Probabilistic models have much to offer to philosophy. We continually receive information from a variety of sources: from our senses, from witnesses, from scientific instruments. When considering whether we should believe this information, we assess whether the sources are independent, how reliable they are, and how plausible and coherent the information is. Bovens and Hartmann provide a systematic Bayesian account of these features of reasoning. Simple Bayesian Networks allow us to model alternative assumptions about the nature of the information sources. (...) Measurement of the coherence of information is a controversial matter: arguably, the more coherent a set of information is, the more confident we may be that its content is true, other things being equal. The authors offer a new treatment of coherence which respects this claim and shows its relevance to scientific theory choice. Bovens and Hartmann apply this methodology to a wide range of much discussed issues regarding evidence, testimony, scientific theories, and voting. Bayesian Epistemology is an essential tool for anyone working on probabilistic methods in philosophy, and has broad implications for many other disciplines. (shrink)
Many people believe that we have responsibility towards the distant future, but exactly how far this responsibility reaches and how we can find a reasonable ethical foundation for it has not been answered in any definitive manner. Future people have no power over us, they form no part of our moral community and it is unclear how we can represent them in a possible original position. All these problems can be circumvented when you take an impersonal decision criterion like maximizing (...) total or average utility. Such a sum-ranking criterion is neutral with respect to distance in time or space: my utility, my neighbour's and that of our descendants all carry the same weight. This makes future people an integral part of present decisions. Time-neutrality was defended by, among others, Sidgwick, Pigou and Ramsey. (shrink)
A vital and underappreciated dimension of social interaction is the way individuals justify their actions to others, instinctively drawing on their experience to appeal to principles they hope will command respect. Individuals, however, often misread situations, and many disagreements can be explained by people appealing, knowingly and unknowingly, to different principles. On Justification is the first English translation of Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot's ambitious theoretical examination of these phenomena, a book that has already had a huge impact on French (...) sociology and is likely to have a similar influence in the English-speaking world. In this foundational work of post-Bourdieu sociology, the authors examine a wide range of situations where people justify their actions. The authors argue that justifications fall into six main logics exemplified by six authors: civic (Rousseau), market (Adam Smith), industrial (Saint-Simon), domestic (Bossuet), inspiration (Augustine), and fame (Hobbes). The authors show how these justifications conflict, as people compete to legitimize their views of a situation. On Justification is likely to spark important debates across the social sciences. (shrink)
There is a cognitive, an affective, a conative, and an attitudinal component to a genuine apology. In discussing these components, I address the following questions. Might apologies be due for non-culpable actions? Might apologies be due for choices in moral dilemmas? What is the link between sympathy, remorse and making amends? Is it meaningful for resilient akratics to apologize? How much moral renewal is required when one apologizes? Why should apologies be offered in a humble manner? And is there some (...) truth to P. G. Wodehouse's dictum that 'the right sort of people do not want apologies'? (shrink)
Using the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy as an anchoring point, Jacques Derrida in this book conducts a profound review of the philosophy of the sense of touch, from Plato and Aristotle to Jean-Luc Nancy, whose ground-breaking book Corpus he discusses in detail. Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Didier Franck, Martin Heidegger, Francoise Dastur, and Jean-Louis Chre;tien are discussed, as are Rene; Descartes, Diderot, Maine de Biran, Fe;lix Ravaisson, Immanuel Kant, Sigmund Freud, and others. The scope of Derrida’s deliberations makes (...) this book a virtual encyclopedia of the philosophy of touch (and the body). Derrida gives special consideration to the thinking of touch in Christianity and, in discussing Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay “Deconstruction of Christianity,” devotes a section of the book to the sense of touch in the Gospels. Another section concentrates on “the flesh,” as treated by Merleau-Ponty and others in his wake. Derrida’s critique of intuitionism, notably in the phenomenological tradition, is one of the guiding threads of the book. On Touching includes a wealth of notes that provide an extremely useful bibliographical resource. Personal and detached all at once, this book, one of the first published in English translation after Jacques Derrida’s death, serves as a useful and poignant retrospective on the work of the philosopher. A tribute by Jean-Luc Nancy, written a day after Jacques Derrida’s death, is an added feature. (shrink)
