I recently taught an upper-division Honors class in Medicine and Literature with students ranging from a pre-physician’s assistant student and nursing student to English, French, History, and Technical Writing majors. The common thread connecting these students initially was their self-described fear of and helplessness with poetry. However, as the semester drew to a close, their class discussion and journals revealed not only increased comfort with poetry but also a preference for it. The information and insight they got from poetry, they (...) said, were the reason they took a medical humanities course in the first place and commented that the poetry we read provoked more substantial “medicine and literature” discussions than prose. Poetry provides a good starting place to analyze complex human relationships, and the focus on language and form levels the intellectual playing field: students are all unfamiliar with how to do it and are learning a new skill together. This could be accomplished, of course, with a literary short story, but for the diverse population of students in this class, the brevity of poetry made it all the more appealing. (shrink)
In this collection of previously published essays, Sally Haslanger draws on insights from feminist and critical race theory and on the resources of contemporary analytic philosophy to develop the idea that gender and race are positions ...
Bishop and Trout here present a unique and provocative new approach to epistemology. Their approach aims to liberate epistemology from the scholastic debates of standard analytic epistemology, and treat it as a branch of the philosophy of science. The approach is novel in its use of cost-benefit analysis to guide people facing real reasoning problems and in its framework for resolving normative disputes in psychology. Based on empirical data, Bishop and Trout show how people can improve their reasoning (...) by relying on Statistical Prediction Rules. They then develop and articulate the positive core of the book. Their view, Strategic Reliabilism, claims that epistemic excellence consists in the efficient allocation of cognitive resources to reliable reasoning strategies, applied to significant problems. The last third of the book develops the implications of this view for standard analytic epistemology; for resolving normative disputes in psychology; and for offering practical, concrete advice on how this theory can improve real people's reasoning. This is a truly distinctive and controversial work that spans many disciplines and will speak to an unusually diverse group, including people in epistemology, philosophy of science, decision theory, cognitive and clinical psychology, and ethics and public policy. (shrink)
It is always awkward when someone asks me informally what I’m working on and I answer that I’m trying to figure out what gender is. For outside a rather narrow segment of the academic world, the term ‘gender’ has come to function as the polite way to talk about the sexes. And one thing people feel pretty confident about is their knowledge of the difference between males and females. Males are those human beings with a range of familiar primary and (...) secondary sex characteristics, most important being the penis; females are those with a different set, most important being the vagina or, perhaps, the uterus. Enough said. Against this background, it isn’t clear what could be the point of an inquiry, especially a philosophical inquiry, into “what gender is”. (shrink)
A philosophically useful account of social structure must accommodate the fact that social structures play an important role in structural explanation. But what is a structural explanation? How do structural explanations function in the social sciences? This paper offers a way of thinking about structural explanation and sketches an account of social structure that connects social structures with structural explanation.
[Sally Haslanger] In debates over the existence and nature of social kinds such as 'race' and 'gender', philosophers often rely heavily on our intuitions about the nature of the kind. Following this strategy, philosophers often reject social constructionist analyses, suggesting that they change rather than capture the meaning of the kind terms. However, given that social constructionists are often trying to debunk our ordinary (and ideology-ridden?) understandings of social kinds, it is not surprising that their analyses are counterintuitive. This (...) article argues that externalist insights from the critique of the analytic/synthetic distinction can be extended to justify social constructionist analyses. /// [Jennifer Saul] Sally Haslanger's 'What Good Are Our Intuitions? Philosophical Analysis and Social Kinds' is, among other things, a part of the theoretical underpinning for analyses of race and gender concepts that she discusses far more fully elsewhere. My reply focuses on these analyses of race and gender concepts, exploring the ways in which the theoretical work done in this paper and others can or cannot be used to defend these analyses against certain objections. I argue that the problems faced by Haslanger's analyses are in some ways less serious, and in some ways more serious, than they may at first appear. Along the way, I suggest that ordinary speakers may not in fact have race and gender concepts and I explore the ramifications of this claim. (shrink)
Sally Sedgwick presents a fresh account of Hegel's critique of Kant's theoretical philosophy. She argues that Hegel offers a compelling critique of and alternative to the conception of cognition that Kant defended in his 'Critical' period, and explores Hegel's claim to derive from Kantian doctrines clues to a superior form of idealism.
