There has been a recent surge of interest in ancient accounts of free will. It is surprising, then, that there have been virtually no attempts to discuss whether Plato had such an account. Those who have made an attempt quickly deny that such an account is present in the dialogues. I shall argue that if we draw a distinction between two notions of free will, it is plausible that some account of free will is, in fact, present in the dialogues, (...) the Republic in particular. This is the first in depth search into the question and I demonstrate that the defender of a Platonic free will thesis has more resources than she first appears to. It also has the benefit of giving us an obvious source material for Augustine's discussion. (shrink)
This essay is a historical–geographical account of how scientists and public health officials conceptualized and assessed northern radioactive exposures in the late 1950s and 1960s. The detection of radionuclides in caribou bodies in northern Canada both demonstrated the global reach of nuclear fallout and revealed the unevenness of toxic relations and radioactive exposures. Following the documentation of the lichen–caribou–human pathway of exposure, Canadian public health officials became increasingly concerned about the possibility of heightened radioactive exposures among Indigenous northerners. Between 1963 (...) and 1969, scientists and officials with Canada’s Radiation Protection Division coordinated an interdepartmental monitoring program through which they sought to determine whether the consumption of contaminated caribou meat had caused radioactive exposure levels in northern communities to exceed the officially recognized “safe limits.” In 1969, the northern monitoring program was suspended after officials determined that radionuclide body burdens had not exceeded the threshold for radioactive exposures. While the RPD emphasized its development of a technoscientific approach to measuring radioactive body burdens, the legitimacy of the monitoring program was linked directly to interdepartmental relations within Canada’s colonial northern administration. I situate the northern monitoring program within broader shifts in public health approaches to radiation protection and use Gabrielle Hecht’s concept of nuclearity to demonstrate how RPD officials employed the logic of the threshold in their assessment of radioactive exposures. (shrink)
Alan Millar's paper (2011) involves two parts, which I address in order, first taking up the issues concerning the goal of inquiry, and then the issues surrounding the appeal to reflective knowledge. I argue that the upshot of the considerations Millar raises count in favour of a more important role in value-driven epistemology for the notion of understanding and for the notion of epistemic justification, rather than for the notions of knowledge and reflective knowledge.
The debate over the relative importance of natural selection as compared to other forces affecting the evolution of organisms is a long-standing and central controversy in evolutionary biology. The theory of adaptationism argues that natural selection contains sufficient explanatory power in itself to account for all evolution. However, there are differing views about the efficiency of the adaptation model of explanation. If the adaptationism theory is applied, are energy and resources being used to their optimum? This book presents an up-to-date (...) view of this controversy and reflects the dramatic changes in our understanding of evolution that have occurred in the last twenty years. The volume combines contributions from biologists and philosophers, and offers a systematic treatment of foundational, conceptual, and methodological issues surrounding the theory of adaptationism. The essays examine recent developments in topics such as phylogenetic analysis, the theory of optimality and ess models, and methods of testing models. (shrink)
Prepared by editors of the distinguished series The Works of Jonathan Edwards, this authoritative anthology includes selected treatises, sermons, and autobiographical material by early America’s greatest theologian and philosopher.
