The fiction of Australian novelist Alex Miller has long been exploring the dynamics of friendship, but in Landscape of Farewell (2007) he provides the most ambitious, and in my view the most comprehensive and perceptive, treatment of the subject of any contemporary novel, Australian or otherwise. This essay explores this profound view of friendship, which goes quite beyond mateship, and examines the ways in which Miller represents and embodies that vision in fiction. Through its brilliant handling of the complexities of (...) tone and its rich deployment of the dynamics of gift exchange, Landscape of Farewell confronts the stark realities of suffering and death and finds within the darkness itself the deepest sources of light. (shrink)
The author holds that the enduring achievement of the modern mind is the recognition of a sharp distinction between fact and value; this work is a history of that distinction. In separate sections devoted to the history of scientific method and the history of value theory, Hall covers the ground from the medieval period to the present. His conclusion strikes a pessimistic note; modernity, after distinguishing fact and value, has had marvelous success with the former but is in danger (...) of losing the latter altogether. Towards resolution of this difficulty, he suggests, with tantalizing brevity and obscurity, that though value statements may be emotive, we may perhaps regard emotion as a genuinely cognitive state somehow putting us in touch with real features of the world. While he writes with a pleasant down-to-earth directness, Hall never makes clear precisely what this basic cleavage between fact and value amounts to. And his history, though illuminating, is not always well-balanced; Kant as a value theorist, gets less space than either Locke or Machiavelli and only a third as much as Hobbes. Yet the book as a whole is stimulating, lively, and important.--A. C. P. (shrink)
Psychologists and neuroscientists often struggle to integrate findings in their respective domains, a problem due partly to implicitly and explicitly held philosophical positions on issues of reduction and autonomy across these domains. The present article reviews how reduction and autonomy have been used in philosophical arguments regarding how macro-scale findings relate to micro-scale findings across various scientific disciplines. The present article demonstrates how macro findings are indispensable to explanations of phenomena of interest by (a) providing information regarding higher levels of (...) organization in mechanisms, (b) including information not contained within certain micro explanations that (c) provides more general and stable causal explanations relative to micro explanations in certain situations. The purpose of presenting these analyses and recommendations is to disabuse psychologists and neuroscientists of pervasive assumptions that psychology is reducible to biology and that lower level phenomena (molecular) should be prioritized as somehow more explanatory than higher level phenomena (behavioral). The article concludes with 3 hypothetical scenarios from clinical psychology and psychiatry illustrating this critique and providing a pragmatic approach to clarify the relative roles, and importance, of biological and psychological data in service of general and stable explanations that are tailored to the kind of intervention desired. (shrink)
In Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies, Lesley A. Sharp probes the ideological assumptions underlying the transfer of body parts, the social significance of donors' deaths, and the medico-scientific desires surrounding complex forms of ...
