on top of an epic as narrative, a question of the tribe and question of its history. I was burdened by too much satire, too much bullshit. But: satire willy-nilly = the only justifiable satire. Against the abstract universalism of the market (“globalism”): concrete disgust, a positive way of saying “No.” Moreover, disgust is a specifically total attitude, which ultimately concerns the world as a whole. I hate this or that, but I am disgusted by EVERYTHING (when I am disgusted), and so it appears that satire is in fact related to the epic, in so far as it concerns society, the cosmos, history. Maybe it is no coincidence that the Dutch literary canon knows no great poet of disgust; what could be more fearful to us than society, the cosmos, and history? The T-tendency (T from Tollens 9 ) clearly points into the direction of the small, friendly, ironic, melancholic, acquiescent, wondrous, and so on. The anti-political, anti-cosmic, anti-historical. (Why am I so philosophical? To scare away the Dutchies.) And most of all: the “poetical” (the pseudo-mysticism from the backyard). Yes, the N in N30 also stands for the Netherlands (just like 30 indicates the number of chapters). I was not in Seattle, I do not live in Iraq. But is not the whole world bleeding to death on Dutch paving stones? Let’s hope that we mowed away something with this total satire, also “in myself.” The arrogant stupidity that definitely thinks to know the essence of freedom (the free development of esthetic needs inside the void), that cannot take anything serious, only believes in the disciplined bestiality of the individual (“norms and values”) and the mere functioning of a social factory which finds no justification whatsoever outside its functioning (“get to work”)… Who knows. A certain aimed destruction leaves grooves and craters, mapping out a next adventure. Pound’s periplum : sailing while mapping the coasts. Immanent orientation. The terrain changes with the map, history changes with the poem. Maps never merely organize the chaos, transcendent schemes imposed on a formless Ding-an-sich . They organize from within, surfing. But they are most of all routes back into the chaos or forward to paradise (final identity of chaos and paradise; Schlegel: “ Nur diejenige Verworrenheit ist ein Chaos aus der eine Welt entspringen kann ”10). A poem is not only a piece of history, it is also a flight from history. Maps give chaos to the form of reality , open escape routes, break through representations, make us shivery and dazed. Paradise is immanent to a fleeting desire. History is the history of labor—this is Adam’s curse—and the poet works too: For to articulate sweet sounds together Is to work harder than all these, and yet Be thought an idler by the noisy set Of bankers, school masters, and clergymen The martyrs call the world 11 But: the poet works in paradise. The paradox of the artwork, the work that is no work, the piece of history that cannot be reduced to History—this is explained by The Space of Literature , a virtual space, an autonomous rhythm, not outside, but in the midst of the noise, a piece of paradise in hell, a postcard from the vale of tears addressed to paradise, to X. Political poetry means: a poetry that dares to think about itself, about its language and about its world and about the problematic relation between both, which is this relation as problem. A poetry that thinks at all, articulates its problem. It has nothing to do with journalism or morality or debate, let alone the law or the state. It has nothing to do with “criticism” if this means the replacement of incorrect representations by other, more correct representations. It has something to do with ethics in the sense of learning to live. It has something to do with the community and the language of the community (whichever that may be) and the role of the poet regarding the community. It concerns justice without judgement or measure. In the end the just word is just a word , to paraphrase Godard: it is from a future that is unimaginable. It Is no rational engagement, but an aversion against everything that obstructs life, and love for everything what is worthy of having been loved. The world is engaged with me, not the other way round. First Exodus, then Sinai. A desire does not start with an agenda. To answer the question whether I am really so naive as to want to change the world: “We only want the world.” Justice is the world appealing to us to liberate it from all possible chains, from each organization and inequality, to be it, smooth, equal, under a clear sky—a desert and a people in a desert. That moment between Egypt and the Law. It is not a revolution, but the sky above the revolution. Poetry = the science of escape. There is no art that we already know. The weakness of modernistic epic poetry seems to me to be the unwillingness to completely abandon narrative as a structural principle, in favor of a composition “around” or from an event. The China Cantos and Adams Cantos are the low point, and the Pisan Cantos the high point of Pound’s poetry. Two types of research: archival representation of the past vs. ontology of the present (which virtually presupposes the entire history). Presupposing an event means that it is impossible for the poet to stage his own absence, but in no way makes the work personal. An event is the unknown, the new invading into the business as usual, so also the personal. The question heading this research is not: “Who am I?” but “What is happening?” The book is as little illegible as Mondrian’s work is invisible. Form is of interest only to the extent that it empowers liberation. Ron Silliman So no formalism, but what it means to live in this world and to have a future in it. I want something that holds together that’s not smooth. Bruce Andrews The past above, the future below and the present pouring down: the roar, the roar of the present, a speech— William Carlos Williams If my confreres wanted to write a work with all history in its maw, I wished, from the beginning to start all over again, attempting to know nothing but a will to create, and matter at hand. Ronald Johnson NOTES 1) “The easy thing/ that is difficult to make.” Bertold Brecht, Lob des Kommunismus . (All footnotes are the translator’s) 2) Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature , trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press (1989), 75. 