This article employs Foucauldian and feminist analytics to advance a critical approach to wearable digital health- and activity-tracking devices. Following Foucault’s insight that the growth of individual capabilities coincides with the intensification of power relations, I argue that digital self-tracking devices expand individuals’ capacity for self-knowledge and self-care at the same time that they facilitate unprecedented levels of biometric surveillance, extend the regulatory mechanisms of both public health and fashion/beauty authorities, and enable increasingly rigorous body projects devoted to the attainment (...) of normative femininity. These technologies of surveillance, normalization, and discipline thus function to augment, and facilitate the cooperation of, neoliberal-era biopower and post-feminist patriarchal power. My analysis of digital self-tracking devices’ instrumentality to biopower and patriarchy contributes to the emergent field of critical digital health studies and builds new connections between political, social, and feminist theories of embodiment; biopower studies; fat studies; and trans-disciplinary body studies. (shrink)
This book offers a collection of contemporary essays that explore philosophical themes at work in chess. This collection includes essays on the nature of a game, the appropriateness of chess as a metaphor for life, and even deigns to query whether Garry Kasparov might—just might—be a cyborg. In twelve unique essays, contributed by philosophers with a broad range of expertise in chess, this book poses both serious and playful questions about this centuries-old pastime. -/- Perhaps more interestingly, philosophers have often (...) used chess in discussions of their work. Walter Benjamin compares the marching of history to an automaton playing chess. John Dewey and Charles Sanders Peirce utilize chess to explain their pragmatism. The linguist Ferdinand de Saussure employs the analogy of chess to explain the exchange of signifiers. There are approximately 181 uses of the word chess or one of its cognates in the published works of Ludwig Wittgenstein. John Rawls explains that one might want to make a distinction between constitutive and regulative rules, which can best be understood by examining a game of chess. John Searle, deeply convinced of this distinction, explains further: "The rules of football or chess are given as an example of constitutive rules because they 'create the very possibility of playing such games.'" Hubert Dreyfus and Daniel Dennett have had extensive public discussions about the issue of artificial intelligence and chess. Dreyfus, utilizing chess examples, has written extensively on what computers still cannot do. Meanwhile, in spite of his protestations, chess-playing computers continue to fascinate those who work in the area of artificial intelligence. -/- The game of chess has endured since at least the sixth century. Its earliest variant, the Indian game of Chaturanga, was from the beginning a game for thinkers. Since its inception, scholars, statesmen, strategists, and warriors have been fascinated by the game and its variants. German philosopher Emmanuel Lasker and famed French artist Marcel Duchamp were both Grandmasters at chess. Karl Marx played chess avidly, as did Sir Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, and the logical positivist Max Black. Jean-Jacques Rousseau mentions in his Confessions that, at the time, he "had another expedient, not less solid, in the game of chess, to which I regularly dedicated, at Maugis's, the evenings on which I did not go to the theater. I became acquainted with M. de Legal, M. Husson, Philidor, and all the great chess players of the day, without making the least improvement in the game." More recently, philosopher Stuart Rachels reports that his father, the late philosopher and prominent ethicist James Rachels, received a bribe from a Russian Grandmaster while he was the chair of the U.S. Chess Federation's Ethics committee. -/- "Whether you’re a professional philosopher, an armchair chess player, or something in between, Philosophy Looks at Chess gives you hours of thought-provoking reading. With chapters on technology, ethics, hip hop, and backward analysis, this book carves out a new space in the literature on both chess and philosophy" -/- —Jennifer Shahade, two-time U.S. Women's Champion and author of Chess Bitch -/- "Chess and philosophy are natural mates that have been awaiting the proper introduction. This wide-ranging collection of stimulating essays is the perfect opening gambit for philosophical chess enthusiasts." -/- —Will Dudley, author of Hegel, Nietzsche, and Philosophy: Thinking Freedom. (shrink)
