Human civilisation faces a range of existential risks, including nuclear war, runaway climate change and superintelligent artificial intelligence run amok. As we show here with calculations for the New Zealand setting, large numbers of currently living and, especially, future people are potentially threatened by existential risks. A just process for resource allocation demands that we consider future generations but also account for solidarity with the present. Here we consider the various ethical and policy issues involved and make a case for (...) further engagement with the New Zealand public to determine societal values towards future lives and their protection. (shrink)
The degradation of non-market relationships has rendered individuals unnecessarily vulnerable in disasters, including the global pandemic. While local networks of community-based aid that emerge in response to disasters improve the efficacy of response, they tend to be short-lived. This is unfortunate, since the existence and strength of such local networks prior to the onset of disasters not only boosts the efficacy of response but also contributes to the well-being of individuals and communities in non-disaster times. Therefore, individuals ought to establish (...) and strengthen fair-weather local networks of non-market relationships—that is, cultivate neighbor relationships. (shrink)
Talk of different types of cells is commonplace in the biological sciences. We know a great deal, for example, about human muscle cells by studying the same type of cells in mice. Information about cell type is apparently largely projectible across species boundaries. But what defines cell type? Do cells come pre-packaged into different natural kinds? Philosophical attention to these questions has been extremely limited [see e.g., Wilson (Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays, pp 187–207, 1999; Genes and the Agents of Life, (...) 2005; Wilson et al. Philos Top 35(1/2):189–215, 2007)]. On the face of it, the problems we face in individuating cellular kinds resemble those biologists and philosophers of biology encountered in thinking about species: there are apparently many different (and interconnected) bases on which we might legitimately classify cells. We could, for example, focus on their developmental history (a sort of analogue to a species’ evolutionary history); or we might divide on the basis of certain structural features, functional role, location within larger systems, and so on. In this paper, I sketch an approach to cellular kinds inspired by Boyd’s Homeostatic Property Cluster Theory, applying some lessons from this application back to general questions about the nature of natural kinds. (shrink)
Richard Boyd has long campaigned for a view of natural kinds he calls the Homeostatic Property Cluster account. This account has been particularly exciting for philosophers of biology unhappy with traditional essentialism about natural kinds and the views that biological kinds are, in one way or another, “historical entities”. Though defenders of HPC kinds have done much to further articulate the view, many questions about the account remain. One pressing question concerns the way in which HPC kinds are supposed (...) to accommodate our inductive and explanatory practices via causal, homeostatic mechanisms. In addressing the question, I am led to an alternative conception of what a property cluster kind might be. I call my alternative, in deference to its Boydian origins, the Stable Property Cluster account of natural kinds. Rather than emphasizing homeostasis or causal mechanism, the SPC account emphasizes the stability of a property cluster over the various ways stability may be maintained. In virtue of this modest change of emphasis, the SPC account does not advertise itself as an account of a kind of natural kind — it is, I think, an attractive candidate for a general natural kind concept, able to accommodate the diversity of natural kinds we find in the world. (shrink)
This book moves beyond traditional readings of Alexis de Tocqueville and his relevance to contemporary democracy by emphasizing the relationship of his life and work to modern feminist thought. Within the resurgence of political interest in Tocqueville during the past two decades, especially in the United States, there has been significant scholarly attention to the place of gender, race, and colonialism in his work. This is the first edited volume to gather together a range of this creative scholarship. It reveals (...) a tidal shift in the reception history of Tocqueville as a result of his serious engagement by feminist, gender, postcolonial, and critical race theorists. The volume highlights the expressly normative nature of Tocqueville’s project, thus providing an overdue counterweight