Does asking about trauma history create participant distress? If so, how does it compare with reactions to other personal questions? Do participants consider trauma questions important compared to other personal questions? Using 2 undergraduate samples (Ns = 240 and 277), the authors compared participants' reactions to trauma questions with their reactions to other possibly invasive questions through a self-report survey. Trauma questions caused relatively minimal distress and were perceived as having greater importance and greater cost-benefit ratings compared to other kinds (...) of psychological research in an undergraduate human subjects pool population. These findings suggest that at least some kinds of trauma research appear to pose minimal risk when compared to other minimal risk research topics, and that participants recognize the importance of research about trauma. (shrink)
Most people believe that science arose as a natural end-product of our innate intelligence and curiosity, as an inevitable stage in human intellectual development. But physicist and educator Alan Cromer disputes this belief. Cromer argues that science is not the natural unfolding of human potential, but the invention of a particular culture, Greece, in a particular historical period. Indeed, far from being natural, scientific thinking goes so far against the grain of conventional human thought that if it hadn't (...) been discovered in Greece, it might not have been discovered at all. In Uncommon Sense, Alan Cromer develops the argument that science represents a radically new and different way of thinking. Using Piaget's stages of intellectual development, he shows that conventional thinking remains mired in subjective, "egocentric" ways of looking at the world--most people even today still believe in astrology, ESP, UFOs, ghosts and other paranormal phenomena--a mode of thought that science has outgrown. He provides a fascinating explanation of why science began in Greece, contrasting the Greek practice of debate to the Judaic reliance on prophets for acquiring knowledge. Other factors, such as a maritime economy and wandering scholars (both of which prevented parochialism) and an essentially literary religion not dominated by priests, also promoted in Greece an objective, analytical way of thinking not found elsewhere in the ancient world. He examines India and China and explains why science could not develop in either country. In China, for instance, astronomy served only the state, and the private study of astronomy was forbidden. Cromer also provides a perceptive account of science in Renaissance Europe and of figures such as Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Along the way, Cromer touches on many intriguing topics, arguing, for instance, that much of science is essential complete; there are no new elements yet to be discovered. He debunks the vaunted SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project, which costs taxpayers millions each year, showing that physical limits--such as the melting point of metal--put an absolute limit on the speed of space travel, making trips to even the nearest star all but impossible. Finally, Cromer discusses the deplorable state of science education in America and suggests several provocative innovations to improve high school education, including a radical proposal to give all students an intensive eighth and ninth year program, eliminating the last two years of high school. Uncommon Sense is an illuminating look at science, filled with provocative observations. Whether challenging Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions, or extolling the virtues of Euclid's Elements, Alan Cromer is always insightful, outspoken, and refreshingly original. (shrink)
When physicist Alan Sokal recently submitted an article to the postmodernist journal Social Text, the periodical's editors were happy to publish it--for here was a respected scientist offering support for the journal's view that science is a subjective, socially constructed discipline. But as Sokal himself soon revealed in Lingua Franca magazine, the essay was a spectacular hoax--filled with scientific gibberish anyone with a basic knowledge of physics should have caught--and the academic world suddenly awoke to the vast gap that has (...) opened between the scientific community and their mould-be critics. But the truth is that not only postmodern critics but Americans in general have a weak grasp on scientific principles and facts. In Connected Knowledge, physicist Alan Cromer offers a way to bridge the chasm, with a lively, lucid account of scientific thinking and a provocative new agenda for American education. Science, Cromer argues, is anything but common sense: It requires a particular habit of mind that does not come naturally. For example, something as simple as buoyancy can only be explained through Archimedes' principle--that a body in a fluid is subject to an upward force equal to the weight of fluid it displaces--yet few scientists could arrive at this ancient concept by trial and error. School children, however, are often given a ball and a tank of water, and asked to explain buoyancy any way they can. Today's de emphasis on teaching pupils necessary facts and principles, he argues, "far from empowering them, makes them slaves of their own subjective opinions." This movement in education, known as Constructivism, has close ties to postmodern critics (such as the editors of Social Text) who question the objectivity of science, and with it the existence of an objective reality. Cromer offers a ringing defense of the knowability of the world, both as an objective reality and as a finite landscape of discovery. The advance of scientific knowledge, he argues, is not unlike the mapping of the continents; at this point, we have found them all. He shows how the advent of quantum mechanics, rather than making knowledge less certain, actually offers a more precise understanding of the behavior of atoms and electrons. Turning from philosophy to education, he argues that instead of allowing students to flounder, however creatively, schools should follow a progressive curriculum that returns theoretical knowledge to the classroom. Connected Knowledge, however, goes much farther. As a discipline that insists upon connecting theory with measurable reality, physical science offers a new direction for reforming the social sciences. Cromer also shows how some of the hottest issues in public policy--including the debates over special education and group variations in I.Q., can be resolved through clear, hard headed thinking. For example, he argues for use of the G.E.D. as a national educational standard, with a new "politics of intelligence" to guide the distribution of school resources. Always forthright and articulate, Alan Cromer offers a startling new vision for integrating science, philosophy, and education. (shrink)
Lisa Furberg har argumenterat för att altruistiskt surrogatmödraskap kan anses moraliskt problematiskt utifrån en perfektionistisk teori om det goda livet. I följande svar riktar jag ett antal invändningar mot Furbergs resonemang.