Plato and the trial of Socrates -- What is philosophy? -- Euthyphro : defining philosophical terms -- The apology, Phaedo, and Crito : the trial, immortality, and death of Socrates -- Philosophy of religion -- Can we prove that God exists? -- St. Anselm : the ontological argument -- St. Thomas Aquinas : the cosmological argument -- William Paley : the teleological argument -- Blaisepascal : it is better to believe in God's existence than to deny it -- William James (...) : free choice is the basis of belief -- Does the idea of a good God exclude evil? -- Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz : God can allow some evil -- David Hume : a good God would exclude evil -- Ethics -- Are ethics relative? -- Ruth Benedict : ethics are relative -- W.T. Stace : ethics are not relative -- Are humans always selfish? -- Humans are always selfish : Glaucon's challenge to Socrates -- James Rachels : humans are not always selfish -- Which is basic in ethics : happiness or obligation? -- Aristotle : happiness is living virtuously -- Jeremy Bentham : happiness is seeking the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people -- Immanuel Kant : duty is prior to happiness -- Friedrich Nietzsche : happiness is having power -- Jean-Paul Sartre : existentialist ethics -- Rosemarie Tong : feminist ethics are different -- Contemporary moral problems : abortion, homosexuality, animal rights -- Jane English : are most abortions moral? -- Peter Singer : do animals have rights? -- Knowledge -- What is knowledge? -- Plato : knowledge is warranted, true belief -- What method is best for acquiring knowledge? -- Charles Sanders Peirce : four approaches to philosophy -- How do we acquire knowledge? -- René Descartes : knowledge is not ultimately sense knowledge -- John Locke : knowledge is ultimately sensed -- Immanuel Kant : knowledge is both rational and empirical -- How is truth established? -- Bertrand Russell : truth is established by correspondence -- Francis H. Bradley : truth is established by coherence -- William James : truth is established on pragmatic grounds -- Can we know the nature of causal relations? -- David Hume : cause means regular association -- David Hume : there are no possible grounds for induction -- Metaphysics -- Why is there something rather than nothing? -- Parmenides : being is uncaused -- Lao-Tzu : non-being is the source of being -- Is reality general or particular? -- Plato : universals are real -- David Hume : particulars are real -- Of what does reality consist? -- René Descartes : reality consists of mind and matter -- Paul Churchland : reality consists of matter -- George Berkeley : reality consists of ideas -- John Dewey : reality consists of mental and physical qualities -- Are humans free? -- Holbach : humans are determined -- Robert Kane : humans are free -- Social and political philosophy -- What is liberty? -- Fyodor Dostoevski : liberty and authority -- John Stuart Mill : liberty is independence from the majority's tyranny -- Martin Luther King, Jr. : liberty and racial prejudice -- Which government is best? -- Thomas Hobbes : monarchy is best -- John Locke : democracy is best -- Karl Marx : communism and nonalienated labor is best -- Alexis de Tocqueville : democracy can have serious problems -- Karl Popper : utopias lead to violence -- Aesthetics -- What constitutes the experience of beauty? -- Plotinus : beauty, sensuous, and ideal -- What is the function of art? -- Aristotle : the nature of tragedy -- Henri Bergson : the nature of comedy -- Philosophy and the good life -- Classic views of the good life -- Epicurus : Epicurus and the pleasant life -- Epictetus : Epictetus and the life of self-control -- What gives life meaning? -- Leo Tolstoy : faith provides life's meaning -- Albert Camus : each person determines his or her life's meaning -- What is the value of philosophy? -- Bertrand Russell : the value of philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper we present a new proposal for defining actual causation, i.e., the problem of deciding if one event caused another. We do so within the popular counterfactual tradition initiated by Lewis, which is characterised by attributing a fundamental role to counterfactual dependence. Unlike the currently prominent definitions, our approach proceeds from the ground up: we start from basic principles, and construct a definition of causation that satisfies them. We define the concepts of counterfactual dependence and production, and put (...) forward principles such that dependence is an unnecessary but sufficient condition for causation, whereas production is an insufficient but necessary condition. The resulting definition of causation is a suitable compromise between dependence and production. Every principle is introduced by means of a paradigmatic example of causation. We illustrate some of the benefits of our approach with two examples that have spelled trouble for other accounts. We make all of this formally precise using structural equations, which we extend with a timing over all events. (shrink)