to the conventional understanding of Tocquevillean America as an actual place in time and history. By reading Tocqueville alongside the writings of early women’s rights activists, ethnologists, critical race theorists, contemporary feminists, neoconservatives, and his French contemporaries, among others, this book produces a variety of Tocquevilles that unsettles the hegemonic view of his work. Seen as a philosophical source and a political authority for modern democracies since the publication of the twin volumes of _Democracy in America _, Tocqueville emerges from this collection as a vital interlocutor for democratic theorists confronting the power relations generated by intersections of gender, sexual, racial, class, ethnic, national, and colonial identities. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Jocelyn Boryczka, Richard Boyd, Christine Carey, Barbara Cruikshank, Laura Janara, Matthew Holbreich, Kathleen S. Sullivan, Alvin B. Tillery Jr., Lisa Pace Vetter, Dana Villa, Cheryl B. Welch, and Delba Winthrop. (shrink)
I distinguish two ways of explaining our capacity for ‘transparent’ knowledge of our own present beliefs, perceptions, and intentions: an inferential and a reflective approach. Alex Byrne (2011) has defended an inferential approach, but I argue that this approach faces a basic difficulty, and that a reflective approach avoids the difficulty. I conclude with a brief sketch and defence of a reflective approach to our transparent self-knowledge, and I show how this approach is connected with the thesis that we must (...) distinguish between a kind of self-knowledge that is of oneself as agent and another kind that is of oneself as patient. (shrink)
Under the careful editorship of R. A. Markus, this book appears to be one of the very finest anthologies of critical essays dedicated to the elucidation of the thought of St. Augustine. Those familiar with Markus’ contribution to The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy will readily attest to the depth as well as to the breadth of understanding which Markus brings to Augustine scholarship. Three of the essays appear for the first time: "Action and Contemplation," by (...) Robert J. O’Connell; "Si Fallor, Sum," by Gareth B. Matthews; "On Augustine’s Concept of a Person," by A. C. Boyd. The remaining articles have appeared either as separate pieces or as journal articles: "St. Augustine and Christian Platonism," by A. H. Armstrong; "St. Augustine on Signs," by R. A. Markus; "The Theory of Signs of St. Augustine’s De Doctrina Christiana," by B. Darrell Jackson; "Augustine on Speaking from Memory" and "The Inner Man," by Gareth B. Matthews; "Augustine on Foreknowledge and Free Will," by William L. Rowe; "Augustine on Free Will and Predestination," by John M. Rist; "Time and Contingency in St. Augustine," by Robert Jordan; "Empiricism and Augustine’s Problems about Time," by Hugh M. Lacey; "Political Society," by P. R. L. Brown; "The Development of Augustine’s Ideas on Society before the Donatist Controversy" and "De Civitate Dei, XV, 2, and Augustine’s Idea of the Christian Society," The essays display scholarly depth as well as concern for contemporary philosophical problems. It is an excellent addition to Augustine scholarship and to contemporary philosophizing. This book is part of the Doubleday Anchor Modern Studies in Philosophy Series, under the general editorship of Amelie O. Rorty.—D. A. C. (shrink)
Matthew Arnold was born at Laleham-on-Thames on 24 December 1822 as the eldest son of Dr Thomas Arnold and his wife Mary. He was educated at Winchester College, his father's old school; Rugby, where his father was headmaster; and Oxford. In 1851 he was appointed Inspector of Schools, pursuing this taxing career to support his wife and family until his retirement in 1886. He published his first volume of verse, The Strayed Reveller, and other Poems, in 1849 followed by (...) Empedocles on Etna, and other Poems (1852) and five further collections which appeared, with a diminishing number of new poems in each, between 1853 and 1867, after which his creative gift appeared to dwindle still further and he published little poetry. His career as a writer of prose began to take over after his election to the Professorship of Poetry at Oxford in 1857. Stimulated by preparing his lectures, many of the earliest published in 1865 as Essays in Criticism (First Series), he turned increasingly to the vigorous and widely ranging polemical commentaries on culture, religion, and society which were to make him known at home and abroad as the foremost critic of his day. He died suddenly of heart failure on 15 April 1888 while awaiting at Liverpool the arrival of his married daughter from America. (shrink)
