In this book, Michael Arbib, a researcher in artificial intelligence and brain theory, joins forces with Mary Hesse, a philosopher of science, to present an integrated account of how humans 'construct' reality through interaction with the social and physical world around them. The book is a major expansion of the Gifford Lectures delivered by the authors at the University of Edinburgh in the autumn of 1983. The authors reconcile a theory of the individual's construction of reality as a network (...) of schemas 'in the head' with an account of the social construction of language, science, ideology and religion to provide an integrated schema-theoretic view of human knowledge. The authors still find scope for lively debate, particularly in their discussion of free will and of the reality of God. The book integrates an accessible exposition of background information with a cumulative marshalling of evidence to address fundamental questions concerning human action in the world and the nature of ultimate reality. (shrink)
This paper deals with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and Michael Polanyi’s theory of tacit knowledge. Though both concepts have been very influential for science studies in general, and both have been subject to numerous interpretations, their accounts have, somewhat surprisingly, hardly been comparatively analyzed. Both Fleck and Polanyi relied on the physiology and psychology of the senses in order to show that scientific knowledge follows less the path of logical principles than the path of accepting or rejecting (...) specific conventions, where these may be psychologically or sociologically grounded. It is my aim to show that similarities and differences between Fleck and Polanyi are to be seen in the specific historical and political context in which they worked. Both authors, I shall argue, emphasized the relevance of perception in close connection to their respective understanding of science, freedom, and democracy. (shrink)
In the Trolley Case, as devised by Philippa Foot and modified by Judith Jarvis Thomson, a runaway trolley is headed down a main track and will hit and kill five unless you divert it onto a side track, where it will hit and kill one.
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)
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)
The arguments for redistribution of wealth, and for prohibiting certain transactions such as price-gouging, both are based in mistaken conceptions of exchange. This paper proposes a neologism, “euvoluntary” exchange, meaning both that the exchange is truly voluntary and that it benefits both parties to the transaction. The argument has two parts: First, all euvoluntary exchanges should be permitted, and there is no justification for redistribution of wealth if disparities result only from euvoluntary exchanges. Second, even exchanges that are not euvoluntary (...) should generally be permitted, because access to market exchange may be the only means by which people in desperate circumstances can improve their position. (shrink)
Michael Walzer is currently at the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey. Professor Walzer has written Just and Unjust Wars; The Revolution of the Saints and has edited Toward A Global Civil Society. In this interview, he discusses some of the current concerns about education, political theory and the current state of the art of toleration, and acceptance and accommodation of different racial, ethnic, social and minority groups. He has published extensively and his (...) work has been translated in several other languages. In this interview, he responds to questions about his work, his writings and his current concerns. (shrink)
In _Michael Polanyi and His Generation_, Mary Jo Nye investigates the role that Michael Polanyi and several of his contemporaries played in the emergence of the social turn in the philosophy of science. This turn involved seeing science as a socially based enterprise that does not rely on empiricism and reason alone but on social communities, behavioral norms, and personal commitments. Nye argues that the roots of the social turn are to be found in the scientific culture and political (...) events of Europe in the 1930s, when scientific intellectuals struggled to defend the universal status of scientific knowledge and to justify public support for science in an era of economic catastrophe, Stalinism and Fascism, and increased demands for applications of science to industry and social welfare. At the center of this struggle was Polanyi, who Nye contends was one of the first advocates of this new conception of science. Nye reconstructs Polanyi’s scientific and political milieus in Budapest, Berlin, and Manchester from the 1910s to the 1950s and explains how he and other natural scientists and social scientists of his generation—including J. D. Bernal, Ludwik Fleck, Karl Mannheim, and Robert K. Merton—and the next, such as Thomas Kuhn, forged a politically charged philosophy of science, one that newly emphasized the social construction of science. (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)
