Since its introduction, multivariate pattern analysis, or ‘neural decoding’, has transformed the field of cognitive neuroscience. Underlying its influence is a crucial inference, which we call the decoder’s dictum: if information can be decoded from patterns of neural activity, then this provides strong evidence about what information those patterns represent. Although the dictum is a widely held and well-motivated principle in decoding research, it has received scant philosophical attention. We critically evaluate the dictum, arguing that it is false: decodability is (...) a poor guide for revealing the content of neural representations. However, we also suggest how the dictum can be improved on, in order to better justify inferences about neural representation using MVPA. 1Introduction 2A Brief Primer on Neural Decoding: Methods, Application, and Interpretation 2.1What is multivariate pattern analysis? 2.2The informational benefits of multivariate pattern analysis 3Why the Decoder’s Dictum Is False 3.1We don’t know what information is decoded 3.2The theoretical basis for the dictum 3.3Undermining the theoretical basis 4Objections and Replies 4.1Does anyone really believe the dictum? 4.2Good decoding is not enough 4.3Predicting behaviour is not enough 5Moving beyond the Dictum 6Conclusion. (shrink)
Since its introduction, multivariate pattern analysis, or ‘neural decoding’, has transformed the field of cognitive neuroscience. Underlying its influence is a crucial inference, which we call the decoder’s dictum: if information can be decoded from patterns of neural activity, then this provides strong evidence about what information those patterns represent. Although the dictum is a widely held and well-motivated principle in decoding research, it has received scant philosophical attention. We critically evaluate the dictum, arguing that it is false: decodability is (...) a poor guide for revealing the content of neural representations. However, we also suggest how the dictum can be improved on, in order to better justify inferences about neural representation using MVPA. (shrink)
This volume offers the first English language collection of academic essays on the post-Holocaust thought of Jean Améry, a Jewish-Austrian-Belgian essayist, journalist and literary author. Comprehensive in scope and multi-disciplinary in orientation, contributors explore central aspects of Améry's philosophical and ethical position, including dignity, responsibility, resentment, and forgiveness.
ABSTRACTNegative feedback has paradoxical features to it. This form of feedback can have informational value under some circumstances, but it can also threaten the ego, potentially upsetting behaviour as a result. To investigate possible consequences of the latter type, two experiments presented positive or negative feedback within a sequence-prediction task that could not be solved. Following feedback, participants had to control their behaviours as effectively as possible in a motor control task. Relative to positive feedback, negative feedback undermined control in (...) a manner suggesting emotional upset. These reactions lasted for at least three seconds and were especially pronounced among people reporting that they typically lose control in the context of their negative emotions. The findings document a novel form of behavioural dysregulation that occurs in response to negative feedback while also highlighting the utility of motor control perspectives on self... (shrink)
Prussia's Edict on Religion of 1788 forbade sermons that undermined popular belief in the Holy Trinity and the Bible. Scholars have assumed that this act was counter-enlightened because it limited the free use of reason in public. An analysis of two court cases related to the edict reveals, however, that both the edict and its “enlightened” opponents within the state assumed that public expression should be disciplined. With respect to the enlightened bureaucratic elite that opposed the edict, it identifies two (...) factors that impelled them toward the disciplining of public communication: 1) German universities created an elite social group that assiduously cultivated its own intellectual sphere, and 2) having access to state power gave each member of the elite something to lose if the process of the Enlightenment proved politically or socially destabilizing. As a result, the fight over the Edict on Religion cannot be understood in terms of an Enlightenment/counter-Enlightenment dichotomy, but must be seen as a debate within the German elite about the level of social discipline that was sufficient for maintaining domestic tranquility. (shrink)
A collection of 37 essays surveying the state of the art on metaphysical ground. -/- Essay authors are: Fatema Amijee, Ricki Bliss, Amanda Bryant, Margaret Cameron, Phil Corkum, Fabrice Correia, Louis deRosset, Scott Dixon, Tom Donaldson, Nina Emery, Kit Fine, Martin Glazier, Kathrin Koslicki, David Mark Kovacs, Stephan Krämer, Stephanie Leary, Stephan Leuenberger, Jon Litland, Marko Malink, Michaela McSweeney, Kevin Mulligan, Alyssa Ney, Asya Passinsky, Francesca Poggiolesi, Kevin Richardson, Stefan Roski, Noel Saenz, Benjamin Schnieder, Erica Shumener, Alexander Skiles, Olla Solomyak, (...) Tuomas Tahko, Naomi Thompson, Kelly Trogdon, Jennifer Wang, Tobias Wilsch, and Justin Zylstra. (shrink)
