When the benefits of surgery do not outweigh the harms or where they do not clearly do so, surgical interventions become morally contested. Cutting to the Core examines a number of such surgeries, including infant male circumcision and cutting the genitals of female children, the separation of conjoined twins, surgical sex assignment of intersex children and the surgical re-assignment of transsexuals, limb and face transplantation, cosmetic surgery, and placebo surgery.
I offer a brief review of, and critical response to, Neil Levy’s fascinating recent book Hard Luck, where he argues that no one is ever free or morally responsible not because of determinism or indeterminism, but because of luck. Two of Levy’s central arguments in defending his free will nihilism concern the nature and role of explanation in a theory of moral responsibility and the nature of akrasia. With respect to explanation, Levy argues that an adequate theory of moral (...) responsibility must be able provide contrastive explanations of why an agent performs one action rather than another, and that libertarians lack the resources to provide such explanations. With respect to akrasia, Levy argues that it is impossible to be directly morally responsible for akratic actions. In response I argue that any sense of contrastive explanation that can reasonably be thought to be a requirement on an adequate theory of moral responsibility is a sense that agent-causal libertarians can secure. I then argue that the agent-causal theory of free will offers an alternative and attractive understanding of motivation and self-control that makes it plausible to think that we can be morally responsible for akratic actions. (shrink)
One might think that if the majority of virtue signallers judge that a proposition is true, then there is significant evidence for the truth of that proposition. Given the Condorcet Jury Theorem, individual virtue signallers need not be very reliable for the majority judgment to be very likely to be correct. Thus, even people who are skeptical of the judgments of individual virtue signallers should think that if a majority of them judge that a proposition is true, then that provides (...) significant evidence that the proposition is true. We argue that this is mistaken. Various empirical studies converge on the following point: humans are very conformist in the contexts in which virtue signalling occurs. And stereotypical virtue signallers are even more conformist in such contexts. So we should be skeptical of the claim that virtue signallers are sufficiently independent for the Condorcet Jury Theorem to apply. We do not seek to decisively rule out the relevant application of the Condorcet Jury Theorem. But we do show that careful consideration of the available evidence should make us very skeptical of that application. Consequently, a defense of virtue signalling would need to engage with these findings and show that despite our strong tendencies for conformism, our judgements are sufficiently independent for the Condorcet Jury Theorem to apply. This suggests new directions for the debate about the epistemology of virtue signalling. (shrink)
In the World Library of Psychologists series, international experts themselves present career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces - extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, and their major theoretical and practical contributions. Jonathan St B T Evans is amongst the foremost cognitive psychologists of his generation, having been influential in spearheading developments in the psychological study of reasoning from its very beginnings in the 1970s up to the present day. This volume of self-selected (...) papers recognises Professor Evan's major contribution to the psychological study of thinking and reasoning by bringing together his most influential and important works. Early selections in the book focus upon experimental studies of reasoning - matching bias in the Wason selection task, belief bias in syllogistic reasoning, and also seminal work on the understanding of conditional statements. The later selections include Evans' work on more general forms of dual process and dual system theory, and his recent account of two minds in one brain. The volume also contains chapters which highlight Evans' contribution to the topic of human rationality, and also his influence on the development of the "new paradigm" in the psychology of reasoning. The key developments in the psychology of reasoning are paralleled by those in Evans's own intellectual history, and the book will therefore make essential reading for all researchers in the psychology of reasoning, and a wider audience of graduate and upper-level undergraduate students with an interest in reasoning and/or dual process theory. (shrink)
