During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Rabbi Joseph Karo composed two major Jewish codes of law: the Beit Yosef, and its abridged version, Sulchan ‘Aruch. Though several centuries of legal discussion and scholarship have passed since their publication, these double codes of law were never superseded. This codification project defined the axial place of law in Jewish tradition. I argue that it responded to changes in legal processes and the enforcement of law that simultaneously transformed early modern Europe (...) and the Ottoman world. Transcontinentally connected changes in political institutions—the formation of a centralized Islamic empire in the Ottoman case, and the formation of centralized states in Europe—dramatically redefined the role of law and legal codification in the forging of state power and community identities. The resultant belief among Sephardi rabbis, including Karo, that changes in Jewish legal tradition were now needed, prompted a redefinition of Jewish legal culture, whereby law began to be seen as the foundation of Jewish religious heritage and ethnic identity. Despite the absence of state backing, early modern transformations in Jewish law were thus part of comparable changes taking place in the European and Islamic legal worlds. (shrink)
In this thought-provoking study, Jack Russell Weinstein suggests the foundations of liberalism can be found in the writings of Adam Smith, a pioneer of modern economic theory and a major figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. While offering an interpretive methodology for approaching Smith’s two major works, _The Theory of Moral Sentiments _and _The Wealth of Nations_, Weinstein argues against the libertarian interpretation of Smith, emphasizing his philosophies of education and rationality. Weinstein also demonstrates that Smith should be (...) recognized for a prescient theory of pluralism that prefigures current theories of cultural diversity. (shrink)
The 'Art of Life' is John Stuart Mill's name for his account of practical reason. In this volume, eleven leading scholars elucidate this fundamental, but widely neglected, element of Mill's thought. Mill divides the Art of Life into three 'departments': 'Morality, Prudence or Policy, and Æsthetics'. In the volume's first section, Rex Martin, David Weinstein, Ben Eggleston, and Dale E. Miller investigate the relation between the departments of morality and prudence. Their papers ask whether Mill is a rule utilitarian (...) and, if so, whether his practical philosophy must be incoherent. The second section contains papers by Jonathan Riley and Wendy Donner, who explore the relation between the departments of morality and aesthetics. They discuss issues ranging from supererogation to aesthetic pleasure and humanity's relationship with nature. -/- The papers in the third section consider the Art of Life's axiological first principle, the principle of utility. Elijah Millgram contends that Mill's own life refutes his claim that the Art of Life has a single axiological first principle. Philip Kitcher maintains that Mill has a dynamic axiology requiring us to continually refine our conception of the good. In the final section, three papers address what it means to put the Art of Life into practice. Robert Haraldsson locates an 'Art of Ethics' in On Liberty that is in tension with the Art of Life. Nadia Urbinati plumbs the classical roots of Mill's view of the good life. Finally, Colin Heydt develops Mill's suggestion that we regard our own lives as works of art. (shrink)
Mexican thinkers in recent generations have sought a philosophy emphasizing the ends of human activity as contrasted with one stressing means or techniques. According to Professor Weinstein's interpretation, an integrated perspective toward all aspects of the human condition characterizes Mexican philosophy and social thought, incorporating close attention to the aesthetic dimension of human experience and the tensions of human existence. The distinctive Mexican world-view provides a needed supplement to the analytical approach of North American philosophy and Marxist determinism.
"This is an absolutely great book, a worthy sequel to "Guesstimation." The breadth of scope of the problems is truly impressive. Weinstein's arguments are always convincing and, in many cases, very clever.
