Answering machine messages allegedly refute Kaplan's ‘classical account’ of the semantics of ‘I’, ‘here’ and ‘now’. The classical account doesn’t allow that a token of ‘I am not here now’ can be true; but these words in an answering machine message can communicate something true. In this paper I argue that the true content communicated by an answering machine message is extra-semantic content conveyed via the mechanism of ‘externally-oriented make-believe’. An answering machine message is associated with a game of make-believe (...) whose rules prescribe making believe that the agent who recorded the message is speaking there and then; and it thereby conveys that the circumstance that would make the message fictionally true obtains. (shrink)
"Live without why!" advised Meister Eckhart . Arguing from classical philosophy and the Christian tradition, he opposed the views of Augustine and Aquinas. Connolly's book, the first to deal fully with the topic, discusses what Eckhart meant, how he justified it, and why it was condemned.
This report highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011: 1. What is the relationship between the unity of consciousness and sensory integration? 2. Are some of the basic units of consciousness multimodal? 3. How should we model the unity of consciousness? 4. Is the mechanism of sensory integration spatio-temporal? 5. How Should We Study Experience, Given Unity Relations?
Prior research has demonstrated that antisocial behavior, substance-use disorders, and personality dimensions of aggression and impulsivity are indicators of a highly heritable underlying dimension of risk, labeled externalizing. Other work has shown that individual trait constructs within this psychopathology spectrum are associated with reduced self-monitoring, as reflected by amplitude of the error-related negativity (ERN) brain response. In this study of undergraduate subjects, reduced ERN amplitude was associated with higher scores on a self-report measure of the broad externalizing construct that links (...) these various indicators. In addition, the ERN was associated with a response-locked increase in anterior theta (4–7 Hz) oscillation; like the ERN, this theta response to errors was reduced among high-externalizing individuals. These findings suggest that neurobiologically based deficits in endogenous action monitoring may underlie generalized risk for an array of impulse-control problems. (shrink)
Locke's account of the idea of power is thought to be seriously problematic. Commentators allege that the idea of power causes problems for Locke's taxonomy of ideas, that it is defined circularly, and that, contrary to Locke's claims, it cannot be acquired in experience. This paper defends Locke's account. Previous commentators have assumed that there is only one idea of power. But close attention to Locke's text, combined with background features of his theory of ideas, supports the drawing of a (...) distinction between four different ideas of power. The paper describes each idea and its role in the Essay. It then argues that this distinction can help Locke to avoid the traditional criticisms. (shrink)
This paper explores the metaphysical system developed in Richard Bentley’s 1692 Boyle Lectures. The lectures are notable for their attempt to argue that developments in natural philosophy, including Newton’s Principia, could bolster natural theology. The paper explores Bentley’s matter theory focusing on his commitment to a particular form of mechanism and his rejection of occult qualities. It then examines his views on the nature of divine omnipotence. Finally, it turns to his understanding of gravitational attraction. While some recent commentators have (...) argued for a “superaddition” interpretation of gravitation in Bentley, this paper argues for an “occasionalist” interpretation. The argument proceeds on the basis of both textual considerations and considerations stemming from the systematic interpretation of Bentley’s metaphysics developed earlier in the paper. (shrink)
ABSTRACTDespite its philosophical interest, Susanna Newcome's Enquiry into the Evidence of the Christian Religion has received little attention from commentators. This paper seeks to redress this oversight by offering a reconstruction of Newcome's innovative argument for God's existence. Newcome employs a cosmological argument that differs from Thomist and kalām version of the argument. Specifically, Newcome challenges the idea that the causal chains observed in nature can exist independently. She does this through an appeal to findings from Newtonian natural philosophy that (...) suggest that the universe has entropic tendencies. This suggests the the continued operations of nature are dependent on a cause external to the universe. Newcome identifies this external cause with God. Various strengths and weaknesses of Newcome's argument are discussed and an attempt is made to situate the argument within her broader epistemic framework and the larger context of Newtonian physico-theology. The... (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: Is the mechanism of sensory integration spatio-temporal?
This paper offers a new approach to an old debate about superaddition in Locke. Did Locke claim that some objects have powers that are unrelated to their natures or real essences? The question has split commentators. Some (Wilson, Stuart, Langton) claim the answer is yes and others (Ayers, Downing, Ott) claim the answer is no. This paper argues that both of these positions may be mistaken. I show that Locke embraced a robust epistemic humility. This epistemic humility includes ignorance of (...) the real essences of bodies, of the causal processes underlying the production of natural phenomena, and of God’s method of creation. I show how this epistemic humility offers strong support for an agnostic response to the question of superaddition. Locke did not intend to claim that bodies either do or do not have properties unrelated to their real essences. Instead, his primary goal in discussing the topic was to emphasize the strict limits to human knowledge. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: Are some of the basic units of consciousness multimodal?
