It is proposed here that the Confucian li, norms of appropriate behavior, be understood as part of the dynamic process of moral self-cultivation. Within this framework li are multidimensional, as they have different functions at different stages in the cultivation process. This novel interpretation refocuses the issue regarding the flexibility of li, a topic that is still being debated by scholars. The significance of this proposal is not restricted to a new understanding of li. Key features of the various stages (...) of moral development in Confucian thought are also articulated. This account presents the picture of a Confucian paradigmatic person as critically self-aware and ethically sensitive. (shrink)
This comprehensive introductory textbook to early Chinese philosophy covers a range of philosophical traditions which arose during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods in China, including Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Legalism. It considers concepts, themes and argumentative methods of early Chinese philosophy and follows the development of some ideas in subsequent periods, including the introduction of Buddhism into China. The book examines key issues and debates in early Chinese philosophy, cross-influences between its traditions and interpretations by scholars up (...) to the present day. The discussion draws upon both primary texts and secondary sources, and there are suggestions for further reading. This will be an invaluable guide for all who are interested in the foundations of Chinese philosophy and its richness and continuing relevance. (shrink)
In part I of this paper, I argue that #MeToo testimony increases epistemic value for the survivor qua hearer when experiences like hers are represented by others; for society at large when false but dominant narratives about sexual violence and sexual harassment against women are challenged and replaced with true stories; and for the survivor qua teller when her true story is believed. In part II, I argue that the epistemic significance of #MeToo testimony compels us to consider the tremendous (...) and often unappreciated costs to the individual tellers, and the increased credibility they are owed in virtue thereof. (shrink)
In this powerful memoir, philosopher Karyn L. Freedman travels back to a Paris night in 1990 when she was twenty-two and, in one violent hour, her life was changed forever by a brutal rape. _One Hour in Paris_ takes the reader on a harrowing yet inspirational journey through suffering and recovery both personal and global. We follow Freedman from an apartment in Paris to a French courtroom, then from a trauma center in Toronto to a rape clinic in Africa. (...) At a time when as many as one in three women in the world have been victims of sexual assault and when many women are still ashamed to come forward, Freedman’s book is a moving and essential look at how survivors cope and persevere. At once deeply intimate and terrifyingly universal, _One Hour in Paris _weaves together Freedman’s personal experience with the latest philosophical, neuroscientific, and psychological insights on what it means to live in a body that has been traumatized. Using her background as a philosopher, she looks at the history of psychological trauma and draws on recent theories of posttraumatic stress disorder and neuroplasticity to show how recovery from horrific experiences is possible. Through frank discussions of sex and intimacy, she explores the consequences of sexual violence for love and relationships, and she illustrates the steep personal cost of sexual violence and the obstacles faced by individual survivors in its aftermath. Freedman’s book is an urgent call to face this fundamental social problem head-on, arguing that we cannot continue to ignore the fact that sexual violence against women is rooted in gender inequalities that exist worldwide—and must be addressed. _One Hour in Paris_ is essential reading for survivors of sexual violence as well as an invaluable resource for therapists, mental health professionals, and family members and friends of victims. (shrink)
The Zhuangzi is noted for its advocacy of many different perspectives—chickens, cicadas, fish and the like. There is much debate in the literature about the implications of Zhuangzi’s pluralist inclinations. I suggest that Zhuangzi highlights the limitations of individual, perspectivally-constrained, knowledge claims. He also spurns the ‘view from nowhere’ and is sceptical about the possibility of an ideal observer. For him, wisdom consists in understanding the epistemological inadequacies of each perspective. I propose that Zhuangzi’s philosophy offers significant insights to an (...) increasingly globalized world characterized by a plurality of ethical and value commitments. It does not assume there will necessarily be universal agreement or a standardized answer. Most importantly, it is a position that seeks to augment self-understanding and enrich the self in dialogue with and response to others. (shrink)
Learning from Chinese Philosophies engages Confucian and Daoist philosophies in creative interplay, developing a theory of interdependent selfhood in the two philosophical traditions. Karyn Lai draws on the unique insights of the two philosophies to address contemporary debates on ethics, community and government. Issues discussed include questions on selfhood, attachment, moral development, government, culture and tradition, and feminist queries regarding biases and dualism in ethics. Throughout the book, Lai demonstrates that Chinese philosophies embody novel and insightful ideas for addressing (...) contemporary issues and problems. (shrink)
A distinguishing characteristic of Confucianism is its emphasis on learning (xue), is a key element in moral self cultivation. This paper discusses why learning from the experiences of those in the past is important in Confucian learning.
