Recently there has been much philosophical interest in the analysis of concepts to determine whether they should be removed, revised, or replaced. Enquiry of this kind is referred to as conceptual engineering or conceptual ethics. We will call it revisionary conceptual analysis. It standardly involves describing the meaning of a concept, evaluating whether it serves its purposes, and prescribing what it should mean. However, this stands in tension with prescriptivism, a metasemantic view which holds that all meaning claims are prescriptions. (...) If prescriptivism is correct, then one is faced with two options: either give up on the possibility of RCA, or come up with a version of RCA that is consistent with the idea that all meaning claims are prescriptive. In this paper we offer an argument for. (shrink)
I thought the paper by Kai-yee Wong and Chris Fraser was fascinating and insightful. Two things I especially appreciated are the clarity with which they summarize my views. I think they are quite fair and accurate. Second, I appreciate their suggestion that the way to deal with the practical problem of weakness of will has much to do with the role of the Background in shaping our actions. I think they are especially on the right track when they say that (...) the improvement of Background skills may actually narrow the range of real options for action, (p. 21) nonetheless, they do not decrease freedom. As they say, “It is a process of strengthening the self, and the agent is likely to experience the concomitant restriction of ‘live’ options not as a limitation but as strength of character.” (p. 21). That seems to me very much on the right track. What they are suggesting, and it is a powerful addition to my own writings, is that we should not just think of the Background as facilitating languages, games and social practices generally, but for morality as well (p. 23). (shrink)
This festschrift includes a dozen essays on issues that have been at the focus of Kai Nielsen's research, mainly issues in ethics and political philosophy. Among these are four essays on socialism and Marxism. There are also essays on philosophy of religion, epistemology, and meta-philosophy.
- uneducated in the field authors who defend a consensus they are being TOLD when they enter offices of Ed-Sci, teaching and writing works on learning-theory - but never checked the facts, PART I and PART II.
In my Contemporary Critiques of Religion and in my Scepticism , I argue that non-anthropomorphic conceptions of God do not make sense. By this I mean that we do not have sound grounds for believing that the central truth-claims of Christianity are genuine truth-claims and that we do not have a religiously viable concept of God. I argue that this is so principally because of three interrelated features about God-talk. While purporting to be factual assertions, central bits of God-talk, e.g. (...) ‘God exists’ and ‘God loves man-kind’, are not even in principle verifiable in such a way that we can say what experienceable states of affairs would count for these putative assertions and against their denials, such that we could say what it would be like to have evidence which would make either their assertion or their denial more or less probably true. Personal predicates, e.g. ‘loves’, ‘creates’, are at least seemingly essential in the use of God-talk, yet they suffer from such an attenuation of meaning in their employment in religious linguistic environments that it at least appears to be the case that we have in such environments unwittingly emptied these predicates of all intelligible meaning so that we do not understand what we are asserting or denying when we utter ‘God loves mankind’ or ‘God created the heavens and the earth’ and the like. When we make well-formed assertions, it appears at least to be the case that a necessary condition for such wellformedness is that we should be able successfully to identify the subject of that putative statement so that we can understand what it is that we are talking about and thus understand that a genuine statement has actually been made. But, where God is conceived non-anthropomorphically, we have no even tolerably clear idea about how God, an infinite individual, occupying no particular place or existing at no particular time, and being utterly transcendent to the world, can be identified. Indeed we have no coherent idea of what it would be like to identify him and this means we have no coherent idea of what it would be like for God even to be a person or an it. He cannot be picked out and identified in the way persons and things can. (shrink)
The sense of agency is a basic feature of our subjective experience. Experimental studies usually focus on either its attributional aspects or on its motoric aspects. Here, we combine both aspects and focus on the subjective experience of the time between action and effect. Previous studies [Haggard, P., Aschersleben, G., Gehrke, J., & Prinz, W.. Action, binding and awareness. In W. Prinz, & B. Hommel, Common mechanisms in perception and action: Attention and performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press] have shown a (...) temporal attraction in the perceived times of actions and effects, but did directly not study the relation between them. In three experiments, time estimates of an interval between an action and its subsequent sensory effect were obtained. The actions were either voluntary key press actions performed by the participant or kinematically identical movements applied passively to the finger. The effects were either auditory or visual events or a passive movement induced to another finger. The results first indicated a shortening of the interval between one’s own voluntary action and a subsequent effect, relative to passive movement conditions. Second, intervals initiated by observed movements, either of another person or of an inanimate object, were always perceived like those involving passive movements of one’s own body, and never like those involving active movements. Third, this binding effect was comparable for auditory, somatic and visual effects of action. Our results provide the first direct evidence that agency involves a generalisable relation between actions and their consequences, and is triggered by efferent motor commands. (shrink)
Hitchcock advances a diachronic Dutch Book argument (DDB) for a 1/3 answer to the Sleeping Beauty problem. Bradley and Leitgeb argue that Hitchcock’s DDB argument fails. We demonstrate the following: (a) Bradley and Leitgeb’s criticism of Hitchcock is unconvincing; (b) nonetheless, there are serious reasons to worry about the success of Hitchcock’s argument; (c) however, it is possible to construct a new DDB for 1/3 about which such worries cannot be raised.