Though the reputation of eugenics has been tarnished by history, eugenics per se is not necessarily a bad thing. Many advocate a liberal new eugenics—where individuals are free to choose whether or not to employ genetic technologies for reproductive purposes. Though genetic interventions aimed at the prevention of severe genetic disorders may be morally and socially acceptable, reproductive liberty in the context of enhancement may conflict with equality. Enhancement could also have adverse effects on utility. The enhancement debate requires a (...) shift in focus. What the equality and/or utility costs of enhancement will be is an empirical question. Rather than philosophical speculation, more social science research is needed to address it. Philosophers, meanwhile, should address head-on the question of how to strike a balance between liberty, equality, and utility in cases of conflict (in the context of genetics). (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)
Several proposals for addressing religious literacy or including religious content in American public schools point to potential advantages for intellectual and moral development. These proposals include moral arguments, which suggest that religious literacy is an individual and social good. Although the proposals selected for this analysis span the previous two decades, it appears that little progress has been made toward addressing religious literacy in American public school contexts. In this theoretical article, I examine several of these proposals using a philosophical (...) contrast between weak and strong relationality. It is argued that although these proposals include strong relational assumptions, weak relational assumptions remain that could inhibit the successful implementation of these proposals—or perhaps even undermine their ultimate goals. (shrink)
Rousseau’s project in his Social Contract was to construct a conception of human subjectivity and political institutions that would transcend what he saw to be the limits of liberal political theory of his time. I take this as a starting point to put forward an interpretation of his theory of the general will as a kind of social cognition that is able to preserve individual autonomy and freedom alongside concerns with the collective welfare of the community. But whereas many have (...) seen Rousseau’s ideas as a prelude to communitarianism or authoritarianism, we should instead see his project as articulating an alternative model of moral-cognitivist reasoning. In order to provide a framework for this interpretation, I propose reading his conception of the general will through the theory of collective intentionality and social ontology. I end with a consideration of how this interpretation of the general will can provide a more satisfying understanding of political and practical rationality contemporary debates over republicanism and liberalism. (shrink)
This comprehensive anthology draws together classic and contemporary readings by leading philosophers on epistemology. Ideal for any philosophy student, it will prove essential reading for epistemology courses, and is designed to complement Robert Audi's textbook _Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction_. Themes covered include, perception, memory, inductive inference, reason and the a priori, the architecture of knowledge, skepticism, the analysis of knowledge, testimony. Each section begins with an introductory essay, guiding students into the topic. Includes articles by: Russell, Hume, Berkeley, Malcolm, Quine, (...) Carnap, J.L. Austin, Pollock, Nozick, Putnam, G.E. Moore, Huemer, Reid, Plato, BonJour, Coady, Carroll, Fumerton, Edwards, Foster, Howson, Urbach, Stove, Empiricus, Oakley, Alston, Gettier, Clark, Goldman, Lehrer, Paxson, DeRose, Dretske, Klein and Chisholm. (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)
Staggering advances in biotechnology within the past decade have given rise to pharmacological, surgical and prosthetic techniques capable of enhancing human functioning rather than merely treating or preventing disease. Bioenhancement technologies range from nootropics capable of enhancing cognitive abilities to distraction osteogenesis, a surgical technique capable of increasing height through limb lengthening. This paper examines whether the use of bioenhancements falls inside or outside the proper boundaries of healthcare, and if so, whether clinicians have professional responsibilities to administer bioenhancements to (...) patients. After explicating two theoretical approaches to the concept of health, one objectivist and the other constructivist, I contend that clinicians' corresponding professional responsibilities hinge on which philosophical account of health is endorsed, and illustrate how the lack of analytic clarity with respect to this concept can lead to defective positions on the place of bioenhancements in healthcare. With this conceptual framework in place, an account of health as a cluster concept that incorporates both constructivist and objectivist components is developed and defended. (shrink)
We explore the possibility that a priori philosophical commitments continue to result in a narrowing of inquiry in moral psychology and education where theistic worldviews are concerned. Drawing from the theories of Edward L. Thorndike and John Dewey, we examine naturalistic philosophical commitments that influenced the study of moral psychology and moral education in the USA. We then address the question of whether these foundational naturalistic commitments can be rendered as compatible with theistic commitments, using both modernist and postmodern philosophical (...) approaches that might be viewed as attempts at compatibility. Arguing that these attempts at compatibility fail, we draw from contemporary approaches to moral psychology and education in order to illustrate how naturalistic commitments might prevent these approaches from adequately addressing theistic understandings and experiences of morality. (shrink)
