_BMC Medical Ethics_ is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in relation to the ethical aspects of biomedical research and clinical practice, including professional choices and conduct, medical technologies, healthcare systems and health policies. _BMC __Medical Ethics _is part of the _BMC_ series which publishes subject-specific journals focused on the needs of individual research communities across all areas of biology and medicine. We do not make editorial decisions on the basis of the interest of a study or (...) its likely impact. Studies must be scientifically valid; for research articles this includes a scientifically sound research question, the use of suitable methods and analysis, and following community-agreed standards relevant to the research field. Specific criteria for other article types can be found in the submission guidelines. _BMC series - open, inclusive and trusted_. (shrink)
The stance espoused in the target article confounds cultural symbolic achievements with individual cognitive competences. With no explicit role for learning, the core rationale for claiming a major functional discontinuity between humans and other species rests on a hybrid formal model LISA (Learning and Inference with Schemas and Analogies) now overtaken by new models of cognitive growth and new empirical studies within an embodied systems stance.
This book is a rich blend of analyses by leading experts from various cultures and disciplines. A compact introduction to a complex field, it illustrates biotechnology's profound impact upon the environment and society. Moreover, it underscores the vital relevance of cultural values. This book empowers readers to more critically assess biotechnology's value and effectiveness within both specific cultural and global contexts.
We argue that Halford et al.'s characterisation of relational complexity offers an unadaptive principle in terms of cognitive economy, that its relation with the empirical evidence is highly selective, and that the task behaviours used in support of a multivector processing space are better described by linear serial processes which do not require n-dimensional mappings for their emergence.
Between 1653 and 1655 Margaret Cavendish makes a radical transition in her theory of matter, rejecting her earlier atomism in favour of an infinitely-extended and infinitely-divisible material plenum, with matter being ubiquitously self-moving, sensing, and rational. It is unclear, however, if Cavendish can actually dispense of atomism. One of her arguments against atomism, for example, depends upon the created world being harmonious and orderly, a premise Cavendish herself repeatedly undermines by noting nature’s many disorders. I argue that her supposed (...) difficulties with atomism expose a deeper tension in her work between two fundamental metaphysical commitments each of which has substantial philosophical support: her monist theory of the material world (which maintains that there exists just one natural substance which is the single principal cause) and her occasional theory of causation (which requires multiple finite principal causes in nature -- causes that might be considered individual substances). Her monism undermines atomism while her theory of occasional cause seems to rest on a conception of nature that would be especially friendly to atomism. I argue further that we can solve this tension within a Cavendishian framework in such a way as to preserve her theory of causation and her monism, but that this solution depends upon our taking her monism in a particular (and weak) form. I finally note that we can best make sense of her unique and interesting form of monism by acknowledging her social-political motivations in addition to her motivations in natural philosophy. (shrink)
Consider the distinctive qualitative property grass visually appears to have when it visually appears to be green. This property is an example of what I call sensuous color. Whereas early modern mechanists typically argue that bodies are not sensuously colored, Margaret Cavendish disagrees. In cases of veridical perception, she holds that grass is green in precisely the way it visually appears to be. In defense of her realist approach to sensuous colors, Cavendish argues that it is impossible to conceive (...) of colorless bodies, the very possibility of color experience requires that bodies are sensuously colored, and the attribution of sensuous colors to bodies provides the best explanation of color constancy. Although some passages might suggest that Cavendish endorses a reductive account of sensuous color, according to which sensuous color reduces to a body's microscopic surface texture, I argue that she accepts a nonreductive account, on which sensuous color is not thus reducible. (shrink)
In “The Meta-Problem of Consciousness”, David Chalmers briefly raises a problem about how the connection between consciousness and our verbal and other behavior appears “lucky”. I raise a counterexample to Chalmers’s formulation of the problem. Then I develop an alternative formulation. Finally, I consider some responses, including illusionism about consciousness.
In The Conscious Mind, D. Chalmers appeals to his semantic framework in order to show that conceivability, as employed in his "zombie" argument for dualism , is sufficient for genuine possibility. I criticize this attempt.
