We amplify possible complications to the tidy division between early vision and later categorisation which arise when we consider the perception of human faces. Although a primitive face-detecting system, used for social attention, may indeed be integral to “early vision,” the relationship between this and diverse other uses made of information from faces is far from clear.
What, if anything, has faith to do with intention? By ‘faith’ I have in mind the attitude described by William James: Suppose … that I am climbing in the Alps, and have had the illluck to work myself into a position from which the only escape is by a terrible leap. Being without similar experience, I have no evidence of my ability to perform it successfully; but hope and confidence in myself make me sure I shall not miss my aim, (...) and nerve my feet to execute what without those subjective emotions would perhaps have been impossible. But suppose that, on the contrary, the emotions of fear and mistrust preponderate; or suppose that…I feel it would be sinful to act upon an assumption unverified by previous experience,—why, then I shall hesitate so long that at last, exhausted and trembling, and launching myself in a moment of despair, I miss my foothold and roll into the abyss.… There are then cases where faith creates its own verification. Believe, and you shall be right, for you shall save yourself; doubt, and you shall again be right, for you shall perish. (shrink)
Rae Langton offers a new interpretation and defense of Kant's doctrine of things in themselves. Kant distinguishes things in themselves from phenomena, and in so doing he makes a metaphysical distinction between intrinsic and relational properties of substances. Langton argues that his claim that we have no knowledge of things in themselves is not idealism, but epistemic humility: we have no knowledge of the intrinsic properties of substances. This interpretation vindicates Kant's scientific realism, and shows his primary/secondary quality (...) distinction to be superior even to modern-day competitors. And it answers the famous charge that Kant's tale of things in themselves is one that makes itself untellable. (shrink)
Rae Langton here draws together her ground-breaking and contentious work on pornography and objectification. She shows how women come to be objectified -- made subordinate and treated as things -- and she argues for the controversial feminist conclusions that pornography subordinates and silences women, and women have rights against pornography.
Something could be round even if it were the only thing in the universe, unaccompanied by anything distinct from itself. Jaegwon Kim once suggested that we define an intrinsic property as one that can belong to something unaccompanied. Wrong: unaccompaniment itself is not intrinsic, yet it can belong to something unaccompanied. But there is a better Kim-style definition. Say that P is independent of accompaniment iff four different cases are possible: something accompanied may have P or lack P, something unaccompanied (...) may have P or lack P. P is basic intrinsic iff (1) P and not-P are nondisjunctive and contingent, and (2) P is independent of accompaniment. Two things (actual or possible) are duplicates iff they have exactly the same basic intrinsic properties. P is intrinsic iff no two duplicates differ with respect to P. (shrink)
Kant argued that we have no knowledge of things in themselves, no knowledge of the intrinsic properties of things, a thesis that is not idealism but epistemic humility. David Lewis agrees (in 'Ramseyan Humility'), but for Ramseyan reasons rather than Kantian. I compare the doctrines of Ramseyan and Kantian humility, and argue that Lewis's contextualist strategy for rescuing knowledge from the sceptic (proposed elsewhere) should also rescue knowledge of things in themselves. The rescue would not be complete: for knowledge of (...) things in themselves would remain elusive. (shrink)
We defend the view of some feminist writers that the notion of silencing has to be taken seriously in discussions of free speech. We assume that what ought to be meant by ‘speech’, in the context ‘free speech’, is whatever it is that a correct justification of the right to free speech justifies one in protecting. And we argue that what one ought to mean includes illocution, in the sense of J.L. Austin.
