We discuss a recent approach to investigating cognitive control, which has the potential to deal with some of the challenges inherent in this endeavour. In a model-based approach, the researcher deﬁnes a formal, computational model that performs the task at hand and whose performance matches that of a research participant. The internal variables in such a model might then be taken as proxies for latent variables computed in the brain. We discuss the potential advantages of such an approach for the (...) study of the neural underpinnings of cognitive control and its pitfalls, and we make explicit the assumptions underlying the interpretation of data obtained using this approach. (shrink)
This book argues that the meaning of negation, perhaps the most important logical constant, cannot be defined within the framework of the most comprehensive theory of proof-theoretic semantics, as formulated in the influential work of Michael Dummett and Dag Prawitz. Nils Kürbis examines three approaches that have attempted to solve the problem - defining negation in terms of metaphysical incompatibility; treating negation as an undefinable primitive; and defining negation in terms of a speech act of denial - and concludes (...) that they cannot adequately do so. He argues that whereas proof-theoretic semantics usually only appeals to a notion of truth, it also needs to appeal to a notion of falsity, and proposes a system of natural deduction in which both are incorporated. Offering new perspectives on negation, denial and falsity, his book will be important for readers working on logic, metaphysics and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
This paper discusses proof-theoretic semantics, the project of specifying the meanings of the logical constants in terms of rules of inference governing them. I concentrate on Michael Dummett’s and Dag Prawitz’ philosophical motivations and give precise characterisations of the crucial notions of harmony and stability, placed in the context of proving normalisation results in systems of natural deduction. I point out a problem for defining the meaning of negation in this framework and prospects for an account of the meanings of (...) modal operators in terms of rules of inference. (shrink)
In our lives, we aim to achieve welfare for ourselves, that is, to live good lives. But we also have another, more impartial perspective, where we aim to balance our concern for our own welfare against a concern for the welfare of others. This is a perspective of justice. Nils Holtug examines these two perspectives and the relations between them.
The right to health is enshrined in the constitution of the World Health Organization and numerous other international agreements. Yet today, an estimated 5.7 million people die each year from treatable infectious diseases, most of which are susceptible to existing antimicrobials if they were accessible. These deaths occur predominantly among populations living in poverty in low- and middle-income countries, and they greatly exceed the estimated 700,000 annual deaths worldwide currently attributed to antimicrobial resistance. Ensuring universal appropriate access to antimicrobials is (...) not only a critical part of realizing the right to health, it is necessary for mobilizing effective collective action against the development and spread of AMR. (shrink)
The focus of this paper are Dummett's meaning-theoretical arguments against classical logic based on consideration about the meaning of negation. Using Dummettian principles, I shall outline three such arguments, of increasing strength, and show that they are unsuccessful by giving responses to each argument on behalf of the classical logician. What is crucial is that in responding to these arguments a classicist need not challenge any of the basic assumptions of Dummett's outlook on the theory of meaning. In particular, I (...) shall grant Dummett his general bias towards verificationism, encapsulated in the slogan 'meaning is use'. The second general assumption I see no need to question is Dummett's particular breed of molecularism. Some of Dummett's assumptions will have to be given up, if classical logic is to be vindicated in his meaning-theoretical framework. A major result of this paper will be that the meaning of negation cannot be defined by rules of inference in the Dummettian framework. (shrink)
ABSTRACTEvaluative aesthetic discourse communicates that the speaker has had first-hand experience of what is talked about. If you call a book bewitching, it will be assumed that you have read the book. If you say that a building is beautiful, it will be assumed that you have had some visual experience with it. According to an influential view, this is because knowledge is a norm for assertion, and aesthetic knowledge requires first-hand experience. This paper criticizes this view and argues for (...) an alternative view, according to which aesthetic discourse expresses affective states of mind, analogously to how assertions express beliefs. It is because these affective states require first-hand experience that aesthetic discourse communicates that such acquaintance is at hand. The paper furthermore argues that the lack of an experience requirement for aesthetic belief ascriptions constitutes a problem for the kind of expressivist who claims that evaluative belief states are covert non-cognitive states. (shrink)
Molnar argues that the problem of truthmakers for negative truths arises because we tend to accept four metaphysical principles that entail that all negative truths have positive truthmakers. This conclusion, however, already follows from only three of Molnar´s metaphysical principles. One purpose of this note is to set the record straight. I provide an alternative reading of two of Molnar´s principles on which they are all needed to derive the desired conclusion. Furthermore, according to Molnar, the four principles may be (...) inconsistent. By themselves, however, they are not. The other purpose of this note is to propose some plausible further principles that, when added to the four metaphysical theses, entail a contradiction. (shrink)