This is an excerpt from a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012. This excerpt explores the question: What counts as cognitive penetration?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: How should we model the unity of consciousness?
This is an excerpt from a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012. This excerpt explores the question: How do we recognize distinct types of emotion in music?
Locke famously claimed that morality was capable of demonstration. But he also refused to provide a system of demonstrative morality. This paper addresses the mismatch between Locke’s stated views and his actual philosophical practice. While Locke’s claims about demonstrative morality have received a lot of attention it is rare to see them discussed in the context of his general theory of demonstration and his specific discussions of particular demonstrations. This paper explores Locke’s general remarks about demonstration as well as his (...) claims about demonstration in natural philosophy, mathematics, and morality. Careful attention to these detailed discussions motivates a reevaluation of Locke’s views on demonstrative knowledge of morality. Specifically, while Locke did believe that some demonstrative moral knowledge might be in-principle available to us he also believed that facts about the difficulty of demonstration meant that this knowledge would in-practice be largely unattainable. (shrink)
This report highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012: 1. How should we demarcate perceptual learning from perceptual development? 2. What are the origins of multimodal associations? 3. Does our representation of time provide an amodal framework for multi-sensory integration? 4. What counts as cognitive penetration? 5. How can philosophers and psychologists most fruitfully collaborate?
This is an excerpt from a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012. This excerpt explores the question: How can philosophers and psychologists most fruitfully collaborate?
This is an excerpt from a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012. This excerpt explores the question: Does our representation of time provide and amodal framework for multi-sensory integration?
This is an excerpt from a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012. This excerpt explores the question: How should we demarcate perceptual learning from perceptual development?
Recent interest among both philosophers and the wider public in the tradition of virtue ethics often takes its inspiration from Aristotle or from Thomas Aquinas. In this essay I briefly outline the ethical approaches of these two towering figures, and then describe more fully the virtue ethics of Meister Eckhart, a medieval thinker who admired, though critically, both Aristotle and Aquinas. His related but distinctively original approach to the virtuous life is marked by a striking and seemingly paradoxical injunction to (...) “live without why.”. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012. This excerpt explores the question: What are the origins of multimodal associations?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: How should we study experience, given unity relations?
This paper examines the way in which Locke's deep and longstanding interest in the non-European world contributed to his views on species and their classification. The evidence for Locke's curiosity about the non-European world, especially his fascination with seventeenth-century travel literature, is presented and evaluated. I claim that this personal interest of Locke's almost certainly influenced the metaphysical and epistemological positions he develops in the Essay. I look to Locke's theory of species taxonomy for proof of this. I argue that (...) Locke uses evidence gathered from the non-European world to (1) show that in taxonomizing objects we rely on their sensible qualities rather than their real essences and to (2) undermine Scholastic Aristotelian views about a mind-independent species/genera structure to the world. (shrink)
A number of commentators have recently suggested that there is a puzzle surrounding Locke’s acceptance of Newton’s Principia. On their view, Locke understood natural history as the primary methodology for natural philosophy and this commitment was at odds with an embrace of mathematical physics. This article considers various attempts to address this puzzle and finds them wanting. It then proposes a more synoptic view of Locke’s attitude towards natural philosophy. Features of Locke’s biography show that he was deeply interested in (...) mathematical physics long before the publication of the Principia. This interest was in line with important developments in the Royal Society. It is argued that Locke endorsed a two-stage approach to natural philosophy which was consistent with an embrace of both natural history and mathematical physics. The Principia can be understood as consistent with this approach. (shrink)
This article explores a previously neglected manuscript essay in which Thomas White offers an account of the metaphysics underpinning transubstantiation. White’s views are of particular interest because his explanation employs a broadly mechanist framework, rather than the hylomorphism traditionally associated with Roman Catholic discussions of the Eucharist. The manuscript helps to shed light on a number of topics of importance to early modern philosophy including the reception of Descartes’ views, the relationship between theology and natural philosophy, and mechanist accounts of (...) identity and individuation. (shrink)
This short essay analyzes an unusual typographical feature in the Epistle to the Reader that precedes Locke’s Essay. Specifically, it asks why there is a line prior to Christiaan Huygens’ name in the famous Underlaborer Passage. The paper provides a thorough look at the line’s longevity through early editions of the Essay and considers a number of possible explanations for the line’s presence. It is argued that the line may well have held some meaning for early readers; contemporary scholars should (...) be motivated to investigate the issue further. (shrink)
