In this paper I propose a series of hypotheses for further study that are related to potential negative impacts of non-traditional export agriculture (NTEA) on peasantfarmers in Central America. International lenders and donor agencies are promoting this diversification of agricultural exports as part of structural adjustment programs in the region, in order to increase foreign exchange earnings and raise the incomes of the rural poor.There is growing evidence, however, that the impact on the rural poor may not be favorable. I (...) argue that because NTEA can introduce powerful economies of scale, it is likely to accelerate social differentiation in the countryside and expel large numbers of peasant farmers from their lands. In this sense NTEA may be similar to previous export ‘booms,’ leading to rapid intensification of social instability and conflict in an already troubled region. This raises the serious question of the long term sustainability of this development strategy.There is a shortage of published studies that directly address these issues, making further work essential for the adequate review of NTEA policies. I formulate six testable hypotheses based on the economies of scale associated with NTEA. Each is related to a resource essential for successful agricultural production: land; credit; prices, costs, and subsidies; technology; technical assistance; and markets. I suggest that as NTEA grows, small farmer access to each is reduced, eventually making peasant production for domestic consumption an unviable alternative, while those who venture into NTEA encounter unacceptable levels of risk. (shrink)
It is generally agreed that the argument about Achilles and the tortoise was intended to prove that the concept of movement was contradictory or ambiguous and therefore that it did not belong in the foundations of ontology. It is suggested here that the argument stands unless we are prepared to define a standard time by means of dynamical concepts. It would be a premature assumption, however, to suppose that Zeno himself should have been so prepared.
This book seeks to restore Homer to his rightful place among the principal figures in the history of political and moral philosophy. Through this fresh and provocative analysis of the Iliad and the Odyssey, Peter J. Ahrensdorf examines Homer's understanding of the best life, the nature of the divine, and the nature of human excellence. According to Ahrensdorf, Homer teaches that human greatness eclipses that of the gods, that the contemplative and compassionate singer ultimately surpasses the heroic warrior in (...) grandeur, and that it is the courageously questioning Achilles, not the loyal Hector or even the wily Odysseus, who comes closest to the humane wisdom of Homer himself. Thanks to Homer, two of the distinctive features of Greek civilization are its extraordinary celebration of human excellence, as can be seen in Greek athletics, sculpture, and nudity, and its singular questioning of the divine, as can be seen in Greek philosophy. (shrink)
Some philosophers have tried to establish a connection between the normativity of instrumental rationality and the paradox presented by Lewis Carroll in his 1895 paper “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles.” I here examine and argue against accounts of this connection presented by Peter Railton and James Dreier before presenting my own account and discussing its implications for instrumentalism (the view that all there is to practical rationality is instrumental rationality). In my view, the potential for a Carroll-style (...) regress just shows us that since instrumental rationality involves a higher-order commitment to combine our willing an end with our taking the necessary means, it therefore cannot, on pain of regress, itself be added as a conjunct to one of the elements to be combined. This view does not support instrumentalism. (shrink)
The Clarke-Collins correspondence was widely read and frequently printed during the 18th century. Its central topic is the question whether matter can think, or be conscious. Samuel Clarke defends the immateriality of the subject of the mental against Anthony Collins’ materialism. This paper examines important assumptions about the nature of body that play a role in their debate. Clarke argued that consciousness requires an “individual being”, an entity with some sort of significant unity as its subject. They agree that body (...) does not have this type of unity, because it consists of actually distinct parts. (shrink)
It is widely held that the paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise, introduced by Zeno of Elea around 460 B.C., was solved by mathematical advances in the nineteenth century. The techniques of Weierstrass, Dedekind and Cantor made it clear, according to this view, that Achilles’ difficulty in traversing an infinite number of intervals while trying to catch up with the tortoise does not involve a contradiction, let alone a logical absurdity. Yet ever since the nineteenth century there have (...) been dissidents claiming that the apparatus of Weierstrass et al. has not resolved the paradox, and that serious problems remain. It seems that these claims have received unexpected support from recent developments in mathematical physics. This support has however remained largely unnoticed by historians of philosophy, presumably because the relevant debates are cast in mathematical-technical terms that are only accessible to people with the relevant training. That is unfortunate, since the debates in question might well profit from input by philosophers in general and historians of philosophy in particular. Below we will first recall the Achilles paradox, and describe the way in which nineteenth century mathematics supposedly solved it. Then we discuss recent work that contests this solution, reiterating the dissident dogma that no mathematical approach whatsoever can even come close to solving the original Achilles. We shall argue that this dissatisfaction with a mathematical solution is inadequate as it stands, but that it can perhaps be reformulated in the light of new developments in mathematical physics. (shrink)
Peter Singer is probably the best-known and most controversial ethicist in the world today. He rigorously applies utilitarian moral theory to issues such as world poverty, the environment, abortion, euthanasia and, most famously, animal welfare. He has also written a book about his grandfather, David Oppenheim, who died in Theresienstadt concentration camp. He is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.
