In this paper we challenge the moral consensus against selection for disability. Our discussion will concern only those disabilities that are compatible with a life worth living from the point of view of the disabled individual. We will argue that an influential, impersonal argument against selection for disability falls to a counterexample. We will then show how the reach of the counterexample can be broadened to make trouble for anyone who objects to selection for disability. If we are right about (...) the problems for objections to selection for disability, why are objections are so widespread? We suggest that intuitions are being skewed against selection for disability by certain quirks in the usual ways of presenting the issue. Nevertheless, we must confess to finding our own result surprising. (shrink)
This is a collection of 13 essays honoring Steven Cahn, presented to him on the occasion of his 25th year as Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. The essays address issues concerning the teaching of philosophy, the responsibilities of professors, and the good life.
This paper responds to criticism presented by Steven Bland of my naturalistic approach to epistemic relativism. In my view, the central argument for epistemic relativism derives from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. This opens relativism to an anti-sceptical response. I combine Roderick Chisholm’s particularist response to the problem of the criterion with a reliabilist conception of epistemic warrant. A distinction is made between epistemic norms which provide genuine warrant and those which do not. On the basis of this (...) distinction, we may reject the relativist claim that all epistemic norms have equal standing. I consider three points made by Bland against my position. These relate to epistemic pluralism, the relevance of evolution to epistemic pluralism, and empirical evidence as a basic source of knowledge. (shrink)
Reviews : Zygmunt Bauman, Intimations of Postmodernity ; Steven Seidman and David G. Wagner , Postmodernism and Social Theory ; Stephen Crook, Jan Pakulski and Malcolm Wa ters, Postmodernization: Change in Advanced Society ; Gianni Vattimo, The End of Modernity—Nihilism and Hermeneutics in Post-modern Culture.
In their essay 'Living Well', Steven M. Cahn and Christine Vitrano argue that to live a meaningful life all we must do is find personal satisfaction and enjoyment. They argue against other philosophers who claim that 'objectively valuable' activities are what make a life meaningful. There are two problems with what they argue in the essay. The first relates to a particular criticism they make of some of those philosophers taking the contrary view, in regards to the difficulty those (...) philosophers have in deeming what is and is not of objective value. The second is more specifically to do with Cahn's and Vitrano's rejection of the idea that objectively valuable activities are what make a life meaningful, worthwhile. But both problems result from their introducing morality as relevant to what makes a life meaningful or not. (shrink)
Review of: R. Steven Turner, In the Eye's Mind: Vision and the Helmholtz-Hering Controversy. xiv + 338 pp., frontis., illus., figs., tables, bibl., index. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.
In seinem neuen Buch vertieft Steven Crowell seine Auffassung der Phänomenologie als Transzendentalphilosophie, die es mit dem normativen Raum des Sinnes (space of meaning) zu tun habe (vgl. Crowell 2001). Sowohl Husserl als auch Heidegger führen aus seiner Sicht innerhalb der Phänomenologie die kantische Tradition der Transzendentalphilosophie weiter, indem sie der Frage nach den „transzendentalen Bedingungen der Konstitution oder Enthüllung des Sinnes“ (S. 1) nachgehen.Vgl. auch den von Steven Crowell mit herausgegebenen Band Transcendental Heidegger (2007). Da der Sinn (...) aber Crowell zufolge Normativität impliziert, hat die von ihm vertretene phänomenologische Transzendentalphilosophie einen neukantianischen Zug (vgl. S. 10). Von den vier Teilen des Buches befassen sich die ersten beiden im Wesentlichen mit Husserl, während der dritte und vierte Teil auf Heidegger eingehen. Dieser Aufbau begründet sich dadurch, dass Crowell anstatt des Bruches vielmehr die Kontinuität zwischen Husserl. (shrink)
This article critically analyzes two leading cognitive scientists, George Lakoff and Steven Pinker, as competing secular political “theologians”. The idea of Science as savior is at the heart of the set of stories modernity tells about itself. The modern world, it is assumed, has left the age of religion and reached the age of Science. Lakoff and Pinker, who advocate opposing moral and political worldviews, make their claims on the basis of their scientific work, but it is implicit narratives (...) and ontologies that give force to their broader views about morality and politics. (shrink)
Peter French’s and Steven Ratner’s thoughtful comments are helpful in advancing the analysis we offered in our book On Complicity and Compromise. Inevitably, there are areas of disagreement and bones to pick. However, our primary concern in this reply will be to press, with their assistance, the more positive agenda.