It's surprising that contemporary moral philosophers have not thought more about food. The rapidly expanding industrialized landscape of modern western agribusiness raises moral concerns about large-scale livestock production, the increased usage of genetically modified crops, and the effects these now common practices may have on long-term environmental and human health. Here Pence argues that biotechnology is more helpful than harmful, on the ground that it will abate world hunger. Positioning himself as an "impartialbioethicist" he sets about the task of sorting (...) through the extremism he thinks drives all environ- mental movements' opposition to genetically modified (GM) crops. His argu- ment is simple: the claim that GM foods are unsafe is the product of alarmism, not sound reason. Discarding what environmentalists have called the Precau- tionary Principle, he argues that GM foods are safe because they have not been proven unsafe. And GM foods have been tested more than many food products now on the market. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a new approach to Henry of Ghent's argument for divine illumination. Normally, Henry is criticized for adhering to a theory of divine illumination and failing to accept rediscovered Aristotelian approaches to cognition and epistemology. I argue that these critiques are mistaken. On my view, Henry was a proponent of Aristotelianism. But Henry discovered a tension between Aristotle's views on teleology and the nature of knowledge, on the one hand, and various components of the Christian worldview, (...) on the other. I argue that Henry's adherence to a theory of divine illumination was an attempt to preserve various components of the Aristotelian system, not an attempt to reject Aristotelianism. (shrink)
In the Queries to the Latin version of the Opticks Newton claims that space is God’s sensorium. Although these passages are well-known, few commentators have offered interpretations of what Newton might have meant by these cryptic remarks. As is well known, Leibniz was quick to pounce on these passages as evidence that Newton held untenable or nonsensical views in metaphysics and theology. Subsequent commentators have largely agreed. This paper has two goals. The first is to offer a clear interpretation of (...) Newton’s claim about space and God’s sensorium by situating those claims within Newton’s philosophical thought. The second is to show how my interpretation rescues Newton from Leibniz’s critiques. I show that Newton had a considered position on the sensorium and the role it played in sensation and volition. The primary evidence for this comes from an experiment Newton performed involving after-images; an experiment he recorded in his student notebook and corresponded with Locke about. I also discuss Newton’s views on mind-body causation, divine extension, and divine analogy. My final position is that we should read Newton as claiming that space in the venue in which God exercises his divine will. I also consider the problem of the missing tanquam pointed out by Koyré and Cohen and propose a solution. (shrink)
My goal in this paper is to elucidate a problematic feature of Newton's metaphysics of absolute space. Specifically, I argue that Newton's theory has the untenable consequence that God depends on space for His existence and is therefore not an independent entity. I argue for this conclusion in stages. First, I show that Newton believed that space was an entity and that God and space were ontologically distinct entities. Part of this involves arguing that Newton denies that space is a (...) divine attribute. I then show that Newton endorsed a principle according to which the existence of space is a necessary condition for the existence of any other entity. Following this, I discuss the ways in which this makes God depend on space for His existence and the reasons why this is unacceptable for traditional conceptions of God. Specifically, I show that it is incompatible with the orthodox position that God be entirely independent and self-determining. Finally, I offer two considerations which, I hope, make the problem seem less serious than it first appears. The first consideration has to do with Newton's polemical context and the second has to do with the nature of his theological thought. (shrink)
Many commentators have argued that Locke understood laws of nature as causally efficacious. On this view the laws are causally responsible for the production of natural phenomena. This paper argues that this interpretation faces serious difficulties. First, I argue that it will be very difficult to specify the ontological status of these laws. Proponents of the view suggest that these laws are divine volitions. But I argue that this will be difficult or impossible to square with Locke’s nominalism. Second, I (...) argue that it will be difficult to specify the manner in which these laws operate. The view runs the risk of collapsing into occasionalism and Locke has measured critiques of the occasionalist position. The only way to maintain that laws are causally efficacious divine volitions while avoiding occasionalism is to have God engage in what I call ‘brute fact-making’. But brute fact-making is difficult to square with Locke’s remarks on God’s action in the world and with his standards for explanation in natural philosophy. (shrink)
The problem of ‘wayward causal chains’ threatens any causal analysis of the concept of intentional human action. For such chains show that the mere causation of an action by the right sort of belief and/or desire does not make the action intentional, i.e. one done in order to attain the object of desire. Now if the ‘because’ in ‘wayward’ action-explanations is straightforwardly causal, that might be argued to indicate by contrast that the different ‘because’ of reasons-explanations (which both explain and (...) justify) is non-causal. Myles Brand, in Intending and Acting (1984), resists this conclusion, but argues that waywardness shows that philosophers must ‘naturalize’ action theory by drawing on contemporary work in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. I argue that this is a misconceived response to the problem of waywardness: in Brand’s work action theory itself has gone astray, unsure which way to tum next. (shrink)
In a recent article Fred Ablondi compares the different approaches to occasionalism put forward by two eighteenth-century Newtonians, Colin Maclaurin and Andrew Baxter. The goal of this short essay is to respond to Ablondi by clarifying some key features of Maclaurin's views on occasionalism and the cause of gravitational attraction. In particular, I explore Maclaurin's matter theory, his views on the explanatory limits of mechanism, and his appeals to the authority of Newton. This leads to a clearer picture of the (...) way in which Maclaurin understood gravitational attraction and the workings of nature. (shrink)