This paper is an outline of a semester long experiment with students in a bioethics course at the College of Staten Island. The experiment traces the complexities students face in moral reasoning. The author recounts the specific moral questions that arose amidst efforts to construct a collaborative list of definitions for terms of moral justification. The project contributed to students’ general knowledge of bioethics and its principles of judgments. The intensive engagement with the principles of moral justification allowed students to (...) grapple with complex moral issues, to research literature for basic terms, and to approach philosophical arguments across the history of philosophy. (shrink)
How does one teach an Intro to Philosophy course without a text? Having discovered that textbooks would not arrive until the third week of the semester, the author designed a course which strove to emphasize writing skills while still capturing students’ attention. Students wrote a short “Personal Philosophy” paper in which they shared their commitments regarding rationality, freedom, ethics, science, the existence of God, the value of life, and aesthetics, and then explained the sources of their beliefs. This paper was (...) supplemented and completed later in the course with a second “Critique” paper. Students used the philosophical tools acquired through lectures and readings to address if and how their beliefs on the content of the first paper had changed, focusing especially on inconsistencies in those beliefs, unfounded assumptions, new insight into the sources of their beliefs, and the most surprising change in their beliefs. After reviewing the instructions for the papers and detailing other structural features of the course, the author concludes by noting that the class was so successful that its design became standard for the author’s Intro to Philosophy course at College of Staten Island. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to provide further clarity to the technical and policy difficulties associated with mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by identifying and distilling the core tensions which propagate and animate them. We argue that these complexities exist across four critical dimensions: the epistemological, the ethical, the political, and the practical. Adequately confronting the challenge of agricultural emissions will require improved transparency in emissions measurement, increased science communication, enhanced public participatory mechanisms, and the integration of ethical (...) deliberation in scientific and policy discussions. (shrink)
Fourteen essays by former pupils of Calhoun, including G. A. Lindbeck, W. A. Christian, N. C. Nielsen, Jr., R. P. Ramsey, and A. C. Outler. The depth of scholarship that these former students have achieved as well as the generally high calibre of all the essays are ample evidence of Calhoun's pedagogical prowess. Most of the contributions are of theological import, and most are historically oriented as the title of the book suggests. Lindbeck's essay, however, "The A Priori in St. (...) Thomas' Theory of Knowledge," has direct philosophical relevance for those concerned over the "Transcendental" interpretation of Thomas' epistemology and metaphysics. Nothing is advanced over the arguments of Maréchal, Lonergan, and Rahner in favor of this interpretation, but this additional support in a new context lends strength to the thesis.—E. A. R. (shrink)
Process philosophy is said by some to be the future of American philosophy. This collection of essays, ranging from studies of Whitehead to Camus and Sir Muhammad Iqbal, extends the discussion far beyond the boundaries of North America. Several of the essays are of a more systematic character. Donald Hanks analyzes the category of process as a pre-conceptual principle used to organize experience into an intelligible pattern. Andrew Reck provides an analysis of the meaning and justification of what he considers (...) to be the ten ideas or categories requisite for a system of process philosophy. Charles Schmidtke argues that process philosophy faces a fundamental decision regarding whether the character of reality as process is given as an ultimate datum or whether process philosophy structures reality in accordance with the characteristic of creative becoming. Other essays in the volume are concerned with the concept of process in the work of a variety of philosophers, some of whom are less directly in the process tradition. Ramona Cormier analyzes the relationship of the process of experience to its unchanging aspect in connection with Camus’ concern for the meaningfulness of life and the limitations of rational inquiry. Bertrand P. Helm provides a study of James’ concept of time and Patrick S. Madigan a study of the concept of space in Leibniz and Whitehead. Whitehead’s understanding of the interaction of things provides the basis for R. Kirby Godsey’s study of the categories of substance and relation in Whitehead, and Robert C. Whittemore provides an introduction to the process philosophy of Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the little known poet-philosopher and sometime student of James Ward. James Leroy Smith’s article on Whitehead and Marx is a critical comparison of their political philosophies.—E.T.L. (shrink)
This is a review of the book Cultivating Original Enlightenment: Wŏnhyo's Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra, by Robert E. Buswell, Jr., published by the Univeristy of Hawaii Press. This volume, the first to be published in the Collected Works of Wŏnhyo series, contains the translation of a single text by Wŏnhyo, the Kŭmgang Sammaegyŏng Non.
The precise application of the term ‘heroic measures’ in the discourse of medicine and medical ethics is somewhat uncertain. What counts and what does not is, at the margins, a perpetually contentious issue. Basically, though, we can say that the term refers to the deployment of unusual technologies or treatment regimes, or of ordinary technologies or treatment regimes beyond their usual limits.
