The debtor-creditor relation, which is at the heart of this book, sharpens mechanisms of exploitation and domination indiscriminately, since, in it, there is no distinction between workers and the unemployed, consumers and producers, working and non-working populations, between retirees and welfare recipients. They are all "debtors," guilty and responsible in the eyes of capital, which has become the Great, the Universal, Creditor.--from The Making of the Indebted Man Debt -- both public debt and private debt Has become a major concern (...) of economic and political leaders. In The Making of the Indebted Man, Maurizio Lazzarato shows that, far from being a threat to the capitalist economy, debt lies at the very core of the neoliberal project. Through a reading of Karl Marx's lesser-known youthful writings on John Mill, and a rereading of writings by Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault, Lazzarato demonstrates that debt is above all a political construction, and that the creditor/debtor relation is the fundamental social relation of Western societies.Debt cannot be reduced to a simple economic mechanism, for it is also a technique of "public safety" through which individual and collective subjectivities are governed and controlled. Its aim is to minimize the uncertainty of the time and behavior of the governed. We are forever sinking further into debt to the State, to private insurance, and, on a more general level, to corporations. To insure that we honor our debts, we are at once encouraged and compelled to become the "entrepreneurs" of our lives, of our "human capital." In this way, our entire material, psychological, and affective horizon is upended and reconfigured. How do we extricate ourselves from this impossible situation? How do we escape the neoliberal condition of the indebted man? Lazzarato argues that we will have to recognize that there is no simple technical, economic, or financial solution. We must instead radically challenge the fundamental social relation structuring capitalism: the system of debt. (shrink)
Nationalism and patriotism are two of the most powerful forces shaping world history. In this paperback edition of a highly successful, wide-ranging study, Maurizio Viroli shows exactly why patriotism is a political virtue and nationalism a political vice.
Chapter 1st of the book. This chapter explores the fundamental ambiguity of the concept of plasticity – between openness and determination, change and stabilization of forms. This pluralism of meanings is used to unpack different instantiations of corporeal plasticity across various epochs, starting from ancient and early modern medicine, particularly humouralism. A genealogical approach displaces the notion that plasticity is a unitary phenomenon, coming in the abstract, and illuminates the unequal distribution of different forms of plasticities across social, gender, and (...) ethnic groups. Taking a longer view of the plastic body as a ubiquitous belief in traditions predating and coexisting with modern medicine will help contextualize the seeming radicalism of today’s turn to permeability and the exceptionalism of Western findings. By highlighting the complex biopolitical usages of plasticity in the past, the chapter warns against simplistic appropriations of the term in contemporary body/world configurations driven by findings in neuroscience, epigenetics and microbiomics. (shrink)
This paper draws from Foucault’s analysis of liberalism and neoliberalism to reconstruct the mechanisms and the means whereby neoliberalism has transformed society into an ‘enterprise society’ based on the market, competition, inequality, and the privilege of the individual. It highlights the role of financialization, neglected by Foucault, as a key apparatus in achieving this transformation. It elaborates the strategies of individualization, insecuritization and depoliticization used as part of neoliberal social policy to undermine the principles and practices of mutualization and redistribution (...) that the Welfare State and Fordism had promoted. It shows that the aim of neoliberal politics is the restoration of the power of capital to determine the distribution of wealth and to establish the enterprise as dominant form; this requires that it target society as a whole for a fundamental reconstruction, putting in place new mechanisms to control individual conduct. The analysis refers to the case of workers in the culture industry to illustrate the operation of these mechanisms in practice. It also outlines the main elements of the analytical apparatus that makes visible the new role of the state as an ensemble of apparatuses constituting the conditions for neoliberal market capitalism and the new type of individual appropriate for it. The paper thus adds a new dimension to Foucault’s analysis. (shrink)
Sex robots are already a reality: in this provocative text, Maurizio Balistreri explores the fascinating world of future sex, exploring the ethical questions raised by the existence of a sex robot industry.
