Robert Stern has argued that Levinas is a kind of command theorist and that, for this reason, Løgstrup can be understood to have provided an argument against Levinas. In this paper, I discuss Levinas’s use of the vocabulary of demand, order, and command in the light of Jewish philosophical accounts of such notions in the work of Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emil Fackenheim. These accounts revise the traditional Jewish idea of command and I show that Levinas’s use of this (...) vocabulary is also revisionary. I show that in light of this tradition of discussion, Levinas’s use is not susceptible to the interpretation Stern proposes and thus that the Løgstrup-style argument cannot be used against Levinas. (shrink)
"MIchael Morgan has served up an intellectual treat. These subtle and carefully reasoned essays explore the dilemmas of the post-modern Jew who would take history seriously without losing the commanding presence Israel heard at Sinai.... It is a pleasure to be nourished by a fresh mind exploring the tension between reason and revelation, history and faith."—Rabbi Samuel Karff "This is without doubt one of the most significant works in modern Jewish thought and a must for a thoughtful student of (...) contemporary Jewish philosophy." —Rabbie Sheldon Zimmerman "This may well mark the next stage in the long history of Jewish self-understanding." —Ethics "... rigorous history of modern Jewish thought... " —Choice Is Judaism a timeless, universal set of beliefs or, rather, is it historical and contingent in its relation to different times and places? Morgan clarifies the tensions and dilemmas that characterize modern thinking about the nature of Judaism and clears the way for Jews to appreciate their historical situation, yet locate enduring values and principles in a post-Holocaust world. (shrink)
An emerging class of theories concerning the functional structure of the brain takes the reuse of neural circuitry for various cognitive purposes to be a central organizational principle. According to these theories, it is quite common for neural circuits established for one purpose to be exapted (exploited, recycled, redeployed) during evolution or normal development, and be put to different uses, often without losing their original functions. Neural reuse theories thus differ from the usual understanding of the role of neural plasticity (...) (which is, after all, a kind of reuse) in brain organization along the following lines: According to neural reuse, circuits can continue to acquire new uses after an initial or original function is established; the acquisition of new uses need not involve unusual circumstances such as injury or loss of established function; and the acquisition of a new use need not involve (much) local change to circuit structure (e.g., it might involve only the establishment of functional connections to new neural partners). Thus, neural reuse theories offer a distinct perspective on several topics of general interest, such as: the evolution and development of the brain, including (for instance) the evolutionary-developmental pathway supporting primate tool use and human language; the degree of modularity in brain organization; the degree of localization of cognitive function; and the cortical parcellation problem and the prospects (and proper methods to employ) for function to structure mapping. The idea also has some practical implications in the areas of rehabilitative medicine and machine interface design. (shrink)
The nature of cognition is being re-considered. Instead of emphasizing formal operations on abstract symbols, the new approach foregrounds the fact that cognition is, rather, a situated activity, and suggests that thinking beings ought therefore be considered first and foremost as acting beings. The essay reviews recent work in Embodied Cognition, provides a concise guide to its principles, attitudes and goals, and identifies the physical grounding project as its central research focus.
In Discovering Levinas, Michael L. Morgan shows how this thinker faces in novel and provocative ways central philosophical problems of twentieth-century philosophy and religious thought. He tackles this task by placing Levinas in conversation with philosophers such as Donald Davidson, Stanley Cavell, John McDowell, Onora O'Neill, Charles Taylor, and Cora Diamond. He also seeks to understand Levinas within philosophical, religious, and political developments in the history of twentieth-century intellectual culture. Morgan demystifies Levinas by examining his unfamiliar and surprising vocabulary, (...) interpreting texts with an eye to clarity, and arguing that Levinas can be understood as a philosopher of the everyday. Morgan also shows that Levinas's ethics is not morally and politically irrelevant nor is it excessively narrow and demanding in unacceptable ways. Neither glib dismissal nor fawning acceptance, this book provides a sympathetic reading that can form a foundation for a responsible critique. (shrink)
This new book by Michael Slater significantly extends the argument articulated in his earlier study of William James on Ethics and Faith, also published by Cambridge University Press. Slater was committed there as here to demonstrating the compatibility of pragmatism with some form of metaphysical realism. There as here he was interested in showing the affinities between James’s thought and certain ideas developed by contemporary analytical philosophers of religion. In Pragmatism and the Philosophy of Religion, however, the scope of (...) analysis is broadened from a focus on James to a consideration of pragmatism more generally conceived. Two early chapters on James are followed by chapters on Charles S. Peirce... (shrink)
To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between (...) the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task-specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics. (shrink)
This book provides a clear and helpful overview of the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, one of the most significant and interesting philosophers of the late twentieth century. Michael L. Morgan presents an overall interpretation of Levinas' central principle that human existence is fundamentally ethical and that its ethical character is grounded in our face-to-face relationships. He explores the religious, cultural and political implications of this insight for modern Western culture and how it relates to our conception of selfhood and (...) what it is to be a person, our understanding of the ground of moral values, our experience of time and the meaning of history, and our experience of religious concepts and discourse. Includes an annotated list of recommended readings and a selected bibliography of books by and about Levinas. An excellent introduction to Levinas for readers unfamiliar with his work and even for those without a background in philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper, I summarize an emerging debate in the cognitive sciences over the right taxonomy for understanding cognition – the right theory of and vocabulary for describing the structure of the mind – and the proper role of neuroscientific evidence in specifying this taxonomy. In part because the discussion clearly entails a deep reconsideration of the supposed autonomy of psychology from neuroscience, this is a debate in which philosophers should be interested, with which they should be familiar, and to (...) which they should contribute. Here, I outline some of the positions being advocated, and reflect on some of the possible implications of this work both for scientific and folk psychology. (shrink)