Many find the prospect of death distressing at least partly because they believe that death deprives its subject of life’s benefits. Properly qualified, the belief is surely true. But should its truth lead us to conclude that there is something dreadful or awful about death, something that merits distress?
Metaphilosophy is itself philosophy about philosophy. It is not something before or independent of philosophy. Both Kai Nielsen and Richard Rorty are deeply concerned (someone might say obsessively preoccupied) with metaphilosophy. They both are thoroughly historicist and contextualist resolutely rejecting any form of a transcendental or metaphysical turn. They argue against claims to absolute validity (as well as against absolutism in any form) and a natural order of reasons: some 'Reason' to which any rational agent must be committed. They both (...) see philosophy as a transitional genre first (historically speaking) from religion then metaphysics and more latterly from scientistic conceptions of the world. But they differ about what philosophy is transitional to. For Rorty it is historical narrative and utopian proposals; for Nielsen it is critical theory. Rorty claims this, Nielsen's intentions to the contrary notwithstanding, commits him to enlightenment rationalism. Nielsen replies that his form of critical theory is deeply historicist and contextual without being resolutely atheoretical. This plays out in political orientation to Nielsen's being a socialist while Rorty is a social democrat. (shrink)
Drawing on insights of thinkers in the natural rights tradition, Draper analyzes numerous hypothetical cases including those involving a runaway trolley, then seeks to determine if killing civilians in war is ever justified. In his consideration of this issue he avoids appealing to the principle of double effect. Having considered hypothetical cases at length, he leaves it to others to decide if any option to go to war is justifiable. In this regard he himself is sceptical.
Noted philosopher Kai Nielsen offers an answer to this fundamental question - a question that reaches in to grasp at the very heart of ethics itself. Essentially, this innocent inquiry masks a confusion that so many of us get caught in as we think about moral issues. We fail to realize that there is a difference between judging human behavior within an ethical context, or set of moral principles, and justifying the principles themselves. According to Nielsen, it is precisely this (...) basic muddle that has spawned all sorts of challenges to morality, from relativism and intuitionism to egoism and skepticism. Nielsen first argues the case for these challenges in the strongest possible terms; then he shows that their failure to establish themselves demonstrates a fundamental flaw - an inability to understand what it means to have good reasons for the moral claims we make. In his search for "good reasons," Nielsen must face the innocent question "Why be moral?" He tries to show us that skirmishes among supporters of specific moral principles require a different sort of resolution than those that occur between groups of ethical principles. Justifying an action within a moral point of view is quite different from making the case for having a moral point of view in the first place. In its relentless search for the very basis of morality and the limits of moral justification, Why Be Moral? outlines the essential questions that will help us clear away confusion. Nielsen's approach will interest and delight informed readers and professionals alike. This vital work addresses itself to thoughtful people everywhere who are perplexed about morality and about the foundations of the moral life. (shrink)
In this paper, we discuss three probabilistic arguments for the existence of multiple universes. First, we provide an analysis of total evidence and use that analysis to defend Roger White's "this universe" objection to a standard fine-tuning argument for multiple universes. Second, we explain why Rodney Holder's recent cosmological argument for multiple universes is unconvincing. Third, we develop a "Cartesian argument" for multiple universes. While this argument is not open to the objections previously noted, we show that, given certain highly (...) plausible assumptions about evidence and epistemic probability, the proposition which it treats as evidence cannot coherently be regarded as evidence for anything. This raises the question of whether to reject the assumptions or accept that such a proposition cannot be evidence. (shrink)
Papers presented cover: new approaches to evolutionary epistemology, new applications, critical evaluations, and the nature of the mind. Paper edition (unseen), $25.50. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR.
