In this book Ron Amundson examines two hundred years of scientific views on the evolution-development relationship from the perspective of evolutionary developmental biology. This perspective challenges several popular views about the history of evolutionary thought by claiming that many earlier authors had made history come out right for the Evolutionary Synthesis. The book starts with a revised history of nineteenth-century evolutionary thought. It then investigates how development became irrelevant with the Evolutionary Synthesis. It concludes with an examination of the contrasts (...) that persist between mainstream evolutionary theory and evo-devo. This book will appeal to students and professionals in the philosophy and history of science, and biology. (shrink)
Paul Sheehy has argued that the modal realist cannot satisfactorily allow for the necessity of God's existence. In this short paper I show that she can, and that Sheehy only sees a problem because he has failed to appreciate all the resources available to the modal realist. God may be an abstract existent outside spacetime or He may not be: but either way, there is no problem for the modal realist to admit that He exists at every concrete possible world.
Ron Mallon explores how thinking and talking about kinds of person can bring those kinds into being. He considers what normative implications this social constructionism has for our understanding of our practices of representing human kinds, like race, gender, and sexual orientation, and for our own agency.
It is common in various quarters of philosophy to derive philosophically significant conclusions from theories of reference. In this paper, we argue that philosophers should give up on such 'arguments from reference.' Intuitions play a central role in establishing theories of reference, and recent cross-cultural work suggests that intuitions about reference vary across cultures and between individuals within a culture (Machery et al. 2004). We argue that accommodating this variation within a theory of reference undermines arguments from reference.
This paper provides a critical overview of recent work on epistemic blame. The paper identifies key features of the concept of epistemic blame and discusses two ways of motivating the importance of this concept. Four different approaches to the nature of epistemic blame are examined. Central issues surrounding the ethics and value of epistemic blame are identified and briefly explored. In addition to providing an overview of the state of the art of this growing but controversial field, the paper highlights (...) areas where future work is needed. (shrink)
Williams, Ron As I consider the list of previous AHOY recipients since the inaugural award in 1983, I can only say that this is an immeasurable honour. It means much to me because, for almost ten years now, Humanism has been there for my family. In 2005-2006, when separation of church and state school issues first crept into our lives, the Humanist Society of Queensland was to appear as the only beacon of secularist activism upon the deep northern horizon. So (...) in 2006 Andrea and I joined the HSQ. (shrink)
Is there a distinctively epistemic kind of blame? It has become commonplace for epistemologists to talk about epistemic blame, and to rely on this notion for theoretical purposes. But not everyone is convinced. Some of the most compelling reasons for skepticism about epistemic blame focus on disanologies, or asymmetries, between the moral and epistemic domains. In this paper, I defend the idea that there is a distinctively epistemic kind of blame. I do so primarily by developing an account of the (...) nature of epistemic blame. My account draws on a prominent line of theorizing in moral philosophy that ties blame to our relationships with one another. I argue that with my account of epistemic blame on hand, the most compelling worries about epistemic blame can be deflated. There is a distinctively epistemic kind of blame. (shrink)
One challenge in developing an account of the nature of epistemic blame is to explain what differentiates epistemic blame from mere negative epistemic evaluation. The challenge is to explain the difference, without invoking practices or behaviors that seem out of place in the epistemic domain. In this paper, I examine whether the most sophisticated recent account of the nature of epistemic blame—due to Jessica Brown—is up for the challenge. I argue that the account ultimately falls short, but does so in (...) an instructive way. Drawing on the lessons learned, I put forward an alternative approach to the nature of epistemic blame. My account understands epistemic blame in terms of modifications to the intentions and expectations that comprise our “epistemic relationships” with one another. This approach has a number of attractions shared by Brown’s account, but it can also explain the significance of epistemic blame. (shrink)
While the notion of the mind as information-processor--a kind of computational system--is widely accepted, many scientists and philosophers have assumed that this account of cognition shows that the mind's operations are characterizable independent of their relationship to the external world. Existential Cognition challenges the internalist view of mind, arguing that intelligence, thought, and action cannot be understood in isolation, but only in interaction with the outside world. Arguing that the mind is essentially embedded in the external world, Ron McClamrock provides (...) a schema that allows cognitive scientists to address such long-standing problems in artificial intelligence as the "frame" problem and the issue of "bounded" rationality. Extending this schema to cover progress in other studies of behavior, including language, vision, and action, McClamrock reinterprets the importance of the organism/environment distinction. McClamrock also considers the broader philosophical question of the place of mind in the world, particularly with regard to questions of intentionality, subjectivity, and phenomenology. With implications for philosophy, cognitive and computer science, AI, and psychology, this book synthesizes state-of-the-art work in philosophy and cognitive science on how the mind interacts with the world to produce thoughts, ideas, and actions. (shrink)
