In this paper I want to propose that we see solipsism as arising from certain problems we have about identifying ourselves as subjects in an objective world. The discussion will centre on Wittgenstein’s treatment of solipsism in his Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus. In that work Wittgenstein can be seen to express an unusually profound understanding of the problems faced in trying to give an account of how we, who are subjects, identify ourselves as objects in the world. We have in his (...) compressed remarks, the kernels of a number of arguments which all come together to form what can be called the problem of self-identification. I want to argue that the solipsism of the Tractatus arises at least in part as a solution to, or – to put it less optimistically – as a symptom or articulation of this problem. In approaching Wittgenstein’s early discussion of solipsism in this way I will obviously be in disagreement with some other interpretations of the work. For example, there are those who think that there is no ‘solipsism of the Tractatus’.1 In fact, the Tractarian arguments presented below as motivating solipsism have been seen as fulfilling the quite opposite function of refuting it. I do not intend in this piece to engage with alternative interpretations. Let me say a little bit about why I have granted myself the licence not to do so. First, the focus of my concern with solipsism is on how it connects with what I have called the problem of self-identification. While it is a concern that emerged in an attempt to make sense of Wittgenstein’s remarks in. (shrink)
Lucy O'Brien argues that a satisfactory account of first-person reference and self-knowledge needs to concentrate on our nature as agents. Clearly written, with rigorous discussion of rival views, this book will be of interest to anyone working in the philosophy of mind and action.
_An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge_ guides the reader through the key issues and debates in contemporary epistemology. Lucid, comprehensive and accessible, it is an ideal textbook for students who are new to the subject and for university undergraduates. The book is divided into five parts. Part I discusses the concept of knowledge and distinguishes between different types of knowledge. Part II surveys the sources of knowledge, considering both _a priori_ and _a posteriori_ knowledge. Parts III and IV provide (...) an in-depth discussion of justification and scepticism. The final part of the book examines our alleged knowledge of the past, other minds, morality and God. O'Brien uses engaging examples throughout the book, taking many from literature and the cinema. He explains complex issues, such as those concerning the private language argument, non-conceptual content, and the new riddle of induction, in a clear and accessible way. This textbook is an invaluable guide to contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
O'Brien, Odhran There was a significant monetary cost associated with establishing Catholicism in colonial Western Australia. The bishops and clergy funded the development of the local Catholic Church through donations from European benefactors, offerings from the congregation, and sponsorship from the Colonial and British Governments. As donations from Europe were variable and the resident Catholic population were largely poor, the government grants were the most reliable income for the Diocese of Perth. The government issued grants to support the establishment (...) of congregations, schools, and social welfare institutions. The development of congregations in new settlements was the Catholic Church's core ministry and the government issued stipends to Catholic chaplains to administer spiritual care to settlers and convicts in particular districts. Government grants were based on the census results and the Catholic Church was required to establish local church congregations and recruit clergy, and demonstrate an ability to contribute towards the maintenance of both. From 1852 to 1886, Bishops Joseph Serra, Rosendo Salvado and Martin Griver took charge of establishing congregations, managing clergy and lobbying the governors and other civil officials to fund colonial chaplaincies. The government also expected that the chaplains would promote moral and social order among the ex-convicts transported from Britain. (shrink)
O'Brien, Roderick Among the treasures at the Congregational Archives of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in North Sydney is a booklet, a hymnal: a collection of hymns and sacred songs attributed to Fr Julian Tenison Woods.1 The purpose of this short article is to introduce one of those hymns, and provide some information about poetry and songs in Woods's life and mission. I am grateful to the archivist for making this booklet available. Introducing this particular (...) hymn, 'Longing to Go', also gives us some insight into Woods's spirituality regarding death and regarding mission. (shrink)
O'Brien, Odhran Review of: Aapologia pro Beata Maria Virgine: John Henry Newman's defence of the Virgin Mary in Catholic doctrine and piety, by Robert M. Andrews, Palo Alto, CA: Academica, 2017, pp. 164, hardback, US$76.95.
O'Brien, Roderick When we held the Woods Centenary Seminar in 1989, the local Naracoorte Herald gave us excellent publicity. I recall sitting with the editor, Richard Peake, as he was briefed by the great Sr Margaret Press, assisted by Fr Kevin Horsell, the parish priest of Bordertown who brought his scientific background, and by me. The editor asked the question: 'If Mary MacKillop is to be canonised, why not Woods?'.
