Although the history of centrally planned economies has been widely studied, the development of socialist thinking on the subject has remained largely uncharted. In this 1991 work, Pekka Sutela presents a detailed analysis of Soviet economic thought and theory. Dr Sutela traces the competing currents in the Marxist tradition of socialist economies from the Revolution to the present day. In particular he shows how the Gorbachev economic reform programme of 1987 rose from the work of Nobel Prize economist L. (...) V. Kantorovich and his followers. However, this programme failed and the author explains in some detail why this happened. Since then, Soviet economists have tried to abandon their traditional theory of central planning and move along the path and long established contacts with leading Soviet economists, Pekka Sutela is able to show how Soviet economic thinking has moved from dogmatism through reformism to pragmatism. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In this wide-ranging interview Professor Douglas V. Porpora discusses a number of issues. First, how he became a Critical Realist through his early work on the concept of structure. Second, drawing on his Reconstructing Sociology, his take on the current state of American sociology. This leads to discussion of the broader range of his work as part of Margaret Archer’s various Centre for Social Ontology projects, and on moral-macro reasoning and the concept of truth in political discourse.
[First published 09/2016; substantive revision 02/2021.] Evaluative terms and concepts are often divided into “thin” and “thick”. We don’t evaluate actions and persons merely as good or bad, or right or wrong, but also as kind, courageous, tactful, selfish, boorish, and cruel. The latter evaluative concepts are "descriptively thick": their application somehow involves both evaluation and a substantial amount of non-evaluative description. This article surveys various attempts to answer four fundamental questions about thick terms and concepts. (1) A “combination question”: (...) how exactly do thick terms and concepts relate evaluation and non-evaluative description? (2) A “location question”: is evaluation somehow inherent to thick terms and concepts, such as perhaps an aspect of their meaning, or merely a feature of their use? (3) A “delineation question”: how do thick terms differ from the thin and from other kinds of evaluative terms? (4) Given answers to these questions, what broader philosophical significance and applications might thick concepts have? (shrink)
This paper defends doubts about the existence of genuine moral perception, understood as the claim that at least some moral properties figure in the contents of perceptual experience. Standard examples of moral perception are better explained as transitions in thought whose degree of psychological immediacy varies with how readily non-moral perceptual inputs, jointly with the subject's background moral beliefs, training, and habituation, trigger the kinds of phenomenological responses that moral agents are normally disposed to have when they represent things as (...) being morally a certain way. (shrink)
The article is devoted to the memory of Vyacheslav Semenovich Stepin and Nikita Nikolaevich Moiseev, whose multifaceted work was integrally focused on philosophical, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research of the key ideas and principles of universal human-dimensional evolutionism. Other remarkable Russian scientists V.I. Vernadsky, S.P. Kurdyumov, S.P. Kapitsa, D.S. Chernavsky worked in the same tradition of universal evolutionism. While V.I. Vernadsky and N.N. Moiseev had been the originators of that scientific approach, V.S. Stepin provided philosophical foundations for the ideas of those (...) remarkable scientists and thinkers. The scientific legacy of V.S. Stepin and N.N. Moiseev maintained the formation of a new quality of research into the philosophy of science and technology as well as into the philosophy of culture. This new quality is multidimensional and it is difficult to define unambiguously, but we presume the formation of those areas of philosophical knowledge as constructively oriented languages of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary co-participation of philosophy in the convergent-evolutionary development of scientific knowledge in general. In this regard, attention is paid to V.S. Stepin’s affirmations about non-classical nature of modern social and humanitarian knowledge. Quantum mechanics teaches us that the reality revealed through it is a hybrid construct, or symbiosis, of both mean and object of cognition. Therefore, the very act of cognitive observation constructs quantum reality. Thus, it is very close to the process of cognition in modern sociology and psychology. V.S. Stepin insisted that these principles are applicable to all complex selfdeveloping systems, and such are all “human-dimensional” objects of modern humanities. In all the phases of homeostasis changes, or crises, there is necessarily a share of chaos, instability, uncertainty in the selection process of future development scenarios, which is ineliminably affected by our observation. Therefore, a cognitive observer in the humanities should be considered as a concept of post-non-classical rationality, that is as an observer of complexity. (shrink)
Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, (...) makes good sense of certain legitimate moves in ordinary normative explanatory discourse, and helps to make sense of our judgments about explanatory priority in certain cases of normative explanation. This last argument also helps to highlight respects in which normative explanation won’t be worryingly discontinuous with explanations in other domains even though these other explanations aren’t subject to the justification condition. Thus the paper aims not only to do some constructive theorizing about the relatively neglected topic of normative explanation but also to cast light on the broader question of how normative explanation may be similar to and different from explanations in other domains. (shrink)
This paper offers a general model of substantive moral principles as a kind of hedged moral principles that can (but don't have to) tolerate exceptions. I argue that the kind of principles I defend provide an account of what would make an exception to them permissible. I also argue that these principles are nonetheless robustly explanatory with respect to a variety of moral facts; that they make sense of error, uncertainty, and disagreement concerning moral principles and their implications; and that (...) one can grasp these principles without having to grasp any particular list of their permissibly exceptional instances. I conclude by pointing out various advantages that this model of principles has over several of its rivals. The bottom line is that we should find nothing peculiarly odd or problematic about the idea of exception-tolerating and yet robustly explanatory moral principles. (shrink)
I first distinguish between different forms of the buck-passing account of value and clarify my target in other respects on buck-passers' behalf. I then raise a number of problems for the different forms of the buck-passing view that I have distinguished.
This book is a translation of W.V. Quine's Kant Lectures, given as a series at Stanford University in 1980. It provide a short and useful summary of Quine's philosophy. There are four lectures altogether: I. Prolegomena: Mind and its Place in Nature; II. Endolegomena: From Ostension to Quantification; III. Endolegomena loipa: The forked animal; and IV. Epilegomena: What's It all About? The Kant Lectures have been published to date only in Italian and German translation. The present book is filled out (...) with the translator's critical Introduction, "The esoteric Quine?" a bibliography based on Quine's sources, and an Index for the volume. (shrink)
In addition to thin concepts like the good, the bad and the ugly, our evaluative thought and talk appeals to thick concepts like the lewd and the rude, the selfish and the cruel, the courageous and the kind -- concepts that somehow combine evaluation and non-evaluative description. Thick concepts are almost universally assumed to be inherently evaluative in content, and many philosophers claimed them to have deep and distinctive significance in ethics and metaethics. In this first book-length treatment of thick (...) concepts, Pekka Väyrynen argues that all this is mistaken. Through detailed attention to the language of thick concepts, he defends a novel theory on which the relationship between thick words and evaluation is best explained by general conversational and pragmatic norms. Drawing on general principles in philosophy of language, he argues that many prominent features of thick words and concepts can be explained by general factors that have nothing in particular to do with being evaluative. If evaluation is not essential to the sort of thinking we do with thick concepts, claims for the deep and distinctive significance of the thick are undermined. The Lewd, the Rude and the Nasty is a fresh and innovative treatment of an important topic in moral philosophy and sets a new agenda for future work. It will be essential reading to anyone interested in the analysis and the broader philosophical significance of evaluative and normative language. (shrink)
This chapter presents an alternative to the standard view that at least some of the evaluations that the so-called “thick” terms and concepts in ethics may be used to convey belong to their sense or semantic meaning. After introducing the topic and making some methodological remarks, the chapter presents a wide variety of linguistic data that are well explained by the alternative view that at least a very wide range of thick terms and concepts are such that even the evaluations (...) that are most closely connected to them are only a certain kind of defeasible implications of their utterances which can be given a conversational explanation. The chapter then describes some reasons to think that this explanation of the data presented is superior to the standard view, although a fuller assessment must await further work. The chapter closes by explaining the largely deflationary consequences of this account for claims that thick terms and concepts have deep and distinctive significance to evaluative thought and judgment. (shrink)
