Quite unexpectedly, cognitive psychologists find their field intimately connected to a whole new intellectual landscape that had previously seemed remote, unfamiliar, and all but irrelevant. Yet the proliferating connections tying together the cognitive and evolutionary communities promise to transform both fields, with each supplying necessary principles, methods, and a species of rigor that the other lacks. (Cosmides and Tooby, 1994, p. 85).
Lawrence, Carmen Why should we protect our heritage? In the broadest sense our heritage is what we inherit; it's what we value of that inheritance and what we decide to keep and protect for future generations. Heritage is both global enough to encompass our shock at the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan and as local as our own sepia-tinted family photographs. Everything which our predecessors have bequeathed, both tangible and intangible, may be called heritage - landscapes, (...) structures, objects, traditions, stories and language. (shrink)
'Tis true governments cannot be supported without great charge, and it is fit everyone who enjoys a share of the protection should pay out of his estate his proportion for the maintenance of it. But still it must be with his own consent, i.e., the consent of the majority giving it either by themselves or their representatives chosen by them. For if any one shall claim a power to lay and levy taxes on the people, by his own authority, and (...) without such consent of the people, he thereby invades the fundamental law of property and subverts the end of government. For what property have I in that which another may by right take when he pleases to himself. (shrink)
This article defends the classical liberal view of human interactions that gives strong protection to associational freedom except in cases that involve the use of force or fraud or the exercise of monopoly power. That conception is at war with the modern antidiscrimination or human rights laws that operate in competitive markets in such vital areas as employment and housing, with respect to matters of race, sex, age, and increasingly, disability. The article further argues that using the “human rights” label (...) to boost the moral case for antidiscrimination laws gets matters exactly backwards, given that any program of forced association on one side of a status relationship is inconsistent with any universal norm governing all individuals regardless of role in all associative arrangements. The articled also discusses the tensions that arise under current Supreme Court law, which protects associational freedom arising out of expressive activities, but refuses to extend that protection to other forms of association, such as those involving persons with disabilities. The great vice of all these arrangements is that they cannot guarantee the stability of mandated win/lose relationships. The article further argues that a strong social consensus against discrimination is insufficient reason to coerce dissenters, given that holders of the dominant position can run their operations as they see fit even if others do otherwise. It closes with a short model human rights statute drafted in the classical liberal tradition that avoids the awkward line drawing and balancing that give rise to modern bureaucracies to enforce modern antidiscrimination laws. (shrink)
I. What Vintage of Civil Rights? In this paper I wish to compare and contrast two separate conceptions of civil rights and to argue that the older, more libertarian conception of the subject is preferable to the more widely accepted version used in the modern civil rights movement. The first conception of civil rights focuses on the question of individual capacity. The antithesis of a person with civil rights is the slave. But even if individuals are declared free, they are (...) nonetheless denied their civil rights if they are unable to own property, to enter into contracts, to make wills, to give evidence, and to sue in courts. With all these civil rights claims, the target of the individual grievance is the state; it has denied large classes of individuals the formal capacities that it recognized and protected in others. The Civil War was fought largely over slavery. In its aftermath, civil rights claims protecting individual capacity received explicit, if imperfect, statutory and constitutional protection. The postbellum protections did not guarantee these rights in absolute fashion – that is, in a way that would not be susceptible to abridgment under any circumstances. Instead, civil rights were protected in what might be called a relative fashion: whatever rights of this sort were enjoyed by white citizens were to be enjoyed by the newly freed black citizens as well. (shrink)
A broad range of intellectual perspectives may be brought to bear on any important social institution. To this general rule, the institution of private property is no exception. The desirability of private property has been endlessly debated across the disciplines: philosophical, historical, economic, and legal. Yet there is very little consensus over its proper social role and limitations. Is it possible to find a unique solution to questions of property and private ownership, good for all resources and for all times? (...) The famous defense of private property that is found in chapter 5 of John Locke's Second Treatise of Government answers this question in the affirmative, for Locke writes as though all property was given to mankind in common, and then seeks to find the quickest and most expeditious way to convert all common property into private property. His implicit, but undefended, assumption is that common forms of property are both undesirable and unstable, while private forms of ownership are always just the opposite. Yet his preferred method for moving from a commons to a regime of private property—the unilateral decision to appropriate by each actor—is one that has been frequently condemned as a sop to unbridled egotism, even though it is subject to two constraints: the first against waste, and the second requiring the appropria-tor to leave “enough, and as good” for others. (shrink)