Distant Suffering examines the moral and political implications for a spectator of the distant suffering of others as presented through the media. What are the morally acceptable responses to the sight of suffering on television, for example, when the viewer cannot act directly to affect the circumstances in which the suffering takes place? Luc Boltanski argues that spectators can actively involve themselves and others by speaking about what they have seen and how they were affected by it. Developing ideas in (...) Adam Smith's moral theory, he examines three rhetorical 'topics' available for the expression of the spectator's response to suffering: the topics of denunciation and of sentiment and the aesthetic topic. The book concludes with a discussion of a 'crisis of pity' in relation to modern forms of humanitarianism. A possible way out of this crisis is suggested which involves an emphasis and focus on present suffering. (shrink)
This article proposes a number of models to examine through which mechanisms a population of autonomous agents could arrive at a repertoire of perceptually grounded categories that is sufficiently shared to allow successful communication. The models are inspired by the main approaches to human categorisation being discussed in the literature: nativism, empiricism, and culturalism. Colour is taken as a case study. Although we take no stance on which position is to be accepted as final truth with respect to human categorisation (...) and naming, we do point to theoretical constraints that make each position more or less likely and we make clear suggestions on what the best engineering solution would be. Specifically, we argue that the collective choice of a shared repertoire must integrate multiple constraints, including constraints coming from communication. Key Words: autonomous agents; colour categorisation; colour naming; connectionism; cultural evolution; genetic evolution; memes; origins of language; self-organisation; semiotic dynamics; symbol grounding. (shrink)
Taking his critique of totalitarianizing conceptions of community as a starting point, this text examines Jean-Luc Nancy's work of an ‘ontology of plural singular being’ for its political implications. It argues that while at first this ontology seems to advocate a negative or an anti-politics only, it can also be read as a ‘theory of communicative praxis’ that suggests a certain ethos – in the form of a certain use of symbols that would render the ontological plurality of singulars perceptible (...) and practically effective. Finally, some recent texts by Nancy even sidestep the ontology of being-with and face the question of what politics, faced with demands of justice, could be and what a democratic politics could provide. Both of these aspects in Nancy's work, however, still remain to be spelled out more politically. (shrink)
In “Judy Benjamin is a Sleeping Beauty” (2010) Bovens recognises a certain similarity between the Sleeping Beauty (SB) and the Judy Benjamin (JB). But he does not recognise the dissimilarity between underlying protocols (as spelled out in Shafer (1985). Protocols are expressed in conditional probability tables that spell out the probability of coming to learn various propositions conditional on the actual state of the world. The principle of total evidence requires that we not update on the content of the proposition (...) learned but rather on the fact that we learn the proposition in question. Now attention to protocols drives a wedge between the SB and the JB. We have shown that the solution to a close variant of the SB which involves a clear protocol is P*(Heads) = 1/3 and since Beauty’s has precisely the same information at her disposal in the original SB at the time that she is asked to state her credence for Heads, the same solution should hold. The solution to the JB, on the other hand, is dependent on Judy’s probability distribution over protocols. One reasonable protocol yields P(Red) = 1/2, but Judy could also defend alternative values or a range of values in the interval [1/3, 1/2] depending on her probability distribution over protocols. (shrink)
In their recently published book Nudge (2008) Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (T&S) defend a position labelled as ‘libertarian paternalism’. Their thinking appeals to both the right and the left of the political spectrum, as evidenced by the bedfellows they keep on either side of the Atlantic. In the US, they have advised Barack Obama, while, in the UK, they were welcomed with open arms by the David Cameron's camp (Chakrabortty 2008). I will consider the following questions. What (...) is Nudge? How is it different from social advertisement? Does Nudge induce genuine preference change? Does Nudge build moral character? Is there a moral difference between the use of Nudge as opposed to subliminal images to reach policy objectives? And what are the moral constraints on Nudge? (shrink)
In this article, we argue that it can be fruitful for philosophers interested in the nature and moral significance of racism to pay more attention to psychology. We do this by showing that psychology provides new arguments against Garcia's views about the nature and moral significance of racism. We contend that some scientific studies of racial cognition undermine Garcia's moral and psychological monism about racism: Garcia disregards (1) the rich affective texture of racism and (2) the diversity of what makes (...) racial ills morally wrong. Key Words: racism • emotions • implicit bias • psychology • racial ills • pluralism. (shrink)