Many researchers consider language to be definitionally unique to humans. However, increasing evidence suggests that language emerged via a series of adaptations to neural systems supporting earlier capacities for visuomotor integration and manual action. This paper reviews comparative neuroscience evidence for the evolutionary progression of these adaptations. An outstanding question is how to mechanistically explain the emergence of new capacities from pre-existing circuitry. One possibility is that human brains may have undergone selection for greater plasticity, reducing the extent to which (...) brain organization is hard-wired and increasing the extent to which it is shaped by socially transmitted, learned behaviors. Mutations that made these new abilities easier or faster to learn would have undergone positive selection, and over time, the neural changes once associated with individual neural plasticity would tend to become heritable, innate, and fixed. Clearly, though, language is not entirely “innate;” it does not emerge without the requisite environmental input and experience. Thus, a mechanistic explanation for the evolution of language must address the inherent trade-off between the evolutionary pressure for underlying neural systems to be flexible and sensitive to environmental input vs. the tendency over time for continually adaptive behaviors to become reliably expressed in an early-emerging, canalized, less flexible manner. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill argued, in his Principles of Political Economy, that existing laws and customs of private property ought to be reformed to promote a far more egalitarian form of capitalism than hitherto observed anywhere. He went on to suggest that such an ideal capitalism might evolve spontaneously into a decentralized socialism involving a market system of competing worker co-operatives. That possibility of market socialism emerged only as the working classes gradually developed the intellectual and moral qualities required for worker (...) co-operatives to succeed against private firms. Workers would tend to reject the hierarchical wage relation as they developed the requisite personal qualities, he believed, and capitalists, facing escalating wages for skilled labour as a result of the diminishing supply of high-quality workers for hire, would tend to lend their capital to the worker co-operatives ‘at a diminishing rate of interest, and at last, perhaps, even to exchange their capital for terminable annuities. In this or some such mode’, he speculated, ‘the existing accumulations of capital might honestly, and by a kind of spontaneous process, become in the end the joint property of all who participate in their productive employment: a transformation which, thus effected, would be the nearest approach to social justice, and the most beneficial ordering of industrial affairs for the universal good, which it is possible at present to foresee.’. (shrink)
Jonathan Dancy works within almost all fields of philosophy but is best known as the leading proponent of moral particularism. Particularism challenges “traditional” moral theories, such as Contractualism, Kantianism and Utilitarianism, in that it denies that moral thought and judgement relies upon, or is made possible by, a set of more or less well-defined, hierarchical principles. During the summer of 2006, the Philosophy Departments of Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Reading (England) began a series of exchanges to (...) take place every other year, alternating between the departments. Andreas Lind and Johan Brännmark arranged to meet Dancy during the first meeting in Lund to talk about questions regarding particularism, moral theory and the shape of the analytical tradition. The major part of the conversation is printed below. (shrink)
Arrhenius and Rabinowicz have argued that Millian qualitative superiorities are possible without assuming that any pleasure, or type of pleasure, is infinitely superior to another. But AR's analysis is fatally flawed in the context of ethical hedonism, where the assumption in question is necessary and sufficient for Millian qualitative superiorities. Marginalist analysis of the sort pressed by AR continues to have a valid role to play within any plausible version of hedonism, provided the fundamental incoherence that infects AR's use of (...) such analysis is removed. But what AR call ‘Millian superiorities’ are never genuine qualitative superiorities in Mill's sense. Mill scholars need to appreciate this point and recognize that the interpretation of qualitative superiorities as infinite superiorities is the only interpretation which is compatible with the text of Mill's Utilitarianism. The continuing failure to appreciate the possibility of infinite superiorities has precluded any adequate understanding of the extraordinary structure of Mill's pluralistic hedonistic utilitarianism. (shrink)
In our 1993 paper, “A Critical Look,‘ Elliott Sober and I concluded that the famous claim about model formulation and constraints made by Richard Levins in his influential 1966 article on model building in population biology is neither true nor normative. Here, I comment upon the claim of Odenbaugh that the conclusions of “A Critical Look‘ are incorrect. My conclusions remain that Levins’ claim about the tradeoff between model properties lacks logical coherence, generates an arbitrary model classification, and lacks normative (...) utility. Accordingly, I view his claim as providing no useful insight into the nature of models and model building in population biology. (shrink)