We see a systematic set of cut-free axiomatisations for all the basic normal modal logics formed by some combination the axioms d, t, b, 4, 5. They employ a form of deep inference but otherwise stay very close to Gentzen’s sequent calculus, in particular they enjoy a subformula property in the literal sense. No semantic notions are used inside the proof systems, in particular there is no use of labels. All their rules are invertible and the rules cut, weakening and (...) contraction are admissible. All systems admit a straightforward terminating proof search procedure as well as a syntactic cut elimination procedure. (shrink)
Addressing the end-of-philosophy debate and the challenge it presents to contemporary philosophy, this book draws on Wittgenstein, Quine, Davidson, Habermas and Foucault, among others. It develops the implications of Richard Rorty's arguments in particular.
Writing collectively as the Oscar Seminar in 2008, John Pollock and several colleagues advance an objectivist argument for a 1/3 solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem. In 2011, Joel Pust raises a serious objection to their argument to which Paul D. Thorn, a member of the Oscar Seminar, offers a subtle reply. I argue that the Oscar Seminar s argument for 1/3 is unsound. I do not, however, defend Pust’s objection. Rather I develop a new objection, one that is not (...) threatened by the considerations to which Thorn appeals in his reply to Pust. (shrink)
The aim of this Web-based survey of 15 German companies with an international profile was to identify which higher-level values serve as a basis for a company culture that promotes integrity and can thereby also be used to promote crime prevention. Results on about 2000 managers in German parent companies and almost 600 managers in Central and North European branch offices show that a major preventive role can be assigned to a company culture that promotes integrity. This requires a ‘tone (...) from the top’, ‘ethical leadership’ from the direct superior, and a general set of values that can be encouraged through training courses. Moreover, employees have to perceive these values as promoting their careers. The survey reveals that the companies in this study have basically succeeded in establishing their system of values in their Central and North European as well as their Asian branch offices. Moreover, it shows that the main values preventing crime on the management level are trustworthiness and consistency. Open communication is an important value on all levels of a company, and this is supplemented by transparency, compliance with the rules, and a rejection of behaving in one’s own interest. It is concluded that in spite of regional differences, major international companies can possibly make an important contribution to bringing about cultural change in regions with an affinity for corruption by implementing a culture that promotes integrity in both their company and their daily business. (shrink)
The subjective experience of time is a fundamental constituent of human consciousness and can be disturbed under conditions of mental disorders such as schizophrenia or affective disorders. Besides the scientific domain of psychiatry, time consciousness is a topic that has been extensively studied both by theoretical philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. It can be shown that both approaches exemplified by the philosophical analysis of time consciousness and the neuroscientific theory of cross-temporal contingencies as the neurophysiological basis of human consciousness implemented in (...) the prefrontal cortex converge in 2 respects. Firstly, a tripartite conception of consciousness divides human cognition in 3 different temporal domains comprising retention, presentation, and protention and the past, the present, and the future corresponding to working memory, interference control, and preparatory set. Secondly, both concepts refer to the present as an extended duration that integrates information from the recent past and the future. We propose that the integration of phenomenological and neuroscientific approaches can stimulate the development of enriched pathophysiological concepts of mental disorders. This approach appears to be particularly fruitful with respect to schizophrenia that is interpreted as a structural disturbance of time consciousness. (shrink)
Identity, we're told, is the binary relation that every object bears to itself, and to itself only. But how can a relation be binary if it never relates two objects? This puzzled Russell and led Wittgenstein to declare that identity is not a relation between objects. The now standard view is that Wittgenstein's position is untenable, and that worries regarding the relational status of identity are the result of confusion. I argue that the rejection of identity as a binary relation (...) is perfectly tenable. To this end, I outline and defend a logical framework that is not committed to an objectual identity relation but is nevertheless expressively equivalent to first-order logic with identity. After it has thus been shown that there is no indispensability argument for objectual identity, I argue that we have good reasons for doubting the existence of such a relation, and rebut a number of attempts at discrediting these reasons. (shrink)