Corporate social responsibility has been intensively discussed in business ethics literature, whereas the social responsibility of private consumers appears to be less researched. However, there is also a growing interest from business ethicists and other scholars in the field of consumer social responsibility. Nevertheless, previous discussions of ConSR reveal the need for a viable conceptual basis for understanding the social responsibility of consumers in an increasingly globalized market economy. Moreover, evolutionary aspects of human morality seem to have been neglected despite (...) the fact that private consumers are undoubtedly human beings. In addition to that, empirical studies suggest that many consumers believe themselves to be responsible but do not act according to their alleged values or attitudes. This raises the question of what deters them from doing so. Therefore, the contribution of this conceptual paper is threefold: we conceptualize ConSR in terms of a combination of a Max Weber-inspired approach with the social connection approach to shared responsibility proposed by Iris Marion Young; shed light on the previously neglected implications of an evolutionarily induced bounded morality for ConSR, and identify potential obstacles to socially responsible consumption, particularly against the backdrop of shared social responsibility and bounded morality. In this latter respect, the paper focuses specifically on the obstacles of low moral intensity, moral stupefaction, informational complexity, and the lack of perceived consumer effectiveness. In sum, the paper advances knowledge in the field of ConSR by using a transdisciplinary, literature-based approach. (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)
The influential public health ethics framework proposed by Childress et al. includes five “justificatory conditions,” two of which are “necessity” and “least infringement.” While the framework points to important moral values, we argue it is redundant for it to list both necessity and least infringement because they are logically equivalent. However, it is ambiguous whether Childress et al. would endorse this view, or hold the two conditions distinct. This ambiguity has resulted in confusion in public health ethics discussions citing the (...) Childress et al. framework, as demonstrated by debate between Resnik and Wilson and Dawson. We analyse this debate to resolve these ambiguities. Finally, we argue that the necessity/least infringement principle of the Childress et al. framework applies only in cases in which only one intervention is to be implemented to achieve one specific goal. In other cases, it is not essential to require that only the least infringing intervention be implemented. (shrink)
_Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction_ is for students who have already completed an introductory philosophy course and need a fresh look at the central topics in the core subject of metaphysics. It is essential reading for any student of the subject. This Fourth Edition is revised and updated and includes two new chapters on Parts and Wholes, and Metaphysical Indeterminacy or vagueness. This new edition also keeps the user-friendly format, the chapter overviews summarizing the main topics, concrete examples to clarify difficult (...) concepts, annotated further reading at the end of each chapter, endnotes, and a full bibliography. Topics addressed include: the problem of universals the nature of abstract entities the problem of individuation the nature of modality identity through time the nature of time the nature of parts and wholes the problem of metaphysical indeterminacy the Realism/anti-Realism debate. Wherever possible, Michael J. Loux and Thomas M. Crisp relate contemporary views to their classical sources in the history of philosophy. As experienced teachers of philosophy and important contributors to recent debates, Loux and Crisp are uniquely qualified to write this book. (shrink)
Michael J. Zimmerman explores whether and how our ignorance about ourselves and our circumstances affects what our moral obligations and moral rights are. He rejects objective and subjective views of the nature of moral obligation, and presents a new case for a 'prospective' view.
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.
Introduction: Doing the right thing -- Utilitarianism : Bentham and J.S. Mill -- Libertarianism -- John Locke -- Markets and morals -- Immanuel Kant -- John Rawls -- Affirmative action -- Aristotle -- Liberals and communitarians -- Conclusion: Reconnecting politics and morals.
Every choice we make is set against a background of massive ignorance about our past, our future, our circumstances, and ourselves. Philosophers are divided on the moral significance of such ignorance. Some say that it has a direct impact on how we ought to behave - the question of what our moral obligations are; others deny this, claiming that it only affects how we ought to be judged in light of the behaviour in which we choose to engage - the (...) question of what responsibility we bear for our choices. Michael Zimmerman claims that our ignorance has an important bearing on both questions, and offers an account of moral obligation and moral responsibility that is sharply at odds with the prevailing wisdom. His book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in ethics. (shrink)
Intrinsic value has traditionally been thought to lie at the heart of ethics. Philosophers use a number of terms to refer to such value. The intrinsic value of something is said to be the value that that thing has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right.” Extrinsic value is value that is not intrinsic.