This article sympathetically explores the phenomenological pragmatism of Robert E. Innis in Consciousness and the Play of Forms and Pragmatism and the Forms of Sense. Disputing both the realistic view that perception underlies semiosis and deconstructionist reversals of this, Innis claims they are inextricably interwoven. He forges an alliance between pragmatists Peirce and Dewey, and Continental phenomenologists Polanyi, Bühler, and Cassirer, a "polyphony" that also yields a richly aesthetic critique of technology. By restricting his analysis to a methodological "frame," (...) Innis overlooks a metaphysical tension between Polanyi's realism and Cassirer's idealism, though potentially resolvable in Dewey's transactional philosophy. (shrink)
Elsewhere I have defended utilitarianism as a philosophy peculiarly well suited to the conduct of public affairs, on grounds of the peculiar tasks and instruments confronting public officials. Here I add another plank to that defence of ‘utilitarianism as a public philosophy’, focusing on the peculiar role responsibilities of people serving in public capacities. Such ‘public service utilitarianism’ is incumbent not only upon public officials but also upon individuals in their capacities as citizens and voters. I close with reflections on (...) how best to evoke appreciation of these utilitarian role responsibilities from officials and electors alike. (shrink)
Maximizing want-satisfaction per se is a relatively unattractive aspiration, for it seems to assume that wants are somehow disembodied entities with independent moral claims all of their own. Actually, of course, they are possessed by particular people. What preference-utilitarians should be concerned with is how people's lives go—the fulfilment of their projects and the satisfaction of their desires. In an old-fashioned way of talking, it is happy people rather than happiness per se that utilitarians should be striving to produce.
Although Darwinian concepts have largely been banned from the social sciences of the last century, they have recently seen a revival in several disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, or economics. Most of the current proponents of evolutionary theorizing in the social sciences avoid references to the older literature on social evolution. On that background, this article presents a contribution to Darwinist thinking in early American sociology that has mainly been overlooked in the literature. As the leading figure of the Human (...) Ecology Approach, which was established during the 1920s and 1930s, Robert Ezra Park drew heavily on evolutionary concepts to explain human evolution. A systematic presentation of these concepts in the light of the modern discussion on sociocultural evolution is given, followed by a conclusion about what can be learned from Park today. (shrink)
O presente artigo procura mostrar a crítica conservadora inglesa do século XVII às noções de liberdade natural e contrato originário, ao deslocar a origem do poder político para as relações afetivas estabelecidas pelos laços sentimentais de família que mantêm pais e filhos unidos. Mais exatamente, a legitimação política do poder teria como fundamento uma autoridade natural semelhante à relação verificada entre pais e filhos. Segundo essa teoria, cujo mais importante representante foi Robert Filmer, o fundamento da autoridade política não (...) é fruto de uma instituição arbitrária dos homens, mas uma necessidade introduzida por Deus, com o propósito de justificar as monarquias absolutistas. (shrink)
Robert Innis has performed an immensely valuable service for scholars in the fields of American philosophy, aesthetics, and semiotics. Not only does his comprehensive view of Susanne K. Langer’s opus show us its development, but this is the only book in English devoted solely to Langer. I hope it may help retrieve her considerable philosophical achievement from the penumbral, fading status it has today. Not only does Innis give us a close discussion of Langer’s philosophy, but he also presents (...) a running argument that she should be embraced as an “American philosopher” and semiotician who shares themes with Dewey and Peirce. This is significant insofar as Langer held herself aloof from the work of both Dewey and . (shrink)
Explaining Norms is a work in philosophy of social science aspiring to provide an account of norms, their general character, their kinds ðformal, legal, moral, and socialÞ, what they can explain, and what explains their dynamic ðemergence, persistence, and unravelingÞ. The authors engage with various positions in ethics, political philosophy, and ðto some extentÞ the philosophy of law. The discussion is rewarding and inventive—it provides distinctive and intriguing views on several topics ðe.g., on the distinction between moral and social normsÞ. (...) There are a lot of ideas here. Perhaps this is predictable, given that the work is a product of four capable minds. What is surprising is the range of ideas and arguments on which the authors manage to agree and out of which they construct one reasonably cohesive account. Given the wide range of literatures discussed, readers are likely to find much of interest. Not surprisingly, some related literatures do seem to be underplayed—treated in a few footnotes and somewhat by the way, with little development of systematic connections. There are thriving literatures in comparative psychology/ ethology, moral psychology, and cultural anthropology that are devoted to how we humans manage to cooperate and coordinate as we do. While there are footnotes to some of this literature ðsee the index for, e.g., Boyd, Bowles, Camerer, Gintis, and HenrichÞ, many readers would have benefited from a discussion that more fully related the position developed in Explaining Norms to that work in experimental economics and anthropology. Discussing the relationships with work in moral psychology and ethology would also have been appreciated ðHaidt, de Waal, and Tomasello are not mentionedÞ. Still, there is very much to like about what is treated here. The authors seek conceptually individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for being a norm. On the account provided, norms are something on the order of normative principles accepted in some group ð3–4Þ. Thus, norms involve some normative principle, possessing “a certain generality of scope and application.” These principles need not be objectively correct or fitting, and they may be objectively “simply awful” ð3Þ. The central questions have to do with what is involved in some group accepting these normative principles. The authors locate their position in two dimensions. (shrink)
A review of Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition: Situating Animals in Hare’s Two-Level Utilitarianism, by Gary E. Varner. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. xv + 336. H/b £40.23. and The Philosophy of Animal Minds, edited by Robert W. Lurz. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. 320. P/b £20.21.
