The Darwinian Revolution--the change in thinking sparked by Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, which argued that all organisms including humans are the end product of a long, slow, natural process of evolution rather than the miraculous creation of an all-powerful God--is one of the truly momentous cultural events in Western Civilization. Darwinism as Religion is an innovative and exciting approach to this revolution through creative writing, showing how the theory of evolution as expressed by Darwin has, from the (...) first, functioned as a secular religion. Drawing on a deep understanding of both the science and the history, Michael Ruse surveys the naturalistic thinking about the origins of organisms, including the origins of humankind, as portrayed in novels and in poetry, taking the story from its beginnings in the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century right up to the present. He shows that, contrary to the opinion of many historians of the era, there was indeed a revolution in thought and that the English naturalist Charles Darwin was at the heart of it. However, contrary also to what many think, this revolution was not primarily scientific as such, but more religious or metaphysical, as people were taken from the secure world of the Christian faith into a darker, more hostile world of evolutionism. In a fashion unusual for the history of ideas, Ruse turns to the novelists and poets of the period for inspiration and information. His book covers a wide range of creative writers - from novelists like Voltaire and poets like Erasmus Darwin in the eighteenth century, through the nineteenth century with novelists including Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Henry James and H. G. Wells and poets including Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and on to the twentieth century with novelists including Edith Wharton, D. H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, William Golding, Graham Greene, Ian McEwan and Marilynne Robinson, and poets including Robert Frost, Edna St Vincent Millay and Philip Appleman. Covering such topics as God, origins, humans, race and class, morality, sexuality, and sin and redemption, and written in an engaging manner and spiced with wry humor, Darwinism as Religion gives us an entirely fresh, engaging and provocative view of one of the cultural highpoints of Western thought. (shrink)
Analyses of dispositional ascriptions in terms of conditional statements famously confront the problems of finks and masks. We argue that conditional analyses of dispositions, even those tailored to avoid finks and masks, face five further problems. These are the problems of: (i) Achilles' heels, (ii) accidental closeness, (iii) comparatives, (iv) explaining context sensitivity, and (v) absent stimulus conditions. We conclude by offering a proposal that avoids all seven of these problems.
A philosophical essay under this title faces severe rhetorical challenges. New accounts of the good life regularly and rapidly turn out to be variations of old ones, subject to a predictable range of decisive objections. Attempts to meet those objections with improved accounts regularly and rapidly lead to a familiar impasse — that while a life of contemplation, or epicurean contentment, or stoic indifference, or religious ecstasy, or creative rebellion, or self-actualization, or many another thing might count as a good (...) life, none of them can plausibly be identified with the good life, or the best life. Given the long history of that impasse, it seems futile to offer yet another candidate for the genus “good life” as if that candidate might be new, or philosophically defensible. And given the weariness, irony, and self-deprecation expected of a philosopher in such an impasse, it is difficult for any substantive proposal on this topic to avoid seeming pretentious. (shrink)
This essay motivates a revised version of the epistemic condition of safety and then employs the revision to (i) challenge traditional conceptions of apriority, (ii) refute ‘strong privileged access’, and (iii) resolve a well-known puzzle about externalism and self-knowledge.