In this innovative and cogent presentation of her concept of sustainable happiness, Catherine O’Brien outlines how the leading recommendations for transforming education can be integrated within a vision of _well-being for all_. Solution-focused, the book demonstrates how aspects of this vision are already being realized, and the potential for accelerating education transitions that enable people and ecosystems to flourish. Each chapter assists educators to understand how to apply the lessons learned, both personally and professionally. The aim is to support educators (...) to experience themselves as change-makers with growing confidence to implement new teaching strategies and inspire their students to become change-makers as well—engaged in deep learning that develops character, connections with life, and invigorating collaborations that revitalize the very purpose of education. (shrink)
Oaksford & Chater (O&C) have rejected logic in favor of probability theory for reasons that are irrelevant to mental-logic theory, because mental-logic theory differs from standard logic in significant ways. Similar to O&C, mental-logic theory rejects the use of the material conditional and deals with the completeness problem by limiting the scope of its procedures to local sets of propositions.
O'Regan & Noë (O&N) fail to address adequately the two most historically important reasons for seeking to explain visual experience in terms of internal representations. They are silent about the apparently inferential nature of perception, and mistaken about the significance of the phenomenology accompanying dreams, hallucinations, and mental imagery.
Most models of corporate social responsibility revolve around the controversy as to whether business is a single dimensional entity of profit maximization or a multi-dimensional entity serving greater societal interests. Furthermore, the models are mostly descriptive in nature and are based on the experiences of western countries. There has been little attempt to develop a model that accounts for corporate social responsibility in diverse environments with differing socio-cultural and market settings. In this paper an attempt has been made to fill (...) this gap by developing a two-dimensional model of corporate social responsibility and empirically testing its validity in the context of two dissimilar cultures – Australia and Bangladesh. The two dimensions are the span of corporate responsibility and the range of outcomes of social commitments of businesses. The test results confirm the validity of the two-dimensional model in the two environments. The Factor analysis revealed two leading dimensions. Cluster analysis pointed to two distinctive clusters of managers in both Australia and Bangladesh, one consisting of managers with a broad contemporary concept of social responsibility, and the other with a limited narrow view. The paper concludes that corporate social responsibility is two-dimensional and universal in nature and that differing cultural and market settings in which managers operate may have little impact on the ethical perceptions of corporate managers. (shrink)
Any creature that must move around in its environment to find nutrients and mates, in order to survive and reproduce, faces the problem of sensorimotor control. A solution to this problem requires an on-board control mechanism that can shape the creature’s behaviour so as to render it “appropriate” to the conditions that obtain. There are at least three ways in which such a control mechanism can work, and Nature has exploited them all. The first and most basic way is for (...) a creature to bump into the things in its environment, and then, depending on what has been encountered, seek to modify its behaviour accordingly. Such an approach is risky, however, since some things in the environment are distinctly unfriendly. A second and better way, therefore, is for a creature to exploit ambient forms of energy that carry information about the distal structure of the environment. This is an improvement on the first method since it enables the creature to respond to the surroundings without actually bumping into anything. Nonetheless, this second method also has its limitations, one of which is that the information conveyed by such ambient energy is often impoverished, ambiguous and intermittent. (shrink)
The twelve specially written essays in this volume investigate the neglected topic of mental action, and show its importance for the metaphysics, epistemology, and phenomenology of mind. The essays investigate what mental actions are, how we are aware of them, and what is the relationship between mental and physical action.