The traditional Christian view that God foreknows the future exclusively in terms of what will and will not come to pass is partially rooted in two ancient Hellenistic philosophical assumptions. Hellenistic philosophers universally assumed that propositions asserting ‘ x will occur’ contradict propositions asserting ‘ x will not occur’ and generally assumed that the gods lose significant providential advantage if they know the future partly as a domain of possibilities rather than exclusively in terms of what will and will not (...) occur. Both assumptions continue to influence people in the direction of the traditional understanding of God's knowledge of the future. In this essay I argue that the first assumption is unnecessary and the second largely misguided. (shrink)
A selection from Arnold's writing on education, other than Culture and Anarchy. All the pieces stem from his work as Inspector of Schools: they illustrate his concern both with the principles that must be established as a basis for the education of an industrial democracy and his practical concern with the day-to-day running of schools. 'Democracy' was first published as the introduction to The Popular Education of France. It faces the fundamental political problems and outlines the general objectives of a (...) state educational system. 'A French Eton' was the result of the same examination of French education to see what the British could learn from it; here he considers private education for the middle-classes. 'The twice-revised code' criticises the national Revised Code of 1862: a system founded on gross utilitarianism. Extracts from Arnold's reports as an inspector show the man of principle at work in particular circumstances and relating what he sees to what he would wish to see. The speech on his retirement comments on his lifetime of active involvement in education. (shrink)
At the end of Matters of Exchange, Harold Cook's major revisionist account of the early modern scientific revolution, he locates the political and economic writings of Bernard Mandeville within the practices and values of contemporaneous Dutch observational medicine. Like Mandeville, Cook describes the potency of early modern capitalism and its attendant value system in generating industry and knowledge; like Mandeville, Cook finds coercive systems of moral regulation to be mistaken in their estimation of human capacities; and like Mandeville, Cook does (...) not shy away from the violence that often made the worldwide commerce in matters of fact possible. “Every Part was full of Vice,” famously rhymed Mandeville, “Yet the whole Mass a Paradise.” The practices and values of science, this book suggests, stemmed from the vices of the merchant and the consumer, not the sprezzatura of the baroque courtier, the asceticism of the Christian gentleman, the speculation of the university philosopher, or the dour appraisal of the theologian. Interest, not claims to disinterest, made modern science and its attendant values possible. Scrupulous attention to goods from around the world and right at home created the conditions for natural knowledge. (shrink)
This paper explores Matthew Lipman's notion of the philosophical text as model. I argue that Lipman's account of the philosophical text is one that brings together the expository and narrative textual forms in a distinctive way--not one in which the tension between the expository and the narrative is overcome once and for all, but in such a way that the expository and the narrative are brought into relationship within the very form of narrative itself. Drawing upon Michel Foucault's reading (...) of Descartes "Meditations," I argue that Lipman's philosophical novels serve both a demonstrative and ascetic function, allowing us to situate Lipman's novels in the history of philosophical discourse, as well as point to the task of creating philosophical texts, and curriculum, in the future. (shrink)
Recently Robert Forman has attempted to muster support for the largely abandoned position that mystical experiences cross-culturally include an unmediated, non-relative core. To reopen the debate he has solicited essays from likeminded scholars for his book, The Problem of Pure Consciousness. Predictably the focus of the volume rests on the refutation of the position most notably expounded by Steven Katz in his influential article of 1978, ‘Language, Epistemology and Mysticism’.
Once we accept anyone's postulates he becomes our professor and our god: for his foundations he will grab territory so ample and so easy that, if he so wishes, he will drag us up to the clouds. Montaigne During the last fifteen years, the community of philosophers interested in religion has evinced a waxing concern with the justificatory value of religious experiences for theism. Two parallel but largely discrete debates have appeared in the literature.