Consequentialists are sometimes accused of being unable to accommodate all the ways in which an agent should care about her own integrity. Here it is helpful to follow Stephen Darwall in distinguishing two approaches to moral theory. First, we might begin with the value of states of affairs and then work our way ‘inward’ to our integrity, explaining the value of the latter in terms of their contribution to the value of the former. This is the ‘outside-in’ approach, and Darwall (...) argues that it is well-suited to defending consequentialism. Alternatively, we might begin with the perspective of a virtuous agent's concern for her integrity, and then work our way ‘outward’, building a conception of the value of states of affairs from this perspective. On this ‘inside-out’ account there is a kind of agent-centred concern each agent should have for her own integrity simply because it is her own. The inside-out approach therefore suggests a possible rationale for a non-consequentialist moral theory, in so far as such a fundamental egocentric concern for one's own integrity seems alien to consequentialism's commitment to the agent-neutrality of value. If this is correct then the consequentialist should explain why we should prefer the outside-in approach to its rival. I argue that the consequentialist can meet this challenge. (shrink)
_The Metaphysics of Perfect Beings_ addresses the problems an Anselmian perfect being faces in contexts involving unlimited options. Recent advances in the theory of vagueness, the metaphysics of multiverses and hyperspace, the theory of dynamic or sequential choice, the logic of moral and rational dilemmas, and metaethical theory provide the resources to formulate the new challenges and the Anselmian responses with an unusual degree of precision. Almeida shows that the challenges arising in the unusual contexts involving unlimited options sometimes produce (...) metaphysical surprise. (shrink)
This article challenges conventional readings of Michel Foucault by examining his fascination with neoliberalism in the late 1970s. Foucault did not critique neoliberalism during this period; rather, he strategically endorsed it. The necessary cause for this approval lies in the broader rehabilitation of economic liberalism in France during the 1970s. The sufficient cause lies in Foucault's own intellectual development: drawing on his long-standing critique of the state as a model for conceptualizing power, Foucault concluded, during the 1970s, that economic liberalism, (...) rather than “discipline,” was modernity's paradigmatic power form. Moreover, this article seeks to clarify the relationship between Foucault's philosophical antihumanism and his assessment of liberalism. Rather than arguing that Foucault's antihumanism precluded a positive appraisal of liberalism, or that the apparent reorientation of his politics in a more liberal direction in the late 1970s entailed a partial retreat from antihumanism, this article contends that Foucault's brief, strategic, and contingent endorsement of liberalism was possible precisely because he saw no incompatibility between antihumanism and liberalism—but only liberalism of the economic variety. Economic liberalism alone, and not its political iteration, was compatible with the philosophical antihumanism that is the hallmark of Foucault's thought. (shrink)
The Politics of the Texbook analyzes the factors that shape production, distribution and reception of school texts through original essays which emphasize the double-edged quality of textbooks. Textbooks are viewed as systems of moral regulation in the struggle of powerful groups to build political and cultural accord. They are also regarded as the site of popular resistance around discloding the interest underlying schoolknowledge and incorporating alternative traditions.
‘Godless’ was never a neutral term: in 1528 William Tindale talked of ‘godlesse ypocrites and infidels’ and a ‘godless generation’ is one that has turned its back on God and the paths of righteousness. An atheist, by contrast, a new and self-conscious atheist perhaps, might now wear the term as a badge of pride, to indicate their rejection both of belief and the implication of moral turpitude. Traditionally, though, those who declared themselves ‘atheist’ had a hardly better press than the (...) ‘godlesse’, since ‘atheism’ was and in some cases still is considered a form of intellectual and moral shallowness: thus Sir Francis Bacon offers a bluff refinement of the Psalmist's verdict on the fool who says in his heart that there is no God: The Scripture saith, The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God ; it is not said, The fool hath thought in his heart ; so he rather saith it, by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it. (shrink)
Bart Pattyn: Needless to say, we are more than pleased with the willingness of Michael Walzer to be here in Leuven. After the stimulating lecture yesterday we now have the opportunity to pose some questions to Michael Walzer in the same room where we talked with his friend, Harry Frankfurt, as well as with Bernard Williams. I have asked Professor Selling to moderate this discussion which I am sure he will do with a firm hand.Joseph Selling: We have (...) two papers which Prof. Walzer, and many of you, have read in advance. Perhaps we can take the questions from the authors of those papers and then take other questions. (shrink)
A plea: If you're going to propose a Bayesian framework for updating self-locating degrees of belief, please read this piece first. I've tried to survey all the extant formalisms, group them by their general approach, then describe challenges faced by every formalism employing a given approach. Hopefully this survey will prevent further instances of authors' re-inventing updating rules already proposed elsewhere in the literature.