Kant's Critique of Judgment has often been interpreted by scholars as comprising separate treatments of three uneasily connected topics: beauty, biology, and empirical knowledge. Rachel Zuckert's book interprets the Critique as a unified argument concerning all three domains. She argues that on Kant's view, human beings demonstrate a distinctive cognitive ability in appreciating beauty and understanding organic life: an ability to anticipate a whole that we do not completely understand according to preconceived categories. This ability is necessary, moreover, for (...) human beings to gain knowledge of nature in its empirical character as it is, not as we might assume it to be. Her wide-ranging and original study will be valuable for readers in all areas of Kant's philosophy. (shrink)
What words we use, and what meanings they have, is important. We shouldn't use slurs; we should use 'rape' to include spousal rape (for centuries we didn’t); we should have a word which picks out the sexual harassment suffered by people in the workplace and elsewhere (for centuries we didn’t). Sometimes we need to change the word-meaning pairs in circulation, either by getting rid of the pair completely (slurs), changing the meaning (as we did with 'rape'), or adding brand new (...) word-meaning pairs (as with 'sexual harassment'). A problem, though, is how to do this. One might worry that any attempt to change language in this way will lead to widespread miscommunication and confusion. I argue that this is indeed so, but that's a feature, not a bug of attempting to change word-meaning pairs. The miscommunications and confusion such changes cause can lead us, via a process I call transformative communicative disruption, to reflect on our language and its use, and this can be further, rather than hinder, our goal of improving language. (shrink)
There's been a great deal of interest in epistemology regarding what it takes for a hearer to come to know on the basis of a speaker's say-so. That is, there's been much work on the epistemology of testimony. However, what about when hearers don't believe speakers when they should? In other words, what are we to make of when testimony goes wrong? A recent topic of interest in epistemology and feminist philosophy is how we sometimes fail to believe speakers due (...) to inappropriate prejudices – implicit or explicit. This is known as epistemic injustice. In this article, I discuss Miranda Fricker's groundbreaking work on epistemic injustice, as well as more recent developments that both offer critique and expansion on the nature and extent of epistemic injustice. (shrink)
During the past few decades, a radical shift has occurred in how philosophers conceive of the relation between science and philosophy. A great number of analytic philosophers have adopted what is commonly called a ‘naturalistic’ approach, arguing that their inquiries ought to be in some sense continuous with science. Where early analytic philosophers often relied on a sharp distinction between science and philosophy—the former an empirical discipline concerned with fact, the latter an a priori discipline concerned with meaning—philosophers today largely (...) follow Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) in his seminal rejection of this distinction. -/- This book offers a comprehensive study of Quine’s naturalism. Building on Quine’s published corpus as well as thousands of unpublished letters, notes, lectures, papers, proposals, and annotations from the Quine archives, this book aims to reconstruct both the nature (chapters 2-4) and the development (chapter 5-7) of his naturalism. As such, this book aims to contribute to the rapidly developing historiography of analytic philosophy, and to provide a better, historically informed, understanding of what is philosophically at stake in the contemporary naturalistic turn. (shrink)
Charles Sanders Peirce was born in September 1839 and died five months before the guns of August 1914. He is perhaps the most important mind the United States has ever produced. He made significant contributions throughout his life as a mathematician, astronomer, chemist, geodesist, surveyor, cartographer, metrologist, engineer, and inventor. He was a psychologist, a philologist, a lexicographer, a historian of science, a lifelong student of medicine, and, above all, a philosopher, whose special fields were logic and semiotics. He (...) is widely credited with being the founder of pragmatism. In terms of his importance as a philosopher and a scientist, he has been compared to Plato and Aristotle. He himself intended "to make a philosophy like that of Aristotle." Peirce was also a tormented and in many ways tragic figure. He suffered throughout his life from various ailments, including a painful facial