We explore the evidential relationships that connect two standard claims of modern evolutionary biology. The hypothesis of common ancestry (which says that all organisms now on earth trace back to a single progenitor) and the hypothesis of natural selection (which says that natural selection has been an important influence on the traits exhibited by organisms) are logically independent; however, this leaves open whether testing one requires assumptions about the status of the other. Darwin noted that an extreme version of adaptationism (...) would undercut the possibility of making inferences about common ancestry. Here we develop a converse claim—hypotheses that assert that natural selection has been an important influence on trait values are untestable unless supplemented by suitable background assumptions. The fact of common ancestry and a claim about quantitative genetics together suffice to render such hypotheses testable. Furthermore, we see no plausible alternative to these assumptions; we hypothesize that they are necessary as well as sufficient for adaptive hypotheses to be tested. This point has important implications for biological practice, since biologists standardly assume that adaptive hypotheses predict trait associations among tip species. Another consequence is that adaptive hypotheses cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed by a trait value that is universal within a single species, if that trait value deviates even slightly from the optimum. 1 Two Darwinian hypotheses 2 Logical independence 3 How adaptive hypotheses bear on the tree of life hypothesis 4 How the tree of life hypothesis bears on adaptive hypotheses 5 What do adaptive hypotheses predict? 6 Common ancestry and quantitative genetics to the rescue 7 Conclusion. (shrink)
In 1970 Amartya Sen exposed an apparent antinomy that has come to be known as the Paradox of the Paretian Libertarian. Sen introduced his paradox by establishing a simple but startling theorem. Roughly put, what he proved was that if a mechanism for selecting social choice functions satisfies two standard adequacy conditions, there are possible situations in which it will violate either the very weak libertarian precept that every individual has at least some rights or the seemingly innocuous Paretian principle (...) that an option should be judged unacceptable if there is an available alternative that everyone prefers to it. Many economists and philosophers have proposed solutions to Sen's problem, but there is no general consensus on what solution is correct. In the present paper I argue that Sen's original theorem fails to establish the existence of any conflict between libertarianism and Paretianism. Furthermore, I contend that Sen has misinterpreted certain other theorems which he has used to defend the existence of a paradoxical conflict between these two doctrines. In general, I try to show that whenever Sen posits a Paretian-libertarian conflict to explain an apparently troubling result in social choice theory, the difficulty can be better dealt with either by claiming that the theorem in question imposes overly strong background constraints on the form of social choice functions or by claiming that it relies on an unacceptable construal of individual rights. (shrink)
The dominant approach to environmental policy endorsed by conservative and libertarian policy thinkers, so-called “free market environmentalism”, is grounded in the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources. Despite this normative commitment to property rights, most self-described FME advocates adopt a utilitarian, welfare-maximization approach to climate change policy, arguing that the costs of mitigation measures could outweigh the costs of climate change itself. Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic, human-induced climate change is likely (...) to contribute to environmental changes that violate traditional conceptions of property rights. Viewed globally, the actions of some countries—primarily industrialized nations—are likely to increase environmental harms suffered by other countries—less developed nations that have not made any significant contribution to climate change. It may well be that aggregate human welfare would be maximized in a warmer, wealthier world, or that the gains from climate change will offset environmental losses. Yet such claims, even if demonstrated, would not address the normative concern that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming would infringe upon the rights of people in less-developed nations. As a consequence, this paper calls for a rethinking of FME approaches to climate change policy. (shrink)
In my Practical Reality I argued that the reasons for which we act are not to be conceived of as psychological states of ourselves, but as real states of the world. The main reason for saying this was that only thus can we make sense of the idea that it is possible to act for a good reason. The good reasons we have for doing this action rather than that one consist mainly of features of the situations in which we (...) find ourselves; they do not consist in our believing certain things about those situations. For instance, the reason for my helping that person is that she is in trouble and I am the only person around. It is not that I believe both that she is in trouble and that I am the only person around. Give that the reason to help is that she is in trouble etc., it must be possible for my reason for helping to be just that, if it is indeed possible for one to act for a good reason. In fact, this sort of thing must be the normal arrangement. The reasons why we act, therefore, that is, our reasons for doing what we do, are not standardly to be conceived as states of ourselves, but as features of our situations. (shrink)