The portrayal of novel neurotechnologies in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report serves to inoculate viewers from important moral considerations that are displaced by the film’s somewhat singular emphasis on the question of how to reintroduce freedom of choice into an otherwise technology driven world. This sets up a crisis mentality and presents a false dilemma regarding the appropriate use, and regulation, of neurotechnologies. On the one hand, it seems that centralized power is required to both control and effectively implement such (...) technologies and, on the other hand, individual heroic resistance is required to protect citizens from the invasions of personal privacy and state control made possible through neurotechnologies. While Minority Report, as a dystopic vision of emergent neurotechnologies, engages surface ethical issues it risks cheapening them through its rather simplistic, dichotomous analysis. Most conspicuously absent from this approach is a sense of the social matrices that work to circumscribe or augment expressions of human freedom, privacy, control and power that are all implicated in our engagement with novel neurotechnologies. Were Minority Report unique in this respect it would have little interest, but we think this type of cheapening of ethical discourse about novel technologies is common. Because science fiction film informs the social imaginary in which ethical considerations and ultimately policy decisions take place, such cheapening risks subverting pervasive and tangible ethical issues by focusing on the sensationalistic and simplistic. (shrink)
Some philosophers such as Ninian Smart have claimed that mystics from different religious traditions may sometimes have the same experience , while nevertheless giving different and tradition-bound descriptive reports of that experience. In two important essays, Steven Katz has challenged such a claim. Mystics from different religious traditions do not have the same experience.
The article contests Affeldt's critique of Mulhall's "Stanley Cavell: Philosophy's Recounting of the Ordinary," by asking how deep the conflict between what Affeldt proposes as Cavell's account of Wittgenstein's notion of grammar and that of Baker and Hacker really goes. It argues that Affeldt's critique is successful against one interpretation of the claims that grammar consists of a framework of rules and that criteria function as a basis for judgment, but that other interpretations of these claims are available and appear (...) consistent with both Cavell's and Wittgenstein's positions. It concludes by suggesting that the real issue is how to combine a sense of the normativity of grammar with that of the role of the personal in grounding grammatical remarks. (shrink)
There are five basic ways to resolve disagreements: keep arguing until capitulation, compromise, locate an ambiguity or contextual factors, accept Pyrrhonian skepticism, and adopt relativism. Relativism is perhaps the most radical and least popular solution to a disagreement, and its defenders generally think the best motivator for relativism is to be found in disputes over predicates of personal taste. I argue that taste predicates do not adequately motivate relativism over the other possible solutions, and argue that relativism looks like the (...) most promising approach when disputants cannot even agree on the meta-evidence for a contested proposition. (shrink)
In recent years, a genre of introduction to philosophical figures and movements for non-specialists has gained in popularity; these introductions aim to be neither too cursory nor too laden with academic detail. Oxford’s “Very Short Introductions” and the “Wadsworth Notes” series are examples of the cursory type, while academic monographs are examples of the detailed type. Steven Fesmire’s Dewey is a welcome and unique contribution to the new introductory genre, joining similar efforts such as Raymond Boisvert’s John Dewey: Rethinking (...) Our Time and my own Dewey: A Beginner’s Guide.Dewey possesses a number of helpful features. A glossary explains the usages Dewey imposed upon... (shrink)
Steven Pinker's How the mind works (HTMW) marks in my opinion an historic point in the history of humankind's attempt to understand itself. Socrates delivered his "know thyself" imperative rather long ago, and now, finally, in this behemoth of a book, published at the dawn of a new millennium, Pinker steps up to have psychology tell us what we are: computers crafted by evolution - end of story; mystery solved; and the poor philosophers, having never managed to obey Socrates' (...) command, are left alone to wander in the labyrinth of their benighted speculation forever. Unfortunately, though HTMW is to this point the crowning attempt of psychology to make systematic sense of persons by integrating everything relevant science knows, the book fails - and it fails so fundamentally and irremediably that we would do well to wonder anew whether we should supplant the basic view it promotes with what I call the super-mind hypothesis: the view that though mere animals are evolved computers, persons are more. (shrink)
Theists believe that God is eternal, but they differ as to just what God's eternality means . The traditional, historic view of most Christian philosophers is that eternality means that God is timeless. He is ‘outside’ of time and not subject to any kind of temporal change. Indeed, God is the creator of time. Lets call this view divine timelessness.
