Leibniz’s mechanistic reduction of colors and other sensible qualities commits him to two theses about our knowledge of those qualities: first, that we can acquire ideas of sensible qualities apart from any direct acquaintance with the qualities themselves; second, that we can acquire distinct (i.e., non-confused) ideas of such qualities through the development of physical-theoretical accounts. According to some commentators, however, Leibniz frequently denies both claims. His views on the subject are muddled and incoherent, they say, both because he is (...) ambivalent about the nature of sensible qualities, and because he gets confused about confusion, losing sight of his own distinction between the confusion proper to perceptions and that proper to ideas. In opposition to this, I argue that the critics have misunderstood Leibniz’s views, which are both consistent over time and coherent. The key to understanding his position is to appreciate what he characterizes as a kind of redundancy in our ideas of sensible qualities, a crucial feature of his view overlooked by the critics. (shrink)
Because ports are considered to be the heart of the maritime transportation system, thereby assessing port performance is necessary for a nation’s development and economic success. This study proposes a novel metric, namely, “_port performance index (PPI)_”, to determine the overall performance and utilization of inland waterway ports based on six criteria,_ port facility, port availability, port economics, port service, port connectivity, and port environment_. Unlike existing literature, which mainly ranks ports based on quantitative factors, this study utilizes a Bayesian (...) Network (BN) model that focuses on both quantitative and qualitative factors to rank a port. The assessment of inland waterway port performance is further analyzed based on different advanced techniques such as sensitivity analysis and belief propagation. Insights drawn from the study show that all the six criteria are necessary to predict PPI. The study also showed that port service has the highest impact while port economics has the lowest impact among the six criteria on PPI for inland waterway ports. (shrink)
Climate change is a global problem that is predominantly an intergenerational conflict, and which takes place in a setting where our ethical impulses are weak. This "perfect moral storm" poses a profound challenge to humanity. This book explains how the "perfect storm" metaphor makes sense of our current malaise, and why a better ethics can help see our way out.
What might a theory of mental imagery look like, and how might one begin formulating such a theory? These are the central questions addressed in the present paper. The first section outlines the general research direction taken here and provides an overview of the empirical foundations of our theory of image representation and processing. Four issues are considered in succession, and the relevant results of experiments are presented and discussed. The second section begins with a discussion of the proper form (...) for a cognitive theory, and the distinction between a theory and a model is developed. Following this, the present theory and computer simulation model are introduced. This theory specifies the nature of the internal representations (data structures) and the processes that operate on them when one generates, inspects, or transforms mental images. In the third, concluding, section we consider three very different kinds of objections to the present research program, one hinging on the possibility of experimental artifacts in the data, and the others turning on metatheoretical commitments about the form of a cognitive theory. Finally, we discuss how one ought best to evaluate theories and models of the sort developed here. (shrink)
Very few moral philosophers have written on climate change.1 This is puzzling, for several reasons. First, many politicians and policy makers claim that climate change is not only the most serious environmental problem currently facing the world, but also one of the most important international problems per se.2 Second, many of those working in other disciplines describe climate change as fundamentally an ethical issue.3.
The peculiar features of the climate change problem pose substantial obstacles to our ability to make the hard choices necessary to address it. Climate change involves the convergence of a set of global, intergenerational and theoretical problems. This convergence justifies calling it a 'perfect moral storm'. One consequence of this storm is that, even if the other difficult ethical questions surrounding climate change could be answered, we might still find it difficult to act. For the storm makes us extremely vulnerable (...) to moral corruption. (shrink)
“[T]he Precautionary Principle still has neither a commonly accepted definition nor a set of criteria to guide its implementation. “There is”, Freestone … cogently observes, “a certain paradox in the widespread and rapid adoption of the Precautionary Principle”: While it is applauded as a “good thing”, no one is quite sure about what it really means or how it might be..