It has often been noted that Margaret Cavendish discusses God in her writings on natural philosophy far more than one might think she ought to given her explicit claim that a study of God belongs to theology which is to be kept strictly separate from studies in natural philosophy. In this article, I examine one way in which God enters substantially into her natural philosophy, namely the role he plays in her particular version of teleology. I conclude that, while (...) Cavendish has some resources with which to partially alleviate this tension, she is nonetheless left with a significant difficulty. (shrink)
We seem to enjoy a very special kind of epistemic relation to our own conscious states. In The Conscious Mind, David Chalmers argues that our phenomenal judgments are fully-justified or certain because we are acquainted with the phenomenal states that are the objects of such judgments. Chalmers holds that the acquaintance account of phenomenal justification is superior to reliabilist accounts of how it is that our PJs are justified, because it alone can underwrite the certainty of our phenomenal (...) judgments. I argue that Chalmers is unable to sustain this claim. (shrink)
One does not have to agree with the main conclusions of David Chalmers’s book in order to find it stimulating, instructive, and frequently brilliant. If Chalmers’s arguments succeed, his achievement will of course be enormous; he will have overthrown the materialist orthodoxy that has reigned in philosophy of mind and cognitive science for the last half century. If, as I think, they fail, his achievement is nevertheless considerable. For his arguments draw on, and give forceful and eloquent expression (...) to, widely held intuitions; seeing how they go astray, if they do, cannot help but deepen our understanding of the issues he is addressing. (shrink)
In “Qualia in a Contemporary Neurobiological Perspective”, Korf tackles the perennial issue of qualia in the philosophy of mind. His discussion is partly a response to Chalmers’ hard problem, which, as evidenced by other recent discussions in Dialogues, remains fresh after nearly two decades. Korf highlights the importance of regarding each brain as a particular shaped by unique contingencies and suggests how neurobiological research might proceed in light of this. However, I argue that his discussion does not address what (...) is at the core of Chalmers’ hard problem, and so fails to bridge the gap between neurobiological processes and qualia. (shrink)
It has become popular to distinguish between phenomenal and non-phenomenal kinds of mentality and consciousness, for example, phenomenal and functional kinds of consciousness, or qualia and cognition. As Chalmers has so famously suggested, explaining mental phenomena like functionally “conscious” states constitutes some of the “easy problems” in philosophy of mind; explaining phenomenal consciousness, on the other hand, is the “hard problem.” One difficulty with this distinction is that it leaves open the nomological possibility of systems (“phenomenal zombies”) which are (...) conscious in the functional sense but which have no experiential, subjective life. Chalmers=s response to this challenge is to argue that qualia naturally supervene on functional organization. In defense of this thesis, Chalmers introduces two closely related thought experiments: fading qualia and dancing qualia. In this paper, I challenge the arguments he develops out of these thought experiments. I argue that they are unconvincing - indeed, question begging - and ultimately based on an assumption which suggests that his view of cognition, and the hard/easy problem distinction more generally, is overly simplistic and misleading. (shrink)
In Epistemic Two-Dimensional Semantics, David Chalmers seeks to develop a version of 2-D semantics which can vindicate the rationalist claim that there are constitutive connections between meaning, possibility and a priority. Chalmers lays out different ways of filling in his preferred epistemic approach to 2-D semantics so as to avoid controversial philosophical assumptions. In these comments, however, I argue that there are some distinctively rationalist commitments in Chalmers's epistemic approach to 2-D semantics. I start by explaining why (...)Chalmers's approach requires a canonical language that affords subjects accurate a priori access to the space of possibility. I then argue that traditional worries about rationalism will simply re-emerge as worries about whether there can be a canonical vocabulary and how we could come to recognize one if there were. The moral is that Chalmers's 2-D semantic framework builds in substantive metaphysical and epistemological commitments which stand in need of further defense. (shrink)
David Chalmers has proposed several principles in his attack on the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. One of these is the principle of organizational invariance , which he asserts is significantly supported by two thought experiments involving human brains and their functional silicon-based isomorphs. I claim that while the principle is an intelligible hypothesis and could possibly be true, his thought experiments fail to provide support for it.
Chalmers has provided a dilemmatic master argument against all forms of the phenomenal concept strategy. This paper explores a position that evades Chalmers's argument, dubbed Type Bb: it is for Type B physicalists who embrace horn b of Chalmers's dilemma. The discussion concludes that Chalmers fails to show any incoherence in the position of a Type B physicalist who depends on the phenomenal concept strategy.
