Recent critics have called attention to the alienation of contemporary academics from broad currents of intellectual activity in public culture. The general complaint is that intellectuals are finding a professional home in institutions of higher learning, insulated from the concerns and interests of a wider reading audience. The demands of professional expertise do not encourage academics to work as public intellectuals or to take up social, literary, or political matters in imaginative and perspicuous ways. More problematic is the relative absence (...) of religion in the writings of those who aspire to work as public intellectuals. This essay reviews recent attempts by William Dean, Cornel West, Jean Bethke Elshtain, StephenCarter, and Robin Lovin to remedy the problem of academic alienation and to address the place of religion in American life. (shrink)
Throughout the English-speaking world, and in the many other countries where analytic philosophy is studied, Hillel Steiner is esteemed as one of the foremost contemporary political philosophers. This volume is designed as a festschrift for Steiner and as an important collection of philosophical essays in its own right. The editors have assembled a roster of highly distinguished international contributors, all of whom are eager to pay tribute to Steiner by focusing on topics on which he himself has concentrated. Some of (...) the contributors engage directly with Steiner's work, whereas others focus not directly on his writings but instead grapple with issues that have figured prominently therein. Each essay seeks to advance the debates in which Steiner himself has so notably participated. The study concludes with a response by Steiner himself. (shrink)
Earthcare: Readings and Cases in Environmental Ethics presents a diverse collection of writings from a variety of authors on environmental ethics, environmental science, and the environmental movement overall. Exploring a broad range of world views, religions and philosophies, David W. Clowney and Patricia Mosto bring together insightful thoughts on the ethical issues arising in various areas of environmental concern.
Peer review is a widely accepted instrument for raising the quality of science. Peer review limits the enormous unstructured influx of information and the sheer amount of dubious data, which in its absence would plunge science into chaos. In particular, peer review offers the benefit of eliminating papers that suffer from poor craftsmanship or methodological shortcomings, especially in the experimental sciences. However, we believe that peer review is not always appropriate for the evaluation of controversial hypothetical science. We argue that (...) the process of peer review can be prone to bias towards ideas that affirm the prior convictions of reviewers and against innovation and radical new ideas. Innovative hypotheses are thus highly vulnerable to being “filtered out” or made to accord with conventional wisdom by the peer review process. Consequently, having introduced peer review, the Elsevier journal Medical Hypotheses may be unable to continue its tradition as a radical journal allowing discussion of improbable or unconventional ideas. Hence we conclude by asking the publisher to consider re-introducing the system of editorial review to Medical Hypotheses. (shrink)
In his landmark monograph, "The Politics of Jesus", John Howard Yoder challenged mainstream Christian social ethics by arguing that the New Testament account of Jesus's founding of a messianic community entails a normative politics, not only for early Christianity but for the contemporary church. This challenge is further elaborated in several important posthumous publications, especially "Preface to Theology", in which Yoder examines the development of early Christology with attention to its political and ethical implications, and "The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited", Yoder's (...) proposal for a renewed Jewish-Christian dialogue around the moral meaning of messianism. This article interprets these writings with reference to a range of critical scholarship on and about Yoder, Yoder and Augustine, and Jewish and Christian messianism, paying particular attention to questions of political ethics. (shrink)
In the present commentary we expand on two concepts relevant to understanding affliliative bonding. Differences and similarities between the functions and actions of oxytocin and vasopressin are difficult to study but may be critical to an understanding of mechanisms for social bonding. What is termed here a “trait of affiliation” may reflect in part the capacity of these same peptides to program the developing nervous system.
In clinical lectures given between 1850 and 1852, William Pultney Alison, a senior Edinburgh physician, reflected on whether therapeutic bloodletting could be useful in some cases of pneumonia but harmful in others. If so, Alison reasoned, a change in the form of the disease—a change of type—could explain why therapeutic bloodletting had been nearly abandoned in treating a disease for which, only a few years earlier, it had been the standard therapy. In response, a young pathologist, John Hughes Bennett, denied (...) that anything like a change of type had occurred and insisted that bloodletting had never been an effective therapy. Over the next two decades, more than forty physicians debated the usefulness of bloodletting and the reasons for its decline. This debate, known as the Edinburgh Bloodletting Controversy, has attracted the attention of contemporary historians. Those who have discussed the debate side with Bennett and give Alison little serious attention. I argue that by examining the texts to determine what the issues really were, we can see that Alison may actually have been right. Moreover, this examination illuminates the practice of bloodletting and reveals one hitherto unrecognized factor that contributed to its decline. (shrink)
As the internet becomes increasingly important in establishing identities and social networks, it becomes a mechanism for social control. We apply the components of Foucault’s means of corrective training—hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and examination—to the comments section of a popular couponing blog to analyze tactics participants use to discipline each other’s couponing behaviors. We find Foucault’s framework applicable with some modification. Participants use discursive techniques to establish hierarchical surveillance however hierarchies are not upheld throughout the interactions, making lateral surveillance more (...) applicable. Participants engage in normalizing judgment by critiquing and correcting “deviant” behavior and positively reinforcing “good” behavior. The blog itself mirrors the examination; as the blog master describes activities, participants try them, and return to the site to report their results, which can then be compared to others. These findings illustrate online interactions as a mechanism of informal social surveillance and control. (shrink)
W. F. Bynum’s Science and the Practice of Medicine in the Nineteenth Century is an excellent, authoritative account of the rise of modem medicine. Bynum’s thesis is clearly stated: “in terms of concepts, institutions, and professional structures, the medicine of 1900 was closer to us almost a century later than it was to the medicine of 1790. In other words, modem medicine, by which I simply mean ‘our’ medicine, was the product of nineteenth-century society.“’ After surveying medical thought and practice (...) in 1790, Bynum reviews developments in three crucial loci: ... (shrink)
How is a person's freedom related to his or her preferences? Liberal theorists of negative freedom have generally taken the view that the desire of a person to do or not do something is irrelevant to the question of whether he is free to do it. Supporters of the “pure negative” conception of freedom have advocated this view in its starkest form: they maintain that a person is unfree to Φ if and only if he is prevented from Φ-ing by (...) the conduct or dispositions of some other person. This definition of freedom is value-neutral in the sense that no reference is made to preferences over options or indeed to any other indicators of the values of options, either in the characterization of “Φ-ing” itself or in the characterization of the way in which Φ-ing can be constrained. (shrink)
'Knowledge-First' constitutes what is widely regarded as one of the most significant innovations in contemporary epistemology in the past 25 years. Knowledge-first epistemology is the idea that knowledge per se should not be analysed in terms of its constituent parts (e.g., justification, belief), but rather that these and other notions should be analysed in terms of the concept of knowledge. This volume features a substantive introduction and 13 original essays from leading and up-and-coming philosophers on the topic of knowledge-first philosophy. (...) The contributors' essays range from foundational issues to applications of this project to other disciplines including the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of perception, ethics and action theory. Knowledge First: Approaches in Epistemology and Mind aims to provide a relatively open-ended forum for creative and original scholarship with the potential to contribute and advance debates connected with this philosophical project. (shrink)