Various social animal species have been noted to inhibit aggressive attacks when a conspecific displays submission cues. Blair (1993) has suggested that humans possess a functionally similar mechanism which mediates the suppression of aggression in the context of distress cues. He has suggested that this mechanism is a prerequisite for the development of the moral/conventional distinction; the consistently observed distinction in subject's judgments between moral and conventional transgressions. Psychopaths may lack this violence inhibitor. A causal model is developed showing (...) how the lack of this mechanism would explain the core behavioural symptoms associated with the psychopathic disorder. A prediction of such a causal model would be that psychopaths should fail to make the moral/conventional distinction. This prediction was confirmed. The implication of this finding for other theories of morality is discussed. (shrink)
Abstract The effect of inducing negative, positive or neutral affect on the recall of moral and conventional transgressions and positive moral and conventional acts was examined. It was found that inducing negative affect was associated with higher recall of moral transgressions while inducing positive affect was associated with higher recall of positive moral acts. Affect induction condition did not have a significant effect on the recall of the conventional transgressions or positive acts. The results are interpreted within the Violence Inhibition (...) Mechanism model of moral development (Blair, 1995) and by reference to a new, hypothesised system, the Smiling Reward Response. (shrink)
Blair, David David Tribe, in his article, 'On science, good, bad and ugly' (AH, No. 107, Spring 2012), criticises an earlier article by Victor Bien. Bien - rightly in my view - defends present-day science in respect of three areas where science is under attack; the most prominent of these three is anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Tribe claims that, Victor Bien appears to have inflated views on the sagacity, objectivity and probity of scientists, who can be called our new (...) priests. Much as I respected David Tribe for his work in philosophy, I must criticize much of what he says about science in his article. (shrink)
Blair, David What's the best policy to deal with the catastrophe that looms due to global warming? Fundamentally, we must quickly change our sources of energy away from fossil fuels to non-carbon emitting sources - namely nuclear power and the various renewable sources. 'What's nuclear doing in there?' you may respond. 'Isn't the news about nuclear all bad?' But a growing chorus of scientists and thinkers is warning that, not only is nuclear power quite safe, but that to rule (...) it out poses a grave danger. I quote: Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilise the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilisation that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power. (shrink)
Blair, David Concerning David Tribe's rejoinder to my 'Science works better than that' , it's pleasing to see that there are some points on which we agree. Unfortunately he continues to make a strong and unjustified attack on the scientific community as a whole-essentially on the grounds that, of the conclusions of science that later turned out to be false, virtually all of them were at some time 'believed' by most scientists. In reply, I shall show that it is (...) his underlying framework that needs to be altered-quite radically. He does not understand what the activity of scientists is like-indeed what it has to be like, when faced with the task of extracting knowledge from the real world. (shrink)
During nearly two centuries, American storytellers have celebrated comic figures, ebullient showoffs who turned up on one frontier after another—in the old South, in Kentucky and Tennessee, along the great inland rivers, in the mountains and the mines and on the prairies. Often, the stories went, when these characters engaged in a favorite pastime—playfully bragging about their strength, their skill and their exploits—they used animal metaphors such as Opossum, Screamer, Half-Horse Half-Alligator, the Big Bear of Arkansas or Gamecock of the (...) Wilderness to furnish nicknames. Often they were also identified as fictional or real frontiersmen—Mike Fink, Nimrod Wildfire, Jim Doggett, Pecos Bill—and tall tales clustered around them. Explaining a metaphor and a nickname, an Ohio newspaper in 1830 cited the most famous braggart of this sort: "Ring-tailed roarer—A most vicious fellow—a Crockett." . . . The stories did not have to have roots in reality and often were not new. The real Crockett was well built, handsome, ruddy-cheeked. But traditional jokes made ugliness a funny quality. Falstaff claimed Bardolph's crimson proboscis glowed with a flame that made torches inoperative. The Spectator in 1711 told about "Spectator's" election to England's Ugly Club. Joke 177 in Joe Miller's Jests was about the British kingdom's champion ugly man. When Gus Longstreet entered law school in Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1813, a student welcomed him: "Here, sir, is a knife always given to the ugliest student. . . . Until now it has been mine, but beyond doubt, sir, since you are here, I have now no right to it any longer." Andy Jackson—"Old Hickory"—won a like award. Lore had it that Davy was so repulsive looking that if he grinned at a raccoon, it tumbled from its tree. Once, worried because he grinned and grinned without bringing down his victim, he was relieved when a close look showed he had mistaken a knot for a beast. All the same, he had grinned all the bark off the branch. Walter Blair is professor emeritus in the department of English at the University of Chicago. His many influential works include Native American Humor and Horse Sense in American Humor. "Americanized Comic Braggarts" appears in a slightly different version in the book America's Humor from Poor Richard to Doonesbury. (shrink)
Blair's new translation of Plato's Republic is more readable and accessible than any translation on the market. Blair makes a persuasive case for using "honesty" rather than "morality" when translating a key Greek term.