3) Mettes uses the word “Neerlandicus,” which refers to scholars of Dutch language and literature. 4) Dutch poet. 5) Gertrude Stein. “Composition as Explanation.” A Stein Reader . Ed. Ulla E. Dydo. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press (1993), 495-503. 6) Ezra Pound. 7) Flemish poet. 8) “Resounding an original sound in the language of the despondent.” A. Roland Holst, De afspraak . 9) Dutch poet. 10) “Only such a confusion is a chaos which can give rise to a world.” 11) W.B. Yeats, “Adam’s Curse.&rdquo. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to the formulation and investigation of a dynamic semantic interpretation of the language of ﬁrst-order predicate logic. The resulting system, which will be referred to as ‘dynamic predicate logic’, is intended as a ﬁrst step towards a compositional, non-representational theory of discourse semantics. In the last decade, various theories of discourse semantics have emerged within the paradigm of model-theoretic semantics. A common feature of these theories is a tendency to do away with the principle of compositionality, (...) a principle which, implicitly or explicitly, has dominated semantics since the days of Frege. Therefore the question naturally arises whether non-compositionality is in any way a necessary feature of discourse semantics. Since we subscribe to the interpretation of compositionality as constituting primarily a methodological principle, we consider this to be a methodological rather than an empirical question. As a consequence, the emphasis in the present paper lies on developing an alternative compositional semantics of discourse, which is empirically equivalent to its non-compositional brethren, but which diﬀers from them in a principled methodological way. Hence, no attempts are made to improve on existing theories empirically. Nevertheless, as we indicate in section 5, the development of a compositional alternative may in the end have empirical consequences, too. First of all, it can be argued that the dynamic view on interpretation developed in this paper suggests natural and relatively easy to formulate extensions which enable one to deal with a wider range of phenomena than can be dealt with in existing theories. Moreover, the various approaches to the model-theoretic semantics of discourse that have been developed during the last decade, have constituted a ‘fresh start’ in the sense that much of what had been accomplished before was ignored, at least for a start. Of course, this is a justiﬁed strategy if one feels one is trying to develop a radically diﬀerent approach to recalcitrant problems. However, there comes a time when such new approaches have to be compared with the older one, and when an assessment of the pros and cons of each has to be made. One of the main problems in semantics today, we feel, is that a semantic theory such as Montague grammar, and an approach like Kamp’s discourse representation theory, are hard to compare, let alone that it is possible to unify their insights and results.. (shrink)
The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights obliges state parties to prohibit any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence. This book traces the origins of this provision and proposes an actus reus for this offence. The question of whether hateful incitement is a prohibition per se or also encapsulates a fundamental 'right to be protected against incitement' is extensively debated. Also addressed is the question of how to judge incitement. Is mens rea required (...) to convict someone of advocating hatred, and if so, for what degree of intent? This analysis also includes the paramount question if and to what extent content and/or context factors ought to be decisive. The author extensively engages with comparative domestic law and compares the workings of the UN Human Rights Committee with those of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the European Court of Human Rights. (shrink)
Scholarly discourse on “disruptive technologies” has been strongly influenced by disruptive innovation theory. This theory is tailored for analyzing disruptions in markets and business. It is of limited use, however, in analyzing the broader social, moral and existential dynamics of technosocial disruption. Yet these broader dynamics should be of great scholarly concern, both in coming to terms with technological disruptions of the past and those of our current age. Technologies can disrupt social relations, institutions, epistemic paradigms, foundational concepts, values, and (...) even the nature of human cognition and experience – domains of disruption that are largely neglected in existing discourse on disruptive technologies. Accordingly, this paper seeks to reorient scholarly discussion around a broader notion of technosocial disruption. This broader notion raises three foundational questions. First, how can technosocial disruption be conceptualized in a way that clearly sets it apart from the disruptive innovation framework? Secondly, how does the notion of technosocial disruption relate to the concordant notions of “disruptor” and “disruptiveness”? Thirdly, can we advance criteria to assess the “degree of social disruptiveness” of different technologies? The paper clarifies these questions and proposes an answer to each of them. In doing so, it advances “technosocial disruption” as a key analysandum for future scholarship on the interactions between technology and society. (shrink)
