This new and up-to-date edition of a book that has been central to political philosophy, history, and revolutionary thought for two hundred years offers readers a dire warning of the consequences that follow the mismanagement of change. Written for a generation presented with challenges of terrible proportions--the Industrial, American, and French Revolutions, to name the most obvious--Burke's Reflections of the Revolution in France displays an acute awareness of how high political stakes can be, as well as a keen ability to (...) set contemporary problems within a wider context of political theory. (shrink)
Paul Horwich's main aim in Reflections on Meaning is to explain how mere noises, marks, gestures, and mental symbols are able to capture the world--that is, how words and sentences (in whatever medium) come to mean what they do, to stand for certain things, to be true or false of reality. His answer is a groundbreaking development of Wittgenstein's idea that the meaning of a term is nothing more than its use. While the chapters here have appeared as individual essays, (...) Horwich has edited them to make a continuous argument, focused on articulating and developing an important new conception of language. (shrink)
This book offers a comprehensive account of logic that addresses fundamental issues concerning the nature and foundations of the discipline. The authors claim that these foundations can not only be established without the need for strong metaphysical assumptions, but also without hypostasizing logical forms as specific entities. They present a systematic argument that the primary subject matter of logic is our linguistic interaction rather than our private reasoning and it is thus misleading to see logic as revealing "the laws of (...) thought". In this sense, fundamental logical laws are implicit to our "language games" and are thus more similar to social norms than to the laws of nature. Peregrin and Svoboda also show that logical theories, despite the fact that they rely on rules implicit to our actual linguistic practice, firm up these rules and make them explicit. By carefully scrutinizing the project of logical analysis, the authors demonstrate that logical rules can be best seen as products of the so called reflective equilibrium. They suggest that we can profit from viewing languages as "inferential landscapes" and logicians as "geographers" who map them and try to pave safe routes through them. This book is an essential resource for scholars and researchers engaged with the foundations of logical theories and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
In this article I deal with Kant's concept of reflective judgment, and recover it through its links to the aesthetic dimension as its fundamental scenario. Then I go on to explain why Hannah Arendt understood this important Kantian connection, and why she thought it would allow her to develop it through a political dimension. Last, having reviewed both Kant and Arendt's contributions to the concept of reflective judgment, I recover my own input to the concept by showing its linguistic dimension (...) based on the Heideggerian notion of world-disclosure. With this in mind, I show how the concept of reflective judgment is the most suitable to analyze evil actions. (shrink)
Global Reflection Principles.P. D. Welch - 2017 - In I. Niiniluoto, H. Leitgeb, P. Seppälä & E. Sober (eds.), Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science - Proceedings of the 15th International Congress, 2015. College Publications.details
Reflection Principles are commonly thought to produce only strong axioms of infinity consistent with V = L. It would be desirable to have some notion of strong reflection to remedy this, and we have proposed Global Reflection Principles based on a somewhat Cantorian view of the universe. Such principles justify the kind of cardinals needed for, inter alia , Woodin’s Ω-Logic.
