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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Rival causal and interpretive approaches to explaining social phenomena have important ethical differences. While human actions can be explained as a result of causal mechanisms, as a meaningful choice based on reasons, or as some combination of the two, it is morally important that social scientists respect others by recognizing them as persons. Interpretive explanations directly respect their subjects in this way, while purely causal explanations do not. Yet although causal explanations are not themselves expressions of respect, they can be (...) used in respectful ways if they are incorporated into subjects’ self-directed projects. This can occur when subjects correctly understand and freely adopt researchers’ goals through a process of informed consent. It can also occur when researchers correctly understand and adopt their subject’s goals, using their research to empower those they study. (shrink)
Transnationals operate in what may be called the margins of morality because the historical, cultural, and governmental mores of the world''s nation-states are not uniform. There is a gray area of ethical judgment where the standards of the transnational''s home country differ substantially from those of the host country. Following the argument of institutional theory in providing stability and meaning to social behavior, in matters of moral conduct the transnational is likely to yield to at least four policing authorities: itself, (...) in terms of the integrity of its management and by decision-making that follows its own code of ethics, other corporations within its competitive set, governmental agencies including those of the host country, and public exposure, which includes the media as well as non-governmental agencies such as offshore watchdog groups. The fourth mechanism, public exposure, is thought to be the most effective in policing transnational conduct. (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)
: 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)
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)
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)
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)
Abstract: Despite the recent rash of corporate scandals and the resulting rush to address the problem by adding more laws and regulations, seemingly little attention has been paid to how the nature (not the substance) of rules may or may not affect ethical decision-making. Drawing on work in law, ethics, management, psychology, and other social sciences, this article explores how several characteristics of rules may interfere with the process of reaching and implementing ethical decisions. Such a relationship would have practical (...) implications for regulatory policy and managers of organizations, and the article concludes by suggesting how regulations and corporate ethics programs should be able to improve the ethical culture of business and enhance the ethical decision-making skills of employees. (shrink)
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.
John Rawls shares the Enlightenment's commitment to finding moral and political principles which can be reflectively endorsed by all individuals autonomously. He usually presents reflective autonomy in Kantian, rationalist terms: autonomy is identified with the exercise of reason, and principles of justice must be constructed which are acceptable to all on the basis of reason alone. Yet David Hume, Adam Smith and many other Enlightenment thinkers rejected such rationalism, searching instead for principles which can be endorsed by all on the (...) basis of all the faculties of the human psyche, emotion and imagination included. The influence of these sentimentalists on Rawls is clearest in his descriptive moral psychology, but I argue that it is also present in Rawls's understanding of the sources of normativity. Although this debt is obscured by Rawls's explicit "Kantianism," his theory would be strengthened by a greater understanding of its debts to the sentimentalist Enlightenment. (shrink)
Multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) is a popular analytical technique in neuroscience that involves identifying patterns in fMRI BOLD signal data that are predictive of task conditions. But the technique is also frequently used to make inferences about the regions of the brain that are most important to the tasks in question, and our analysis shows that this is a mistake. MVPA does not provide a reliable guide to what information is being used by the brain during cognitive tasks, nor where (...) that information is. This is due in part to inherent run to run variability in the decision space generated by the classifier, but there are also several other issues, discussed below, that make inference from the characteristics of the learned models to relevant brain activity deeply problematic. These issues have significant implications both for many papers already published, and for how the field uses this technique in the future. (shrink)
