Why should a citizen vote? There are two ways to interpret this question: in a prudential sense, and in a moral sense. Under the first interpretation, the question asks why—or under what circumstances—it is in a citizen's self-interest to vote. Under the second interpretation, it asks what moral reasons citizens have for voting. I shall mainly try to answer the moral version of the question, but my answer may also, in some circumstances, bear on the prudential question. Before proceeding to (...) my own approach, let me briefly survey alternatives in the field. (shrink)
In this essay I describe how contractarianism might approach interspecies welfare conflicts. I start by discussing a contractarian account of the moral status of nonhuman animals. I argue that contractors can agree to norms that would acknowledge the “moral standing” of some animals. I then discuss how the norms emerging from contractarian agreement might constrain any comparison of welfare between humans and animals. Contractarian agreement is likely to express some partiality to humans in a way that discounts the welfare of (...) some or all animals. While the norms emerging from the contract might be silent or inconsistent in some tragic or catastrophic cases, in most ordinary conflicts of welfare, contractors will agree to norms that produce some determinate resolution. What the agreement says can evolve depending upon how the contractors or the circumstances change. I close with some remarks on contractarian indeterminacy. (shrink)
1. Mainstream Epistemology and Social Epistemology Epistemology has had a strongly individualist orientation, at least since Descartes. Knowledge, for Descartes, starts with the fact of one’s own thinking and with oneself as subject of that thinking. Whatever else can be known, it must be known by inference from one’s own mental contents. Achieving such knowledge is an individual, rather than a collective, enterprise. Descartes’s successors largely followed this lead, so the history of epistemology, down to our own time, has been (...) a predominantly individualist affair. There are scattered exceptions. A handful of historical epistemologists gave brief space to the question of knowing, or believing justifiably, based on the testimony of others. Testimony-based knowledge would be one step into a more social epistemology. Hume took it for granted that we regularly rely on the factual statements of others, and argued that it is reasonable to do so if we have adequate reasons for trusting the veracity of these sources. However, reasons for such trust, according to Hume, must rest on personal observations of people’s veracity or reliability.1 Thomas Reid took a different view. He claimed that our natural attitude of trusting others is reasonable even if we know little if anything about others’ reliability. Testimony, at least sincere testimony, is always prima facie credible (Reid, 1970: 240-241). Here we have two philosophers of the 18th century both endorsing at least one element of what nowadays is called “social epistemology.” But these points did not much occupy either Hume’s or Reid’s corpus of philosophical writing; nor were these passages much studied or cited by their contemporaries and immediate successors. Fast forward now to the second half of the 20th century. Here we find intellectual currents pointing toward the socializing of epistemology. Several of these movements, however, were centered outside of philosophy and never adopted the label of “social epistemology,” or adopted it only belatedly. (shrink)
Confucianism conceives of persons as being necessarily interdependent, defining personhood in terms of the various roles one embodies and that are established by the relationships basic to one's life. By way of contrast, the Western philosophical tradition has predominantly defined persons in terms of intrinsic characteristics not thought to depend on others. This more strictly and explicitly individualistic concept of personhood contrasts with the Confucian idea that one becomes a person because of others; where one is never a person independently (...) or in and of oneself but develops into one only in community. This article surveys some differences between Confucian and Western ideas of self and their connection to ethics mainly in light of the relational self of the Confucian Analects and Mencius . A Philosophy Compass article called Confucianism and Ethics in the Western Philosophical Tradition II: A Comparative Analysis of Personhood will follow, that examines how the more individualistic way of conceiving of personhood in the West has had moral and political implications that differ, and even conflict, with those of Confucianism. (shrink)
This article examines a thesis of interest to social epistemology and some articulations of First Amendment legal theory: that a free market in speech is an optimal institution for promoting true belief. Under our interpretation, the market-for-speech thesis claims that more total truth possession will be achieved if speech is regulated only by free market mechanisms; that is, both government regulation and private sector nonmarket regulation are held to have information-fostering properties that are inferior to the free market. After discussing (...) possible counterexamples to the thesis, the article explores the actual implications of economic theory for the emergence of truth in a free market for speech. When confusions are removed about what is maximized by perfectly competitive markets, and when adequate attention is paid to market imperfections, the failure of the market-for-speech thesis becomes clear. The article closes by comparing the properties of a free market in speech with an adversarial system of discourse. (shrink)
Accounts from the humanities which focus on describing the nature of whole body plastinates are examined. We argue that this literature shows that plastinates do not clearly occupy standard cultural binary categories of interior or exterior, real or fake, dead or alive, bodies or persons, self or other and argue that Noël Carroll’s structural framework for horrific monsters unites the various accounts of the contradictory or ambiguous nature of plastinates while also showing how plastinates differ from horrific fictional monsters. In (...) doing so, it offers an account of the varied reactions of those responding to exhibitions of plastinated whole bodies. (shrink)