This essay introduces the massive redeployment hypothesis, an account of the functional organization of the brain that centrally features the fact that brain areas are typically employed to support numerous functions. The central contribution of the essay is to outline a middle course between strict localization on the one hand, and holism on the other, in such a way as to account for the supporting data on both sides of the argument. The massive redeployment hypothesis is supported by case studies (...) of redeployment, and compared and contrasted with other theories of the localization of function. (shrink)
Neural reuse is a form of neuroplasticity whereby neural elements originally developed for one purpose are put to multiple uses. A diverse behavioral repertoire is achieved by means of the creation of multiple, nested, and overlapping neural coalitions, in which each neural element is a member of multiple different coalitions and cooperates with a different set of partners at different times. Neural reuse has profound implications for how we think about our continuity with other species, for how we understand the (...) similarities and differences between psychological processes, and for how best to pursue a unified science of the mind.After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain surveys the terrain and advocates for a series of reforms in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. The book argues that, among other things, we should capture brain function in a multidimensional manner, develop a new, action-oriented vocabulary for psychology, and recognize that higher-order cognitive processes are built from complex configurations of already evolved circuitry. (shrink)
This paper argues that research on the business case for corporate social responsibility (CSR) must account for the path dependent nature of firm-stakeholderrelations, and develops the construct of stakeholder influence capacity (SIC) to fill this void. SIC helps to explain why the effects of CSR on corporate financial performance (CFP) vary across firms and across time, therein providing a missing link in the study of the business case. This paper distinguishes CSR from related and confounded corporate resource allocations and from (...) corporate social performance (CSP), then incorporates SIC into a model that explains how acts of CSR are transformed into CFP through stakeholder relationships. This paper also develops a set of propositions to aid future research on the contingencies that produce variable financial returns to investments in CSR. (shrink)
Shame is one of a family of self-conscious emotions that includes embarrassment, guilt, disgrace, and humiliation. _On Shame_ examines this emotion psychologically and philosophically, in order to show how it can be a galvanizing force for moral action against the violence and atrocity that characterize the world we live in. Michael L. Morgan argues that because shame is global in its sense of the self, the moral failures of all groups in which we are a member – including the (...) entire human race – reflect on each person individually. Drawing on historical and current affairs to explore the emotion of shame, as well as films such as _Night and Fog_, _Hotel Rwanda_ and _Life is Beautiful_ and the work of Primo Levi, Bernard Williams, and Stanley Cavell, Michael Morgan illustrates how moral responsibility can be facilitated by calling upon an emotional reaction that is familiar, complex, and central to our conception of ourselves as individuals and as members of society. (shrink)
The only complete edition in English of Baruch Spinoza's works, this volume features Samuel Shirley’s preeminent translations, distinguished at once by the lucidity and fluency with which they convey the flavor and meaning of Spinoza’s original texts. Michael L. Morgan provides a general introduction that places Spinoza in Western philosophy and culture and sketches the philosophical, scientific, religious, moral and political dimensions of Spinoza’s thought. Morgan’s brief introductions to each work give a succinct historical, biographical, and philosophical overview. A (...) chronology and index are included. (shrink)
Abstract: The massive redeployment hypothesis (MRH) is a theory about the functional topography of the human brain, offering a middle course between strict localization on the one hand, and holism on the other. Central to MRH is the claim that cognitive evolution proceeded in a way analogous to component reuse in software engineering, whereby existing components-originally developed to serve some specific purpose-were used for new purposes and combined to support new capacities, without disrupting their participation in existing programs. If the (...) evolution of cognition was indeed driven by such exaptation, then we should be able to make some specific empirical predictions regarding the resulting functional topography of the brain. This essay discusses three such predictions, and some of the evidence supporting them. Then, using this account as a background, the essay considers the implications of these findings for an account of the functional integration of cognitive operations. For instance, MRH suggests that in order to determine the functional role of a given brain area it is necessary to consider its participation across multiple task categories, and not just focus on one, as has been the typical practice in cognitive neuroscience. This change of methodology will motivate (even perhaps necessitate) the development of a new, domain-neutral vocabulary for characterizing the contribution of individual brain areas to larger functional complexes, and direct particular attention to the question of how these various area roles are integrated and coordinated to result in the observed cognitive effect. Finally, the details of the mix of cognitive functions a given area supports should tell us something interesting not just about the likely computational role of that area, but about the nature of and relations between the cognitive functions themselves. For instance, growing evidence of the role of “motor” areas like M1, SMA and PMC in language processing, and of “language” areas like Broca’s area in motor control, offers the possibility for significantly reconceptualizing the nature both of language and of motor control. (shrink)
Michael L. Morgan is Emeritus Chancellor Professor at Indiana University and the Grafstein Visiting Chair in Jewish Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He has written extensively on ancient Greek philosophy, modern Jewish philosophy, and post-Holocaust theology and ethics.