On the traditional view, moral distress arises only in cases where an individual believes she knows the morally right thing to do but fails to perform that action due to various constraints. We seek to motivate a broader understanding of moral distress. We begin by presenting six types of distress that fall outside the bounds of the traditional definition and explaining why they should be recognized as forms of moral distress. We then propose and defend a new and more expansive (...) definition of moral distress and examine how it can enable the development of a taxonomy of moral distress. (shrink)
I critically examine the semantic view of theories to reveal the following results. First, models in science are not the same as models in mathematics, as holders of the semantic view claim. Second, when several examples of the semantic approach are examined in detail no common thread is found between them, except their close attention to the details of model building in each particular science. These results lead me to propose a deflationary semantic view, which is simply that model construction (...) is an important component of theorizing in science. This deflationary view is consistent with a naturalized approach to the philosophy of science. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that disability is typically a bad thing for those who are disabled. Our purpose in this essay is to critique this view and defend a more nuanced picture of the relationship between disability and well-being. We first examine four interpretations of the above view and argue that it is false on each interpretation. We then ask whether disability is thereby a neutral trait. Our view is that most disabilities are neutral in one sense, though we cannot (...) make simple generalizations about disability's relationship to well-being in other important senses. After defending this view, we discuss its practical implications for selective abortion for disability, nondisabled people's interactions with disabled people, and the use of QALYs in health policy. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article offers a constructive critique of the Oxford Principles for the governance of geoengineering and proposes an alternative set of principles, the Tollgate Principles, based on that critique. Our main concern is that, despite their many merits, the Oxford Principles remain largely instrumental and dominated by procedural considerations; therefore, they fail to lay the groundwork sufficiently for the more substantive ethical debate that is needed. The article aims to address this gap by making explicit many of the important ethical (...) questions lurking in the background, especially around values such as justice, respect and legitimacy. (shrink)
It is widely recognized that lives and activities can be meaningful or meaningless, but few have appreciated that they can also be anti-meaningful. Anti-meaning is the polar opposite of meaning. Our purpose in this essay is to examine the nature and importance of this new and unfamiliar topic. In the first part, we sketch four theories of anti-meaning that correspond to leading theories of meaning. In the second part, we argue that anti-meaning has significance not only for our attempts to (...) theorize about meaning in life, but also for our ability to lead meaningful lives in the modern world. (shrink)
A critical study of two recent books in climate ethics by Dale Jamieson (Reason in a Dark Time, Oxford 2014), and Darrel Moellendorf (The Moral and Political Challenges of Climate Change, Cambridge 2014).
ABSTRACT In Debating Climate Ethics, David Weisbach and I offer contrasting views of the importance of ethics and justice for climate policy. I argue that ethics is central. Weisbach advocates for climate policy based purely on narrow forms of self-interest. For this symposium, I summarize the major themes, and extend my basic argument. I claim that ethics gets the problem right, whereas dismissing ethics risks getting the problem dangerously wrong, and perpetuating profound injustices. One consequence is that we should reject (...) the alleged “feasibility constraint” of short-term, economic self-interest. (shrink)
The concept of representation has become almost inextricably bound to the concept of symbol systems. the concepts is nowhere more prevalent than in descriptions of "internal representations." These representations are thought to occur in an internal symbol system that allows the brain to store and use information. In this paper we explore a different approach to understanding psychological processes, one that retains a commitment to representations and computations but that is not based on the idea that information must be stored (...) and manipulated in symbol systems. In particular, we suggest that the notion of a symbol system as currently understood construes psychological processes in terms of a specific type of computational system, in which a control function "reads," "interprets," and manipulates discrete entities called "symbols." We argue that other types of computational systems may provide a more appropriate characterization of psychological processes. One implication of our argument is the need to consider the constraints placed on computational theories in psychology by the nature of the computing device itself, the human brain. Perhaps surprisingly, this implication leads us to the conclusion that a "functionalist" conception of psychological processes (discussed below) does not entail that physiology is irrelevant to psychology, as has been maintained by prominent adherents of the symbol-systems approach. (shrink)
In two celebrated and widely-anthologized articles, as well as several books, the biologist Garrett Hardin claims (a) that the world population problem has a certain structure – it is a tragedy of the commons - and, (b) that, given this structure, the only tenable solutions involve either coercion or immense human suffering. In this paper, I shall argue for two claims. First, Hardin’s arguments are deeply flawed. The population problem as he conceives it does not have the structure of a (...) commons; and even if it did, this would not necessitate the extreme responses he canvasses. Second, nevertheless, much of Hardin’s pessimism is justified. Some environmental problems associated with population do have tragic structures, though these are of a different form than Hardin envisions. For example, the problem of global climate change has an intergenerational aspect that makes it importantly worse than Hardin’s commons, and for this reason (as opposed to Hardin’s) extreme responses may be needed to avert environmental catastrophe. (shrink)
The so-called Disability Paradox arises from the apparent tension between the popular view that disability leads to low well-being and the relatively high life-satisfaction reports of disabled people. Our aim in this essay is to make some progress toward dissolving this alleged paradox by exploring the relationship between disability and various “goods of life”—that is, components of a life that typically make a person’s life go better for her. We focus on four widely recognized goods of life (happiness, rewarding relationships, (...) knowledge, achievement) and four common types of disability (sensory, mobility, intellectual, and social) and systematically examine the extent to which the four disability types are in principle compatible with obtaining the four goods of life. Our findings suggest that that there is a high degree of compatibility. This undermines the widespread view that disabilities, by their very nature, substantially limit a person’s ability to access the goods of life, and it provides some guidance on how to dissolve the Disability Paradox. (shrink)
This contribution provides an assessment of the epistemological role of scientific models. The prevalent view that all scientific models are representations of the world is rejected. This view points to a unified way of resolving epistemic issues for scientific models. The emerging consensus in philosophy of science that models have many different epistemic roles in science is presented and defended.