Empathy is a lay term that is becoming increasingly viewed as a unitary function within the field of cognitive neuroscience. In this paper, a selective review of the empathy literature is provided. It is argued from this literature that empathy is not a unitary system but rather a loose collection of partially dissociable neurocognitive systems. In particular, three main divisions can be made: cognitive empathy , motor empathy, and emotional empathy. The two main psychiatric disorders associated with empathic dysfunction are (...) considered: autism and psychopathy. It is argued that individuals with autism show difficulties with cognitive and motor empathy but less clear difficulties with respect to emotional empathy. In contrast, individuals with psychopathy show clear difficulties with a specific form of emotional empathy but no indications of impairment with cognitive and motor empathy. (shrink)
Using measures developed by Singhapakdi et al. (1996, Journal of Business ethics 15, 1131–1140) the perceived importance of ethics and social responsibility (PRESOR) is measured among MBA students in the United States, Malaysia and Ukraine revealing a stockholder view and two stakeholder views. Relativism and Idealism are also measured. The scores of MBA students are compared among each other and with those of the U.S. managers who were part of the original study. Managers'' scores tend to be significantly higher on (...) the Stockholder and Stakeholder II views, and much lower on Relativism than the MBA students. The Malaysian MBA students scored higher than did the American MBA students on Relativism, Idealism and the Stockholder view. The Ukrainian MBA students'' scores on the three PRESOR factors are generally similar to those of the American MBAs, while they had the highest scores of any group on the Relativism scale. Overall, the patterns of responses, as much as the significant differences on specific scales, support the notion that culture, however defined, affects both values and ethics. Several directions for future research are identified.''. (shrink)
Do not define argument by its use to persuade. for other uses of arguments exist. An argument is a proposition and a reason for it. and argumentation is an interchange involving two or more parties resulting in the assertion of one or more arguments coupled with anticipated or actual critical responses. A logically good argument has grounds adeq uate for the purposes at hand (true, probable, plausible, acceptable to the audience) and the grounds provide adequate support for the conclusion. The (...) norms for good logic in arguments are different from the norms for the good use of arguments. (shrink)
The paper's thesis is that dialogue is not an adequate model for all types of argument. The position of Walton is taken as the contrary view. The paper provides a set of descriptions of dialogues in which arguments feature in the order of the increasing complexity of the argument presentation at each turn of the dialogue, and argues that when arguments of great complexity are traded, the exchanges between arguers are turns of a dialogue only in an extended or metaphorical (...) sense. It argues that many of the properties of engaged back-and-forth exchanges of paradigmatic argument dialogues are not found in âsoloâ arguments, and that at least some of the norms appropriate to the former type of argument, such as some of the pragma-dialectical rules of van Eemeren and Grootendorst's model, do not apply to the latter. (shrink)
In this paper, we will consider the neuro-cognitive systems involved in mediating morality. Five main claims will be made. First, that there are multiple, partially separable neuro-cognitive architectures that mediate specific aspects of morality: social convention, care-based morality, disgust-based morality and fairness/justice. Second, that all aspects of morality, including social convention, involve affect. Third, that the neural system particularly important for social convention, given its role in mediating anger and responding to angry expressions, is ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Fourth, that the (...) neural systems particularly important for care-based morality are the amygdala and medial orbital frontal cortex. Fifth, that while Theory of Mind is not a prerequisite for the development of affect-based 'automatic moral attitudes', it is critically involved in many aspects of moral reasoning. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to advance the theory of argument or inference schemes by suggesting answers to questions raised by Walton's Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning (1996), specifically on: the relation between argument and reasoning; distinguishing deductive from presumptive schemes, the origin of schemes and the probative force of their use; and the motivation and justification for their associated critical questions.