De dicto moral motivation is typically characterized by the agent’s conceiving of her goal in thin normative terms such as to do what is right. I argue that lacking an effective de dicto moral motivation would put the agent in a bad position for responding in the morally-best manner in a certain type of situations. Two central features of the relevant type of situations are the appropriateness of the agent’s uncertainty concerning her underived moral values, and the practical, moral importance (...) of resolving this uncertainty. I argue that in some situations that are marked by these two features the most virtuous response is deciding to conduct a deep moral inquiry for a de dicto moral purpose. In such situations lacking an effective de dicto moral motivation would amount to a moral shortcoming. I show the implications for Michael Smith’s argument against Motivational Judgment Externalism and for Brian Weatherson’s argument against avoiding moral recklessness: both arguments rely on a depreciating view of de dicto moral motivation, and both fail; or so I argue. (shrink)
A plausible condition on having the standing to blame someone is that the target of blame's wrongdoing must in some sense be your “business”—the wrong must in some sense harm or affect you, or others close to you. This is known as the business condition on standing to blame. Many cases of epistemic blame discussed in the literature do not obviously involve examples of someone harming or affecting another. As such, not enough has been said about how an individual's epistemic (...) failing can really count as another person's business. In this paper, I deploy a relationship-based account of epistemic blame to clarify the conditions under which the business condition can be met in the epistemic domain. The basic idea is that one person's epistemic failing can be another's business in virtue of the way it impairs their epistemic relationship. (shrink)
The paper critically examines recent work on justifications and excuses in epistemology. I start with a discussion of Gerken’s claim that the “excuse maneuver” is ad hoc. Recent work from Timothy Williamson and Clayton Littlejohn provides resources to advance the debate. Focusing in particular on a key insight in Williamson’s view, I then consider an additional worry for the so-called excuse maneuver. I call it the “excuses are not enough” objection. Dealing with this objection generates pressure in two directions: one (...) is to show that excuses are a positive enough normative standing to help certain externalists with important cases; the other is to do so in a way that does not lead back to Gerken’s objection. I show how a Williamson-inspired framework is flexible enough to deal with both sources of pressure. Perhaps surprisingly, I draw on recent virtue epistemology. (shrink)
This exploratory study examines how managers and professionals regard the ethical and social responsibility reputations of 60 well-known Australian and International companies, and how this in turn influences their attitudes and behaviour towards these organisations. More than 350 MBA, other postgraduate business students, and participants in Australian Institute of Management (Western Australia) management education programmes were surveyed to evaluate how ethical and socially responsible they believed the 60 organisations to be. The survey sought to determine what these participants considered ‘ethical’ (...) and ‘socially responsible’ behaviour in organisations to be. The survey also examined how the participants’ beliefs influenced their attitudes and intended behaviours towards these organisations. The results of this survey indicate that many managers and professionals have clear views about the ethical and social responsibility reputations of companies. This affects their attitudes towards these organisations which in turn has an impact on their intended behaviour towards them. These findings support the view in other research studies that well-educated managers and professionals are, to some extent, taking into account the ethical and social responsibility reputations of companies when deciding whether to work for them, use their services or buy shares in their companies. (shrink)
Philosophers of evolutionary biology favor the so-called etiological concept of function according to which the function of a trait is its evolutionary purpose, defined as the effect for which that trait was favored by natural selection. We term this the selected effect (SE) analysis of function. An alternative account of function was introduced by Robert Cummins in a non-evolutionary and non-purposive context. Cummins''s account has received attention but little support from philosophers of biology. This paper will show that a similar (...) non-purposive concept of function, which we term causal role (CR) function, is crucial to certain research programs in evolutionary biology, and that philosophical criticisms of Cummins''s concept are ineffective in this scientific context. Specifically, we demonstrate that CR functions are a vital and ineliminable part of research in comparative and functional anatomy, and that biological categories used by anatomists are not defined by the application of SE functional analysis. Causal role functions are non-historically defined, but may themselves be used in an historical analysis. Furthermore, we show that a philosophical insistence on the primary of SE functions places practicing biologists in an untenable position, as such functions can rarely be demonstrated (in contrast to CR functions). Biologists who study the form and function of organismal design recognize that it is virtually impossible to identify the past action of selection on any particular structure retrospectively, a requirement for recognizing SE functions. (shrink)
Distinguishing between excuses and exemptions advances our understanding of a standard range of problem cases in debates about epistemic norms. But it leaves open a problem of accounting for blameless norm violation in ‘prospective agents’. By shifting focus in our theory of excuses from rational excellence to norms governing the dispositions of agents, we can account for a fuller range of normative phenomena at play in debates about epistemic norms.
