ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. Among Those Who helped greatly in the initial stages of this project by making constructive suggestions on my first "caring" papers are NickBurbules, William Doll, Bruce Fuller, Brian Hill, William Pinar, Mary Anne ...
With very advanced technology, a very large population of people living happy lives could be sustained in the accessible region of the universe. For every year that development of such technologies and colonization of the universe is delayed, there is therefore a corresponding opportunity cost: a potential good, lives worth living, is not being realized. Given some plausible assumptions, this cost is extremely large. However, the lesson for standard utilitarians is not that we ought to maximize the pace of technological (...) development, but rather that we ought to maximize its safety, i.e. the probability that colonization will eventually occur. This goal has such high utility that standard utilitarians ought to focus all their efforts on it. Utilitarians of a ‘person-affecting’ stripe should accept a modified version of this conclusion. Some mixed ethical views, which combine utilitarian considerations with other criteria, will also be committed to a similar bottom line. (shrink)
In this exchange, Peter Coghlan and Nick Trakakis discuss the problem of natural evil in the light of the recent Asian tsunami disaster. The exchange begins with an extract from a newspaper article written by Coghlan on the tsunami, followed by three rounds of replies and counter-replies, and ending with some final comments from Trakakis. While critical of any attempt to show that human life is good overall despite its natural evils, Coghlan argues that instances of natural evil, even (...) horrific ones, can be justified as the unavoidable by-product of a natural system on which human life and culture depends. Trakakis, however, rejects this view, counselling instead a degree of skepticism about our ability to construct a plausible theodicy for horrific evil. (shrink)
To what extent should we use technological advances to try to make better human beings? Leading philosophers debate the possibility of enhancing human cognition, mood, personality, and physical performance, and controlling aging. Would this take us beyond the bounds of human nature? These are questions that need to be answered now.
Boycott Theory for Palestine aims to advance academic boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) by presenting the fullest and most sophisticated justification for it yet given, demonstrating how the boycott relates to current debates within contemporary political and intellectual life.
Tasler teaches readers how to thrive when faced with difficult choices, provides a clear understanding of why you make the choices you do, and suggests the tools to make those decision change your business and your life.
A dizzying trip through the mind(s) of the provocative and influential thinker Nick Land. During the 1990s British philosopher Nick Land's unique work, variously described as “rabid nihilism,” “mad black deleuzianism,” and “cybergothic,” developed perhaps the only rigorous and culturally-engaged escape route out of the malaise of “continental philosophy” —a route that was implacably blocked by the academy. However, Land's work has continued to exert an influence, both through the British “speculative realist” philosophers who studied with him, and (...) through the many cultural producers—writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers—who have been invigorated by his uncompromising and abrasive philosophical vision. Beginning with Land's early radical rereadings of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Kant and Bataille, the volume collects together the papers, talks and articles of the mid-90s—long the subject of rumour and vague legend (including some work which has never previously appeared in print)—in which Land developed his futuristic theory-fiction of cybercapitalism gone amok; and ends with his enigmatic later writings in which Ballardian fictions, poetics, cryptography, anthropology, grammatology and the occult are smeared into unrecognisable hybrids. Fanged Noumena gives a dizzying perspective on the entire trajectory of this provocative and influential thinker's work, and has introduced his unique voice to a new generation of readers. (shrink)
How China’s expansive new era of urbanization threatens to undermine the foundations of rural life Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, China has vastly expanded its urbanization processes in an effort to reduce the inequalities between urban and rural areas. Centered on the mountainous region of Chongqing, which serves as an experimental site for the country’s new urban development policies, The End of the Village analyzes the radical expansion of urbanization and its consequences for China’s villagers. It reveals a (...) fundamental rewriting of the nation’s social contract, as villages that once organized rural life and guaranteed rural livelihoods are replaced by an increasingly urbanized landscape dominated by state institutions. Throughout this comprehensive study of China’s “urban–rural coordination” policy, Nick R. Smith traces the diminishing autonomy of the country’s rural populations and their subordination to larger urban networks and shared administrative structures. Outside Chongqing’s urban centers, competing forces are at work in reshaping the social, political, and spatial organization of its villages. While municipal planners and policy makers seek to extend state power structures beyond the boundaries of the city, village leaders and inhabitants try to maintain control over their communities’ uncertain futures through strategies such as collectivization, shareholding, real estate development, and migration. As China seeks to rectify the development crises of previous decades through rapid urban growth, such drastic transformations threaten to displace existing ways of life for more than 600 million residents. Offering an unprecedented look at the country’s contentious shift in urban planning and policy, The End of the Village exposes the precarious future of rural life in China and suggests a critical reappraisal of how we think about urbanization. (shrink)
This book explores both the embodied nature of social life and the social nature of human bodily life. It provides an accessible review of the contemporary social science debates on the body, and develops a coherent new perspective. Nick Crossley critically reviews the literature on mind and body, and also on the body and society. He draws on theoretical insights from the work of Gilbert Ryle, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, George Herbert Mead and Pierre Bourdieu, and shows how the work of (...) these writers overlaps in interesting and important ways which, when combined, provide the basis for a persuasive and robust account of human embodiment. The Social Body provides a timely review of the theoretical approaches to the sociology of the body. It offers new insights, and a coherent new perspective on the body. It will be valuable reading for students and academics in sociology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and cultural studies. (shrink)
Epistemologists often appeal to the idea that a normative theory must provide useful, usable, guidance to argue for one normative epistemology over another. I argue that this is a mistake. Guidance considerations have no role to play in theory choice in epistemology. I show how this has implications for debates about the possibility and scope of epistemic dilemmas, the legitimacy of idealisation in Bayesian epistemology, uniqueness versus permissivism, sharp versus mushy credences, and internalism versus externalism.