This is a commentary on MM McCabe's "First Chop your logos... Socrates and the sophists on language, logic, and development". In her paper MM analyses Plato's Euthydemos, in which Plato tackles the problem of falsity in a way that takes into account the speaker and complements the Sophist's discussion of what is said. The dialogue looks as if it is merely a demonstration of the silly consequences of eristic combat. And so it is. But a main point of MM's paper (...) is that there is serious philosophy in the Euthydemos, too. MM argues that to counter the sophist brothers Euthydemos and Dionysodoros, Socrates points out that that there are different aspects to the verb 'to say' that run in parallel to the different aspects of the very 'to learn'. So just as there is continuity rather than ambiguity between 'to learn' and 'to understand', so there is continuity between the different aspects of saying. Thus Socrates puts forward a teleological account of both learning and meaning. Following up on some of MM's thoughts, I argue that the sophists subscribe, despite appearance, to a theory of meaning that respects serious and widely accepted philosophical theses on meaning. -/- Forthcoming in the Australasian Philosophical Review. The curator of the volume is Fiona Leigh, and the committee also has Hugh Benson and Tim Clarke. You can find MM's paper as well as the commentaries by Nicholas Denyer and Russell E. Jones and Ravi Sharma (and myself) by registering. (shrink)
This contribution traces the parallel development of two distinct approaches to peasant agroecological education: the peasant-to-peasant horizontal method that disseminated across Mesoamerica and the Caribbean beginning in the 1970s, and the political-agroecological training schools of combined consciousness-building and skill-formation that have been at the heart of the educational processes of member organizations of La Via Campesina since the 1990s. Applying a theoretical framework that incorporates territorial struggle, agroecology and popular education, we examine spatial and organizational aspects of each of these (...) models for peasant education and movement-building. Recognizing that the models, their respective contexts, and the dialectical relationships therein have been in constant evolution, we share findings on the movement-place as a territorial system with socio-historical subjectivity, that is, peasant movements as territorially-embedded, collective historical actors. This leads to some conclusions in moving past educational theory that has centered upon individual subjects, and approaching a conception of territory as a subject of learning processes. (shrink)
Mobile health devices pose novel questions at the intersection of philosophy and technology. Many such applications not only collect sensitive data, but also aim at persuading users to change their lifestyle for the better. A major concern is that persuasion is paternalistic as it intentionally aims at changing the agent’s actions, chipping away at their autonomy. This worry roots in the philosophical conviction that perhaps the most salient feature of living autonomous lives is displayed via agency as opposed to patiency—our (...) lives go well in virtue of what we do, rather than what happens to us. Being persuaded by a device telling us how to conduct our lives seemingly renders the agent passive, an inert recipient of technological commands. This agential bias, however, has led to a marginalization of patiential characteristics that are just as much part of our lives as are agential characteristics. To appreciate the inherent interlocking of acting and being acted upon, it is vital to acknowledge that agency and patiency are correlates, not mutually exclusive opposites. Furthermore, it is unclear whether an action can only count as agential so long as its causes are internal. Drawing on the extended mind and extended will framework, I argue that mHealth applications merely serve as volitional aids to the agent’s internal cognition. Autonomously set goals can be achieved more effectively via technology. To be persuaded by an mHealth device does not mainly—let alone exclusively—emphasize patiency; on the contrary, it can be an effective tool for technologically enhancing agency. (shrink)
Ethicism is the most comprehensively defended answer to the question regarding whether ethical properties determine aesthetic properties in artworks. According to ethicism, aesthetically relevant ethical flaws in artworks count as aesthetic flaws and aesthetically relevant ethical merits count as aesthetic merits. In this paper, I argue that ethicism’s most significant argument, the Merited Response Argument suffers from an ambiguity that makes it either unsound or uninteresting. Specifically, the notion of an artwork’s ‘prescribing’ a response, central to MRA, is ambiguous between (...) merely attempting to elicit a response from appreciators as appropriate to a work, and endorsing a response as appropriate to relevant parts of the actual world. While the first sense of ‘prescribe’ does the aesthetic work, the second does the ethical. (shrink)
This paper presents a way of formalising definite descriptions with a binary quantifier ι, where ιx[F, G] is read as ‘The F is G’. Introduction and elimination rules for ι in a system of intuitionist negative free logic are formulated. Procedures for removing maximal formulas of the form ιx[F, G] are given, and it is shown that deductions in the system can be brought into normal form.