The deflationary aim of this book, which occupies Part I, is to show that a widely held view has little to be said for it. The constructive aim, pursued in Part II, is to make plausible a measure-theoretic account of propositional attitudes. The discussion is throughout instructive, illuminating and sensitive to the many intricacies surrounding attitude ascriptions and how they can carry information about a subject's psychology. There is close engagement with cognitive science. The book should be read by anyone (...) seriously engaged with issues about propositional attitudes.According to the widely held view, which Matthews calls the Received View, the attitude of Φing that p is a matter of standing in a computational/functional relation to an explicit Representation that expresses the proposition that p, and thinking is ‘an inferential computational process defined over one or more of these Representations that eventuates in the production of either another Representation or a behavior’. The representations are understood to be sentences in a language of thought and thus to have a compositional syntax and semantics. The theory that Matthews aims to make plausible has it that ascriptions of propositional attitudes in the form ‘X Φs that p’, ascribe a state to a person by relating that person to an abstract object that is the representative of the state in roughly the way that numbers on a scale are the measure-theoretic representations of certain physical magnitudes. We are to think of the role of ‘Jones believes that interest rates will fall’ by analogy with that of ‘Jones weighs 150lbs’. The latter depends on there being arithmetical relations defined over numbers that enable its particular assignment of a number to Jones's weight to represent physical properties that Jones has in virtue …. (shrink)
In recent years, many non-consequentialists such as Frances Kamm and Thomas Scanlon have been puzzling over what has come to be known as the Number Problem, which is how to show that the greater number in a rescue situation should be saved without aggregating the claims of the many, a typical kind of consequentialist move that seems to violate the separateness of persons. In this article, I argue that these non-consequentialists may be making the task more difficult than necessary, because (...) allowing aggregation does not prevent one from being a non-consequentialist. I shall explain how a non-consequentialist can still respect the separateness of persons while allowing for aggregation. (shrink)
Sciabarra replies to the seven respondents to his Fall 2002 essay on Rand, Rush, and progressive rock music. He defends the view that Rand's dialectical orientation underlies a fundamentally radical perspective. Rand shared with the counterculture—especially its libertarian progressive rock representatives—a repudiation of authoritarianism, while embracing the "unknown ideal" of capitalism. Her ability to trace the interrelationships among personal, cultural, and structural factors in social analysis and her repudiation of false alternatives is at the heart of that ideal vision, which (...) transcends left and right. (shrink)
The essay presents Saul Kripke's argument for mind/body-dualism and makes the suppositions explicit on which it rests. My claim, inspired by Richard Boyd, is that even if one of Kripke’s central suppositions - the principle of necessity of identities using rigid designators - is shared by the non-traditional identity theorist, it is still possible for her to rebut Kripke’s dualism.
Virtually every aspect of the current philosophical discussion of self-deception is a matter of controversy including its definition and paradigmatic cases. We may say generally, however, that self-deception is the acquisition and maintenance of a belief (or, at least, the avowal of that belief) in the face of strong evidence to the contrary motivated by desires or emotions favoring the acquisition and retention of that belief. Beyond this, philosophers divide over whether this action is intentional or not, whether self-deceivers recognize (...) the belief being acquired is unwarranted on the available evidence, whether self-deceivers are morally responsible for their self-deception, and whether self-deception is morally problematic (and if it is in what ways and under what circumstances). The discussion of self-deception and its associated puzzles gives us insight into the ways in which motivation affects belief acquisition and retention. And yet insofar as self-deception represents an obstacle to self-knowledge, which has potentially serious moral implications, self-deception is more than an interesting philosophical puzzle. It is a problem of particular concern for moral development, since self-deception can make us strangers to ourselves and blind to our own moral failings. (shrink)
It is widely acknowledged that individual moral obligations and responsibility entail shared (or joint) moral obligations and responsibility. However, whether individual epistemic obligations and responsibility entail shared epistemic obligations and responsibility is rarely discussed. Instead, most discussions of doxastic responsibility focus on individuals considered in isolation. In contrast to this standard approach, I maintain that focusing exclusively on individuals in isolation leads to a profoundly incomplete picture of what we're epistemically obligated to do and when we deserve epistemic blame. First, (...) I argue that we have epistemic obligations to perform actions of the sort that can be performed in conjunction with other people, and that consequently, we are often jointly blameworthy when we violate shared epistemic obligations. Second, I argue that shared responsibility is especially important to doxastic responsibility thanks to the fact that we don't have the same kind of direct control over our beliefs that we have over our actions. In particular, I argue that there are many cases in which a particular individual who holds some problematic belief only deserves epistemic blame in virtue of belonging to a group all the members of which are jointly blameworthy for violating some shared epistemic obligation. (shrink)