Lisa Hill’s response to my critique of compulsory voting, like similar responses in print or in discussion, remind me how much a child of the ‘70s I am, and how far my beliefs and intuitions about politics have been shaped by the electoral conflicts, social movements and violence of that period. -/- But my perceptions of politics have also been profoundly shaped by my teachers, and fellow graduate students, at MIT. Theda Skocpol famously urged political scientists to ‘bring the (...) state back in’ to their analyses, and to recognise that political identities, interests and coalitions cannot be read off straightforwardly from people’s socio-economic position. In their different ways, this was the lesson that Suzanne Berger, Charles Sabel and Joshua Cohen tried to teach us, emphasising the ways that political participation and conflict, themselves, can change people’s identities, their sense of what it is desirable and possible, and their ability to recognise, or oppose, the freedom and equality of others. -/- I do not therefore take it as self-evident that the poor and seemingly powerless should be politically apathetic, unwilling to vote, or incapable of imagining a political solution to at least some of the problems confronting them. Nor do I suppose that non-voters are all-of-a-piece, and that their shared interests are, inevitably, more significant, morally or politically, than those which divide them. Such assumptions seem mistaken in the case of voters, and I see no reason why they should be true of non-voters. The people we find in these categories are not predestined to be in one rather than the other; they do not always stay where they start off; and at an individual level, the reasons why people fall into one group, rather than another, are likely to be complex and sometimes unpredictable. -/- Above all I see nothing in a commitment to democratic government, understood realistically or in more idealistic terms, that requires us to treat raising turnout at national elections (once every four years or so) as of such moral or political importance that we should make it legally mandatory. Realistically, it is an open question how far the ballot box is, for most people, the path to empowerment – important though it is that people should have an equal right to vote and to stand as candidates at national elections. On a more idealistic view of democratic politics it is hard to avoid the thought that the importance of national elections to self-government, posited by proponents of compulsory voting, reflects an alienated and alienating view of democracy, in which the choice of our leaders becomes more important than the development and exercise of our own capacities to lead; and in which our awe at the power our leaders might wield is matched only by our inability to imagine less intimidating, distant and centralised forms of politics. -/- But before saying a little more about these points, and their significance for compulsory voting, I would like to dispel some misunderstandings or misrepresentations of my views in Hill’s essay. I do not believe socio-economic disparities in turnout are not worrying for democratic politics, nor do I believe that abstention is generally synonymous with consent. I do not assume that people have a right not to vote, but try to explain why moral and legal rights to abstain are an important part of democratic politics, including electoral politics. (shrink)
Raymond Boisvert and Lisa Heldke begin Philosophers at Table with a simile. Following Mary Midgley, they suggest that philosophy is like plumbing. We post-industrial urbanites and suburbanites rely on plumbing to bring us water and dispose of our waste. We rely on it daily, but we rarely think reflectively about it. In like fashion, we all rely on philosophy; ideas, concepts, values, and guiding principles structure and organize the way we perceive and experience the world. Philosophy lies undetected, out (...) of sight, tucked neatly in the walls and under the floorboards. We typically suffer its dripping faucets, its low water pressure, its slow drain as long as we can because these almost always involve unwieldy... (shrink)
The following article analyzes two novels, published recently by a new, powerful voice in Irish fiction, Lisa McInerney: her critically acclaimed debut The Glorious Heresies and its continuation The Blood Miracles. McInerney’s works can be distinguished by the crucial qualities of the Irish Noir genre. The Glorious Heresies and The Blood Miracles are presented from the perspective of a middle-aged “right-rogue” heroine, Maureen Phelan. Due to her violent and law-breaking revenge activities, such as burning down the institutions signifying Irishwomen’s (...) oppression and committing an involuntary murder, Maureen remains a multi-dimensional rogue character, not easily definable or even identifiable. The focal character’s narrative operates around the abuse of unmarried, young Irish mothers of previous generations who were coerced to give up their “illegitimate” children for adoption and led a solitary existence away from them. The article examines other “options” available to “fallen women” in Ireland in the mid-twenty century, such as the Magdalene Laundries based on female slave work, and sending children born “out of wedlock” abroad, or to Mother and Baby Homes with high death-rates. Maureen’s rage and her need for retaliation speak for Irish women who, due to the Church-governed moral code, were held in contempt both by their families and religious authorities. As a representative of the Irish noir genre, McInerney’s fiction depicts the narrative of “rogue” Irish motherhood in a non-apologetic, ironic, irreverent and vengeful manner. (shrink)