I continue my argument that Millian qualitative superiorities are infinite superiorities: one pleasant feeling, or type of pleasant feeling, is qualitatively superior to another in Mill's sense if and only if even a bit of the superior is more pleasant than any finite quantity of the inferior, however large. This gives rise to a hierarchy of higher and lower pleasures such that a reasonable hedonist always refuses to sacrifice a higher for a lower irrespective of the finite amounts of each. (...) Some indication of why this absolute refusal may be reasonable is provided in the course of outlining the content of the Millian hierarchy. It emerges that Mill's hedonistic utilitarianism has an extraordinary structure because it gives absolute priority over competing considerations to a code of justice that distributes equal rights and correlative duties for all. His utilitarianism also recognizes that certain aesthetic and spiritual pleasures may be qualitatively superior even to the pleasant feeling of security associated with the moral sentiment of justice. Thus, for instance, a noble individual may reasonably choose to waive his own rights so as to perform beautiful supererogatory actions that provide great benefits for others at the sacrifice of the right-holder's own vital interests. (shrink)
Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
Few stage plays have much to do with analytic philosophy: Tom Stoppard has written two of them— Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Jumpers . The contrast between these, especially in how they involve philosophy, could hardly be greater. Rosencrantz does not parade its philosophical content; but the philosophy is there all the same, and it is solid, serious and functional. In contrast with this, the philosophy which is flaunted throughout Jumpers is thin and uninteresting, and it serves the play (...) only in a decorative and marginal way. Its main effect has been to induce timidity in reviewers who could not see the relevance to the play of the large stretches of academic philosophy which it contains. Since the relevance doesn't exist, the timidity was misplaced, and so the kid gloves need not have been used. Without doubting that I would have enjoyed the work as performed on the London stage, aided by the talent of Michael Hordern and the charm of Diana Rigg, I don't doubt either that Jumpers is a poor effort which doesn't deserve its current success. I shan't argue for that, however. I want only to explain why Jumpers is not a significantly philosophical play, before turning to the more important and congenial task of showing that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is one. (shrink)
In this much-anticipated book, Jonathan Dancy offers the only available full-scale treatment of particularism in ethics, a view with which he has been associated for twenty years. Dancy now presents particularism as the view that the possibility of moral thought and judgement does not in any way depend on an adequate supply of principles. He grounds this claim on a form of reasons-holism, holding that what is a reason in one case need not be any reason in another, and (...) maintaining that moral reasons are no different in this respect from others. Ethics Without Principles offers detailed treatment and criticism of opposing positions of all sorts, with useful summaries. It also contains three chapters on the nature of what Dancy calls 'contributory' reasons, which, though the topic of much interest at the moment, are not often discussed in anything like the detail given here. And it offers a distinctive form of value-holism to go with the holism of reasons. As Dancy's definitive statement on particularism, the book will be required reading for all those working on moral philosophy and ethical theory. (shrink)
The notion of internalization put forth by Roger Shepard continues to be appealing and challenging. He suggests that we have internalized, during our evolutionary development, environmental regularities, or constraints. Internalization solves one of the hardest problems of perceptual psychology: the underspecification problem. That is the problem of how well-defined perceptual experience is generated from the often ambiguous and incomplete sensory stimulation. Yet, the notion of internalization creates new problems that may outweigh the solution of the underspecification problem. To support this (...) claim, I first examine the concept of internalization, breaking it down into several distinct interpretations. These range from well-resolved dynamic regularities to ill-resolved statistical regularities. As a function of the interpretation the researcher selects, an empirical test of the internalization hypothesis may be straightforward or it may become virtually impossible. I then attempt to cover the range of interpretations by drawing on examples from different domains of visual event perception. Unfortunately, the experimental tests regarding most candidate regularities, such as gravitational acceleration, fail to support the concept of internalization. This suggests that narrow interpretations of the concept should be given up in favor of more abstract interpretations. However, the latter are not easily amenable to empirical testing. There is nonetheless a way to test these abstract interpretations by contrasting internalization with the opposite concept: externalization of body dynamics. I summarize evidence for such a projection of body constraints onto external objects. Based on the combined evidence of well-resolved and ill- resolved regularities, the value of the notion of internalization has to be reassessed. Key Words: event perception; evolution; internalization. (shrink)