In this original and compelling book, Jeffrey P. Bishop, a philosopher, ethicist, and physician, argues that something has gone sadly amiss in the care of the dying by contemporary medicine and in our social and political views of death, as shaped by our scientific successes and ongoing debates about euthanasia and the "right to die"--or to live. __The Anticipatory Corpse: Medicine, Power, and the Care of the Dying__, informed by Foucault's genealogy of medicine and power as well as by (...) a thorough grasp of current medical practices and medical ethics, argues that a view of people as machines in motion--people as, in effect, temporarily animated corpses with interchangeable parts--has become epistemologically normative for medicine. The dead body is subtly anticipated in our practices of exercising control over the suffering person, whether through technological mastery in the intensive care unit or through the impersonal, quasi-scientific assessments of psychological and spiritual "medicine." The result is a kind of nihilistic attitude toward the dying, and troubling contradictions and absurdities in our practices. Wide-ranging in its examples, from organ donation rules in the United States, to ICU medicine, to "spiritual surveys," to presidential bioethics commissions attempting to define death, and to high-profile cases such as Terri Schiavo's, __The Anticipatory Corpse__ explores the historical, political, and philosophical underpinnings of our care of the dying and, finally, the possibilities of change. A ground-breaking work in bioethics, this book will provoke thought and argument for all those engaged in medicine, philosophy, theology, and health policy. "With extraordinary philosophical sophistication as well as knowledge of modern medicine, Bishop argues that the body that shapes the work of modern medicine is a dead body. He defends this claim decisively with with urgency. I know of no book that is at once more challenging and informative as __The Anticipatory Corpse. __To say this book is the most important one written in the philosophy of medicine in the last twenty-five years would not do it justice. This book is destined to change the way we think and, hopefully, practice medicine." --_Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School _ "Jeffrey Bishop carefully builds a detailed, scholarly case that medicine is shaped by its attitudes toward death. Clinicians, ethicists, medical educators, policy makers, and administrators need to understand the fraught relationship between clinical practices and death, and __The Anticipatory Corpse __is an essential text. Bishop's use of the writings of Michel Foucault is especially provocative and significant. This book is the closest we have to a genealogy of death." --_Arthur W. Frank, University of Calgary _ "Jeffrey Bishop has produced a masterful study of how the living body has been placed within medicine's metaphysics of efficient causality and within its commitment to a totalizing control of life and death, which control has only been strengthened by medicine's taking on the mantle of a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual model. This volume's treatment of medicine's care of the dying will surely be recognized as a cardinal text in the philosophy of medicine." --_H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine_. (shrink)
How does an object persist through change? How can a book, for example, open in the morning and shut in the afternoon, persist through a change that involves the incompatible properties of being open and being shut? The goal of this reader is to inform and reframe the philosophical debate around persistence; it presents influential accounts of the problem that range from classic papers by W. V. O. Quine, David Lewis, and Judith Jarvis Thomson to recent work by contemporary philosophers. (...) The authors take on the question of persistence by examining three broad approaches: perdurantism, which holds that change over time is analogous to change over space; exdurantism, according to which identity over time is analogous to identity across possible worlds; and endurantism, which holds that ordinary objects persist by enduring. Each of these approaches appears to be coherent, but each also has its own metaphysical problems. Persistence includes papers that argue for perdurantism, exdurantism, or endurantism, as well as papers that explore some metaphysical difficulties challenging each account. In this way the collection allows readers to balance the trade-offs of each approach in terms of intuitiveness, theoretical attractiveness, and elegance.Contributors:Yuri Balashov, William Carter, Graeme Forbes, Sally Haslanger, Katherine Hawley, H. S. Hestevold, Mark Hinchliffe, Mark Johnston, Roxanne Marie Kurtz, David K. Lewis, Ned Markosian, D. H. Mellor, W. V. O. Quine, Theodore Sider, Richard Taylor, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Peter van Inwagen, Dean Zimmerman. (shrink)
