A New Work by Apuleius presents what may be the first lengthy Latin text from antiquity to be published in almost a century. The volume reveals that this new work is in fact the lost third book of Apuleius' De Platone et eius dogmate, and provides the key to understanding Apuleius' use and interpretation of Plato.
The publication of a new text on ancient philosophy tends to be an exciting event, but there can be years between discovery and availability. This is an extreme case. Raymond Klibansky discovered the text in 1949 and transcribed it, making it available to friends who were under an obligation not to anticipate his publication of it—which failed to happen. It contains summaries, of very different lengths, of the doctrinal content of thirteen Platonic dialogues. I saw the transcription of this so-called (...) Epitome, or Compendiosa Expositio as it may be more accurately called, in 1998, and have done so subsequently. Yet, without much indication of date, its use would be limited. Found in an Apuleius manuscript, it... (shrink)
The renaissance of Apuleian studies of the past few decades shows no signs of abating.1The summer of 2014 may well be the highest watermark yet recorded in the tide of interest in Apuleius: June and July alone saw the release of two monographs, one each from Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, and one edited conference volume, from Routledge.2The clearest sign that the sophist of Madauros has come into his own is his admission into the exclusive club of the (...) Oxford Classical Texts: the first volume of his complete works containing theMetamorphosesedited by Maaike Zimmerman came out in 2012. One of the most salutary effects of this renewed interest has been the reappraisal of the ‘whole Apuleius’: Apuleius has more to offer than just theMetamorphoses, and recent scholarship on therhetoricaand thephilosophicahave shown not only how theseopera minoracan help us understand theopus maius, but also how they are important and interesting documents in their own right.3. (shrink)
In this article I argue that it is possible to be blameworthy for doing something that was not objectively morally wrong. If I am right, this would have implications for several debates at the intersection of metaphysics and moral philosophy. I also float a view about which actions can serve as legitimate bases for blame that allows for the possibility of blameworthiness without objective wrongdoing and also suggests an explanation for the appeal of the commonly held view that blameworthiness requires (...) objective wrongdoing. (shrink)
Frankfurt cases are supposed to provide us with counterexamples to the principle of alternative possibilities. Among the most well known responses to these cases is what John Fischer has dubbed the flicker of freedom strategy. Here we revisit a version of this strategy, which we refer to as the fine-grained response. Although a number of philosophers, including some who are otherwise unsympathetic to Frankfurt’s argument, have dismissed the fine grained response, we believe there is a good deal to be said (...) on its behalf. We argue, in particular, that reflection on certain cases involving omissions undermines the main objections to the response and also provides the groundwork for an argument in support of it. (shrink)
Here it is argued that in order for something someone “does” to count as a genuine action, the person needn’t have been able to refrain from doing it. If this is right, then two recent defenses of the principle of alternative possibilities, a version of which says that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have refrained from doing it, are unsuccessful.
According to what I will call mitigating soft compatibilism, although the truth of determinism is consistent with free action and moral responsibility, determinism nevertheless mitigates praiseworthiness and blameworthiness. In this paper, I take a closer look at this novel brand of compatibilism. My principal aim in doing so is to further explicate the view and to explore ways in which it can be deployed in defense of the more general compatibilist thesis. I also discuss one of the most pressing challenges (...) facing a compatibilist view of this sort, and I offer some suggestions as to how proponents of the view might attempt to address that challenge. (shrink)
In a fascinating article in The Journal of Ethics, Eleonore Stump contends that while the flicker of freedom defense is the best available strategy for defending the principle of alternative possibilities against the threat posed to that principle by the Frankfurt cases, the defense is ultimately unsuccessful. In this article I identify a number of difficulties with Stump’s criticism of the flicker strategy. Along the way, I also clarify various nuances of the strategy that often get overlooked, and I highlight (...) the advantages of one version of it in particular. (shrink)
There has been a great deal of critical discussion of Harry Frankfurt’s argument against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), almost all of which has focused on whether the Frankfurt-style examples, which are designed to be counterexamples to PAP, can be given a coherent formulation. Recently, however, David Widerker has argued that even if Frankfurt-style examples can be given a coherent formulation, there is reason to believe that an agent in those examples could never be morally blameworthy for what she (...) has done. Therefore, such examples do not undermine a version of PAP restricted to blameworthiness. Widerker refers to his argument for this claim as the W-defense. I examine the W-defense in some detail, along with three recent replies to it by defenders of Frankfurt’s argument. I contend that each of these replies is problematic and, indeed, that two of them play directly into the hands of those seeking to defend PAP. I then develop my own reply to the W-defense by calling into question an assumption which is at the heart of that argument regarding the nature of moral blame. (shrink)
Anderson's theory is plausible and largely consistent with the data. However, it remains underspecified on several fronts, and we highlight areas for potential improvement. Reuse is described as duplicating a functional component, preserving one function and tinkering to add another function. This is a promising model, but Anderson neglects other reasonable alternatives and we highlight several. Evidence cited in support of reuse fails to uniquely support it among a broader set of multi-use theories. We suggest that a more stringent criterion (...) for direct support of reuse may be satisfied by focusing on previous adaptive functions (original use). (shrink)
