Peter Harrison's Gifford Lectures demonstrate that the modern concepts of “religion” and “science” do not correspond to any fixed sphere of life in the pre-modern world. Because these terms are incommensurate and ideological, they misconstrue the past. I examine the influence and affinities of Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy on Harrison's study in order to argue that Harrison's project approaches Wittgenstein's. Harrison's book is a therapeutic history, untying a knot in scholarly language. I encourage Harrison, however, to clarify how future scholars can (...) progress in their study of phenomena once termed “scientific” or “religious” without succumbing to these same mistakes. (shrink)
We address the claim that nonhuman animals do not represent unobservable states, based on studies of physical cognition by rooks and social cognition by scrub-jays. In both cases, the most parsimonious explanation for the results is counter to the reinterpretation hypothesis. We suggest that imagination and prospection can be investigated in animals and included in models of cognitive architecture.
_Human Dignity in Bioethics _brings together a collection of essays that rigorously examine the concept of human dignity from its metaphysical foundations to its polemical deployment in bioethical controversies. The volume falls into three parts, beginning with meta-level perspectives and moving to concrete applications. Part 1 analyzes human dignity through a worldview lens, exploring the source and meaning of human dignity from naturalist, postmodernist, Protestant, and Catholic vantages, respectively, letting each side explain and defend its own conception. Part 2 moves (...) from metaphysical moorings to key areas of macro-level influence: international politics, American law, and biological science. These chapters examine the legitimacy of the concept of dignity in documents by international political bodies, the role of dignity in American jurisprudence, and the implications—and challenges—for dignity posed by Darwinism. Part 3 shifts from macro-level topics to concrete applications by examining the rhetoric of human dignity in specific controversies: embryonic stem cell research, abortion, human-animal chimeras, euthanasia and palliative care, psychotropic drugs, and assisted reproductive technologies. Each chapter analyzes the rhetorical use of ‘human dignity’ by opposing camps, assessing the utility of the concept and whether a different concept or approach can be a _more_ productive means of framing or guiding the debate. (shrink)
The study of anarchism as a philosophical, political, and social movement has burgeoned both in the academy and in the global activist community in recent years. Taking advantage of this boom in anarchist scholarship, Nathan J. Jun and Shane Wahl have compiled twenty-six cutting-edge essays on this timely topic in New Perspectives on Anarchism.
Although they take different approaches, both Taede A. Smedes and Kevin Sharpe have challenged the theology-and-science enterprise and raised important questions about theological and scientific assumptions behind this work. Smedes argues that theology should be taken more seriously, and Sharpe believes that theology should be more scientific. A proposed middle way involves engaging in the dialogue itself and exploring the questions and methodological implications that arise in the context of problem-focused interactions.
Knowing the individual skills and competences of one's group members may be important for deciding from whom to learn (social learning), with whom to collaborate and whom to follow. We investigated whether 12 jackdaws could select conspecifics based on their helping skills, which had been exhibited in a previous context. The birds were tested in a blocked-exit-situation, where they could choose between two conspecifics, one of which could be recruited inside. One conspecific had previously displayed the ability to open the (...) exit door whilst the other individual lacked the skill. The subjects showed a significant preference for the skilled conspecific if they had previously directly benefited from this skill. If they had merely observed the skilled (and non-skilled) individual opening (or failing to open) the exit door, they did not preferably choose the skilled conspecific. Taken together, these results suggest that jackdaws are capable of assessing other individuals' competence under certain circumstances. (shrink)
Whether intentional suppression of an unpleasant or unwanted memory reduces the ability to recall that memory subsequently is a contested issue in contemporary memory research. Building on findings that similar processes are recruited when individuals remember the past and imagine the future, we measured the effects of thought suppression on memory for imagined future scenarios. Thought suppression reduced the ability to recall emotionally negative scenarios, but not those that were emotionally positive. This finding suggests that intentionally avoiding thoughts about emotionally (...) negative episodes may inhibit representations of those memories, progressively reducing their availability to recall. (shrink)