In recent years, there has been a flurry of work on the metaphysics of race. While it is now widely accepted that races do not share robust, bio-behavioral essences, opinions differ over what, if anything, race is. Recent work has been divided between three apparently quite different answers. A variety of theorists argue for racial skepticism, the view that races do not exist at all.[iv] A second group defends racial constructionism, holding that races are in some way socially constructed.[v],[vi] And (...) a third group maintains racial population naturalism, the view that races may exist as biologically salient populations albeit ones that do not have the biologically determined social significance once imputed to them.[vii] The three groups thus seem to disagree fundamentally upon the metaphysical character of race. (shrink)
Evaluating counterfactuals in worlds with deterministic laws poses a puzzle. In a wide array of cases, it does not seem plausible that if a non-actual event were to occur that either the past would be different or that the laws would be different. But it’s also difficult to see how we can avoid this result. Some philosophers have argued that we can avoid this dilemma by allowing that a proposition can be a law even though it has violations. On this (...) view, for the relevant cases, the past and the laws would still hold, but the laws would have a violation. In this paper, I raise a problem for the claim that the laws and the past are preserved for all of the relevant counterfactual antecedents. I further argue that this problem undermines motivating the possibility of violations on the grounds that they allow us to hold that the past and the laws are typically counterfactually preserved, even if they are not always preserved. (shrink)
The so-called "adaptationism" of mainstream evolutionary biology has been criticized from a variety of sources. One, which has received relatively little philosophical attention, is developmental biology. Developmental constraints are said to be neglected by adaptationists. This paper explores the divergent methodological and explanatory interests that separate mainstream evolutionary biology from its embryological and developmental critics. It will focus on the concept of constraint itself; even this central concept is understood differently by the two sides of the dispute.
What can be learned from a small scale study of managerial work in a highly marginal and under-researched working community? This article uses the ‘goods–virtues–practices–institutions’ framework to examine the managerial work of owner–directors of traditional circuses. Inspired by MacIntyre’s arguments for the necessity of a narrative understanding of the virtues, interviews explored how British and Irish circus directors accounted for their working lives. A purposive sample was used to select subjects who had owned and managed traditional touring circuses for at (...) least 15 years, a period in which the economic and reputational fortunes of traditional circuses have suffered badly. This sample enabled the research to examine the self-understanding of people who had, at least on the face of it, exhibited the virtue of constancy. The research contributes to our understanding of the role of the virtues in organizations by presenting evidence of an intimate relationship between the virtue of constancy and a ‘calling’ work orientation. This enhances our understanding of the virtues that are required if management is exercised as a domain-related practice. (shrink)
How should deontological theories that prohibit actions of type K — such as intentionally killing an innocent person — deal with cases of uncertainty as to whether a particular action is of type K? Frank Jackson and Michael Smith, who raise this problem in their paper "Absolutist Moral Theories and Uncertainty" (2006), focus on a case where a skier is about to cause the death of ten innocent people — we don’t know for sure whether on purpose or not — (...) by causing an avalanche; and we can only save the people by shooting the skier. One possible deontological attitude towards such uncertainty is what Jackson and Smith call the threshold view, according to which whether or not the deontological constraint applies depends on our degree of (justified) certainty meets a given threshold. Jackson and Smith argue against the threshold view that it leads to implausible paradoxical moral dilemmas in a special kind of case. In this response, we show that the threshold view can avoid these implausible moral dilemmas, as long as the relevant deontological constraint is grounded in individualistic patient-based considerations, such as what an individual person is entitled to object to. (shrink)
In De Anima 2.4, Aristotle claims that nutritive soul encompasses two distinct biological functions: nutrition and reproduction. We challenge a pervasive interpretation which posits ‘nutrients’ as the correlative object of the nutritive capacity. Instead, the shared object of nutrition and reproduction is that which is nourished and reproduced: the ensouled body, qua ensouled. Both functions aim at preserving this object, and thus at preserving the form, life, and being of the individual organism. In each case, we show how Aristotle’s detailed (...) biological analysis supports this ontological argument. (shrink)