Most contemporary moral philosophy is concerned with issues of rationality, universality, impartiality, and principle. By contrast Laurence Blum is concerned with the psychology of moral agency. The essays in this collection examine the moral import of emotion, motivation, judgment, perception, and group identifications, and explore how all these psychic capacities contribute to a morally good life. Blum takes up the challenge of Iris Murdoch to articulate a vision of moral excellence that provides a worthy aspiration for human beings. Drawing on (...) accounts of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust Blum argues that impartial principle can mislead us about the variety of forms of moral excellence. (shrink)
Howard Brody expresses concern that citing the “two cases that put futility on the map,” namely Helga Wanglie and Baby K, may be providing ammunition to the opponents of the concept of medical futility. He in fact joins well-known opponents of the concept of medical futility in arguing that it is one thing for the physician to say whether a particular intervention will promote an identified goal, quite another to say whether a goal is worth pursuing. In the latter instance, (...) physicians are laying themselves open “to the criticism of taking on basic value judgments that are more appropriately left to patients and their surrogates.” Brody states that in both the Wanglie and Baby K cases, the “basic value judgments” had to do with the worthiness of maintaining unconscious life via medical technology. He classifies this as “a question of professional integrity—but not a question of futility,” adding that “more than semantics hinges on this distinction.” The “more than semantics” factor is a pragmatic, even political one. Failure to make this distinction renders physicians “that much more suspect and less trustworthy in the public debate.”. (shrink)
This book critically examines some widespread views about the semantic phenomenon of reference and the cognitive phenomenon of singular thought. It begins with a defense of the view that neither is tied to a special relation of causal or epistemic acquaintance. It then challenges the alleged semantic rift between definite and indefinite descriptions on the one hand, and names and demonstratives on the other—a division that has been motivated in part by appeals to considerations of acquaintance. Drawing on recent work (...) in semantics, the book explores a more unified account of all four types of expression, according to which none of them paradigmatically fits the profile of a referential term. On the proposed framework, all four involve existential quantification but admit of uses that exhibit many of the traits associated with reference—a phenomenon that is due to the presence of what we call a ‘singular restriction’ on the existentially quantified domain. The book concludes by drawing out some implications of the proposed semantic picture for the traditional categories of reference and singular thought. (shrink)
Much of experimental philosophy consists of surveying 'folk' intuitions about philosophically relevant issues. Are the results of these surveys evidence that the relevant folk intuitions cannot be predicted from the ‘armchair’? We found that a solid majority of philosophers could predict even results claimed to be 'surprising'. But, we argue, this does not mean that such experiments have no role at all in philosophy.
Kant's distinction between intuitive and discursive knowledge precludes his giving intuitions linguistic representation. Singular terms represent concepts given what kant calls a 'singular use' and are analyzable as definite descriptions. That the object described exists and that there is only one such object can be given linguistic representation only through an explicit assertion of existence and uniqueness. As an intuitionist in mathematics kant holds that mathematics proclaims the constructibility and not the existence of its objects.
Embodied cognition often challenges standard cognitive science. In this outstanding introduction, Lawrence Shapiro sets out the central themes and debates surrounding embodied cognition, explaining and assessing the work of many of the key figures in the field, including George Lakoff, Alva Noë, Andy Clark, and Arthur Glenberg. Beginning with an outline of the theoretical and methodological commitments of standard cognitive science, Shapiro then examines philosophical and empirical arguments surrounding the traditional perspective. He introduces topics such as dynamic systems theory, (...) ecological psychology, robotics, and connectionism, before addressing core issues in philosophy of mind such as mental representation and extended cognition. Including helpful chapter summaries and annotated further reading at the end of each chapter, _Embodied Cognition_ is essential reading for all students of philosophy of mind, psychology, and cognitive science. (shrink)
It is well known that de se (or ‘self-locating’) propositions complicate the standard picture of how we should respond to evidence. This has given rise to a substantial literature centered around puzzles like Sleeping Beauty, Dr. Evil, and Doomsday—and it has also sparked controversy over a style of argument that has recently been adopted by theoretical cosmologists. These discussions often dwell on intuitions about a single kind of case, but it’s worth seeking a rule that can unify our treatment of (...) all evidence, whether de dicto or de se. -/- This paper is about three candidates for such a rule, presented as replacements for the standard updating rule. Each rule stems from the idea that we should treat ourselves as a random sample, a heuristic that underlies many of the intuitions that have been pumped in treatments of the standard puzzles. But each rule also yields some strange results when applied across the board. This leaves us with some difficult options. We can seek another way to refine the random-sample heuristic, e.g. by restricting one of our rules. We can try to live with the strange results, perhaps granting that useful principles can fail at the margins. Or we can reject the random-sample heuristic as fatally flawed—which means rethinking its influence in even the simplest cases. (shrink)
There is much more said in the Critique of Pure Reason about the relationship between God and purposiveness than what is found in Kant's analysis of the physico-theological argument. The ‘Wise Author of Nature’ is central to his analysis of regulative principles in the ‘Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic’ and also appears in the ‘Canon’, first with regards to the Highest Good and then again in relation to our theoretical use of purposiveness. This paper will begin with a brief discussion (...) of the physico-theological argument before moving on to the Appendix and the Canon. Finally, it will consider some changes to the role of the Wise Author in the Critique of Judgement. (shrink)
Previous theories of the relationship between dispositions and conditionals are unable to account for the fact that dispositions come in degrees. We propose a fix for this problem that has the added benefit of avoiding the classic problems of finks and masks.