As philosophers of mind we seem to hold in common no very clear view about the relevance that work in psychology or the neurosciences may or may not have to our own favourite questions—even if we call the subject ‘philosophical psychology’. For example, in the literature we find articles on pain some of which do, some of which don't, rely more or less heavily on, for example, the work of Melzack and Wall; the puzzle cases used so extensively in discussions (...) of personal identity are drawn sometimes from the pleasant exercise of scientific fantasy, at times from surprising reports of scientific fact; and there are those who deny, as well as those who affirm, the importance of the discovery of rapid-eye-movement sleep to the philosophical treatment of dreaming. A general account of the relation between scientific, and philosophical, psychology is long overdue and of the first importance. Here I shall limit myself to just one area where the two seem to connect, discussing one type of neuropsychological research and its relevance to questions in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of psychology. (shrink)
Abstract In this chapter, we challenge the presupposed concept of innovation in the responsible innovation literature. As a first step, we raise several questions with regard to the possibility of ‘responsible’ innovation and point at several difficulties which undermine the supposedly responsible character of innovation processes, based on an analysis of the input, throughput and output of innovation processes. It becomes clear that the practical applicability of the concept of responsible innovation is highly problematic and that a more thorough inquiry (...) of the concept is required. As a second step, we analyze the concept of innovation which is self-evidently presupposed in current literature on responsible innovation. It becomes clear that innovation is self-evidently seen as (1) technological innovation, (2) is primarily perceived from an economic perspective, (3) is inherently good and (4) presupposes a symmetry between moral agents and moral addressees. By challenging this narrow and uncritical concept of innovation, we contribute to a second round of theorizing about the concept and provide a research agenda for future research in order to enhance a less naïve concept of responsible innovation. (shrink)
This paper concerns non-causal normative explanations such as ‘This act is wrong because/in virtue of__’. The familiar intuition that normative facts aren't brute or ungrounded but anchored in non- normative facts seems to be in tension with the equally familiar idea that no normative fact can be fully explained in purely non- normative terms. I ask whether the tension could be resolved by treating the explanatory relation in normative explanations as the sort of ‘grounding’ relation that receives extensive discussion in (...) recent metaphysics. I argue that this would help only under controversial assumptions about the nature of normative facts, and perhaps not even then. I won't try to resolve the tension, but draw a distinction between two different sorts of normative explanations which helps to identify constraints on a resolution. One distinctive constraint on normative explanations in particular might be that they should be able to play a role in normative justification. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that the extensions of evaluative terms and concepts aren’t unified under non-evaluative similarity relations and that this “shapelessness thesis” (ST) has significant metaethical implications regarding non-cognitivism, ethical naturalism, moral particularism, thick concepts and more. ST is typically offered as an explanation of why evaluative classifications appear to “outrun” classifications specifiable in independently intelligible non-evaluative terms. This paper argues that both ST and the outrunning point used to motivate it can be explained on the basis of more general (...) factors that have nothing in particular to do with being evaluative. If so, there is no reason to expect ST to carry the sorts of metaethical implications that get attributed to it. I also show that my main argument is robust across certain complications that are raised by the context-sensitivity of many evaluative terms but have so far been ignored in discussions of ST and related matters. (shrink)
In this chapter, we challenge the presupposed concept of innovation in the responsible innovation literature. As a first step, we raise several questions with regard to the possibility of ‘responsible’ innovation and point at several difficulties which undermine the supposedly responsible character of innovation processes, based on an analysis of the input, throughput and output of innovation processes. It becomes clear that the practical applicability of the concept of responsible innovation is highly problematic and that a more thorough inquiry of (...) the concept is required. As a second step, we analyze the concept of innovation which is self-evidently presupposed in current literature on responsible innovation. It becomes clear that innovation is self-evidently seen as technological innovation, is primarily perceived from an economic perspective, is inherently good and presupposes a symmetry between moral agents and moral addressees. By challenging this narrow and uncritical concept of innovation, we contribute to a second round of theorizing about the concept and provide a research agenda for future research in order to enhance a less naïve concept of responsible innovation. (shrink)
