Here we question the mechanisms underlying the emergence of the feeling of control that can be modulated even when the feeling of being the author of one’s own action is intact. With a haptic robot, participants made series of vertical pointing actions on a virtual surface, which was sometimes postponed by a small temporal delay (15 or 65 ms). Subjects then evaluated their subjective feeling of control. Results showed that after temporal distortions, the hand-trajectories were adapted effectively but that the (...) feeling of control decreased significantly. This was observed even in the case of subliminal distortions for which subjects did not consciously detect the presence of a distortion. Our findings suggest that both supraliminal and subliminal temporal distortions that occur within a healthy perceptual–motor system impact the conscious experience of the feeling of control of self-initiated motor actions. (shrink)
This book examines John Locke's claims about the nature and workings of language. Walter Ott proposes an interpretation of Locke's thesis in which words signify ideas in the mind of the speaker, and argues that rather than employing such notions as sense or reference, Locke relies on an ancient tradition that understands signification as reliable indication. He then uses this interpretation to explain crucial areas of Locke's metaphysics and epistemology, including essence, abstraction, knowledge and mental representation. His discussion challenges many (...) of the orthodox readings of Locke, and will be of interest to historians of philosophy and philosophers of language alike. (shrink)
What is the origin of the concept of a law of nature? How much does it owe to theology and metaphysics? To what extent do the laws of nature permit contingency? Are there exceptions to the laws of nature? Is it possible to give a reductive analysis of lawhood, or is it a primitive? -/- Twelve brand-new essays by an international team of leading philosophers take up these and other central questions on the laws of nature, whilst also examining some (...) of the most important intuitions and assumptions that have guided the debate over laws of nature since the concept's invention in the seventeenth century. -/- Laws of Nature spans the history of philosophy and of science, contemporary metaphysics, and contemporary philosophy of science. Contents: 1. Intuitions and Assumptions in the Debate over Laws of Nature, Walter Ott and Lydia Patton 2. Early Modern Roots of the Philosophical Concept of a Law of Nature, Helen Hattab 3. Laws of Nature and the Divine Order of Things: Descartes and Newton on Truth in Natural Philosophy, Mary Domski 4. Leges sive natura: Bacon, Spinoza, and a Forgotten Concept of Law, Walter Ott 5. Laws and Powers in the Frame of Nature, Stathis Psillos 6. Laws and Ideal Unity, Angela Breitenbach 7. Becoming Humean, John W. Carroll 8. A Perspectivalist Better Best System Account of Lawhood, Michela Massimi 9. Laws: An Invariance Based Account, James Woodward 10. How the Explanations of Natural Laws Make Some Reducible Physical Properties Natural and Explanatorily Powerful, Marc Lange 11. Laws and their Exceptions, Stephen Mumford 12. Are laws of nature consistent with contingency?, Nancy Cartwright and Pedro Merlussi. (shrink)
Contemporary Humeans treat laws of nature as statements of exceptionless regularities that function as the axioms of the best deductive system. Such ‘Best System Accounts’ marry realism about laws with a denial of necessary connections among events. I argue that Hume’s predecessor, George Berkeley, offers a more sophisticated conception of laws, equally consistent with the absence of powers or necessary connections among events in the natural world. On this view, laws are not statements of regularities but the most general rules (...) God follows in producing the world. Pace most commentators, I argue that Berkeley’s view is neither instrumentalist nor reductionist. More important, the Berkeleyan Best System can solve some of the problems afflicting its Humean rivals, including the problems of theory choice and Nancy Cartwright’s ‘facticity’ dilemma. Some of these solutions are available in the contemporary context, without any appeal to God. Berkeley’s account deserves to be taken seriously in its own right. (shrink)
On a currently popular reading of Locke, an idea represents its cause, or what God intended to be its cause. Against Martha Bolton and my former self (among others), I argue that Locke cannot hold such a view, since it sins against his epistemology and theory of abstraction. I argue that Locke is committed to a resemblance theory of representation, with the result that ideas of secondary qualities are not representations.