The history of note?taking has only begun to be written. On the one hand, the basic functions of selecting, summarizing, storing and sorting information garnered from reading, listening, observing and thinking can be identified in most literate contexts in some form or other. On the other hand, Renaissance humanists emphasized with unprecedented success the virtues of stockpiling notes on large scales and for the long term, thanks to the availability of paper and a new abundance of books, but also to (...) their ability to transmit their own keen motivation to avoid any future loss of learning. We continue to share many early modern ideals for insuring the collection and retrievability of information and have built on early modern practices that facilitate the accumulation and the organization of information, including collaborative work and the use of rearrangeable slips. (shrink)
In this overview article, we first explain what we take informal logic to be, discussing misconceptions and distinguishing our conception of it from competing ones; second, we briefly catalogue recent informal logic research, under 14 headings; third, we suggest four broad areas of problems and questions for future research; fourth, we describe current scholarly resources for informal logic; fifth, we discuss three implications of informal logic for philosophy in particular, and take note ofpractical consequences of a more general sort.
I argue that argumentation is not to be identified with (attempted) rational persuasion, because although rational persuasion appears to consist of arguments, some uses of arguments are not attempts at rational persuasion. However, the use of arguments in argumentative communication to try to persuade is one kind of attempt at rational persuasion. What makes it rational is that its informing ideal is to persuade on the basis of adequate grounds, grounds that make it reasonable and rational to accept the claim (...) at issue. (shrink)
Recent interest in emotion as the basis for moral development began with work involving individuals with psychopathic tendencies, and a recent paper with this population has allowed fresh insights (Glenn, Iyer, Graham, Koleva, & Haidt, 2009). Two main conclusions suggested by this paper are: (i) that systems involved in different forms of morality can be differentiated; and (ii) that systems involved in justice reasoning likely include amygdala and/or ventromedial prefrontal cortex, even if the specifics of their functional contribution to justice (...) development remain unidentified. (shrink)
Premissary relevance is a property of arguments understood as speech act complexes. It is explicable in terms of the idea of a premise's lending support to a conclusion. Premissary relevance is a function of premises belonging to a set which authoritatively warrants an inference to a conclusion. An authoritative inference warrant will have associated with it a conditional proposition which is true— that is to say, which can be justified. The study of the Aristotelian doctrine of topoi or argument schemes (...) may contribute to the task of identifying authoritative warrants. (shrink)
Many just war theorists (call them traditionalists) claim that just as people have a right to personal self-defense, so nations have a right to national-defense against an aggressive military invasion. David Rodin claims that the traditionalist is unable to justify most defensive wars against aggression. For most aggressive states only commit conditional aggression in that they threaten to kill or maim the citizens of the nation they are invading only if those citizens resist the occupation. Most wars, then, claimed to (...) be justified by the traditionalist fail to meet the proportionality criterion. Thus, a just war, for Rodin, is best conceived of as a punitive war of law enforcement, not as a war of national-defense. I argue that Rodin does not have a case against the traditionalist. If national-defense is a disproportionate response to conditional aggression, then punitive war is a disproportionate response as well. Furthermore, the belief that punitive war is a proportionate response to conditional aggression underscores the traditionalist’s view that self-determination, cultural identity and the like are of sufficient value to defend by means of lethal force. I end the paper by very briefly sketching an account, different from that of Rodin’s, of how individual nations can be justified in waging wars of law enforcement. (shrink)
Informal logic began in the 1970s as a critique of then-current theoretical assumptions in the teaching of argument analysis and evaluation in philosophy departments in the U.S. and Canada. The last 35 years have seen significant developments in informal logic and critical thinking theory. The paper is a pilot study of the influence of these advances in theory on what is taught in courses on argument analysis and critical thinking in U.S. and Canadian philosophy departments. Its finding, provisional and much-qualified, (...) is that the theoretical developments and refinements have had limited impact on instruction in leading philosophy departments. (shrink)
Decety (2011) considers the cognitive neuroscience of empathy and, in particular, his three-component model of empathic responding. His position is highly influential with its emotional awareness/understanding and emotional regulation components representing clear extensions of previous theorizing on empathy. In this brief commentary, I will critically consider the third of his components: affective arousal. In particular, I will consider the implications of the literature to the proposed computations, based on perception—action coupling, that underlie this component of his model. I will suggest (...) that perception—action coupling does not underlie affective arousal but rather that this is mediated by far more simple mechanisms of emotional arousal based on conditioning. (shrink)
We question whether empathy is mediated by a unitary circuit. We argue that recent neuroimaging data indicate dissociable neural responses for different facial expressions as well as for representing others' mental states (Theory of Mind, TOM). We also argue that the general empathy disorder considered characteristic of autism and psychopathy is not general but specific for each disorder.
