[NOTE: I now disavow this essay, which was too accommodating of trans ideology.] Surprisingly, it follows from commonplaces about sex and gender that there is a widely-practiced variety of transgenderism achievable through sex/gender “exaggerating.” Recognizing exaggeration as trans---or at least its moral equivalent---has several important consequences. One is that, since most traditional cultures endorse exaggeration, trans lifestyles have often been mainstream. But more importantly, recognizing that gender exaggeration is trans (or its moral equivalent) reveals a number of sex- and gender-discriminatory (...) practices and intolerant attitudes: from pathologizing hypergender to legally restricting androgenic hormones, many people who consider themselves trans allies are less consistent in their support of transgender lifestyles than they realize. Thus, seeing exaggerators as trans not only follows from a better grasp of transgenderism, but also reveals new arguments in favor of greater gender freedom against gender-policing by both conservatives and progressives. (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)
Radical ecology typically brings to mind media images of ecological activists standing before loggers' saws, staging anti-nuclear marches, and confronting polluters on the high seas. Yet for more than twenty years, the activities of organizations such as the Greens and Earth First! have been influenced by a diverse, less-publicized group of radical ecological philosophers. It is their work—the philosophical underpinnings of the radical ecological movement—that is the subject of _Contesting Earth's Future_. The book offers a much-needed, balanced appraisal of radical (...) ecology's principles, goals, and limitations. Michael Zimmerman critically examines the movement's three major branches—deep ecology, social ecology, and ecofeminism. He also situates radical ecology within the complex cultural and political terrain of the late twentieth century, showing its relation to Martin Heidegger's anti-technological thought, 1960s counterculturalism, and contemporary theories of poststructuralism and postmodernity. An early and influential ecological thinker, Zimmerman is uniquely qualified to provide a broad overview of radical environmentalism and delineate its various schools of thought. He clearly describes their defining arguments and internecine disputes, among them the charge that deep ecology is an anti-modern, proto-fascist ideology. Reflecting both the movement's promise and its dangers, this book is essential reading for all those concerned with the worldwide ecological crisis. (shrink)
The most important and extensive of Bernard Bolzano’s (1781–1848) correspondences is the one with his student and friend Michael Josef Fesl (1788–1864) which comprises altogether some 730 letters. Due to the great number of letters, starting with 1831, only Bolzano’s contributions are contained in his Collected Writings. Therefore, Fesl’s letters to Bolzano are published in the series "Beitraege zur Bolzano-Forschung". The present volume contains 88 letters that Fesl wrote in the years 1839 to 1841 to his “most-beloved teacher and (...) friend”. They focus on the works published by Bolzano during those years as well as on several projects that could not be realized. Moreover, they deal with philosophical trends, theological questions and political problems as well as with the epidemics of that time and their various treatments (including their success). Finally, Fesl also discusses the qualities of three portraits of Bolzano’s created by Áron Pulzer, Heinrich Hollpein und Karl Hoffmann during those years. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker appeals to the idea of moral-epistemic disappointment in order to show how our practices of moral appraisal can be sensitive to cultural and historical contingency. In particular, she thinks that moral-epistemic disappointment allows us to avoid the extremes of crude moralism and a relativism of distance. In my response I want to investigate what disappointment is, and whether it can constitute a form of focused moral appraisal in the way that Fricker imagines. I will argue that Fricker is (...) unable to appeal to disappointment as standardly understood, but that there is a more plausible way of understanding the notion that she can employ. There are, nevertheless, significant worries about the capacity of disappointment in this sense to function as a form of moral appraisal. I will argue, finally, that even if Fricker can address these worries, her position might end up closer to moralism than she would like. (shrink)
Michael Ryan (d. 1840) remains one of the most mysterious figures in the history of medical ethics, despite the fact that he was the only British physician during the middle years of the 19th century to write about ethics in a systematic way. Michael Ryan’s Writings on Medical Ethics offers both an annotated reprint of his key ethical writings, and an extensive introductory essay that fills in many previously unknown details of Ryan’s life, analyzes the significance of his (...) ethical works, and places him within the historical trajectory of the field of medical ethics. (shrink)
In this essay, I set out my responses to the following five questions that had been posed: -/- 1. Why were you initially drawn to metaphysics (and what keeps you interested)? 2. What do you consider to be your most important contributions to metaphysics? 3. What do you consider to be the proper method for metaphysics? 4. What do you think is the proper role of metaphysics in relation to other areas of philosophy and other academic disciplines, including the natural (...) sciences? 5. What do you consider to be the most neglected topics in contemporary metaphysics, and what direction would you like metaphysics to take in the future? (shrink)
In this essay, I set out my responses. to the following five questions that had been posed: -/- 1. What initially drew you to theorizing about science and religion? 2. Do you think science and religion are compatible when it comes to understanding cosmology (the origin of the universe), biology (the origin of life and of the human species), ethics, and/or the human mind (minds, brains, souls, and free will) 3. Some theorists maintain that science and religion occupy non-overlapping magisteria—i.e., (...) that science and religion each have a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority, and these two domains do not overlap. Do you agree? 4. What do you consider to be your own most important contribution(s) to theorizing about science and religion? 5. What are the most important open questions, problems, or challenges confronting the relationship between science and religion, and what are the prospects for progress? My responses to four of the questions were quite brief, with about three-quarters of what I said devoted to the second question, where I talked about cosmology, biology, psychology and the human mind, and ethics, and where I argued that in all of those areas there are very serious incompatibilities between science and/or philosophy on the one hand and Christianity on the other. (shrink)
Over the last few decades, virtue has become increasingly important in philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and education. However, as each of these disciplines approaches virtue from a decidedly different perspective, it has proven difficult to come up with an understanding of virtue that satisfies the standards of all four disciplines. In their book, Jennifer Wright, Michael Warren, and Nancy Snow attempt to put forward such an understanding.
