Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig present the definitive critical exposition of the philosophical system of Donald Davidson. Davidson 's ideas had a deep and broad influence in the central areas of philosophy; he presented them in brilliant essays over four decades, but never set out explicitly the overarching scheme in which they all have their place. Lepore's and Ludwig's book will therefore be the key work, besides Davidson 's own, for understanding one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth (...) century. (shrink)
By definition zombies would be physically and behaviourally just like us, but not conscious. This currently very influential idea is a threat to all forms of physicalism, and has led some philosophers to give up physicalism and become dualists. It has also beguiled many physicalists, who feel forced to defend increasingly convoluted explanations of why the conceivability of zombies is compatible with their impossibility. Robert Kirk argues that the zombie idea depends on an incoherent view of the nature of (...) phenomenal consciousness.His book has two main aims. One is to demolish the zombie idea once and for all. There are plenty of objections to it in the literature, but they lack intuitive appeal. He offers a striking new argument which reveals fundamental confusions in the implied conception of consciousness. His other main contribution is to develop a fresh and original approach to the true nature of phenomenal consciousness. Kirk argues that a necessary condition is a 'basic package' of capacities. An important component of his argument is that the necessary cognitive capacities are not as sophisticated as is often assumed. By focusing on humbler creatures than ourselves he avoids some of the distracting complications of our sophisticated forms of cognition.The basic package does not seem to be sufficient for phenomenal consciousness. What is also needed is 'direct activity' - a special feature of the way the events which constitute incoming perceptual information affect the system. This is an integrated process, to be conceived of holistically, and contrasts sharply with what is often called the 'availability' or 'poisedness' of perceptual information.This original, penetrating, and highly readable book will be of interest to all who have a serious concern with the nature of consciousness: not only professional philosophers and students, but also many psychologists and neuroscientists. (shrink)
Kirk’s aim in this book is to bridge what he calls “the intelligibility gap,” expressed in the question, “How could complex patterns of neural firing amount to this?”. He defends a position that he describes as “broadly functionalist,” which consists of several theses. I will briefly review them.
How are truths about physical and mental states related? Robert Kirk articulates and defends 'redescriptive physicalism'--a fresh approach to the connection between the physical and the mental, which answers the problems that mental causation has traditionally raised for other non-reductive views.
Our thoughts about the world are clearly influenced by such things as point of view, temperament, past experience and culture. However, some thinkers go much further and argue that everything that exists depends on us, arguing that 'even reality is relative'. Can we accept such a claim in the face of events such as floods and other natural disasters or events seemingly beyond our control? 'Realists' argue that reality is independent of out thinking. 'Relativists' disagree, arguing that what there is (...) depends on our point of view. Which is right? Robert Kirk provides a crystal clear account of this debate from the Greek philosophers to Wittgenstein and Rorty. Along the way, he unpacks some of the more complicated issues surrounding ideas of objectivity, subjectivity, pragmatism and realism essential for those beginning any study of philosphy. (shrink)
In the philosophy of mind, zombies often make an appearance. It seems we can conceive of zombies — beings physically exactly like ourselves but lacking conscious experience. There may not actually be any zombies, of course. But the suggestion that they could exist does at least seem to make sense. Or does it? Robert Kirk investigates.
Is truth ultimately made, not discovered? Is reality something we construct, by thinking about it? In this article, Robert Kirk gets to grips with the popular idea that truth and reality are, in the last analysis, our own invention.