The cicada catcher focuses as much on technique as he does on outcomes. In response to Confucius’ question, he articulates in detail the learning he has undertaken to develop techniques at each level of competence. This chapter explains the connection between the cicada catcher’s development of technique and his orientation toward outcomes. It uses details in this story to contribute to recent discussions in epistemology on the cultivation of technique.
Learning from Chinese Philosophies explores early Confucianism and Daoism in order to engage today’s problems. By bringing into thoughtful play Confucian ideas of self and society and Daoist understanding of situated self, the author uses the debate between the two philosophies to argue for her understanding of Confucian moral thinking and Daoist metaethics. According to Lai, Daoist metaethics question dichotomous frameworks and discuss the unity of opposites enabling dynamic interplay of nonantagonistic polarities. Lai not only rejects comparisons of Confucianism to (...) consequentialist and deontological moral theories, but also the view that Confucian ethics is a form of virtue ethics. Instead, she argues that the Analects is a manual for moral decision making that requires skills “to unravel and analyse the complex features of particular situations and to pick out those which are morally relevant.” Together, Confucianism and Daoism offer views of interdependent relationality that help to reconceptualize contemporary problems and criticize existing thinking and practices. Lai applies what she has learned from these two Chinese philosophies in a critique of feminist care ethics. Despite a few flaws, this is a clearly written work with stimulating interesting ideas and it lives up to the promise of demonstrating the continued relevance of Chinese philosophies. (shrink)
Helen Longino argues that the way to ensure scientific knowledge is objective is to have a diversity of scientific investigators. This is the best example of recent feminist arguments which hold that the real value of diversity is epistemic, and not political, but it only partly succeeds. In the end, Longino's objectivity amounts to intersubjective agreement about contextually based standards, and while her account gives us a good reason for wanting diversity in our scientific communities, this reason turns out to (...) be political. (shrink)
In this paper, I give an answer to the central epistemic question regarding the normative requirements for beliefs based on testimony. My suggestion here is that our best strategy for coming up with the conditions for justification is to look at cases where the adoption of the belief matters to the person considering it. This leads me to develop, in Part One of the paper, an interest-relative theory of justification, according to which our justification for a proposition p depends on (...) our evidence in favour of p in proportion to our interest in p, as signalled by the epistemic risk we take in believing that p is true. In Part Two, I argue that this theory shows that the reductivist view offers a better normative account for the epistemic status of beliefs based on testimony than the credulist one, but it is inaptly named; the view I develop here is better conceived of as The Dependence Account. (shrink)
This essay undertakes a critique of recent trends in affect theory from the standpoint of the “human motor”: a trope that presupposes a thermodynamic psychophysiology distended between energy conservation and entropy. In the course of reanimating thermodynamic motifs in Marx's labor power metabolics and Freud's trauma energetics, the essay broaches entropics as a poetics of depletion that offsets affect theories promoting open-system metaphors. Open-system affect theory sometimes amalgamates emancipatory post-humanist gestures inherited from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari with neuroscientific terms. (...) In the course of “liberating” affect from subject-oriented topoi, this “liberation-scientistic” admixture expropriates organic matter's degeneration over time. An “entropical” perspective also challenges Antonio Negri's Spinozaist affect conceived as a capacitating power that encounters obstacles but never limits. Both “liberation scientism” and “capacitation rhetoric” mimic capital's abstraction in infinitely expanding its potential to extract surplus value from finitely embodied labor. With enervation and deterioration at its crux, entropics illuminates how people might feel individuated by their respective struggles to safeguard scarce energy and forestall “heat death” while navigating simultaneous demands. The question is whether or not open-system motifs in affect theory can effectively register the political force of this struggle with depletion and present or imminent debilitation as its common ground. (shrink)