The seventeenth century witnesses the demise of two core doctrines in the theory of perception: naive realism about color, sound, and other sensible qualities and the empirical theory, drawn from Alhacen and Roger Bacon, which underwrote it. This created a problem for seventeenth century philosophers: how is that we use qualities such as color, feel, and sound to locate objects in the world, even though these qualities are not real? -/- Ejecting such sensible qualities from the mind-independent world at once (...) makes for a cleaner ontology, since bodies can now be understood in purely geometrical terms, and spawns a variety of fascinating complications for the philosophy of perception. If sensible qualities are not part of the mind-independent world, just what are they, and what role, if any, do they play in our cognitive economy? We seemingly have to use color to visually experience objects. Do we do so by inferring size, shape, and motion from color? Or is it a purely automatic operation, accomplished by divine decree? -/- This volume traces the debate over perceptual experience in early modern France, covering such figures as Antoine Arnauld, Robert Desgabets, and Pierre-Sylvain Regis alongside their better-known countrymen Rene Descartes and Nicolas Malebranche. (shrink)
The conception of a ‘law of nature’ is a human product. It was created to play a role in natural philosophy, in the Cartesian tradition. In light of this, philosophers and scientists must sort out what they mean by a law of nature before evaluating rival theories and approaches. If one’s conception of the laws of nature is yoked to metaphysical notions of truth and explanation, that connection must be made explicit and defended. If, on the other hand, one’s aim (...) is to disentangle laws from truth or from explanation, that must be stated and defended as well. If philosophers do not make such assumptions, intuitions, and methodological commitments clear, then it will be impossible to identify the source of disagreement in debates about the laws of nature. Are the conflicts rooted in disagreement about the conclusions reached, or do the background commitments of the combatants block any resolution to the dispute in principle or in practice? (shrink)
According to the phenomenal intentionality research program, a state’s intentional content is fixed by its phenomenal character. Defenders of this view have little to say about just how this grounding is accomplished. I argue that without a robust account of representation, the research program promises too little. Unfortunately, most of the well-developed accounts of representation – asymmetric dependence, teleosemantics, and the like – ground representation in external relations such as causation. Such accounts are inconsistent with the core of the phenomenal (...) intentionality program. I argue that, however counter-intuitive it may seem, the best prospect for explaining how phenomenal character represents appeals to resemblance. (shrink)
Philosophers of the modern period are often presented as having made an elementary error: that of confounding the atttitude one adopts toward a proposition with its content. By examining the works of Locke and the Port-Royalians, I show that this accusation is ill-founded and that Locke, in particular, has the resources to construct a theory of propositional attitudes.
Surgery is an important part of health care worldwide. Without access to surgical treatments, morbidity and mortality increase. Access to surgical treatment is a significant problem in global public health because surgical services are not equally distributed in the world. There is a disproportionate scarcity of surgical access in low-income countries. There are many charitable organizations around the world that sponsor surgical missions to under served nations. One such organization is Operation Smile International, a group with which both authors have (...) volunteered. This paper will describe the purpose and processes involved in Operation Smile and identify some of the key ethical issues that arise in short term medical volunteer work highlighting the importance of sustainability. (shrink)
Hume’s views on language have been widely misunderstood. Typical discussions cast Hume as either a linguistic idealist who holds that words refer to ideas or a proto-verificationist. I argue that both readings are wide of the mark and develop my own positive account. Humean signification emerges as a relation whereby a word can both indicate ideas in the mind of the speaker and cause us to have those ideas. If I am right, Hume offers a consistent view on meaning that (...) is neither linguistic idealism nor positivism but a genuine alternative to these, one that deserves to be taken seriously. (shrink)
I claim that Berkeley's main argument against abstraction comes into focus only when we see Descartes as one of its targets. Berkeley does not deploy Winkler's impossibility argument but instead argues that what is impossible is inconceivable. Since Descartes conceives of extension as a determinable, and since determinables cannot exist as such, he falls within the scope of Berkeley's argument.
