The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
Using the writings of slaves and former slaves, as well as commentaries on slavery, Between Slavery and Freedom explores the American slave experience to gain a better understanding of six moral and political concepts—oppression, paternalism, resistance, political obligation, citizenship, and forgiveness. The authors use analytical philosophy as well as other disciplines to gain insight into the thinking of a group of people prevented from participating in the social/political discourse of their times. Between Slavery and Freedom rejects the notion that philosophers (...) need not consider individual experience because philosophy is "impartial" and "universal." A philosopher should also take account of matters that are essentially perspectival, such as the slave experience. McGary and Lawson demonstrate the contribution of all human experience, including slave experiences, to the quest for human knowledge and understanding. (shrink)
David Owen wants to understand what Hume means by reason, given its pivotal importance in the wide range of issues that Hume discusses in his philosophical works. In order to achieve that understanding, Owen places Hume in the historical context of writers such as Descartes and Locke, what was later referred to as the way of ideas. Owen objects to stating Humes views in terms of contemporary semantic frameworks. After a careful review of the many contexts in which Hume discusses (...) reason in book 1 of the Treatise, Owen concludes that Hume rejected the notion of reason as an independent faculty and offered instead an account of reason as based on the imagination. Owens scholarship is meticulous and his attempt to understand Humes historical context commendable. The difficulties are that he tells us nothing new and his context is much too narrow. Hume was neither a scholastic nor a contemporary professional responding only to the works of other professional philosophers on some technical point. At the very least, Humes discussion of causal reasoning was very much influenced by the transition from Aristotelian physics and its attendant conception of causality to Newtons physics and its attendant conception of causality. The details of Humes mechanistic account of belief are not mentioned. (shrink)
We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...) warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. (shrink)
We need urgently to bring about a revolution in universities around the world, wherever possible, so that they take their fundamental task to be, not to acquire and apply knowledge, but rather to help humanity learn how to resolve conflicts and problems of living in increasingly cooperatively rational ways, so that we may make progress towards a good, genuinely civilized, wise world. The pursuit of knowledge would be a vital but subsidiary task. I have argued for the urgent need for (...) such an academic revolution for nearly 50 years, ever since the publication of two books: What’s Wrong With Science? Towards a People’s Rational Science of Delight and Compassion, 1976, and From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the Humanities, 1984, both available free online. This article, written in preparation for a talk given to Pittsburgh University on the 15th September 2023, gives an outline of my baffled struggles with problems of philosophy, science, literature and life that led up to the discovery of the urgent need for an intellectual and institutional revolution in universities around the world, needed in order to galvanize the social revolution required to enable us to make progress to a world in which peace, justice, democracy, individual freedom, sustainable prosperity, the possibility of a good life, are available to all, insofar as that is attainable. (shrink)
In any society influenced by a plurality of cultures, there will be widespread, systematic differences about at least some important values, including moral values. Many of these differences look like deep disagreements, difficult to resolve objectively if that is possible at all. One common response to the suspicion that these disagreements are unsettleable has always been moral relativism. In the flurry of sympathetic treatments of this doctrine in the last two decades, attention has understandably focused on the simpler case in (...) which one fairly self-contained and culturally homogeneous society confronts, at least in thought, the values of another; but most have taken relativism to have implications within a single pluralistic society as well. I am not among the sympathizers. That is partly because I am more optimistic than many about how many moral disagreements can be settled, but I shall say little about that here. For, even on the assumption that many disputes are unsettleable, I continue to find relativism a theoretically puzzling reaction to the problem of moral disagreement, and a troubling one in practice, especially when the practice involves regular interaction among those who disagree. This essay attempts to explain why. (shrink)
It is a rare privilege to have such eminent and insightful reviewers. Their kind words about the book are much appreciated – perhaps more than they realise. And I'm grateful to all three for having read the book so constructively. Each has given me several things to think about. In the space available here I will focus on the objections that seem most critical. Robert Rupert argues that I rely on an overly narrow understanding of what the cognitive sciences explain (...) (x1). Elisabeth Camp presses me on what precisely it takes to qualify as a structural representation and raises questions about holism (x2). John Krakauer makes a fundamental objection to positing representations when they seem not to be needed to explain behaviour (x3). (shrink)
As environmental concerns rightly take a greater role in the critical reevaluation of the American philosophical tradition, it behooves us to return again to the often slippery notion of “nature” to ask if it can be redeemed as not merely the canvas on which human endeavor is depicted but an active element of the diverse and distinct philosophical perspectives that make the tradition. Indeed, there is a great need to depict the potentially subversive ways that human and nature can be (...) understood as radically connatural, in intimate ecological and constructive relations that make nature not just the instrument for the exertion for human wants and desires but also thoroughly and... (shrink)
The ancient Greek thinker refutes skepticism, demonstrates God's existence, compares metaphysics to the other sciences, elucidates the nature of the infinite, and explores other major philosophical issues.
Book synopsis: For the Pre-Socratic philosophers the soul was the source of movement and sensation, while for Plato it was the seat of being, metaphysically distinct from the body that it was forced temporarily to inhabit. Plato's student Aristotle was determined to test the truth of both these beliefs against the emerging sciences of logic and biology. His examination of the huge variety of living organisms - the enormous range of their behaviour, their powers and their perceptual sophistication - convinced (...) him of the inadequacy both of a materialist reduction and of a Platonic sublimation of the soul. In De Anima, he sought to set out his theory of the soul as the ultimate reality of embodied form and produced both a masterpiece of philosophical insight and a psychology of perennially fascinating subtlety. (shrink)
Reagan, Lawson This article will argue that a Humanist future is a technoprogressive one. It will first give an overview of the emerging third dimension of 21st century politics, that of biopolitics. It will define the broad differences between the transhumanist and bioconservative movements. Then it will turn to the two main ideologically competing strands of the transhumanist movement: that of right wing 'Libertarian Transhumanism' and left wing 'Technoprogressivism'.
“Over a hundred years ago Thorstein Veblen expressed the view that the ontological or ‘metaphysical’ presuppositions of economics needed to be more realistic, a view that was a necessary part of his support for evolutionary thinking. When he was writing, though, evolutionary theorising in economics had been introduced in a rather incoherent manner resulting in an ontological mishmash - of a sort that led Veblen to coin the label neoclassical for those involved. As it happened evolutionary thinking never really took (...) off in a coherent way in economics, and social ontological reasoning itself became somewhat marginalised. As I write, however, there are once more groups of scholars including economists developing systematic projects in social ontology. Now, however, the branch of non-social science attracting the most attention is quantum mechanics. An issue of interest that is explored here is whether the growing concern of economists with quantum insights will finally allow the specific ontological conception supported by Veblen to become established, facilitating, amongst other things, a turn to a coherent form of evolutionary thinking, or whether, as argued by some, it is more likely to lead to support for the ontological mix-up sustained by those Veblen labelled neoclassical.”. (shrink)