According to vitalism, living organisms differ from machines and all other inanimate objects by being endowed with an indwelling immaterial directive agency, ‘vital force,’ or entelechy . While support for vitalism fell away in the late nineteenth century many biologists in the early twentieth century embraced a non vitalist philosophy variously termed organicism/holism/emergentism which aimed at replacing the actions of an immaterial spirit with what was seen as an equivalent but perfectly natural agency—the emergent autonomous activity of the whole organism. (...) Organicists hold that organisms unlike machines are ‘more than the sum of their parts’ and predict that the vital properties of living things can never be explained in terms of mechanical analogies and that the reductionist agenda is doomed to failure. Here we review the current status of the mechanist and organicist conceptions of life particularly as they apply to the cell. We argue that despite the advances in biological knowledge over the past six decades since the molecular biological revolution, especially in the fields of genetics and cell biology the unique properties of living cells have still not been simulated in mechanical systems nor yielded to reductionist—analytical explanations. And we conclude that despite the dominance of the mechanistic–reductionist paradigm through most of the past century the possibility of a twentyfirst century organicist revival cannot be easily discounted. (shrink)
In his new book, "The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe," Robert J. Richards argues that Charles Darwin's true evolutionary roots lie in the German Romantic biology that flourished around the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is argued that Richards is quite wrong in this claim and that Darwin's roots are in the British society within which he was born, educated, and lived.
Interest in philosophy of management continues to grow. Growth of the philosophy of management might result from the consideration of man's potential as viewed by two different men, an industrialist and a philosopher. James Finney Lincoln was president and board chairman of The Lincoln Electric Company for 37 years. During that time, and for 14 previous years when he was the firm's general manager, he developed a philosophy basic to a practice of business management that gained national and international attention. (...) Wilhelm von Humboldt was a very gifted person with many accomplishments including those as a Prussian statesman, a humanist, and a linguistics scholar. A comparison of both men's philosophies reveals the following: In each view man's potentiality was approached by the dynamic, on-going process of developing his latent abilities or powers. Both views stressed freedom as being critical to the development of man's latent abilities or powers. For Lincoln the individual must gain satisfaction from the recognition of developing his latent abilities. For Humboldt the individual must enjoy the 'freedom of developing himself.' Lincoln warned against custom as being a barrier to development since it places man in situations which are without variation, forcing him merely to follow precedent. Humboldt, in addition to freedom, stated that "a variety of situations" is essential for development. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
This book is an expanded version of Joan Weiner's introduction to Frege's work in the Oxford University Press ‘Past Masters’ series published in 1999. The earlier book had chapters on Frege's life and character, his basic project, his new logic, his definitions of the numbers, his 1891 essay ‘Function and concept’, his 1892 essays ‘On Sinn and Bedeutung’ and ‘On concept and object’, the Grundgesetze der Arithmetik and the havoc wreaked by Russell's paradox, and a final brief chapter on Frege's (...) influence. To this, Weiner has added two further chapters on Frege's dispute with Hilbert on the foundations of geometry and on the three late essays of his ‘Logical investigations’. There is little change to the content of the earlier chapters, but they have been divided into sections, each with its own heading, which makes it easier to find one's way around.With the two additional chapters, the book provides an excellent introduction to Frege's work from his earliest Begriffsschrift , which gives the first presentation of his new logic, to his three late essays , which expound his views on logic, truth, and thought. As in the earlier version, the focus is on the logicist project that dominated Frege's career: the attempt to demonstrate that arithmetic is reducible to logic. In all her writings on Frege, Weiner has been particularly sensitive to the philosophical …. (shrink)
Consider the following situation. It is the first day of school, and the new third-grade students file into the classroom to be shown to their seats for the coming year. As they enter, the third-grade teacher notices one small boy who is particularly unkempt. He looks to be in desperate need of bathing, and his clothes are dirty, torn and tight-fitting. During recess, the teacher pulls aside the boy's previous teacher and asks about his wretched condition. The other teacher informs (...) her that he always looks that way, even though the boy's family is quite wealthy. The reason he appears as he does, she continues, is that the family observes an odd practice according to which the children do not receive many important things – food, clothing, bathing, even shelter – unless they specifically request them. Since the boy, like many third-graders, has little interest in bathing and clean clothes, he just never asks for them. (shrink)
Michael J. Zimmerman offers a conceptual analysis of the moral ‘ought’ that focuses on moral decision-making under uncertainty. His central case, originally presented by Frank Jackson, concerns a doctor who must choose among three treatments for a minor ailment. Her evidence suggests that drug B will partially cure her patient, that one of either drug A or C would cure him completely, but that the other drug would kill him. Accepting the intuition that the doctor ought to choose drug (...) B, Zimmerman argues that moral obligation consists in performing the action that is ‘prospectively best,’ that is ‘that which, from the moral point of view, it is most reasonable for the agent to choose’ given the evidence available to her at the time .Zimmerman defends his Prospective View of moral obligation against two main competitors in the long, first chapter of the book. According to the Objective View, a person ought to choose what is, in fact, the best option. The doctor ought to give her patient whichever drug will actually cure him. The fact that the doctor cannot know whether this is drug …. (shrink)