In this paper a social group’s responsibility for its actions and their consequences are investigated from a philosophical point of view. Building on Tuomela’s theory of group action, the paper argues that group responsibility can be analyzed in terms of what its members think and do qua group members. When a group is held responsible for some action, its members, acting qua members of the group, can collectively be regarded as praiseworthy or blameworthy, in the light of some normative standard, (...) for what the group has done. The paper gives a necessary and sufficient conditions analysis of a group’s responsibility for its actions and their outcomes, and the conditions can be cashed out in terms of the group members’ joint actions. (shrink)
This paper is a survey of the supervenience challenge to non-naturalist moral realism. I formulate a version of the challenge, consider the most promising non-naturalist replies to it, and suggest that no fully effective reply has yet been given.
This paper argues that the recent metaethical turn to reasons as the fundamental units of normativity offers no special advantage in explaining a variety of other normative and evaluative phenomena, unless perhaps a form of reductionism about reasons is adopted which is rejected by many of those who advocate turning to reasons.
Francesco Guala has written an important book proposing a new account of social institutions and criticizing existing ones. We focus on Guala’s critique of collective acceptance theories of institutions, widely discussed in the literature of collective intentionality. Guala argues that at least some of the collective acceptance theories commit their proponents to antinaturalist methodology of social science. What is at stake here is what kind of philosophizing is relevant for the social sciences. We argue that a Searlean version of collective (...) acceptance theory can be defended against Guala’s critique and question the sufficiency of Guala’s account of the ontology of the social world. (shrink)
I defend moral generalism against particularism. Particularism, as I understand it, is the negation of the generalist view that particular moral facts depend on the existence of a comprehensive set of true moral principles. Particularists typically present "the holism of reasons" as powerful support for their view. While many generalists accept that holism supports particularism but dispute holism, I argue that generalism accommodates holism. The centerpiece of my strategy is a novel model of moral principles as a kind of "hedged" (...) principles that incorporate an independently plausible "basis thesis" concerning the explanation of moral reasons. The model implies that moral reasons requires the existence of a comprehensive set of true hedged principles, and so it captures generalism. But the model also offers an alternative explanation of holism, and so it undercuts much of the motivation for particularism. I defend this moderate (because holism-tolerating) form of generalism against a number of objections, and show how it can be used to defeat three distinct arguments from holism to particularism. (shrink)
We study whether robots can satisfy the conditions of an agent fit to be held morally responsible, with a focus on autonomy and self-control. An analogy between robots and human groups enables us to modify arguments concerning collective responsibility for studying questions of robot responsibility. We employ Mele’s history-sensitive account of autonomy and responsibility to argue that even if robots were to have all the capacities required of moral agency, their history would deprive them from autonomy in a responsibility-undermining way. (...) We will also study whether humans and technological artifacts like robots can form hybrid collective agents that could be morally responsible for their actions and give an argument against such a possibility. (shrink)
Normative explanations, which specify why things have the normative features they do, are ubiquitous in normative theory and ordinary thought. But there is much less work on normative explanation than on scientific or metaphysical explanation. Skow (2016) argues that a complete answer to the question why some fact Q occurs consists in all of the reasons why Q occurs. This paper explores this theory as a case study of a general theory that promises to offer us a grip on normative (...) explanation which is independent of particular normative theories. I first argue that the theory doesn’t give an adequate account of certain enablers of reasons which are important in normative explanation. I then formulate and reject three responses on behalf of the theory. But I suggest that since theories of this general sort have the right kind of resources to illuminate how normative explanation might be similar to and different from explanations in other domains, they nonetheless merit further exploration by normative theorists. (shrink)
The aim of the present study was to explore the use and understanding of the concepts ‘placebo’ and ‘placebo effect’ in 12 empirical studies that have addressed the prescription of placebos by doctors in clinical practice. There were great differences in the general methodology and in the definitions (or lack of any definition) of the basic concepts in these 12 studies. Therefore, the results reflect different things. They tell us a little about the use of ‘pure placebos’, more about the (...) use of ‘impure placebos’, but most of all, they tell us about the conceptual confusion in this area. (shrink)