In the United States today, the human body defines a lucrative site of reusable parts, ranging from whole organs to minuscule and even microscopic tissues. Although the medical practices that enable the transfer of parts from one body to another most certainly relieve suffering and extend lives, they have also irrevocably altered perceptions of the cultural values assigned to the body. Organ transfer is rich terrain to investigateespecially in the American context, where sophisticated technological interventions have significantly shaped understandings of (...) health and well-being, suffering, and death. In _Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies_, Lesley Sharp probes the ideological assumptions underlying the transfer of body parts, the social significance of donors' deaths, and the medico-scientific desires surrounding complex forms of body repair. Sharp also considers the experimental realm, in which nonhuman species and artificial devices present further opportunities for recovery and for controversy. A compelling scientific investigation and social critique, _Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies_ explores the pervasive, and at times pernicious, practices shaping American biomedicine in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
Reidenbach and Robin (1988, 1990) proposed and refined a multidimensional ethics scale. This study replicates and extends their work by examining the generalizability of the scale beyond marketing to accounting, and to subjects from across the United States and other countries. Results indicate that, in general, the scale holds for this different sample and context. However, an additional utilitarian construct emerged in the current study as important for accounting academics in their ethical decision-making. We also found that when we refined (...) Reidenbach and Robin's measure of intention to make a particular choice, a social desirability bias or halo effect was identified. Methodological implications for business ethics research are also presented. (shrink)
Buddhist philosophy asserts that human suffering is caused by ignorance regarding the true nature of reality. According to this, perceptions and thoughts are largely fabrications of our own minds, based on conditioned tendencies which often involve problematic fears, aversions, compulsions, etc. In Buddhist psychology, these tendencies reside in a portion of mind known as Store consciousness. Here, I suggest a correspondence between this Buddhist Store consciousness and the neuroscientific idea of stored synaptic weights. These weights are strong synaptic connections built (...) in through experience. Buddhist philosophy claims that humans can find relief from suffering through a process in which the Store consciousness is transformed. Here, I argue that this Buddhist 'transformation at the base' corresponds to a loosening of the learned synaptic connections. I will argue that Buddhist meditation practices create conditions in the brain which are optimal for diminishing the strength of our conditioned perceptual and behavioural tendencies. (shrink)
Background: Despite the expansion of ethics consultation services, questions remain about the aims of clinical ethics consultation, its methods and the expertise of those who provide such services.Objective: To describe physicians’ expectations regarding the training and skills necessary for ethics consultants to contribute effectively to the care of patients in intensive care unit .Design: Mailed survey.Participants: Physicians responsible for the care of at least 10 patients in ICU over a 6-month period at a 921-bed private teaching hospital with an established (...) ethics consultation service. 69 of 92 eligible physicians responded.Measurements: Importance of specialised knowledge and skills for ethics consultants contributing to the care of patients in ICU; need for advanced disciplinary training; expectations regarding formal-training programmes for ethics consultants.Results: Expertise in ethics was described most often as important for ethics consultants taking part in the care of patients in ICU, compared with expertise in law , religious traditions , medicine and conflict-mediation techniques . When asked about the formal training consultants should possess, however, physicians involved in the care of patients in ICU most often identified advanced medical training as important.Conclusions: Although many physicians caring for patients in ICU believe ethics consultants must possess non-medical expertise in ethics and law if they are to contribute effectively to patient care, these physicians place a very high value on medical training as well, suggesting a “medicine plus one” view of the training of an ideal ethics consultant. As ethics consultation services expand, clear expectations regarding the training of ethics consultants should be established. (shrink)
Recent work in political philosophy and the history of ideas presents Spinoza and Hegel as the most powerful living alternatives to mainstream Enlightenment thought. Yet, for many philosophers and political theorists today, one must choose between Hegel or Spinoza. As Deleuze's influential interpretation maintains, Hegel exemplifies and promotes the modern "cults of death," while Spinoza embodies an irrepressible "appetite for living." Hegel is the figure of negation, while Spinoza is the thinker of "pure affirmation". Yet, between Hegel and Spinoza there (...) is not only opposition. This collection of essays seeks to find the suppressed kinship between Hegel and Spinoza. Both philosophers offer vigorous and profound alternatives to the methodological individualism of classical liberalism. Likewise, they sketch portraits of reason that are context-responsive and emotionally contoured, offering an especially rich appreciation of our embodied and historical existence. The authors of this collection carefully lay the groundwork for a complex and delicate alliance between these two great iconoclasts, both within and against the Enlightenment tradition. (shrink)