The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. Other animals have stronger muscles or sharper claws, but we have cleverer brains. If machine brains one day come to surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of (...) our species then would come to depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence. But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed AI or otherwise to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation? To get closer to an answer to this question, we must make our way through a fascinating landscape of topics and considerations. Read the book and learn about oracles, genies, singletons; about boxing methods, tripwires, and mind crime; about humanity's cosmic endowment and differential technological development; indirect normativity, instrumental convergence, whole brain emulation and technology couplings; Malthusian economics and dystopian evolution; artificial intelligence, and biological cognitive enhancement, and collective intelligence. This profoundly ambitious and original book picks its way carefully through a vast tract of forbiddingly difficult intellectual terrain. Yet the writing is so lucid that it somehow makes it all seem easy. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom's work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time. (shrink)
For the people who make them, music recommender systems hold a utopian promise: they can broaden listeners' horizons and help obscure musicians find audiences, taking advantage of the enormous catalogs offered by companies like Spotify, Apple Music, and their kin. But for critics, recommender systems have come to epitomize the potential harms of algorithms: they seem to reduce expressive culture to numbers, they normalize ever-broadening data collection, and they profile their users for commercial ends, tearing the social fabric into isolated (...) patches of atomized individuals. Drawing on years of ethnographic fieldwork, anthropologist Nick Seaver offers an account of how the makers of music recommendation navigate these tensions: how product managers understand their relationship with the users they want to help and to capture, how engineers imagine the abstract geography of the "world of music" as a space they control and care for, how scientists conceive of listening itself as a kind of data processing. The book rehumanizes the algorithmic systems that shape our world, foregrounding the ideas animating the people who build and maintain them. Seaver braids together the thinking of programmers and anthropologists, opening up the cultural world of computation in a vividly theorized book that ranges widely from cosmology to calculation, metaphor to myth, and captivation to care. (shrink)
Articulate and perceptive, Intersubjectivity is a text that explains the notions of intersubjectivity as a central concern of philosophy, sociology, psychology, and politics. Going beyond this broad-ranging introduction and explication, author Nick Crossley provides a critical discussion of intersubjectivity as an interdisciplinary concept to shed light on our understanding of selfhood, communication, citizenship, power, and community. The volume traces the contributions of key thinkers engaged within the intersubjectivist tradition, including Husserl, Buber, Kojeve, Merlau-Ponty, Mead, Wittgenstein, Schutz, and Habermas. A (...) clear, concise introduction to a range of difficult concepts and thinkers, Intersubjectivity demystifies this very interdisciplinary subject for advanced and graduate-level students of philosophy, sociology, social psychology, and social and political theory. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophical attitudes toward beauty are hard to reconcile with its importance in the history of philosophy. Philosophers used to allow it a starring role in their theories of autonomy, morality, or the good life. But today, if beauty is discussed at all, it is often explicitly denied any such importance. This is due, in part, to the thought that beauty is the object of “disinterested pleasure”. In this paper I clarify the notion of disinterest and develop two general strategies (...) for resisting the emphasis on it, in the hopes of getting a clearer view of beauty’s significance. I present and discuss several literary depictions of the encounter with beauty that motivate both strategies. These depictions illustrate the ways in which aesthetic experience can be personally transformative. I argue that they present difficulties for disinterest theories and suggest we abandon the concept of disinterest to focus instead on the special kind of interest beauty fuels. I propose a closer look at the Platonic thought that beauty is the object of love. (shrink)
'The Probabilistic Mind' is a follow-up to the influential and highly cited 'Rational Models of Cognition'. It brings together developments in understanding how, and how far, high-level cognitive processes can be understood in rational terms, and particularly using probabilistic Bayesian methods.