Democracy used to be seen as a relatively mechanical matter of merely adding up everyone's votes in free and fair elections. That mechanistic model has many virtues, among them allowing democracy to 'track the truth', where purely factual issues are all that is at stake. Political disputes invariably mix facts with values, however, and then it is essential to listen to what people are saying rather than merely note how they are voting. The great challenge is how to implement that (...) deliberative ideal among millions of people at once. In this strikingly original book, Goodin offers a solution: 'democratic deliberation within'. Building on models of ordinary conversational dynamics, he suggests that people simply imagine themselves in the position of various other people they have heard or read about and ask, 'What would they say about this proposal?' Informing the democratic imaginary then becomes the key to making deliberations more reflective - more empathetic, more considered, more expansive across time and distance. (shrink)
There can be no doubt that Kant thought we should be reflective: we ought to care to make up our own minds about how things are and what is worth doing. Philosophical objections to the Kantian reflective ideal have centred on concerns about the excessive control that the reflective person is supposed to exert over her own mental life, and Kantians who feel the force of these objections have recently drawn attention to Kant’s conception of moral virtue as it is (...) developed in his later work, chiefly the Metaphysics of Morals. Melissa Merritt’s book is a distinctive contribution to this recent turn to virtue in Kant scholarship. Merritt argues that we need a clearer, and textually more comprehensive, account of what reflection is, in order not only to understand Kant’s account of virtue, but also to appreciate how it effectively rebuts long-standing objections to the Kantian reflective ideal. (shrink)
This edited work presents contemporary mathematical practice in the foundational mathematical theories, in particular set theory and the univalent foundations. It shares the work of significant scholars across the disciplines of mathematics, philosophy and computer science. Readers will discover systematic thought on criteria for a suitable foundation in mathematics and philosophical reflections around the mathematical perspectives. The first two sections focus on the two most prominent candidate theories for a foundation of mathematics. Readers may trace current research in set theory, (...) which has widely been assumed to serve as a framework for foundational issues, as well as new material elaborating on the univalent foundations, considering an approach based on homotopy type theory (HoTT). The further sections then build on this and are centred on philosophical questions connected to the foundations of mathematics. Here, the authors contribute to discussions on foundational criteria with more general thoughts on the foundations of mathematics which are not connected to particular theories. This book shares the work of some of the most important scholars in the fields of set theory (S. Friedman), non-classical logic (G. Priest) and the philosophy of mathematics (P. Maddy). The reader will become aware of the advantages of each theory and objections to it as a foundation, following the latest and best work across the disciplines and it is therefore a valuable read for anyone working on the foundations of mathematics or in the philosophy of mathematics. (shrink)
In a brilliant series of studies, Roy Bhaskar, the originator of the influential, multi-disciplinary and international philosophy of critical realism, presents for the first time in published form, his new philosophy of Meta-Reality. The philosophy of Meta-Reality confirms many aspects of the great philosophical traditions of the past, while correcting their one-sidedness and transcending their dualism and dichotomies, representing what is valid in them in a radically new way, apt for our contemporary times of global crisis.
As people look for a way to ground their judgments of moral, political, aesthetic claims in the face of the postmodernists who claim nothing can be grounded, Reflective Authenticity attempts to rescue some of the critical ideals of the Enlightenment without falling prey to those who say that the Enlightenment's tenets of objectivity, reason, liberalism makes this impossible and in the face of multiculturalism, difference, and the death of subject, are outdated. Alessandro Ferrara suggests that the notion of reflective authenticity (...) offers the key to a new kind of exemplary universalism which, different from the generalizing universalism typical of modern thought, does not fall under the critique of foundationalism articulated by postmodernist thinkers. (shrink)
Hilary Kornblith presents a new account of mental reflection, and its importance for knowledge, reasoning, freedom, and normativity. He argues that reflection cannot solve the philosophical problems it has traditionally been thought to, and offers a more realistic, demystified view of its nature which draws on dual process approaches to cognition.
Reflection has been proclaimed as a means to help physicians deal with medicine’s inherent complexity and remedy many of the shortcomings of medical education. Yet, there is little agreement on the nature of reflection nor on how it should be taught and practiced. Emerging neuroscientific concepts suggest that human thought processes are largely nonconscious, in part inaccessible to introspection. Our knowledge of the world is fraught with uncertainty, ignorance and indeterminacy, and influenced by emotion, biases and illusions, including (...) the illusion of not having illusions. Neuroscience also documents that lifelong learning processes may hone nonconscious cognition to high levels of sophistication, allowing rapid and precise perceptions, judgments and actions in complex situations. We argue that knowledge of mechanisms underlying human thought may be useful in designing educational programs to foster desired attributes such as curiosity, critical self-awareness and intuitive acumen in medical professionals. The juxtaposition of neuroscientific insights with ideas from Kant on reflective judgement, van Manen on tact, and Aristotle on phronésis, supports a concept of reflection that manifests as wise practice. We suggest that reflection in medical education should be an imperative for educators seeking to guide learners to manage the complexity and “messiness” of medical practice, and a role-modelling mode of medical practice characterized by self-correcting behaviors that culminate in good and right professional actions. An example illustrates reflective practice in the teaching and learning of physicianship. (shrink)