This concise, well-structured survey examines the problem of evil in the context of the philosophy of religion. One of the core topics in that field, the problem of evil is an enduring challenge that Western philosophers have pondered for almost two thousand years. The main problem of evil consists in reconciling belief in a just and loving God with the evil and suffering in the world. Michael Peterson frames this issue by working through questions such as the following: What (...) is the relation of rational belief to religious faith? What different conceptual moves are possible on either side of the issue? What responses have important thinkers advanced and which seem most promising? Is it possible to maintain religious commitment in light of evil? Peterson relies on the helpful distinction between moral and natural evil to clarify our understanding of the different aspects of the problem as well as avenues for response.The overall format of the text rests on classifying various types of argument from evil: the logical, the probabilistic, the evidential, and the existential arguments. Each type of argument has its own strategy which both theists and nontheists must recognize and develop. Giving both theistic and nontheistic perspectives fair representation, the text works through the issues of whether evil shows theistic belief to be inconsistent, improbable, discredited by the evidence, or threatened by personal crisis.Peterson explains how defensive strategies are particularly geared for responding to the logical and probabilistic arguments from evil while theodicy is an appropriate response to the evidential argument. Theodicy has traditionally been understood as the attempt to justify belief in a God who is all-powerful and all-good in light of evil. The text discusses the theodicies of Augustine, Leibniz, Hick, and Whitehead as enlightening examples of theodicy. This discussion allows Peterson to identify and evaluate a rather dominant theme in most theodicies: that evil can be justified by designating a greater good. In the end, Peterson even explores how certain types of theodicy, based on specifically Christian renditions of theism, might provide a basis for addressing the existential problem of evil. The reader of this book gains not only an intellectual grasp of the debate over God and evil in professional philosophy but also the personal benefit of thinking through one of the most important issues in human life. (shrink)
One of the most basic questions facing democratic theory is who ought to be included in political participation. Most recent discussions of this question have focused on the wrongful exclusion of those who ought to be included. Less attention has been paid to the question of whether political participation can be objectionably over-inclusive. Robert Dahl insists that it can; a claim to inclusion, he writes, “cannot be justified if it is advanced by persons whose interests are not significantly affected by (...) the decisions of that unit.” This essay is a moral defense of what Dahl would consider political over-inclusion, of empowering those entirely unaffected by a given political decision to participate in the making of that decision. My argument is not that the unaffected have a right to participate or that they are somehow wronged by political exclusion in a manner analogous to how the affected may be wronged when excluded. What matters morally is not what a proper resolution to a specific political conflict will do for the unaffected—by definition, it can do nothing for them. What matters is what the inclusion of the unaffected can do to improve the quality of the decision being made, and hence to benefit those affected by this decision. My focus will be on one particular manner in which the inclusion of the unaffected can improve political decision-making: namely, by increasing impartiality. As I argue in the first section of this essay, whereas the affected can only possess what I call “artificial impartiality,” the unaffected possess what I call “natural impartiality.” . (shrink)
Moral sentimentalism can be understood as a metaethical theory, a normative theory, or some combination of the two. Metaethical sentimentalism emphasizes the role of affect in the proper psychology of moral judgment, while normative sentimentalism emphasizes the centrality of warm emotions to the phenomena of which these judgments properly approve. Neither form of sentimentalism necessarily implies a commitment to virtue ethics, but both have an elective affinity with it. The classical metaethical sentimentalists of the Scottish Enlightenment—such as David Hume and (...) Adam Smith—were all, to a greater or lesser extent, also virtue theorists. The connection is even stronger in the case of Enlightenment philosophers who were also normative sentimentalists , as with Frances Hutcheson. For Hutcheson, virtue simply is a habit of acting from the warm motive of universal benevolence. Today, neo-sentimentalist metaethicists such as Allan Gibbard, Justin D’Arms and Daniel Jacobson generally remain agnostic on the question of whether virtue ethics is superior to its deontological and consequentialist competitors. Michael Slote, however, has developed a comprehensive theory of sentimentalist care ethics in an unambiguously virtue-centered form. (shrink)
Contemporary theorists critical of the current vogue for compassion might like to turn to Friedrich Nietzsche as an obvious ally in their opposition to the sentiment. Yet this essay argues that Nietzsche’s critique of compassion is not entirely critical, and that the endorsement of one’s sympathetic feelings is actually a natural outgrowth of Nietzsche’s immoralist ethics. Nietzsche understands the tendency to share in the suffering of their inferiors as a distinctive vulnerability of the spiritually strong and healthy. Their compassion, however, (...) is an essential element of the imaginative creativity that Nietzsche holds to be the goal of human existence. Although shared suffering may prove debilitating for some, great individuals must come to affirm their compassion as necessary in achieving accurate knowledge of the human condition. (shrink)
Unlike most Western nations, Israel does not recognize full separation of church and state but seeks instead a gentle fusion of Jewish and democratic values. Inasmuch as important religious norms such as sanctity of life may clash with dignity, privacy, and self-determination, conflicts frequently arise as Israeli lawmakers, ethicists, and healthcare professionals attempt to give substance to the idea of a Jewish-democratic state. Emerging issues in Israeli bioethics—end-of-life treatment, fertility, genetic research, and medical ethics during armed conflict—highlight this conflict vividly.