Frankfurt cases are designed to be counterexamples to the principle of alternative possibilities, a version of which states that an agent is blameworthy for what she did only if there was an alternative course of action available to her at the time, the availability of which is relevant per se to an explanation of why the agent is blameworthy for her action. In this article, I argue that the buffer cases, which are among the most promising and influential Frankfurt cases (...) produced in recent years, are not counterexamples to PAP. While the agent in these examples may be blameworthy for what she did, I contend that there was an alternative course of action available to her at the time, the availability of which is relevant per se to an explanation of why the agent is blameworthy for her action. I then compare my objection to the buffer cases with a similar, though importantly different objection to them. Whatever merits this other objection may have, I contend that the one on offer here has important advantages over it. (shrink)
Recently, Trenton Merricks has defended a libertarian view of human freedom. He claims that human persons have downward causal control of their constituent parts, and that downward causal control of this sort is sufficient for free will. In this paper I examine Merricks’s defense of free will, and argue that it is unsuccessful. I show that having downward causal control is not sufficient for for free will. In an Appendix I also argue that Merricks’s defense of free will, together with (...) assumptions implicit in his broader ontology, commit him to the implausible conclusion that determinism is incompatible with the existence of human persons. (shrink)
Sentimentalist theories in ethics treat evaluative judgments as somehow dependent on human emotional capacities. While the precise nature of this dependence varies, the general idea is that evaluative concepts are to be understood by way of more basic emotional reactions. Part of the task of distinguishing between the concepts that sentimentalism proposes to explicate, then, is to identify a suitably wide range of associated emotions. In this paper, we attempt to deal with an important obstacle to such views, which arises (...) from the dominant tradition in the philosophy of emotion. We will be attempting to steer a middle course between the traditional view and some recent, empirically-minded criticism. (shrink)
Against Mitchell et al.'s assertions, we argue that (1) the concordance between learning and awareness does not support any particular learning theory, (2) their propositional approach is at odds with examples of learned behaviours that contradict beliefs about causation, and (3) the relative virtues of the two approaches in terms of parsimony is more ambiguous than Mitchell et al. suggest.
A familiar Epicurean argument for the conclusion that death is not bad for those who die goes like this. The dead cannot experience anything, including being dead and its effects. But something is bad for an individual only if that person can experience it or its effects. Therefore, death is not bad for those who die. In this article, I consider several alleged counterexamples to this argument's second premise, along with some responses to them. The responses are not entirely without (...) merit, as we will see. However, I contend that even if none of the cases cited are straightforward counterexamples to the Epicurean premise, they can be used to challenge it indirectly. I conclude that this familiar Epicurean argument is unsound. (shrink)
Dans son Dialogue avec Tryphon, Justin mentionne de nombreuses exégèses, croyances et pratiques juives explicitement présentées comme contemporaines. L�hypothèse généralement admise selon laquelle il aurait tiré ces informations d�un ou plusieurs écrit(s) antérieur(s) ne résiste pas à l�examen : la comparaison avec différentes sources anciennes � littérature judéo-hellénistique, écrits intertestamentaires et écrits de Qumrân, Nouveau Testament et littérature chrétienne des premiers siècles � fait ressortir la spécificité de Justin en ce domaine. Les rapprochements avec la littérature rabbinique montrent (...) en revanche que ce que Justin rapporte est presque toujours attribué, dans le Talmud et le Midrash, à des rabbins palestiniens des IIe et IIIe siècles. Il y a donc tout lieu de croire que l�information de l�apologiste est de première main. (shrink)
The consequence argument is among the most influential arguments for the conclusion that free will and determinism are incompatible. Recently, however, it has become increasingly clear that the argument fails to establish that particular incompatibilist conclusion. Even so, a version of the argument can be formulated that supports a different incompatibilist conclusion, according to which free will is incompatible with our behavior being predetermined by factors beyond our control. This conclusion, though not equivalent to the traditional incompatibilist thesis that determinism (...) strictly precludes free will, is something many incompatibilists have had in mind all along and, indeed, is arguably the more central incompatibilist position. The consequence argument thus remains philosophically important, even if, as several of its critics have argued, it can't be used to establish the strict incompatibility of free will and determinism. (shrink)
According to the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP), a person is blameworthy for what he did only if he could have avoided doing it. This principle figures importantly in disputes about the relationship between determinism, divine foreknowledge, free will and moral responsibility, and has been the subject of considerable controversy for over forty years now. Proponents of the principle have devoted a good deal of energy and ingenuity to defending it against various objections. Surprisingly, however, they have devoted comparatively little (...) effort to developing positive arguments for it, and, with few exceptions, the arguments they have proposed have received little, if any, critical attention. My dissertation is intended to help fill this gap in the literature on PAP. There are three main arguments for PAP. I critically evaluate each of these arguments, arguing that they are all unsuccessful. Where, then, does that leave PAP? I suggest that, in the absence of any further compelling arguments for or against the principle, debate over it is likely to end in dialectical stalemate. I conclude by highlighting several implications of this suggestion for recent debates about the metaphysics of moral responsibility. (shrink)
:Strict liability in tort law is thought by some to have a moral counterpart. In this essay I attempt to determine whether there is, in fact, strict liability in the moral domain. I argue that there is, and I critically evaluate several accounts of its normative foundations before suggesting one of my own.
Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich [2004; forthcoming] use experimental methods to raise a spectre of doubt about reliance on intuitions in developing theories of reference which are then deployed in philosophical arguments outside the philosophy of language. Machery et al. ran a cross-cultural survey asking Western and East Asian participants about a famous case from the philosophical literature on reference (Kripke's G del example). They interpret their results as indicating that there is significant variation in participants' intuitions about semantic reference (...) for that case. We argue that this interpretation is mistaken. We detail a type of ambiguity found in Machery et al.'s probe but not yet noted in the response literature. We argue that this epistemic ambiguity could have affected their results. We do not stop there, however: Rather than rest content with a possibility claim, we ran four studies to test the impact of this ambiguity on participants' responses. We found that this accounts for much of the variation in Machery et al.'s original experiment. We conclude that in the light of our new data, their argument is no longer convincing. (shrink)
For some, biology explains all there is to know about the mind. Yet many big questions remain: is the mind shaped by genes or the environment? If mental traits are the result of adaptations built up over thousands of years, as evolutionary psychologists claim, how can such claims be tested? If the mind is a machine, as biologists argue, how does it allow for something as complex as human consciousness? The Biological Mind: A Philosophical Introduction explores these questions and more, (...) using the philosophy of biology to introduce and assess the nature of the mind. Drawing on the four key themes of evolutionary biology; molecular biology and genetics; neuroscience; and biomedicine and psychiatry Justin Garson addresses the following key topics: moral psychology, altruism and levels of selection evolutionary psychology and modularity genes, environment and the nature-nurture debate neuroscience, reductionism and the relation between biology and free will function, selection and mental representation psychiatric classification and the maladapted mind. Extensive use of examples and case studies is made throughout the book, and additional features such as chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary make this an indispensable introduction to those teaching philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology. It will also be an excellent resource for those in related fields such as biology. (shrink)
Professionals, it is said, have no use for simple lists of virtues and vices. The complexities and constraints of professional roles create peculiar moral demands on the people who occupy them, and traits that are vices in ordinary life are praised as virtues in the context of professional roles. Should this disturb us, or is it naive to presume that things should be otherwise? Taking medical and legal practice as key examples, Justin Oakley and Dean Cocking develop a rigorous (...) articulation and defence of virtue ethics, contrasting it with other types of character-based ethical theories and showing that it offers a promising new approach to the ethics of professional roles. They provide insights into the central notions of professional detachment, professional integrity, and moral character in professional life, and demonstrate how a virtue-based approach can help us better understand what ethical professional-client relationships would be like. (shrink)
In recent years, developments in experimental philosophy have led many thinkers to reconsider their central assumptions and methods. It is not enough to speculate and introspect from the armchair - philosophers must subject their claims to scientific scrutiny, looking at evidence and in some cases conducting new empirical research. "The Theory and Practice of Experimental Philosophy" is an introduction and guide to the systematic collection and analysis of empirical data in academic philosophy. This book serves two purposes: first, it examines (...) the theory behind “x-phi,” including its underlying motivations and the objections that have been leveled against it. Second, the book offers a practical guide for those interested in doing experimental philosophy, detailing how to design, implement, and analyze empirical studies. Thus, the book explains the reasoning behind x-phi and provides tools to help readers become experimental philosophers. (shrink)
A standard methodology in philosophy of language is to use intuitions as evidence. Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich challenged this methodology with respect to theories of reference by presenting empirical evidence that intuitions about one prominent example from the literature on the reference of proper names vary between Westerners and East Asians. In response, Sytsma and Livengood conducted experiments to show that the questions Machery and colleagues asked participants in their study were ambiguous, and that this ambiguity affected the responses (...) given by Westerners. Sytsma and Livengood took their results to cast doubt on the claim that the current evidence indicates that there is cross-cultural variation in intuitions about the Gödel case. In this paper we report on a new cross-cultural study showing that variation in intuitions remains even after controlling for the ambiguity noted by Sytsma and Livengood. (shrink)
The biological functions debate is a perennial topic in the philosophy of science. In the first full-length account of the nature and importance of biological functions for many years, Justin Garson presents an innovative new theory, the 'generalized selected effects theory of function', which seamlessly integrates evolutionary and developmental perspectives on biological functions. He develops the implications of the theory for contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of medicine and psychiatry, the philosophy of biology, and biology (...) itself, addressing issues ranging from the nature of mental representation to our understanding of the function of the human genome. Clear, jargon-free, and engagingly written, with accessible examples and explanatory diagrams to illustrate the discussion, his book will be highly valuable for readers across philosophical and scientific disciplines. (shrink)
I distinguish two forms of pluralism about biological functions, between-discipline pluralism and within-discipline pluralism. Between-discipline pluralism holds that different theories of function are appropriate for different subdisciplines of biology and psychology. I provide reasons for rejecting this view. Instead, I recommend within-discipline pluralism, which emphasizes the plurality of function concepts at play within any given subdiscipline of biology and psychology.