How should you take into account the opinions of an advisor? When you completely defer to the advisor's judgment, then you should treat the advisor as a guru. Roughly, that means you should believe what you expect she would believe, if supplied with your extra evidence. When the advisor is your own future self, the resulting principle amounts to a version of the Reflection Principle---a version amended to handle cases of information loss. When you count an advisor as an (...) epistemic peer, you should give her conclusions the same weight as your own. Denying that view---call it the ``equal weight view''---leads to absurdity: the absurdity that you could reasonably come to believe yourself to be an epistemic superior to an advisor simply by noting cases of disagreement with her, and taking it that she made most of the mistakes. Accepting the view seems to lead to another absurdity: that one should suspend judgment about everything that one's smart and well-informed friends disagree on, which means suspending judgment about almost everything interesting. But despite appearances, the equal weight view does not have this absurd consequence. Furthermore, the view can be generalized to handle cases involving not just epistemic peers, but also epistemic superiors and inferiors. (shrink)
This work, written from a neo-Pyrrhonian perspective, is an examination of contemporary theories of knowledge and justification. It takes ideas primarily found in Sextus Empiricus's Outlines of Pyrrhonism, restates them in a modern idiom, and then asks whether any contemporary theory of knowledge meets the challenges they raise. The first part, entitled "Gettier and the Problem of Knowledge," attempts to rescue our ordinary concept of knowledge from those philosophers who have assigned burdens to it that it cannot bear. Properly understood, (...) Fogelin shows that the concept of knowledge is unproblematic. The second part of this study, called "Agrippa and the Problem of Justification," examines Agrippa's contribution to Pyrrhonism, a systematic reduction of its procedures which came to be known as the "Five Modes Leading to the Suspension of Belief." These modes present a completely general procedure for refuting any claim a dogmatist might make. Though largely unnoticed, there is, according to Fogelin, an uncanny resemblance between problems posed by Agrippa's "Five Modes" and those that contemporary epistemologists address under the heading of a theory of justification. Fogelin examines the strongest contemporary theories of justification--in both foundationalist and anti-foundationalist forms. The conclusion is that recent philosophical writings on justification have made no significant progress in responding to the Pyrrhonian problems these writings have addressed. (shrink)
Reflection without Rules offers a comprehensive, pointed exploration of the methodological tradition in economics and the breakdown of the received view within the philosophy of science. Professor Hands investigates economists' use of naturalistic and sociological paradigms to model economic phenomena and assesses the roles of pragmatism, discourse, and situatedness in discussions of economic practice before turning to a systematic exploration of more recent developments in economic methodology. The treatment emphasizes the changes taking place in science theory and its relationship (...) to the movement away from a rules-based view of economic methodology. The work will be of interest to all economists concerned with methodological issues as well as philosophers and others studying the relationships between economics and contemporary science theory. (shrink)
Leibniz’s claim that it is possible for us to gain metaphysical knowledge through reflection on the self has intrigued many commentators, but it has also often been criticized as flawed or unintelligible. A similar fate has beset Leibniz’s arguments against materialism. In this paper, I explore one of Leibniz’s lesser-known arguments against materialism from his reply to Bayle’s new note L (1702), and argue that it provides us with an instance of a Leibnizian “argument from reflection”. This argument, (...) I further show, does not constitute a flawed appeal to mere introspection, but is in fact securely grounded in an important corollary of the Principle of Sufficient Reason: Leibniz’s Principle of Intelligibility. (shrink)
Eros Corazza presents a fascinating investigation of the role that indexicals play in our thought. Indexicality is crucial to the understanding of such puzzling issues as the nature of the self, the nature of perception, social interaction, psychological pathologies, and psychological development. Corazza draws on work from philosophy, linguistics, and psychology to illuminate this key aspect of the relation between mind and world. By highlighting how indexical thoughts are irreducible and intrinsically perspectival, Corazza shows how we can depict someone else's (...) indexical thought from a third-person perspective. The phenomenon of quasi-indexicality is introduced here: to represent Jane saying, "I am prosperous", we use what Castañeda termed a quasi-indicator in a report of the form "Jane said that she is prosperous". Corazza argues that quasi-indicators play such an important role in our linguistic, social, and psychological life that they have a cognitive primacy over other mechanisms of reference. Quasi-indexicality also emerges as a key notion when we come to consider our ability to understand other minds. Corazza argues that indexicality and quasi-indexicality are two sides of the same coin, best understood within the framework of direct reference. (shrink)