_A provocative essay challenging the idea of Buddhist exceptionalism, from one of the world’s most widely respected philosophers and writers on Buddhism and science_ Buddhism has become a uniquely favored religion in our modern age. A burgeoning number of books extol the scientifically proven benefits of meditation and mindfulness for everything ranging from business to romance. There are conferences, courses, and celebrities promoting the notion that Buddhism is spirituality for the rational, compatible with cutting‑edge science, indeed, “a science of the (...) mind.” In this provocative book, Evan Thompson argues that this representation of Buddhism is false. In lucid and entertaining prose, Thompson dives deep into both Western and Buddhist philosophy to explain how the goals of science and religion are fundamentally different. Efforts to seek their unification are wrongheaded and promote mistaken ideas of both. He suggests cosmopolitanism instead, a worldview with deep roots in both Eastern and Western traditions. Smart, sympathetic, and intellectually ambitious, this book is a must‑read for anyone interested in Buddhism’s place in our world today. (shrink)
A renowned philosopher of the mind, also known for his groundbreaking work on Buddhism and cognitive science, Evan Thompson combines the latest neuroscience research on sleep, dreaming, and meditation with Indian and Western philosophy of the mind, casting new light on the self and its relation to the brain. Thompson shows how the self is a changing process, not a static thing. When we are awake we identify with our body, but if we let our mind wander or daydream, we (...) project a mentally imagined self into the remembered past or anticipated future. As we fall asleep, the impression of being a bounded self distinct from the world dissolves, but the self reappears in the dream state. If we have a lucid dream, we no longer identify only with the self within the dream. Our sense of self now includes our dreaming self, the "I" as dreamer. Finally, as we meditate--either in the waking state or in a lucid dream--we can observe whatever images or thoughts arise and how we tend to identify with them as "me." We can also experience sheer awareness itself, distinct from the changing contents that make up our image of the self. Contemplative traditions say that we can learn to let go of the self, so that when we die we can witness its dissolution with equanimity. Thompson weaves together neuroscience, philosophy, and personal narrative to depict these transformations, adding uncommon depth to life's profound questions. Contemplative experience comes to illuminate scientific findings, and scientific evidence enriches the vast knowledge acquired by contemplatives. (shrink)
Neil E. Williams develops a systematic metaphysics centred on the idea of powers, as a rival to neo-Humeanism, the dominant systematic metaphysics in philosophy today. Williams takes powers to be inherently causal properties and uses them as the foundation of his explanations of causation, persistence, laws, and modality.
Covering the work of Frege, Russell, and more recent work on singular reference, this important book examines the concepts of perceptually-based demonstrative identification, thought about oneself, and recognition-based demonstrative identification.
Kant writes: If … the only aim of Nature regarding some creature possessed of reason and a will were its preservation, its well-being, in a word its happiness, then she would have come to a very bad arrangement in choosing its reason as executor of that aim. For all actions that it had to execute in this her intention, and the whole regulation of its behaviour would have been able to be prescribed to it much more precisely by instinct, and (...) that aim thereby much more certainly maintained, than ever could happen through reason …. (shrink)
Neuroscience has dramatically increased understanding of how mental states and processes are realized by the brain, thus opening doors for treating the multitude of ways in which minds become dysfunctional. This book explores questions such as when is it permissible to alter a person's memories, influence personality traits or read minds? What can neuroscience tell us about free will, self-control, self-deception and the foundations of morality? The view of neuroethics offered here argues that many of our new powers to read (...) ,alter and control minds are not entirely unparalleled with older ones. They have, however, expanded to include almost all our social, political and ethical decisions. Written primarily for graduate students, this book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the more philosophical and ethical aspects of the neurosciences. (shrink)
This book defends the Humean Theory of Motivation, according to which desire drives all action and practical reasoning. -/- Desire motivates us to pursue its object. It makes thoughts of its object pleasant. It focuses attention on its object. Its effects are amplified by vivid representations of its object. These aspects of desire explain why motivation usually accompanies moral belief, how intentions shape our plans, how we exercise willpower, what human selves are, how action can express emotion, why we procrastinate, (...) and how we daydream. The Humean Theory also suggests a new account of moral judgment that upholds objectivity while understanding moral concepts in terms of our feelings. (shrink)
This is a transcript of a conversation between P F Strawson and Gareth Evans in 1973, filmed for The Open University. Under the title 'Truth', Strawson and Evans discuss the question as to whether the distinction between genuinely fact-stating uses of language and other uses can be grounded on a theory of truth, especially a 'thin' notion of truth in the tradition of F P Ramsey.