A liberal society seeks not to impose a single way of life, but to leave its citizens as free as possible to choose their own values and ends. It therefore must govern by principles of justice that do not presuppose any particular vision of the good life. But can any such principles be found? And if not, what are the consequences for justice as a moral and political ideal? These are the questions Michael Sandel takes up in this penetrating (...) critique of contemporary liberalism. Sandel locates modern liberalism in the tradition of Kant, and focuses on its most influential recent expression in the work of John Rawls. In the most important challenge yet to Rawls' theory of justice, Sandel traces the limits of liberalism to the conception of the person that underlies it, and argues for a deeper understanding of community than liberalism allows. (shrink)
I defend (metaphysical) ground against recent, unanswered objections aiming to dismiss it from serious philosophical inquiry. Interest in ground stems from its role in the venerable metaphysical project of identifying which facts hold in virtue of others. Recent work on ground focuses on regimenting it. But many reject ground itself, seeing regimentation as yet another misguided attempt to regiment a bad idea (like phlogiston or astrology). I defend ground directly against objections that it is confused, incoherent, or fruitless. This vindicates (...) the very attempt to regiment ground. It also refocuses our attention on the genuine open questions about ground and away from the distracting, unpersuasive reasons for dismissing them. (shrink)
Interest surges in a distinctively metaphysical notion of ground. But a Schism has emerged between Orthodoxy’s view of ground as inducing a strict partial order structure on reality and Heresy’s rejection of this view. What’s at stake is the structure of reality (for proponents of ground), or even ground itself (for those who think this Schism casts doubt upon its coherence). I defend Orthodoxy against Heresy.
There is currently an explosion of interest in grounding. In this article we provide an overview of the debate so far. We begin by introducing the concept of grounding, before discussing several kinds of scepticism about the topic. We then identify a range of central questions in the theory of grounding and discuss competing answers to them that have emerged in the debate. We close by raising some questions that have been relatively neglected but which warrant further attention.
Workplace spirituality research has side-stepped religion by focusing on the function of belief rather than its substance. Although establishing a unified foundation for research, the functional approach cannot shed light on issues of workplace pluralism, individual or institutional faith-work integration, or the institutional roles of religion in economic activity. To remedy this, we revisit definitions of spirituality and argue for the place of a belief-based approach to workplace religion. Additionally, we describe the construction of a 15-item measure of workplace religion (...) informed by Judaism and Christianity – the Faith at Work Scale (FWS). A stratified random sample (n = 234) of managers and professionals assisted in refining the FWS which exhibits a single factor structure (Eigenvalue = 8.88; variance accounted for = 59.22%) that is internally consistent (Cronbach's α = 0.77) and demonstrates convergent validity with the Faith Maturity Scale (r = 0.81, p> 0.0001). The scale shows lower skew and kurtosis with Mainline and Catholic adherents than with Mormons and Evangelicals. Validation of the scale among Jewish and diverse Christian adherants would extend research in workplace religion. (shrink)
This superbly crafted account of the notion of moral responsibility and of its relations to freedom, control, ignorance, negligence, attempts, omissions, compulsion, mental disorders, virtues and vices, desert, and punishment fills that gap. The treatment of character and luck is particularly sophisticated and well-argued.
At the heart of ethics reside the concepts of good and bad; they are at work when we assess whether a person is virtuous or vicious, an act right or wrong, a decision defensible or indefensible, a goal desirable or undesirable. But there are many varieties of goodness and badness. At their core lie intrinsic goodness and badness, the sort of value that something has for its own sake. It is in virtue of intrinsic value that other types of value (...) may be understood, and hence that we can begin to come to terms with questions of virtue and vice, right and wrong, and so on. This book investigates the nature of intrinsic value: just what it is for something to be valuable for its own sake, just what sort of thing can have such value, just how such a value is to be computed. In the final chapter, the fruits of this investigation are applied to a discussion of pleasure, pain, and displeasure and also of moral virtue and vice, in order to determine just what value lies within these phenomena. (shrink)