Fisher’s 1918 paper accomplished two distinct goals: unifying discrete Mendelian genetics with continuous biometric phenotypes and quantifying the variance components of variation in complex human characteristics. The former contributed to the foundation of modern quantitative genetics; the latter was adopted by social scientists interested in the pursuit of Galtonian nature-nurture questions about the biological and social origins of human behavior, especially human intelligence. This historical divergence has produced competing notions of the estimation of variance ratios referred to as heritability. Jay (...) Lush showed that they could be applied to selective breeding on the farm, while the early twin geneticists used them as a descriptive statistic to describe the degree of genetic determination in complex human traits. Here we trace the early history of the heritability coefficient now used by social scientists. (shrink)
In liberal democracies that were British colonies, law constructs the linkages and distinctions between individual and political bodies. Legality re-iterates the form of an ancient construct called the King’s Two Bodies. The legal construction of these bodies ensures that their borders are continuously and perpetually contested and transgressed, and different modalities of power have arisen to take advantage of them. Additionally, in times of mass insecurity or crisis, we might believe that we need to fix our (personal or political) borders (...) and construct them in more solid ways. However, because other modalities of power take advantage of these borders, even if legal reconstruction can momentarily assuage concerns, it is argued here that legal processes construct borders around individual and political bodies to ensure the (re)production of those contests and crises. (shrink)
Biologists, climate scientists, and economists all rely on models to move their work forward. In this book, I explore the use of models in these and other fields to introduce readers to the various philosophical issues that arise in scientific modeling. I show that paying attention to models plays a crucial role in appraising scientific work. -/- After surveying a wide range of models from a number of different scientific disciplines, I demonstrate how focusing on models sheds light on many (...) perennial issues in philosophy of science and in philosophy in general. For example, reviewing the range of views on how models represent their targets introduces readers to the key issues in debates on representation, not only in science but in the arts as well. Also, standard epistemological questions are cast in new and interesting ways when we confront the question, "What makes for a good (or bad) model?". (shrink)
The Carnegie Council's work “is rooted in the premise that the incorporation of ethical concerns into discussions of international affairs will yield more effective policies both in the United States and abroad.” In honor of the Council's centenary, we have been asked to present our views on the ethical and policy issues posed by climate change, focusing on what people need to know that they probably do not already know, and what should be done. In that spirit, this essay argues (...) that climate change poses a profound ethical challenge, that the ongoing evasion of this challenge produces ineffective policy, and, therefore, that a fundamental paradigm shift is needed. More specifically, I maintain that the climate problem is usually misdiagnosed as a traditional tragedy of the commons, that this obscures two deeper and distinctively ethical challenges, and that we should address these challenges head on, by calling for a global constitutional convention focused on future generations. (shrink)
Climate change and other global environmental problems constitute a significant challenge to contemporary political philosophy, especially with respect to complacency. This paper assesses Rawls? theory, and argues for three conclusions. First, Rawls does not already solve such problems, and simple extensions of his theory are unlikely to do so. This is so despite the rich structure of Rawls? philosophy, and the appeal of some of its parts. Second, the most promising areas for extension ? the circumstances of justice, the duty (...) to maintain and promote just institutions, and his vision of social development ? are those that have not yet been explored. Third, unfortunately, Rawls? views on these topics are both seriously underdeveloped, and largely stipulative. Hence, in trying to meet climate change, Rawlsians are more likely to add new theories to Rawls, and perhaps even to transform his original account, than to generate an approach ?from the inside out? (shrink)
Lucas Matthews and I substantially revised my SEP entry on Heritability. This version includes discussion of the missing heritability problem and other issues that arise from the use of Genome Wide Association Studies by Behavioral Geneticists.
Contract theories – such as contractarianism and contractualism - seek to justify (and sometimes to explain) moral and political ideals and principles through the notion of “mutually agreeable reciprocity or cooperation between equals” (Darwall 2002). This chapter argues that such theories face fundamental difficulties in the intergenerational setting. Most prominently, the standard understanding of cooperation appears not to apply, and the intergenerational setting brings on a more severe collective action problem than the traditional prisoner’s dilemma. Mainstream contract theorists (such as (...) Gauthier and Rawls) have tried to overcome such difficulties by postulating some kind of chain of connection between generations. However, the chapter maintains that thus far such attempts have proven inadequate. Given this, it seems either that mainstream contract theory needs to be rethought, or that a new, specifically intergenerational, contract theory is needed. (shrink)
This paper argues that extortion is a clear threat in intergenerational relations, and that the threat is manifest in some existing proposals in climate policy and latent in some background tendencies in mainstream moral and political philosophy. The paper also claims that although some central aspects of the concern about extortion might be pursued in terms of the entitlements of future generations, this approach is likely to be incomplete. In particular, intergenerational extortion raises issues about the appropriate limits to the (...) sway of central values such as welfare and distributive justice. We should be wary of ways in which such values invite us to buy off, or perhaps to join, an intergenerational climate Mafia. (shrink)