John Donne's song was hardly written in the tradition of political philosophy, but it has a good deal to say about the theme of luck, both good and bad, which I want to address. There is no doubt but that bad luck has bad consequences for the persons who suffer from it. If there were a costless way in which the consequences of bad luck could be spread across everyone in society at large, without increasing the risk of its occurrence, (...) then most of us would pronounce ourselves better off for the change. In this sense it can be said, for example, that there is a utilitarian grounding for a moral obligation to care and provide for those persons who suffer the fortunes of bad luck. For the sake of argument I do not wish to contest this particular starting point, although there are many who would. Instead, I want to ask the question of whether this moral obligation should be converted into a legal obligation, backed by public force. The dominant answer to that question today is yes. Even those who think that markets should determine decisions on production find that the state has a proper role to reduce the adverse consequences of bad luck. My cast of mind is more skeptical. In life, or, in this instance, politics, “come bad chance, and we do join to it our strength.” In general the effort to use coercion to counter the adverse effects of luck tends only to make matters worse. (shrink)
The design of new constitutions is fraught with challenges on both issues of structural design and individual rights. As both a descriptive and normative matter it is exceedingly difficult to believe that one structural solution will fit all cases. The high variation in nation size, economic development, and ethnic division can easily tilt the balance for or against a Presidential or Parliamentary system, and even within these two broad classes the differences in constitutional structure are both large and hard to (...) measure. The only confident claim is that some system of separation of powers coupled with checks and balances is needed. Deciding which system, however, is far harder. In contrast, that same level of doubt does not arise in connection with the correct specification of individual right. Strong systems of negative rights on matters of liberty, property, religion, and speech are preferable across a wide range of social organizations. On the other hand, any effort to create systems of positive entitlements will fail because of the negative effects that they have on wealth creation and the inability to define or limit the scope of the relevant entitlements. (shrink)
It is a common conceit of academic writing to insist that progress in some given area of law or political theory is hampered by hopeless confusion over the meaning of certain standard terms. My usual attitude toward such claims is one of passionate rejection. Because the English language has served us well for such a long period of time, I bring a strong presumption of distrust to any claim of the conceptual poverty of ordinary language. The persistent fears of lack (...) of understanding are in general refuted by the success of communication in ordinary life, as measured by the coordination of human behavior that language facilitates. (shrink)
Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery. Socially, the proposition may well be true. But in the world of ideas it is false: to the extent that two incompatible traditions use the same words or symbols to articulate different visions of legal or social organization, imitation begets confusion, not enlightenment. The effects of that confusion, moreover, are not confined to the world of ideas, but spill over into the world of politics and public affairs. Words are more (...) than tools of description: they work also as tools of persuasion and transformation. Let a term have a favorable connotation in one context, and its imitative use can mislead people into thinking that a major departure from established practice is merely the extension or updating of an old principle to deal with new circumstances. (shrink)
Political theory has a good deal to say both for and against the establishment of the modern welfare state. As one might expect, most of that discussion is directed toward the expanded set of basic rights that the state confers on its members. In its most canonical form, the welfare state represents a switch in vision from the regime of negative rights in the nineteenth century to the regime of positive rights so much in vogue today. Negative rights—an inexact and (...) somewhat misleading term— stress the right of an individual to be free from certain kinds of external interventions. These rights arrange themselves on two basic lists. The first list generates a set of civil capacities that all individuals enjoy over their own labor and property: the right to contract, to make wills, to sue and be sued, to give evidence, and the like. The second list, from which the term “negative rights” derives, protects all persons from interference, either by force or by fraud, in the conduct of their own affairs. The resulting set of rights is short, snappy, and knowable; it is internally consistent; and it prepares the stage for productive human behavior while limiting destructive forms of behavior. Even though it is not couched in explicit utilitarian language, it can surely be defended on general functional grounds. (shrink)