If, as many suppose, pornography changes people, a question arises as to how.1 One answer to this question offers a grand and noble vision. Inspired by the idea that pornography is speech, and inspired by a certain liberal ideal about the point of speech in political life, some theorists say that pornography contributes to that liberal ideal: pornography, even at its most violent and misogynistic, and even at its most harmful, is political speech that aims to express certain views about (...) the good life, 2aims to persuade its consumers of a certain political point of view—and to some extent succeeds in persuading them. Ronald Dworkin suggests that the pornographer contributes to the ‘moral environment, by expressing his political or social convictions or tastes or prejudices informally’, that pornography ‘seeks to deliver’ a ‘message’ , that it reflects the ‘opinion’ that ‘women are submissive, or enjoy being dominated, or should be treated as if they did’, that it is comparable to speech ‘advocating that women occupy inferior roles’.3 Pornography on this view is political speech that aims to persuade its listeners of the truth of certain ideas about women, and of course ‘the government must leave to the people the evaluation of ideas’.4 Another answer offers a vision that is not grand and noble, but thoroughly reductive. Pornography is not politically persuasive speech, but speech that works by a process of psychological conditioning. This view seems common enough in the social science literature. Consider, for example, this description of an early experiment, from a time that pre-dates contemporary political debate. (shrink)
This is a paper about two philosophers who wrote to each other. One is famous; the other is not. It is about two practical standpoints, the strategic and the human, and what the famous philosopher said of them. And it is about friendship and deception, duty and despair. That is enough by way of preamble.
In responding to the challenge that we cannot know that animals feel pain, Peter Singer says: We can never directly experience the pain of another being, whether that being is human or not. When I see my daughter fall and scrape her knee, I know that she feels pain because of the way she behaves—she cries, she tells me her knee hurts, she rubs the sore spot, and so on. I know that I myself behave in a somewhat similar—if more (...) inhibited—way when I feel pain, and so I accept that my daughter feels something like what I feel when I scrape my knee. The basis of my belief that animals can feel pain is similar...1 . Singer here suggests that the epistemological problem facing animal ethics is really the more general problem of other minds: the Cartesian problem of how to escape solipsism, how to cross the bridge from my own thoughts and feelings to the thoughts and feelings of any other being. The suggestion is that no-one can seriously be in the thrall of this sceptical problem. The method for building the bridge to other minds is familiar to us all: we use it every day in our ascriptions of thoughts and feelings to people near and dear, and to those far away. And we use it every day in our ascriptions of thoughts and feelings to animals. (shrink)
Kant’s claim that we are ignorant of things in themselves is a claim that we cannot know ‘the intrinsic nature of things’, or so at least I argued in Kantian Humility.2 I’m delighted to find that Lucy Allais is in broad agreement with this core idea, thinking it represents, at the very least, a part of Kant’s view. She sees some of the advantages of this interpretation. It has significant textual support. It does justice to Kant’s sense that we are (...) missing out on something, in our failure to know things as they are in themselves. And it makes tellable, after all, Kant’s at first sight untellable tale, about the knowable existence of unknowable things: for we can know that things exist, without knowing what their intrinsic properties are. However, Allais is critical of the way I fill out this core idea, and she has an alternative to offer. She thinks Kant’s distinction between things in themselves and phenomena is not a distinction between two kinds of properties, intrinsic and relational. She is critical of my interpretation of causal powers, which I take to be the relevant relational properties: my idea, first, that causal powers are in fact relational properties; second, that causal powers are only contingently associated with intrinsic properties, so that creating substances with intrinsic properties is insufficient for creating causal power; and, third, that intrinsic properties are causally inert. Her criticisms of these three ideas.. (shrink)