Experiences of solidarity have figured prominently in the politics of the modern era, from the rallying cry of liberation theology for solidarity with the poor and oppressed, through feminist calls for sisterhood, to such political movements as Solidarity in Poland. Yet very little academic writing has focused on solidarity in conceptual rather than empirical terms. Sally Scholz takes on this critical task here. She lays the groundwork for a theory of political solidarity, asking what solidarity means and how it (...) differs fundamentally from other social and political concepts like camaraderie, association, or community. Scholz distinguishes a variety of types and levels of solidarity by their social ontologies, moral relations, and corresponding obligations. Political solidarity, in contrast to social solidarity and civic solidarity, aims to bring about social change by uniting individuals in their response to particular situations of injustice, oppression, or tyranny. The book explores the moral relation of political solidarity in detail, with chapters on the nature of the solidary group, obligations within solidarity, the “paradox of the privileged,” the goals of solidarity movements, and the prospects for global solidarity. . (shrink)
Racism, sexism, and other forms of injustice are more than just bad attitudes; after all, such injustice involves unfair distributions of goods and resources. But attitudes play a role. How central is that role? Tommie Shelby, among others, argues that racism is an ideology and takes a cognitivist approach suggesting that ideologies consist in false beliefs that arise out of and serve pernicious social conditions. In this paper I argue that racism is better understood as a set of practices, attitudes, (...) social meanings, and material conditions, that systematically reinforce one another. Attitudes play a role, but even the cognitive/affective component of ideologies should include culturally shared habits of mind and action. These habits of mind distort, obscure, and occlude important facts about subordinated groups and result in a failure to recognize their interests. How do we disrupt such practices to achieve greater justice? I argue that this is sometimes, but not always, best achieved by argument or challenging false beliefs, so social movements legitimately seek other means. (shrink)
Recent work on social injustice has focused on implicit bias as an important factor in explaining persistent injustice in spite of achievements on civil rights. In this paper, I argue that because of its individualism, implicit bias explanation, taken alone, is inadequate to explain ongoing injustice; and, more importantly, it fails to call attention to what is morally at stake. An adequate account of how implicit bias functions must situate it within a broader theory of social structures and structural injustice; (...) changing structures is often a precondition for changing patterns of thought and action and is certainly required for durable change. (shrink)
Across the humanities and social sciences it has become commonplace for scholars to argue that categories once assumed to be “natural” are in fact “social” or, in the familiar lingo, “socially constructed”. Two common examples of such categories are race and gender, but there many others. One interpretation of this claim is that although it is typically thought that what unifies the instances of such categories is some set of natural or physical properties, instead their unity rests on social features (...) of the items in question. Social constructionists pursuing this strategy—and it is these social constructionists I will be focusing on in this paper—aim to “debunk” the ordinary assumption that the categories are natural, by revealing the more accurate social basis of the classification.2 To avoid confusion, and to resist some of the associations with the term ‘social construction’, I will sometimes use the term ‘socially founded’ for the categories that this sort of constructionist reveals as social rather than natural. (shrink)
Theorists analyzing the concepts of race and gender disagree over whether the terms refer to natural kinds, social kinds, or nothing at all. The question arises: what do we mean by the terms? It is usually assumed that ordinary intuitions of native speakers are definitive. However, I argue that contemporary semantic externalism can usefully combine with insights from Foucauldian genealogy to challenge mainstream methods of analysis and lend credibility to social constructionist projects.
This paper provides an account of social practices that reveals how they are constitutive of social agency, enable coordination around things of value, and are a site for social intervention. The social world, on this account, does not begin when psychologically sophisticated individuals interact to share knowledge or make plans. Instead, culture shapes agents to interpret and respond both to each other and the physical world around us. Practices shape us as we shape them. This provides resources for understanding why (...) social practices tend to be stable, but also reveals sites and opportunities for change. (shrink)
Science and philosophy study well-being with different but complementary methods. Marry these methods and a new picture emerges: To have well-being is to be "stuck" in a positive cycle of emotions, attitudes, traits and success. This book unites the scientific and philosophical worldviews into a powerful new theory of well-being.