In this ambitious work, Fred Weinstein confronts the obstacles that have increasingly frustrated our attempts to explain social and historical reality. Traditionally, we have relied on history and social theory to describe the ways people understand the world they live in. But the ordering explanations we have always used--derived from the classical social theories originally forged by Marx, Tocqueville, Weber, Durkheim, Freud--have collapsed. In the wake of this collapse or "fall," the rival claims of fiction, psychoanalysis, sociology, anthropology, and (...) history have created the dilemma of radical relativism, the prospect of multiple interpretations of any complex historical event. The basic strategy of social theory and the social sciences--the search for underlying unities--proves so inherently contradictory and has provided so little in the way of reliable knowledge of social and historical relationships that to many critics it seems no longer worth pursuing. Weinstein enters the debate by rejecting any search for underlying structural unities, dynamic or social, through which historians have attempted to find continuity with the past. He looks instead to ideological processes, to the construction of successive and changing versions of reality that mediate between the power of fantasy on the one side and the power of the social world on the other. He argues further that the need to use ideological constructs in this way accounts for the heterogeneous and changing content of social movements and for the persistent need people have always had for authoritative leaders, even in democratized societies. He suggests that people have historically been able to take a step away from leaders only by substituting the possession of objects such as property or money. This book is a breakthrough in poststructuralist theory that is sure to stimulate considerable discussion, especially about the shape of the social sciences and the future of historical interpretation. (shrink)
Hans Baron, Karl Popper, Leo Strauss and Erich Auerbach were among the many German-speaking Jewish intellectuals who fled Continental Europe with the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. Their scholarship, though not normally considered together, is studied here to demonstrate how, despite their different disciplines and distinctive modes of working, they responded polemically in the guise of traditional scholarship to their shared trauma. For each, the political calamity of European fascism was a profound intellectual crisis, requiring an intellectual response which (...)Weinstein and Zakai now contextualize, ideologically and politically. They exemplify just how extensively, and sometimes how subtly, 1930s and 1940s scholarship was used not only to explain, but to fight the political evils that had infected modernity, victimizing so many. An original perspective on a popular area of research, this book draws upon a mass of secondary literature to provide an innovative and valuable contribution to twentieth-century intellectual history. (shrink)
Plato's 'Republic' constructs an ideal city composed of three parts, parallel to the soul's reason, appetites, and fighting spirit. But confusion and controversy have long surrounded this three-way division and especially the prominent role it assigns to angry and competitive spirit. In Plato's Three-fold City and Soul, Joshua I. Weinstein argues that, for Plato, determination and fortitude are not just expressions of our passionate or emotional natures, but also play an essential role in the rational agency of persons and (...) polities. In the Republic's account, human life requires spirited courage as much as reasoned thought and nutritious food. The discussion ranges over Plato's explication of the logical and metaphysical foundations of justice and injustice, the failures of incomplete and dysfunctional cities, and the productive synergy of our tendencies and capacities that becomes fully evident only in the justice of a self-sufficient political community. (shrink)
In this study, David Weinstein argues that nineteenth-century English New Liberalism was considerably more indebted to classical English utilitarianism than the received view holds. T. H. Green, L. T. Hobhouse, D. G. Ritchie and J. A. Hobson were liberal consequentialists who followed J. S. Mill in trying to accommodate robust, liberal moral rights with the normative goal of promoting self-realisation. Through careful interpretation of each, Weinstein shows how these theorists brought together themes from idealism, perfectionism and especially utilitarianism (...) to create the new liberalism. Like Mill, they were committed to liberalising consequentialism and systematising liberalism. Because they were no less consequentialists than they were liberals, they constitute a greatly undervalued resource, Mill notwithstanding, for contemporary moral philosophers who remain dedicated to defending a coherent form of liberal consequentialism. The New Liberals had already travelled much of the philosophical ground that contemporary liberal consequentialists are unknowingly retravelling. (shrink)
Given the widening gap between the number of individuals on transplant waiting lists and the availability of donated organs, as well as the recent plateau in donations based on neurological criteria, there has been a growing interest in expanding donation after circulatory determination of death. While the prevalence of this form of organ donation continues to increase, many thorny ethical issues remain, often creating moral distress in both clinicians and families. In this article, we address one of these issues, namely, (...) the challenges surrounding patient and surrogate informed consent for donation after circulatory determination of death. First we discuss several general concerns regarding consent related to this form of organ donation, and then we address additional issues that are unique to three different patient categories: adult patients with medical decision-making capacity or potential capacity, adult patients who lack capacity, and pediatric patients. (shrink)
Unrealistic optimism is a bias that leads people to believe, with respect to a specific event or hazard, that they are more likely to experience positive outcomes and/or less likely to experience negative outcomes than similar others. The phenomenon has been seen in a range of health-related contexts—including when prospective participants are presented with the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial. In order to test for the prevalence of unrealistic optimism among participants of early-phase oncology trials, we (...) conducted a survey with patients over 18 years of age who were enrolled in a phase I, phase I/II, or phase II clinical cancer trial in the New York City area between August 2008 and October 2009. Participants in our study were asked to compare their own chances of experiencing a range of risks and benefits related to the trial they were enrolled in with the chances of the other trial participants. We found a significant optimistic bias in their responses. Respondents tended to overestimate the benefits of the trial they were enrolled in and underestimate its risks. In addition, we found no significant relationship between respondents’ understanding of the trial’s purpose and how susceptible they were to unrealistic optimism. Our findings suggest that improving the consent process for oncology studies requires more than addressing deficits in understanding. (shrink)
We argue that computation via quantum mechanical processes is irrelevant to explaining how brains produce thought, contrary to the ongoing speculations of many theorists. First, quantum effects do not have the temporal properties required for neural information processing. Second, there are substantial physical obstacles to any organic instantiation of quantum computation. Third, there is no psychological evidence that such mental phenomena as consciousness and mathematical thinking require explanation via quantum theory. We conclude that understanding brain function is unlikely to require (...) quantum computation or similar mechanisms. (shrink)
Special relativity is said to prohibit faster-than-light (superluminal) signaling, yet controversy regularly arises as to whether this or that physical phenomenon violates the prohibition. I argue that the controversy is a result of a lack of clarity as to what it means to ‘signal’, and I propose a criterion. I show that according to this criterion, superluminal signaling is not prohibited by special relativity.