On a consequentialist account of virtue, a trait is virtuous if it has good consequences, vicious if it has bad. Clumsiness and dimness are therefore vices. Should I resent the clumsy and the dim?, says the consequentialist, counterintuitively - at any rate, Yes’ on an accuracy measure of resentment's virtue: resentment should be an accurate response to consequentialist vice, and these are vices. On a usefulness measure of resentment's virtue, the answer may be different: whether resentment is virtuous depends on (...) whether resentment itself is useful. Equally counterintuitive, this answer divorces resentment from assessment of vice. Consequentialism is thus mistaken not only about when resentment is virtuous, but about what resentment is. Moreover it alienates the philosopher, for whom accuracy applies, from the agent, for whom usefulness applies. But abandoning this double standard would mean giving up philosophy. (shrink)
Did God give things 'accidental powers not rooted in their natures', powers not rooted in intrinsic properties? For Leibniz, no. For Locke, the answer is disputed. On a voluntarist reading, yes, secondary and tertiary qualities are superadded (Margaret Wilson). On a mechanist reading, no, as for Leibniz (Michael Ayers). Since Locke viewed these qualities as relational, his view of relations ought to bear on the dispute. Locke said relation is 'not contained in the real existence of things'. Bennett says Locke (...) means relations are reducible (as Leibniz thought), which supports the mechanist reading. Bennett is mistaken: Locke means relations are irreducible, in harmony with his voluntarism. (shrink)
What, if anything, has faith to do with intention?1 By ‘faith’ I have in mind the attitude described by William James: Suppose...that I am climbing in the Alps, and have had the ill-luck to work myself into a position from which the only escape is by a terrible leap. Being without similar experience, I have no evidence of my ability to perform it successfully; but hope and confidence in myself make me sure I shall not miss my aim, and nerve (...) my feet to execute what without those subjective emotions would perhaps have been impossible. But suppose that, on the contrary, the emotions of fear and mistrust preponderate; or suppose that...I feel it would be sinful to act upon an assumption unverified by previous experience,—why, then I shall hesitate so long that at last, exhausted and trembling, and launching myself in a moment of despair, I miss my foothold and roll into the abyss....There are then cases where faith creates its own verification. Believe, and you shall be right, for you shall save yourself; doubt, and you shall again be right, for you shall perish.2.. (shrink)
In Kantian Humility I argue that, for Kant, ignorance of things in themselves is ignorance of the intrinsic properties of substances, and that this is epistemic humility, rather than idealism: some aspects of reality, the intrinsic aspects, are beyond our epistemic grasp.The interpretation draws upon what Falkenstein takes to be ‘a novel and not implausible understanding of Kant's distinction between things in themselves and appearances’ which views it as a distinction between the intrinsic and the relational. He concedes that Kant (...) frequently puts his distinction in just these terms, that I make ‘a strong textual case for it’, that it is ‘plausible and intriguing’ and that it may even be ‘correct, at least for a certain strand of Kant's thought’. He presumably also allows that this distinction between ‘things as they are in relation to other things and things as they are on their own’ is at base a metaphysical distinction, which makes no mention of how things look to us, appear to us or depend on our minds. I am pleased to find sympathy for this understanding of Kant's distinction in a review whose overall tenor is so critical. (shrink)
According to Van Cleve, Kant distinguishes phenomena from things in themselves, thereby distinguishing the virtual from the real; and Kant makes primary qualities merely spatial. However, phenomena are not the virtual, but the relational; things in themselves are not the real, but the intrinsic. Moreover, to make primary qualities merely spatial is to leave out force, and thereby leave out the feature that makes phenomena relational and real-not just virtual.