In this paper, I want to explore the relationship between the various forms of individual self-interest and the appropriate structures of government. I shall begin with the former, and by degrees extend the analysis to the latter. I do so in order to mount a defense of principles of limited government, private property, and individual liberty. The ordinary analysis of self-interest treats it as though it were not only a given but also a constant of human nature, and thus makes (...) few allowances for differences between persons. Yet common experience tells us that personality and behavior are as unique as fingerprints. The positive inquiry, therefore, is how we find what is constant about self-interest in a world of natural human diversity. The normative inquiry must take into account both the constant and variable features of human nature in order to determine what forms of social arrangements hold the greatest prospect of long-term social advantage. The gulf between ‘is’ and ‘ought’ must be overcome here, as it must be in all normative discourse. Yet we cannot make sensible judgments of what ought to be the case in the domain of rules unless we first have some idea of what is the case in the domain of behavior. The initial inquiry asks why self-interest is regarded as a constant of human behavior. The explanation derives more from the biological and less from the social. The powerful pressures of natural selection weed out any organisms for whom selfinterest is not the paramount consideration. (shrink)
Edwin M. Epstein.Spring Epstein - 1987 - The Corporate Social Policy Process: Beyond Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Corporate Social Responsiveness, California Management Review 29:99-114.details
We live in a world of crowds and corporations, artworks and artifacts, legislatures and languages, money and markets. These are all social objects — they are made, at least in part, by people and by communities. But what exactly are these things? How are they made, and what is the role of people in making them? In The Ant Trap, Brian Epstein rewrites our understanding of the nature of the social world and the foundations of the social sciences. (...) class='Hi'>Epstein explains and challenges the three prevailing traditions about how the social world is made. One tradition takes the social world to be built out of people, much as traffic is built out of cars. A second tradition also takes people to be the building blocks of the social world, but focuses on thoughts and attitudes we have toward one another. And a third tradition takes the social world to be a collective projection onto the physical world. Epstein shows that these share critical flaws. Most fundamentally, all three traditions overestimate the role of people in building the social world: they are overly anthropocentric. Epstein starts from scratch, bringing the resources of contemporary metaphysics to bear. In the place of traditional theories, he introduces a model based on a new distinction between the grounds and the anchors of social facts. Epstein illustrates the model with a study of the nature of law, and shows how to interpret the prevailing traditions about the social world. Then he turns to social groups, and to what it means for a group to take an action or have an intention. Contrary to the overwhelming consensus, these often depend on more than the actions and intentions of group members. (shrink)
In his insightful and challenging paper, Jonathan Schaffer argues against a distinction I make in The Ant Trap (Epstein 2015) and related articles. I argue that in addition to the widely discussed “grounding” relation, there is a different kind of metaphysical determination I name “anchoring.” Grounding and anchoring are distinct, and both need to be a part of full explanations of how facts are metaphysically determined. Schaffer argues instead that anchoring is a species of grounding. The crux of his (...) argument comes in the last sections of his paper, in his discussion of “exportation,” the relations strategy, and the definitions strategy. I am inclined to agree that Schaffer’s interesting strategies offer the best choices for the philosopher who wants to insist that anchoring is a species of grounding. But both, I will argue, are fatally flawed. I do not take the separation of anchors from grounds lightly, but find the evidence in its favor overwhelming. And once the distinction is made, I find anchoring to be a powerful practical tool in metaphysics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Volume 99, Issue 3, Page 768-781, November 2019. (shrink)
Management theory and practice are facing unprecedented challenges. The lack of sustainability, the increasing inequity, and the continuous decline in societal trust pose a threat to ‘business as usual’. Capitalism is at a crossroad and scholars, practitioners, and policy makers are called to rethink business strategy in light of major external changes. In the following, we review an alternative view of human beings that is based on a renewed Darwinian theory developed by Lawrence and Nohria. We label this alternative (...) view ‘humanistic’ and draw distinctions to current ‘economistic’ conceptions. We then develop the consequences that this humanistic view has for business organizations, examining business strategy, governance structures, leadership forms, and organizational culture. Afterward, we outline the influences of humanism on management in the past and the present, and suggest options for humanism to shape the future of management. In this manner, we will contribute to the discussion of alternative management paradigms that help solve the current crises. (shrink)