In the UK, male genital cutting is in principle legal and may even be ordered by a court, whereas female genital cutting is a criminal offence. The coherence of this approach was recently questioned by Munby P in Re B and G ; the present article continues this inquiry and demonstrates that the justifications that the courts have provided for the differential treatment of male and female cutting—relating to the harm involved in the respective practices, possible medical benefits of male (...) cutting, the absence of a religious motivation with regard to female cutting, and patriarchal power structures enabling female but not male cutting—are insufficient. It proposes a different foundation for the categorical rejection of female genital cutting and argues that such practices are wrong as a matter of principle. This provides a convincing basis for the rejection of all forms of female genital cutting, including comparatively mild ones such as ritual nicks, and furthermore leads to the conclusion that male cutting, too, must be regarded as categorically impermissible. (shrink)
This paper is an exploration of the nature of what is perhaps the most widely recognized justification for inflicting harm on human beings: the appeal to defense (self-defense and other-defense). I develop and defend a rights-based account of the appeal to defense that takes into account whether and to what degree both the aggressor and his potential victim are morally responsible for the relevant threat. However, unlike most extant rights-based accounts, mine is not a forfeiture account. That is, I do (...) not attempt to explain the permissibility of defense in terms of the aggressor’s loss of a right not to be harmed. Instead I appeal directly to the fact that defense in the relevant cases prevents the aggressor from infringing upon the rights of his potential victim. Accordingly, I call my account a “prevention account.”. (shrink)
This paper examines the impact of the recent financial crisis on the relation between a firm’s risk and social performance using a sample of non-financial U.S. firms covering the period 1991–2012. We find that the relation between SP and risk is significantly different in the crisis period compared to the pre-crisis period. SP reduces volatility during the financial crisis. The risk reduction potential of SP is mainly due to the strengths component of SP. Since the relation of risk is stronger (...) with SP strengths than SP concerns, this implies an asymmetric relation between these SP components and a firm’s risk. Specifically, strengths act as a risk reduction tool during an adverse economic environment. (shrink)
Based on an inductive study we analyse the role of the investor relations (IR) function in the light of rising investor concern about corporate social responsibility (CSR). The study draws on interviews with IR professionals in twenty firms. It highlights their awareness of CSR issues as well as their assessment of concern among mainstream investors and socially responsible investors (SRIs). From these findings we develop suggestions on how the IR function is moving from a mere “broadcasting” mode regarding CSR issues (...) into a much more interactive mode of relationship management. (shrink)
In §93 of The Principles of Mathematics, Bertrand Russell observes that “the variable is a very complicated logical entity, by no means easy to analyze correctly”. This assessment is borne out by the fact that even now we have no fully satisfactory understanding of the role of variables in a compositional semantics for first-order logic. In standard Tarskian semantics, variables are treated as meaning-bearing entities; moreover, they serve as the basic building blocks of all meanings, which are constructed out of (...) variable assignments. But this has disquieting consequences, including Fine’s antinomy of the variable and an undue dependence of meanings on language. Here I develop an alternative, Fregean version of predicate logic that uses the traditional quantifier–variable apparatus for the expression of generality, possesses a fully compositional, non-representational semantics, and is not subject to the antinomy of the variable. The advantages of Fregean over Tarskian predicate logic are due to the former’s treating variables not as meaningful lexical items, but as mere marks of punctuation, similar to parentheses. I submit that this is indeed how the variables of predicate logic should be construed. (shrink)
The contemporary theory of epistemic democracy often draws on the Condorcet Jury Theorem to formally justify the ‘wisdom of crowds’. But this theorem is inapplicable in its current form, since one of its premises – voter independence – is notoriously violated. This premise carries responsibility for the theorem's misleading conclusion that ‘large crowds are infallible’. We prove a more useful jury theorem: under defensible premises, ‘large crowds are fallible but better than small groups’. This theorem rehabilitates the importance of deliberation (...) and education, which appear inessential in the classical jury framework. Our theorem is related to Ladha's (1993) seminal jury theorem for interchangeable (‘indistinguishable’) voters based on de Finetti's Theorem. We also prove a more general and simpler such jury theorem. (shrink)
This volume considers in depth and carefully a cluster of issues central to contemporary philosophical and social scientific investigation while utilising methods and conceptualisations at the very cutting edge of philosophy.