If a work of literary fiction prescribes us to imagine that the Devil made a bet with God and transformed into a poodle, then that claim is true in the fiction and we imagine accordingly. Generally, we cooperate imaginatively with literary fictions, however bizarre, and the things authors write into their stories become true in the fiction. But for some claims, such as moral falsehoods, this seems not to be straightforwardly the case, which raises the question: Why not? The puzzles (...) such cases raise are sometimes grouped under the heading “imaginative resistance”. In this paper, I argue against what I take to be the best attempts to dismiss the puzzles and solve them. I also tease out subtleties not sufficiently addressed in the existing literature and end by defending a unified solution of my own. According to this solution, the puzzling phenomena occur when literary works offer inadequate and exhaustive grounds for claims. The solution’s novelty lies in its giving a normative rather than psychological or alethic explanation for the puzzling phenomena, the relevant norms being those of proper artistic appreciation. (shrink)
Empathy facilitates everyday social interactions and has often been linked in the literature to prosocial behavior. Robust evidence has been found for a positive relationship between experiencing empathy and behaving prosocially. However, empathy, and the empathy–prosocial behavior relationship in particular, has been studied mostly in combination with negative emotions. Less research has been conducted on empathy for positive emotions, and the link between positive empathy and displayed prosocial behavior has not been intensively investigated so far. The purpose of the present (...) article is thus twofold: first, we review and summarize research evidence on empathy for positive emotions, and second, we propose that people’s motivation to maintain an experienced positive affect is a viable mechanism linking positive empathy and prosocial behavior. (shrink)
According to what I call the Merit Principle, roughly, works of art that attempt to elicit unmerited responses fail on their own terms and are thereby aesthetically flawed. A horror film, for instance, that attempts to elicit fear towards something that is not scary is to that extent aesthetically flawed. The Merit Principle is not only intuitive, it is also endorsed in some form by Aristotle, David Hume, and numerous contemporary figures. In this paper, I show how the principle leads (...) to a novel paradox when applied to an undertheorized class of artworks I call ‘seductive works’. These artworks necessarily invite an unmerited response in order to invite a (merited) repudiation of that response. Thus, according to the Merit Principle, they are necessarily aesthetically flawed, which is counter-intuitive. I consider a number of unsuccessful solutions to the paradox that aim to preserve the Merit Principle, before rejecting that principle as it stands. I discuss what is challenging about seductive artworks, before briefly defending a new principle that appeals to a general way that a work’s aesthetic value is conditioned by the constraints under which it operates. This principle not only resolves the paradox, but explains the competing intuitions that give rise to it. (shrink)
In this paper, we consider a few actual cases of mnemonic strategies among older subjects (older than 65). The cases are taken from an ethnographic study, examining how elderly adults cope with cognitive decline. We believe that these cases illustrate that the process of remembering in many cases involve a complex distributed web of processes involving both internal or intracranial and external sources. Our cases illustrate that the nature of distributed remembering is shaped by and subordinated to the dynamic characteristics (...) of the on-going activity and to our minds suggest that research on memory and distributed cognition should focus on the process of remembering through detailed descriptions and analysis of naturally occurring situations. (shrink)