When cognitive scientists apply computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, as many of them have been doing recently, there are two fundamentally distinct approaches available. Either consciousness is to be explained in terms of the nature of the representational vehicles the brain deploys; or it is to be explained in terms of the computational processes defined over these vehicles. We call versions of these two approaches _vehicle_ and _process_ theories of consciousness, respectively. However, while there may be space (...) for vehicle theories of consciousness in cognitive science, they are relatively rare. This is because of the influence exerted, on the one hand, by a large body of research which purports to show that the explicit representation of information in the brain and conscious experience are _dissociable_, and on the other, by the _classical_ computational theory of mind – the theory that takes human cognition to be a species of symbol manipulation. But two recent developments in cognitive science combine to suggest that a reappraisal of this situation is in order. First, a number of theorists have recently been highly critical of the experimental methodologies employed in the dissociation studies – so critical, in fact, it’s no longer reasonable to assume that the dissociability of conscious experience and explicit representation has been adequately demonstrated. Second, classicism, as a theory of human cognition, is no longer as dominant in cognitive science as it once was. It now has a lively competitor in the form of _connectionism; _and connectionism, unlike classicism, does have the computational resources to support a robust vehicle theory of consciousness. In this paper we develop and defend this connectionist vehicle theory of consciousness. It takes the form of the following simple empirical hypothesis: _phenomenal experience consists in the explicit_ _representation of information in neurally realized PDP networks_.. (shrink)
John Rawls’s political liberalism and its ideal of public reason are tremendously influential in contemporary political philosophy and in constitutional law as well. Many, perhaps even most, liberals are Rawlsians of one stripe or another. This is problematic, because most liberals also support the redefinition of civil marriage to include same-sex unions, and as I show, Rawls’s political liberalism actually prohibits same- sex marriage. Recently in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, however, California’s northern federal district court reinterpreted the traditional rational basis review (...) in terms of liberal neutrality akin to Rawls’s “public reason,” and overturned Proposition 8 and established same-sex marriage. (This reinterpretation was amplified in the 9th Circuit Court’s decision upholding the district court on appeal in Perry v. Brown.) But on its own grounds Perry should have drawn the opposite conclusion. This is because all the available arguments for recognizing same-sex unions as civil marriages stem from controversial comprehensive doctrines about the good, and this violates the ideal of public reason; yet there remains a publicly reasonable argument for traditional marriage, which I sketch here. In the course of my argument I develop Rawls’s politically liberal account of the family by drawing upon work by J. David Velleman and H. L. A. Hart, and discuss the implications of this account for political theory and constitutional law. (shrink)
The author proposes an analysis of boredom. The analysis he proposes is that boredom is an unpleasant mental state consisting of weariness, restlessness, and lack of interest, where certain causal relations exist among the components. He goes on to elaborate on and defend his analysis, concluding with some thoughts on the idea that boredom has some grand metaphysical significance.
Reformers urge that representation no longer earns its explanatory keep in cognitive science, and that it is time to discard this troublesome concept. In contrast, we hold that without representation cognitive science is utterly bereft of tools for explaining natural intelligence. In order to defend the latter position, we focus on the explanatory role of representation in computation. We examine how the methods of digital and analog computation are used to model a relatively simple target system, and show that representation (...) plays an in-eliminable explanatory role in both cases. We conclude that, to the extent that biologic systems engage in computation, representation is destined to play an explanatory role in cognitive science. (shrink)
In this paper I am going to argue that we should take actions to be prime. This will involve clarifying what it means to claim that actions are prime. I will consider Williamson's construal of actions as prime in a way that parallels his treatment of knowledge. I will argue that we need to be careful about treating our actions in the way suggested because of an internal relation between the success condition of an action and the action itself; a (...) parallel relation does not hold for most cases of knowledge. (shrink)
It is an extraordinary thing that Descartes' famous Cogito argument is still being puzzled over; this paper is another fragment in an untiring tradition of puzzlement. The paper will argue that, if I were to ask the question the Cogito could provide for a positive answer. In particular, my aim in this is to argue, in opposition to recent discussion by John Campbell, that there is a way of construing conscious thinking on which the Cogito can be seen to provide (...) a non-question begging argument for one's own existence. (shrink)
Although connectionism is advocated by its proponents as an alternative to the classical computational theory of mind, doubts persist about its _computational_ credentials. Our aim is to dispel these doubts by explaining how connectionist networks compute. We first develop a generic account of computation—no easy task, because computation, like almost every other foundational concept in cognitive science, has resisted canonical definition. We opt for a characterisation that does justice to the explanatory role of computation in cognitive science. Next we examine (...) what might be regarded as the “conventional” account of connectionist computation. We show why this account is inadequate and hence fosters the suspicion that connectionist networks aren’t genuinely computational. Lastly, we turn to the principal task of the paper: the development of a more robust portrait of connectionist computation. The basis of this portrait is an explanation of the representational capacities of connection weights, supported by an analysis of the weight configurations of a series of simulated neural networks. (shrink)