We present a framework for understanding abduction within modal logic and Kripke semantics; worlds of a Kripke frame will represent possible theories, and a change in theory will be understood as a passage from one world to an adjacent possible world. Further, these steps may agree with the accessibility relation or may ‘backtrack’, accordingly as new information refutes or reinforces our present theory. Our formalism can be used to model not only abduction, but also to talk about the inner structure (...) of theories as well as relations between them, allowing us to interpret many ideas from philosophy of science within the well-understood framework of modal logic. (shrink)
This article sets the stage for a genealogy of the postgenomic body. It starts with the current transformative views of epigenetics and microbiomics to offer a more pluralistic history in which the ethical problem of how to live with a permeable body – that is plasticity as a form of life – is pervasive in traditions pre-dating and coexisting with modern biomedicine. To challenge universalizing narratives, I draw on genealogical method to illuminate the unequal distribution of plasticity across gender and (...) ethnic groups. Finally, after analysing postgenomics as a different thought-style to genomics, I outline some of its implications for notions of plasticity. I argue that postgenomic plasticity is neither a modernistic plasticity of instrumental control of the body nor a postmodernist celebration of endless potentialities. It is instead closer to an alter-modernistic view that disrupts clear boundaries between openness and determination, individual and community. (shrink)
Among the non-monotonic reasoning processes, abduction is one of the most important. Usually described as the process of looking for explanations, it has been recognized as one of the most commonly used in our daily activities. Still, the traditional definitions of an abductive problem and an abductive solution mention only theories and formulas, leaving agency out of the picture. Our work proposes a study of abductive reasoning from an epistemic and dynamic perspective. In the first part we explore syntactic definitions (...) of both an abductive problem in terms of an agent’s information and an abductive solution in terms of the actions that modify the agent’s information. We look at diverse kinds of agents, including not only omniscient ones but also those whose information is not closed under logical consequence and those whose reasoning abilities are not complete. In the second part, we look at an existing logical framework whose semantic model allows us to interpret the previously stated formulas, and we define two actions that represent forms of abductive reasoning. (shrink)
This book provides both a historical analysis of the philosophical problem of individuation, and a new trajectory in its treatment. Drawing on the work of Gilles Deleuze, as well as C.S. Peirce and the lesser-known Gilbert Simondon, Alberto Toscano takes the problem of individuation, as reconfigured by Kant and Nietzsche, into the realm of modernity, providing a unique and vibrant contribution to contemporary debates in European philosophy.
In this paper I first offer a systematic outline of a series of conceptual novelties in the life-sciences that have favoured, over the last three decades, the emergence of a more social view of biology. I focus in particular on three areas of investigation: (1) technical changes in evolutionary literature that have provoked a rethinking of the possibility of altruism, morality and prosocial behaviours in evolution; (2) changes in neuroscience, from an understanding of the brain as an isolated data processor (...) to the ultrasocial and multiply connected social brain of contemporary neuroscience; and (3) changes in molecular biology, from the view of the gene as an autonomous master of development to the ‘reactive genome’ of the new emerging field of molecular epigenetics. In the second section I reflect on the possible implications for the social sciences of this novel biosocial terrain and argue that the postgenomic language of extended epigenetic inheritance and blurring of the nature/nurture boundaries will be as provocative for neo-Darwinism as it is for the social sciences as we have known them. Signs of a new biosocial language are emerging in several social-science disciplines and this may represent an exciting theoretical novelty for twenty-first social theory. (shrink)
Biopower agregates no longer families distributed on land but mobile individuals. How can power count forces and take energy from them, if they differ from each other, if they are free? Power comes from beneath, from strategic relations between subjects.