Histories of philosophy frequently depict the later eleventh century as the scene of a series of bouts between dialecticians and anti-dialecticians — Berengar vs. Lanfranc, Roscelin vs. Anselm — preliminaries to the twelfth century welterweight contest between Abelard and St. Bernard and — dare one say? — the thirteenth century heavy-weight championship between St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure.The bouts took place — no question about that — but whether the contestants can properly be characterized as dialecticians and anti-dialecticians is less (...) certain. Dialectics is logic, the third part of the trivium, and increasingly cultivated in the eleventh century; men like Berengar and Roscelin were plainly eager to apply the logical tools with which they had been equipped to the solution of intellectual problems. In particular they undertook the solution of certain central problems of theology — Berengar that of the Eucharist and Roscelin that of the Trinity — and it was this, we are told, that aroused the ire of the anti-dialecticians: if the aim of the dialecticians was to lay bare the mysteries of faith to the light of reason that of the anti-dialecticians was to protect those same mysteries from profanation. (shrink)
In an oft-quoted passage from The Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham addresses the issue of our treatment of animals with the following words: ‘the question is not, Can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, Can they suffer?’ The point is well taken, for surely if animals suffer, they are legitimate objects of our moral concern. It is curious therefore, given the current interest in the moral status of animals, that Bentham's question has been assumed to be merely (...) rhetorical. No-one has seriously examined the claim, central to arguments for animal liberation and animal rights, that animals actually feel pain. Peter Singer's Animal Liberation is perhaps typical in this regard. His treatment of the issue covers a scant seven pages, after which he summarily announces that ‘there are no good reasons, scientific or philosophical, for denying that animals feel pain’. In this paper I shall suggest that the issue of animal pain is not so easily dispensed with, and that the evidence brought forward to demonstrate that animals feel pain is far from conclusive. (shrink)
You don't say much about who you are teaching, or what subject you teach, but you do seem to see a need to justify what you are doing. Perhaps you're teaching underprivileged children, opening their minds to possibilities that might otherwise never have occurred to them. Or maybe you're teaching the children of affluent families and opening their eyes to the big moral issues they will face in life — like global poverty, and climate change. If you're doing something like (...) this, then stick with it. Giving money isn't the only way to make a difference. (shrink)
Jockusch and Lewis proved that every DNC function computes a bi-immune set. They asked whether every DNC function computes an effectively bi-immune set. We construct a DNC function that computes no effectively bi-immune set, thereby answering their question in the negative.
Peter Abelard (1079 – 21 April 1142) [‘Abailard’ or ‘Abaelard’ or ‘Habalaarz’ and so on] was the pre-eminent philosopher and theologian of the twelfth century. The teacher of his generation, he was also famous as a poet and a musician. Prior to the recovery of Aristotle, he brought the native Latin tradition in philosophy to its highest pitch. His genius was evident in all he did. He is, arguably, the greatest logician of the Middle Ages and is equally famous (...) as the first great nominalist philosopher. He championed the use of reason in matters of faith (he was the first to use ‘theology’ in its modern sense), and his systematic treatment of religious doctrines are as remarkable for their philosophical penetration and subtlety as they are for their audacity. Abelard seemed larger than life to his contemporaries: his quick wit, sharp tongue, perfect memory, and boundless arrogance made him unbeatable in debate — he was said by supporter and detractor alike never to have lost an argument — and the force of his personality impressed itself vividly on all with whom he came into contact. His luckless affair with Héloïse made him a tragic figure of romance, and his conflict with Bernard of Clairvaux over reason and religion made him the hero of the Enlightenment. For all his colourful life, though, his philosophical achievements are the cornerstone of his fame. (shrink)