Despite their influence on later philosophers such as Hume, Malebranche's central arguments for occasionalism remain deeply puzzling. Both the famous ‘no necessary connection’ argument and what I call the epistemic argument include assumptions – e.g., that a true cause is logically necessarily connected to its effect – that seem unmotivated, even in their context. I argue that a proper understanding of late scholastic views lets us see why Malebranche would make this assumption. Both arguments turn on the claim that a (...) volition is the only candidate for a cause, because only a volition can include an effect as its intentional content. (shrink)
Objective Adolescents have had very limited access to research on biomedical prevention interventions despite high rates of HIV acquisition. One concern is that adolescents are a vulnerable population, and trials carry a possibility of harm, requiring investigators to take additional precautions. Of particular concern is preventive misconception, or the overestimation of personal protection that is afforded by enrolment in a prevention intervention trial. Methods As part of a larger study of preventive misconception in adolescent HIV vaccine trials, we interviewed 33 (...) male and female 16–19-year-olds who have sex with men. Participants underwent a simulated HIV vaccine trial consent process, and then completed a semistructured interview about their understanding and opinions related to enrolment in a HIV vaccine trial. A grounded theory analysis looked for shared concepts, and focused on the content and process of adolescent participants’ understanding of HIV vaccination and the components of preventive misconception, including experiment, placebo and randomisation. Results Across interviews, adolescents demonstrated active processing of information, in which they questioned the interviewer, verbally worked out their answers based upon information provided, and corrected themselves. We observed a wide variety of understanding of research concepts. While most understood experiment and placebo, fewer understood randomisation. All understood the need for safer sex even if they did not understand the more basic concepts. Conclusions Education about basic concepts related to clinical trials, time to absorb materials and assessment of understanding may be necessary in future biomedical prevention trials. (shrink)
Unlike many of Descartes’s other followers, Pierre-Sylvain Re´gis resists the temptations of occasionalism. By marrying the ontology of mechanism with the causal structure of concurrentism, Re´gis arrives at a novel view that both acknowledges God’s role in natural events and preserves the causal powers of bodies. I set out Re´gis’s position, focusing on his arguments against occasionalism and his responses to Malebranche’s ‘no necessary connection’ and divine concursus arguments.
The article proposes a semiotic interpretation of the concept of biopolitics. Instead of a politics that takes “life itself ” as its object and, as a result, separates life as an object from subjects, biopolitics is read as subjectification – a governmental rationality that constructs social ways of being and forms of life, that is, social subjectivities. The article articulates this position on the basis of two concepts: Jakob von Uexküll’s umwelt and Michel Foucault’s dispositive. While the former makes it (...) possible to show that the process of life can be conceptualized as subjectification, the latter enables us to argue against an interpretation of biopolitics as a totalized structure of power intervening directly, without semiotic mediation, into “life itself ”. (shrink)
The popular Cartesian reading of George Berkeley's philosophy of mind mischaracterizes his views on the relations between substance and essence and between an idea and the act of thought in which it figures. I argue that Berkeley rejects Descartes's tripartite taxonomy of distinctions and makes use of a fourth kind of distinction. In addition to illuminating Berkeley's ontology of mind, this fourth distinction allows us to dissolve an important dilemma raised by Kenneth Winkler.
In the context of change to the “new modernity” described in Beck’s work, companies develop management modes and methods that focus more and more on individuals. Constitutive of the individualization process, human resources practices have become ambivalent as the process itself. This contribution examines how a managerial and organizational innovation as telework contributes to the process of individualization, and the paradoxes it addresses to management. At the interface of the social and the technical, teleworking appears as a flexible arrangement, meeting (...) employees’ and employer’s demands – which is a characteristic of the process of individualization – by simultaneously fragmenting collectivity, exposing individuals to social risk, and producing exclusion. The authors focus on two consecutive paradoxes of such individualized managerial practices: the individual–collective dilemma and the autonomy–control paradox. Finally, the paper reveals HRM as a new institution of individualization in a world where regulation functions are more and more transferred to individuals themselves. (shrink)
In place of traditional approaches in environmental ethics, I suggest an improved approach, with respect to the goal of improving the condition of the natural environment, called 'world mediation' through the use of Hannah Arendt's theory of the vita activa . This approach focuses on the relationship between human made worlds and nature, from which a theory of value is suggested. Intrinsic value theory and nature-culture monism are both criticized for an insufficient attention paid toward the human-nature relationship.