The terms "imagination'' and "imaginative'' can be readily applied to a profusion of attitudes, experiences, activities, and further phenomena. The heterogeneity of the things to which they're applied prompts the thoughts that the terms are polysemous, and that there is no single, coherent, fruitful conception of imagination to be had. Nonetheless, much recent work on imagination ascribes implicitly to a univocal way of thinking about imaginative phenomena: the imitation theory, according to which imaginative experiences imitate other experiences. This approach is (...) infelicitous. It issues in unhelpful descriptions of imaginative activities, experiences, and attitudes, and frustrates theorizing about imagination's applications and intensional characteristics. A better way of thinking about imagination is the lens theory, according to which the imagination is a set of ways to focus, refine, clarify or concentrate the matter of other experiences. This approach offers better characterizations of imaginative phenomena, and promises brighter theoretical illumination of them. (shrink)
_What place do Anna Freud’s ideas have in the history of psychoanalysis? What can her writings teach us today about how to work therapeutically with children? Are her psychoanalytic ideas still relevant to those entrusted with the welfare of infants and young people? _ _Reading Anna Freud_ provides an accessible introduction to the writings of one of the most significant figures in the history of psychoanalysis. Each chapter introduces a number of her key papers, with clear summaries of the main (...) ideas, historical background, a discussion of the influence and contemporary relevance of her thinking, and recommendations for further reading. Areas covered include Anna Freud’s writings on: • The theory and practice of child analysis and 'developmental therapy' • The application of psychoanalytic thinking to education, paediatrics and the law • The assessment and diagnosis of childhood disorders • Psychoanalytic research and developmental psychopathology Nick Midgley draws on his extensive experience as a child psychotherapist and a teacher to bring Anna Freud's ideas to life. He illustrates the remarkable originality of her thinking, and shows how analytic ideas can be used not only in child psychotherapy, but also to inform the care of children in families, hospitals, classrooms, residential care and the court-room. __Reading Anna Freud__ will be of interest to child therapists, child analysts and psychoanalysts, as well as others working in the field of child and adolescent mental health, such as clinical psychologists, child psychiatrists and educational psychologists. It also has much to offer to those entrusted with the care of children in a wide range of settings - including teachers, nurses and social workers - for whom Anna Freud was always keen to demonstrate the value of a psychoanalytic approach. _Nick Midgley_ trained as a child and adolescent psychotherapist at the Anna Freud Centre, where he now works as a clinician and as Programme Director for the MSc in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice. Nick has written articles on a wide range of topics and is joint editor of _Minding the Child: Mentalization-based Interventions with Children, Young People and their Families_ and _Child Psychotherapy and Research: New Directions, Emerging Findings_. (shrink)
What are the sensory individuals of audition? What are the entities our auditory system attributes properties to? We examine various proposals about the nature of the sensory individuals of audition, and show that while each can account for some aspects of auditory perception, each also faces certain difficulties. We then put forward a new conception of sensory individuals according to which auditory sensory individuals are composite individuals. A feature shared by all existing accounts of sounds and sources is that they (...) postulate sensory individuals that are non-composite. They identify the sensory individual of sound hearing or source hearing with one type of entity in the environment, be they sound waves, vibrations, or interactions. We question this assumption and argue that our perceptual systems represent two or more aspects of the environment as a single sensory individual. Finally, we show that taking auditory individuals to be composite sensory individuals allows for an account of audition that is less problematic than its existing alternatives. (shrink)
This article reviews the contribution of media institutions to modernity and its wider institutional arrangements. It will consider how this relationship has normally been conceived, even mythified, and then, in its second half, review how the institutions that we now call ‘media’ are, potentially, disrupting, even deranging, modernity’s arrangements in profound ways. The article will suggest that, under conditions of increased complexity and radically transformed market competition, the changing set of institutions we call ‘media’ demand a major reinterpretation of how (...) modernity ‘works’ through institutional concentration. The first main section reviews in schematic terms the role which media institutions (the press, radio, television, film, but also infrastructural media such as the telegraph) played in the institutional development of modernity from the late 18th century, stabilising the circulation of information and contributing to the freedom associated with modernity, but in the course of this installing a ‘myth of the mediated centre’. The second section will review how this traditional settlement between media and modernity is now being deranged. This goes beyond the globalization of modernity and the complexification of culture landscapes through media and time-space compression. It is a matter, more fundamentally, of a change in the conditions under which media institutions exist and are able to ‘centralize’ communications flows. Today, communications are becoming centralised less through the production and circulation of elaborate media contents at/from global/national centres throughout the social domain (funded through audience-based advertising or state subsidy) and more through the stimulation to/from everywhere of symbolic interactions within a global information space (the internet, and its related apparatus) funded by the collection and sale of data ‘exhaust’ generated by those interactions. The result, paradoxically, is likely to be an increasing destabilisation of many traditional institutions of modernity, and the normalisation of unfreedom through continuous surveillance, undermining the legitimacy of institutional arrangements on which modernity has conventionally relied. (shrink)