Bell’s theorem is purported to demonstrate the impossibility of a local “hidden variable” theory underpinning quantum mechanics. It relies on the well-known assumption of ‘locality’, and also on a little-examined assumption called ‘statistical independence’ (SI). Violations of this assumption have variously been thought to suggest “backward causation”, a “conspiracy” on the part of nature, or the denial of “free will”. It will be shown here that these are spurious worries, and that denial of SI simply implies nonlocal correlation between spacelike (...) degrees of freedom. Lorentz-invariant theories in which SI does not hold are easily constructed: two are exhibited here. It is conjectured, on this basis, that quantum-mechanical phenomena may be modeled by a local theory after all. (shrink)
In 1949, Kurt Gödel found a solution to the field equations of general relativity that described a spacetime with some unusual properties. This “Gödel universe” permitted “closed timelike curves,” hence a kind of time travel, and it did not admit of decomposition into successive moments of time. In the same year, he published “A Remark about the Relationship between Relativity Theory and Idealistic Philosophy”, in which he used certain properties of this solution to argue for a kind of temporal idealism, (...) whereby “change [is] an illusion or an appearance due to our special mode of perception”. The paper is short and to the point, but the argument has usually been regarded as fatally flawed. In his Gödel Meets Einstein: Time Travel in the Gödel Universe, Palle Yourgrau makes a case for Gödel. (shrink)
Gauge theories are theories that are invariant under a characteristic group of "gauge" transformations. General relativity is invariant under transformations of the diffeomorphism group. This has prompted many philosophers and physicists to treat general relativity as a gauge theory, and diffeomorphisms as gauge transformations. I argue that this approach is misguided.
Three contrasting approaches to the epistemology of argument are presented. Each one is naturalistic, drawing upon successful practices as the basis for epistemological virtue. But each looks at very different sorts of practices and they differ greatly as to the manner with which relevant practices may be described. My own contribution relies on a metamathematical reconstruction of mature science, and as such, is a radical break with the usual approaches within the theory of argument.
Can we legitimately speak of ethicsexperts? Recent literature in philosophy and medical ethics addresses this important question but does not offer a satisfactory answer. Part of the problem is the absence of an examination of what it means to be an expert in general. I therefore begin by reviewing my analysis of expertise which appeared earlier in this journal. We speak of two kinds of experts: persons whose expertise is in virtue of what theyknow (epistemic expertise), or what theydo (performative (...) expertise). Applying this analysis to the domain of ethics, I argue that we may speak of ethical expertise in three epistemic senses: a) expertise indescriptive ethics, b) expertise inmetaethics, c) expertise innormative ethics, and in a performative sense: d) expertise inliving a good life. I conclude with a brief description of some social roles of ethics experts. (shrink)
The periodic table may be seen as the most successful example of inquiry in the history of science, both in terms of practical application and theoretic understanding. As such, it serves as a model for truth as it emerges from inquiry. This paper offers a sketch of a central moment in the history of chemistry that illustrates an intuitive metamathematical construction, a model of emerging truth. The MET, reflecting the structure the surrounds the periodic table, attempts to capture the salient (...) epistemological elements that warrant truth claims based on sets of models that are progressive in light of both empirical and theoretical advance seen over time. (shrink)
Whether the US Constitution guarantees a right to conduct scientific research is a question that has never been squarely addressed by the United States Supreme Court. Similarly, the extent to which the First Amendment protects the right to communicate the results of scientific research is an issue about which there is scant judicial authority. This article suggests that a crucial guidepost for exploring both these uncharted areas of constitutional law should be whether restrictions on scientific research or communication truly implicate (...) fundamental individual rights or instead primarily concern issues of general social welfare—issues that in a democracy are properly decided by the representative branches of government or their delegates, not by the judiciary. (shrink)
Physicians have an ethical responsibility to their patients to offer the best available medical care. This responsibility conflicts with their role as gatekeepers of the limited health care resources available for all patients collectively. It is ethically untenable to expect doctors to face this trade-off during each patient encounter; the physician cannot be expected to compromise the wellbeing of the patient in the office in favour of anonymous patients elsewhere. Hence, as in other domains of public policy where individual and (...) collective interests conflict, some form of collective solution is required. Collective solutions may take the form of placing explicit resource constraints on resources available to physicians, or clinical practice guidelines that recognise cost-effective care as acceptable. Such solutions will be politically and ethically sustainable only if patients as citizens of the larger population accept the need for rationing of limited resources in health care. (shrink)