The Free Will Defence has been attacked as being unsound, implausible and, more recently, irrelevant. The first section of the paper returns to a discussion on the relevance of the Free Will Defence, arguing that the case for its irrelevance is inextricably impaled on the horns of a dilemma. In the second section it is shown that Free Will Theodicy, even in a form extended to include natural evil, need not be as implausible as it is sometimes portrayed for it (...) demands no more than that good, on the whole, outweighs evil, on the whole. Finally, some tempting objections to the strategy employed in this argument are considered and rejected, both on the grounds that they are untenable in themselves and on the paradoxical ground that, if valid, the objections would appear to rule out any creation. (shrink)
Michael J. Sandel: The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 183-185 DOI 10.1007/s12376-009-0018-4 Authors Ilhan Ilkilic, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Medical Center Institute for History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine Am Pulverturm 13 55131 Mainz Germany Rainer Brömer, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Medical Center Institute for History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine Am Pulverturm 13 55131 Mainz Germany Journal Medicine Studies Online ISSN 1876-4541 Print ISSN 1876-4533 Journal (...) Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 2. (shrink)
The idea that immoral behaviour can sometimes be admirable, and that moral behaviour can sometimes be less than admirable, has led several of its supporters to infer that moral considerations are not always overriding, contrary to what has been traditionally maintained. In this paper I shall challenge this inference. My purpose in doing so is to expose and acknowledge something that has been inadequately appreciated, namely, the moral aspect of nonmoral goods and evils. I hope thereby to show that, even (...) if immorality can be admirable, this poses no threat to morality. (shrink)
A perfect being is a being which possesses all perfections essentially. A perfect being is essentially omniscient, essentially omnipotent, essentially perfectly good, and necessarily existing. In his excellent book “The Metaphysics of Perfect Beings” Michael J. Almeida investigates the following tough questions about perfect beings: What would a perfect being create? Which moral requirements would a perfect being (have to) fulfill when deciding what to create? Is there a minimum or a maximum amount of evil a perfect being would (...) allow to occur? Could a perfect being permit any instance of pointless and undeserved suffering of creatures? Does a perfect being have some freedom to choose what to create? Could a perfect being be just in sending some people eternally to heaven and some people eternally to hell? Almeida applies modern theories about vagueness, infinite values, possible world semantics and many universes to these questions. In this way Almeida investigates these questions in more detail and depth than they have been before and substantially advances the discussion of these issues. (shrink)
Hoppmann, Michael J.: Argumentative Verteidigung. Grundlegung zu einer modernen Statuslehre. [Argumentative Advocacy. Foundations of a Modern Stasis Theory.] Content Type Journal Article Pages 525-526 DOI 10.1007/s10503-010-9192-5 Authors Matthias Plötz, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Journal Argumentation Online ISSN 1572-8374 Print ISSN 0920-427X Journal Volume Volume 24 Journal Issue Volume 24, Number 4.
In this essay I elaborate a particular, and particularly important, morality: the morality of human rights. Next, I ask the ground-of-normativity question about the morality of human rights and go on to elaborate a religious response. Then, after explaining why one might be skeptical that there is a plausible secular response to the ground-of-normativity question, I comment critically on John Finnis's secular response. Finally, I consider what difference it makes if there is no plausible secular response to the ground-of-normativity question.
Philosophy, that most misunderstood of intellectual pursuits, is often mocked; and no part of philosophy is as often mocked as metaphysics. The image of the ‘speculative metaphysician’ dreaming up abstract pictures of the world has been held up for ridicule by poets, playwrights, novelists, journalists as well as by other philosophers. The Logical Positivists in the first half of the 20th Century rejected all metaphysical speculations as ‘meaningless’ since they could not be verified by scientific experiment; in the later part (...) of the century, Wittgenstein criticised systematic metaphysics as being a kind of intellectual disease resulting from our reading false pictures of the world into the grammar of our language. The common suspicion underlying many of these attacks is that ultimately, all metaphysics is a kind of nonsense, and that metaphysicians don’t really know what they are talking about. This suspicion is not new. Nicolas-Sébastien Chamfort commented in 1796, ‘I am tempted to say of metaphysicians what Scaliger used to say of the Basques: they are said to understand one another, but I don’t believe a word of it.’ Some contemporary philosophers may agree. (shrink)
In 2006, Michael Zimmerman published an underappreciated paper on the nature of moral obligation in which he argued that our moral obligations depend, not on the facts or our beliefs, but on the evidence available to us. Two years later, he published a lengthy book in which he argued more thoroughly for the same conclusion. In this book, Zimmerman returns to the central question of those works to respond to objections that have been brought against the views he presented (...) therein. This new book is the most thorough defense of what has come to be known as the Prospective View of moral obligation and as such is a must-read for those working in normative ethics narrowly construed. (shrink)
. In Moderating the Debate: Rationality and the Promise of American Education, Michael Feuer argues that insights from cognitive science and the theory of bounded rationality can help us understand why educational policy makers overreach in seeking optimal solutions to educational problems. In this essay, Emily Robertson argues that cognitive science is of limited help for two reasons. First, since the findings of the theory of bounded rationality are supposed to describe how we actually do make decisions under conditions (...) of uncertainty, it is unclear how those findings can help us explain why educational policy makers have apparently used different decision‐making strategies. Second, the idea that educational reform can be set right by being made the province of more fully rational policy makers neglects the public, value dimension of education, and thus obscures some of the true sources of overpromising. (shrink)