Recent work by Joshua Knobe has established that people are far more likely to describe bad but foreseen side effects as intentionally performed than good but foreseen side effects (this is sometimes called the 'Knobe effect' or the 'side-effect effect.' Edouard Machery has proposed a novel explanation for this asymmetry: it results from construing the bad side effect as a cost that must be incurred to receive a benefit. In this paper, I argue that Machery's 'trade-off hypothesis' is wrong. I (...) do this by reproducing the asymmetry between judgments about good and bad side effects in cases that cannot plausibly be construed as trade-offs. (shrink)
According to Ross Cameron's version of the moving spotlight theory of time, (1) Past and future entities exist; (2) the properties and relations they have are those they have now; but nevertheless (3) there are no fundamental past- or future-tensed facts; instead, tensed facts are made true by fundamental facts about the possession of temporal distributional properties and facts about how old things are. I argue that the account isn't sufficiently distinct from the B-theory to fit the usual A-theorist's (...) tastes and arguments, since i) like the traditional spotlight it consists of a B-theoretic metaphysics with one small A-theoretic element tacked on, and since ii) in a sense it does not admit fundamental change. I also argue that the proposed grounding of tensed facts in tenseless facts does not work in certain cases. (shrink)
This exploratory study examines how managers and professionals regard the ethical and social responsibility reputations of 60 well-known Australian and International companies, and how this in turn influences their attitudes and behaviour towards these organisations. More than 350 MBA, other postgraduate business students, and participants in Australian Institute of Management management education programmes were surveyed to evaluate how ethical and socially responsible they believed the 60 organisations to be. The survey sought to determine what these participants considered 'ethical' and 'socially (...) responsible' behaviour in organisations to be. The survey also examined how the participants' beliefs influenced their attitudes and intended behaviours towards these organisations. The results of this survey indicate that many managers and professionals have clear views about the ethical and social responsibility reputations of companies. This affects their attitudes towards these organisations which in turn has an impact on their intended behaviour towards them. These findings support the view in other research studies that well-educated managers and professionals are, to some extent, taking into account the ethical and social responsibility reputations of companies when deciding whether to work for them, use their services or buy shares in their companies. (shrink)
Social constructionism about race is a common view, but there remain questions about what exactly constitutes constructed race. Some hold that our concepts and conceptual practices construct race, and some hold that the causal consequences of these concepts and conceptual practices also play a role. But there is a third option, which is that the causal effects of our concepts and conceptual practices constitute race, but not the concepts and conceptual practices themselves. This paper reconsiders an argument for the reality (...) of race that grows out of the role of racial kinds in social scientific generalizations. It then uses recent work on the correlation of racial attitudes with behaviors to raise questions about the sufficiency, and perhaps also the necessity, of our concepts and conceptual practices in constituting constructed race, thus understood. (shrink)
Among race theorists, the view that race is a social construction is widespread. While the term ‘ social construction’ is sometimes intended to mean merely that race does not constitute a robust, biological natural kind, it often labels the stronger position that race is real, but not a biological kind. For example, Charles Mills writes that, ‘‘the task of those working on race is to put race in quotes, ‘race’, while still insisting that nevertheless, it exists ’’. It is to (...) ‘‘make a plausible social ontology neither essentialist, innate, nor transhistorical, but real enough for all that’’. Racial constructionism, thus conceived, is a metaphysical position that contrasts both with the view that race is an important biological kind and with the more recent claim that race does not exist. The desire for a constructionist metaphysics of race emerges against the background of a cluster of normative disputes, including. (shrink)
