In English, two deictic space-time metaphors are in common usage: the Moving Ego metaphor conceptualizes the ego as moving forward through time and the Moving Time metaphor conceptualizes time as moving forward toward the ego . Although earlier research investigating the psychological reality of these metaphors has typically examined spatial influences on temporal reasoning , recent lines of research have extended beyond this, providing initial evidence that personality differences and emotional experiences may also influence how people reason about events in (...) time . In this article, we investigate whether these relationships have force in real life. Building on the effects of individual differences in self-reported conscientiousness and procrastination found by Duffy and Feist , we examined whether, in addition to self-reported conscientiousness and procrastination, there is a relationship between conscientious and procrastinating behaviors and temporal perspective. We found that participants who adopted the Moving Time perspective were more likely to exhibit conscientious behaviors, while those who adopted the Moving Ego perspective were more likely to procrastinate, suggesting that the earlier effects reach beyond the laboratory. (shrink)
The priority view has become very popular in moral philosophy, but there is a serious question about how it should be formalized. The most natural formalization leads to ex post prioritarianism, which results from adding expected utility theory to the main ideas of the priority view. But ex post prioritarianism entails a claim which is too implausible for it to be a serious competitor to utilitarianism. In fact, ex post prioritarianism was probably never a genuine alternative to utilitarianism in the (...) first place. By contrast, ex ante prioritarianism is defensible. But its motivation is very different from the usual rationales offered for the priority view. Given the untenability of ex post prioritarianism, it is more natural for most friends of the priority view to revert to utilitarianism. (shrink)
This article is the basis of an invited talk at KR-96 in 1996 November. It has been modified from the version that appeared in the preprints of that meeting. There is an html version, a.dvi version,.pdf version and a.ps version. Up to: Main McCarthy page Up to: Send comments to mccarthy @stanford.edu. I sometimes make changes suggested in them. - John McCarthy.
McCarthy develops a theory of radical interpretation--the project of characterizing from scratch the language and attitudes of an agent or population--and applies it to the problems of indeterminacy of interpretation first described by Quine. The major theme in McCarthy's study is that a relatively modest set of interpretive principles, properly applied, can serve to resolve the major indeterminacies of interpretation.
Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy provides in one volume the major writings from nearly 2,500 years of political and moral philosophy. The most comprehensive collection of its kind, it moves from classical thought (Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Cicero) through medieval views (Augustine, Aquinas) to modern perspectives (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Adam Smith, Kant). It includes major nineteenth-century thinkers (Hegel, Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche) as well as twentieth-century theorists (Rawls, Nozick, Nagel, Foucault, Habermas, Nussbaum). Also included are numerous essays from (...) The Federalist Papers and a variety of notable documents and addresses, among them Pericles' Funeral Oration, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and speeches by Edmund Burke, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, John Dewey, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The readings are substantial or complete texts, not fragments. An especially valuable feature of this volume is that the works of each author are introduced with a substantive and engaging essay by a leading contemporary authority. These introductions include Richard Kraut on Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Cicero; Paul J. Weithman on Augustine and Aquinas; Roger D. Masters on Machiavelli; Jean Hampton on Hobbes; Steven B. Smith on Spinoza and Hegel; A. John Simmons on Locke; Joshua Cohen on Rousseau and Rawls; Donald W. Livingston on Hume; Charles L. Griswold, Jr., on Smith; Bernard E. Brown on Hamilton and Madison; Jeremy Waldron on Bentham and Mill; Paul Guyer on Kant; Richard Miller on Marx and Engels; Richard Schacht on Nietzsche; Thomas Christiano on Nozick; John Deigh on Nagel; Thomas A. McCarthy on Foucault and Habermas; and Eva Feder Kittay on Nussbaum. Offering unprecedented breadth of coverage, Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy is an ideal text for courses in social and political philosophy, moral philosophy, or surveys in Western civilization. (shrink)