Abstract When we speak about the aim of doing philosophy on the elementary school level with children as transforming classrooms into ?communities of inquiry?, we make certain assumptions about nature and personhood and the relationship between the two. We also make certain assumptions about dialogue, truth and knowledge. Further, we make assumptions regarding the ability of children to form such communities that will engender care for one another as persons with rights, a tolerance for each other's views, feelings, imaginings, creations (...) as well as a care for one another's happiness equal to the concern one has for one's own happiness. Lastly, we make assumptions about children's ability to commit themselves to objectivity, impartiality, consistency and reasonableness. The latter has social, moral and political implications. This paper is an attempt to identify and clarify some of these assumptions. (shrink)
When we speak about the aim of doing philosophy on the elementary school level with children as transforming classrooms into 'communities of inquiry', we make certain assumptions about nature and personhood and the relationship between the two. We also make certain assumptions about dialogue, truth and knowledge. Further, we make assumptions regarding the ability of children to form such communities that will engender care for one another as persons with rights, a tolerance for each other's views, feelings, imaginings, creations as (...) well as a care for one another's happiness equal to the concern one has for one's own happiness. Lastly, we make assumptions about children's ability to commit themselves to objectivity, impartiality, consistency and reasonableness. The latter has social, moral and political implications. This paper is an attempt to identify and clarify some of these assumptions. (shrink)
Philosophers like Duhem and Cartwright have argued that there is a tension between laws' abilities to explain and to represent. Abstract laws exemplify the first quality, phenomenological laws the second. This view has both metaphysical and methodological aspects: the world is too complex to be represented by simple theories; supplementing simple theories to make them represent reality blocks their confirmation. We argue that both aspects are incompatible with recent developments in nonlinear dynamics. Confirmation procedures and modelling strategies in nonlinear dynamics (...) show that there are simple, abstract theories that can be confirmed without encountering the problems pointed to by Cartwright. (shrink)
Despite his importance in philosophical canon, as the editors of the volume under consideration observe, contemporary philosophers without a religious education are not in a great position to examine, for example, Spinoza's analysis of scripture, which comprises a substantial portion of his Theological-Political Treatise. Nevertheless,interest in Spinoza is growing and there is increased willingness to work through questions like "whether the apostles wrote their epistles as apostles and prophets, or as teachers." This is owed in no insignificant part to recent (...) studies in the history of ideas by Jonathan Israel, a contributor to this Critical Guide. Although we would be remiss not to acknowledge that feminist and French philosophers have long approached Spinoza's work synthetically and have sometimes meticulously analyzed his political works, the attentive, philosophical analyses contained in the Critical Guide are a very welcome addition to Spinoza scholarship. (shrink)
Chefs have been recognized as potentially important partners in efforts to promote local food systems. Drawing on the diffusion of innovation framework we (a) examine the characteristics of chefs and restaurants that have adopted local foods; (b) identified local food attributes valued by restaurants; (c) examine how restaurants function as opinion leaders promoting local foods; (d) explored network linkages between culinary and production organizations; and (e) finally, we consider some of the barriers to more widespread adoption of local foods in (...) the culinary community. Analyzing quantitative and qualitative data collected from interviews with individuals from 71 restaurants, we compare and contrast restaurants that utilize relatively large amounts of locally-produced ingredients with restaurants using few, if any, local products. Results reveal that chefs are most interested in intrinsic food qualities, such as taste and freshness, and less interested in production standards. As opinion leaders, chefs utilize signage, wait staff, and cooking classes to promote local foods; however, the diffusion process across restaurants, and between restaurants and producers, is limited by network associations. Structural barriers such as distribution problems and lack of convenience were identified as limiting more widespread use of locally-grown foods. We offer several implications of this research for further work that seeks to engage chefs as opinion leaders who are important to building greater support for local food systems. (shrink)
This essay contends that Spinoza provides a valuable analysis of the ‘‘affective’’damage to a social body caused by fear, anxiety, and ‘‘superstition.’’ Far from being primarily an external threat, this essay argues that terrorism and the promulgationof fear by the current administration in the United States pose a threat to internalsocial cohesion. The capacity to respond in constructive and ameliorative ways tocurrent global conflicts is radically undermined by amplifying corrosive relationshipsof anxiety, suspicion and hatred among citizens. Spinoza presents a portrait (...) of natural and political existence as deeply relational and ‘‘affective’’ such that human freedom and power depend upon the concern for the affective and passionatedispositions of human bodies and minds. In order for democracy, the power of themany, to exist effectively, the social body must be ruled by ‘‘joyful passions’’ rather than ‘‘sad passions,’’ which are destructive and debilitating by nature. (shrink)
This essay examines Elizabeth Grosz's provocative claim that feminist and anti-racist theorists should reject a politics of recognition in favor of "a politics of imperceptibility." She criticizes any humanist politics centered upon a dialectic between self and other. I turn to Spinoza to develop and explore her alternative proposal. I claim that Spinoza offers resources for her promising politics of corporeality, proximity, power, and connection that includes all of nature, which feminists should explore.