One common way to conceive of political community and its relation to political judgment is to argue that my judgment reflects my community because I identify myself with it. This allows for a categorical distinction between the public (citizen) and the private (bourgeois) that in turn grounds civic virtue and common sense. Nancy, however, argues that this reifies community in ways that are continuous with totalitarianism, and that community is better understood in Heideggerian "ecstatic" terms. However, because Nancy does not (...) give as helpful an account of judgment his contribution to political theory reveals itself as a utopian picture of a world in which political judgment-and, hence, politics itself-is written off as a misreading of our ontological condition. (shrink)
In this interview 1, Jean-Luc Nancy retraces the origin, the affirmation and the trivialisation of deconstruction: from its point of departure in Heidegger's project of the destruction of the history of ontology, to its attachment to Derrida's philosophical style; from its quick dissemination in the American universities and its adoption as a method of textual critique, to its gradual banalisation in common discourse as a synonym of ‘demolition’. All this is discussed through the lens of Nancy's personal experience, with particular (...) attention to the historical background and some insights into the origins of the project of a deconstruction of Christianity, the relation between deconstruction and différance and the future role of deconstruction. (shrink)
Hope obeys Aristotle's doctrine of the mean: one should neither hope too much, nor too little. But what determines what constitutes too much and what constitutes too little for a particular person at a particular time? The sceptic presents an argument to the effect that it is never rational to hope. An attempt to answer the sceptic leads us in different directions. Decision-theoretic and preference-theoretic arguments support the instrumental value of hope. An investigation into the nature of hope permits us (...) to assess the intrinsic value of hope. However, it must be granted to the sceptic that there is a tension between hope and epistemic rationality. I conclude with some reflections about the relationship between hope and character features that are constitutive of inner strength. (shrink)
It is commonly recognized that Jean-Luc Nancy’s efforts to elaborate a conception of ‘the political’ are based upon Heidegger’s thinking of die Tecknik , even as they seek to overcome the difficulties that beset Heidegger’s own politics. But few have noted that Nancy also seeks to critically engage Carl Schmitt’s conception of das Politische , according to which there is a metaphysical and practical need for a sovereign decision on friends and enemies if effective political community and law are to (...) be possible. This article argues that recognizing that Nancy seeks to overcome Schmitt’s conception of the political throws into high relief his failure to address the actual subject matter of politics. In the end, Nancy remains too metaphysical to engage with the political. (shrink)
This paper addresses a problem for theories of epistemic democracy. In a decision on a complex issue which can be decomposed into several parts, a collective can use different voting procedures: Either its members vote on each sub-question and the answers that gain majority support are used as premises for the conclusion on the main issue, or the vote is conducted on the main issue itself. The two procedures can lead to different results. We investigate which of these procedures is (...) better as a truth-tracker, assuming that there exists a true answer to be reached. On the basis of the Condorcet jury theorem, we show that the pbp is universally superior if the objective is to reach truth for the right reasons. If one instead is after truth for whatever reasons, right or wrong, there will be cases in which the cbp is more reliable, even though, for the most part, the pbp still is to be preferred. (shrink)
The paper surveys the currently available axiomatizations of common belief (CB) and common knowledge (CK) by means of modal propositional logics. (Throughout, knowledge- whether individual or common- is defined as true belief.) Section 1 introduces the formal method of axiomatization followed by epistemic logicians, especially the syntax-semantics distinction, and the notion of a soundness and completeness theorem. Section 2 explains the syntactical concepts, while briefly discussing their motivations. Two standard semantic constructions, Kripke structures and neighbourhood structures, are introduced in Sections (...) 3 and 4, respectively. It is recalled that Aumann's partitional model of CK is a particular case of a definition in terms of Kripke structures. The paper also restates the well-known fact that Kripke structures can be regarded as particular cases of neighbourhood structures. Section 3 reviews the soundness and completeness theorems proved w.r.t. the former structures by Fagin, Halpern, Moses and Vardi, as well as related results by Lismont. Section 4 reviews the corresponding theorems derived w.r.t. the latter structures by Lismont and Mongin. A general conclusion of the paper is that the axiomatization of CB does not require as strong systems of individual belief as was originally thought- only monotonicity has thusfar proved indispensable. Section 5 explains another consequence of general relevance: despite the "infinitary" nature of CB, the axiom systems of this paper admit of effective decision procedures, i.e., they are decidable in the logician's sense. (shrink)
Philosophers have not been very preoccupied by the link between emotions and attention. The few that did (de Sousa, 1987) never really specified the relation between the two phenomena. Using empirical data from the study of the emotion of fear, we provide a description (and an explanation) of the links between emotion and attention. We also discuss the nature (empirical or conceptual) of these links.
