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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Lines 3.20–2 of the text published by JustinStover as Apuleius’ De Platone 3 are printed by him as follows: improbat deinde eos qui negantis homines in seruitute habeant aut qui omnino eiusdem ciuitatis nationem belli iure diruant aut qui hostium spolia deorum aedibus adfigant.He [sc. Plato] then rebukes those who hold people in slavery against their will, or else who destroy utterly the people of that same city by right of war, or who hang the spoils of (...) enemies on the shrines of the gods. (shrink)
I defend the principle of alternative possibilities against what are sometimes known as buffer cases, which are supposed by some to be counterexamples to the principle. I develop an existing problem with the claim that standard buffer cases are counterexamples to PAP, before responding to a recent attempt by Michael McKenna to modify the cases in a way that circumvents this problem. While McKenna’s strategy does avoid the problem, I argue that it faces a different difficulty. I conclude that buffer (...) cases pose no threat to PAP. (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.
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)
I present and defend the generalized selected effects theory (GSE) of function. According to GSE, the function of a trait consists in the activity that contributed to its bearer’s differential reproduction, or differential retention, within a population. Unlike the traditional selected effects (SE) theory, it does not require that the functional trait helped its bearer reproduce; differential retention is enough. Although the core theory has been presented previously, I go significantly beyond those presentations by providing a new argument for GSE (...) and defending it from a recent objection. I also sketch its implications for teleosemantics and philosophy of medicine. (shrink)
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)
Restrictions upon international bribery by U.S. business firms, as incorporated in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, have been controversial since this legislation was passed in 1977. Despite many attempts to repeal or change the law, it remains as originally enacted.This article reports on a survey of U.S. business professionals concerning international bribery. Response to our survey reveals a divided business community in terms of their opinions on the ethics of international payments prohibited by the present law.
A questionnaire on business ethics was administered to business professionals and to upper-class business ethics students. On eight of the seventeen situations involving ethical dilemmas in business, students were significantly more willing to engage in questionable behavior than were their professional counterparts. Apparently, many students were willing to do whatever was necessary to further their own interests, with little or no regard for fundamental moral principles. Many students and professionals functioned within Lawrence Kohlberg's stage four of moral reasoning, the law (...) and order stage. Individualism and egoism remain strong patterns in the moral reasoning of many professionals, but they influence moral reasoning patterns among students to a much greater degree. (shrink)
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)
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)
Research on the relationship between religious commitment and business ethics has produced widely varying results and made the impact of such commitment unclear. This study presents an empirical investigation based on a questionnaire survey of business managers and professionals in the United States yielding a database of 1234 respondents. Respondents evaluated the ethical acceptability of 16 business decisions. Findings varied with the way in which the religion variable was measured. Little relationship between religious commitment and ethical judgment was found when (...) responses were compared on the basis of broad faith categories – Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, other religions, and no religion. However, respondents who indicated that religious interests were of high or moderate importance to them demonstrated a higher level of ethical judgment (less accepting of unethical decisions) than others in their evaluations. Evangelical Christians also showed a higher level of ethical judgment. (shrink)
Although the counterfactual comparative account of harm, according to which someone is harmed when things go worse for her than they otherwise would have, is intuitively plausible, it has recently come under attack. There are five serious objections in the literature: some philosophers argue that the counterfactual account makes it hard to see how we could harm someone in the course of benefitting that person; others argue that Parfit’s non-identity problem is particularly problematic; another objection claims that the account forces (...) us to see many harms where there is just one; a fourth objection is based on the claim that the counterfactual account makes mysterious the distinction between harms and mere failures-to-benefit; and a final problem arises from cases of pre-emption, in which the nearest possible world in which the harmful event does not occur is a world in which some other harmful event occurs. This paper argues that, properly understood, harm essentially involves a counterfactual comparison, and that these comparisons are sensitive to context in the manner typical of counterfactual conditionals, and that, augmented with two plausible distinctions, this account has the resources to provide satisfying responses to each of the objections that have been raised against it. (shrink)
Promoting the ethical formation of engineering students through the cultivation of their discipline-specific knowledge, sensitivity, imagination, and reasoning skills has become a goal for many engineering education programs throughout the United States. However, there is neither a consensus throughout the engineering education community regarding which strategies are most effective towards which ends, nor which ends are most important. This study provides an overview of engineering ethics interventions within the U.S. through the systematic analysis of articles that featured ethical interventions in (...) engineering, published in select peer-reviewed journals, and published between 2000 and 2015. As a core criterion, each journal article reviewed must have provided an overview of the course as well as how the authors evaluated course-learning goals. In sum, 26 articles were analyzed with a coding scheme that included 56 binary items. The results indicate that the most common methods for integrating ethics into engineering involved exposing students to codes/standards, utilizing case studies, and discussion activities. Nearly half of the articles had students engage with ethical heuristics or philosophical ethics. Following the presentation of the results, this study describes in detail four articles to highlight less common but intriguing pedagogical methods and evaluation techniques. The findings indicate that there is limited empirical work on ethics education within engineering across the United States. Furthermore, due to the large variation in goals, approaches, and evaluation methods described across interventions, this study does not detail “best” practices for integrating ethics into engineering. The science and engineering education community should continue exploring the relative merits of different approaches to ethics education in engineering. (shrink)
One popular reason for rejecting moral realism is the lack of a plausible epistemology that explains how we come to know moral facts. Recently, a number of philosophers have insisted that it is possible to have moral knowledge in a very straightforward way—by perception. However, there is a significant objection to the possibility of moral perception: it does not seem that we could have a perceptual experience that represents a moral property, but a necessary condition for coming to know that (...) X is F by perception is the ability to have a perceptual experience that represents something as being F . Call this the ‘Representation Objection’ to moral perception. In this paper I argue that the Representation Objection to moral perception fails. Thus I offer a limited defense of moral perception. (shrink)
This article compares the ethical attitudes of Ukrainian business professionals with those of United States business professionals. A widely used survey instrument consisting of 16 hypothetical situations involving ethical dilemmas was employed to gather information on ethical attitudes in the two countries. On 13 of 16 vignettes, Ukrainian respondents demonstrated less stringent ethical attitudes than did their United States counterparts. Possible reasons for these differences are discussed, with primary emphasis on the transition from one economic system to another that is (...) underway in Ukraine. Comments from Ukrainian respondents are presented so as to give an indication of the thought processes behind the questionnaire responses. (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)