The present paper unravels ontological and normative conditions of personhood for the purpose of critiquing ‘Cognitivist Views’. Such views have attracted much attention and affirmation by presenting the ontology of personhood in terms of higher-order cognition on the basis of which normative practices are explained and justified. However, these normative conditions are invoked to establish the alleged ontology in the first place. When we want to know what kind of entity has full moral status, it is tempting to establish an (...) ontology that fits our moral intuitions about who should qualify for such unique normative standing. But this approach conflates personhood’s ontology and normativity insofar as it stresses the primacy of the former while implicitly presupposing the latter; it thereby suffers from a ‘Normative Fallacy’ by inferring from ‘ought’ to ‘is’. Following my critique of Cognitivism, I sketch an alternative conception, contending that, whereas the Cognitivist ontology of personhood presupposes the normative, a social ontology is constituted by it. In due consideration of evidence from developmental psychology, the social embeddedness of persons—manifested in the ability of taking a ‘second-person stance’—is identified as a key feature of personhood that precedes higher-order cognition, and is directly linked to basic normative concerns. (shrink)
Ian Rumfitt has proposed systems of bilateral logic for primitive speech acts of assertion and denial, with the purpose of ‘exploring the possibility of specifying the classically intended senses for the connectives in terms of their deductive use’ : 810f). Rumfitt formalises two systems of bilateral logic and gives two arguments for their classical nature. I assess both arguments and conclude that only one system satisfies the meaning-theoretical requirements Rumfitt imposes in his arguments. I then formalise an intuitionist system of (...) bilateral logic which also meets those requirements. Thus Rumfitt cannot claim that only classical bilateral rules of inference succeed in imparting a coherent sense onto the connectives. My system can be extended to classical logic by adding the intuitionistically unacceptable half of a structural rule Rumfitt uses to codify the relation between assertion and denial. Thus there is a clear sense in which, in the bilateral framework, the difference between classicism and intuitionism is not one of the rules of inference governing negation, but rather one of the relation between assertion and denial. (shrink)
The outcomes of sports and competitive games excite intense emotions in many people, even when those same people acknowledge that those outcomes are of trifling importance. I call this incongruity between the judged importance of the outcome and the intense reactions it provokes the Puzzle of Sport. The puzzle can be usefully compared to another puzzle in aesthetics: the Paradox of Fiction, which asks how it is we become emotionally caught up with events and characters we know to be unreal. (...) In this article, I examine the prospects of understanding our engagement with competitive games on the model of our engagement with works of fiction, thus enabling analogous explanations for both puzzles. I show that there are significant problems with such an approach and offer an alternative, mobilizing ideas from David Velleman and Thomas Nagel, that appeals to the volatility of our motivational attitudes. (shrink)
According to the Harm Principle, roughly, the state may coerce a person only if it can thereby prevent harm to others. Clearly, this principle depends crucially on what we understand by harm. Thus, if any sort of negative effect on a person may count as a harm, the Harm Principle will fail to sufficiently protect individual liberty. Therefore, a more subtle concept of harm is needed. I consider various possible conceptions and argue that none gives rise to a plausible version (...) of the Harm Principle. Whether we focus on welfare, quantities of welfare or qualities of welfare, we do not arrive at a plausible version of this principle. Instead, the concept of harm may be moralized. I consider various ways this may be done as well as possible rationales for the resulting versions of the Harm Principle. Again, no plausible version of the principle turns up. I also consider the prospect of including the Harm Principle in a decision-procedure rather than in a criterion of rightness. Finally, in light of my negative appraisal, I briefly discuss why this principle has seemed so appealing to liberals. (shrink)
Emergence is a universal phenomenon that can be defined mathematically in a very general way. This is useful for the study of scientifically legitimate explanations of complex systems, here defined as hyperstructures. A requirement is that the observation mechanisms are considered within the general framework. Two notions of emergence are defined, and specific examples of these are discussed.