neuralgia, and had wide swings of mood which frequently left him depressed to the state of inertia, and other times found him explosively violent. Despite his consistent belief that ideas could find meaning only if they "worked" in the world, he himself found it almost impossible to make satisfactory economic and social arrangements for himself. This brilliant scientist, this great philosopher, this astounding polymath was never able, throughout his long life, to find an academic post that would allow him to pursue his major interest, the study of logic, and thus also fulfill his destiny as America's greatest philosopher. Much of his work remained unpublished in his own time, and is only now finding publication in a coherent, chronologically organized edition. Even more astounding is that,despite many monographic studies, there has been no biography until now, almost eighty years after his death. Brent has studied the Peirce papers in detail and enriches his account with numerous quotations from letters by Peirce and by his friends. This is a fascinating account of a p. (shrink)
Over the last fifty years, traditional farming has been replaced by industrial farming. Unlike traditional farming, industrial farming is abhorrently cruel to animals, environmentally destructive, awful for rural America, and wretched for human health. In this essay, I document those facts, explain why the industrial system has become dominant, and argue that we should boycott industrially produced meat. Also, I argue that we should not even kill animals humanely for food, given our uncertainty about which creatures possess a right to (...) life. In practice, then, we should be vegetarians. To underscore the importance of these issues, I use statistics to show that industrial farming has caused more pain and suffering than the Holocaust. (shrink)
From Bishop Wilberforce in the 1860s to the advocates of "creation science" today, defenders of traditional mores have condemned Darwin's theory of evolution as a threat to society's values. Darwin's defenders, like Stephen Jay Gould, have usually replied that there is no conflict between science and religion--that values and biological facts occupy separate realms. But as James Rachels points out in this thought-provoking study, Darwin himself would disagree with Gould. Darwin, who had once planned on being a clergyman, was convinced (...) that natural selection overthrew our age-old religious beliefs. Created from Animals offers a provocative look at how Darwinian evolution undermines many tenets of traditional philosophy and religion. James Rachels begins by examining Darwin's own life and work, presenting an astonishingly vivid and compressed biography. We see Darwin's studies of the psychological links in evolution (such as emotions in dogs, and the "mental powers" of worms), and how he addressed the moral implications of his work, especially in his concern for the welfare of animals. Rachels goes on to present a lively and accessible survey of the controversies that followed in Darwin's wake, ranging from Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism to Edward O. Wilson's sociobiology, and discusses how the work of such influential intellects as Descartes, Hume, Kant, T.H. Huxley, Henri Bergson, B.F. Skinner, and Stephen Jay Gould has contributed to--or been overthrown by--evolutionary science. Western philosophy and religion, Rachels argues, have been shaken by the implications of Darwin's work, most notably the controversial idea that humans are simply a more complex kind of animal. Rachels assesses a number of studies that suggest how closely humans are linked to other primates in behavior, and then goes on to show how this idea undercuts the work of many prominent philosophers. Kant's famous argument that suicide reduces one to the level of an animal, for instance, is meaningless if humans are, in fact, animals. Indeed, humanity's membership in the animal kingdom calls into question the classic notions of human dignity and the sacredness of human life. What we need now, Rachels contends, is a philosophy that does not discriminate between different species, one that addresses each being on an individual basis. With this sweeping survey of the arguments, the philosophers, and the deep implications surrounding Darwinism, Rachels lays the foundations for a new view of morality. Vibrantly written and provocatively argued, Created from Animals offers a new perspective on issues ranging from suicide to euthanasia to animal rights. (shrink)
Despite the increased prevalence of bioethics research that seeks to use empirical data to answer normative research questions, there is no consensus as to what an appropriate methodology for this would be. This review aims to search the literature, present and critically discuss published Empirical Bioethics methodologies.