In this guest column, Epstein offers “a new sign” that, he argues, resolves difficulties that have arisen in many theories and practices, including linguistics, semiotics, literary theory, poetics, aesthetics, ecology, ecophilology, eco-ethics, metaphysics, theology, psychology, and phenomenology. The new sign, a pair of quotation marks around a blank space, signfies the absence of any sign. Most generally, “ ” relates to the blank space that surrounds and underlies a text; by locating “ ” within the text, the margins are (...) brought inside and can become the focus of attention. Not only the margins but also the material background of a text (the page or screen) can be brought forward and focused on through the transparency of the sign “ ”, in which case “ ” becomes a sign of itself. Consubstantial with its medium, therefore, this sign is both relative and universal: “ ” is the same everywhere, on every surface, in every language, and also in the arts. Epstein analyzes works by Rauschenberg, Malevich, Ilya Kabakov, and Vasilisk Gdenov in the visual arts, as well as music by John Cage, to demonstrate the usefulness of his new sign for aesthetics and art criticism. Each discipline, he argues, has its own nonspeakable conditions and assumptions that it needs to bring inside disciplinary frontiers. At the frontier of language, “ ” is both inside and outside, and therefore can express the nonspeakable condition of speakability. In concluding, Epstein suggests that the task of the avant-garde in theory today is to develop a “negative semiotics”: a semiotics of nonsigns, modeled on negative (apophatic) theology. (shrink)
The advent of the cinema radically altered our comprehension of time, space, and reality. With his experience as a pioneering avant-garde filmmaker, Jean Epstein uses the universes created by the cinematograph to deconstruct our understanding of how time and space, reality and unreality, continuity and discontinuity, determinism and randomness function both inside and outside the cinema. Time, he says, should be regarded as the first, not the fourth, dimension—and the cinematograph allows us, for the first time, to manipulate it (...) in directions and speeds of our choosing. The theoretical work of Jean Epstein greatly influenced later generations of cinema philosophers, notably Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Rancière, but the bulk of his work remains unpublished. _The Intelligence of a Machine_, his first major title published in English, is one of the earliest philosophies of cinema. (shrink)
Malice that cannot speak its name, cold-blooded but secret hostility, impotent desire, hidden rancor and spite--all cluster at the center of envy. Envy clouds thought, writes Joseph Epstein, clobbers generosity, precludes any hope of serenity, and ends in shriveling the heart. Of the seven deadly sins, he concludes, only envy is no fun at all. Writing in a conversational, erudite, self-deprecating style that wears its learning lightly, Epstein takes us on a stimulating tour of the many faces of (...) envy. He considers what great thinkers--such as John Rawls, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche--have written about envy; distinguishes between envy, yearning, jealousy, resentment, and schadenfreude ; and catalogs the many things that are enviable, including wealth, beauty, power, talent, knowledge and wisdom, extraordinary good luck, and youth. He looks at resentment in academia, where envy is mixed with snobbery, stirred by impotence, and played out against a background of cosmic injustice; and he offers a brilliant reading of Othello as a play more driven by Iago's envy than Othello's jealousy. He reveals that envy has a strong touch of malice behind it--the envious want to destroy the happiness of others. He suggests that envy of the astonishing success of Jews in Germany and Austria may have lurked behind the virulent anti-Semitism of the Nazis. As he proved in his best-selling Snobbery, Joseph Epstein has an unmatched ability to highlight our failings in a way that is thoughtful, provocative, and entertaining. If envy is no fun, Epstein's Envy is truly a joy to read. (shrink)
The term “perceptual constancy” was used by the Gestalt theorists in the early part of the twentieth century (e.g., Koffka 1935, 34, 90) to refer to the tendency of perception to remain invariant over changes of viewing distance, viewing angle, and conditions of illumination. This tendency toward constancy is remarkable: every change in the viewing distance, position, and illumination is necessarily accompanied by a change in the local proximal (retinal) stimulation, and yet perception remains relatively stable. The tendency toward perceptual (...) constancy encouraged the Gestalt theorists to look beyond local proximal stimulation in grounding their theories of perception. In the ensuing decades, much has been learned about the constancies. Evidence for this assertion may be found in the contributions to the current volume as well as in earlier volumes (e.g., Epstein 1977; Walsh and Kulikowsky 1998). These advances notwithstanding, significant questions remain open. Our aim here is to note some advances and specify some open questions. (shrink)