Ideal for survey courses in social and political philosophy, this volume is a substantially abridged and slightly altered version of Steven M. Cahn's Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy (OUP, 2001). Offering coverage from antiquity to the present, Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts is a historically organized collection of the most significant works from nearly 2,500 years of political philosophy. It moves from classical thought (Plato, Aristotle) through the medieval period (Aquinas) to modern perspectives (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, (...) Adam Smith, Hamilton and Madison, Kant). The book includes work from major nineteenth-century thinkers (Hegel, Marx and Engels, Mill) and twentieth-century theorists (Rawls, Nozick, Foucault, Habermas, Nussbaum) and also presents a variety of notable documents and addresses, including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and speeches by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. The readings are substantial or complete texts, not fragments. An especially valuable feature of this volume is that the works of each author are introduced with an engaging essay by a leading contemporary authority. These introductions include Richard Kraut on Plato and Aristotle; Paul J. Weithman on Aquinas; Roger D. Masters on Machiavelli; Jean Hampton on Hobbes; A. John Simmons on Locke; Joshua Cohen on Rousseau and Rawls; Donald W. Livingston on Hume; Charles L. Griswold, Jr., on Adam Smith; Bernard E. Brown on Hamilton and Madison; Paul Guyer on Kant; Steven B. Smith on Hegel; Richard Miller on Marx and Engels; Jeremy Waldron on Mill; Thomas Christiano on Nozick; Thomas A. McCarthy on Foucault and Habermas; and Eva Feder Kittay on Nussbaum. (shrink)
Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy provides in one volume the major writings from nearly 2,500 years of political and moral philosophy, from Plato through the twentieth century. The most comprehensive collection of its kind, it moves from classical thought through medieval views to modern perspectives. It includes major nineteenth-century thinkers and considerably more twentieth-century theorists than are found in competing volumes. Also included are numerous essays from The Federalist Papers and a variety of notable documents and addresses, among them (...) Pericles' Funeral Oration, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and speeches by Edmund Burke, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, John Dewey, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The readings are substantial or complete texts, not fragments. The second edition contains two new readings--by Charles Taylor and Virginia Held--and adds The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also presents two works by John Locke in their entirety and includes a new translation of Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.An especially valuable feature of this volume is that the writings of each author are introduced with a substantive and engaging essay by a leading contemporary authority. These introductions include Richard Kraut on Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Cicero; Paul J. Weithman on Augustine and Aquinas; Roger D. Masters on Machiavelli; Jean Hampton on Hobbes; Steven B. Smith on Spinoza and Hegel; A. John Simmons on Locke; Joshua Cohen on Rousseau and Rawls; Donald W. Livingston on Hume; Charles L. Griswold, Jr., on Smith; Bernard E. Brown on Hamilton and Madison; Jeremy Waldron on Bentham and Mill; Paul Guyer on Kant; Richard Miller on Marx and Engels; Thomas Christiano on Nozick; Robert B. Talisse on Charles Taylor; Thomas A. McCarthy on Foucault and Habermas; Cheshire Calhoun on Held; and Eva Feder Kittay on Nussbaum.Offering unprecedented breadth of coverage, Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy, Second Edition, is an ideal text for courses in political philosophy, social and political philosophy, moral philosophy, or surveys in Western civilization. (shrink)
Now greatly expanded in its second edition, Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts is ideal for survey courses in social and political philosophy. Offering coverage from antiquity to the present, this historically organized collection presents the most significant works from nearly 2,500 years of political philosophy. It moves from classical thought through the medieval period to modern perspectives. The book includes work from major nineteenth-century thinkers and twentieth-century theorists and also presents a variety of notable documents and addresses, including The Declaration (...) of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and speeches by Pericles, Edmund Burke, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The readings are substantial or complete texts, not fragments. In addition to the new selections noted above in bold, the second edition also includes more essays from Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Smith, Hamilton and Madison, Kant, and Mill. An especially valuable feature of this volume is that the works of each author are introduced with an engaging essay by a leading contemporary authority. These introductions include Richard Kraut on Plato and Aristotle; Paul J. Weithman on Augustine and Aquinas; Roger D. Masters on Machiavelli; Jean Hampton on Hobbes; A. John Simmons on Locke; Joshua Cohen on Rousseau and Rawls; Donald W. Livingston on Hume; Charles L. Griswold, Jr., on Smith; Bernard E. Brown on Hamilton and Madison; Paul Guyer on Kant; Steven B. Smith on Hegel; Richard Miller on Marx and Engels; Jeremy Waldron on Mill; Thomas Christiano on Nozick; Robert B. Talisse on Taylor; Thomas A. McCarthy on Foucault and Habermas; and Cheshire Calhoun on Held. (shrink)
In _Time in the Ditch, _John McCumber explores the effect of McCarthyism on American philosophy in the 1940s and 1950s. The possibility that the political pressures of the McCarthy era might have skewed the development of the discipline has rarely been addressed in the subsequent half century. Why was silence maintained for so long? And what happens, McCumber asks, when political events and pressures go beyond interfering with individual careers to influence the nature of a discipline itself?