The Formal Darwinism Project is an attempt to use mathematical theory to prove the claim that fitness maximization is the outcome of evolution in nature. Grafen’s (2014, p. 12) conclusion from this project is that “….there is a very general expectation of something close to fitness maximisation, which will convert into fitness-maximisation unless there are particular kinds of circumstances—and further, that fitness is the same quantity for all genetic architectures.” Grafen’s claim appears to mean to him that natural populations are (...) expected to contain individuals whose traits are optimal, i.e., any given trait outperforms all reasonable alternatives. I describe why Grafen’s attempt can never provide a meaningful expectation as to the ubiquity of optimal traits in nature. This is so because it is based upon a misconception of the relationship between theory and empirical analysis. Even if one could use theory in the way Grafen proposes, I describe how his theory is causally incomplete. Finally, I describe how Grafen’s conceptual framework is ambiguous. The Formal Darwinism Project has been inspired by “On The Origin of Species” by Darwin. The great lesson of this book was Darwin’s demonstration of the necessary dialog between theory and data, with each influencing and being influenced by the other. Grafen’s Formal Darwinism Project, an attempt to create understanding of nature by removing data from this dialog, reflects a failure to understand Darwin’s great lesson. (shrink)
Jewish law has a history stretching from the early period to the modern State of Israel, encompassing the Talmud, Geonic and later codifications, the Spanish Golden Age, medieval and modern responsa, the Holocaust and modern reforms. Fifteen distinct periods are separately studied in this volume, each one by a leading specialist, and the emphasis throughout is on the development of the institutions and sources of the law.
The law tends to think that there is no difficulty about identifying humans. When someone is born, her name is entered into a statutory register. She is ‘X’ in the eyes of the law. At some point, ‘X’ will die and her name will be recorded in another register. If anyone suggested that the second X was not the same as the first, the suggestion would be met with bewilderment. During X's lifetime, the civil law assumed that the X who (...) entered into a contract was the same person who breached it. The criminal law assumed that X, at the age of 80, was liable for criminal offences ‘she’ committed at the age of 18. This accords with the way we talk. ‘She's not herself today’, we say; or ‘When he killed his wife he wasn't in his right mind’. The intuition has high authority: ‘To thine own self be true’, urged Polonius.1 It sounds as if we believe in souls—immutable, core essences that constitute our real selves. Medicine conspires in the belief. If you become mentally ill, a psychiatrist will seek to get you back to your right mind. The Mental Capacity Act 1985 states that when a patient loses capacity the only lawful interventions will be interventions which are in that patient's best interests,2 and that in determining what those interests are the decision-maker must have …. (shrink)
Empirical research on the perception of physical events is rarely designed to test a particular theory. The research often fails to be embedded in a larger theoretical context or it is carried out with the implicit goal to support a particular theoretical approach. I argue that this is not very productive. While three theories are relevant for our understanding of events, their limits have rarely been addressed. I expose these limits. The three theories or approaches are direct or ecological perception, (...) inference theory, and the concept of internalization. I demonstrate that all three fail empirically and/or theoretically with respect to explaining the perception of events. They fail because they adhere to simplistic stationary views or because they remain too vague. An adequate theory of event perception has to include three factors at the level of the explanans, namely the stimulus, the purpose of the action to which the percept belongs, and the appraisal of this action's success. Examples from the domains of arrival-time judgment and perception of events involving classical mechanics are used to support the claims. I suggest that a new pragmatic theory of event perception ought to modify and to incorporate the three concepts of affordances, thought-like processes, and evolutionary principles. (shrink)
Consider a circle and a pair of its semicircles. Which is prior, the whole or its parts? Are the semicircles dependent abstractions from their whole, or is the circle a derivative construction from its parts? Now in place of the circle consider the entire cosmos (the ultimate concrete whole), and in place of the pair of semicircles consider the myriad particles (the ultimate concrete parts). Which if either is ultimately prior, the one ultimate whole or its many ultimate parts?