This Element explores what it means for two theories in physics to be equivalent, and what lessons can be drawn about their structure as a result. It does so through a twofold approach. On the one hand, it provides a synoptic overview of the logical tools that have been employed in recent philosophy of physics to explore these topics: definition, translation, Ramsey sentences, and category theory. On the other, it provides a detailed case study of how these ideas may be (...) applied to understand the dynamical and spatiotemporal structure of Newtonian mechanics - in particular, in light of the symmetries of Newtonian theory. In so doing, it brings together a great deal of exciting recent work in the literature, and is sure to be a valuable companion for all those interested in these topics. (shrink)
Noam Chomsky is one of the leading intellectual figures of modern times. He has had a major influence on linguistics, psychology and philosophy, and a significant effect on many other disciplines, from anthropology to mathematics, education to literary criticism. In this rigorous yet accessible account of Chomsky's work and influence, Neil Smith analyses Chomsky's key contributions to the study of language and the study of mind. He gives a detailed exposition of Chomsky's linguistic theorizing, discusses the psychological and philosophical (...) implications of Chomsky's work, and argues that he has fundamentally changed the way we think of ourselves, gaining a position in the history of ideas on a par with that of Darwin or Descartes. This second edition has been thoroughly updated to account for Chomsky's most recent work, including his continued contributions to linguistics, his further discussion on evolution, and his extensive work on the events of September 11th, 2001. (shrink)
The following is a transcript of the interview I (Yasuko Kitano) conducted with Neil Levy (The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, CAPPE) on the 23rd in July 2009, while he was in Tokyo to give a series of lectures on neuroethics at The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy. I edited his words for publication with his approval.
Neil Tennant presents an original logical system with unusual philosophical, proof-theoretic, metalogical, computational, and revision-theoretic virtues. Core Logic is the first system that ensures both relevance and adequacy for the formalization of all mathematical and scientific reasoning.
This is an introductory guidebook to the basic principles of how to construct good arguments and how to criticeze bad ones. It is non-technical in its approach and is based on 150 key examples, each discussed and evaluated in clear, illustrative detail. Professor Walton, a leading authority in the field of informal logic, explains how errors, fallacies, and other key failures of argument occur. He shows how correct uses of argument are based on sound strategies for reasoned persuasion and critical (...) responses. Among the many subjects covered are: forms of valid argument, relevance, appeals to emotion, personal attack, uses and abuses of expert opinion, problems in deploying statistics, loading terms, equivocation, arguments from analogy, and techniques of posing, replying to, and criticizing questions. The book will be ideally suited to courses in informal logic and in the introduction to philosophy. It will also prove valuable to studetns of pragmatics, rhetoric, and speech communication. (shrink)
In this book, Christopher Evan Franklin develops and defends a novel version of event-causal libertarianism. This view is a combination of libertarianism--the view that humans sometimes act freely and that those actions are the causal upshots of nondeterministic processes--and agency reductionism--the view that the causal role of the agent in exercises of free will is exhausted by the causal role of mental states and events (e.g., desires and beliefs) involving the agent. Franklin boldly counteracts a dominant theory that has similar (...) aims, put forth by well-known philosopher Robert Kane. -/- Many philosophers contend that event-causal libertarians have no advantage over compatibilists when it comes to securing a distinctively valuable kind of freedom and responsibility. To Franklin, this position is mistaken. Assuming agency reductionism is true, event-causal libertarians need only adopt the most plausible compatibilist theory and add indeterminism at the proper juncture in the genesis of human action. The result is minimal event-causal libertarianism: a model of free will with the metaphysical simplicity of compatibilism and the intuitive power of libertarianism. And yet a worry remains: toward the end of the book, Franklin reconsiders his assumption of agency reductionism, arguing that this picture faces a hitherto unsolved problem. This problem, however, has nothing to do with indeterminism or determinism, or even libertarianism or compatibilism, but with how to understand the nature of the self and its role in the genesis of action. Crucially, if this problem proves unsolvable, then not only is event-causal libertarianism untenable, so also is event-causal compatibilism. (shrink)
What makes an argument in a law case good or bad? This book examines this and other questions central to the study of jurisprudence. Care has been taken to make the legal elements of the book readily accessible to non-lawyers, and the philosophical elements to non-philosophers.