Book synopsis: Philosopher, cultural critic, and agent provocateur Slavoj Žižek constructs a fascinating new framework to look at the forces of violence in our world. Using history, philosophy, books, movies, Lacanian psychiatry, and jokes, Slavoj Žižek examines the ways we perceive and misperceive violence. Drawing from his unique cultural vision, Žižek brings new light to the Paris riots of 2005; he questions the permissiveness of violence in philanthropy; in daring terms, he reflects on the powerful image and determination of contemporary (...) terrorists. Violence, Žižek states, takes three forms--subjective, objective, and systemic --and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions. Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of "the neighbour"? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think? Beginning with these and other equally contemplative questions, Žižek discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language, in a work that will confirm his standing as one of our most erudite and incendiary modern thinkers. (shrink)
In this conversation, Berkeley-based philosopher Judith Butler offers insights into her understanding of the public sphere and its current transformations as a core dimension of political subjectivity. Beginning with her own understanding of Habermas’ classic, the interview centers around its connection to other classical texts and timely political debates.
As a procedure, reflective equilibrium is simply a familiar kind of standard scientific method with a new name. A theory is constructed to account for a set of observations. Recalcitrant data may be rejected as noise or explained away as the effects of interference of some sort. Recalcitrant data that cannot be plausibly dismissed force emendations in theory. What counts as a plausible dismissal depends, among other things, on the going theory, as well as on background theory and on knowledge (...) that may be relevant to under-standing the experimental design that is generating the observations, including knowledge of the apparatus and observation conditions. This sort of mutual adjustment between theory and data is a familiar feature of scientific practice. Whatever authority RE seems to have comes, I think, from a tacit or explicit recognition that it has the same form as this familiar sort of scientific inference. One way to see the rationale underlying this procedure in science is to focus on prediction. Think of prediction as a matter of projecting what is known onto uncharted territory. To do this, you need a vehicle—a theory—that captures some invariant or pattern in what is known so that you can project it onto the unknown. How convincing the projection is depends on two factors: how sure one is of the observational base, and how sure one is that the theory gets the invariants right. The two factors are not independent, of course. One's confidence in the observational base will be affected by how persuasively the theory identifies and dismisses noise; one's confidence in the theory, on the other hand, will depend on one's confidence in the observations it takes seriously. Prediction is important as a test of theory precisely because verified predictions seem to show that the theory has correctly captured the general in the particular, that it has got the drift of the observational evidence in which our confidence is ultimately grounded. (shrink)
While there is much evidence for the influence of automatic emotional responses on moral judgment, the roles of reflection and reasoning remain uncertain. In Experiment 1, we induced subjects to be more reflective by completing the Cognitive Reflection Test prior to responding to moral dilemmas. This manipulation increased utilitarian responding, as individuals who reflected more on the CRT made more utilitarian judgments. A follow-up study suggested that trait reflectiveness is also associated with increased utilitarian judgment. In Experiment 2, (...) subjects considered a scenario involving incest between consenting adult siblings, a scenario known for eliciting emotionally driven condemnation that resists reasoned persuasion. Here, we manipulated two factors related to moral reasoning: argument strength and deliberation time. These factors interacted in a manner consistent with moral reasoning: A strong argument defending the incestuous behavior was more persuasive than a weak argument, but only when increased deliberation time encouraged subjects to reflect. (shrink)
Philosophy is a reflective activity. So perhaps it is unsurprising that many philosophers have claimed that reflection plays an important role in shaping and even improving our philosophical thinking. This hypothesis seems plausible given that training in philosophy has correlated with better performance on tests of reflection and reflective reasoning has correlated with demonstrably better judgments in a variety of domains. This article reviews the hypothesized roles of reflection in philosophical thinking as well as the empirical evidence (...) for these roles. This reveals that although there are fairly reliable links between reflection and philosophical judgment among both laypeople and philosophers, the role of reflection in philosophical thinking may nonetheless depend in part on other factors, some of which have yet to be determined. So progress in research on reflection in philosophy may require further innovation in experimental methods and psychometric validation of philosophical measures. (shrink)
According to the scientific image, aesthetic experience is constituted by private reverie or mindless gratification of some kind. This image fails to fully acknowledge the theoretical and hence cultural aspect of perception, which includes aesthetic experience. This chapter reframes aesthetic reflective judgment in terms of perceptual processes (section 2); intentional pleasure (section 3); non-perceptually represented perceptual properties (section 4); and intersubjectivity (section 5). By clarifying the relevant terms, the liberal naturalist account of the sublime provides the link between the sublime (...) and moral motivation (section 6). (shrink)
Highlights popular debates about the contribution of reflection to teacher education and emphasizes the role of the mentor in facilitating teachers' professional development. Each chapter is concerned with exploring the concept of reflection and considering its contributions to teacher education.