" Heidegger and Modernity is an intervention in the Heidegger debate in France which many may see as decisive. Its central claim is that the responses of left Heideggerians to continuing disclosures regarding Heidegger's Nazi affiliations fail to come to terms with central ambiguities in his philosophical responses, both early and late, to modernity and technology. . . . Incisive and hard hitting, Luc Ferry and Alain Renault have condensed in a short and tightly organized book both a judicious and (...) well-informed account of the Heidegger question and an implicit defence of humanism which has a strong political resonance."--Liam O'Sullivan, Political Studies. (shrink)
A coherent story is a story that fits together well. This notion plays a central role in the coherence theory of justification and has been proposed as a criterion for scientific theory choice. Many attempts have been made to give a probabilistic account of this notion. A proper account of coherence must not start from some partial intuitions, but should pay attention to the role that this notion is supposed to play within a particular context. Coherence is a property of (...) an information set that boosts our confidence that its content is true ceteris paribus when we receive information from independent and partially reliable sources. We construct a measure cr that relies on hypothetical sources with certain idealized characteristics. A maximally coherent information set, i.e. a set with equivalent propositions, affords a maximal confidence boost. cr is the ratio of the actual confidence boost over the confidence boost that we would have received, had the information been presented in the form of maximally coherent information, ceteris paribus. This measure is functionally dependent on the degree of reliability r of the sources. We use cr to construct a coherence quasi-ordering over information sets S and S’: S is no less coherent than S’ just in case c_r is not smaller than c_r for any value of the reliability parameter. We show that, on our account, the coherence of the story about the world gives us a reason to believe that the story is true and that the coherence of a scientific theory, construed as a set of models, is a proper criterion for theory choice. (shrink)
The coherentist theory of justification provides a response to the sceptical challenge: even though the independent processes by which we gather information about the world may be of dubious quality, the internal coherence of the information provides the justification for our empirical beliefs. This central canon of the coherence theory of justification is tested within the framework of Bayesian networks, which is a theory of probabilistic reasoning in artificial intelligence. We interpret the independence of the information gathering processes (IGPs) in (...) terms of conditional independences, construct a minimal sufficient condition for a coherence ranking of information sets and assess whether the confidence boost that results from receiving information through independent IGPs is indeed a positive function of the coherence of the information set. There are multiple interpretations of what constitute IGPs of dubious quality. Do we know our IGPs to be no better than randomization processes? Or, do we know them to be better than randomization processes but not quite fully reliable, and if so, what is the nature of this lack of full reliability? Or, do we not know whether they are fully reliable or not? Within the latter interpretation, does learning something about the quality of some IGPs teach us anything about the quality of the other IGPs? The Bayesian-network models demonstrate that the success of the coherentist canon is contingent on what interpretation one endorses of the claim that our IGPs are of dubious quality. (shrink)
Jean-Luc Nancy is one of the leading contemporary thinkers in France today. Through an inventive reappropriation of the major figures in the continental tradition, Nancy has developed an original ontology that impacts the way we think about religion, politics, community, embodiment, and art. Drawing from a wide range of his writing, Marie-Eve Morin provides the first comprehensive and systematic account of Nancy’s thinking, all the way up to his most recent work on the deconstruction of Christianity. Without losing sight of (...) the heterogeneity of Nancy’s work, Morin presents a concise articulation of the organizing concepts, which structure Nancy’s body of work. The guiding thread is that of an essential rift at the heart of any “self” by which this self is exposed and relates to itself and other selves. Nancy’s ontology undercuts dichotomies between individual and community, interior and exterior, matter and spirit, thing and thought, not in the name of mere deconstruction, but in seeking to open a thinking of the “limit” or the “edge” as the locus of sense. While Nancy’s work has often been presented in relation to Heidegger or Derrida, Morin demonstrates the originality of Nancy’s work and argues that, despite the variety of its preoccupations and topics, it possesses its own rigorous internal logic. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of philosophy and related fields who seek a systematic and critical understanding of one of the most original contemporary thinkers. (shrink)
Constructionism can take several forms: one can refer to biological, psychological, or social constructionism. What I want to argue in this article is that if one carefully teases out varied forms of constructionism, the frontiers between some of them will begin to blur.