In this essay Nicholas C. Burbules reviews his experiences and the lessons he learned as editor of Educational Theory for more than twenty years, and he explores some of the normative choices that are inevitably made by any editor in carrying out his or her role. Burbules examines the relationship of a journal to its intellectual field; the review process; communications and interactions with authors; the process of editing and revising manuscripts; questions of representativeness in a theoretically pluralistic (...) field; the business of journal publishing; and the dilemmas that confront an editor in terms of his or her own position and identity within a field. In all of these reflections, he examines the ethical and political background of the choices made, and how these in turn reveal deeper assumptions about the nature and purpose of academic publishing. The result is to “lift up the curtain” and reveal how one philosophically reflective and self-questioning editor handled his responsibilities. (shrink)
An abridged reading guide for Friedrich Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, based on Matherne and Riggle's two-part paper, "Schiller on Freedom and Aesthetic Value". -/- Part I: British Journal of Aesthetics 60 (4): 375-402. 2020 Part II: British Journal of Aesthetics 61 (1): 17-40. 2021.
Our paradigms of aesthetic value condition the philosophical questions we pose and hope to answer about it. Theories of aesthetic value are typically individualistic, in the sense that the paradigms they are designed to capture, and the questions to which they are offered as answers, center the individual’s engagement with aesthetic value. Here I offer some considerations that suggest that such individualism is a mistake and sketch a communitarian way of posing and answering questions about the nature of aesthetic value.
Origin of seekers: from caveman to cage fighters -- Impulsivity's hidden side: the secret of being directionally correct -- Eat or be eaten: what politicians have learned from primates -- Bubblology: the plague of the $76,000 flower -- Common sense of ownership -- Factoring you into your decisions -- Potential seekers: directing your innovative impulses -- Risk managers: conquering the fear of big cats -- Striking a balance.
Thinking in Education Research examines the resources available from philosophy and theory that can be practically applied to any educational research project. Nick Peim argues that the current well-established divide between theory and the empirical in research methods is unhelpful to students. Instead, Thinking in Education Research looks at major lines of thinking in modern European philosophy, from Kant to Freud and Derrida to Malabou, and how they provide a rich resource for every stage of conducting research. By getting (...) students engaged in 'how to think' and 'how to do', Peim illustrates that thinking is in fact a vital part of how you do research and is not an aside. Essential aspects of the research endeavour are re-examined in the light of key philosophical positions to offer constructive potential, including: defining the object; giving an account of the field; the relation to truth; the process of writing and constructing a case; and the value attributed to formal knowledge. Thinking in Education Research does not try to resolve the unresolved issues of research thinking but rather encourages readers to productively engage with them so that we can enhance the possibilities of research practice and find opportunities for its expansion and refinement. Throughout the chapters, clear and concise summaries of key philosophical positions and ideas are complemented with boxed accounts of how the philosophical debates discussed can be applied to real research projects. These features encourage the reader to consider how they can develop thinking and apply theory at every stage of their own research. This is essential reading for any educational research methods student or practicing researcher for important ways of thinking afresh about research methodology"--Publisher's description. (shrink)
We begin by showing that every theory of the value of uncertain prospects must have one of three unpalatable properties. _Reckless_ theories recommend giving up a sure thing, no matter how good, for an arbitrarily tiny chance of enormous gain; _timid_ theories permit passing up an arbitrarily large potential gain to prevent a tiny increase in risk; _non-transitive_ theories deny the principle that, if A is better than B and B is better than C, then A must be better than (...) C. Having set up this trilemma, we study its horns. Non-transitivity has been much discussed; we focus on drawing out the costs and benefits of recklessness and timidity when it comes to axiology, decision theory, and normative uncertainty. (shrink)