Two theses figure centrally in work on the epistemology of disagreement: Equal Weight (‘EW’) and Uniqueness (‘U’). According to EW, you should give precisely as much weight to the attitude of a disagreeing epistemic peer as you give to your own attitude. U has it that, for any given proposition and total body of evidence, some doxastic attitude is the one the evidence makes rational (justifies) toward that proposition. Although EW has received considerable discussion, the case for U has not (...) been critically evaluated. Endorsing U, we argue, commits one to the highly controversial thesis that whatever fixes your rational attitudes can do so only by fixing what evidence you have. This commitment imposes a relatively demanding requirement on justified belief in U, one that we argue is not satisfied by what is currently the strongest available case for U, due to Roger White . Our challenge to U makes more trouble for its proponents than do the worries about U expressed by Gideon Rosen  and Thomas Kelly . Moreover, if Kelly  is correct in thinking that EW “carries with it a commitment to” U—a claim which we accept for reasons similar to Kelly’s but is beyond this paper’s scope (but see Ballantyne and Coffman [forthcoming])—then our challenge to U bears importantly on EW: to the extent that our challenge to U succeeds, EW also suffers. (shrink)
Two theses are central to recent work on the epistemology of disagreement: Conciliationism:?In a revealed peer disagreement over P, each thinker should give at least some weight to her peer's attitude. Uniqueness:?For any given proposition and total body of evidence, the evidence fully justifies exactly one level of confidence in the proposition. 1This paper is the product of full and equal collaboration between its authors. Does Conciliationism commit one to Uniqueness? Thomas Kelly 2010 has argued that it does. After some (...) scene-setting (?1), in ?2 we explain and criticize Kelly's argument, thereby defeating his larger argument that Conciliationism deserves no dialectical special treatment. But we argue further that Conciliationists are committed to a disjunction, one of whose disjuncts is Uniqueness, that amounts to an ?extremely strong and unobvious position? (??3?4). If we are correct, theorists should not treat Conciliationism as a default position in debates about the epistemic significance of disagreement. (shrink)
Before curing was a possibility, medicine was devoted to the relief of suffering. Attention to the relief of suffering often takes a back seat in modern biomedicine. This book seeks to place suffering at the center of biomedical attention, examining suffering in its biological, psychological, clinical, religious, and ethical dimensions.
This article presents and discusses one of the most prominent inferential strategies currently employed in cognitive neuropsychology, namely, reverse inference. Simply put, this is the practice of inferring, in the context of experimental tasks, the engagement of cognitive processes from locations or patterns of neural activation. This technique is notoriously controversial because, critics argue, it presupposes the problematic assumption that neural areas are functionally selective. We proceed as follows. We begin by introducing the basic structure of traditional “location-based” reverse inference (...) and discuss the influential lack of selectivity objection. Next, we rehearse various ways of responding to this challenge and provide some reasons for cautious optimism. The second part of the essay presents a more recent development: “pattern-decoding reverse inference”. This inferential strategy, we maintain, provides an even more convincing response to the lack of selectivity charge. Due to this and other methodological advantages, it is now a prominent component in the toolbox of cognitive neuropsychology. Finally, we conclude by drawing some implications for philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
While philosophers tend to consider a single type of causal history, biologists distinguish between two kinds of causal history: evolutionary history and developmental history. This essay studies the peculiarity of development as a criterion for the individuation of biological traits and its relation to form, function, and evolution. By focusing on examples involving serial homologies and genetic reprogramming, we argue that morphology (form) and function, even when supplemented with evolutionary history, are sometimes insufficient to individuate traits. Developmental mechanisms bring in (...) a novel aspect to the business of classification—identity of process-type—according to which entities are type-identical across individuals and natural kinds in virtue of the fact that they form and develop through similar processes. These considerations bear important metaphysical implications and have potential applications in several areas of philosophy. (shrink)
This essay presents a model-theoretic account of dispositional properties, according to which dispositions are not ordinary properties of real entities; dispositions capture the behavior of abstract, idealized models. This account has several payoffs. First, it saves the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. Second, it preserves the general connection between dispositions and regularities, despite the fact that some dispositions are not grounded in actual regularities. Finally, it brings together the analysis and the explanation of dispositions under a unified framework.