Skill and Mastery: Philosophical Stories from the Zhuangzi presents an illuminating analysis of skill stories from the Zhuangzi, a 4th century BCE Daoist text. In this intriguing text that subverts conventional norms and pursuits, ordinary activities such as swimming, cicada-catching and wheelmaking are executed with such remarkable efficacy and spontaneity that they seem like magical feats. An international team of scholars explores these stories in their philosophical, historical and political contexts. Their analyses’ highlight the stories’underlying conceptions of agency, character and (...) cultivation; and relevance to contemporary debates on human action and experience. The result is a valuable collection, opening up new lines of inquiry in comparative East-West philosophical debates on skill, cultivation and mastery, as well as cross-disciplinary debates in psychology, cognitive science and philosophy. (shrink)
In their well-known paper, John Gardner and Stephen Shute (2000) propose a pure case of rape, in which a woman is raped while unconscious and the rape, for a variety of stipulated reasons, never comes to light. This makes the pure case a harmless case of rape, or so they argue. In this paper I show that their argument hinges on an outdated conception of trauma, one which conflates evaluative responses that arise in the aftermath of rape with the non-deliberative (...) somatic responses of a central nervous system to a threatening event. In the first part of this paper, I elaborate this objection by drawing on the neurobiological model of trauma. This gives me an opportunity to illustrate the different ways that rape harms its victims, including the central way, what I call ‘threat-circuitry harm.’ This discussion of trauma invites us to rethink the wrong of rape, and sets the groundwork for my argument, in the second part of the paper, that the wrong of rape consists in its central harm. (shrink)
This essay explores the epistemological significance of the kinds of beliefs that grow out of traumatic experiences, such as the rape survivor's belief that she is never safe. On current theories of justification, beliefs like this one are generally dismissed due to either insufficient evidence or insufficient propositional content. Here, Freedman distinguishes two discrete sides of the aftermath of psychic trauma, the shattered self and the shattered worldview. This move enables us to see these beliefs as beliefs; in other words, (...) as having cognitive content. Freedman argues that what we then need is a theory of justification that allows us to handpick reliable sources of information on sexual violence, and give credibility where deemed appropriate. She advances a mix of reliabilism and coherentism that privileges feminism. On this account, the evidence for the class of beliefs in question will depend on an act of sexual violence (or testimony, or statistics) to the extent that the act is a reliable indication of the prevalence of sexual violence against women. (shrink)
In Daoist philosophy, the self is understood as an individual interdependent with others, and situated within a broader environment. Within this framework, the concept ziran is frequently understood in terms of naturalness or nature while wuwei is explained in terms of non-oppressive government. In many existing accounts, little is done to connect these two key Daoist concepts. Here, I suggest that wuwei and ziran are correlated, ethical, concepts. Together, they provide a unifying ethical framework for understanding the philosophy of the (...) Daodejing. I explore the meaning of ziran as self-so-ness or, in human terms, as pertaining to an individualâs spontaneity. The appropriate response to the spontaneity of individuals is to avoid, insofar as possible, imposing or using restrictive norms and methods, that is, wuwei. According to this view, ziran and wuwei offer an account of ethics that attends to core notions of interdependent selfhood, including mutuality, relationality, interdependence, symbiosis, and responsiveness. (shrink)
In this article, we present an account of ming 明 in the Zhuangzi's Neipian in light of the disagreements among the thinkers of the time. We suggest that ming is associated with the Daoist sage's vision: he sees through the debaters' attempts to win the debates. We propose that ming is primarily a meta-epistemological stance, that is, the sage understands the nature of the debates and does not enter the fray; therefore he does not share the thinkers' anxieties. The sage (...) takes his stance at the pivot of dao and, from there, responds to the different views limitlessly. (shrink)