David Chalmers' dancing qualia argument is intended to show that phenomenal experiences, or qualia, are organizational invariants. The dancing qualia argument is a reductio ad absurdum, attempting to demonstrate that holding an alternative position, such as the famous inverted spectrum argument, leads one to an implausible position about the relation between consciousness and cognition. In this paper, we argue that Chalmers' dancing qualia argument fails to establish the plausibility of qualia being organizational invariants. Even stronger, we will argue (...) that the gap in the argument cannot be closed. (shrink)
According to David Chalmers, the hard problem of consciousness consists of explaining how and why qualitative experience arises from physical states. Moreover, Chalmers argues that materialist and reductive explanations of mentality are incapable of addressing the hard problem. In this chapter, I suggest that Chalmers’ hard problem can be usefully distinguished into a ‘how question’ and ‘why question,’ and I argue that evolutionary biology has the resources to address the question of why qualitative experience arises from brain (...) states. From this perspective, I discuss the different kinds of evolutionary explanations (e.g., adaptationist, exaptationist, spandrel) that can explain the origins of the qualitative aspects of various conscious states. This argument is intended to clarify which parts of Chalmers’ hard problem are amenable to scientific analysis. (shrink)
Before her death in 1673, Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, expressed a wish that her philosophical work would experience a ‘glorious resurrection’ in future ages. During her lifetime, and for almost three centuries afterwards, her writings were destined to ‘lye still in the soft and easie Bed of Oblivion’. But more recently, Cavendish has received a measure of the fame she so desired. She is celebrated by feminists, literary theorists, and historians. There are regular conferences organised by the (...) International Margaret Cavendish Society, and there have been several biographies, as well as essay collections, journal issues, scholarly editions, and anthologies devoted to her work. In terms of studies in the history and philosophy of science, however, Cavendish has yet to achieve her resurrection in full. While there have been journal articles and book chapters, and a 2001 edition of her Observations, there have been (until now) no book-length studies of her philosophy, and there is currently no modern edition of her other major work, the Philosophical Letters. This essay-length review of Lisa Sarasohn’s The Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish highlights why Cavendish should still hold interest for philosophers today. (shrink)
Review of: Margaret A. Boden, Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, xlvii+1631, cloth $225, ISBN 0-19-924144-9. - Mind as Machine is Margaret Boden’s opus magnum. For one thing, it comes in two massive volumes of nearly 1700 pages, ... But it is not just the opus magnum in simple terms of size, but also a truly crowning achievement of half a century’s career in cognitive science.
Chalmers argues that zombies are possible and that therefore consciousness does not supervene on physical facts, which shows the falsity of materialism. The crucial step in this argument – that zombies are possible – follows from their conceivability and hence depends on assuming that conceivability implies possibility. But while Chalmers’s defense of this assumption – call it the conceivability principle – is the key part of his argument, it has not been well understood. As I see it, (...) class='Hi'>Chalmers’s defense of the conceivability principle comes in his response to the so-called objection from a posteriori necessity. The defense aims at showing that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility since no such gap can be generated by necessary a posteriori truths. I will argue that while Chalmers is right to the extent that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility within the standard Kripkean model of a posteriori necessity, his general conclusion is not justified. This is because the conceivability principle might be inconsistent with a posteriori necessity understood in some non-Kripkean way and Chalmers has not shown that no such alternative understanding of a posteriori necessity is available. (shrink)
David Chalmers burst onto the philosophical scene in the mid-1990s with his work on consciousness, which awakened slumbering zombie arguments against physicalism and transformed the explanatory gap into the hard problem of consciousness. The distinction between hard and easy problems of consciousness became a central dogma of the movement. Chalmers’ influence in philosophy and consciousness studies is unquestionable. But enthusiasts of Chalmers’ work on consciousness may be excused for not fully appreciating his own justification for drawing the (...) hard/easy distinction, or even exactly which distinction he is drawing. Consequently, it is not clear that the ‘Chalmers’ hard problem’ that has been widely influential is Chalmers’ ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. Chalmers’ ‘hard problem’ rests on, among other things: a methodological view about how philosophy—metaphysics, especially—ought to be conducted; a view about the requirements for explanation and reduction in philosophy and in the sciences; and a theory of the semantics of concepts.1 Although Chalmers writes that the present book is not intended as a foundation for his. (shrink)
In _The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory_, David Chalmers poses an interesting and powerful challenge to materialism or physicalism. Further, he goes a long way towards providing a proof by example that the rejection of materialism need not commit one to scientifically suspicious “ghost in the machine” doctrines, but can be wedded to a generally naturalistic perspective. As an (as yet) unpersuaded physicalist and functionalist, his case against physicalism seems an appropriate target for criticism. However, it (...) would be beyond the scope of the present paper—or anything of similar length—to attempt a full-scale reply. A full-scale reply could be executed in brief compass only if Chalmers were guilty of (and rested his case entirely upon) some relatively simple mistake. But he does not. If he is mistaken, the mistakes are more subtle and difficult to bring to light. Instead, I shall outline the essentials of his case against materialism, attempt to point to one problem that appears to infect his views and argue that, if his position is to be acceptable, he needs to deal with it more adequately than he has so far. (shrink)
This paper aims to show that David Chalmers' conceivability argument against physicalism, as presented in his 1996 book, The Conscious Mind, is inconclusive. The key point is that, while the argument seems to assume that someone competent with a given concept thereby has access to the primary intension of the concept, there are physicalist-friendly views of conceptual competence which imply that this assumption is not true.