This succinct but illuminating book defends the free market, while criticizing a narrowly economistic understanding of man and society. Baldacchino argues that a sound economy has ethical and cultural prerequisites that are integral to its survival. Includes an introduction by Russell Kirk. _From the Introduction: _ “Any society’s moral order develops from its religion, its philosophy, its humane literature. The discipline of political economy, little understood until the latter half of the eighteenth century, is no independent creation: what economic (...) views one holds must depend upon one’s apprehension of human nature. An economic system indifferent to morality will not long endure. For proof of these theses, read with attention Baldacchino’s succinct study, the work of a sound scholar endowed with a philosophical habit of mind.”–_Russell Kirk_. (shrink)
This work provides a text and an extended study of those fragments of Heraclitus' philosophical utterances whose subject is the world as a whole rather than man and his part in it. Professor Kirk discusses fully the fragments which he finds genuine and treats in passing others that were generally accepted as genuine but here considered paraphrased or spurious. In securing his text, Professor Kirk has taken into account all the ancient testimonies, and in his critical work he (...) attached particular importance to the context in which each fragment is set. To each he gives a selective apparatus, a literal translation and and an extended commentary in which problems of textual and philosophical criticism are discussed. Ancient accounts of Heraclitus were inadequate and misleading, and as Kirk wrote, understanding was often hindered by excessive dogmatism and a selective use of the fragments. Professor Kirk's method is critical and objective, and his 1954 work marks a significant advance in the study of Presocratic thought. (shrink)
Education, by B. H. Streeter.--Marriage, by K. E. Kirk.-- Patriotism, by J. P. R. Maud.--Social inequalities, by C. R. Morris.--Earning and spending, by R. L. Hall.--Gambling, by R. C. Mortimer.--Ethics and religion, by J. S. Bezzant.
Suppose P is the conjunction of all truths statable in the austere vocabulary of an ideal physics. Then phsicalists are likely to accept that any truths not included in P are different ways of talking about the reality specified by P. This ‘redescription thesis’ can be made clearer by means of the ‘strict implication thesis’, according to which inconsistency or incoherence are involved in denying the implication from P to interesting truths not included in it, such as truths about phenomenal (...) consciousness. Commitment to the strict implication thesis cannot be escaped by appeal to a posteriori necessary identities or entailments. A minimal physicalism formulated in terms of strict implication is preferable to one based on a priori entailment. (shrink)
It has been proposed that performance in the think – no think task represents a laboratory analogue of the voluntary form of memory repression. The central prediction of this repression hypothesis is that performance in the TNT task will be influenced by emotional characteristics of the material to be remembered. This prediction was tested in two experiments by asking participants to learn paired associates in which the first item was either emotionally positive or emotionally negative . The second word was (...) always emotionally neutral . Consistent with the repression hypothesis, significant memory suppression was observed in both experiments following ‘no think’ instructions for memories associated with emotionally negative material. No suppression was observed for memories associated with emotionally positive information. Implications of these findings for the relationship between performance in the TNT task and the controversial notion of memory repression are considered. (shrink)
In 1942 a coalition of twenty scientific societies formed the Conference on the Supply of Experimental Animals in an attempt to pressure the Medical Research Council to accept responsibility for the provision of standardised experimental animals in Britain. The practice of animal experimentation was subject to State regulation under the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876, but no provision existed for the provision of animals for experimental use. Consequently, day-to-day laboratory work was reliant on a commercial small animal market which (...) had emerged to sustain the hobby of animal fancying. This paper explores how difficulties encountered in experimental practice within the laboratory led to the problematisation of biomedical science’s reliance upon a commercial market for animals during the inter-war period. This is shown to have produced a crisis within animal reliant experimental science in the early 1940s which enabled the left-wing Association of Scientific Workers to cast science’s reliance on a free market as economically inefficient and a threat to the reliability of British research. It is argued that the development of standard experimental animals in Britain was, therefore, embedded within the wider cultural, societal, political and economic national context of the time. (shrink)
Philosophical zombies are exactly as physicalists suppose we are, right down to the tiniest details, but they have no conscious experiences. (It is presupposed that all explicable physical events are explicable physically.) Are such things even logically possible? My aim is to contribute to showing not only that the answer is 'No', but why. (I concede that systems superficially like human beings might exist and lack consciousness.) My strategy has two prongs: a fairly brisk argument which demolishes the zombie idea; (...) followed by an attempt to throw light on how something can qualify as a conscious perceiver. The argument to show that zombies are impossible exploits the point that in order to be able to detect our own 'qualia' we should have to be somehow sensitive to them; which the zombie idea rules out. The attempt to make clear why my zombie twin must be conscious exploits the idea that we have a reasonably clear grasp of a 'Basic Package' of psychological concepts. (shrink)