The rise of molecular epigenetics over the last few years promises to bring the discourse about the sociality and susceptibility to environmental influences of the brain to an entirely new level. Epigenetics deals with molecular mechanisms such as gene expression, which may embed in the organism “memories” of social experiences and environmental exposures. These changes in gene expression may be transmitted across generations without changes in the DNA sequence. Epigenetics is the most advanced example of the new postgenomic and context-dependent (...) view of the gene that is making its way into contemporary biology. In my article I will use the current emergence of epigenetics and its link with neuroscience research as an example of the new, and in a way unprecedented sociality of contemporary biology. After a review of the most important developments of epigenetic research, and some of its links with neuroscience, in the second part I reflect on the novel challenges that epigenetics presents for the social sciences for a re-conceptualization of the link between the biological and the social in a postgenomic age. Although epigenetics remains a contested, hyped, and often uncritical terrain, I claim that especially when conceptualized in broader non-genecentric frameworks,. (shrink)
Cognitive pragmatics is concerned with the mental processes involved in intentional communication. I discuss a few issues that may help clarify the relationship between this area and the broader cognitive science and the contribution that they give, or might give, to each other. Rather than dwelling on the many technicalities of the various theories of communication that have been advanced, I focus on the different conceptions of the nature and the architecture of the mind/brain that underlie them. My aims are, (...) first, to introduce and defend mentalist views of communication in general; second, to defend one such view, namely that communication is a cognitive competence, that is, a faculty, and the underlying idea that the architecture of the mind/brain is domain-specific; and, third, to review the (scarce) neuropsychological evidence that bears on these issues. (shrink)
In this paper, we analyse the most important documents establishing the criteria for the treatment and exclusion of COVID-19 patients, especially in regard to the giving of respiratory support, in Italy and Spain. These documents reflect a tension that stems from limited healthcare resources which are insufficient to save lives that, under normal conditions, could have been saved, or at least could have received the best possible treatment. First, we analyse the healthcare systems of these two countries before the spread (...) of the virus, both of which have seen decreases in the number of intensive care beds and have been marked by financial cuts during the last ten years. It is a fact that a greater number of people, especially those over 70 years of age, have been left without respiratory support treatment, and therefore, there have been a greater number of deaths. It is also a fact that there has been a higher infection rate among healthcare professionals due to the delay in the management of protective measures and the inability to provide adequate care for those in nursing homes, as recognised by WHO. In the context of this health emergency, healthcare professionals have suffered a real ‘moral distress’ because, knowing first-hand the causes of the limitation of resources, they have had to put triage protocols into practice. Finally, we set forth a series of concrete ethical proposals with which to face the successive waves of COVID-19 infection, as well as other future pandemics. (shrink)
We propose a mentalistic and nativist view of human early mental and social life and of the ontogeny of mindreading. We define the mental state of sharedness as the primitive, one-sided capability to take one's own mental states as mutually known to an i nteractant. We argue that this capability is an innate feature of the human mind, which the child uses to make a subjective sense of the world and of her actions. We argue that the child takes all (...) of her mental states as shared with her caregivers. This a llows her to interact with her caregivers in a mentalistic way from the very beginning and provides the grounds on which the later maturation of mindreading will build. As the latter process occurs, the child begins to understand the mental world in terms of differences between the mental states of different agents; subjectively, this also corresponds to the birth of privateness. ? (shrink)
In this series of dialogues, Derrida discusses and elaborates on some of the central themes of his work, such as the problems of genesis, justice, authorship and death. Combining autobiographical reflection with philosophical enquiry, Derrida illuminates the ideas that have characterized his thought from its beginning to the present day. If there is one feature that links these contributions, it is the theme of singularity - the uniqueness of the individual, the resistance of existence to philosophy, the temporality of the (...) singular and exceptional moment, and the problem of exemplarity. The second half of this book contains an essay by Maurizio Ferraris, in which he explores the questions of indication, time and the inscription of the transcendental in the empirical. A work of outstanding philosophy and scholarship, the essay is developed in close proximity to Derrida and in dialogue with figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Kant, Hegel and Heidegger. It thereby provides a useful introduction to the philosophy of one of Italy's most prominent philosophers as well as an excellent complement to Derrida's own ideas. A Taste for the Secret consists of material that has never before appeared in English. It will be of interest to second-year undergraduates, graduate students and academics in philosophy, modern languages, literature, literary theory and the humanities generally. (shrink)