This book is the result of an idea launched by the present editors of providing a gift to Dr. Runner in the form of a Festschrift written by former students. The response was overwhelming. Glenn Andreas, one of Dr. Runner's closest friends, and Paul Schrotenboer, secretary of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, enthusiastically joined us, together with Bernard Zylstra of the Institute for Christian Studies and Harry Van Dyke of the Free University of Amsterdam, to form a committee for this purpose (...) ... Upon the appearance of this publication the editors wish to express their sincere thanks to the members of the committee for the advice and encouragement they gave and for the work they have done. (shrink)
The world contains objective causal relations and universals, both of which are intimately connected. If these claims are true, they must have far-reaching consequences, breathing new life into the theory of empirical knowledge and reinforcing epistemological realism. Without causes and universals, Professor Fales argues, realism is defeated, and idealism or scepticism wins. Fales begins with a detailed analysis of David Hume's argument that we have no direct experience of necessary connections between events, concluding that Hume was mistaken on this fundamental (...) point. Then, adopting the view of Armstrong and others that causation is grounded in a second-order relation between universals, he explores a range of topics for which the resulting analysis of causation has systematic implications. In particular, causal identity conditions for physical universals are proposed, which generate a new argument for Platonism. The nature of space and time is discussed, with arguments against backward causation and for the view that space and time can exist independently of matter or causal process. Many of Professor Fales's conclusions seem to run counter to received opinion among contemporary empiricists. Yet his method is classically empiricist in spirit, and a chief motive for these metaphysical explorations is epistemological. The final chapters investigate the perennial question of whether an empiricist, internalist and foundational epistemology can support scientific realism. (shrink)
Is there such a thing as natural knowledge of God? C. Stephen Evans presents the case for understanding theistic arguments as expressions of natural signs in order to gain a new perspective both on their strengths and weaknesses. Three classical, much-discussed theistic arguments - cosmological, teleological, and moral - are examined for the natural signs they embody. At the heart of this book lie several relatively simple ideas. One is that if there is a God of the kind accepted (...) by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, then it is likely that a 'natural' knowledge of God is possible. Another is that this knowledge will have two characteristics: it will be both widely available to humans and yet easy to resist. If these principles are right, a new perspective on many of the classical arguments for God's existence becomes possible. We understand why these arguments have for many people a continued appeal but also why they do not constitute conclusive 'proofs' that settle the debate once and for all. Touching on the interplay between these ideas and contemporary scientific theories about the origins of religious belief, particularly the role of natural selection in predisposing humans to form beliefs in God or gods, Evans concludes that these scientific accounts of religious belief are fully consistent, even supportive, of the truth of religious convictions. (shrink)
What is morality? In Practical Expressivism, I argue that morality is a purely natural interpersonal co-ordination device, whereby human beings express their attitudes in order to influence the attitudes and actions of others. -/- The ultimate goal of these expressions is to find acceptable ways of living together. This 'expressivist' model for understanding morality faces well-known challenges concerning 'saving the appearances' of morality, because morality presents itself to us as a practice of objective discovery, not pure expression. -/- This book (...) demonstrates how a properly developed expressivist view can overcome this objection, by showing that even if moral practice is fundamentally expressive, it can still come to possess those features that make it appear objective (features such as talk and thought of moral disagreement, truth and belief, and the applicability of logical notions to moral sentences). The key to this development is to emphasise the unique and intricate practical role that morality plays in our lives. Practical expressivism is also practical in the further sense that it provides repeatable patterns that expressivists can deploy in coming to understand the apparently objective features of morality. (shrink)