The word myth is commonly thought to mean a fictional story, but few know that Plato was the first to use the term muthos in that sense. He also used muthos to describe the practice of making and telling stories, the oral transmission of all that a community keeps in its collective memory. In the first part of Plato the Myth Maker , Luc Brisson reconstructs Plato's multifaceted description of muthos in light of the latter's Atlantis story. The second part (...) of the book contrasts this sense of myth with another form of speech that Plato believed was far superior: the logos of philosophy. Gerard Naddaf's substantial introduction shows the originality and importance both of Brisson's method and of Plato's analysis and places it in the context of contemporary debates over the origin and evolution of the oral tradition. "[Brisson] contrasts muthos with the logos found at the heart of the philosophical reading. [He] does an excellent job of analyzing Plato's use of the two speech forms, and the translator's introduction does considerable service in setting the tone."-- Library Journal. (shrink)
As the need for more diversity in business ethics is becoming more pressing in our global world, we provide an historical study of a Fair Trade (FT) movement, born in rural Mexico. We first focus on the basic assumptions of its founders, which include a worker–priest, Frans van der Hoff, a group of native Indians and local farmers who formed a cooperative, and an NGO, Max Havelaar. We then review both the originalities and challenges of the FT movement and its (...) potential contributions to the current theories and practices in business ethics. (shrink)
In response to Germain argument that evolution by natural selection has a limited explanatory power in cancer, Lean and Plutynski have recently argued that many adaptations in cancer only make sense at the tumor level, and that cancer progression mirrors the major evolutionary transitions. While we agree that selection could potentially act at various levels of organization in cancers, we argue that tumor-level selection is unlikely to actually play a relevant role in our understanding of the somatic evolution of human (...) cancers. (shrink)
We address the question of how finitely additive moral value theories (such as utilitarianism) should rank worlds when there are an infinite number of locations of value (people, times, etc.). In the finite case, finitely additive theories satisfy both Weak Pareto and a strong anonymity condition. In the infinite case, however, these two conditions are incompatible, and thus a question arises as to which of these two conditions should be rejected. In a recent contribution, Hamkins and Montero (2000) have argued (...) in favor of an anonymity-like isomorphism principle and against Weak Pareto. After casting doubt on their criticism of Weak Pareto, we show how it, in combination with certain other plausible principles, generates a plausible and fairly strong principle for the infinite case. We further show that where locations are the same in all worlds, but have no natural order, this principle turns out to be equivalent to a strengthening of a principle defended by Vallentyne and Kagan (1997), and also to a weakened version of the catching-up criterion developed by Atsumi (1965) and by von Weizsäcker (1965). Footnotes1 For valuable comments, we would like to thank Marc Fleurbaey, Bart Capéau, Joel Hamkins, Barbara Montero, Tim Mulgan, and two anonymous referees for this journal. (shrink)
The problem of Common Knowledge will be considered in two classes of models: a class K.* of Kripke models and a class S of Scott models. Two modal logic systems will be defined. Those systems, KC and MC, include an axiomatisation of Common Knowledge. We prove determination of each system by the corresponding class of models. MSC: 03B45, 68T25.
Considerations regarding predication in ordinary language as well as the ontology of relations suggest a refinement of the Ontological Square, a conceptual scheme used in many foundational ontologies and which consists of particular substrates as well as their types on the one hand and particular attributes as well as their types on the other hand. First, the distinction between particulars and universals turns out to be one of degree, since particulars are merely the least elements in the subsumption hierarchy. Second, (...) relations may be analysed in terms of roles as ways of participating in events. In consequence, the Logic of the Ontological Square proposed in (Schneider 2009) has to be revised accordingly. (shrink)
How much can we shape the emotions we experience? Or to put it another way, how plastic are our emotions? It is clear that the exercise of identifying the degree of plasticity of emotion is futile without a prior specification of what can be plastic, so we first propose an analysis of the components of emotions. We will then turn to empirical data that might be used to assess the degree of plasticity of emotions.