Mengzi maintained that both benevolence (ren 仁) and rightness (yi 義) are naturally-given in human nature. This view has occupied a dominant place in Confucian intellectual history. In Mencius 6A, Mengzi's interlocutor, Gaozi, contests this view, arguing that rightness is determined by (doing what is fitting, in line with) external circumstances. I discuss here some passages from the excavated Guodian texts, which lend weight to Gaozi's view. The texts reveal nuanced considerations of relational proximity and its limits, setting up requirements (...) for moral action in scenarios where relational ties do not play a motivational role. I set out yi's complexity in these discussions, highlighting its implications for (i) the nei-wai debate; (ii) the notion of yi as "rightness," or doing the right thing; and (iii) how we can understand the connection between virtue and right action in these early Confucian debates. This material from the excavated texts not only provides new perspectives on a longstanding investigation of human nature and morality, it also challenges prevailing views on Warring States Confucian intellectual history. In the well-known debate between Mengzi and Gaozi in Mencius 6A, Mengzi maintained that both ren and yi are naturally-given 1 in human nature. The figure 1 To say that ren and yi are naturally-given is not to say that they are fully-developed from the start. I use the phrase "naturally-given" throughout the paper to indicate where a particular capacity or resource (ren or yi) may be found, rather than its final polished state. (shrink)
Piéron's Law describes the relationship between stimulus intensity and reaction time. Previously (Stafford & Gurney, 2004), we have shown that Piéron's Law is a necessary consequence of rise-to-threshold decision making and thus will arise from optimal simple decision-making algorithms (e.g., Bogacz, Brown, Moehlis, Holmes, & Cohen, 2006). Here, we manipulate the color saturation of a Stroop stimulus. Our results show that Piéron's Law holds for color intensity and color-naming reaction time, extending the domain of this law, in line with (...) our suggestion of the generality of the processes that can give rise to Piéron's Law. In addition, we find that Stroop condition does not interact with the effect of color saturation; Stroop interference and facilitation remain constant at all levels of color saturation. An analysis demonstrates that this result cannot be accounted for by single-stage decision-making algorithms which combine all the evidence pertaining to a decision into a common metric. This shows that human decision making is not information-optimal and suggests that the generalization of current models of simple perceptual decision making to more complex decisions is not straightforward. (shrink)
Since the 1940s, Western epistemology has discussed Gilbert Ryle’s distinction between knowledge-that and knowledge-how. Ryle argued that intelligent actions – manifestations of knowledge-how – are not constituted as intelligent by the guiding intervention of knowledge-that: knowledge-how is not a kind of knowledge-that; we must understand knowledge-how in independent terms. Yet which independent terms are needed? In this chapter, we consider whether an understanding of intelligent action must include talk of knowledge-to. This is the knowledge to do this or that now, (...) not then or in general. Our argument is refined and buttressed by consideration of a text in Chinese philosophy, the Lüshi Chunqiu. This 3rd century BCE text, a compendium on good government, focuses on different types of knowledge that an effective ruler or a capable official should possess. A significant number of those discussions concern examples of knowing-how being manifested in particular situations. The text is explicitly aware of the importance of timeliness and awareness of context in manifesting know-how. Some might say that these are merely manifestations of knowing-how. But we see these examples as revealing characteristics of know-how that Ryle did not anticipate. Might knowing-to be an essential and irreducible aspect of intelligent action? (shrink)
This chapter discusses ren 仁, a major term in the Confucian Analects. It analyzes the range of meanings of ren across different conversations, paying special attention to its associations with other key Confucian terms such as li (禮 behavioural propriety) and zhi (知 understanding). Building on this analysis, the discussion focuses on ren in terms of how it is manifest in a person’s life. In particular, it expresses ren in terms of an exemplary life—a life lived well. The chapter also (...) dwells briefly on how this model of a good life can inform and enrich contemporary debates in ethics. (shrink)