The core doctrine of ethical intuitionism is that some of our ethical knowledge is non-inferential. Against this, Sturgeon has recently objected that if ethical intuitionists accept a certain plausible rationale for the autonomy of ethics, then their foundationalism commits them to an implausible epistemology outside ethics. I show that irrespective of whether ethical intuitionists take non-inferential ethical knowledge to be a priori or a posteriori, their commitment to the autonomy of ethics and foundationalism does not entail any implausible non-inferential knowledge (...) in areas outside ethics (such as the past, the future, or the unobservable). However, each form of intuitionism does require a controversial stand on certain unresolved issues outside ethics. (shrink)
The use of evidence in medicine is something we should continuously seek to improve. This book seeks to develop our understanding of evidence of mechanism in evaluating evidence in medicine, public health, and social care; and also offers tools to help implement improved assessment of evidence of mechanism in practice. In this way, the book offers a bridge between more theoretical and conceptual insights and worries about evidence of mechanism and practical means to fit the results into evidence assessment procedures.
A particular tradition in medicine claims that a variety of evidence is helpful in determining whether an observed correlation is causal. In line with this tradition, it has been claimed that establishing a causal claim in medicine requires both probabilistic and mechanistic evidence. This claim has been put forward by Federica Russo and Jon Williamson. As a result, it is sometimes called the Russo–Williamson thesis. In support of this thesis, Russo and Williamson appeal to the practice of the International Agency (...) for Research on Cancer. However, this practice presents some problematic cases for the Russo–Williamson thesis. One response to such cases is to argue in favour of reforming these practices. In this paper, we propose an alternative response according to which such cases are in fact consistent with the Russo–Williamson thesis. This response requires maintaining that there is a role for mechanism-based extrapolation in the practice of the IARC. However, the response works only if this mechanism-based extrapolation is reliable, and some have argued against the reliability of mechanism-based extrapolation. Against this, we provide some reasons for believing that reliable mechanism-based extrapolation is going on in the practice of the IARC. The reasons are provided by appealing to the role of robustness analysis. (shrink)
There is a pervasive trend in Western theology to identify imago Dei with human intellectual and cognitive capacities. However, several contemporary theologians have criticized this view because, according to the critics, it leads to a truncated view of humanity. In this article, I shall concentrate on the question of rationality, first, through theologies of Thomas Aquinas and contemporary Lutheran Robert Jenson, and second, in some branches of recent cognitive psychology. I will argue that there is a significant overlap between contemporary (...) scientific interpretations of rationality and both a traditional Thomistic view and a contemporary ecumenical interpretation of imago Dei. Consequently, it is possible to give an account of imago Dei which takes structural features as central and which is in accord with contemporary science, without falling prey to the dangers that the critics of structuralism point out. (shrink)
Some philosophers hold that so-called "thick" terms and concepts in ethics (such as 'cruel,' 'selfish,' 'courageous,' and 'generous') are contextually variable with respect to the valence (positive or negative) of the evaluations that they may be used to convey. Some of these philosophers use this variability claim to argue that thick terms and concepts are not inherently evaluative in meaning; rather their use conveys evaluations as a broadly pragmatic matter. I argue that one sort of putative examples of contextual variability (...) in evaluative valence that are found in the literature fail to support the variability claim and that another sort of putative examples are open to a wide range of explanations that have different implications for the relationship between thick terms and concepts and evaluation. I conclude that considerations of contextual variability fail to settle whether thick terms and concepts are inherently evaluative in meaning. In closing I suggest a more promising line of research. (shrink)
Group agents are able to act but are not literally agents. Some group agents, e.g., we-mode groups and corporations, can, however, be regarded as functional group agents that do not have “intrinsic” mental states and phenomenal features comparable to what their individual members on biological and psychological grounds have. But they can have “extrinsic” mental states, states collectively attributed to them—primarily by their members. In this paper, we discuss the responsibility of such group agents. We defend the view that if (...) the group members have accepted the group agent’s attitudes and are committed to them, we can favorably compare the situation with the case of individual human agents and a group agent can be regarded as morally responsible for its intentional activities. (shrink)
A compact, coherent introduction to the study of rational belief, this text provides points of entry to such areas of philosophy as theory of knowledge, methodology of science, and philosophy of language. The book is accessible to all undergraduates and presupposes no philosophical training.