Steven French and Décio Krause have written what bids fair to be, for years to come, the definitive philosophical treatment of the problem of the individuality of elementary particles in quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. The book begins with a long and dense argument for the view that elementary particles are most helpfully regarded as non-individuals, and it concludes with an earnest attempt to develop a formal apparatus for describing such non-individual entities better suited to the task than (...) our customary set theory. Along the way one is treated to a compendious philosophical history of quantum statistics and a well-nigh exhaustive (I’m tempted to say, “exhausting”) analytical history of philosophical responses to the quantum theory’s prima facie challenge to classical notions of particle individuality. The book is also a salvo from the headquarters artillery company of the “pro” side in the contemporary structuralism wars, and an essay in metaphysical naturalism. Whew! There are too many places where the friendly critic wants to engage the argument, and few where the authors have not already anticipated such engagement. I take this as my excuse, then, for offering not any systematic response to the whole project, but just some questions and observations about several points that caught my attention. (shrink)
The significance of historical advances in human development has been widely debated within cognitive science. Steven Mithen's recent book, The prehistory of mind (London: Thames & Hudson, 1996), presents an archeologist's attempt to explain the details of cognitive development within the framework of modern anthropology and cognitive psychology. We argue that Mithen's attempt fails for a number of different reasons. The relationship between the archeological evidence he considers and his conclusions is problematic. We maintain that it is difficult to (...) draw biological conclusions from strictly behavioral artifactual evidence. To buttress his claims, Mithen borrows heavily from the very cognitive science literature to which he hopes to contribute. As a consequence, his analysis of the archeological evidence cannot promote a particular cognitive theory, since his interpretation is only as strong as those theories from which he borrows. We are also concerned that the specific details of Mithen's program are equally problematic. Mithen's claim that modular intelligences did not exist outside of hominid evolution is likely false and unwarranted. As a consequence, we argue that the central component of his claim that the uniquely human feature of our development, the move from modular to fluid minds, depends on poorly defined distinctions between a wide range of mental processes. Whether we can accept Mithen's characterization of these claims will depend, we argue, on how he chooses to clarify these terms. We suggest that the various choices will be difficult to reconcile with his theory. Moreover, we suggest that the phenomena that Mithen hopes to explain in human development cannot be explained strictly in terms of analogical reasoning. We nevertheless find Mithen's attempt at answering these questions to be both a constructive and fascinating foray into what is an under-explored topic. (shrink)
After more than a decade of reflection on obedience experiments based on a laboratory model of his own design, the social psychologist Stanley Milgram is clearly confident that the experimental results make a substantial and striking contribution towards understanding human nature: Something … dangerous is revealed: the capacity for man to abandon his humanity, indeed, the inevitability that he does so, as he merges his unique personality into larger institutional structures.
Though Kierkegaard never explicitly formulated a theory of religious doctrine, he did have a clear position on the role that Christian doctrine ought to play in the lives of believers. Briefly stated, he maintained that Christianity, as a human activity, involves more than merely believing certain propositions about matters of fact. The doctrines of Christianity take on a true religious significance only when they are given the power to transform the lives of those who accept them; only when they are (...) given expression in the existence of the believer. This was, however, far from evident to Kierkegaard's theological contemporaries who, in the collective absentmindedness of the age, sought to replace the Christian virtue of faith with the philosophical ideal of objective knowledge. (shrink)
Steven Crowell’s book is a welcome addition to the literature in phenomenology as well as a demonstration of the importance of phenomenology for those working in other areas of contemporary philosophy, especially those areas of Anglo-American philosophy concerned with normativity, meaning and the philosophy of action. Through a series of thirteen independent but thematically linked essays, he offers a novel account of the importance of normativity to phenomenology, a carefully argued re-thinking of the Husserlian and early Heideggerian accounts of (...) intentionality in light of this account, and ample considerations of the relevance of this reading—and of the classical phenomenological tradition more generally—for broader issues of contemporary philosophical concern.Part I lays out Crowell’s conception of phenomenology as transcendental philosophy in the Kantian tradition and explains his special emphasis on meaning and normativity. He takes as his starting point a very broad conception o .. (shrink)