This book provides new perspectives on endurance sport and how it contributes to a good and sustainable life in times of climate change, ecological disruption and inconvenient truths. It builds on a continental philosophical tradition, i.e. the philosophy of among others Peter Sloterdijk, but also on “ecosophy” and American pragmatism to explore the idea of sport as a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles. Since ancient times, human beings have been involved in practices of the Self in order to work (...) on themselves and improve themselves, for instance by strengthening their physical condition and performance through sport. In the contemporary world, millions of individuals engage in endurance sports such as running, swimming and cycling, to get or keep themselves in shape. This study focuses on the ethical dimension of long-distance sport, notably cycling, as a way to become better citizens, but also to contribute to a more sustainable society and healthier planet. Dominant world-views are challenged and an alternative vision is presented. Discourse analysis and conceptual analysis are combined with phenomenology and self-observations of a dedicated practitioner of endurance sport. This book is a great source for philosophers, sport philosophers, environmental philosophers, sport scientists, policy makers, sport journalists, and endurance sport practitioners. (shrink)
There is a distinction between merely having the right belief, and further basing that belief on the right reasons. Any adequate epistemology needs to be able to accommodate the basing relation that marks this distinction. However, trouble arises for Bayesianism. I argue that when we combine Bayesianism with the standard approaches to the basing relation, we get the result that no agent forms their credences in the right way; indeed, no agent even gets close. This is a serious problem, for (...) it prevents us from making epistemic distinctions between agents that are doing a reasonably good job at forming their credences and those that are forming them in clearly bad ways. I argue that if this result holds, then we have a problem for Bayesianism. However, I show how the Bayesian can avoid this problem by rejecting the standard approaches to the basing relation. By drawing on recent work on the basing relation, we can develop an account of the relation that allows us to avoid the result that no agent comes close to forming their credences in the right way. The Bayesian can successfully accommodate the basing relation. (shrink)
Epistemological Disjunctivism is a view about paradigm cases of perceptual knowledge. Duncan Pritchard claims that it is particularly well suited to accounting for internalist and externalist intuitions. A number of authors have disputed this claim, arguing that there are problems for Pritchard’s way with internalist intuitions. I share the worry. However, I don’t think it has been expressed as effectively as it can be. My aim in this paper is to present a new way of formulating the worry, in terms (...) of an “explanatory challenge”. The explanatory challenge is a simple, yet powerful and illuminating challenge for Epistemological Disjunctivism. It is illuminating in the sense that it shows us why Epistemological Disjunctivism must take on certain internalistically problematic commitments. A secondary aim of this paper is to examine whether the recently much-discussed distinction between justifications and excuses in epistemology can support an adequate response. I will argue that it cannot. (shrink)
The main objection to pragmatism about knowledge is that it entails that truth-irrelevant factors can make a difference to knowledge. Blake Roeber (2018) has recently argued that this objection fails. I agree with Roeber. But in this paper, I present another way of thinking about the dispute between purists and pragmatists about knowledge. I do so by formulating a new objection to pragmatism about knowledge. This is that pragmatism about knowledge entails that factors irrelevant to both truth and “cognitive agency” (...) can make a difference to knowledge. An interesting additional upshot of my argument is the connection revealed between the debate between pragmatists and purists about knowledge, and the debate between “alethists” and pragmatists about reasons for belief. (shrink)
Corporate management is torn between either focusing solely on the interests of stockholders or taking into account the interests of a wide spectrum of stakeholders. Of course, there need be no conflict where taking the wider view is also consistent with maximising stockholder wealth. In this paper, we examine the extent to which a conflict actually exists by examining the relationship between a company's positive and negative corporate social responsibility activities and equity performance. In general, we find little evidence to (...) suggest that managers taking a wider stakeholder perspective will jeopardise the interest of its stockholders. However, our findings do suggest that the market is not only influenced by the independent CSR activities, but also the totality of these activities and that the facets that they value do vary over time. It seems that most recently, the market has valued most firms that satisfied minimum requirements in the areas of diversity and environmental protection but were most proactive in the area of employee-relations. (shrink)
