In his recent Knowledge and its Limits, Timothy Williamson argues that no non-trivial mental state is such that being in that state sufﬁces for one to be in a position to know that one is in it. In short, there are no “luminous” mental states. His argument depends on a “safety” requirement on knowledge, that one’s conﬁdent belief could not easily have been wrong if it is to count as knowledge. We argue that the safety requirement is ambiguous; on one (...) interpretation it is obviously true but useless to his argument, and on the other interpretation it is false. (shrink)
In 1907, Alfred Stieglitz took what was to become one of his signature photographs, The Steerage. Stieglitz stood at the rear of the ocean liner Kaiser Wilhelm II and photographed the decks, ﬁrst-class passengers above and steerage passengers below, carefully exposing the ﬁlm to their reﬂected light. Later, in the darkroom, Stieglitz developed this ﬁlm and made a number of prints from the resulting negative. The photograph is a familiar one, an enduring piece of social commentary, but what exactly is (...) The Steerage which Stieglitz has given us? It is clearer what The Steerage is not. It is distinct from each of its prints and from its negative. These may be dusty or torn without The Steerage being so, and any one of these could be destroyed without thereby destroying The Steerage itself. Nor is The Steerage the set of its prints. The set could not have had diﬀerent members, while The Steerage could have had more, fewer, or diﬀerent prints.1 Similar reasoning rules out the mereological sum of parts of its actual prints, for The Steerage’s prints might not have comprised just these parts. We are left with a puzzle, what sort of thing is a photograph? This puzzle is not unique to photography. Similar reasoning generates an analogous puzzle for any repeatable work of art. Novels, poems, plays, symphonies, songs, and the rest share an ontological predicament and create a 1 general puzzle concerning the ontological status of repeatable works of art. It is widely held that the puzzle has an equally general solution, one which I will argue fails for systematic reasons. Although my target here is the supposed solution to the general problem, photography will remain the central case under scrutiny. I oﬀer it as a model for our thinking about the wider class in order to reap the beneﬁts of thinking in terms of concrete cases. Although this risks a trade-oﬀ with the generality of my conclusions—there are important diﬀerences of detail between the cases—I hope it is clear that the considerations I appeal to in photography are not idiosyncratic but shared by the wider class.. (shrink)
Saul Kripke has claimed that there are necessary connections between material things and their material origins. The usual defences of such necessity of origin theses appeal to either a sufficiency of origin principle or a branching-times model of necessity. In this paper we offer a different defence. Our argument proceeds from more modest ‘independence principles’, which govern the processes by which material objects are produced. Independence principles are motivated, in turn, by appeal to a plausible metaphysical principle governing such processes, (...) their invulnerability to non-local prevention. We outline the new argument, and distinguish it from both of the usual defences. (shrink)
A New Route to the Necessity of Origin’ (2004, henceforth ‘NR’), we offered an argument for the thesis that there are necessary connections between material things and their material origins. Much of the philosophical interest lay in our claim that the argument did not depend on so-called sufficiency principles for crossworld identity. It has been the verdict of much recent work on the necessity of origin that valid arguments for the thesis require some such sufficiency principle as a premise but (...) that such principles are deeply problematic.1 Finding an argument free of such principles would advance both our understanding and the plausibility of that thesis. These claims are now the subject of a pair of insightful critiques by Teresa Robertson and Graeme Forbes (2006, henceforth ‘RF’) and by Ross Cameron and Sonia Roca (2006, henceforth ‘CR’), and we welcome the opportunity to clarify and improve our account of the matter. (shrink)
Could a work of art actually authored by one artist have been authored, instead, by another? This is the question of the necessity of authorship. After distinguishing this question from another, regarding individuation, with which it is often confused, this paper offers an argument that authorship is indeed a necessary feature of most artworks. The argument proceeds from ‘independence principles’, which govern the processes by which artworks are produced. Independence principles are motivated, in turn, by metaphysical reflections on what it (...) takes to prevent an artist from producing a particular work of art. (shrink)
Ontology is the study of what exists and the nature of the most fundamental categories into which those existents fall. Ontologists oﬀer a map of reality, one divided into such broad, overlapping territories as physical and mental, concrete and abstract, universal and particular. Such a map provides the setting for further philosophical investigation. Ontologists of art seek to locate works of art in this wider terrain, to say where in our universe they ﬁt in. Their governing question is, thus, “What (...) kind of thing is a work of art?”. (shrink)
Erdelyi argues persuasively for his unified theory of repression. Beyond this, what can studying repression bring to our understanding of other aspects of emotional function? Here we consider ways in which work on repression might inform the study of, on one hand, emotional memory, and on the other, the emotional numbing seen in patients with chronic persistent depersonalization symptoms.
I ask four questions: (1) Why should we think that our hominid ancestor's predation is not just a causal influence but the main causal factor responsible for human cruelty? (2) Why not think of human cruelty as a necessary part of a syndrome in which other phenomena are necessarily involved? (3) What definitions of cruelty does Nell propose that we operate with? And (4) what about the meaning of cruelty for human beings?
In some quarters, it is held that Anscombe proved that a zygote is not a human being on the basis of an argument involving the possibility of identical twins, but there is surprisingly little agreement on what her argument is supposed to be. I criticize several extant interpretations, both as interpretations of Anscombe and as self-standing arguments, and offer a different understanding of her conclusion on which the non-specificity of creation processes and their goals is at issue.