In this paper, we draw on our own cross-cultural experience of engaging with different incarnations of the medical and health humanities in the UK and South Africa to reflect on what is distinct and the same about MHH in these locations. MHH spaces, whether departments, programmes or networks, have espoused a common critique of biomedical dualism and reductionism, a celebration of qualitative evidence and the value of visual and performative arts for their research, therapeutic and transformative social potential. However, there (...) have also been differences, and importantly a different ‘identity’ among some leading South African scholars and practitioners, who have felt that if MHH were to speak from the South as opposed to the North, they would say something quite different. We seek to contextualise our personal reflections on the development of the field in South Africa over recent years within wider debates about MHH in the context of South African academia and practice, drawing in part on interviews conducted by one of the authors with South African researchers and practitioners and our own reflections as ‘Northerners’ in the ‘South’. (shrink)
Following up on his previous book, _Violence and Phenomenology_, James Dodd presents here an expanded and deepened reflection on the problem of violence. The book’s six essays are guided by a skeptical philosophical attitude about the meaning of violence that refuses to conform to the exigencies of essence and the stable patterns of lived experience. Each essay tracks a discoverable, sometimes familiar figure of violence, while at the same time questioning its limits and revealing sites of its resistance to (...) conceptualization. Dodd’s essays are readings as much as they are reflections; attempts at interpretation as much as they are attempts to push concepts of violence to their limits. They draw upon a range of different authors—Sartre, Levinas, Schelling, Scheler, and Husserl—and historical moments, but without any attempt to reduce them into a series of examples elucidating a comprehensive theory. The aim is to follow a path of distinctively episodic and provisional modes of thinking and reflection that offers a potential glimpse at how violence can be understood. (shrink)
The profound changes in personality, mood, and other features of the self that neural interventions can induce can be disconcerting to patients, their families, and caregivers. In the neuroethical debate, these concerns are often addressed in the context of possible threats to the narrative self. In this paper, I argue that it is necessary to consider a dimension of impacts on the narrative self which has so far been neglected: neural interventions can lead to a loss of meaning of actions, (...) feelings, beliefs, and other intentional elements of our self-narratives. To uphold the coherence of the self-narrative, the changes induced by neural interventions need to be accounted for through explanations in intentional or biochemical terms. However, only an explanation including intentional states delivers the content to directly ascribe personal meaning, i.e., subjective value to events. Neural interventions can deprive events of meaning because they may favor a predominantly biochemical account. A loss of meaning is not inherently negative but it can be problematic, particularly if events are affected one was not prepared or willing to have stripped of meaning. The paper further examines what it is about neural interventions that impacts meaning by analyzing different methods. To which degree the pull towards a biochemical view occurs depends on the characteristics of the neural intervention. By comparing Deep Brain Stimulation, Prozac, Ritalin, psychedelics, and psychotherapy, the paper identifies some main factors: the rate of change, the transparency of the causal chain, the involvement of the patient, and the presence of an acute phenomenological experience. (shrink)
The bulk of the significant recent scientific heritage of universities is not to be found in accredited science museums or collections employed in research. Rather it is located in a wide variety of more informal collections, assemblages and accumulations. The selection and documentation of such materials is very often unsystematic and many of them are vulnerable to changes of staff, relocation and, above all, shortage of space. Following a survey of views on the values of the recent material heritage of (...) the sciences, I consider the many advantages—for teaching, engagement with wider communities, enhancement of institutional identity and work experience, celebration of scientific achievements, study of the recent history of the practices and fruits of the sciences, etc.—of “multi-site museums” formed through the coordination of such varied and scattered collections. I go on to reflect on ways in which the preservation and display of scientific heritage in dispersed collections may be enhanced and protected through institutional recognition and through provision of guidance and assistance in selection, documentation and digitisation, preservation and conservation, and display. The importance of adequate documentation of the contexts of production and use of objects is stressed, as are the benefits that can result from involvement of student “taskforces” and heritage-concerned scientists. (shrink)