Recent advancements in the brain sciences have enabled researchers to determine, with increasing accuracy, patterns and locations of neural activation associated with various psychological functions. These techniques have revived a longstanding debate regarding the relation between the mind and the brain: while many authors claim that neuroscientific data can be employed to advance theories of higher cognition, others defend the so-called ‘autonomy’ of psychology. Settling this significant issue requires understanding the nature of the bridge laws used at the psycho-neural interface. (...) While these laws have been the topic of extensive discussion, such debates have mostly focused on a particular type of link: reductive laws. Reductive laws are problematic: they face notorious philosophical objections and they are too scarce to substantiate current research at the intersection of psychology and neuroscience. The aim of this article is to provide a systematic analysis of a different kind of bridge laws—associative laws—which play a central, albeit overlooked role in scientific practice. (shrink)
To the student of the recent history of theological ideas in the West, it sometimes seems as though, of all the ‘new’ subjects that have been intro duced into theological discussion during the last hundred or so years, only two have proved to be of permanent significance. One is, of course, biblical criticism, and the other, the subject which in my University is still called ‘comparative religion’—the dispassionate study of the religions of the world as phenomena in their own right.
This essay is concerned with concentrations of entities, which play an important—albeit often overlooked—role in scientific explanation. First, I discuss an example from molecular biology to show that concentrations can play an irreducible causal role. Second, I provide a preliminary philosophical analysis of this causal role, suggesting some implications for extant theories of causation. I conclude by introducing the concept of causation by concentration, a form of statistical causation whose widespread presence throughout the sciences has been unduly neglected and which (...) deserves to be studied in more depth. 1 Introduction2 Solving Lillie's Paradox: Lysogenic Induction in Phage λ3 Repressor Concentration and the Tuning of the Switch4 Concentration and Causality5 Preemption in Concentrations: Analysis and Implications6 Causation by Concentration: General Definition, Refinements, and Further Applications. (shrink)
Philosophers have traditionally addressed the issue of scientific unification in terms of theoretical reduction. Reductive models, however, cannot explain the occurrence of unification in areas of science where successful reductions are hard to find. The goal of this essay is to analyse a concrete example of integration in biology—the developmental synthesis—and to generalize it into a model of scientific unification, according to which two fields are in the process of being unified when they become explanatorily relevant to each other. I (...) conclude by suggesting that this methodological conception of unity, which is independent of the debate on the metaphysical foundations of science, is closely connected to the notion of interdisciplinarity. 1 Introduction2 Some Troubles with Theory Reduction3 Interfield and Mechanistic Unification4 Foundations of the Developmental Synthesis5 Explanatory Relevance6 Concluding Remarks. (shrink)
Biologists employ a suggestive metaphor to describe the complexities of molecular interactions within cells and embryos: cytological components are said to be part of “ecosystems” that integrate them in a complex network of relations with many other entities. The aim of this essay is to scrutinize the molecular ecosystem, a metaphor that, despite its longstanding history, has seldom be articulated in detail. I begin by analyzing some relevant analogies between the cellular environment and the biosphere. Next, I discuss the applicability (...) of the molecular ecosystem concept in actual scientific practice. (shrink)
Mobile applications and socio-sexual networking websites are used by outreach workers to respond synchronously to questions and provide information, resources, and referrals on sexual health and STI/HIV prevention, testing, and care to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. This exploratory study examined ethical issues identified by online outreach workers who conduct online sexual health outreach for GB2M. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted between November 2013 and April 2014 with online providers and managers to explore the benefits, (...) challenges, and ethical implications of delivering online outreach services in Ontario, Canada. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analyses were conducted, and member-checking, analyses by multiple coders, and peer debriefing supported validity and reliability. Four themes emerged on the ethical queries of providing online sexual health outreach for GB2M: managing personal and professional boundaries with clients; disclosing personal or identifiable information to clients; maintaining client confidentiality and anonymity; and security and data storage measures of online information. Participants illustrated familiarity with potential ethical challenges, and discussed ways in which they seek to mitigate and prevent ethical conflict. Implications of this analysis for outreach workers, researchers, bioethicists, and policy-makers are to: understand ethical complexities associated with online HIV prevention and outreach for GB2M; foster dialogue to recognize and address potential ethical conflict; and identify competencies and skills to mitigate risk and promote responsive and accessible online HIV outreach. (shrink)