The counterfactual tradition to defining actual causation has come a long way since Lewis started it off. However there are still important open problems that need to be solved. One of them is the (in)transitivity of causation. Endorsing transitivity was a major source of trouble for the approach taken by Lewis, which is why currently most approaches reject it. But transitivity has never lost its appeal, and there is a large literature devoted to understanding why this is so. Starting from (...) a survey of this work, we will develop a formal analysis of transitivity and the problems it poses for causation. This analysis provides us with a sufficient condition for causation to be transitive, a sufficient condition for dependence to be necessary for causation, and several characterisations of the transitivity of dependence. Finally, we show how this analysis leads naturally to several conditions a definition of causation should satisfy, and use those to suggest a new definition of causation. (shrink)
This book is about the norms of the speech act of assertion. This is a topic of lively contemporary debate primarily carried out in epistemology and philosophy of language. Suppose that you ask me what time an upcoming meeting starts, and I say, “4 p.m.” I’ve just asserted that the meeting starts at 4 p.m. Whenever we make claims like this, we’re asserting. The central question here is whether we need to know what we say, and, relatedly, whether what we (...) assert must be true. If the meeting is really at 3:30 p.m., you’ll be late, and probably rather upset that I told you the wrong time. In some sense, it seems like I’m on the hook for having said something false. This sense that I’ve done something wrong suggests that there are certain standards of evaluating assertions: a way of distinguishing between good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate. We call these standards norms. And so the debate about what, if any, norms govern the linguistic practice of assertion is known as the norms of assertion debate. When one’s assertion satisfies the norm, we say that the assertion is warranted. -/- Various philosophers have typically focused their views of the norms of assertion on articulating the level of epistemic support required for properly asserting. Some argue, for example, that one must know what one asserts. Others argue that one merely needs to justifiably believe what one asserts–an epistemic standing weaker than knowledge. The purpose of this book is to defend what I propose as the central norm governing our practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm. Here’s what it looks like: -/- One may assert that p only if: One has supportive reasons for p, The relevant conventional and pragmatic elements of the context are present, and One asserts that p at least in part because the assertion that p satisfies and. -/- In rough outline, the standards for warrantedly asserting shift with changes in context, although knowledge is never required for warrantedly asserting. In fact, in some special contexts, speakers may warrantedly lie. This latter feature particularly sets apart my view from others in the debate. This also means that truth, knowledge, and even belief aren’t necessary conditions for warrantedly asserting. (shrink)
‘An honest religious thinker’, Wittgenstein remarked, ‘is like a tightrope walker. He almost looks as though he were walking on nothing but air. His support is the slenderest imaginable. And yet it really is possible to walk on it’.
In this provocative book, a professor of philosophy examines the arguments for and against euthanasia, analyzes specific case studies, including those of Baby Jane Doe and Barney Clark, and offers an alternate theory on the morality of euthanasia. Various traditional distinctions--between "human" and "non-human," intentional and nonintentional, killing and "letting die"--are taken into account to determine whether euthanasia is permissible or not. Rachels presents a systematic argument against the traditional view, defending an alternative position based on the belief that there (...) is a profound difference between having a life and merely being alive. (shrink)
In this paper I present my proposal for the central norm governing the practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm of Assertion (SRNA). The critical features of this norm are that it's highly sensitive to the context of assertion, such that the requirements for warrantedly asserting a proposition shift with changes in context, and that truth is not a necessary condition for warrantedly asserting. In fact, I argue that there are some cases where a speaker may warrantedly (...) assert something she knows to be false. Only SRNA seems able to account for such cases. (shrink)
What happens when we consider transformative experiences from the perspective of gender transitions? In this paper I suggest that at least two insights emerge. First, trans* persons’ experiences of gender transitions show some limitations to L.A. Paul’s (forthcoming) decision theoretic account of transformative decisions. This will involve exploring some of the phenomenology of coming to know that one is trans, and in coming to decide to transition. Second, what epistemological effects are there to undergoing a transformative experience? By connecting some (...) experiences of gender transitions to feminist standpoint epistemology, I argue that radical changes in one’s identity and social location also radically affects one’s access to knowledge in ways not widely appreciated in contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the interrelated topics of stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity as they relate to gender and gender identity. The former has become an emerging topic in feminist philosophy and has spawned a tremendous amount of research in social psychology and elsewhere. But the discussion, at least in how it connects to gender, is incomplete: the focus is only on cisgender women and their experiences. By considering trans women's experiences of stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity, we gain (...) a deeper understanding of the phenomena and their problematic effects. (shrink)
This paper offers three objections to Leslie’s recent and already influential theory of generics :375–403, 2007a, Philos Rev 117:1–47, 2008): her proposed metaphysical truth-conditions are subject to systematic counter-examples, the proposed disquotational semantics fails, and there is evidence that generics do not express cognitively primitive generalisations.