Both Plato and Aristotle have something to say about admiration. But in order to know where to look, and in order to appreciate the force of their remarks, we need to sketch a little of the ethical background that they presuppose. I begin, therefore, with ancient Greek ethics in the wider sense, and discuss the treatment of admiration and related attitudes by Homer, Herodotus, and other pre-Platonic sources. Then I turn to the views of Plato, Adam Smith, Aristotle and Cicero. (...) This order of discussion allows us to see why admiration is both morally significant and, in some respects, morally unreliable. (shrink)
Ethical questions have traditionally been approached through conceptual analysis. Inspired by the rapid advance of modern brain imaging techniques, however, some ethical questions appear in a new light. For example, hotly debated trolley dilemmas have recently been studied by psychologists and neuroscientists alike, arguing that their findings can support or debunk moral intuitions that underlie those dilemmas. Resulting from the wedding of philosophy and neuroscience, neuroethics has emerged as a novel interdisciplinary field that aims at drawing conclusive relationships between neuroscientific (...) observations and normative ethics. A major goal of neuroethics is to derive normative ethical conclusions from the investigation of neural and psychological mechanisms underlying ethical theories, as well as moral judgments and intuitions. The focus of this article is to shed light on the structure and functioning of neuroethical arguments of this sort, and to reveal particular methodological challenges that lie concealed therein. We discuss the methodological problem of how one can—or, as the case may be, cannot—validly infer normative conclusions from neuroscientific observations. Moreover, we raise the issue of how preexisting normative ethical convictions threaten to invalidate the interpretation of neuroscientific data, and thus arrive at question-begging conclusions. Nonetheless, this is not to deny that current neuroethics rightly presumes that moral considerations about actual human lives demand empirically substantiated answers. Therefore, in conclusion, we offer some preliminary reflections on how the discussed methodological challenges can be met. (shrink)
In philosophy, the criteria for personhood (PH) at a specific point in time (synchronic), and the necessary and sufficient conditions of personal identity (PI) over time (diachronic) are traditionally separated. Hence, the transition between both timescales of a person's life remains largely unclear. Personal habits reflect a decision-making (DM) process that binds together synchronic and diachronic timescales. Despite the fact that the actualization of habits takes place synchronically, they presuppose, for the possibility of their generation, time in a diachronic sense. (...) The acquisition of habits therefore rests upon PI over time; that is, the temporal extension of personal decisions is the necessary condition for the possible development of habits. Conceptually, habits can thus be seen as a bridge between synchronic and diachronic timescales of a person's life. In order to investigate the empirical mediation of this temporal linkage, we draw upon the neuronal mechanisms underlying DM; in particular on the distinction between internally and externally guided DM. Externally guided DM relies on external criteria at a specific point in time (synchronic); on a neural level, this has been associated with lateral frontal and parietal brain regions. In contrast, internally guided DM is based on the person's own preferences that involve a more longitudinal and thus diachronic timescale, which has been associated with the brain's intrinsic activity. Habits can be considered to reflect a balance between internally and externally guided DM, which implicates a particular temporal balance between diachronic and synchronic elements, thus linking two different timescales. Based on such evidence, we suggest a habit-based neurophilosophical approach of PH and PI by focusing on the empirically-based linkage between the synchronic and diachronic elements of habits. By doing so, we propose to link together what philosophically has been described and analyzed separately as PH and PI. (shrink)
Sentences containing definite descriptions, expressions of the form ‘The F’, can be formalised using a binary quantifier ι that forms a formula out of two predicates, where ιx[F, G] is read as ‘The F is G’. This is an innovation over the usual formalisation of definite descriptions with a term forming operator. The present paper compares the two approaches. After a brief overview of the system INFι of intuitionist negative free logic extended by such a quantifier, which was presented in (...) (Kürbis 2019), INFι is first compared to a system of Tennant’s and an axiomatic treatment of a term forming ι operator within intuitionist negative free logic. Both systems are shown to be equivalent to the subsystem of INFι in which the G of ιx[F, G] is restricted to identity. INFι is then compared to an intuitionist version of a system of Lambert’s which in addition to the term forming operator has an operator for predicate abstraction for indicating scope distinctions. The two systems will be shown to be equivalent through a translation between their respective languages. Advantages of the present approach over the alternatives are indicated in the discussion. (shrink)
Persons are widely believed to be rational, planning agents that are both author and main character of their life stories. A major goal is to keep these narratives coherent as they unfold, and part of a fulfilled life allegedly stems from this coherence. My aim is to challenge these convictions by considering two related claims about persons and their lives. Contrary to the widespread theoretical conviction in philosophy of mind and action, persons are fundamentally emotional and affective rather than rational (...) and deliberative beings. And so, on a practical level, persons need not constantly aspire to integrate their past, present, and future into a coherent whole in order to live fulfilled lives. Needless to say, I cannot hope to defend these claims and their relation in great detail with a few brief strokes. In addition to theoretical reflections, I discuss some practical implications and potential benefits that come with discarding the daunting task of continuously keeping track of one's life story. Drawing on insights from a contemplative Buddhist tale, I venture that the practice of letting go can break the spell, and give rise to an alleviating source of liberation from life's troubles.Export citation. (shrink)
In "Rethinking Sadomasochism," Patrick Hopkins challenges the "radical" feminist claim that sadomasochism is incompatible with feminism. He does so by appeal to the notion of "simulation." I argue that Hopkins's conclusions are generally right, but they cannot be inferred from his "simulation" argument. I replace Hopkins's "simulation" with Kendall Walton's more sophisticated theory of "make-believe." I use this theory to better argue that privately conducted sadomasochism is compatible with feminism.