For a while now, there has been much conceptual discussion about the respective natures of knowledge-that and knowledge-how, along with the intellectualist idea that knowledge-how is really a kind of knowledge-that. Gilbert Ryle put in place most of the terms that have so far been distinctive of that debate, when he argued for knowledge-how's conceptual distinctness from knowledge-that. But maybe those terms should be supplemented, expanding the debate. In that spirit, the conceptual option of practicalism has recently entered the fray. (...) Practicalism conceives anew the nature of knowledge-that, as being a kind of knowledge-how. In this paper we enlarge upon this conceptual suggestion. We draw from an ancient Chinese text, the Analects of Confucius, explaining how it lends some support to practicalism. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Looking at specific populations of knowers reveals that the presumption of sameness within knowledge communities can lead to a number of epistemological oversights. A good example of this is found in the case of survivors of sexual violence. In this paper I argue that this case study offers a new perspective on the debate between the epistemic internalist and externalist by providing us with a fresh insight into the complicated psychological dimensions of belief formation and the implications that this (...) has for an epistemology that demands reasons that are first-person accessible. RÉSUMÉ: L’observation de populations spécifiques d’agents épistémiques révèle que la présomption d’identité au sein de communautés épistémiques peut mener à certaines omissions cognitives. Les victimes de violence sexuelle en sont un bon exemple. Cette étude de cas offre selon nous une nouvelle perspective sur le débat entre les internalistes et les externalistes en épistémologie en proposant une nouvelle perspective sur les dimensions psychologiques complexes dans la formation des croyances et sur leur implication dans une épistémologie qui nécessite que les raisons soient accessibles à la première personne. (shrink)
By examining fundamental Confucian concepts -- zhengming, ren, li, xiao, shu and dao -- the essay demonstrates that Confucian ways of thinking do not always fit neatly into categories such as 'moral' or rights'. The author provides a positive interpretation of certain Confucian ideas including: the concept of a person as a self- in- relation; the notion of responsibility as particularistic and dependent upon the kinds of relationships one has and the social positions one occupies; and the view of the (...) moral community as comprised by selves- in- relation who are reciprocally connected and who share similar ideals and forms of life. (shrink)
Sorti exsangue de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, le Japon s'est superbement redressé grâce à ses innovations techniques, d'abord destinées à améliorer le quotidien du peuple. Aujourd'hui, face à de nouveaux maux sociaux, dont l'inéluctable vieillissement rapide de la population et l'anxiété croissante face à un monde chamboulé, le recours à des solutions scientifiques et techniques est, pour les Japonais, une évidence. À tort ou à raison, les machines ne leur font pas peur. Mieux, elles les émerveillent. Et lorsque les Japonais (...) usent de moyens de télécommunications toujours plus puissants et omniprésents, ou fréquentent des mondes irréels, n'est-ce pas un moyen d'éviter la confrontation directe avec autrui ou soi-même, en choisissant la représentation virtuelle de l'être idolâtré ou en se recréant sous une forme idéalisée ?Out bloodless WWII, Japan has recovered superbly thanks to its technical innovations, all aimed at improving the lives of the people. Today, faced with new social ills, including the inevitable rapid aging of the population and the growing anxiety in a world turned upside down, the use of scientific and technical solutions is for the Japanese evidence. Wrongly or rightly, the machines do not scare them. Best, they all marveled. And when the Japanese wear of telecommunications increasingly powerful and ubiquitous, or attend unreal worlds, is not this a way to avoid direct confrontation with others or yourself, choosing the virtual representation of the be idolized or by recreating an idealized form? (shrink)
Alcohol use and abuse play a major role in both crime and negative health outcomes in Scotland. This paper provides a description and ethical and legal analyses of a novel remote alcohol monitoring scheme for offenders which seeks to reduce alcohol-related harm to both the criminal and the public. It emerges that the prospective benefits of this scheme to health and public order vastly outweigh any potential harms.