Metaphysics is concerned with the foundations of reality. It asks questions about the nature of the world, such as: Aside from concrete objects, are there also abstract objects like numbers and properties? Does every event have a cause? What is the nature of possibility and necessity? When do several things make up a single bigger thing? Do the past and future exist? And so on. -/- Metametaphysics is concerned with the foundations of metaphysics. It asks: Do the questions of metaphysics (...) really have answers? If so, are these answers substantive or just a matter of how we use words? And what is the best procedure for arriving at them—common sense and conceptual analysis? Or assessing competing hypotheses with quasi-scientific criteria? -/- This volume gathers together sixteen new essays that are concerned with the semantics, epistemology, and methodology of metaphysics. My aim is to introduce these essays within a more general (and mildly opinionated) survey of contemporary challenges to metaphysics . (shrink)
Carl Gillett has defended what he calls the “dimensioned” view of the realization relation, which he contrasts with the traditional “flat” view of realization (2003, 2007; see also Gillett 2002). Intuitively, the dimensioned approach characterizes realization in terms of composition whereas the flat approach views realization in terms of occupiers of functional roles. Elsewhere we have argued that the general view of realization and multiple realization that Gillett advances is not able to discharge the theoretical duties of those relations (Shapiro (...) 2004, unpublished manuscript; Polger 2004, 2007, forthcoming). Here we focus on an internal objection to Gillett’s account and then raise some broader reasons to reject it. (shrink)
There are two major theories of properties that employ resemblance classes to avoid commitment to universals.1 Object-resemblance nominalism ~ORN! faces the notorious companionship and imperfect community difficulties, though some costly remedies have been proposed. Trope-resemblance nominalism ~TRN!, in contrast, is commonly supposed to avoid these difficulties altogether. My contention is that both versions of resemblance nominalism are subject to companionship and imperfect community difficulties. If I am right, ~1! trope theory loses one of its primary selling points, and ~2! resemblance (...) nominalists of either type must appeal to the troublesome remedies that I discuss below. (shrink)
In an earlier paper in these pages (2008), we explored the puzzling link between dispositions and conditionals. First, we rehearsed the standard counterexamples to the simple conditional analysis and the refined conditional analysis defended by David Lewis. Second, we attacked a tempting response to these counterexamples: what we called the ‘getting specific strategy’. Third, we presented a series of structural considerations that pose problems for many attempts to understand the link between dispositions and conditionals. Finally, we developed our own account (...) of this link, which avoids all of the standard counterexamples and comports with the relevant structural considerations. In this paper, we reply to some objections. (shrink)
When philosophers speak of the inconclusiveness of arguments for the existence of God, they often do so as if they were talking about a matter of principle—as if it were in principle impossible to prove God's existence, that every proof was in principle inconclusive. Of course, rebutals of the cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments are usually designed to show that these types of arguments are in principle inconclusive. But one supposes that religious experience arguments are not all in such difficulties. (...) That is, one supposes, for example, that an encounter with the deity would provide a proof of his existence which is at least as conclusive as proofs for the existence of an ‘external world’. And thus it would be false to maintain in an unqualified way that ‘Reason cannot prove the existence of God’. The most one would be able to say would be that at present , or in terms of the currently available evidence, no one can prove God's existence. Further, whether or not sufficient evidence has ever been available in the past would be seen as an historical question— a matter of contingencies, not logical possibilities. (shrink)
Are moral terms semantically plastic—that is, would very slight changes in our patterns of use have shifted their meanings? This is a delicate question for moral realists. A 'yes' answer seems to conflict with the sorts of intuitions that support realism; but a 'no' answer seems to require a semantics that involves hefty metaphysical commitments. This tension can be illustrated by thinking about how standard accounts of vagueness can be applied to the case of moral terms, and also by considering (...) how realists should respond to the Moral Twin Earth problem. After presenting the puzzle, I will argue that moral realists can accept the semantic plasticity of moral expressions while accounting for contrary intuitions in a way that is nearly cost-free. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Proponents of mechanistic explanation have recently suggested that all explanation in the cognitive sciences is mechanistic, even functional explanation. This last claim is surprising, for functional explanation has traditionally been conceived as autonomous from the structural details that mechanistic explanations emphasize. I argue that functional explanation remains autonomous from mechanistic explanation, but not for reasons commonly associated with the phenomenon of multiple realizability. 1Introduction 2Mechanistic Explanation: A Quick Primer 3Functional Explanation: An Example 4Autonomy as Lack of Constraint 5The Price (...) of Autonomy 6Another Argument against Autonomy 7Conclusion: Autonomy and Multiple Realization. (shrink)
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)
In recent years, a particular doctrine about forms of life has come to be associated with Wittgenstein's name by followers and critics of his philosophy alike. It is not a doctrine which Wittgenstein espoused or even, given his understanding of philosophy, one which he could have accepted; nor is it worthy of acceptance on its own merits. I shall here outline the standard interpretation of Wittgenstein's remarks on forms of life, consider the textual basis for such a reading of Wittgenstein, (...) present a more consistent reading of the texts, place the problem of forms of life within a wider philosophical context, and show the ways in which it is indeed possible to say that a form of life is wrong. In the process, I shall note some important similarities between Wittgenstein's actual position, Quine's analysis of scientific knowledge, and Hans-Georg Gadamer's claims about the fusion of horizons. (shrink)
Suppose dispositions bear a distinctive connection to counterfactual facts, perhaps one that could be enshrined in a variation on the well-worn schema "Necessarily, x is disposed to phi in psi iff x would phi in psi. Could we exploit this connection to provide an account of what it is to be a disposition? This paper is about four views of dispositionality that attempt to do so.