‘William L. Rowe on Philosophy of Religion’ edited by Nick Trakakis, collects 30 papers of William Rowe's important work in the philosophy of religion. I review this collection, and offer an objection of one of Rowe's arguments.
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)
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)
This essay critically comments on Contingent Future Persons (1997), an anthology of thirteen papers on the same topic as Obligations to Future Generations (1978), namely, the morality of decisions affecting the existence, number and identity of future persons. In my discussion, I identify the basic point of dispute between R. M. Hare and Michael Lockwood on potentiality; I criticize Nick Fotion's thesis that the Repugnant Conclusion is too far-fetched to be philosophically valuable; I object to Clark Wolf's "Impure Consequentialist (...) Theory of Obligation"; and I discuss the Non-Identity Problem in connection with essays by Robert Elliot and Ingmar Persson. (shrink)
This paper is interested in commodity fetishism as a signal of collapsing marital mandates in the genre of lad lit. Instead of focusing solely on its late twentieth-century moment of emergence as a response to chick lit, the paper proposes a longer historical view in order to understand the crisis of masculinity that lad lit lays bare in its protagonists’ inherently queer status as collectors. The analysis puts critical pressure on the collectible object by re-reading the “lad” through the literary (...) figure of the fop, who represents a recurring response to similar crises in gender from the seventeenth-century’s comedy of manners to the novels of Jane Austen. The fop’s overinvestment in style and consequent marginalization is considered in Nick Hornby’s novels High Fidelity and About a Boy, in which the protagonists’ obsessive collecting of objects can be understood as both a dominant feature of their masculinity and the roadblock to their participation in heteronormative rituals of romance. Instead of reading Hornby’s characters as straightforwardly queer, this paper focuses on the commodity as a signal of queerness, and in turn its central role in the creation of, and the challenge to, the lad’s masculinity. (shrink)
Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek, and Graham Harman (eds): The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s10746-012-9218-0 Authors Geoff Pfeifer, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, USA Journal Human Studies Online ISSN 1572-851X Print ISSN 0163-8548.
Nick Joaquin, one of the Philippines’ pillars of literature in English, is regrettably known locally for his nostalgic take on the Hispanic aspect of Philippine culture. While Joaquin did spend a great deal of time creatively exploring the Philippines’ Hispanic past, he certainly did not do so simply because of nostalgia. As recent studies have shown, Joaquin’s classic techniques that often echo the Hispanic influence on Philippine culture may also be considered as a form of resistance against both the (...) American neocolonial influence and the nativist brand of nationalism in the 1950s and 1960s. Despite the emergence of Gothic criticism in postcolonial writing, Joaquin’s works have rarely received the attention they deserve in this critical area. In this context, this paper explores the idea of the Gothic in Joaquin’s writing and how it relates to Joaquin being the “most original voice in postcolonial Philippine writing.” In 1972, the University of Queensland Press featured Joaquin’s works in its Asian and Pacific writing series. This “new” collection, Tropical Gothic, contained his significant early works published in Prose and Poems plus his novellas. This collection’s title highlights a specific aspect of Joaquin’s writing, that of his propensity to use Gothic tropes such as the blending of the real and the fantastic, or the tragic and the comic, as shown in most of the stories in the collection. In particular, I examine how his novella interrogates the neurosis of the nation—a disconnection from the past and its repercussions on the present/future of the Philippines. (shrink)
Es ist nicht leicht, dieser Studie im Umfang v. 557 Seiten gerecht zu werden. Der behandelte Text der spätbyzantinischen Vierfüßlergeschichte, der in älteren Ausgaben von W. Wagner in dessen Carmina Graeca Medii Aevi und von Vassiliki Tsiouni als Bd. 15 der Miscellanea Byzantina Monacensia, Diss. London 1970 vorlag, umfaßt selbst nur knapp 1100 Verse. Die Autoren, - der eine, George Baloglou, ist Mathematik-professor an der State University of New York, Oswego, der andere, Nick Nicholas, Research Fellow bei den Linguisten (...) an der Universität von Melbourne und Mitarbeiter am Thesaurus Linguae Graecae in Irvine - USA - sind von Haus aus also keine Fachleute für die Herausgabe von Texten der byzantinischen Volksliteratur, vermitteln aber auf so gut wie jeder Seite ihres Werks ihren wissenschaftlichen Impetus und Enthusiasmus, diesem Text bis in die letzten Falten seines Gewands nachzuspüren. (shrink)
Darwinian matters : life, force and change -- Biological difference -- The evolution of sex and race -- Nietzsche's Darwin -- History and the untimely -- The eternal return and the overman -- Bergsonian differences -- The philosophy of life -- Intuition and the virtual -- The future.
In ‘A New Route to the Necessity of Origin’, Rohbraugh and deRosset offer an argument for the Necessity of Origin appealing neither to Suffciency of Origin nor to a branching-times model of necessity. What is doing the crucial work in their argument is instead the thesis they name ‘Locality of Prevention’. In this response, we object that their argument is question-begging by showing, first, that the locality of prevention thesis is not strong enough to satisfactorily derive from it the intended (...) conclusion, and, second, that the argument is not sound unless the Necessity of Origin is operating as an implicit premiss. (shrink)