A vital and underappreciated dimension of social interaction is the way individuals justify their actions to others, instinctively drawing on their experience to appeal to principles they hope will command respect. Individuals, however, often misread situations, and many disagreements can be explained by people appealing, knowingly and unknowingly, to different principles. On Justification is the first English translation of Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot's ambitious theoretical examination of these phenomena, a book that has already had a huge impact on (...) French sociology and is likely to have a similar influence in the English-speaking world. -/- In this foundational work of post-Bourdieu sociology, the authors examine a wide range of situations where people justify their actions. The authors argue that justifications fall into six main logics exemplified by six authors: civic (Rousseau), market (Adam Smith), industrial (Saint-Simon), domestic (Bossuet), inspiration (Augustine), and fame (Hobbes). The authors show how these justifications conflict, as people compete to legitimize their views of a situation. -/- On Justification is likely to spark important debates across the social sciences. (shrink)
Biosemiotics and the analysis of biopower have not yet been explicitly brought together. This article attempts to find their connecting points from the perspective of biosemiotics. It uses the biosemiotic understanding of the different types of semiosis in order to approach the practices of biopower and biopolitics. The central concept of the paper is that of the ‘semiotic threshold’. We can speak of the lower semiotic threshold, signifying the dividing line between non-semiosis and semiosis; and the secondary semiotic thresholds, signifying (...) the borders between different types of semiosis. Speaking in terms of types of semiosis means speaking in terms of different capabilities for normativity, which is why the article uses the approaches of Michel Foucault on normalization in biopower and of Georges Canguilhem on organismic normativity. As an example on which biopolitics and biosemiotics could connect, the discourse of regenerative and anti-aging medicine is used. (shrink)
I argue that Aristotle endorses what I call the ‘strong link thesis’: the claim that virtuous and vicious acts are voluntary just in case the character states from which they flow are voluntary. Pace much of the literature, I argue that Aristotle does not defend some kind of limited or qualified responsibility for character: rightly or wrongly, he believes, and must believe, that character states are voluntary, full stop.
John Dewey’s theory of value provides a strong alternative to traditional intrinsic value theory that can better address the need for a wide distribution of environmental values. Grounded in his theories of experience and inquiry, Dewey understands values as concrete practices acquired through the interaction of the human organism with its surroundings. Dividing value into acts of immediate valuation and acts of evaluation, Dewey shows that all values start out as desires and through reflective criticism eventuate in value practices. Value (...) inquiry is the practice of responding to problems in the world for which our established value practices are unable to respond adequately. This model of value is shown to be a much needed improvement over intrinsic value theory insofar as it is inclusive of human desire, limiting the capacity to value to human beings, avoids much of the metaphysical and ethical conflict in the biocentrism/ecocentrism debate, as well as rejects the artificial distinction between instrumental and intrinsic value. The case for Dewey’s theory of value is further strengthened by how closely Aldo Leopold’s experience-based practice of value in A Sand County Almanac parallels Dewey’s theory of value, especially with respect to the importance of desire, science, and education. (shrink)
Since the 1990s, the terms “Lamarckism” and “Lamarckian” have seen a significant resurgence in biological publications. The discovery of new molecular mechanisms have been interpreted as evidence supporting the reality and efficiency of the inheritance of acquired characters, and thus the revival of Lamarckism. The present paper aims at giving a critical evaluation of such interpretations. I argue that two types of arguments allow to draw a clear distinction between the genuine Lamarckian concept of inheritance of acquired characters and transgenerational (...) epigenetic inheritance. The first concerns the explanandum of the processes under consideration: molecular mechanisms of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance are understood as evolved products of natural selection. This means that the kind of inheritance of acquired characters they might be responsible for is an obligatory emergent feature of evolution, whereas traditional Lamarckisms conceived the inheritance of acquired characters as a property inherent in living matter itself. The second argument concerns the explanans of the inheritance of acquired characters: in light of current knowledge, epigenetic mechanisms are not able to drive adaptive evolution by themselves. Emergent Lamarckian phenomena would be possible if and only if individual epigenetic variation allowed the inheritance of acquired characters to be a factor of unlimited change. This implies specific requirements for epigenetic variation, which I explicitly define and expand upon. I then show that given current knowledge, these requirements are not empirically grounded. (shrink)
Over the past thirty years much has been written about the critical theory of society that was produced by a small group of left-wing Hegelians in the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and in the United States. This book seeks to make a contribution to the continued development of the critical theory of society and religion as it offers a corrective to the one-sided, positivistic development of the modern social sciences as well as to the increasing (...) social irrelevancy of the contemporary Christian church. (shrink)
On the face of it, Locke rejects the scholastics' main tool for making sense of talk of God, namely, analogy. Instead, Locke claims that we generate an idea of God by 'enlarging' our ideas of some attributes (such as knowledge) with the idea of infinity. Through an analysis of Locke's idea of infinity, I argue that he is in fact not so distant from the scholastics and in particular must rely on analogy of inequality.
