‘Any reason for living is an excellent reason for not dying’ (Steven Luper-Foy, 'Annihilation'). Some claims seem so clearly right that we don’t think to question them. Steven Luper-Foy’s remark is like that. It borders on the ‘trivially true’ (i.e. so obviously true as to be uninteresting). If I have a reason to live, surely I likewise have a reason not to die. It may then be surprising to learn that so many philosophers disagree with this claim—either directly (...) or by implication. I will look at some of the things people say that stand in opposition to Luper-Foy’s claim. I will also consider what is needed in order to agree with it. The views canvassed cover broad issues concerning life and death, and what matters to us with respect to both. (shrink)
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better if we were immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Life, Death, and Meaning brings together key readings, primarily by English-speaking philosophers, on such 'big questions.'.
Niceties aside, Reliabilism is the claim that a belief is justified or rational if and only if it has a reliable source. One way to arrive at a belief is by inferring it from others through the application of a rule of inference. Hence Reliabilism has the consequence that a belief arrived at by applying a given rule of inference is rational if and only if arriving at that belief by applying the rule is reliable. This consequence of Reliabilism I (...) will call the Reliabilist’s Thesis. (shrink)
Adherents of the epistemological position called internalism typically believe that the view they oppose, called externalism, is such a new and radical departure from the established way of seeing knowledge that its implications are uninteresting. Perhaps itis relatively novel, but the approach to knowledge with the greatest antiquity is the one that equates it withcertainty, and while this conception is amenable to the demands of the internalist, it is also a non-starter in the opinion of almost all contemporary epistemologists since (...) obviously it directly implies that we know nothing about the world. Perhaps skepticism is correct, but there are conceptions of knowledge at least as plausible as the certainty equation that do not obviously land us there. It is its promise along these lines that makes the so-called traditional conception of knowledge initially interesting. But contrary to popular belief, the traditional conception cannot be claimed by internalists if it is to have any chance at all in avoiding skepticism; to avoid skepticism, I shall argue, it has to have an externalist element.Moreover, each of the departures from the traditional view that appears in the Gettier literature is externalist as well, or at least all of the ones of which I am aware. The only genuine forms of internalism are those held by philosophers who draw a fairly sharp line between knowledge and justified belief, ignore the former, then offer an internalist account of the latter. This approach is very common and very plausible. But it is not as useful as is often thought; in particular, I shall suggest, it must succumb to a form of skepticism. (shrink)
Justice entitles everyone in the world, including future generations, to an equitable share of the benefits of the world's natural resources. I argue that even though both Rawls and his libertarian critics seem hostile to it, this resource equity principle, suitably clarified, is a major part of an adequate strict compliance theory of global justice whether or not we take a libertarian or a Rawlsian approach. I offer a defence of the resource equity principle from both points of view.
According to Steven Weinberg, it is the goal of elementary particle physics to search for the final laws of physics, i.e. a simple set of principles from which everything we know about physics can be derived. The main criterion that guides the search for such a set of principles is, according to the author, the sense of inevitability of physical theories, which Weinberg conflates with the idea of beauty. The theoretical physicists’ task is, in this sense, to look for (...) constraining principles, such as symmetries and renormalizability, that increase the sense of inevitability of physical laws. It is the goal of this paper to discuss Weinberg’s arguments in favor of reductionism, as well as his conception of final theory and the associated concept of “inevitability.”. (shrink)
The physics and metaphysics of identity and individuality Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9463-7 Authors Don Howard, Department of Philosophy and Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Elena Castellani, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence, Via Bolognese 52, 50139 (...) Florence, Italy Laura Crosilla, Department of Pure Mathematics, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT UK Steven French, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Décio Krause, Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Santa Catarina, 88040-900 Campus Trindade, Florianópolis, SC Brazil Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
First, I briefly recapitulate the main points of Rosen’s article, namely, that the word “Being” does not adequately signify the paradoxical unification of subject and object and that the Klein bottle can serve as a more appropriate sign -vehicle than the word. I then propose to apply his insight more widely; however, in order to do that, it is first necessary to identify infra- and exostructures of language, including culture, category structure, logic, metaphor, semantics, syntax, concept, and sign vehicles, that (...) preserve the status quo and keep subject and object disjunct. After analyzing those infra/exostructures, I engage a complementary process of integrating them, coagula, in order to spark ideas for innovating ways in which more of those facets of language can embrace paradox. (shrink)
In a recent article Steven Cowan defended the claim that female subordination and male authority are merely functional differences. Drawing insights from Natural Law, I argue that complementarianism typically speaks of these as proper functions of male and female designs, thus making men and women metaphysically unequal in being. Furthermore, I maintain that the function "serving as a means to an end" is less valuable than the function "having the authority to direct the end." Hence, Cowan fails to defeat (...) the objection that the claim that women are equal to men in being, but subordinate in role is incoherent. (shrink)
Otávio Bueno* * and Steven French.** ** Applying Mathematics: Immersion, Inference, Interpretation. Oxford University Press, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-19-881504-4 978-0-19-185286-2. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198815044. 001.0001. Pp. xvii + 257.
In my review of Steven French's The structure of the world. Metaphysics & Representation. OUP, Oxford, 2014 I argue that the author is forced to navigate between the Scilla of Tegmark’s Pitagoreanism (2008) and the Carybdis of “blobobjectivism” (Horgan and Potrč 2008), namely the claim that the whole physical universe is a single concrete structurally complex but partless cosmos (a “blob”).
Steven Pinker's "Enlightenment NOW" is in many ways a terrific book, from which I have learnt much. But it is also deeply flawed. Science and reason are at the heart of the book, but the conceptions that Steven Pinker defends are damagingly irrational. And these defective conceptions of science and reason, as a result of being associated with the Enlightenment Programme for the past two or three centuries, have been responsible, in part, for the genesis of the global (...) problems we now suffer from, and our current inability to deal with them properly. There is not a glimmering of an awareness of any of this in Pinker’s book. This flaw in Enlightenment NOW is serious indeed. (shrink)
As an emerging discipline, neuroeconomics faces considerable methodological and practical challenges. In this paper, I suggest that these challenges can be understood by exploring the similarities and dissimilarities between the emergence of neuroeconomics and the emergence of cognitive and computational neuroscience two decades ago. From these parallels, I suggest the major challenge facing theory formation in the neural and behavioural sciences is that of being under-constrained by data, making a detailed understanding of physical implementation necessary for theory construction in neuroeconomics. (...) Rather than following a top-down strategy, neuroeconomists should be pragmatic in the use of available data from animal models, information regarding neural pathways and projections, computational models of neural function, functional imaging and behavioural data. By providing convergent evidence across multiple levels of organization, neuroeconomics will have its most promising prospects of success. (shrink)
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)
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.
The prisoner 's dilemma game has acquired large literatures in several disciplines. It is surprising, therefore, that a good definition of the game is hard to find. Typically an author relates a story about captured criminals or military rivals, provides a particular payoff matrix and asserts that the PD is characterized, or illustrated, by that matrix. In the few cases in which characterizing conditions are given, the conditions, and the motivations for them, do not always agree with each other or (...) with the paradigm examples elsewhere. In this paper we describe several varieties of PD's. In particular, we suggest there are two distinctions among PD's with philosophical significance, the pure/impure and the utilitarian/nonutilitarian distinctions. In the first section, we explain and characterize the two distinctions. In the second, we discuss an issue of moral philosophy that illustrates the significance of the former. (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.
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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.