Insieme a John McDowell, Robert Brandom è uno dei filosofi emergenti della reazione al naturalismo filosofico; seguace Wilfrid Sellars, è l'autore americano che più si avvicina al dialogo con la filosofia continentale e propone una rivalutazione di Kant e Hegel nella filosofia analitica. Già allievo di Richard Rorty, Brandom è diventuo famoso con la pubblicazione di Making it Explicit. Questo ponderoso volume di 900 pagine non ha avuto però ancora una sufficiente attenzione nel dibattito filosofico italiano (a parte alcuni (...) inteventi pubblicati su Iride). Forse questo dipende in parte dalla peculiarità e difficoltà del suo approccio, in parte dalla mole stessa del citato volume. Anche per questo motivo Brandom ha presentato una serie di lezioni2 ove riprende i temi del libro maggiore e ne approfondisce alcune parti. In quanto segue si presentano i temi fondamentale di Making it Explicit, arricchiti con elementi presi dal nuovo approfondimento. (shrink)
We can trace the “evolutionary epic” (named by E. O. Wilson, 1978) back to earlier writers, beginning with Robert Chambers (1844). Its basic elements are: fixation on seeing human history as rooted in biology; an aspiration toward telling the whole history of humankind (in its essential features); and insistence on the overall coherence of the projected narrative. The claim to coherence depends on assuming either that the universe possesses an “embedded rationality,” or that it is guided by divine purpose. (...) This article proposes the term “idealism” to refer to these two assumptions taken together, for in practice they were closely linked. Nietzsche (1881) was perhaps the first thinker to point out the evolutionary epic's dependence on such an idealism, and he also pointed out that the assumptions of embedded rationality and of divine purpose are closely connected. Darwin's theory of descent with modification (1859) was sharply inconsistent with these assumptions: he was not an “idealist” in the sense indicated here, and not a proponent of the evolutionary epic. Proclaiming his “materialism,” Wilson (1978) failed to acknowledge that the epic depends on idealist assumptions; other adherents of the genre (M. Dowd, L. Rue) resurrect (knowingly or not) its theological roots. (shrink)
In questo studio sono pubblicate alcune lettere inedite, conservate nella Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire di Ginevra, risalenti agli anni 1669-1678, scambiate tra Jean-Robert Chouet e Claude Pajon. Grazie all’apporto di questi due protagonisti delle accademie di Saumure di Ginevra è possibile meglio intendere, nella complessità dei riferimenti e delle sfumature, le soluzioni relative al tema della libertà divina nell’opera della creazione e della redenzione, argomento di grande interesse nella speculazione filosofica e teologica del Seicento. Si tratta di documenti preziosi, (...) in particolare per la storia della filosofia cartesiana, in quanto il confronto critico, che verte soprattutto sulle tesi di Cartesio concernenti la volontà divina e umana, offre a Chouet l’opportunità di intervenire a chiarire, contro riduttive letture volontaristiche, il significato della dottrina cartesiana della «volonté souveraine et independante de Dieu». (shrink)
Wakley in 1846 called Grant “at once the most eloquent, the most accomplished, the most self-sacrificing, and the most unrewarded man in the profession.”128 I have shown some of the reasons why this was so, and I have suggested that his Lamarckism was one of a number of factors that served to alienate him from the conservative scientific community in the 1830's and 1840's. I have further shown the need for a fundamental rethinking of Grant's position in the history of (...) biology. There is little profit in seeing him as a precursor of Darwin. His importance lies as a teacher of philosophical anatomy and as the disseminator of Geoffroy's views in London. With the recent interest of historians in the emergence of a non-Paleyite approach to design in the 1830's (that is, an approach stemming from a unity of plan), a reassessment of Grant along these lines seems in order.Also, by understanding Grant's professional and transmutational threat, we can more fully appreciate the anti-Lamarckian ploys of leading scientists like Owen and Lyell. These scientific and social tactics reinforced the isolation Grant suffered as a result of his radical, materialistic, and antimonopolist views. Together with the laissez-faire arrangements at the joint-stock university, they led to his financial collapse — and to the decline of his scientific output that Darwin found so inexplicable. Beddoe described Grant as a disappointed man. “Alas!” wrote Wakley. “Who would be an English Cuvier?”129. (shrink)