If zombies were conceivable in the sense relevant to the ‘conceivability argument’ against physicalism, a certain epiphenomenalistic conception of consciousness—the ‘e-qualia story’—would also be conceivable. But the e-qualia story is not conceivable because it involves a contradiction. The non-physical ‘e-qualia’ supposedly involved could not perform cognitive processing, which would therefore have to be performed by physical processes; and these could not put anyone into ‘epistemic contact’ with e-qualia, contrary to the e-qualia story. Interactionism does not enable zombists to escape these (...) conclusions. (shrink)
I have argued that a strong kind of physicalism based on the strict implication thesis can consistently reject both eliminativism and reductionism (in any nontrivial sense). This piece defends that position against objections from Andrew Melnyk, who claims that either my formulation doesn't entail physicalism, or it must be interpreted in such a way that the mental is after all reducible to the physical. His alternatives depend on two interesting assumptions. I argue that both are mistaken, thereby, making this kind (...) of nonreductive physicalism clearer and more clearly defensible. (shrink)
The repercussions of unconscious priming on the neural correlates subsequent cognition have been explored previously. However, the neural dynamics during the unconscious processing remains largely uncharted. To assess both the complexity and temporal dynamics of unconscious cognition the present study contrasts the evoked response from classes of masked stimuli with three different levels of complexity; words, consonant strings, and blanks. The evoked response to masked word stimuli differed from both consonant strings and blanks, which did not differ from each other. (...) This response was qualitatively different to any evoked potential observed when stimuli were consciously visible and peaked at 140 ms, earlier than is usually associated with differences between words and strings and 100 ms earlier than word-consonant string differences in the visible condition. The evoked response demonstrates a qualitatively distinct signature of unconscious cognition and directly demonstrates the extraction of abstract information under subliminal conditions. (shrink)
Kim maintains that a physicalist has only two genuine options, eliminativism and reductionism. But physicalists can reject both by using the Strict Implication thesis (SI). Discussing his arguments will help to show what useful work SI can do.(1) His discussion of anomalous monism depends on an unexamined assumption to the effect that SI is false.
Parental expectations have long been studied as a factor in increasing adolescent educational aspirations, often linking these expectations to parental level of education and involvement in academic endeavours. This study further explores this relationship in a statewide Midwestern sample of parents and their adolescent children. Regression analysis and independent samples t?tests were used to predict adolescent aspirations and compare groups. Results suggest that adolescent educational aspirations can to some degree be predicted by parental expectations. Parents reported high expectations for their (...) children despite low levels of personal educational attainment. However, these high expectations were buffered by a reported unfamiliarity with college requirements and an expressed concern about college affordability and limited awareness of financial aid opportunities. Limitations and suggestions for future research and intervention are discussed. (shrink)
A models-based approach has been advocated as a means of overcoming the serious limitations of the traditional approach to physical education. One of the difficulties with this approach is that physical educators have sought to use it to achieve diverse and sometimes competing educational benefits, and these wide-ranging aspirations are rarely if ever achieved. Models-based practice offers a possible resolution to these problems by limiting the range of learning outcomes, subject matter and teaching strategies appropriate to each pedagogical model and (...) thus the arguments that can be used for educational value. In this article, two examples are provided to support a case for educational value. This case is built on an examination of one established pedagogical model, Sport Education, which is informed by a perspective on ethics. Next, I consider Physical Literacy which, I suggest, is an existentialist philosophical perspective that could form the basis of a new pedagogical model. It is argued, in conclusion, that a models-based approach along with a reconstructed notion of educational value may offer a possible future for physical education that is well grounded in various philosophical arguments and the means to facilitate a wide range of diverse individual and social educational ?goods? (shrink)
Quine has attempted to support his indeterminacy thesis by invoking the assumption that two different physical theories could both be compatible with all possible data. His argument ought to work even if the translation of non-Theoretical sentences is determinate. But this enables us to see that the underdetermination of theory need not produce any indeterminacy in the translation of theory.