Recent years have seen growing evidence of a fruitful engagement between phenomenology and cognitive science. This paper confronts an in-principle problem that stands in the way of this intellectual coalition, namely the fact that a tension exists between the transcendentalism that characterizes phenomenology and the naturalism that accompanies cognitive science. After articulating the general shape of this tension, I respond as follows. First, I argue that, if we view things through a kind of neo-McDowellian lens, we can open up a (...) conceptual space in which phenomenology and cognitive science may exert productive constraints on each other. Second, I describe some examples of phenomenological cognitive science that illustrate such constraints in action. Third, I use the mutually constraining relationship at work here as the platform from which to bring to light a domesticated version of the transcendental and a minimal form of naturalism that are compatible with each other. (shrink)
Largely due to the popular allegation that contemporary science has uncovered indeterminism in the deepest known levels of physical reality, the debate as to whether humans have moral freedom, the sort of freedom on which moral responsibility depends, has put aside to some extent the traditional worry over whether determinism is true. As I argue in this paper, however, there are powerful proofs for both chronological determinism and necessitarianism, forms of determinism that pose the most penetrative threat to human moral (...) freedom. My ultimate hope is to show that, despite the robust case against human moral freedom that can be made without even relying on them, chronological determinism and necessitarianism should be regarded with renewed urgency. (shrink)
We construct a model for the level by level equivalence between strong compactness and supercompactness in which below the least supercompact cardinal κ, there is a stationary set of cardinals on which SCH fails. In this model, the structure of the class of supercompact cardinals can be arbitrary.
Social psychologists tell us that much of human behavior is automatic. It is natural to think that automatic behavioral dispositions are ethically desirable if and only if they are suitably governed by an agent’s reflective judgments. However, we identify a class of automatic dispositions that make normatively self-standing contributions to praiseworthy action and a well-lived life, independently of, or even in spite of, an agent’s reflective judgments about what to do. We argue that the fundamental questions for the "ethics of (...) automaticity" are what automatic dispositions are (and are not) good for and when they can (and cannot) be trusted. (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)
We argue that thoughts are structures of concepts, and that concepts should be individuated by their origins, rather than in terms of their semantic or epistemic properties. Many features of cognition turn on the vehicles of content, thoughts, rather than on the nature of the contents they express. Originalism makes concepts available to explain, with no threat of circularity, puzzling cases concerning thought. In this paper, we mention Hesperus/Phosphorus puzzles, the Evans-Perry example of the ship seen through different windows, and (...) Mates cases, and we believe that there are many additional applications. (shrink)
Sport builds character. If this is true, why is there a consistent stream of news detailing the bad behavior of athletes? We are bombarded with accounts of elite athletes using banned performance-enhancing substances, putting individual glory ahead of the excellence of the team, engaging in disrespectful and even violent behavior towards opponents, and seeking victory above all else. We are also given a steady diet of more salacious stories that include various embarrassing, immoral, and illegal behaviors in the private lives (...) of elite athletes. Elite sport is not alone in this; youth sport has its own set of moral problems. Parents assault officials, undermine coaches, encourage a win-at-all costs mentality, and in many cases ruin sport for their children. (shrink)
Ambitious and elegant, this book builds a bridge between evolutionary theory and cultural psychology. Michael Tomasello is one of the very few people to have done systematic research on the cognitive capacities of both nonhuman primates and human children. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition identifies what the differences are, and suggests where they might have come from. -/- Tomasello argues that the roots of the human capacity for symbol-based culture, and the kind of psychological development that takes place (...) within it, are based in a cluster of uniquely human cognitive capacities that emerge early in human ontogeny. These include capacities for sharing attention with other persons; for understanding that others have intentions of their own; and for imitating, not just what someone else does, but what someone else has intended to do. In his discussions of language, symbolic representation, and cognitive development, Tomasello describes with authority and ingenuity the "ratchet effect" of these capacities working over evolutionary and historical time to create the kind of cultural artifacts and settings within which each new generation of children develops. He also proposes a novel hypothesis, based on processes of social cognition and cultural evolution, about what makes the cognitive representations of humans different from those of other primates. -/- Lucid, erudite, and passionate, The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition will be essential reading for developmental psychology, animal behavior, and cultural psychology. (from the HUP website). (shrink)
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