In this paper, we redefine the term luxus consumption to mean food waste and overconsumption leading to storage of body fat, health problems, and excess resource utilization. We develop estimates of the prevalence of luxus consumption and its environmental consequences using US food supply, agricultural, and environmental data and using procedures modeled after energetics analysis and ecological footprint analysis. Between 1983 and 2000, US food availability (food consumption including waste) increased by 18% or 600 kcal (2.51 MJ) per person. This (...) luxus consumption required 0.36 hectares (ha) of land and fishing area per capita, 100.6 million ha for the US population, and 3.1% of total US energy consumption. Luxus consumption increased more for particular foods, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), 22% of which was used in carbonated beverages. As an example, the luxus consumption of sweetened soda, 31.8 l per capita, used 0.8% of the US corn crop (230,555 ha of land); 33.6 million kg of nitrogen fertilizer; 175,000 kg of Atrazine herbicide; 34 million kg of nitrogen fertilizer; 2.44 trillion kcal (10.2 PJ) for production inputs and post-harvest handling; and led to 4.9 million metric tons of soil erosion. Diet soft drink luxus consumption was 43.9 l/capita. Assuming half of US soft drink luxus consumption was bottled in plastic, the energy cost for plastics would have been 2.49 trillion kcal (10.4 PJ) in 2000. Total HFCS availability above baseline in 2000 required 4.6 times the resources used for soft drinks alone. This analysis suggests the utility and applicability of the concept of luxus consumption to environmental analysis and for estimating the effects of excess food utilization. (shrink)
This paper argues for the importance of the distinction between internal and external negation over expressions for belief. The common fallacy is to confuse statement like (1) and (2): (1) John believes that the school is not closed on Tuesday; (2) John does not believe that the school is closed on Tuesday. The fallacy has ramifications in teaching, reasoning, and argumentation. Analysis of the fallacy and suggestions for teaching are offered.
This paper derives a mathematical expression giving the development of the probability of a scientific hypothesis with the number of confirming tests, as determined by Bayes's theorem, in a special case in which all the tests are "independent" of one another. The simple expression obtained shows clearly how the various factors influence the growth of the probability. The result is used to set a numerical lower bound on the probabilities representing the a priori beliefs of humans in generalizations that become (...) accepted. By making a comparison with the predictions of a "logical atomic" model in the case of physical laws, it is argued that humans have significant a priori "knowledge" in a weak sense. (shrink)
The following progress report views language acquisition as primarily the attempt to create processes that connect together in a fruitful way linguistic input and other activity. The representations made of linguistic input are thus those that are optimally effective in mediating such interconnections. An effective Language Acquisition Device should contain mechanisms specific to the task of creating the desired interconnection processes in the linguistic environment in which the language learner finds himself or herself. Analysis of this requirement gives clear indications (...) as to what these mechanisms may be. (shrink)
This paper is a commentary on the articles by William Rehg and Robert Asen in this issue of Informal Logic. It compares the subject matter of the two papers, offers an interpretation of and commentary on each paper separately, then discusses their overlapping problematic: the importance of public sphere argumentation.
Of the three strategies available for managing common property resources (CPR)—centralized control, privatization and local management—this essay focuses on the last, which has proven quite effective in various settings throughout the Third World, with the key to success being local ability to control access to the resource. The major factors at issue in the Sundarbans situation are: historically external pressure on the forest; currently dense population in adjacent areas; a land distribution even more unequal than the norm in Bangladesh; and (...) a decentralized local government structure initiated in the mid-1980s. The first three factors have encouraged the local population to view this CRP as a frontier to be exploited,rather than as a resource to be preservedfor sustained yield. Thus to the extent that the new local government structure proves to be democratic and responsive to popular needs, it would most likely accelerate destruction of the Sundarbans, using the area as a cheap and easy way to provide some livelihood to the rural poor and landless. Accordingly, decentralization cannot be a viable strategy for preserving this unique forest resource; only a strong central control can ensure its survival into the next century. (shrink)