This paper argues that a number of entrenched posthumanist positions are seriously flawed as a result of their dependence on a technical interpretive approach that creates more problems than it solves. During the course of our discussion we consider in particular the question of personhood. After all, until we can determine what it means to be a person we cannot really discuss what it means to improve a person. What kinds of enhancements would even constitute improvements? This in turn leads (...) to an examination of the technical model of analysis and the recurring tendency to approach notions like personhood using this technical model. In looking to sketch a Heideggerian account of personhood, we are reaffirming what we take to be a Platonic skepticism concerning technical models of inquiry when it comes to certain subjects. Finally we examine the question as to whether the posthumanist looks to apply technology’s benefits in ways that we have reflectively determined to be useful or desirable or whether it is technology itself (or to speak as Heidegger would – the “essence” of technology) which prompts many posthumanists to rely on an excessively reductionist view of the human being. (shrink)
My concern is this paper is to consider the nature of obsessive thoughts with the aim of getting a clearer idea about the extent to which they are rightly identified as passive or as active. The nature of obsessive thoughts is of independent interest, but my concern with the question is also rooted in a general concern to map the extent of mental activity, and to defend the importance and centrality of a view of self-knowledge that appeals to agency. I (...) hold that much of our mental lives is active, and that the distinctive knowledge we have of our own minds is in many cases best explained by appealing to agency. Along with many others, I take knowledge of our actions and activities to be distinctive. We know our actions and activities in a way that we do not know anything else, and in a way that is distinctively and essentially self-conscious. (shrink)
Book description: * Seventeen brand-new essays by leading philosophers and psychologists * Genuinely interdisciplinary work, at the forefront of both fields * Includes a valuable introduction, uniting common threads Leading philosophers and psychologists join forces to investigate a set of problems to do with agency and self-awareness, in seventeen specially written essays. In recent years there has been much psychological and neurological work purporting to show that consciousness and self-awareness play no role in causing actions, and indeed to demonstrate that (...) free will is an illusion. The essays in this volume subject the assumptions that motivate such claims to sustained interdisciplinary scrutiny. Patients with Anarchic Hand syndrome sometimes find their hands perform apparently goal-directed actions which the patients disown, yet seem to be unable to suppress (for example, reaching out for someone else's food in a restaurant). On the face of it, these patients lack the kind of control and self-awareness we ordinarily take ourselves to have when acting intentionally. Questions raised by this phenomenon include: What is involved in being aware of an action as one's own? What is the nature of the control these patients are lacking and which characterizes normal intentional actions? What is the relation between a priori explanations of consciousness and self-consciousness, on the one hand, and empirical work on the information-processing mechanisms involved in action control, on the other? Questions of action control and self-awareness tend to be treated separately in both philosophy and psychology. The central idea behind this volume is that outstanding unresolved issues on both topics, and in both disciplines, can only be resolved by an interdisciplinary examination of the relations between them. The editors' useful introductory essay offers a guide to cross-disciplinary reading of the contributions, and makes connections between them explicit. The book will be compulsory reading for psychologists and philosophers working on action explanation, and for anyone interested in the relation between the brain sciences and consciousness. (shrink)
It is commonplace for both philosophers and cognitive scientists to express their allegiance to the "unity of consciousness". This is the claim that a subjects phenomenal consciousness, at any one moment in time, is a single thing. This view has had a major influence on computational theories of consciousness. In particular, what we call single-track theories dominate the literature, theories which contend that our conscious experience is the result of a single consciousness-making process or mechanism in the brain. We argue (...) that the orthodox view is quite wrong: phenomenal experience is not a unity, in the sense of being a single thing at each instant. It is a multiplicity, an aggregate of phenomenal elements, each of which is the product of a distinct consciousness-making mechanism in the brain. Consequently, cognitive science is in need of a multi-track theory of consciousness; a computational model that acknowledges both the manifold nature of experience, and its distributed neural basis. (shrink)
If stem cell-based therapies are developed, we will likely confront a difficult problem of justice: for biological reasons alone, the new therapies might benefit only a limited range of patients. In fact, they might benefit primarily white Americans, thereby exacerbating long-standing differences in health and health care.
Joshua Knobe's work has marshaled considerable support for the hypothesis that everyday judgments of whether an action is intentional are systematically influenced by evaluations of the action or agent. The main source of evidence for this hypothesis is a series of surveys that involve an agent either helping or harming something as a side effect. Respondents are much more likely to judge the side effect intentional if harm is involved. It is a remarkable feature of the discussion so far that (...) it assumes without scrutiny that the substitution of one act-type for another could not, taken alone, explain the difference in responses that the two scenarios yield. This paper presents evidence, both experimental and conceptual, that it is precisely this difference that explains the asymmetry in responses. Briefly, agents who token the act-type help must fulfill certain psychological conditions that they don't have to fulfill if they are to token the act-type harm. Harming, unlike helping, does not require the ful.. (shrink)
Drawing on the problem of deviance, I present a novel line of argumentation against causal theories of action. The causalist faces a dilemma: either she adopts a simple account of the causal route between intention and outcome, at the cost of failing to rule out deviance cases, or she adopts a more sophisticated account, at the cost of ruling out cases of intentional action in which the causal route is merely unusual. Underlying this dilemma, I argue, is that the agent's (...) perspective plays an ineliminable role in determining which causal pathways are deviant and which are not. (shrink)