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.
In Truth as One and Many, Michael Lynch offers a new theory of truth. There are two kinds of theory of truth in the literature. On the one hand, we have logical theories, which seek to construct formal systems that are consistent, while also containing a predicate which have as many as possible of the properties which we ordinarily take the English predicate ‘is true’ to have; salient examples include Tarski’s and Kripke’s theories of truth. On the other hand, (...) we have metaphysical theories, which seek to give a non-formal account of the nature of truth – of what truth consists in, of what it means to say that something is true; salient examples include correspondence, coherence and deflationary theories of truth. Lynch’s theory – functionalism about truth – is of the second sort.The theory takes its start from a number of principles which Lynch classifies as truisms about truth:Objectivity: The belief that p is true if, and only if, with respect to the belief that p, things are as they are believed to be.Norm of Belief: It is prima facie correct to believe that p if and only if the proposition that p is true.End of Inquiry: Other things being equal, true beliefs are a worthy goal of inquiry.Lynch argues that other familiar principles can be derived from these: for example, Objectivity together with some auxiliary principles and definitions yields versions of the T-schema, and of the principle that beliefs can be true without being warranted and vice versa. These principles are supposed to give the nominal essence of truth – to constitute our folk theory of truth. Lynch …. (shrink)
Michael Psellos has long been known as a key figure in the history of Byzantine literary and intellectual culture, but his theoretical and critical reflections on literature and art are little known outside of a small circle of specialists. Most famous for his Chronographia, a history of eleventh-century Byzantine emperors and their reigns, Psellos also excelled in describing as well as prescribing practices and rules for literary discourse and visual culture. The ambition of Michael Psellos on Literature and (...) Art is to illustrate an important chapter in the history of Greek literary and art criticism and introduce precisely this aspect of Psellian writing to a wider public. The editors of this volume present thirty Psellian texts, all of which have been translated - some in part, most in their entirety - into English. In the majority of cases, the works are translated for the first time in any modern language, and several are discussed at length here for the first time. They are grouped into two separate sections, which roughly translate to two areas of theoretical reflection associated with the modern terms 'literature' and 'art.'0. (shrink)
In various areas of Anglo-American law, legal liability turns on causation. In torts and contracts, we are each liable only for those harms we have caused by the actions that breach our legal duties. Such doctrines explicitly make causation an element of liability. In criminal law, sometimes the causal element for liability is equally explicit, as when a statute makes punishable any act that has “ caused … abuse to the child….” More often, the causal element in criminal liability is (...) more implicit, as when criminal statutes prohibit killings, maimings, rapings, burnings, etc. Such causally complex action verbs are correctly applied only to defendants who have caused death, caused disfigurement, caused penetration, caused fire damage, etc. (shrink)
Because of the difficulty posed by the contrast between the search for truth and truth itself, Michael Polanyi believes that we must alter the foundation of epistemology to include as essential to the very nature of mind, the kind of groping that constitutes the recognition of a problem. This collection of essays, assembled by Marjorie Grene, exemplifies the development of Polanyi's theory of knowledge which was first presented in Science, Faith, and Society and later systematized in Personal Knowledge. Polanyi (...) believes that the dilemma of the modern mind arises from the peculiar relation between the positivist claim for total objectivity in scientific knowledge and the unprecedented moral dynamism characterizing the social and political aspirations of the last century. The first part of Knowing and Being deals with this theme. Part two develops Polanyi's idea that centralization is incompatible with the life of science as well as his views on the role of tradition and authority in science. The essays on tacit knowing in Part Three proceed directly from his preoccupation with the nature of scientific discovery and reveal a pervasive substructure of all intelligent behavior. Polanyi believes that all knowing involves movement from internal clues to external evidence. Therefore, to explain the process of knowing, we must develop a theory of the nature of living things in general, including an account of that aspect of living things we call "mind." Part Four elaborates upon this theme. (shrink)
Freud justified his extensive theorizing about dreams by the observation that they were “the royal road” to something much more general: namely, our unconscious mental life. The current preoccupation with the theory of excuse in criminal law scholarship can be given a similar justification, for the excuses are the royal road to theories of responsibility generally. The thought is that if we understand why we excuse in certain situations but not others, we will have also gained a much more general (...) insight into the nature of responsibility itself. Nowhere has this thought been more evident than in the century-old focus of criminal law theoreticians on the excuse of insanity, a focus that could not be justified by the importance of the excuse itself. In this paper I wish to isolate two theories of excuse, each of which instantiates its own distinctive theory of responsibility. One is what I shall call the choice theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because at the moment of such action's performance, one did not have sufficient capacity or opportunity to make the choice to do otherwise. Such a choice theory of excuse instantiates a more general theory of responsibility, according to which we are responsible for wrongs we freely choose to do, and not responsible for wrongs we lacked the freedom to avoid doing. The second I shall call the character theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because such action is not determined by those enduring attributes of ourselves we call our characters. (shrink)