The power of technology to transform religions, science, and political institutions has often been presented as nothing short of revolutionary. Does technology have a similarly transformative influence on societies’ morality? Scholars have not rigorously investigated the role of technology in moral revolutions, even though existing research on technomoral change suggests that this role may be considerable. In this paper, we explore what the role of technology in moral revolutions, understood as processes of radical group-level moral change, amounts to. We do (...) so by investigating four historical episodes of radical moral change in which technology plays a noteworthy role. Our case-studies illustrate the plurality of mechanisms involved in technomoral revolutions, but also suggest general patterns of technomoral change, such as technology’s capacity to stabilize and destabilize moral systems, and to make morally salient phenomena visible or invisible. We find several leads to expand and refine conceptual tools for analysing moral change, specifically by crystallizing the notions of ‘technomoral niche construction’ and ‘moral payoff mechanisms’. Coming to terms with the role of technology in radical moral change, we argue, enriches our understanding of moral revolutions, and alerts us to the depths of which technology can change our societies in wanted and unwanted ways. (shrink)
While the foundations of climate science and ethics are well established, fine-grained climate predictions, as well as policy-decisions, are beset with uncertainties. This chapter maps climate uncertainties and classifies them as to their ground, extent and location. A typology of uncertainty is presented, centered along the axes of scientific and moral uncertainty. This typology is illustrated with paradigmatic examples of uncertainty in climate science, climate ethics and climate economics. Subsequently, the chapter discusses the IPCC’s preferred way of representing uncertainties and (...) evaluates its strengths and weaknesses from a risk management perspective. Three general strategies for decision-makers to cope with climate uncertainty are outlined, the usefulness of which largely depends on whether or not decision-makers find themselves in a context of deep uncertainty. The chapter concludes by offering two recommendations to ease the work of policymakers, faced with the various uncertainties engrained in climate discourse. (shrink)
Explores the place of intellectual virtues and vices in a social world. Chapters are divided into four sections: Foundational Issues; Individual Virtues; Collective Virtues; and Methods and Measurements.
The book presents a new logical framework to capture the meaning of sentences in conversation. It is based on a richer notion of meaning than traditional approaches, and allows for an integrated treatment of statements and questions. The first part of the book presents the framework in detail, while the second demonstrates its many benefits.
Disruptive technologies can be conceptualized in different ways. Depending on how they are conceptualized, different ethical issues come into play. This article contributes to a general framework to navigate the ethics of disruptive technologies. It proposes three basic distinctions to be included in such a framework. First, emerging technologies may instigate localized “first-order” disruptions, or systemic “second-order” disruptions. The ethical significance of these disruptions differs: first-order disruptions tend to be of modest ethical significance, whereas second-order disruptions are highly significant. Secondly, (...) technologies may be classified as disruptive based on their technological features or based on their societal impact. Depending on which of these classifications one adopts and takes as the starting point of ethical inquiry, different ethical questions are foregrounded. Thirdly, the ethics of disruptive technology raises concerns at four different levels of technology assessment: the technology level, the artifact level, the application level, and the society level. The respective suitability of approaches in technology ethics to address concerns about disruptive technologies co-varies with the respective level of analysis. The article clarifies these distinctions, thereby laying some of the groundwork for an ethical framework tailored for assessing disruptive technologies. (shrink)
In a recent contribution to this journal Paolo Gerbaudo has argued that an ‘elective affinity’ exists between social media and populism. The present article expands on Gerbaudo’s argument and examines various dimensions of this affinity in further detail. It argues that it is helpful to conceptually reframe the proposed affinity in terms of affordances. Four affordances are identified which make the social media ecology relatively favourable to both-right as well as left-wing populism, compared to the pre-social media ecology. These affordances (...) are neither stable nor uniquely fixed: they change in concordance with ongoing technological developments and in response to political events. Even though these dynamics can be quick-moving, a fairly stable alliance of interests between social media and populism seems to have emerged over the last decade. This raises the plausibility that as long as the current social media ecology persists, populist tendencies will remain prevalent in politics. (shrink)