This essay seeks to engage the narrative art of the book of Joshua in ways that may prove valuable for contemporary communities of faith. The argument draws on the feminist and postcolonial critical tradition for defining insights about the construction of the subject, the interrogation of power dynamics, and the reformation of community. The essay then explores Joshua’s representations of authority and its use of liminal moments in Israel’s narrative of conquest in order to suggest possible avenues of appropriation by (...) contemporary readers. (shrink)
The writings of Simone Weil support a feminist philosophy of education that locates freedom in self-determined creative work within contexts of necessity. In particular, Weil’s discussion of Force, the Good, Work, Method and Time provide criteria for a feminist philosophy of education, in terms of educational ends and means. Philosophy for Children is relevant to each of these themes, in various ways.
Against the common understanding that the Ethics promotes a "radical anti-emotion program," I claim that Spinoza describes an immanent transformation of love from a form of madness to an expression of wisdom. Love as madness produces the affects that another tradition unites in the seven deadly sins, such as lust, gluttony, envy, greed, and pride. Spinoza, however, never condemns these affects as such. Within each affect one can find its "correct use" (E5p10schol), which enables us to love and to live (...) otherwise. As we come to understand our beloveds as determinate expressions both of nature's power and of our own ability to persevere in being, we find conditions for our liberation within these most burdensome of passions. More specifically, as we diminish our tendency to imagine what we love in terms of its finitude and susceptibility to loss, we are determined to love and to know both others and ourselves by the joyful passions. Ultimately, Spinoza's portrait of love suggests ways of life that generate the satisfaction of our possessive desire with the collective and inclusive love of, certainly, the eternal and immutable thing, but also the eternal and immutable in things, in each other, and above all, in ourselves. In other words, Spinoza's economics of love and possession point up the desire to appropriate our own power in and of community, and in of nature. (shrink)
Recent developments in statistics have enabled much more effective use to be made of examination results both in educational research and in school management. These developments, however, have assumed that the educational potential of pupils can be assessed by some measure external to the teaching context, such as score on a standardised test of verbal reasoning. This paper considers the extent to which examination results can be used in this way without such an external measure. A method is described which (...) involves comparing a pupil's grade in a given subject with what that pupil would expect on the basis of his/her grades in other subjects taken at the same time. Evidence is presented which suggests that, for most subjects, the resulting measure of subject attainment is not affected by the nature of the catchment area. Applications of the method in studying subject‐based patterns at school, regional and national levels are explored and limitations to its use in research and management are outlined. (shrink)
Growing ties to private industry have prompted many to question the impartiality of academic bioethicists who receive financial support from for-profit corporations in exchange for ethics-related services and research. To the extent that corporate sponsors may view bioethics as little more than a way to strengthen public relations or avoid potential controversy, close ties to industry may pose serious threats to professional independence. New sources of support from private industry may also divert bioethicists from pursuing topics of greater social importance, (...) such as the needs of medically underserved communities. To inform ongoing debates about the financing of bioethics and its transparency to those concerned about potential sources of bias, we examined funding disclosures appearing in original research reports in major bioethics journals. Reviewing research published over a 15-year period, we found little evidence that for-profit corporations are influencing bioethics research directly. Instead, we found evidence that a great number of organizations, both public and private, support bioethics research. These findings suggest that worries about the cooption of bioethics research by a few interested stakeholders are greatly overstated and undersupported by available data. (shrink)