This papers presents δ-resolution, a dual resolution calculus. It is based on standard resolution, and used appropriate formulae equivalent to disjunctive normal forms, instead of conjunctive normal ones, as it is the case for resolution. This duality is then useful to create a calculus for abductive process, as a way to construct a set of abductive solutions. The proposed calculus is compared to semantic tableaux, an standard logical framework, aslo illuminating when studying abduction.δ-resolution calculus is a contribution to logic programming, (...) and it further suggests new possibilities to explore abduction at a first order level, in the lines of those proposed in . (shrink)
In this paper, I analyze the disruptive impact of Darwinian selectionism for the century-long tradition in which the environment had a direct causative role in shaping an organism’s traits. In the case of humans, the surrounding environment often determined not only the physical, but also the mental and moral features of individuals and whole populations. With its apparatus of indirect effects, random variations, and a much less harmonious view of nature and adaptation, Darwinian selectionism severed the deep imbrication of organism (...) and milieu posited by these traditional environmentalist models. This move had radical implications well beyond strictly biological debates. In my essay, I discuss the problematization of the moral idiom of environmentalism by William James and August Weismann who adopted a selectionist view of the development of mental faculties. These debates show the complex moral discourse associated with the environmentalist-selectionist dilemma. They also well illustrate how the moral reverberations of selectionism went well beyond the stereotyped associations with biological fatalism or passivity of the organism. Rereading them today may be helpful as a genealogical guide to the complex ethical quandaries unfolding in the current postgenomic scenario in which a revival of new environmentalist themes is taking place. (shrink)
This book studies a central but hitherto neglected aspect of Rousseau's political thought: the concept of social order and its implications for the ideal society which he envisages. The antithesis between order and disorder is a fundamental theme in Rousseau's work, and the author takes it as the basis for this study. In contrast with a widely held interpretation of Rousseau's philosophy, Professor Viroli argues that natural and political order are by no means the same for Rousseau. He explores the (...) differences and interrelations between the different types of order which Rousseau describes, and shows how the philosopher constructed his final doctrine of the just society, which can be based only on every citizen's voluntary and knowing acceptance of the social contract and on the promotion of virtue above ambition. The author also shows the extent of Rousseau's debt to the republican tradition, and above all to Machiavelli, and revises the image of Rousseau as a disciple of the natural-law school. (shrink)
This paper has three principal aims: first, through a detailed analysis of the hypotheses and assumptions underlying Weismann’s and Morgan’s disagreement on the nature of animal regeneration, it seeks to readdress the imbalance in coverage of their discussion, providing, at the same time, a fascinating case-study for those interested in general issues related to controversies in science. Second, contrary to Morgan’s beliefs according to which Weismann employed a speculative and unempirical method of scientific investigation, the article shows that Weismann performed (...) experiments, made observations and proposed ‘undogmatic’ theories open to refutation. Third, through the reconstruction of Weismann’s and Morgan’s disagreement, this study illustrates how biology, during the very late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was undergoing important changes. I argue that this controversy clearly and convincingly demonstrates how some important epistemic assumptions became increasingly problematic for some members of the younger generations of biologists. At the end of my discussion I will also argue that Weismann and Morgan both had strong well-grounded arguments supporting their conclusions; for this reason I suggest a few factors (“taken-for-granted” beliefs or assumptions) that could explain why their disagreement was doomed to remain unresolved. In particular, I will analyze their diverse explicative interests, their different theoretical concerns and their distinct use of the available evidence. (shrink)
The formalization of abductive reasoning has received increasing attention from logicians. However, few work is found beyond abduction in propositional logic, given that in a first order formalism, the undecidability problem naturally appears, and therefore an abductive problem cannot even be appropriately formulated. Still, many applications in artificial intelligence allow finite domains to work with, and this gives an opportunity to apply abduction in first order logic with restricted domains. In this paper, we present an approach to abductive reasoning in (...) C-structures, first order structures with a finite domain in which each of its elements has a corresponding constant representing its interpretation. By using semantic tableaux with bounded depth, that is, C-tableaux and δ-resolution calculus, we build an effective procedure for the searching of minimal abductive solutions within the proposed semantics. (shrink)
This book presents a critical examination of Machiavelli's thought, combining an accessible, historically-informed account of his work with a reassessment of his central ideas and arguments. Viroli challenges the accepted interpretations of Machiavelli's work, insisting that his republicanism was based not on a commitment to virtue, greatness, and expansion, but to the ideal of civic life protected by the shield of fair laws. His detailed study of how Machiavelli composed The Prince offers a number of new interpretations and he further (...) contends that the most challenging--and underestimated--aspect of Machiavelli's thought is his philosophy of life, in particular his conceptions of love, women, irony, God, and the human condition. (shrink)
We outline a theory of human agency and communication and discuss the role that the capability to share (that is, intersubjectivity) plays in it. All the notions discussed are cast in a mentalistic and radically constructivist framework. We also introduce and discuss the relevant literature.