The co-shaping of technology and values is a topic of increasing interest among philosophers of technology. Part of this interest pertains to anticipating future value change, or what Danaher (2021) calls the investigation of “axiological futurism”. However, this investigation faces a challenge: “axiological possibility space” is vast, and we currently lack a clear account of how this space should be demarcated. It stands to reason that speculations about how values might change over time should exclude farfetched possibilities and be restricted (...) to possibilities that can be dubbed to be realistic instead. But what does this realism criterion entail? This paper introduces the notion of realistic possibilities as a key conceptual advancement to the study of axiological futurism and offers suggestions as to how realistic possibilities of future value change might be identified. Additionally, I propose two slight modifications to the approach of axiological futurism. First, I argue that axiological futurism can benefit from a thoroughly historicised understanding of moral change. Secondly, I argue that when employed in normative contexts, the axiological futurist should seek to identify realistic possibilities that come along with substantial normative risks. (shrink)
Over the course of human history there appears to have been a global shift in moral values towards a broadly ‘liberal’ orientation. Huemer argues that this shift better accords with a realist than an antirealist metaethics: it is best explained by the discovery of mind-independent truths through intuition. In this article I argue, contra Huemer, that the historical data are better explained assuming the truth of moral antirealism. Realism does not fit the data as well as Huemer suggests, whereas antirealists (...) have underappreciated resources to explain the relevant historical dynamics. These resources include an appeal to socialization, to technological and economical convergences, to lessons learned from history, to changes induced by consistency reasoning and to the social function of moral norms in overcoming some of the cooperation problems that globalizing societies face. I point out that the realist’s explanans has multiple shortcomings, that the antirealist’s explanans has several explanatory virtues, and conclude that the latter provides a superior account of the historical shift towards liberal values. (shrink)
In 1961 the Centre for the Study of the History of Education at Ghent University, Belgium published the first issue of the multilingual journal _Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education_. This book celebrates its fiftieth volume. In fourteen contributions written by different generations of historians of education, it demonstrates that in an era where the history of education at university level is at risk, both the journal and the discipline are pulsing, and alive and kicking. Was the (...) journal a trendsetter or a follower, and which position did it take with respect to the International Standing Conference for the History of Education? These are questions addressed in the first section of this book. In the second section, a number of articles show national and transnational developments of the history of education. In their diversity, they make clear how the national and the transnational together characterize the discipline. They show why journals in this domain should stimulate the development of broader concepts and theories in order to put national and regional cases in a broader scientific context and to make them attractive for international readership. In the last section authors turn their minds to the future of the history of education. They write about the shaping of new trends and about moving beyond borders, focusing on, among other things, the challenge of neurosciences and of digital humanities. This book was originally published as a special issue of _Paedagogica Historica_. (shrink)
Codes of conduct are the main tools to privately regulate worker rights in global value chains. Scholars have shown that while codes may improve outcome standards (such as occupational health and safety), they have had limited impact on process rights (such as freedom of association and collective bargaining). Scholars have, though, only provided vague or general explanations for this empirical finding. We address this shortcoming by providing a holistic and detailed explanation, and argue that codes, in their current form, have (...) limited impact on trade union rights due to (i) buyers paying lip service to trade union rights, (ii) workers being treated as passive objects of regulation in codes of conduct, (iii) auditing being unable to detect and remediate violations of trade union rights, (iv) codes emphasizing parallel means of organizing, (v) suppliers having limited incentives for compliance, and (vi) codes being unable to open up space for union organizing when leveraged in grassroots struggles. Our arguments suggest that there is no quick fix for codes’ limited impact on trade union rights, and that codes, in their current form, have limited potential to improve trade union rights. We conclude by discussing ways in which codes of conduct, and private regulation of worker rights more generally, could be transformed to more effectively address trade union rights. (shrink)