A satisfactory account of the nature of health is important for a wide range of theoretical and practical reasons. No theory offered in the literature thus far has been able to meet all the desiderata for an adequate theory of health. This article introduces a new theory of health, according to which health is best defined in terms of dispositions at the level of the organism as a whole. After outlining the main features of the account and providing formal definitions (...) of ‘health’, ‘healthy’, and ‘healthier than’, I present the main strengths of the proposed account. I argue that the proposed dispositional theory accounts for all paradigm cases of health and pathology, that it circumvents a number of problems faced by rival theories, and that it makes for a naturalistic theory of health with a rigorous metaphysical underpinning. 1Introduction 2The Dispositional Account 3Further Specification of the Dispositional Account 3.1Reference classes 3.2Comparison classes 3.3Which dispositions? 4Advantages of the Dispositional view 5Three Objections and Replies 5.1Objection 1: Counter-examples 5.2Objection 2: Issues with holism 5.3Objection 3: Expediting medicalization 6Final Remarks. (shrink)
In the late 1930s, a few years before the start of the Second World War, a small number of European philosophers of science emigrated to the United States, escaping the increasingly perilous situation on the continent. Among the first expatriates were Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach, arguably the most influential logical empiricists of their time. In this two-part paper, I reconstruct Carnap’s and Reichenbach’s surprisingly numerous interactions with American academics in the decades before their move in order to explain the (...) impact of their arrival in the late 1930s. This second part traces Reichenbach’s development and focuses on his frequent interactions with American academics throughout the 1930s. I show that Reichenbach was quite ignorant about developments in Anglophone philosophy in the first stages of his career but became increasingly focused on the United States from the late 1920s onwards. I reconstruct Reichenbach’s efforts to find a job across the Atlantic and show that some of his English publications—most notably Experience and Prediction—were attempts to change the American narrative about logical empiricism. Whereas U. S. philosophers identified scientific philosophy with the views of the Vienna Circle, Reichenbach aimed to market his probabilistic philosophy of science as a subtler alternative. (shrink)
This essay is an attempt to plumb the conventions which exist at a specific historical moment in both the aesthetic and scientific spheres. I will assume the existence of a web of conventions within the world of the aesthetic—conventions which have elsewhere been admirably illustrated—but will depart from the norm by examining the synchronic existence of another series of conventions, those of medicine. I do not mean in any way to accord special status to medical conventions. Indeed, the world is (...) full of overlapping and intertwined systems of conventions, of which the medical and the aesthetic are but two. Medicine offers an especially interesting source of conventions since we do tend to give medical conventions special “scientific” status as opposed to the “subjective” status of the aesthetic conventions. But medical icons are no more “real” than “aesthetic” ones. Like aesthetic icons, medical icons may iconographic in that they represent these realities in a manner determined by the historical position of the observers, their relationship to their own time, and to the history of the conventions which they employ. Medicine uses its categories to structure an image of the diversity of mankind; it is as much at the mercy of the needs of any age to comprehend this infinite diversity as any other system which organizes our perception of the world. The power of medicine, at least in the nineteenth century, lies in the rise of the status of science. He conventions of medicine infiltrate other seemingly closed iconographic systems precisely because of this status. In examining the conventions of medicine employed in other areas, we must not forget this power.One excellent example of the conventions of human diversity captured in the iconography of the nineteenth century is the linkage of two seemingly unrelated female images—the icon of the Hottentot female and the icon of the prostitute. In the course of the nineteenth century, the female Hottentot comes to represent the black female in nuce, and the prostitute to represent the sexualized woman. Both of these categories represent the creation of classes which correspondingly represent very specific qualities. While the number of terms describing the various categories of the prostitute expanded substantially during the nineteenth century, all