In this paper I propose a new interpretation of the British evolutionary synthesis. The synthetic work of J. B. S. Haldane, R. A. Fisher and J. S. Huxley was characterized by both an integration of Mendelism and Darwinism and the unification of different biological subdisciplines within a coherent framework. But it must also be seen as a bold and synthetic Darwinian program in which the biosciences served as a utopian blueprint for the progress of civilization. Describing the futuristic visions of (...) these three scientists in their synthetic heydays, I show that, despite a number of important divergences, their biopolitical ideals could be biased toward a controlled and regimented utopian society. Their common ideals entailed a social order where liberal and democratic principles were partially or totally suspended in favor of bioscientific control and planning for the future. Finally, I will argue that the original redefinition of Darwinism that modern synthesizers proposed is a significant historical example of how Darwinism has been used and adapted in different contexts. The lesson I draw from this account is a venerable one: that, whenever we wish to define Darwinism, we need to recognize not only its scientific content and achievements but expose the other traditions and ideologies it may have supported. (shrink)
Despite the application of 2.5 million tons ofpesticides worldwide, more than 40% of all potentialfood production is lost to insect, weed, and plantpathogen pests prior to harvest. After harvest, anadditional 20% of food is lost to another group ofpests. The use of pesticides for pest control resultsin an estimated 26 million human poisonings, with220,000 fatalities, annually worldwide. In the UnitedStates, the environmental and public health costs forthe recommended use of pesticides total approximately$9 billion/yr. Thus, there is a need for alternativenon-chemical (...) pest controls, and genetic engineering(biotechnology) might help with this need. Diseaseand insect pest resistance to various pests has beenslowly bred into crops for the past 12,000 years;current techniques in biotechnology now offeropportunities to further and more rapidly improve thenon-chemical control of disease and insect pests ofcrops. However, relying on a single factor, like theBacillus thuringiensis toxin that has beeninserted into corn and a few other crops for insectcontrol, leads to various environmental problems,including insect resistance and, in some cases, athreat to beneficial biological control insects andendangered insect species. A major environmental andeconomic cost associated with genetic engineeringapplications in agriculture relates to the use ofherbicide resistant crops (HRC). In general, HRCtechnology results in increased herbicide use but noincrease in crop yields. The heavy use of herbicidesin HRC technology pollutes the environment and canlead to weed control costs for farmers that may be2-fold greater than standard weed control costs. Therefore, pest control with both pesticides andbiotechnology can be improved for effective, safe,economical pest control. (shrink)
This research is concerned with the innate predispositions underlying human intentional communication. Human communication is currently defined as a circular and overt attempt to modify a partner's mental states. This requires each party involved to posse ss the ability to represent and understand the other's mental states, a capability which is commonly referred to as mindreading, or theory of mind (ToM). The relevant experimental literature agrees that no such capability is to be found in the human speci es at least (...) during the first year of life, and possibly later. This paper aims at advancing a solution to this theoretical problem. We propose to consider sharedness as the basis for intentional communication in the infant and to view it as a primitive, i nnate component of her cognitive architecture. Communication can then build upon the mental grounds that the infant takes as shared with her caregivers. We view this capability as a theory of mind in a weak sense.›. (shrink)