In a backward masking paradigm Epstein, Hatfield, and Muise (1977) found that presentation of a frontoparallel pattern mask caused the perceived shape of elliptical figures which were rotated in depth to conform to a projective shape function. The current study extended the masking function by examining the effect of a mask which was partially or wholly cotemporal with the target. The study also assessed the functional equivalence of the masking treatment and the conventional treatment for minimizing depth information. Reports (...) of perceived shape and perceived orientation were obtained under three conditions: binocular without mask, binocular with mask, monocular without mask. Under the first condition, perceived shape conformed to objective shape and perceived orientation was proportional to objective orientation. Under the latter two conditions, perceived shape was in very close agreement to projective shape and the two functions did not differ. Orientation was underestimated greatly under both conditions. We concluded that the effect of the mask on perceived shape is mediated by its effect on encoding of orientation information, although an additional effect on the subsequent stage of shape-slant integration cannot be excluded. (shrink)
The study of human morality has historically been carried out primarily by philosophers and theologians. Now this broad topic is also being studied systematically by evolutionary biologists and various behavioral and social sciences. Based upon a review of this work, this paper will propose a unified explanation of human morality as an innate feature of human minds. The theory argues that morality is an innate skill that developed as a means to fulfill the human drive to bond with others in (...) mutual caring. This explanation has also been reported as part of a broader theory on the role of human nature in the shaping of human choices (Driven, Lawrence and Nohria). (shrink)
Universal Grammar (UG) can be interpreted as a constraint on the form of possible grammars (hypothesis space) or as a constraint on acquisition strategies (selection procedures). In this response to Herschensohn we reiterate the position outlined in Epstein et al. (1996a, r), that in the evaluation of L2 acquisition as a UG- constrained process the former (possible grammars/ knowledge states) is critical, not the latter. Selection procedures, on the other hand, are important in that they may have a bearing (...) on development in language acquisition. We raise the possibility that differences in first and second language acquisition pertaining to both attainment of the end-state and course of development may derive from differences in selection procedures. We further suggest that for these reasons age effects in the attainment of nativelike proficiency must necessarily be separated from UG effects. (shrink)
In this book, Mikhail Epstein offers a systematic theory of modalities and their impact on the philosophy and culture of modernity and postmodernity, focusing on the creative potentials of possibilistic thinking for the humanities.
Lawrence's volume provides a detailed discussion and analyses of the moral awareness of major characters in Greek tragedy, focusing particularly on the characters' recognition of moral issues and crises, their ability to reflect on them, and their consciousness of doing so.
William James described the stream of thought as having two components: (1) a nucleus of highly conscious, often perceptual material; and (2) a fringe of dimly felt contextual information that controls the entry of information into the nucleus and guides the progression of internally directed thought. Here I examine the neural and cognitive correlates of this phenomenology. A survey of the cognitive neuroscience literature suggests that the nucleus corresponds to a dynamic global buffer formed by interactions between different regions of (...) the brain, while the fringe corresponds to a set of mechanisms in the frontal and medial temporal lobes that control the contents of this global buffer. A consequence of this account is that there might be conscious imagistic representations that are not part of the nucleus. I argue that phenomenology can be linked to psychology and neuroscience and a meaningful way that illuminates both. (shrink)
The thesis of methodological individualism in social science is commonly divided into two different claims—explanatory individualism and ontological individualism. Ontological individualism is the thesis that facts about individuals exhaustively determine social facts. Initially taken to be a claim about the identity of groups with sets of individuals or their properties, ontological individualism has more recently been understood as a global supervenience claim. While explanatory individualism has remained controversial, ontological individualism thus understood is almost universally accepted. In this paper I argue (...) that ontological individualism is false. Only if the thesis is weakened to the point that it is equivalent to physicalism can it be true, but then it fails to be a thesis about the determination of social facts by facts about individual persons. Even when individualistic facts are expanded to include people’s local environments and practices, I shall argue, those still underdetermine the social facts that obtain. If true, this has implications for explanation as well as ontology. I first consider arguments against the local supervenience of social facts on facts about individuals, correcting some flaws in existing arguments and affirming that local supervenience fails for a broad set of social properties. I subsequently apply a similar approach to defeat a particularly weak form of global supervenience, and consider potential responses. Finally, I explore why it is that people have taken ontological individualism to be true. (shrink)
During the past decade many individuals have sought to create a connection between their work persona and their religious/spiritual persona. Management education has a legitimate role to play in introducing teachings drawn from our religious traditions into business ethics and other courses. Thereby, we can help prepare students to consider the possibility that business endeavors, spirituality and religious commitment can be inextricable parts of a coherent life.
