Abstract. Contrary to proposals that seek a harmonious integration of “science and religion” or “science and spirituality,” I argue that contemporary scientific and philosophical work at the mind-brain interface gives us reason to be skeptical of many of the claims found within religious spiritualities. Religious spiritualities typically presume commitment to strong versions of metaphysical dualism, while contemporary mind science gives us every reason to think that the mind is the brain. If materialism is true, what becomes of spirituality? Materialism or (...) naturalism is widely understood to be an anti-religious position with corrosive effects on morality. I correct this impression, arguing that materialism offers a compelling account of moral objectivity and is fully compatible with an appreciation for many aspects of religion. I further suggest that nothing precludes dialogue and conversation between naturalists and religious believers. (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)
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)
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)
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 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)