It is common for contemporary metaphysical realists to adopt Quine's criterion of ontological commitment while at the same time repudiating his ontological pragmatism. 2 Drawing heavily from the work of others—especially Joseph Melia and Stephen Yablo—I will argue that the resulting approach to meta-ontology is unstable. In particular, if we are metaphysical realists, we need not accept ontological commitment to whatever is quantified over by our best first-order theories.
Statistical mechanics is one of the crucial fundamental theories of physics, and in his new book Lawrence Sklar, one of the pre-eminent philosophers of physics, offers a comprehensive, non-technical introduction to that theory and to attempts to understand its foundational elements. Among the topics treated in detail are: probability and statistical explanation, the basic issues in both equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, the role of cosmology, the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics, and the alleged foundation of the very (...) notion of time asymmetry in the entropic asymmetry of systems in time. The book emphasises the interaction of scientific and philosophical modes of reasoning, and in this way will interest all philosophers of science as well as those in physics and chemistry concerned with philosophical questions. The book could also be read by an informed general reader interested in the foundations of modern science. (shrink)
The phenomenon of `consciousness' is intrinsically related to one's awareness of one's self, of time, and of the physical world. What, then, can be learned about consciousness from people who have suffered brain damage such as amnesia which affects their awareness? This is the question explored by Lawrence Weiskrantz, a distinguished neuropsychologist who has worked with such patients over 30 years. Written in an engaging and accessible style, Consciousness Lost and Found provides a unique perspective on one of the (...) most challenging issues in science today. (shrink)
Explaining Chaos provides both a succinct and accurate introduction to the physics and mathematics of chaotic dynamical systems along with a number of pertinent philosophical commentaries on the scientific results. The book provides the clearest and most sensible treatment of chaos theory from a philosophical perspective available in the literature.
Examines the theories of Socrates, Kant, Dewey, Piaget, and others to explore the implications of Socrates' question "what is a virtuous man, and what is a virtuous school and society which educates virtuous men.".
Shapiro tests these hypotheses against two rivals, the mental constraint thesis and the embodied mind thesis. Collecting evidence from a variety of sources (e.g., neuroscience, evolutionary theory, and embodied cognition) he concludes that the multiple realizability thesis, accepted by most philosophers as a virtual truism, is much less obvious than commonly assumed, and that there is even stronger reason to give up the separability thesis. In contrast to views of mind that tempt us to see the mind as simply being (...) resident in a brain or body, Shapiro argues for a far more encompassing integration of mind, brain, and body than philosophers have supposed. (publisher, edited). (shrink)
Mark Sagoff draws on the last twenty years of debate over the foundations of environmentalism in this comprehensive revision of The Economy of the Earth. Posing questions pertinent to consumption, cost-benefit analysis, the normative implications of neo-Darwinism, the role of the natural in national history, and the centrality of the concept of place in environmental ethics, he analyses social policy in relation to the environment, pollution, the workplace, and public safely and health. Sagoff distinguishes ethical from economic questions and explains (...) which kinds of concepts, arguments, and processes are appropriate to each. He offers a critique 'preference' and 'willingness to pay' as measures of value in environmental economics and defends political, cultural, aesthetic, and ethical reasons to protect the natural environment. (shrink)