The Gestalt psychologists adopted a set of positions on mind-body issues that seem like an odd mix. They sought to combine a version of naturalism and physiological reductionism with an insistence on the reality of the phenomenal and the attribution of meanings to objects as natural characteristics. After reviewing basic positions in contemporary philosophy of mind, we examine the Gestalt position, characterizing it m terms of phenomenal realism and programmatic reductionism. We then distinguish Gestalt philosophy of mind from instrumentalism and (...) computational functionalism, and examine Gestalt attributions of meaning and value to perceived objects. Finally, we consider a metatheoretical moral from Gestalt theory, which commends the search for commensurate description of mental phenomena and their physiological counterparts. (shrink)
: The regulation of Native identity has been central to the colonization process in both Canada and the United States. Systems of classification and control enable settler governments to define who is "Indian," and control access to Native land. These regulatory systems have forcibly supplanted traditional Indigenous ways of identifying the self in relation to land and community, functioning discursively to naturalize colonial worldviews. Decolonization, then, must involve deconstructing and reshaping how we understand Indigenous identity.
In his novel Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust argues that conventional descriptions of the phenomenology of consciousness are incomplete because they focus too much on the highly-salient sensory information that dominates each moment of awareness and ignore the network of associations that lies in the background. In this paper, I explicate Proust’s theory of conscious experience and show how it leads him directly to a theory of aesthetic perception. Proust’s division of awareness into two components roughly corresponds to William (...) James’ division of the stream of thought into a “nucleus” and “fringe.” Proust argues that the function of art is to evoke the underlying associative network indirectly in the mind of the observer by using carefully chosen sensory surfaces to control the stream of thought. I propose a possible neural basis for this Proustian/Jamesian phenomenology, and argue that the general principles of Proustian aesthetics can be applied to all forms of art. I conclude that a scientific theory of art should follow in a straightforward manner from a scientific theory of consciousness. (shrink)
The term queer has recently come into wide use to designate distinctive emphases in the politics and the intellectual study of sexuality. This article explores the unfortunate irony that most work falling under the rubric of queer theory has been undertaken largely at some remove from the discipline of sociology, despite the pioneering role that an earlier generation of sociologists played in formulating influential conceptions of the social construction of sexuality. The article suggests important continuities between the earlier sociological theories (...) and recent queer theory, but also analyzes the new challenges that queer theorists have posed by insisting on the indispensability of questions of sexual "marginality" to the larger understanding of social and cultural organization. The article concludes by suggesting how sociologists might engage with such a project. (shrink)
This study surveyed investors to determine the extent to which they preferred ethical behavior to profits and their interest in having information about corporate ethical behavior reported in the corporate annual report. First, investors were asked to determine what penalties should be assessed against employees who engage in profitable, but unethical, behavior. Second, investors were asked about their interest in using the annual report to disclose the ethical performance of the corporation and company officials. Finally, investors were asked if they (...) felt that ethics reports should be audited.The survey results indicate that many shareholders (42%) do not expect a high level of ethical behavior from corporate employees or officers. There is a significant amount of interest in disclosure of ethical issues (72%) and unwillingness to trust management to provide unbiased reports of ethical behavior. If such reports are included with the financial statements, 32 percent of the investors surveyed would prefer to have them audited to provide independent verification. (shrink)