Several times each month, usually on a Thursday morning, I join one or more of my physician colleagues on teaching rounds. Most weeks these are traditional rounds, where an attending physician leads a group of medical students, residents, and clinical fellows from bed to bed reviewing charts, examining patients, and planning daily procedures. As a medical ethicist, my role is to discuss some of the ethical issues that are embedded in these decisions about medical care and help students to hone (...) the skills required to manage these issues successfully in the context of ongoing care.Although the clinical setting varies, questions of patient management are always at the center of teaching rounds. Since my training is in philosophy, and not in medicine or nursing, there have been occasions when this focus on patient care has prompted me to reflect upon my role as a medical ethicist in these contexts. Lacking even the most basic medical training, and having been remarkably fortunate in having had limited personal experiences as a patient, what can I possibly contribute to the training of physicians?I suspect that at some time or another most teachers, but perhaps especially those trained in the humanities, have moments when they question the usefulness of their teaching. In my case, by introducing perspectives from the humanities on teaching rounds, my hope is to add some balance to the often narrow focus on the ordering of diagnostic tests, scheduling of procedures, obtaining of patient consent, and other practical matters. I often stress, for example, how the patients with whom students and residents interact are not mere patients, but persons with lives outside the hospital that can be made profoundly better or worse as a result of the brief time they are seen in the hospital. I draw attention to the …. (shrink)
Spinoza's Political Treatise constitutes the very last stage in the development of his thought, as he left the manuscript incomplete at the time of his death in 1677. On several crucial issues - for example, the new conception of the 'free multitude' - the work goes well beyond his Theological Political Treatise, and arguably presents ideas that were not fully developed even in his Ethics. This volume of newly commissioned essays on the Political Treatise is the first collection in English (...) to be dedicated specifically to the work, ranging over topics including political explanation, national religion, the civil state, vengeance, aristocratic government, and political luck. It will be a major resource for scholars who are interested in this important but still neglected work, and in Spinoza's political philosophy more generally. (shrink)
A recent paper by David Levy focuses on “utility enhancing consumption constraints.” Levy concludes by noting that his analysis stays within standard utility maximizing theory, in contrast to my analysis of rule-governed behavior which allows imperfect decisions that don't always maximize utility. I wish to show how our two theories can be integrated, thereby representing complementary, rather than conflicting, explanations. In the process, I argue that imperfect decisions are an essential factor in the stability of any rule that constrains freedom (...) of choice. I also briefly discuss certain intrinsic problems with achieving “self-stabilizing” rules applied to moral teachings. (shrink)
Clarity seems to be a constant feature of apocalyptic. On closer examination, biblical precedent suggests that apocalyptic speaks with a two-edged sword. Both the tyrant to be toppled by the in-breaking of God's reign and the tortured faithful seeking release are called to account before the bar of rigorous loyalty to God.