way on the information available in the contexts in which they are used, it’s not surprising that there is a minor but growing industry of work in semantics and the philosophy of language concerned with the precise nature of the context-dependency of epistemically modalized sentences. Take, for instance, an epistemic might-claim like..
The purpose of this paper is to look at the problem of rule-following—notably discussed by Kripke (Wittgenstein on rules and private language, 1982) and Wittgenstein (Philosophical investigations, 1953)—from the perspective of the study of generics. Generics are sentences that express generalizations that tolerate exceptions. I first suggest that meaning ascriptions be viewed as habitual sentences, which are a sub-set of generics. I then seek a proper semantic analysis for habitually construed meaning sentences. The quantificational approach is rejected, due to its (...) persistent difficulties. Instead, a cognitive approach is adopted, where psychological considerations of meaning attributors play a crucial role. This account is then compared with the picture of meaning offered by Kripke and Wittgenstein, respectively. I show how this fresh way of conceiving of meaning sentences respects some of their insights while avoiding some of the drawbacks, and serves to improve the framework in which the current debate and inquiry about rule-following are conducted. (shrink)
The simplest story about modals—might, must, possibly, necessary, have to, can, ought to, presumably, likelier, and the rest—is also the canon: modals are context-dependent quantiﬁers over a domain of possibilities. Diﬀerent ﬂavors of modality correspond to quantiﬁcation over diﬀerent domains of possibilities. Logical modalities quantify over all the possibilities there are, physical modalities over possibilities compatible with the..
This paper assesses two reformulations of Epicurus' argument that "death ... is nothing to us, since while we exist, death is not present; and whenever death is present, we do not exist." The first resembles many contemporary reformulations in that it attempts to reach the conclusion that death is not to the disadvantage of its subject. I argue that this rather anachronistic sort of reformulation cannot succeed. The second reformulation stays closer to the spirit of Epicurus' actual position on death (...) by attempting to reach the conclusion that it is inappropriate to fear or dread or have any other negative affective response towards death. I raise a plausible objection to this argument, suggesting that dissatisfaction is sometimes an appropriate response to the approach of death. I then go on to consider the possibility that Epicurus was partly right in that it may always be inappropriate to dread death. (shrink)
Although thought suppression is a commonly used self-control strategy that has far-reaching consequences, its effect on ethical decision making is unclear. Whereas ironic process theory suggests that suppressing ethics-related thoughts leads to mental rebounds of ethicality and decreased unethical behavior, ego depletion theory suggests that thought suppression can lead to reduced self-control and increased unethical behavior. Integrating the two theories, I propose that the effect of thought suppression on unethical behavior hinges on the content of the suppressed thoughts. Participants who (...) suppressed ethics-related [-unrelated] thoughts engaged in less [more] cyber bullying, cheating, and dishonesty compared to participants in the control conditions. Explicit and implicit moral awareness was found to mediate this moderated effect. Experiment 4 further demonstrated that suppressing ethics-related thoughts reduces self-control performance on a subsequent amoral task, but not on subsequent ethical decision making. (shrink)
This article re-examines the role of the brain in self-recognition. It reconsiders the idea that the frontal and cortical midline structures are important for self-specific experience in light of several recent reviews of neuroscience literature. The findings suggests that the frontal cortex and the cortical midline structure are not the only areas involved in self-related tasks and that these areas may be involved not because the tasks are self-specific, but because they are tasks that involve a specific kind of cognitive (...) operation, specifically reflective evaluation. (shrink)