Purpose Recent research has found unrealistic optimism among patient-subjects in early-phase oncology trials. Our aim was to investigate the cognitive and motivational factors that evoke this bias in this context. We expected perceptions of control to be a strong correlate of unrealistic optimism. Methods A study of patient-subjects enrolled in early-phase oncology trials was conducted at two sites in the USA. Respondents completed questionnaires designed to assess unrealistic optimism and several risk attribute variables that have been found to evoke the (...) bias in other contexts. Results One hundred and seventy-one patient-subjects agreed to be interviewed for our study. Significant levels of perceived controllability were found with respect to all nine research-related questions. Perceptions of control were found to predict unrealistic optimism. Two other risk attribute variables, awareness of indicators and mental image, were correlated with unrealistic optimism. However, in multivariate regression analysis, awareness and mental image dropped out of the model and perceived controllability was the only factor independently associated with unrealistic optimism. Conclusion Patient-subjects reported that they can, at least partially, control the benefits they receive from participating in an early-phase oncology trial. This sense of control may underlie unrealistic optimism about benefiting personally from trial participation. Effective interventions to counteract unrealistic optimism may need to address the psychological factors that give rise to distorted risk/benefit processing. (shrink)
This paper examines some common measures of complexity, structure, and information, with an eye toward understanding the extent to which complexity or information‐content may be regarded as objective properties of individual objects. A form of contextual objectivity is proposed which renders the measures objective, and which largely resolves the puzzle of Maxwell's Demon.
Aside from constructing a compelling case for how rereading evolution from a neomaterialist and radical empiricist perspective undermines an enduring binary of sexual difference, Luciana Parisi underscores a tension in the work of Elizabeth Grosz, known both for her novel, feminist, neomaterialist study of Darwinian evolution and her staunch support of sexual difference. Parisi contends, and I suspect Grosz herself is keenly aware, that there is a paradox in holding these views simultaneously. Thus, this paper will not only expand upon (...) Parisi's argument for preaccelerated, unbounded, creative, inhuman, neomaterialist, and radical empirical accounts of matter and sex but also propose a reading of Grosz's work that could potentially wrest her from the perceived paradox. I call this the “theory sex” reading, which can be characterized as a metatheoretical difference materially embodied in the unbridgeable gap between Grosz's two theoretical stances. Theory sex is not an ontology but a concept in line with a Deleuzo–Guattarian understanding of the philosopher's mode of living with chaos. Theory sex produces vibrations and dissonance, which reproduce or chart lines of flight toward theories like Parisi's. These vibrations compose the requiem both honoring and retaining the virtual legacy of sexual difference into the future. (shrink)
In this article, I examine Adam Smith's theory of the ways individuals in society bridge social and biological difference. In doing so, I emphasize the divisive effects of gender, race, and class to see if Smith's account of social unity can overcome such fractious forces. My discussion uses the metaphor of “proximity” to mean both physical and psychological distance between moral actors and spectators. I suggest that education – both formal and informal in means – can assist moral judgment by (...) helping agents minimize the effects of proximity, and, ultimately, learn commonality where difference may otherwise seem overwhelming. This article uses the methods of the history of philosophy in order to examine an issue within contemporary discourse. While I seek to offer an authentic reading of Smith representative of his eighteenth-century perspective, I do so with an eye towards determining the extent to which Smith anticipated central issues in modern multiculturalism. (Published Online April 18 2006) Footnotes1 I would like to thank Luc Bovens, Kim Donehower, David Levy, Elizabeth Sund, and Leah M. McClimans, for their help on previous drafts of this article. (shrink)
A paradigm of scientific discovery is defined within a first-order logical framework. It is shown that within this paradigm there exists a formal scientist that is Turing computable and universal in the sense that it solves every problem that any scientist can solve. It is also shown that universal scientists exist for no regular logics that extend first-order logic and satisfy the Löwenheim-Skolem condition.