In his new book, Knowledge: The Philosophical Quest in History, Steve Fuller returns to core themes of his program of social epistemology that he first outlined in his 1988 book, Social Epistemology. He develops a new, unorthodox theology and philosophy building upon his testimony in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District in defense of intelligent design, leading to a call for maximal human experimentation. Beginning from the theological premise rooted in the Abrahamic religious tradition that we are created in (...) the image of God, Fuller argues that the spark of the divine within us distinguishes us from animals. I argue that Fuller’s recent work takes us away from key insights of his original work. In contrast, I advocate for a program of social epistemology rooted in evolutionary science rather than intelligent design, emphasize a precautionary and ecological approach rather than a proactionary approach that favors risky human experimentation, and attend to our material and sociological embeddedness rather than a transhumanist repudiation of the body. (shrink)
This paper argues that there is an important respect in which Rae Langton's recent interpretation of Kant is correct: Kant's claim that we cannot know things in themselves should be understood as the claim that we cannot know the intrinsic nature of things. However, I dispute Langton's account of intrinsic properties, and therefore her version of what this claim amounts to. Langton's distinction between intrinsic, causally inert properties and causal powers is problematic, both as an interpretation of (...) Kant, and as an independent metaphysical position. I propose a different reading of the claim that we cannot know things intrinsically. I distinguish between two ways of knowing things: in terms of their effects on other things, and as they are apart from these. I argue that knowing things' powers is knowing things in terms of effects on other things, and therefore is not knowing them as they are in themselves, and that there are textual grounds for attributing this position to Kant. (shrink)
In the preface to his new monograph, Tragic Beauty in Whitehead and Japanese Aesthetics, Steve Odin proposes to do two things: better understand Alfred N. Whitehead's "poetic vision of tragic beauty" through comparison with Japanese aesthetics, and thereby also suggest a "new religio-aesthetic vision of tragic beauty and its resolution in the supreme ecstasy of peace". He does more than that, though. Besides thoroughly discussing Whitehead's aesthetics throughout the latter's works, from An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge (...) to Modes of Thought, he enriches this aesthetics by discussing similar themes in American philosophy and literature, including Charles Peirce, John... (shrink)
This essay offers a critical introduction to the intellectual issues involved in the Kitzmiller case relating to intelligent design, and to Steve Fuller’s involvement in it. It offers a brief appraisal of the intelligent design movement stemming from the work of Phillip E. Johnson, and of Steve Fuller’s case for intelligent design in a rather different sense.
The second International Knowledge and Discourse Conference, held at the University of Hong Kong in June 2002, was the forum for the long-awaited debate between Bruno Latour and Steve Fuller. Bruno Latour counts beyond two. He places the blame for the emphasis in academia on the subject-object distinction on Kant. Latour wants academics to acknowledge that things act, and suggests we look at other traditions, e.g. the Chinese, for alternatives to the subject-object dichotomy. Steve Fuller concentrated on the (...) moral project of science, which is to draw a distinction between the human and the non-human and, to highlight the fact that, as the culmination of the sciences, social science has a particular responsibility to make this distinction. He accused Bruno Latour of evading the moral issue. The debate can be read as a reiteration of the postions of Bruno Latour and Steve Fuller on the question of heterogeneity at the theoretical level, but it did not address the topic at the practical or research level. (shrink)
Stephen T. Casper and Steve Fuller’s commentaries on my paper “Completing Circle of the Social Sciences? William Beveridge and Social Biology at the London School of Economics during the 1930s” raises important questions about the historical entanglement of the political left, welfarism, biology, and social science. In this response, I clarify questions about my analysis of events at the London School of Economics in the early twentieth century and identify ways in which they are important in the present. I (...) suggest that there is much to be learned from the school’s failed experiment with social biology, not least when it comes to thinking about the historical contingency of relationships between progressive politics and biology. (shrink)
Rae Langton's main purpose in Kantian Humility is to uncover the reasons that led Kant to claim that we can have no knowledge of things in themselves. As part of this effort, she articulates and attempts to defend a novel and intriguing position on what things in themselves are for Kant, and what it means for him to deny knowledge of them. Though the presentation of these views is lucid and informed by selective citation from a range of Kant's (...) works, the argument is flawed and the author's treatment of Kant is blinkered. (shrink)
Key to Steve Fuller’s recent defense of intelligent design is the claim that it alone can explain why science is even possible. By contrast, Fuller argues that Darwinian evolutionary theory posits a purposeless universe leaving humans with no motivation to study science and no basis for modifying an underlying reality. I argue that this view represents a retreat from insights about knowledge within Fuller’s own program of social epistemology. I argue for a Darwinian picture of science as a product (...) of cultural evolution building upon biological capabilities and liabilities bequeathed to us by biological evolution. Dual Inheritance or Gene-Culture Coevolution Theory can help us understand how complex social institutions emerged out of distinct, if connected, processes of biological and cultural evolution. Only by understanding how the unnatural nature of modern science emerged through cultural evolution can we consider where modern science functions well or poorly. (shrink)