A paradox, according to the OED, is ‘a statement seemingly self-contradictory or absurd, though possibly well-founded or essentially true’. In this article I shall try to show that the classical orthodox Marxist view of morality is a paradox. I shall seek to resolve the paradox by trying to show that it is only seemingly self-contradictory or absurd. But I shall not claim the standard Marxist view of morality to be well-founded or essentially true. On the contrary, I shall suggest that, (...) though coherent, it is ill-founded and illusory. (shrink)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- What will English be like a hundred years from now? No one has ever observed what happens when a language is used for a century in a global village. Will MTV and CNN infiltrate every yurt and houseboat and drive out all other languages? Will regional accents go extinct, leaving everyone sounding like a Midwestern newscaster? Some language lovers worry that e-mail and chat rooms will influence writing & F2F (face-to-face) lang. & leadd it 2 loose it's (...) grammer spllng etc. :-(. (shrink)
Should a theory of meaning state what sentences mean, and can a Davidsonian theory of meaning in particular do so? Max Ko¨lbel answers both questions affirmatively. I argue, however, that the phenomena of non-homophony, non-truth-conditional aspects of meaning, semantic mood, and context-sensitivity provide prima facie obstacles for extending Davidsonian truth-theories to yield meaning-stating theorems. Assessing some natural moves in reply requires a more fully developed conception of the task of such theories than Ko¨lbel provides. A more developed conception is also (...) required to defend his positive answer to the first question above. I argue that, however Ko¨lbel might elaborate his position, it can’t be by embracing the sort of cognitivist account of Davidsonian semantics to which he sometimes alludes. (shrink)
Aspects of an example of simulated shared subjectivity can be used both to support Steven Lehar's remarks on embodied percipients and to triangulate in a novel way the so-called “hard problem” of consciousness which Lehar wishes to “sidestep,” but which, given his other contentions regarding emergent holism, raises questions about whether he has been able or willing to do so.
In this response to Steven Jensen’s ACPQ review essay of Martin Rhonheimer’s The Perspective of Morality, its author argues that Jensen failed to understand the proper subject matter, the inner logic, and the methodology of the book. As a result, he misread key passages while passing over others, with the result that his criticisms miss the mark. Correcting these misreadings provides the occasion to explain some key features of the book, namely its idea of integrating in a single ethical (...) theory eudaimonistic ethics and its theory of happiness with action theory, anthropology of action, a theory of practical reason, an account of the moral virtues, a doctrine of natural law, of prudence, of conscience, and of moral norms, disproving thereby Jensen’s misleading claim that the book rejects nature as a standard of ethics. (shrink)
Looking at the public reaction to it, one might say that Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is undoubtedly the most successful film about the Holocaust. The film’s success in the U.S. and other Western countries can be traced back mainly to the fact that it creates the impression of telling a true, apparently authentic, story.This essay investigates how this impression of historical truth and authenticity emerges in a fiction film. For this purpose the essay reverts to a concept developed by (...) Jörn Rüsen, which distinguishes among three dimensions of historical culture, namely political, aesthetic, and cognitive. In addition to the historical context that serves as a specific precondition for the film’s success, the essay primarily investigates the strategies of authentication Spielberg applied at both the visual and narrative levels.The investigation concludes that the impression of evidence produced by the movie is significantly a result of the sophisticated balancing of the three dimensions mentioned above. The film utilizes artifacts of an existing and increasingly transnational memory for the benefit of a closed, archetypical narrative. It follows the aesthetic and artistic rules of popular narrative cinema, and largely recurs to conventions of representation that were common in film and television programs of the 1990s. Although these forms condense the historical course of events, the film manages to stay close to insights gained by historiography.The hybrid amalgamation of history and memory, and of the imaginary and the real, as well as the combination of dramaturgies of popular culture with an instinct for what can be shown—all of these factors have helped Schindler’s List to render a representation of the founding Holocaust myth in Western societies that can be sensually experienced while being emotionally impressive at the same time. (shrink)