were used to label the sexualized woman. Likewise, while many groups of African blacks were known to Europeans in the nineteenth century, the Hottentot remained representative of the essence of the black, especially the black female. Both concepts fulfilled an iconographic function in the perception and the representation of the world. How these two concepts were associated provides a case study for the investigation of patterns of conventions, without any limitation on the “value” of one pattern over another. Sander L. Gilman is professor of Humane Studies in the Department of German Literature and Near Eastern Studies and professor of Psychiatry in the Cornell Medical College, Cornell University. He is the author or editor of numerous studies of European cultural history with a focus on the history of stereotypes. In addition, he has coedited Degeneration with J. E. Chamberlin. His study Jewish Self-Hatred is forthcoming. (shrink)
It has become popular of late to identify the phenomenon of thinking a singular thought with that of thinking with a mental file. Proponents of the mental files conception of singular thought claim that one thinks a singular thought about an object o iff one employs a mental file to think about o. I argue that this is false by arguing that there are what I call descriptive mental files, so some file-based thought is not singular thought. Descriptive mental files (...) are mental files for which descriptive information plays four roles: determines which object the file is about, if any, it sets limits on possible mistakes that fall within the scope of successful reference for the file, it acts as a ‘gatekeeper’ for the file, and it determines persistence conditions for the file. Contrary to popular assumption, a description playing these roles is consistent with the file-theoretic framework. Recognising this allows us to distinguish the notion of singular thought from that of file-thinking and better understand the nature and role of both. (shrink)
in april 1933, two bright young Ph.D.s were elected to the Harvard Society of Fellows: the psychologist B. F. Skinner and the philosopher/logician W. V. Quine. Both men would become among the most influential scholars of their time; Skinner leads the "Top 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century," whereas philosophers have selected Quine as the most important Anglophone philosopher after the Second World War.1 At the height of their fame, Skinner and Quine became "Edgar Pierce twins"; the latter (...) obtaining the endowed chair at Harvard's department of philosophy, the former taking up the position at Harvard's psychology department.2Besides these biographical parallels, there also... (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper is about the relevance of attitude-ascriptions to debates about singular thought. It examines a methodology reject this methodology, the literature lacks a detailed examination of its implications and the challenges faced by proponents and critics. I isolate an assumption of the methodology, which I call the tracking assumption: that an attitude-ascription which states that s Φ's that P is true iff s has an attitude, of Φ-ing, which is an entertaining of the content P. I argue that the (...) tracking assumption must be rejected, not because it has deflationary consequences, but because it leads to unstable commitments. I also show that there are independent reasons to reject it, because ordinary attitude ascriptions underdetermine even the truth-conditions of the mental-states they ascribe. However, I argue, this does not involve rejecting the claim that attitude-ascriptions express relations between agents and contents. Instead, they state different relations depending on contextual factors other than the nature of the mental-states ascribed. (shrink)
W. V. Quine is arguably the intellectual father of contemporary naturalism, the idea that there is no distinctively philosophical perspective on reality. Yet, even though Quine has always been a science-minded philosopher, he did not adopt a fully naturalistic perspective until the early 1950s. In this paper, I reconstruct the genesis of Quine’s ideas on the relation between science and philosophy. Scrutinizing his unpublished papers and notebooks, I examine Quine’s development in the first decades of his career. After identifying three (...) commitments supporting his naturalism—viz. empiricism, holism, and realism—I piece together the evolution of Quine’s position by examining the origins of these commitments one by one, showing how his early views gradually evolved into the mature naturalistic position that would have such an enormous impact on post-war analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Charles Sanders Peirce has authored an extraordinary ?Note on the Theory of the Economy of Research? (1879). The Note presents an economic