This article examines the method of reflective equilibrium (RE) and its role in philosophical inquiry. It begins with an overview of RE before discussing some of the subtleties involved in its interpretation, including challenges to the standard assumption that RE is a form of coherentism. It then evaluates some of the main objections to RE, in particular, the criticism that this method generates unreasonable beliefs. It concludes by considering how RE relates to recent debates about the role of intuitions in (...) philosophy. (shrink)
Modal structuralism promises an interpretation of set theory that avoids commitment to abstracta. This article investigates its underlying assumptions. In the first part, I start by highlighting some shortcomings of the standard axiomatisation of modal structuralism, and propose a new axiomatisation I call MSST (for Modal Structural Set Theory). The main theorem is that MSST interprets exactly Zermelo set theory plus the claim that every set is in some inaccessible rank of the cumulative hierarchy. In the second part of the (...) article, I look at the prospects for supplementing MSST with a modal structural reflection principle, as suggested in Hellman (2015). I show that Hellman’s principle is inconsistent (Theorem 5.32), and argue that modal structural reflection principles in general are either incompatible with modal structuralism or extremely weak. (shrink)
In moral epistemology, the method of reflective equilibrium is often characterized in terms of intuitions or understood as a method for justifying intuitions. An analysis of reflective equilibrium and current theories of moral intuitions reveals that this picture is problematic. Reflective equilibrium cannot be adequately characterized in terms of intuitions. Although the method presupposes that we have initially credible commitments, it does not presuppose that they are intuitions. Nonetheless, intuitions can enter the process of developing a reflective equilibrium and, if (...) the process is successful, be justified. Since the method of reflective equilibrium does not essentially involve intuitions, it does not constitute a form of intuitionism in any substantial sense. It may be classified as intuitionist only in the minimal sense of not reducing justification to a matter of inference relations alone. (shrink)
I distinguish two ways of developing anti-exceptionalist approaches to logical revision. The first emphasizes comparing the theoretical virtuousness of developed bodies of logical theories, such as classical and intuitionistic logic. I'll call this whole theory comparison. The second attempts local repairs to problematic bits of our logical theories, such as dropping excluded middle to deal with intuitions about vagueness. I'll call this the piecemeal approach. I then briefly discuss a problem I've developed elsewhere for comparisons of logical theories. Essentially, the (...) problem is that a pair of logics may each evaluate the alternative as superior to themselves, resulting in oscillation between logical options. The piecemeal approach offers a way out of this problem andthereby might seem a preferable to whole theory comparisons. I go on to show that reflective equilibrium, the best known piecemeal method, has deep problems of its own when applied to logic. (shrink)
In this paper we develop a new methodology for normative theorising, which we call Directed Reflective Equilibrium. Directed Reflective Equilibrium is based on a taxonomy that distinguishes between a number of different functions of hypothetical cases, including two dimensions that we call representation and elicitation. Like its predecessor, Directed Reflective Equilibrium accepts that neither intuitions nor basic principles are immune to revision and that our commitments on various levels of philosophical enquiry should be brought into equilibrium. However, it also offers (...) guidance about how different types of cases ought to be sequenced to achieve this result. We argue that this ‘directional’ approach improves, in various ways, upon the non-directional approach of traditional Reflective Equilibrium. (shrink)
This chapter evaluates Kwame Gyekye's argument for rejecting ethical supernaturalism in the African moral tradition (Gyekye, 2010). In this chapter, I reject Gyekye's argument for two major reasons. Firstly, I observe that Gyekye's argument is incompatible with much of African thought which is holistic, where the spiritual and physical are part of the same reality. Secondly, I criticise Gyekye for rejecting an African spiritual meta-ethics. I observe that his treatment of African meta-ethics leans heavily on Western moral theory of the (...) divine command theory, and overlooks many promising moral-theoretical resources that could ground a promising African religious ethics. I conclude by sketching such a life-based moral theory. (shrink)
This paper explores an initially attractive principle connecting beliefs in general with beliefs about what beliefs are rational. The principle turns out to be violated by intuitively rational beliefs in some situations. The paper lays out some options for reacting to this fact.