Recent developments in astrophysical cosmology have revived support for the design argument among a growing clique of astrophysicists. I show that the scientific/mathematical evidence cited in support of intelligent design of the universe is infected with a mathematical sharp practice: the concepts of two numbers being of the same order of magnitude, and of being within an order of each other, have been stretched from their proper meanings so as to doctor the numbers evidentially. This practice started with A. (...) S. Eddington and P. A. M. Dirac in the 1920s and 1930s, but it is still very much alive today. 1 Introduction 2 The birth of a sharp practice 3 High tide for the anthropic principle 4 How not to do things with numbers 5 The recalcitrant sloppiness of crud 6 How excited can excited carbon-12 be? 7 Is a pile of doubts a doubtful pile? 8 Conclusion. (shrink)
The semantics/pragmatics distinction was once considered central to the philosophy of language, but recently the distinction’s viability and importance have been challenged. In opposition to the growing movement away from the distinction, I argue that we really do need it, and that we can draw the distinction sharply if we draw it in terms of the distinction between non-mental and mental phenomena. On my view, semantic facts arise from context-independent meaning, compositional rules, and non-mental elements of context, whereas pragmatic facts (...) are a matter of speakers’ mental states and hearers’ inferences about them. I argue for this treatment of the distinction by comparing it to some other extant treatments (in terms of “what is said,” and in terms of the involvement of context) and then defending it against several challenges. Two of the challenges relate to possible intrusion of mental phenomena into semantics, and the third has to do with possible over-restriction of the domain of pragmatics. (shrink)
This paper focuses on two methodological questions that arise from Plato’s account of collection and division. First, what place does the method of collection and division occupy in Plato’s account of philosophical inquiry? Second, do collection and division in fact constitute a formal “method” (as most scholars assume) or are they simply informal techniques that the philosopher has in her toolkit for accomplishing different philosophical tasks? I argue that Plato sees collection and division as useful tools for achieving two distinct (...) goals – generating real definitions and discovering the basic natural kinds of a given domain of knowledge – both of which occupy a preliminary stage in his account of philosophical inquiry. As to the second question, I claim that the evidence for seeing collection and division as a formal method is weak. Although Plato calls the procedure a technê and a methodos, he makes no real attempt to formalize it in any way. For Plato, collection and division do not constitute an algorithmic process that can be learned from a rule book. Instead the ability to collect and divide properly are skills that good dialecticians must acquire through the kind of hands-on training illustrated by the Sophist and Statesman. Whereas Aristotle insists on formal rules for making proper divisions, Plato seems to emphasize the need to recognize where the natural joints of the world are. In this sense, Plato’s Sophist and Statesman and Aristotle’s Topics and Analytics present two very different pictures of collection and division. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the role of rational belief change theory in the philosophical understanding of experimental error. Today, philosophers seek insight about error in the investigation of specific experiments, rather than in general theories. Nevertheless, rational belief change theory adds to our understanding of just such cases: R. A. Fisher’s criticism of Mendel’s experiments being a case in point. After an historical introduction, the main part of this paper investigates Fisher’s paper from the point of view of rational (...) belief change theory: what changes of belief about Mendel’s experiment does Fisher go through and with what justification. It leads to surprising insights about what Fisher had done right and wrong, and, more generally, about the limits of statistical methods in detecting error. (shrink)
There is an ongoing debate in economics between the design-based approach and the structural approach. The main locus of contention regards how best to pursue the quest for credible causal inference. Each approach emphasizes one element ? sharp study designs versus structural models ? but these elements have well-known limitations. This paper investigates where a researcher might look for credibility when, for the causal question under study, these limitations are binding. It argues that seeking variety of evidence ? understood (...) specifically as using multiple means of determination to robustly estimate the same causal effect ? constitutes such an alternative and that applied economists actually take advantage of it. Evidential variety is especially relevant for a class of macro-level causal questions for which the design-based and the structural approaches appear to have limited reach. The use of evidential variety is illustrated by drawing on the literature on the institutional determinants of the aggregate unemployment rate. (shrink)
The recent nationalist movements in liberal democratic states such as the US, the UK, and Germany have been related to xenophobia. The rise of Trumpism brands Muslims and Mexicans as outsiders, while part of the motivation behind Brexit was animosity towards non-Britons like Poles and Muslims. The question is how are nationalism and xenophobia related. According to Ronald Sundstrom, nationalism shelters xenophobia by creating obstacles that prevent immigrants and refugees from attaining a sense of civic belonging. He uses the (...) metaphor of sheltering to suggest that xenophobia becomes a byproduct of nationalism in the right conditions. I think this is a misunderstanding of the relationship between nationalism and xenophobia. In this essay, I do three things: first, I articulate Sundstrom’s argument explaining how each of the three obstacles works to produce an environment of xenophobia; then I consider what reforms might look like, yet these reforms would no longer leave us with something that we can recognize as nationalism; lastly, I argue that nationalism just is the modern day manifestation of xenophobia and so they are inseparable social phenomena. (shrink)