Do firms benefit from their voluntary efforts to alleviate the many problems confronting society? A vast literature establishing a “business case” for corporate social responsibility appears to find that usually they do. However, as argued herein, the business case literature has established only that firms usually benefit from responding to the demands of their primary stakeholders. The nature of the relationship between the interests of business and those of broader society, beyond a subset of powerful primary stakeholders, remains an open (...) question despite this vast literature. This article develops a set of propositions that highlight constraints on firms’ ability to profit from CSR and outlines a set of managerial challenges on which researchers must focus their attention to truly determine whether and when firms can profit by responding to the needs of society. (shrink)
The distance in conceptual space between the philosophical pragmatism of William James and the narrative theologies of Hans Frei and Stanley Hauerwas would appear at first glance to be significant. Hauerwas himself has measured that distance in public, when his extended critique of James supplied a good portion of the agenda for his Gifford Lectures, delivered in 2001 at St. Andrews and subsequently published as With the Grain of the Universe: The Church's Witness and Natural Theology. In this book, Jacob (...) Goodson dramatically closes the distance, appealing consistently to James's pragmatism as a resource not only for understanding the thought of contemporary narrative theologians but also for productively... (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas conceives of our lives as fundamentally interpersonal and ethical, claiming that our responsibilities to one another should shape all of our actions. While many scholars believe that Levinas failed to develop a robust view of political ethics, Michael L. Morgan argues against understandings of Levinas’s thought that find him politically wanting or even antipolitical. Morgan examines Levinas’s ethical critique of the political as well as his Jewish writings—including those on Zionism and the founding of the Jewish state—which (...) are controversial reflections of Levinas’s political expression. Unlike others who dismiss Levinas as irrelevant or anarchical, Morgan is the first to give extensive treatment to Levinas as a serious social political thinker whose ethics must be understood in terms of its political implications. Morgan reveals Levinas’s political commitments to liberalism and democracy as well as his revolutionary conception of human life as deeply interconnected on philosophical, political, and religious grounds. (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas emerged as an influential philosophical voice in the final decades of the twentieth century, and his reputation has continued to flourish and increase in our own day. His central themes--the primacy of the ethical and the core of ethics as our responsibility to and for others--speak to readers from a host of disciplines and perspectives. However, his writings and thought are challenging and difficult. The Oxford Handbook of Levinas contains essays that aim to clarify and engage Levinas and (...) his writings in a number of ways. Some focus on central themes of his work, others on the ways in which he read and was influenced by figures from Plato, Hobbes, Descartes, and Kant to Blanchot, Husserl, Heidegger, and Derrida. And there are essays on how his thinking has been appropriated in moral and political thought, psychology, film criticism, and more, and on the relation between his thinking and religious themes and traditions. Finally, several essays deal primarily with how readers have criticized him and found him wanting. The volume exposes and explores both the depth of Levinas's philosophical work and the range of applications to which it has been put, with special attention to clarifying why his interests in the human condition, the crisis of civilization, the centrality and character of ethics and morality, and the very meaning of human experience should be of interest to the widest range of readers. (shrink)
Medical rules of eligibility permit severely injured Iraqi and Afghan nationals to receive care in Coalition medical facilities only if bed space is available and their injuries result directly from Coalition fire. The first rule favors Coalition soldiers over host-nation nationals and contradicts the principle of impartial, needs-based medical care. To justify preferential care for compatriots, wartime medicine invokes associative obligations of care that favor friends, family, and comrades-in-arms. Associative obligations have little place in peacetime medical care but significantly affect (...) wartime medicine. The second rule suggests liability for collateral harm that is unsupported by international law and military ethics. Absent liability, there are pragmatic reasons to offer medical care to injured local civilians if it quells resentment and cements support for Coalition forces. In contrast to peacetime medicine, military necessity and associative obligations outweigh distributive principles based on medical need during war. (shrink)
b>. Recent findings in cognitive science suggest that the epistemic subject is more complex and epistemically porous than is generally pictured. Human knowers are open to the world via multiple channels, each operating for particular purposes and according to its own logic. These findings need to be understood and addressed by the philosophical community. The current essay argues that one consequence of the new findings is to invalidate certain arguments for epistemic anti-realism.