In today’s multi-cultural world and global economy, attention is often focused on the diversity of cultural values and practices and the need for management approaches to take these differing cultural environments into account. While there is much to be valued in this approach, the focus is often on how to navigate through distinct cultural practices in order to achieve a singular business aim, which falls within the current neoliberal paradigm of global trade. In addition, by focusing on differences in cultural (...) practices, rather than on similarities in underlying values, this approach fails to utilize an important way to achieve a greater degree of global integration in management. Despite striking cultural differences, it is possible to identify some enduring values that underlie what often appear to be quite discrete value paradigms, especially by looking at value paradigms that have endured for centuries, even millennia. This paper proposes to explore the values embedded in two such value paradigms or religious traditions, zen buddhism and Judaism, describing crucial core values in each and comparing and contrasting their ethical frameworks, in order to be able to evaluate their utility in today’s world and especially their significance for creating a more holistic, inclusive, and responsible management framework. The paper will begin by explicating the set of foundational values in each religious tradition. For example, zen buddhism, especially as expressed by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhan Hanh, utilizes the concepts of engaged mindfulness and inter-being to demonstrate the ways in which all global issues are linked together, and the collective responsibility that all humans bear for the state of our planet and the beings who live on it. This approach is inherently holistic and inclusive, and requires a management approach that takes into account the moral responsibility that we all carry. Likewise, the Jewish tradition, while using quite different terminology, also lays out a holistic and inclusive moral vision. Key concepts include the values of Tikkum Olam, to repair the world, and Tsedakah, which literally means justice or righteousness, but is commonly used to indicate charitable giving. The first value, to repair the world, emphasizes the collective moral responsibility to heal whatever damage has been done to the world in order to make the it a better place for all. It does not matter who has done the damage; what matters is each person’s obligation to improve the status quo, under the assumption that all our fates are linked together. The second value, justice and charity, is also considered to be a moral obligation, not simply a voluntary act of charity. The emphasis here is on anonymous giving, done in order to help others and without any expectation of receiving some benefit, such as positive publicity. As a moral obligation, it is not something that one should benefit from. Thus, the concept of tsekakah also emphasizes the inter-connectedness of all humanity. In addition, in the Torah, there are a series of rules about how to deal with others in business as well as the obligation, during harvest-time, to leave some grain in the fields for the less fortunate. In all, we see a focus on being mindful of others, on seeing our fates as interconnected, as in zen buddhism. The last section of the paper will explore some of the ways in which these moral imperatives can be utilized to undergird and buttress a more holistic, inclusive and responsible management approach. Some management models already include moral imperatives, such as corporal social responsibility, and this section will explore in greater detail how the above concepts have been more fully integrated into current management models. (shrink)
On the now dominant Quinean view, metaphysics is about what there is. Metaphysics so conceived is concerned with such questions as whether properties exist, whether meanings exist, and whether numbers exist. I will argue for the revival of a more traditional Aristotelian view, on which metaphysics is about what grounds what. Metaphysics so revived does not bother asking whether properties, meanings, and numbers exist (of course they do!) The question is whether or not they are fundamental.
Epistemology has for a long time focused on the concept of knowledge and tried to answer questions such as whether knowledge is possible and how much of it there is. Often missing from this inquiry, however, is a discussion on the value of knowledge. In The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding Jonathan Kvanvig argues that epistemology properly conceived cannot ignore the question of the value of knowledge. He also questions one of the most fundamental assumptions in (...) epistemology, namely that knowledge is always more valuable than the value of its subparts. Taking Platos' Meno as a starting point of his discussion, Kvanvig tackles the different arguments about the value of knowledge and comes to the conclusion that knowledge is less valuable than generally assumed. Clearly written and well argued, this 2003 book will appeal to students and professionals in epistemology. (shrink)
Practical Reality is a lucid original study of the relation between the reasons why we do things and the reasons why we should. Jonathan Dancy maintains that current philosophical orthodoxy bowdlerizes this relation, making it impossible to understand how anyone can act for a good reason. By giving a fresh account of values and reasons, he finds a place for normativity in philosophy of mind and action, and strengthens the connection between these areas and ethics.