The essays in this book - all of them published here for the first time - provide a long-overdue critical discussion of Jürgen Habermas's cascade of ideas. These are topped off by a freshet of original Habermas: in the final essay, he replies to the criticism developed in the preceding contributions and to other recent assessments of his work, provides an important clarification of his earlier views, and reveals the direction of his current thought.Each essay probes a particular theme in (...) Habermas's work, and each presents both an exposition and a critique. Among the subjects covered are Habermas's theory of knowledge-constitutive interests, his account of language and truth, his "overcoming" of hermeneutics, the concept of universal pragmatics, the orientation of his thought relative to the Marxist tradition, and his project of analyzing the crisis tendencies of capitalism within the context of evolutionary theory.The contributors are philosophers and social theorists of international standing, most of them affiliated with German, English, and American universities. They are Agnes Heller, Rudiger Bubner, Thomas McCarthy, Henning Ottmann, Mary Hesse, Steven Lukes, Anthony Giddens, Michael Schmid, Andrew Arato, and the editors. The editors have also contributed a substantial introduction outlining the central contours of Habermas's work and summarizing the main arguments of the essays.John B. Thompson is a Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and David Held is Lecturer in Politics, University of York. (shrink)
The essays in this volume reflect on and expand Frankfurt School critical theory as reformulated after World War II by Karl-Otto Apel, Jürgen Habermas, and others. Frankfurt School critical theory since the pragmatic turn has become a richer source of critical analysis that is at the same time socially and politically more effective. The essays are dedicated to Thomas McCarthy, who has done perhaps more than any other scholar to introduce English-speaking audiences to contemporary German critical theory.The book is (...) organized into three parts. Part one deals with social theory and the rational basis of communication, including basic issues raised by the pragmatic turn. Part two examines conceptions of autonomy and the self. Part three deals with political theory, focusing on problems stemming from sociocultural pluralism. Together, the essays provide an overview of the latest developments in Frankfurt School critical theory as it responds to the challenges of pragmatism and social pluralism. (shrink)
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)
This paper, starting from the awareness of the anthropological finitude, aims to investigate the symbolic meaning of the catastrophe in today's society. With reference to E. De Martino’s and G. Anders’s anthropo - philosophical theses, the paper analyzes the representation of present catastrophes as Apocalypses without eskaton , in which the "blindness" of man and his inability to react is manifested. Both technological catastrophes directly caused by man and environmental disasters indirectly produced by anthropic neglect causes a widespread sense of (...) powerlessness, leaving man devoid of theoretical and practical means to guide his action. This implies, however, the necessity to widen human "feel" and the ability to understand the "meaning" of our actions in the world. This paper aims to examine all these issues through an ecocritic analysis of the novel The Road by C. McCarthy, in order to show that there is still a deeply human way to experience the fragility and to represent the catastrophe. (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.
Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, and Joel and Ethan Coen’s film adaptation of the same name, deliver two separate critiques of sacrificial violence through their particular renderings of Carla Jean Moss’s death scene, as they correspond, respectively, to the theories of René Girard and Slavoj Žižek. In both film and novel, the chase narrative offers a concrete representation of runaway acquisitive mimesis engendering resentment and cathartic violence. This violence is symbolically manifest in the character of Anton Chigurh. (...) An assassin whose killings often employ a ritual of chance, Chigurh is a symbol for both the violence foundational to culture and the fascinating draw such violence continues to have .. (shrink)
McCarthy thinks truth more important than I do. Specifically, he thinks that “ ‘truth’ … functions as an ‘idea of reason’ with respect to which we can criticize not only particular claims within our language but the very standards of truth we have inherited” . By contrast, I think that what enables us to make such criticism is concrete alternative suggestions—suggestions about how to redescribe what we are talking about. Some examples are Galileo’s suggestions about how to redescribe the (...) Aristotelian universe, Marx’s suggestions about how to redescribe the nineteenth century, Heidegger’s suggestions about how to redescribe the West as a whole, Dickens’s suggestions about how to redescribe chancery law, Rabelais’s suggestions about how to redescriibe monasteries, and Virginia Woolf’s suggestions about how to redescribe women writing.Such fresh descriptions, such new suggestions of things to say, sentences to consider, vocabularies to employ, are what do the work. All that the idea of truth does is to say, “Bethink yourself that you might be mistaken; remember that your beliefs may be justified by your other belies in the area, but that the whole kit and caboodle might be misguided, and in particular that you might be using the wrong words for your purpose.” But this admonition is empty and powerless without some concrete suggestion of an alternative set of beliefs, or of words. Moreover, if you have such a suggestion, you do not need the admonition. The only cash value of this regulative idea is to commend fallibilism, to remind us that lots of people have been as certain of, and as justified in believing, things that turned out to be false as we are certain of, and justified in holding, our present views. It is not, as McCarthy says, a “moment of unconditionality that opens us up to criticism from other points of view” . It is the particular attractions of those other points of view.Richard Rorty is University Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia. His most recent book is Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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 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)
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 Cahn posed a puzzle in this issue of the APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy, asking whether philosophy professors are morally obliged to reason students out of presumably irrational religious beliefs, by analogy with a hypothetical case in which a young person has been led to believe she has a magnanimous uncle who she never met but who has the wherewithal to watch over her life from afar and protect her. I responded in a nuanced manner, but basically emphasizing (...) that we have an obligation to teach students to reason, not what particular premises or conclusions to accept. (shrink)