This article responds to recent debates in critical algorithm studies about the significance of the term “algorithm.” Where some have suggested that critical scholars should align their use of the term with its common definition in professional computer science, I argue that we should instead approach algorithms as “multiples”—unstable objects that are enacted through the varied practices that people use to engage with them, including the practices of “outsider” researchers. This approach builds on the work of Laura Devendorf, Elizabeth Goodman, (...) and Annemarie Mol. Different ways of enacting algorithms foreground certain issues while occluding others: computer scientists enact algorithms as conceptual objects indifferent to implementation details, while calls for accountability enact algorithms as closed boxes to be opened. I propose that critical researchers might seek to enact algorithms ethnographically, seeing them as heterogeneous and diffuse sociotechnical systems, rather than rigidly constrained and procedural formulas. To do so, I suggest thinking of algorithms not “in” culture, as the event occasioning this essay was titled, but “as” culture: part of broad patterns of meaning and practice that can be engaged with empirically. I offer a set of practical tactics for the ethnographic enactment of algorithmic systems, which do not depend on pinning down a singular “algorithm” or achieving “access,” but which rather work from the partial and mobile position of an outsider. (shrink)
According to Arthur Danto, post-modern or post-historical art began when artists like Andy Warhol collapsed the Modern distinction between art and everyday life by bringing “the everyday” into the artworld. I begin by pointing out that there is another way to collapse this distinction: bring art out of the artworld and into everyday life. An especially effective way of doing this is to make street art, which, I argue, is art whose meaning depends on its use of the street. I (...) defend this definition and show how it handles graffiti and public art. (shrink)
This is a chapter of the planned monograph "Out of Nowhere: The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity", co-authored by Nick Huggett and Christian Wüthrich and under contract with Oxford University Press. (More information at www<dot>beyondspacetime<dot>net.) This chapter investigates the meaning and significance of string theoretic dualities, arguing they reveal a surprising physical indeterminateness to spacetime.
It is common to allocate scarce health care resources by maximizing QALYs per dollar. This approach has been attacked by disability-rights advocates, policy-makers, and ethicists on the grounds that it unjustly discriminates against the disabled. The main complaint is that the QALY-maximizing approach implies a seemingly unsatisfactory conclusion: other things being equal, we should direct life-saving treatment to the healthy rather than the disabled. This argument pays insufficient attention to the downsides of the potential alternatives. We show that this sort (...) of discrimination is one of four unpalatable consequences that any approach to priority setting in health care must face. We argue that, given the alternatives, it is far from clear that we should revise the QALY-maximizing approach in response to this objection. (shrink)
Tasler teaches readers how to thrive when faced with difficult choices, provides a clear understanding of why you make the choices you do, and suggests the tools to make those decision change your business and your life.
It is intuitively plausible that art and imagination are intimately connected. This chapter explores attempts to explain that connection. We focus on three areas in which art and imagination might be linked: production, ontology, and appreciation. We examine views which treat imagination as a fundamental human faculty, and aim for comprehensive accounts of art and artistic practice: for example, those of Kant and Collingwood. We also discuss philosophers who argue that a specific kind of imagining may explain some particular element (...) of the artistic domain: for example, Walton's ideas about representational art, and Kivy’s about reading. (shrink)
Apologies can be profoundly meaningful, yet many gestures of contrition - especially those in legal contexts - appear hollow and even deceptive. Discussing numerous examples from ancient and recent history, I Was Wrong argues that we suffer from considerable confusion about the moral meanings and social functions of these complex interactions. Rather than asking whether a speech act 'is or is not' an apology, Smith offers a highly nuanced theory of apologetic meaning. Smith leads us though a series of rich (...) philosophical and interdisciplinary questions, explaining how apologies have evolved from a confluence of diverse cultural and religious practices that do not translate easily into secular discourse or gender stereotypes. After classifying several varieties of apologies between individuals, Smith turns to apologies from collectives. Although apologies from corporations, governments, and other groups can be quite meaningful in certain respects, we should be suspicious of those that supplant apologies from individual wrongdoers. (shrink)
In this follow up to I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies, Nick Smith expands his ambitious theories of categorical apologies to civil and criminal law. After rejecting court-ordered apologies as unjustifiable humiliation, this book explains that penitentiaries were originally designed to bring about penance - something like apology - and that this tradition has been lost in the assembly line of mass incarceration. Smith argues that the state should modernize these principles and techniques to reduce punishments for offenders (...) who demonstrate moral transformation through apologizing. Smith also explains the counterintuitive situation whereby apologies come to have considerable financial worth in civil cases because victims associate them with priceless matters of the soul. Such confusions allow powerful wrongdoers to manipulate perceptions to disastrous effect, such as when corporations or governments assert that apologies do not equate to accepting blame or require reform or redress. (shrink)