model of research project selection in science. A case can be made that the Note was the first piece of modern scientific research in all of economics. This claim is based on the novelty of the method of argument, the graphical techniques, and the ratio of the marginal utilities found in the Note. The Note is also significant (...) for making economic factors a central part of a theory of scientific inference, something which contemporary economic methodologists and philosophers still have not done except for a few notable exceptions. And it has been used by philosopher Nicholas Rescher to interpret and criticize Karl Popper's notion of falsification. All of these contributions suggest that Peirce's Note may be of unusual interest to the economics profession. (shrink)
Introduction: philosophy of science in practice Content Type Journal Article Category Editorial Article Pages 303-307 DOI 10.1007/s13194-011-0036-4 Authors Rachel Ankeny, School of History & Politics, University of Adelaide, Napier Building, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia Hasok Chang, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RH UK Marcel Boumans, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Amsterdam, Valckenierstraat 65-67, 1018 XE Amsterdam, The Netherlands Mieke Boon, Department of Philosophy, University (...) of Twente, Postbox 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science Online ISSN 1879-4920 Print ISSN 1879-4912 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 3. (shrink)
This paper has a narrow and a broader target. The narrow target is a particular version of what I call the mental-files conception of singular thought, proposed by Robin Jeshion, and known as cognitivism. The broader target is the MFC in general. I give an argument against Jeshion's view, which gives us preliminary reason to reject the MFC more broadly. I argue Jeshion's theory of singular thought should be rejected because the central connection she makes between significance and singularity does (...) not hold. However, my argument grants Jeshion's claim that there is a connection between significance and file-thinking. The upshot is not only that we have reason to reject Jeshion's significance constraint on singular thought, but that we have reason to question the connection made by MFC proponents between file-thinking and singularity. (shrink)
The bioethical principle of autonomy is problematic regarding the future of the embryo who lacks the ability to self-advocate but will develop this defining human capacity in time. Recent experiments explore the use of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats /Cas9 for germline engineering in the embryo, which alters future generations. The embryo’s inability to express an autonomous decision is an obvious bioethical challenge of germline engineering. The philosopher Joel Feinberg acknowledged that autonomy is developing in children. He advocated that (...) to reserve this future autonomy, parents should be guided to make ethical decisions that provide children with open futures. Here, Feinberg’s 1980 open future theory is extended to the human embryo in the context of CRISPR germline engineering. Although the embryo does not possess the autonomous decision-making capacity at the time of germline engineering, the parental decision to permanently change the unique genetic fabric of the embryo and subsequent generations disregards future autonomy. Therefore, germline engineering in many instances is objectionable considering Feinberg’s open future theory. (shrink)
This article discusses recent theories of the meaning of generics. The discussion is centred on how the theories differ in their approach to addressing the primary difficulty in providing a theory of generic meaning: The notoriously complex ways in which the truth conditions of generics seem to vary. In addition, the article summarizes considerations for and against each theory.
I argue that we are sometimes morally responsible for having and using (or not using) our concepts, despite the fact that we generally do not choose to have them or have full or direct voluntary control over how we use them. I do so by extending an argument of Angela Smith's; the same features that she says make us morally responsible for some of our attitudes also make us morally responsible for some of our concepts. Specifically, like attitudes, concepts can (...) be (a) conceptually and rationally connected to our evaluative judgments, (b) in principle subject to rational revision (reasons‐responsive), and (c) the basis for actual and potential moral assessments of people that we have good reasons to endorse. Thus, we are open to moral appraisal on the basis of having and using (or not using) our concepts when they reflect our evaluative judgments, though even then it is not always appropriate to praise or blame us on that basis. (shrink)