In a series of papers Geoff Moore has applied Alasdair MacIntyre’s much cited work to generate a virtue-based business ethics. Central to this pro ject is Moore’s argument that business falls under MacIntyre’s concept of ‘practice’. This move attempts to overcome MacIntyre’s reputation for being ‘anti-business’ while maintaining his framework for evaluating social action and replaces MacIntyre’s hostility to management with a conception of managers as institutional practitioners . I argue however that this move has not been justified. Given the (...) importance MacIntyre places on the protection of practices, the result is that much of Moore’s contribution is misplaced. Business cannot name a practice but business institutions certainly do house practices. The task then is to try to understand the circumstances under which practices might flourish and those under which they might founder in a business context. This is not aided by Moore’s redescription of all businesses as practices. (shrink)
We offer an overview of what we take to be the main themes in Annalisa Coliva’s book, Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty and Common Sense. In particular, we focus on the ‘framework reading’ that she offers of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty and its anti-sceptical implications. While broadly agreeing with the proposal that Coliva puts forward on this score, we do suggest one important supplementation to the view—viz., that this way of dealing with radical scepticism needs to be augmented with an account (...) of the meta-sceptical problem which this proposal generates, which we call epistemic vertigo. (shrink)
One influential view is that at least some putatively natural human kinds are actually social constructions, understood as some real kind of thing that is produced or sustained by our social and conceptual practices. Category constructionists share two commitments: they hold that human category terms like “race” and “sex” and “homosexuality” and “perversion” actually refer to constructed categories, and they hold that these categories are widely but mistakenly taken to be natural kinds. But it is far from clear that these (...) two commitments are consistent. The sort of mismatch between belief and underlying nature constructionists’ suppose is often taken to indicate a failure of reference. Reliance on a causal-historical account of reference allows the preservation of reference, but unfortunately, constructionists' appropriation of causal historical accounts of reference is beset by difficulties that do not attend natural kind theorists’ appeals to such accounts. Here, I set out these difficulties, but argue that they can be answered, allowing terms for apparently natural human kinds refer to some sort of social construction about which there is massive error. (shrink)
This article revolves around the debate surrounding the lack of a coherent definition for corporate social responsibility (CSR). I make use of Jacques Derrida’s theorizing on contested meaning to argue that CSR’s ambiguity is actually necessary in light of its functional role as a “supplement” to corporate profit-seeking. As a discourse that refuses to conclusively resolve the tension between profit-seeking and prosociality, CSR expresses an important critical perspective which demands that firms act responsibly, while retaining the overall corporate frame of (...) shareholder supremacy. CSR does this by ambivalently affirming both profit-seeking and prosociality, a necessary contradiction. Attempts to reduce CSR’s ambiguity can thus only succeed by undermining its viability as a normative discourse that captures how certain elements of society understand how firms should act. The analysis suggests that greater scholarly attention is needed with regard to the material discursive environments within which discourses such as CSR are deployed. A discursive approach to research could thus benefit future practitioners, who have to act according to fluid standards of responsibility that cannot be authoritatively defined, but which can be better understood than they are at present. (shrink)
Recent work shows an important asymmetry in lay intuitions about moral dilemmas. Most people think it is permissible to divert a train so that it will kill one innocent person instead of five, but most people think that it is not permissible to push a stranger in front of a train to save five innocents. We argue that recent emotion-based explanations of this asymmetry have neglected the contribution that rules make to reasoning about moral dilemmas. In two experiments, we find (...) that participants show a parallel asymmetry about versions of the dilemmas that have minimized emotional force. In a third experiment, we find that people distinguish between whether an action violates a moral rule and whether it is, all things considered, wrong. We propose that judgments of whether an action is wrong, all things considered, implicates a complex set of psychological processes, including representations of rules, emotional responses, and assessments of costs and benefits. (shrink)