In his most recent article, “The Appeals Process as a Means of Error Correction,” Steven Shavell asks a very important question: Why do we use a hierarchical court structure? The flip side of this inquiry is whether we might not be better off simply making our trial courts more efficient . Although I certainly applaud the recent efforts of Shavell and other law and economics scholars to examine issues of institutional design, this particular attempt suffers from two major flaws. (...) The first involves the asymmetric treatment of litigants before trial courts and appeals courts: Appellants can choose to either appeal cases or not, but the population of cases before the trial courts is assumed to be exogenous. This severely limits the ability to improve the efficiency of trial courts, leading to an overestimation of the value added from an appeals process. The second problem involves the behavior of judges, who are assumed to behave as automatons. Allowing judges to behave rationally dramatically changes the nature of the model's results, most fatally leading to the elimination of the separation equilibrium that Shavell wishes to achieve. (shrink)
Steven Heine’s latest book on the history of kōans, Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Kōan in Zen Buddhism, is his second monograph dedicated to a single kōan case record. The author’s first such offering, Shifting Shape, Shaping Text: Philosophy and Folklore in the Fox Kōan, focused on the second case record of the thirteenth-century Gateless Gate collection. Published at the end of the 1990s the text was a response, in many ways, to the two authors who dominated (...) the field of Zen studies during that decade, Bernard Faure and William Bodiford, particularly in regard to the historical relation between monastic Chan/Zen and popular forms of supernatural belief and practice... (shrink)
Lifelines by Steven Rose is supposed to present a new perspective on biology replacing an emphasis on genes with one on organisms. However, much of the book is a highly biased critique of sociobiology and behavior genetics. Some of the flaws in Rose's description and depiction of these fields are presented and refuted. Also, it would appear that these aspects of the book and many others are, in fact, related more to Rose's perennial concern for the ideology, social origins (...) or social consequences of behavioral biology. These concerns are, I believe based, in part, upon Rose's misunderstandings and misinterpretations of genetics, behavior genetics, and sociobiology. (shrink)
Steven m cahn, In the june 1987 issue of "analysis", Asks how a principled divesture of stocks is possible. Selling stock requires a buyer, So no net reduction of objectionable economic behavior results. Is divestiture merely self-Righteous cleansing of one's own hands? not necessarily. It is argued that divesture as a means to influence corporate behavior, And not just as a means to a clean portfolio, Can be justified.
In The Scientific Life, Steven Shapin argues that people and their virtues matter in late modern science. While scientists struggle to remain objective and impersonal, it is the personal, familiar, and charismatic—the traits once swept aside as vices by the scientifically virtuous—that have come to embody the “truth-speakers” of late modernity. With an enormous and sometimes daunting wealth of primary sources (from technical commentaries to his own sociological fieldwork), Steven Shapin breathes life back into these quotidian virtues. The (...) Scientific Life is as much a disjointed genealogy of scientific virtue as a reminder that trust still matters at the cutting-edge of scientific “future-making.” Shapin’s mastery of historical narrative is clear; anyone interested in the American scientific persona and how it has transformed in the twentieth century would do well to wade patiently through this thick and rewarding text. But hang up your expectations of historical linearity (and, sometimes, thematic coherence) as you weave through motley professionals, theorists, and critics drawn from over a century of science commentators. Perhaps this work is best described as textured: rich in detail, woven intricately, but hardly smooth to the touch. (shrink)
1. Introduction The policy of deterrence, at least to avert nuclear war between the superpowers, has been a controversial one. The main controversy arises from the threat of each side to visit destruction on the other in response to an initial attack. This threat would seem irrational if carrying it out would lead to a nuclear holocaust – the worst outcome for both sides. Instead, it would seem better for the side attacked to suffer some destruction rather than to retaliate (...) in kind and, in the process of devastating the other side, seal its own doom in an all-out nuclear exchange. Yet, the superpowers persist in their adherence to deterrence, by which we mean a policy of threatening to retaliate to an attack by the other side in order to deter such an attack in the first place. To be sure, nuclear doctrine for implementing deterrence has evolved over the years, with such appellations as “massive retaliation,” “flexible response,” “mutual assured destruction”, and “counterforce” giving some flavor of the changes in United States strategic thinking. All such doctrines, however, entail some kind of response to a Soviet nuclear attack. They are operationalized in terms of preselected targets to be hit, depending on the perceived nature and magnitude of the attack. Thus, whether U.S. strategic policy at any time stresses a retaliatory attack on cities and industrial centers or on weapons systems and armed forces, the certainty of a response of some kind to an attack is not the issue. (shrink)