Akrasia is a classical Greek term that is typically translated as “incontinence,” although it is sometimes translated as “weakness of the will”. Someone who displays practical akrasia exhibits a failure of control, but not an absence of control. In the practical case, the akratic individual intentionally and voluntarily acts in a way that is contrary to what she judges she ought to do. I tuck into a large piece of cheesecake even though I know I ought not to, or I (...) light up a cigarette although I have avowed to quit. In cases of akrasia, practical judgments go in different directions; the agent acts against her best... (shrink)
The Zhuangzi, a 4th century BCE Chinese text, is optimistic about life unrestrained by entrenched values. This paper contributes to existing debates on Zhuangzian freedom in three ways. First, it reflects on how it is possible to enjoy the freedom envisaged in the Zhuangzi. Many discussions welcome the Zhuangzi’s picture of release from life shaped by canonical visions, without also giving thought to life without these driving visions. Consider this scenario: in a world with limitless possibilities, would it not be (...) fraught, not knowing how to interpret situations? I suggest that freedom in the Zhuangzi is possible only if one succeeds in reorienting herself to the new ‘normal’. Second, I introduce and develop the idea of working with constraints. This focuses on an agent's maximizing the fit between relevant conditions, on the one hand, and their capabilities, on the other. Finally, I propose that self-directed practice, an important expression of agency, is required for building capabilities that enable such freedom. I examine the idea of risk involved in these firsthand experiences, articulating an account of agency that sits at the heart of hard-won Zhuangzian freedom. (shrink)
The standard criticisms of Confucian ethics appear contradictory. On the one hand, Confucian ethics is deemed overly rule-bound: it is obsolete because it advocates adherence to ancient Chinese norms of proper conduct. On the other hand, Confucian ethics is perceived as situational ethics—done on the run—and not properly grounded in fundamental principles or norms. I give reasons for these disparate views of Confucian ethics. I also sketch an account of Confucian morality that focuses on moral development; in this account the (...) place of normative ethics is nominal. (shrink)
I use a hypothetical case study of a woman who replaces here biological arms with prostheses controlled through a brain–computer interface the explore how a BCI might interpret and misinterpret intentions. I define pre-veto intentions and post-veto intentions and argue that a failure of a BCI to differentiate between the two could lead to some troubling legal and ethical problems.
This essay argues for the rationality of truth claims arising from religious faith over against the contention that such claims are, at best, viewed as subjective “value” language or, at worst, strictly irrational. An argument will be offered for the epistemic warrant of faith-based claims, not for the objective veracity of the religious claims themselves.
Personal identity requires agentic mediation of overlapping social structures and categories; and further the maintenance of a coherent self across different life contexts. A central means of achieving/maintaining identity is through self-narratives and modes of discursive positioning. In this article, we examine the intersection of two key identity categories, gender and nationality, in the biographical accounts of two female friends. Both categories can be seen to structure the speakers’ identities as particular types of people, and to interact in mutually defining (...) ways. However, the speakers actively negotiate these structures and constraints to produce specific versions of themselves. While, on occasion, they invoke national stereotypes in constructing their identities, they both counter-position themselves in relation to gendered expectations within their respective national contexts. Drawing on selected extracts, we examine the discursive strategies through which they construct and maintain such identities across different biographical contexts. (shrink)
In this article, we present an account of ming 明 in the Zhuangzi's Neipian in light of the disagreements among the thinkers of the time. We suggest that ming is associated with the Daoist sage's vision: he sees through the debaters' attempts to win the debates. We propose that ming is primarily a meta-epistemological stance, that is, the sage understands the nature of the debates and does not enter the fray; therefore he does not share the thinkers' anxieties. The sage (...) takes his stance at the pivot of dao (daoshu 道樞) and, from there, responds to the different views limitlessly. (shrink)