This article argues that many situations in social life can be analyzed by their requirement for the justification of action. It is in particular in situations of dispute that a need arises to explicate the grounds on which responsibility for errors is distributed and on which new agreement can be reached. Since a plurality of mutually incompatible modes of justification exists, disputes can be understood as disagreements either about whether the accepted rule of justification has not been violated or about (...) which mode of justification to apply at all. The article develops a grammar of such modes of justification, called orders of worth, and argues that the human capacity for criticism becomes visible in the daily occurrence of disputes over criteria for justification. At the same time, it is underlined that not all social situations can be interpreted with the help of such a sense of justice, which resides on a notion of equivalence. Regimes of love, of violence or of familiarity are systematically distinct from regimes of justification. (shrink)
The Swiss philosopher Anton Marty (Schwyz, 1847 - Prague, 1914) belongs, with Carl Stumpf, to the first circle of Brentano’s pupils. Within Brentano’s school (and, to some extent, in the secondary literature), Marty has often been considered (in particular by Meinong) a kind of would-be epigone of his master (Fisette & Fréchette 2007: 61-2). There is no doubt that Brentano’s doctrine often provides Marty with his philosophical starting points. But Marty often arrives at original conclusions which are diametrically opposed to (...) Brentano’s views. This is true of his views about space and time and about judgment, emotions and intentionality. In the latter case, for example, Marty develops Brentano’s view and its implications in great detail (Mulligan 1989; Rollinger 2004), but uses them to formulate a very unBrentanian account of intentionality as a relation of ideal assimilation (Chrudzimski 1999; Cesalli & Taieb 2013). Marty’s philosophy of language, on the other hand, is one of the first philosophies worthy of the name. In what follows, we contrast briefly their accounts of (i) judgment and states of affairs and of (ii) emotings and value (two topics of foremost significance, for Brentano and Marty’s theoretical and practical philosophies respectively) (§1), and their philosophies of language (§2). Brentano’s view of language is based on his philosophy of mind. Marty takes over the latter and turns a couple of claims by Brentano about language into a sophisticated philosophy of language of a kind made familiar much later by Grice. Marty’s philosophy of states of affairs and value and of the mind’s relations to these also takes off from views sketched by the early Brentano, views forcefully rejected by the later Brentano. (shrink)
In the first part of this contribution, we review the development of the theory of scale relativity and its geometric framework constructed in terms of a fractal and nondifferentiable continuous space-time. This theory leads (i) to a generalization of possible physically relevant fractal laws, written as partial differential equation acting in the space of scales, and (ii) to a new geometric foundation of quantum mechanics and gauge field theories and their possible generalisations. In the second part, we discuss some examples (...) of application of the theory to various sciences, in particular in cases when the theoretical predictions have been validated by new or updated observational and experimental data. This includes predictions in physics and cosmology (value of the QCD coupling and of the cosmological constant), to astrophysics and gravitational structure formation (distances of extrasolar planets to their stars, of Kuiper belt objects, value of solar and solar-like star cycles), to sciences of life (log-periodic law for species punctuated evolution, human development and society evolution), to Earth sciences (log-periodic deceleration of the rate of California earthquakes and of Sichuan earthquake replicas, critical law for the arctic sea ice extent) and tentative applications to systems biology. (shrink)
Pace much of the literature, I argue that Aristotle endorses what I call the ‘strong link thesis’: the claim that virtuous and vicious acts are voluntary just in case the character states from which they flow are voluntary. I trace the strong link thesis to Plato’s Laws, among other texts, and show how it functions in key arguments of both philosophers.