Contextual emergence was originally proposed as an inter-level relation between different levels of description to describe an epistemic notion of emergence in physics. Here, we discuss the ontic extension of this relation to different domains or levels of physical reality using the properties of temperature and molecular shape as detailed case studies. We emphasize the concepts of stability conditions and multiple realizability as key features of contextual emergence. Some broader implications contextual emergence has for the foundations of physics and cognitive (...) and neural sciences are given in the concluding discussion. Relevant facts about algebras of observables are found in the appendices along with an abstract definition of Kubo-Martin-Schwinger states. (shrink)
Are sagging pants cool? Are cows food? Are women more submissive than men? Are blacks more criminal than whites? Taking the social world at face value, many people would be tempted to answer these questions in the affirmative. And if challenged, they can point to facts that support their answers. But there is something wrong about the affirmative answers. In this chapter, I draw on recent ideas in the philosophy of language and metaphysics to show how the assertion of a (...) generic claim of the sort in question ordinarily permits one to infer that the fact in question obtains by virtue of something specifically about the subject so described, i.e., about women, or blacks, or sagging pants. In the examples I’ve offered, however, this implication inference is unwarranted. The facts in question obtain by virtue of broad system of social relations within which the subjects are situated, and are not grounded in intrinsic or dispositional features of the subjects themselves. The background relations are obscured, however, and as a result, the assertion is at least systematically misleading; a denial functions to block the problematic implication. Revealing such implications or presuppositions and blocking them is a crucial part of ideology critique. (shrink)
This essay proposes a design perspective on argumentation, intended as complementary to empirical and critical scholarship. In any substantive domain, design can provide insights that differ from those provided by scientific or humanistic perspectives. For argumentation, the key advantage of a design perspective is the recognition that humanity’s natural capacity for reason and reasonableness can be extended through inventions that improve on unaided human intellect. Historically, these inventions have fallen into three broad classes: logical systems, scientific methods, and disputation frameworks. (...) Behind each such invention is a specifiable “design hypothesis”: an idea about how to decrease error or how to increase the quality of outcomes from reasoning. As problems in contemporary argumentation practice become more complex, design thinking rises in relevance and importance. A design research agenda in argumentation would focus on theorizing design innovations and on evaluating design hypotheses. (shrink)
How do we achieve social justice? How do we change society for the better? Some would argue that we must do it by changing the laws or state institutions. Others that we must do it by changing individual attitudes. I argue that although both of these factors are important and relevant, we must also change culture. What does this mean? Culture, I argue, is a set of social meanings that shapes and filters how we think and act. Problematic networks of (...) social meanings constitute an ideology. Entrenched ideologies are resilient and are barriers to social change, even in the face of legal interventions. I argue that an effective way to change culture is through social movements and contentious politics, and that philosophy has a role to play in promoting such change. (shrink)
Our aim in this paper is to bring the woefully neglected literature on predictive modeling to bear on some central questions in the philosophy of science. The lesson of this literature is straightforward: For a very wide range of prediction problems, statistical prediction rules (SPRs), often rules that are very easy to implement, make predictions than are as reliable as, and typically more reliable than, human experts. We will argue that the success of SPRs forces us to reconsider our views (...) about what is involved in understanding, explanation, good reasoning, and about how we ought to do philosophy of science. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals of 1785 is one of the most profound and important works in the history of practical philosophy. In this introduction to the Groundwork, Sally Sedgwick provides a guide to Kant's text that follows the course of his discussion virtually paragraph by paragraph. Her aim is to convey Kant's ideas and arguments as clearly and simply as possible, without getting lost in scholarly controversies. Her introductory chapter offers a useful overview of Kant's (...) general approach to practical philosophy, and she also explores and clarifies some of the main assumptions which Kant relies on in his Groundwork but defends in his Critique of Pure Reason. The book will be a valuable guide for all who are interested in Kant's practical philosophy. (shrink)
Contemporary reasoning about health is infused with the work products of experts, and expert reasoning about health itself is an active site for invention and design. Building on Toulmin’s largely undeveloped ideas on field-dependence, we argue that expert fields can develop new inference rules that, together with the backing they require, become accepted ways of drawing and defending conclusions. The new inference rules themselves function as warrants, and we introduce the term “warranting device” to refer to an assembly of the (...) rule plus whatever material, procedural, and institutional resources are required to assure its dependability. We present a case study on the Cochrane Review, a new method for synthesizing evidence across large numbers of scientific studies. After reviewing the evolution and current structure of the device, we discuss the distinctive kinds of critical questions that may be raised around Cochrane Reviews, both within the expert field and beyond. Although Toulmin’s theory of field-dependence is often criticized for its relativism, we find that, as a matter of practical fact, field-specific warrants do not enjoy immunity from external critique. On the contrary, they can be opened to evaluation and critique from any interested perspective. (shrink)
Simone de Beauvoir offers one of the most interesting philosophical accounts of childhood, and, as numerous scholars have argued, it is one of the most important contributions that she made to existentialism. Beauvoir stressed the importance of childhood on one's ability to assume one's freedom. This radically changed how freedom was construed for existentialism. Rather than positing an adult subjectivity that tries to flee freedom through bad faith, Beauvoir's account forces a recognition of a situated freedom that itself is also (...) developmentally achieved. In this article, I explore the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau on Beauvoir's discussion of childhood. By reading Beauvoir through Rousseau — who was one of her favorite authors — we see not just one but two accounts of childhood in Beauvoir's philosophical work. On the one hand is the idealistic childhood wherein the child is an apprentice to freedom. On the other is the constrained childhood whose product is apprenticed to the serious. I begin with a brief summary of Rousseau's Emile. Next, I offer some justification for reading Beauvoir alongside Rousseau before offering an account of Beauvoir's discussion of childhood. I end by exploring some of the implications of my reading for freedom. (shrink)