The meta-ethical commitments of folk respondents – specifically their commitment to the objectivity of moral claims – have recently become subject to empirical scrutiny. Experimental findings suggest that people are meta-ethical pluralists: There is both inter- and intrapersonal variation with regard to people’s objectivist commitments. What meta-ethical implications, if any, do these findings have? I point out that current research does not directly address traditional meta-ethical questions: The methods used and distinctions drawn by experimenters do not perfectly match those of (...) meta-ethicists. However, I go on to argue that, in spite of this mismatch, the research findings should be of interest to moral philosophers, including meta-ethicists. Not only do these findings extend the field of moral psychology with new data and hypotheses, but they also provide tentative evidence that touches on the adequacy of theses in moral semantics and moral metaphysics. Specifically, they put pressure on argum... (shrink)
Bayesian networks (BN) and argumentation diagrams (AD) are two predominant approaches to legal evidential reasoning, that are often treated as alternatives to one another. This paper argues that they are, instead, complimentary and proposes the beginnings of a method to employ them in such a manner. The Bayesian approach tends to be used as a means to analyse the findings of forensic scientists. As such, it constitutes a means to perform evidential reasoning. The design of Bayesian networks that accurately and (...) comprehensively represent the relationships between investigative hypotheses and evidence remains difficult and sometimes contentious, however. Argumentation diagrams are representations of reasoning, and are used as a means to scrutinise reasoning (among other applications). In evidential reasoning, they tend to be used to represent and scrutinise the way humans reason about evidence. This paper examines how argumentation diagrams can be used to scrutinise Bayesian evidential reasoning by developing a method to extract argument diagrams from BN. (shrink)
If one is to believe recent popular scientific accounts of developments in physics, biology, neuroscience, and cognitive science, most of the perennial philosophical questions have been wrested from the hands of philosophers by now, only to be resolved (or sometimes dissolved) by contemporary science. To mention but a few examples of issues that science has now allegedly dealt with: the origin and destiny of the universe, the origin of human life, the soul, free will, morality, and religion. My aim in (...) this paper is threefold: (1) to show that these claims stem from the pervasive influence of a scientistic epistemology in popular science writing, (2) to argue that this influence is undesirable because it ultimately undermines not only the important role of popular science reporting in society but also the public’s trust in science, and (3) to offer suggestions on how popular science writing can be improved. (shrink)
In this chapter I zoom in on a topic in climate ethics that has not previously received academic scrutiny: the intersection between evolutionary ethics and climate change. I argue that in the context of climate discourse, an evolutionary perspective can be illuminating, but may also invite moral corruption and reasoning fallacies. Relating my discussion to the general theme of the book, I argue that academic philosophy is well-positioned to fulfil a specific societal role, which is particularly important in the age (...) of popular science: to raise awareness of the ethical predicaments to which scientific findings can give rise, and to highlight the normative assumptions implicit in the reasoning of science communicators. (shrink)
This paper is about a topic in the semantics of interrogatives.1 In what follows a number of assumptions ﬁgure at the background which, though intuitively appealing, have not gone unchallenged, and it seems therefore only fair to draw the reader’s attention to them at the outset. The ﬁrst assumption concerns a very global intuition about the kind of semantic objects that we associate with interrogatives. The intuition is that there is an intimate relationship between interrogatives and their answers: an interrogative (...) determines what counts as an answer.2 Given a certain, independently motivated, view on what constitutes the meaning of an answer, this intuition, in return, determines what constitutes the meaning of an interrogative. For example, starting from the observation that answers are true or false in situations, we may be led to the view that answers express propositions, i.e., objects which determine a truth value in a situation. Given that much, our basic intuition says that interrogatives are to be associated with objects which determine propositions. Such objects will be referred to as ‘questions’ in what follows. Notice that all this is largely framework independent: we have made no assumptions yet about what situations, propositions, and questions are, we have only related them in a certain systematic way. In fact we will use a more or less standard, but certainly not uncontroversial, speciﬁcation in what follows: situations are identiﬁed with (total) possible worlds; propositions with sets of worlds; and questions with equivalence relations on the set of worlds. The second assumption that plays a role in what follows is of a more linguistic nature. Interrogatives typically occur in two ways: as independent expressions, and as complements of certain verbs. The assumption is that these two ways of occurring are systematically related, not just syntactically but also semantically.3 Notice that the exact nature of this relationship is underdeter.. (shrink)
In the present version of these lecture notes only a number of typos and a few glaring mistakes have been corrected. Thanks to Paul Dekker for his help in this respect. No attempt has been been made to update the original text or to incorporate new insights and approaches. For a more recent overview, see our ‘Questions’ in the Handbook of Logic and Language (edited by Johan van Benthem and Alice ter Meulen, Elsevier, 1997).