Mental content and the problem of De Se belief -- Cognitive attitudes and content -- The doctrine of propositions -- The problem of De Se belief -- The property theory of content -- In favor of the property theory -- Perry's messy shopper and the argument from explanation -- Lewis's case of the two Gods -- Arguments from internalism and physicalism -- An inference to the best explanation -- Alternatives to the property theory -- The triadic view of belief -- (...) How the property theory and the triadic view are rivals -- Dyadic propositionalism reconsidered -- Arguments against the property theory -- Self-ascription and self-awareness -- Nonexistence and impossible contents -- Stalnaker's argument -- Propositionalist arguments from inference -- The property theory and De Re belief -- Lewis's account of De Re belief -- McKay's objection to Lewis -- Mistaken identity and the case of the shy secret admirer -- Some other worries and concluding remarks -- The property theory, rationality, and Kripke's puzzle about belief -- Kripke's puzzle about belief -- The puzzle argument -- A solution to the puzzle -- Puzzles with empty names and kind terms -- The property theory, twin earth, and belief about kinds -- Twin earth and two kinds of internalism -- The twin earth argument -- An internalist response (stage one) -- An internalist response (stage two) -- Self-ascription and belief about kinds. (shrink)
Every day, new warnings emerge about artificial intelligence rebelling against us. All the while, a more immediate dilemma flies under the radar. Have forces been unleashed that are thrusting humanity down an ill-advised path, one that's increasingly making us behave like simple machines? In this wide-reaching, interdisciplinary book, Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger examine what's happening to our lives as society embraces big data, predictive analytics, and smart environments. They explain how the goal of designing programmable worlds goes hand in (...) hand with engineering predictable and programmable people. Detailing new frameworks, provocative case studies, and mind-blowing thought experiments, Frischmann and Selinger reveal hidden connections between fitness trackers, electronic contracts, social media platforms, robotic companions, fake news, autonomous cars, and more. This powerful analysis should be read by anyone interested in understanding exactly how technology threatens the future of our society, and what we can do now to build something better. (shrink)
God and moral obligations -- What is a divine command theory of moral obligation? -- The relation of divine command theory to natural law and virtue ethics -- Objections to divine command theory -- Alternatives to a divine command theory -- Conclusions: The inescapability of moral obligations.
C. Stephen Evans explains and defends Kierkegaard's account of moral obligations as rooted in God's commands, the fundamental command being `You shall love your neighbour as yourself'. The work will be of interest not only to those interested in Kierkegaard, but also to those interested in the relation between ethics and religion, especially questions about whether morality can or must have a religious foundation. As well as providing a comprehensive reading of Kierkegaard as an ethical thinker, Evans puts (...) him into conversation with contemporary moral theorists. Kierkegaard's divine command theory is shown to be an account that safeguards human flourishing, as well as protecting the proper relations between religion and state in a pluralistic society. (shrink)
Originally identified by Hume, the validity of is–ought inference is much debated in the meta-ethics literature. Our work shows that inference from is to ought typically proceeds from contextualised, value-laden causal utility conditional, bridging into a deontic conclusion. Such conditional statements tell us what actions are needed to achieve or avoid consequences that are good or bad. Psychological research has established that people generally reason fluently and easily with utility conditionals. Our own research also has shown that people’s reasoning from (...) is to ought is pragmatically sensitive and adapted to achieving the individual’s goals. But how do we acquire the necessary deontic rules? In this paper, we provide a rationale for this facility linked to Evans’s framework of dual mind rationality. People have an old mind which derives its rationality by repeating what has worked in the past, mostly by experiential learning. New mind rationality, in contrast, is evolutionarily recent, uniquely developed in humans, and draws on our ability to mentally simulate hypothetical events removed in time and place. We contend that the new mind achieves its goals by inducing and applying deontic rules and that a mechanism of deontic introduction evolved for this purpose. (shrink)
This book explores the idea that much of our behaviour is controlled by automatic and intuitive mental processes, which shape and compete with our conscious thinking and decision making. Accessibly written, and assuming no prior knowledge of the field, the book will be fascinating reading for all those interested in human behaviour.
This book explores the idea that we have two minds - one automatic, unconscious, and fast, the other controlled, conscious, and slow. It brings together leading researchers on dual-process theory to summarize the state of the art highlight key issues, present different perspectives, and provide a stimulus to further work.