Lisa Tessman's When Doing the Right Thing is Impossible offers an engaging and accessible exploration of the complex philosophical issues surrounding moral dilemmas and moral failure. Are there genuine moral conflicts? Is it true that in some situations a moral agent cannot help but fail? Tessman offers her own answer–yes, in some situations, moral failure is unavoidable–while guiding readers through the debates surrounding these questions, clarifying the various positions sympathetically and carefully.Part of what makes the book so immediately gripping (...) is the case study it begins with in Chapter One: Tessman focuses on the case Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. During the storm, the... (shrink)
In Strange Concepts and The Stories they Make Possible: Cognition, Culture, Narrative, Lisa Zunshine widens her scope from an erstwhile singular focus on Theory of Mind (inferring interior states from exterior expression and gesture) in fiction, turning her sights toward a branch of psychology aimed at the study of the early cognitive development of humans. Here she explores our distinctive mental capacity to ascribe a function to objects (a chair is to sit, etc.) and an essence to living creatures (...) (the posited unchanging, ungraspable spirit or soul, for example). Zunshine’s aim: to throw light on how authors and artists confer strange configurations upon such concepts as function and essence in their making of .. (shrink)
This is my response to the papers by Chris Pincock, Lisa Warenski and Jonathan Weinberg, which were presented at the Book Symposium on my Essays on A Priori Knowledge and Justification, American Philosophical Association Pacific Division Meetings, March 16–19, 2014.
In Moral Failure, Lisa Tessman argues against two principles of moral theory, that ought implies can and that normative theory must be action-guiding. Although Tessman provides a trenchant account of how we are thrust into the misfortune of moral failure, often by our very efforts to act morally, and although she shows, through a discussion well-informed by the latest theorizing in ethics, neuroethics, and psychology, how much more moral theory can do than provide action-guiding principles, I argue that the (...) two theses of moral theory that she disputes remain indispensable for ethical theory. (shrink)
In this interesting and engaging book, Shabel offers an interpretation of Kant's philosophy of mathematics as expressed in his critical writings. Shabel's analysis is based on the insight that Kant's philosophical standpoint on mathematics cannot be understood without an investigation into his perception of mathematical practice in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She aims to illuminate Kant's theory of the construction of concepts in pure intuition—the basis for his conclusion that mathematical knowledge is synthetic a priori. She does this through (...) a contextualized interpretation of his notion of mathematical construction, which she argues can be approached by looking at Euclid's Elements and Christian Wolff's mathematical textbooks. The importance of the former for her interpretation is justified by the fact that nearly all of Kant's mathematical examples in the Critique are Euclidean propositions. The importance of the latter is revealed through the fact that Wolff's textbooks were not only widely read and representative of the state of elementary mathematics during Kant's time; Kant was also intimately familiar with them. During the thirty years prior to the publication of the Critique, he used the textbooks in the college-level introductory courses in mathematics and physics that he taught.In the introduction to her book, Shabel helpfully distinguishes her approach to Kant's philosophy of mathematics from that of previous commentators. She points out that most commentators assessed Kant's thoughts on mathematics in terms of the ‘supposedly devastating effects of the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry on his theory of space’.1 Bertrand Russell, for example, criticized Kant for his lack of a proper …. (shrink)
Let me begin by saying that I am extremely grateful to Sarah Mattice for organizing this symposium on my book, Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto, and to the three reviewers, each of whom read my work with great care and offered feedback that is extremely generous and insightful.1After providing a clear and sympathetic summary of my book, David Kim raises two questions. First, how should the study of what I have called the Less Commonly Taught Philosophies be incorporated into (...) the curriculum of philosophy departments?2 Kim suggests five degrees of incorporation, in order of increasing rigor: 1Make electives on the LCTP available to students in philosophy departments. 2Require for the major or... (shrink)
Modern medical technology has made it possible for babies to survive with conditions that would have ended their lives only half a century ago. But complex health care interventions and regimens are not enough. These children require support, caregiving, and constant vigilance from their families, especially their parents. Sometimes referred to as children with "special needs," their dependency and vulnerability may stem from genetic disorders, premature births, serious accidents, or illness. This includes conditions such as severe autism spectrum disorder, Down (...) syndrome, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18, Fragile X Syndrome, spina bifida, and brain damage... (shrink)