Physical vacuum is a special superfluid medium. Its motion is described by the Navier–Stokes equation having two slightly modified terms that relate to internal forces. They are the pressure gradient and the dissipation force because of viscosity. The modifications are as follows: the pressure gradient contains an added term describing the pressure multiplied by the entropy gradient; time-averaged viscosity is zero, but its variance is not zero. Owing to these modifications, the Navier–Stokes equation can be reduced to the Schrödinger equation (...) describing behavior of a particle into the vacuum, which looks like a superfluid medium populated by enormous amount of virtual particle–antiparticle pairs. (shrink)
Introduction to Sexology [Vvedenie v seksologiiu] by I. S. Kon has finally been published after having made the rounds of publishing houses for many years. This is the first Soviet publication devoted to a description and an analysis of the genesis, development, and state of a new branch of scientific knowledge about man-sexology-which affects every one of us. To be sure, General Sexual Pathology [Obshchaia seksopatologiia], a textbook for physicians edited by G. S. Vasil'chenko, which came out in 1977, has (...) an extensive introductory chapter on sexology, but it is limited to medical problems. Kon's book is an example of an interdisciplinary approach that provides an idea of the most essential components of sexology; it is thus addressed not only to the medical profession, but also to sociologists, philosophers of culture, psychologists, pedagogues, etc. The book takes into account the latest publications in this area of science. (shrink)
The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget contends that children below the age of 12 see no necessity for the logical law of non-contradiction. I argue this view is problematic. First of all, Piaget's dialogues with children which are considered supportive of this position are not clearly so. Secondly, Piaget underestimates the necessary nature of following the logical law of non-contradiction in everyday discourse. The mere possibility of saying something significant and informative at all presupposes that the law of non-contradiction is enforced.
The theory is presented that the sexual process is a repair mechanism which maintains redundancy within the sub-structure of hierarchical, self-reproducing organisms. In order to keep the problems within mathematically tractable limits , a simple model is introduced: a wheel with 6 spokes, 3 of them vital and 3 redundant, symbolizes the individual . Random accidents destroy spokes; the wheels replicate at regular cycles and engage periodically in pairing and repair phases during which missing spokes are copy-reproduced along the intact (...) spokes of the partner wheel.The hierarchical structure of such a system is analysed and an ‘autonomous unit’ is defined: this is the unit of minimal hierarchical complexity which is capable of perpetuating autonomously all higher and all lower levels of the hierarchy; this is the central unit of selection.Four basic, physical parameters are isolated which determine the essential features of any eucaryotic life cycle: 1. The number of levels of the hierarchy ; 2. the relation between the phases of replication and repair ; 3. the duration of potential repair ; 4. the position of the sexual partners within the hierarchy .The evaluation of fitness components is considered in relation to trends of reproductive patterns in evolution. (shrink)
People are minded creatures; we have thoughts, feelings and emotions. More intriguingly, we grasp our own mental states, and conduct the business of ascribing them to ourselves and others without instruction in formal psychology. How do we do this? And what are the dimensions of our grasp of the mental realm? In this book, Alvin I. Goldman explores these questions with the tools of philosophy, developmental psychology, social psychology and cognitive neuroscience. He refines an approach called simulation theory, which starts (...) from the familiar idea that we understand others by putting ourselves in their mental shoes. Can this intuitive idea be rendered precise in a philosophically respectable manner, without allowing simulation to collapse into theorizing? Given a suitable definition, do empirical results support the notion that minds literally create surrogates of other peoples mental states in the process of mindreading? Goldman amasses a surprising array of evidence from psychology and neuroscience that supports this hypothesis. (shrink)
Historical research has ~ecently made it dear that, prior to Austin and. his followers, there was but one author who developed a full-fledged theory of the given sort: the phenomenologist Adolf Reinach (1884-1917).' In his The A Priori I'oundutions of the Ciui/ I aIO, pubhshed. in 1918â' Reinach developed a theory of Ã¢â¬â 'as he termed them Ã¢â¬â "social acts*' which is not only on a par with the later speech act theories but in fact surpasses them in.
I defend the following version of the ought-implies-can principle: (OIC) by virtue of conceptual necessity, an agent at a given time has an (objective, pro tanto) obligation to do only what the agent at that time has the ability and opportunity to do. In short, obligations correspond to ability plus opportunity. My argument has three premises: (1) obligations correspond to reasons for action; (2) reasons for action correspond to potential actions; (3) potential actions correspond to ability plus opportunity. In the (...) bulk of the paper I address six objections to OIC: three objections based on putative counterexamples, and three objections based on arguments to the effect that OIC conflicts with the is/ought thesis, the possibility of hard determinism, and the denial of the Principle of Alternate Possibilities. (shrink)