This book is a critical survey of and guidebook to the literature on biological functions. It ties in with current debates and developments, and at the same time, it looks back on the state of discourse in naturalized teleology prior to the 1970s. It also presents three significant new proposals. First, it describes the generalized selected effects theory, which is one version of the selected effects theory, maintaining that the function of a trait consists in the activity that led to (...) its differential persistence or reproduction in a population, and not merely its differential reproduction. Secondly, it advances “within-discipline pluralism” (as opposed to between-discipline pluralism) a new form of function pluralism, which emphasizes the coexistence of function concepts within diverse biological sub-disciplines. Lastly, it provides a critical assessment of recent alternatives to the selected effects theory of function, namely, the weak etiological theory and the systems-theoretic theory. The book argues that, to the extent that functions purport to offer causal explanations for the existence of a trait, there are no viable alternatives to the selected effects view. -/- The debate about biological functions is still as relevant and important to biology and philosophy as it ever was. Recent controversies surrounding the ENCODE Project Consortium in genetics, the nature of psychiatric classification, and the value of ecological restoration, all point to the continuing relevance to biology of philosophical discussion about the nature of functions. In philosophy, ongoing debates about the nature of biological information, intentionality, health and disease, mechanism, and even biological trait classification, are closely related to debates about biological functions. (shrink)
The physical realm is causally closed, according to physicalists like me. But why is it causally closed, what metaphysically explains causal closure? I argue that reductive physicalists are committed to one explanation of causal closure to the exclusion of any independent explanation, and that as a result, they must give up on using a causal argument to attack mind–body dualism. Reductive physicalists should view dualism in much the way that we view the hypothesis that unicorns exist, or that the Kansas (...) City Royals won the 2003 World Series: false, but not objectionable in any distinctively causal way. My argument turns on connections between explanation, counterfactuals, and inductive confirmation. (shrink)
Though it did not yet exist as a discrete field of scientific inquiry, biology was at the heart of many of the most important debates in seventeenth-century philosophy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the work of G. W. Leibniz. In Divine Machines, Justin Smith offers the first in-depth examination of Leibniz's deep and complex engagement with the empirical life sciences of his day, in areas as diverse as medicine, physiology, taxonomy, generation theory, and paleontology. He shows how (...) these wide-ranging pursuits were not only central to Leibniz's philosophical interests, but often provided the insights that led to some of his best-known philosophical doctrines.Presenting the clearest picture yet of the scope of Leibniz's theoretical interest in the life sciences, Divine Machines takes seriously the philosopher's own repeated claims that the world must be understood in fundamentally biological terms. Here Smith reveals a thinker who was immersed in the sciences of life, and looked to the living world for answers to vexing metaphysical problems. He casts Leibniz's philosophy in an entirely new light, demonstrating how it radically departed from the prevailing models of mechanical philosophy and had an enduring influence on the history and development of the life sciences. Along the way, Smith provides a fascinating glimpse into early modern debates about the nature and origins of organic life, and into how philosophers such as Leibniz engaged with the scientific dilemmas of their era. (shrink)
Do philosophers and ordinary people conceive of subjective experience in the same way? In this article, we argue that they do not and that the philosophical concept of phenomenal consciousness does not coincide with the folk conception. We first offer experimental support for the hypothesis that philosophers and ordinary people conceive of subjective experience in markedly different ways. We then explore experimentally the folk conception, proposing that for the folk, subjective experience is closely linked to valence. We conclude by considering (...) the implications of our findings for a central issue in the philosophy of mind, the hard problem of consciousness. (shrink)