In this paper we study the admissible rules of intermediate logics. We establish some general results on extensions of models and sets of formulas. These general results are then employed to provide a basis for the admissible rules of the Gabbay–de Jongh logics and to show that these logics have finitary unification type.
The aim of this article is to identify the strongest evolutionary debunking argument against moral realism and to assess on which empirical assumptions it relies. In the recent metaethical literature, several authors have de-emphasized the evolutionary component of EDAs against moral realism: presumably, the success or failure of these arguments is largely orthogonal to empirical issues. I argue that this claim is mistaken. First, I point out that Sharon Street’s and Michael Ruse’s EDAs both involve substantive claims about the evolution (...) of our moral judgments. Next, I argue that combining their respective evolutionary claims can help debunkers to make the best empirical case against moral realism. Some realists have argued that the very attempt to explain the contents of our endorsed moral judgments in evolutionary terms is misguided, and have sought to escape EDAs by denying their evolutionary premise. But realists who pursue this reply can still be challenged on empirical grounds: debunkers may argue that the best, scientifically informed historical explanations of our moral endorsements do not involve an appeal to mind-independent truths. I conclude, therefore, that the empirical considerations relevant for the strongest empirically driven argument against moral realism go beyond the strictly evolutionary realm; debunkers are best advised to draw upon other sources of genealogical knowledge as well. (shrink)
How should we understand the notion of moral objectivity? Metaethical positions that vindicate morality’s objective appearance are often associated with moral realism. On a realist construal, moral objectivity is understood in terms of mind-, stance-, or attitude-independence. But realism is not the only game in town for moral objectivists. On an antirealist construal, morality’s objective features are understood in virtue of our attitudes. In this paper I aim to develop this antirealist construal of moral objectivity in further detail, and to (...) make its metaphysical commitments explicit. I do so by building on Sharon Street’s version of “Humean Constructivism”. Instead of the realist notion of attitude-independence, the antirealist account of moral objectivity that I articulate centres on the notion of standpoint-invariance. While constructivists have been criticized for compromising on the issue of moral objectivity, I make a preliminary case for the thesis that, armed with the notion of standpoint-invariance, constructivists have resources to vindicate an account of objectivity with just the right strength, given the commitments of ordinary moral thought and practice. In support of this thesis I highlight recent experimental findings about folk moral objectivism. Empirical observations about the nature of moral discourse have traditionally been taken to give prima facie support to moral realism. I argue, by contrast, that from what we can tell from our current experimental understanding, antirealists can capture the commitments of ordinary discourse at least as well as realists can. (shrink)
This chapter introduces topical issues in the ethical debate on speciesism. It does so against a background of the history of the debate and with an emphasis on concerns that arise at the intersection of speciesism and science. The term speciesism was coined in the 1970s by Richard Rider and popularized by Peter Singer, who defined speciesism as “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of (...) other species.” Critiques of speciesism are undergirded by the principle that comparable interests should be given equal consideration, regardless of species-membership. To what extent the interests of humans and non-humans are comparable, however, has been a matter of contention and is partly beholden to empirical findings. Diverging opinions on this matter have given rise to a variety of more and less species-egalitarian views, often paired with rivalling accounts of “moral status”. A minority of ethicists have explicitly defended speciesism or some version thereof, including Bernard Williams and, more recently, Shelly Kagan. Apart from the back-and-forths between critics and defenders, the speciesism debate has transformed over the last decade, in three respects. First, discourse on animal ethics has witnessed a “political turn”, moving away from analyses of moral status and towards discussions of human-animal relations in interspecies societies. Secondly, apart from anthropocentric speciesism, i.e., privileging humans over non-humans, there has been an increasing interest in non-anthropocentric speciesism, i.e., privileging some non-human species over others. Thirdly, speciesism has been endorsed as a prominent topic in the new, activist-leaning research field of Critical Animal Studies, and has recently garnered substantial attention from psychologists. As these disciplinary changes and conceptual refinements suggest, half a century after its coinage, speciesism continues to be an important scholarly and ethical concept whose history is still in the making. (shrink)