Asymmetric conflict is changing the way that we practise and think about war. Torture, rendition, assassination, blackmail, extortion, direct attacks on civilians, and chemical weapons are all finding their way to the battlefield despite longstanding international prohibitions. This book offers a practical guide for policy makers, military officers, students, and others who ask such questions as: do guerillas deserve respect or long jail sentences? Are there grounds to torture guerillas for information or assassinate them on the battlefield? Is there room (...) for nonlethal weapons to subdue militants and safeguard the lives of noncombatants? Who are noncombatants in asymmetric war? What is the status of civilians who shelter and aid guerillas? And, do guerillas have any right to attack civilians, particularly those who aid and shelter members of the stronger army? If one side can expand the scope of civilian vulnerability, then why can't the other? (shrink)
Because the goal of military medicine is salvaging the wounded who can return to duty, military medical ethics cannot easily defend devoting scarce resources to those so badly injured that they cannot return to duty. Instead, arguments turn to morale and political obligation to justify care for the seriously wounded. Neither argument is satisfactory. Care for the wounded is not necessary to maintain an army's morale. Nor is there any moral or logical connection between the right to health care (a (...) universal human right) and the duty to defend one's nation (a local political duty). Once badly wounded, soldiers enjoy the same right to medical care as any similarly ill or injured individual. National health care systems grasp this point and offer few additional health care benefits to veterans. In the United States, however, lack of universal health coverage skews the debate to focus on special entitlements for veterans without considering the health care rights that other citizens enjoy. (shrink)
The fifth edition of Michael L. Morgan's Classics of Moral and Political Theory broadens the scope and increases the versatility of this landmark anthology by offering new selections from Aristotle's Politics, Aquinas' Disputed Questions on Virtue and Treatise on Law, as well as the entirety of Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration, Kant's To Perpetual Peace, and Nietzsche's On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life.
As part of the ongoing attempt to fully naturalize the concept of human being--and, more specifically, to re-center it around the notion of agency--this essay discusses an approach to defining the content of representations in terms ultimately derived from their central, evolved function of providing guidance for action. This 'guidance theory' of representation is discussed in the context of, and evaluated with respect to, two other biologically inspired theories of representation: Dan Lloyd's dialectical theory of representation and Ruth Millikan's biosemantics.
Responsible citizens are expected to combine ethical judgement with judiciously exercised social activism to preserve the moral foundation of democratic society and prevent political injustice. But do they? Utilizing a research model integrating insights from rational choice theory and cognitive developmental psychology this book carefully explores three exemplary cases of morally inspired activism: Jewish rescue in wartime Europe, abortion politics in the United States, and peace and settler activism in Israel. From all three analyses a single conclusion emerges: the most (...) politically competent individuals are, most often, the least morally competent. This is the central paradox of political morality. These findings cast doubt on strong models of political morality characterized by enlightened moral reasoning and concerted political action while affirming alternative weak models that fuse activism with sectarian moral interests. They provide empirical support to further upend the liberal vision of democratic character, education, and society. (shrink)
Kant s view of the imagination is surrounded by one of the most salient and obscure discussions on his critical philosophy. Due to revisions and emendations and a seeming change in doctrine from the first to the third Critique, Kant s considered view of the imagination remains unclear. This collection of essays from Kant scholars illuminates the various treatments of imagination through its development in Kant s critical works. ".
: The debate between proponents of ideal and non-ideal approaches to political philosophy has thus far been framed as a meta-level debate about normative theory. The argument of this essay will be that the ideal/non-ideal debate can be helpfully reframed as a ground-level debate within normative theory. Specifically, it can be understood as a debate within the applied normative field of professional ethics, with the profession being examined that of political philosophy itself. If the community of academic political theorists and (...) philosophers cannot help us navigate the problems we face in actual political life, they have not lived up to the moral demands of their vocation. A moderate form of what David Estlund decries as “utopophobia” is therefore an integral element of a proper professional ethic for political philosophers. The moderate utopophobe maintains that while devoting scarce time and resources to constructing utopias may sometimes be justifiable, it is never self-justifying. Utopianism is defensible only insofar as it can reasonably be expected to help inform or improve nonutopian political thinking. (shrink)