Jeff McMahan appeals to what he calls the “Time-relative Interest Account of the Wrongness of Killing ” to explain the wrongness of killing individuals who are conscious but not autonomous. On this account, the wrongness of such killing depends on the victim’s interest in his or her future, and this interest, in turn, depends on two things: the goods that would have accrued to the victim in the future; and the strength of the prudential relations obtaining between the victim at (...) the time of the killing and at the times these goods would have accrued to him or her. More precisely, when assessing this interest, future goods should be discounted to reflect reductions in the strength of such relations. Against McMahan’s account I argue that it relies on an implausible “actualist” view of the moral importance of interests according to which satisfactions of future interests only have moral significance if they are satisfactions of actual interests. More precisely, I aim to show that the Time-relative Interest Account does not have the implications for the morality of killing that McMahan takes it to have, and implies, implausibly, that certain interest satisfactions which seem to be morally significant are morally insignificant because they are not satisfactions of actual interests. (shrink)
This is a comprehensive introduction to the history of Western Philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to Twentieth Century thought. In addition to all the key figures, the book covers figures whose contributions have so far been overlooked, such as Vico, Montesquieu, Durkheim and Weber. Along with in-depth discussion of the philosophical movements, Skirbekk and Gilje also discuss the natural sciences, the establishment of the Humanities, Socialism and Fascism, Psychoanalysis, and the rise of the social sciences. _History of Western Thought_ is an (...) ideal introduction to philosophy and the sociological and scientific structures that have shaped modern day philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that coming into existence can benefit (or harm) aperson. My argument incorporates the comparative claim that existence canbe better (or worse) for a person than never existing. Since these claimsare highly controversial, I consider and reject a number of objectionswhich threaten them. These objections raise various semantic, logical,metaphysical and value-theoretical issues. I then suggest that there is animportant sense in which it can harm (or benefit) a person not to comeinto existence. Again, I consider and (...) reject some objections. Finally, Ibriefly consider what the conclusions reached in this paper imply for ourmoral obligations to possible future people. (shrink)
One of the most vibrant subfields of American intellectual history over the last fifteen years has been the history of the social sciences during the late twentieth century, a period when the size and quality of American social-scientific output grew explosively. Given that the major historiographic push to historicize this period of social science began in the 1990s, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the declaration by some Americans of Cold War victory, it was perhaps (...) inevitable that the geopolitics of the Cold War emerged as a major tool for accounting for what was distinct about the social science and broader culture of the postwar period. After all, wasn't it obvious that what made the 1990s different from the decades that came before it was the fact that the Cold War was over? And wasn't it further obvious that the bipolar geopolitics and nuclear night terrors of the Cold War had deformed everything they touched, not least the work of American social scientists? One marker of this obviousness was the transformation of the term “Cold War” from a noun describing a particular sort of geopolitical struggle into an adjective that could explain all sorts of extra-geopolitical activity. By the turn of the century this adjectivalization of the Cold War had become something of a historiographic cliché, a blunt way to historicize our immediate forebears. When John Lewis Gaddis chose to title his “rethink” of Cold War historyNow We Know, he didn't even need to addBetter. (shrink)
According to outcome welfarism, roughly, the value of an outcome is fundamentally a matterof the individual welfare it contains. I assess various suggestions as to how to spell out this idea more fully on the basis of some basic intuitions about the content and implications of welfarism. I point out that what are in fact different suggestions are often conflated and argue that none fully captures the basic intuitions. I then suggest that what this means is that different doctrines of (...) welfarism may be appropriate in different contexts and that when deciding on a particular doctrine, we need to consider which intuitions it does accommodate. Finally, I consider the issue of just how a benefit must be related to an outcome in order to contribute to its value. (shrink)