Chalmers e Dennett se encontram em lados opostos da discussão do problema da consciência. Para Chalmers, ela é um dado indubitável que não pode ser explicada em termos de outra coisa. Para Dennett, o que existe verdadeiramente são múltiplos julgamentos sobre nossa consciência. Cada um acusa o outro de circularidade. Isto só é possível porque a diferença entre estas duas teorias é verdadeiramente uma diferença de princípios. A mesma oposição que encontramos no aparato teórico encontramos também em suas (...) pressuposições mais básicas e fundamentais. Este fato torna extremamente difícil escolher entre as duas ao mesmo tempo em que radicaliza a diferença entre elas. De um lado temos que argumentos podem refutar intuições, de outro temos que é preciso primeiro sondar nossas intuições para depois criar argumentos a partir delas. Entre um extremo e outro nos encontramos com o velho dilema de “o que vem primeiro?”. No entanto, mais importante do que escolher lados é mostrar o quanto é difícil escolher. (shrink)
This article sketches some of the main ideas that informed the work of the post-colonial Indian philosopher Margaret Chatterjee. A philosopher of language and religion, her work straddles the “frozen” traditions of the east and the west, and astutely philosophizes about Gandhian thought in the realm of religious alterity and coevality.
Throughout the 1980s Margaret Thatcher dominated British and global politics. At the same time she maintained an active Christian faith, which she understood as shaping and informing her political choices and policies. In this article I argue that we can construct from Thatcher's key speeches, her memoirs, and her book on public policy a cultural "theo-political" identity which guided her political decisions. Thatcher's identity was as an Anglo-Saxon Nonconformist. This consisted of her belief in values such as thrift and (...) hard work, care for the family and local neighbor, and charitable generosity; her belief in the renewal of the national British Christian spirit; and her notion of morality as the opportunity for free choice. Without a recognition of the centrality of her theo-political identity, it is difficult to understand the values and beliefs which were central to her political life. The methodological issues raised by the construction of this theo-political identity are examined in this article. The aim of the proposed methodology is to develop theological insights into a political phenomenon like Thatcher rather than make policy judgments or recommendations. (shrink)
In her 1983 work How the Laws of Phyiscs Lie  Nancy Cartwright argued for antirealism about fundamental laws alongside realism about phenomenological laws. Her position was considerably altered by 1989 when, in Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement , she argued for a realist construal of capacities (close relations of Powers, natures, tendencies, propensities and disptısitions), which she took fundamental laws to be about. Most realists about capaeities, and their ilk, are realist about fundamental laws as well. However this is (...) not true of Cartwright. In  she emphatically reaffirmed her antirealism about fundamental laws, stating that 'fundamental laws are not true, nor nearly true, nor true for the most part' [2, p.175]. In 'So the Laws of Physics Needn't Lie'  Chalmers argues that Cartwright's advocacy of realism about Nature's capacities in  undermines her antirealism about fundamental laws. He accuses Cartwright of apparent contradictions in her position as articulated in . Given Chalmers' reading of Cartwright, an appearance of contradiction does seem to arise. Against Chalmers, I advocate an alternative reading of Cartwright, which is much more charitable to her. This alternative reading of Cartwright has the advantage of avoiding the charge of contradiction. Indeed, if this reading is accepted, the appearance of contradiction, that Chalmers taxeses Cartwright with, does not even arise. A further virtue of this reading of Cartwright is that it is consistent with Cartwright's more recent writing, as I will show. (shrink)
This essay examines Meera Margaret Singh’s exhibition Nightingale in the time and place of the liminal space we call “hotel.” In intertexual dialogue with Wayne Koestenbaum’s Hotel Theory, the author not only reviews Singh’s intimate photographs of her mother, she reads the images with and against the architecture in which they are exhibited. The Gladstone as exhibition space redoubles Singh’s emphasis on the tense connectivity of apparent binaries: youth and age, public and private, artist and model, object and spectator, (...) living and dying. The quotidian activities of hotel living—guests’ arrivals, departures, and returns—become inextricable pieces of Singh’s site-specific installation. The author theorizes what Freud calls the “foretaste of mourning” in this work, grappling with what will be but is not yet the death of the mother. Singh’s Nightingale proposes that we do not “work through” mourning: mourning is a perpetual way of being in the present. (shrink)