Are living organisms--as Descartes argued--just machines? Or is the nature of life such that it can never be fully explained by mechanistic models? In this thought-provoking and controversial book, eminent geophysicist Walter M. Elsasser argues that the behavior of living organisms cannot be reduced to physico-chemical causality. Suggesting that molecular biology today is at the same point as Newtonian physics on the eve of the quantum revolution, Elsasser lays the foundation for a theoretical biology that points the way toward a (...) natural philosophy of organic life. Explicitly repudiating "vitalism" (the notion that the laws of nature need to be modified when applied to living organisms), Elsasser argues instead that the structural complexity of even a single living cell is "transcomputational"--that is, beyond the power of any imaginable system to compute. Beginning from this insight, Elsasser leads the reader through a step-by-step process that ultimately arrives at the conclusion that living and non-living matter are separated by "a no-man's land of irrationality." Trained in Germany as a physicist, Elsasser first pondered the implications of quantum mechanics for biology as early as 1951. The more closely he studied the inherent complexity of life, the more skeptical he became of the reductionist view of organisms as tiny machines. "An organism," he concluded, "is a source of causal chains which cannot be traced beyond a terminal point because they are lost in the unfathomable complexity of the organism." Like the physicist who works within the bounds of an unfathomable universe, Elsasser argues, the biologist must seek answers within a system that is no less unfathomable. (shrink)
_Reflective Authenticity: Rethinking the Project of Modernity_ is a challenging consideration of what remains of ambitious Enlightenment ideas such as democracy, freedom and universality in the wake of relativist, postmodern thought. Do clashes over gender, race and culture mean that universal notions such as justice or rights no longer apply outside our own communities? Do our actions lose their authenticity if we act on principles that transcend the confines of our particular communities? Alessandro Ferrara proposes a path out of this (...) impasse via the notion of reflective authenticity. Drawing on Aristotle, Kants concept of reflective judgement and Heideggers theory of reflexive self-grounding, _Reflective Authenticity: Rethinking the Project of Modernity_ takes a fresh look at the state of Critical Theory today and the sustainability of postmodern politics. (shrink)
Leibniz’s claim that it is possible for us to gain metaphysical knowledge through reflection on the self has intrigued many commentators, but it has also often been criticized as flawed or unintelligible. A similar fate has beset Leibniz’s arguments against materialism. In this paper, I explore one of Leibniz’s lesser-known arguments against materialism from his reply to Bayle’s new note L, and argue that it provides us with an instance of a Leibnizian “argument from reflection”. This argument, I (...) further show, does not constitute a flawed appeal to mere introspection, but is in fact securely grounded in an important corollary of the Principle of Sufficient Reason: Leibniz’s Principle of Intelligibility. (shrink)
“What do you see when you look at your face in the mirror?” asks J. David Velleman in introducing his philosophical theory of action. He takes this simple act of self-scrutiny as a model for the reflective reasoning of rational agents: our efforts to understand our existence and conduct are aided by our efforts to make it intelligible. Reflective reasoning, Velleman argues, constitutes practical reasoning. By applying this conception, Practical Reflection develops philosophical accounts of intention, free will, and the (...) foundation of morals. This new edition of Practical Reflection contains the original 1989 text along with a new introduction and is the latest entry in The David Hume Series of Philosophy and Cognitive Science Reissues, which keeps in print previously published indispensable works in the area of cognitive science. (shrink)