A challenge faced by defenders of the precautionary principle is to clarify when the evidence that a harmful event might occur suffices to regard this prospect as a real possibility. Plausible versions of the principle must articulate some epistemic threshold, or de minimis requirement, which specifies when precautionary measures are justified. Critics have argued that formulating such a threshold is problematic in the context of the precautionary principle. First, this is because the precautionary principle appears to be ambiguous about the (...) distinction between risk and uncertainty: should the principle merely be invoked when evidential probabilities are absent, or also when probabilities have low epistemic credentials? Secondly, defenders of the precautionary principle face an aggregation puzzle: in judging whether or not the de minimis requirement has been met, how should first-order evidential probabilities and their second-order epistemic standing be aggregated? This article argues that the ambiguity can be resolved, and the epistemological puzzle can be solved. Focusing on decisions in the context of climate uncertainty, I advance a version of the precautionary principle that serves as a plausible decision rule, to be adopted in situations where its main alternative—cost–benefit analysis—does not deliver. (shrink)
Bullying is one of the most impactful deviant actions that affects workers' personal health and work experience. Bullying is a quite distinctive deviant behavior as targets are subjected to transgressions that could last for months or longer. Even though a number of actions can be taken to resolve bullying between all parties, from the viewpoint of the target it is hard to resolve the situation. As a result, hierarchical influence may be necessary to prevent bullying in the first place. A (...) possible solution, therefore, is focusing on how leaders can impact the bullying behavior. This research argued and showed that ethical leadership is negatively associated with being bullied through tackling one of its most important antecedents of bullying: the design of the work environment. That is, ethical leaders could be shown to improve employees' workload (quantitative work environment) and poor working conditions (qualitative work environment), which was related to decreased bullying. (shrink)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It is a leading cause of cervical cancer in women but the virus is increasingly being linked to several other cancers in men and women alike. Since the introduction of safe and effective but also expensive vaccines, many developed countries have implemented selective vaccination programs for girls. Some however argue that these programs should be expanded to include boys, since (1) HPV constitutes non-negligible health risks for boys as (...) well and (2) protected boys will indirectly also protect girls. In this paper we approach this discussion from an ethical perspective. First, on which moral grounds can one justify not reimbursing vaccination for the male sex? We develop an ethical framework to evaluate selective vaccination programs and conclude that, in the case of HPV, efficiency needs to be balanced against non-stigmatization, non-discrimination and justice. Second, if vaccination programs were to be expanded to boys as well, do the latter then also have a moral duty to become immunized? Two arguments in favor of such a moral duty are well known in vaccination ethics: the duty not to harm others and to contribute to the public good of public health. However, we argue that these are not particularly convincing in the context of HPV. In contrast, we believe a third, more powerful but also more controversial argument is possible. In our view, the sexual mode of transmission of HPV constitutes an additional reason to believe that boys in fact may have a moral obligation to accept vaccination. (shrink)
This book examines two problems in Private law which are posed by the 'Good Samaritan': First, is an intervener under a legal duty to come to the aid of a fellow human being and does he incur any criminal or tortious liability if he fails to do so? Second, having intervened, is an intervener entitled to reimbursement of expenses, remuneration, reward, or compensation for any loss he might have suffered? Does or should the remedy depend on the success of the (...) intervention? The author examines and compares the varied responses of the Roman, French, German, and English legal systems to these problems. (shrink)
Of course, although this view on meaning was the prevailing one for almost a century, many of the people who initiated the enterprise of logical semantics, including people like Frege and Wittgenstein, had an open eye for all that it did not catch. However, the logical means which Frege, Wittgenstein, Russell, and the generation that succeeded them, had at their disposal were those of classical mathematical logic and set-theory, and these indeed are not very suited for an analysis of other (...) aspects of meaning than those which the slogan covers. A real change in view then had to await the emergence of other concepts, which in due course became available mainly under the influence of developments in computer science and cognate disciplines such as artificial intelligence. And this is one of the reasons why it took almost a century before any serious and successful challenge of the view that meaning equals truthconditions from within logical semantics could emerge. (shrink)