Brain transplant thought experiments figure prominently in the debate on personal identity. Such hypotheticals are usually taken to provide support for psychological continuity theories. This standard interpretation has recently been challenged by Marya Schechtman. Simon Beck argues that Schechtman's critique rests upon ‘two costly mistakes’—claiming that (1) when evaluating these cases, philosophers mistakenly try to figure out the intuitions that they think people inhabiting such a possible world ought to have, instead of pondering their own intuitions. Beck further asserts that (...) (2) brain transplant thought experiments cannot confirm any given theory of personal identity but rather they can only rule out theories. I argue on grounds of the social ontology of personhood that Beck has things back to front. Since our concept of personhood is shaped and informed by contingent de facto norms and structures of the natural world, and as such is heavily normatively laden, the conceptual genesis of personhood must be taken into account. This calls for constructing thought experiments as realistically as possible in order to trigger reliable intuitions. Furthermore, drawing on recent evidence from cognitive science, an empirically informed look at brain transplant thought experiments considering ‘Embodied Cognition’ reveals that Beck's arguments not only fall short for supporting psychological continuity theories, but also suggests an advantage of Schechtman's ‘Person Life View’. (shrink)
Normative ethics usually presupposes background accounts of human agency, and although different ethical theorists might have different pictures of human agency in mind, there is still something like a standard account that most of mainstream normative ethics can be understood to rest on. Ethical theorists tend to have Rational Man, or at least some close relative to him, in mind when constructing normative theories. It will be argued here that empirical findings raise doubts about the accuracy of this kind of (...) account; human beings fall too far short of ideals of rationality for it to be meaningful to devise normative ideals within such a framework. Instead, it is suggested, normative ethics could be conducted more profitably if the idea of unifying all ethical concerns into one theoretical account is abandoned. This disunity of ethical theorizing would then match the disunited and heuristic-oriented nature of our agency. (shrink)
In a recent, thought-provoking paper Adam Elga argues against unsharp – e.g., indeterminate, fuzzy and unreliable – probabilities. Rationality demands sharpness, he contends, and this means that decision theories like Levi's, Gärdenfors and Sahlin's, and Kyburg's, though they employ different decision rules, face a common, and serious, problem. This article defends the rule to maximize minimum expected utility against Elga's objection.
This paper discusses what the so-called Priority View implies regarding possible people. It is argued that this view is plausible when applied to fixed populations, but that, when applied to the issue of possible people, it faces certain difficulties. If it is claimed that possible people fall within the scope of the Priority View, we are led to the repugnant conclusion at a faster pace than we are by, e.g., utilitarianism. And if it is claimed that possible people do not (...) fall within the scope of the Priority View, we shall have to combine this view with a different view in order to avoid certain counter-intuitive judgements. Such a combined view, however, leads to intransitivities. At the end of the paper, I discuss what these conclusions imply regarding both the Priority View and our moral obligations to possible people. (shrink)
The fundamental assumption of Dummett’s and Prawitz’ proof-theoretic justification of deduction is that ‘if we have a valid argument for a complex statement, we can construct a valid argument for it which finishes with an application of one of the introduction rules governing its principal operator’. I argue that the assumption is flawed in this general version, but should be restricted, not to apply to arguments in general, but only to proofs. I also argue that Dummett’s and Prawitz’ project of (...) providing a logical basis for metaphysics only relies on the restricted assumption. (shrink)
The traditional distinction between basic and applied science has been much criticized in recent decades. The criticism is based on a combination of historical and systematic epistemic argument. The present paper is mostly concerned with the historical aspect. I argue that the critics impose an understanding at odds with the way the distinction was understood by its supporters in debates on science education and science policy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And I show how a distinction that refers to (...) difference on several epistemic and social dimensions makes good sense of representative historical cases. If this argument is tenable it suggests more continuity in the epistemology and politics of science than has been claimed by a new paradigm of science studies and politics during recent decades. (shrink)