In The City of Ladies and Bell in Campo, Christine de Pizan and Margaret Cavendish imagine women’s participation to war as a metaphor of the sexual conflict that they must fight in order to conquer their visibility in history. While Pizan rewrites history from women’s stand point and acknowledges the universal value of sexual difference for the plan of salvation, Cavendish moves within a modern frame and thinks history as the result of human action. In both cases, the tale (...) of women’s participation to war allows criticizing the moral and normative implications of «nature». (shrink)
Like Berkeley’s Three Dialogues, David Chalmers’ now celebrated book makes for a good read as it leads us down the garden path. It is written with a like enthusiasm, and for the most part in a clear and forthright style. The author is not afraid of candidly drawing the consequences of his contentions. He takes consciousness seriously, according to his lights. And one must admire his insouciance in printing the Calvin & Hobbes cartoon strip that pulls the rug out (...) from under him. (shrink)
On the strength of her 1666 pamphlet, Womens Speaking Justified, the Quaker writer Margaret Fell has been hailed as a feminist pioneer. In this short tract, Fell puts forward several arguments in favour of women's preaching. She asserts the spiritual equality of the sexes, she appeals to female exempla in the Bible, and she reinterprets key scriptural passages that appear to endorse women's subordination to men. Some scholars, however, have questioned Fell's status as a feminist thinker. They point to (...) the fact that, according to Fell and her fellow Quakers, women are permitted to speak in church—but only in so far as they are vessels or mouthpieces for Christ. In every other respect, it is argued, the early Quakers continue to either ignore, denigrate, or efface the female sex. Other critics point out that the Quakers' gender egalitarian principles operate in a rather limited sphere of activity—that of religious worship alone—and do not extend to the socio-political domain. Notwithstanding such criticisms, Fell's defence of women's preaching was undoubtedly influential in her time and may have inspired women writers beyond her religious circle. Foxton (1994) claims that Quaker women's writings more generally set an important precedent for women's publishing activities in the seventeenth century, on both religious and non-religious topics. -/- This entry covers Fell's life and works, and considers her ideas and arguments in the context of Quaker thought and practice, Quaker feminist thought, criticisms of Quaker defences of women, and Fell's place in the history of feminism. (shrink)
This paper provides a systematic reconstruction of Cavendish's general epistemology and a characterization of the fundamental role of that theory in her natural philosophy. After reviewing the outlines of her natural philosophy, I describe her treatment of 'exterior knowledge', i.e. of perception in general and of sense perception in particular. I then describe her treatment of 'interior knowledge', i.e. of self-knowledge and 'conception'. I conclude by drawing out some implications of this reconstruction for our developing understanding of Cavendish's natural philosophy.
The textbook presentation of quantum mechanics, in a nutshell, is this. The physical state of any isolated system evolves deterministically in accordance with Schrödinger's equation until a "measurement" of some physical magnitude M (e.g. position, energy, spin) is made. Restricting attention to the case where the values of M are discrete, the system's pre-measurement state-vector f is a linear combination, or "superposition", of vectors f1, f2,... that individually represent states that..
We often decide whether a state of affairs is possible by trying to mentally depict a scenario where the state in question obtains . These mental acts seem to provide us with an epistemic route to the space of possibilities. The problem this raises is whether conceivability judgments provide justification-conferring grounds for the ensuing possibility-claims . Although the question has a long history, contemporary interest in it was, to a large extent, prompted by Kripke's utilization of modal intuitions in the (...) course of propounding certain influential theses in the philosophy of language and mind. The interest has been given a further boost by the recent two-dimensional approach to the Kripkean framework. In this paper, I begin by providing a detailed examination of a most recent attempt to defend the thesis and argue that it is unsuccessful. This is followed by presenting my own gloss on Kripke's explanation of the illusions of contingency and I close by raising a general problem intended to undermine the prospects for a successful defense of the thesis. (shrink)