So-called "thick" moral concepts are distinctive in that they somehow "hold together" evaluation and description. But how? This paper argues against the standard view that the evaluations which thick concepts may be used to convey belong to sense or semantic content. That view cannot explain linguistic data concerning how thick concepts behave in a distinctive type of disagreements and denials which arise when one speaker regards another's thick concept as "objectionable" in a certain sense. The paper also briefly considers contextualist, (...) presuppositional, and implicature accounts of the evaluative contents of thick concepts, but finds none clearly superior to the others. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's later philosophy and the doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism integral to Zen coincide in a fundamental aspect: for Wittgenstein language has, one might say, a mystical base; and this base is exactly the Buddhist ideal of acting with a mind empty of thought. My aim is to establish and explore this phenomenon. The result should be both a deeper understanding of Wittgenstein and the removal of a philosophical objection to Zen that has troubled some people.
Surprisingly, many ethical realists and anti-realists, naturalists and not, all accept some version of the following normative appeal to the natural (NAN): evaluative and normative facts hold solely in virtue of natural facts, where their naturalness is part of what fits them for the job. This paper argues not that NAN is false but that NAN has no adequate non-parochial justification (a justification that relies only on premises which can be accepted by more or less everyone who accepts NAN) to (...) back up this consensus. I show that we cannot establish versions of NAN which are interesting in their own right (and not merely as instances of a general naturalistic ontology) by appealing to the nature of natural properties or the kind of in-virtue-of relation to which NAN refers, plus other plausible nonparochial assumptions. On the way, I distinguish different types of 'in virtue of claims. I conclude by arguing that the way in which assessment of meta-ethical hypotheses is theory-dependent predicts the failure of non-parochial justifications of NAN. (shrink)
Evaluative and normative terms and concepts are often said to be "essentially contestable". This notion has been used in political and legal theory and applied ethics to analyse disputes concerning the proper usage of terms like democracy, freedom, genocide, rape, coercion, and the rule of law. Many philosophers have also thought that essential contestability tells us something important about the evaluative in particular. Gallie (who coined the term), for instance, argues that the central structural features of essentially contestable concepts secure (...) their evaluativeness. I'll argue that these (widely held) central features are exemplified by many evaluative and non-evaluative terms alike, owing to more general factors (such as multidimensionality) which have nothing in particular to do with being evaluative. The role of these factors in semantic interpretation is subject to a certain kind of "metasemantic" disputes which have the features of the disputes characteristically admitted by essentially contestable concepts (whether evaluative or not) and which can be similarly substantive and worthwhile. In closing I'll discuss how my argument shows that our understanding of evaluative disagreement needs refinement. The overall upshot is that essential contestability shows nothing deep or distinctive about the evaluative in particular. (shrink)
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