For scientific essentialists, the only logical possibilities of existence are the real (or metaphysical) ones, and such possibilities, they say, are relative to worlds. They are not a priori, and they cannot just be invented. Rather, they are discoverable only by the a posteriori methods of science. There are, however, many philosophers who think that real possibilities are knowable a priori, or that they can just be invented. Marc Lange [Lange 2004] thinks that they can be invented, and tries to (...) use his inventions to argue that the essentialist theory of counterfactual conditionals developed in Scientific Essentialism [Ellis 2001, hereafter SE] is flawed. (shrink)
[opening paragraph]: Nicholas Humphrey argues persuasively that consciousness results from active and efferent rather than passive and afferent functions. These arguments contribute to the mounting recent evidence that consciousness is inseparable from the motivated action planning of creatures that in some sense are organismic and agent-like rather than passively mechanical and reactive in the way that digital computers are. Newton calls this new approach the ‘action theory of understanding'; Varela et al. dubbed it the ‘enactive’ view of consciousness. It was (...) endorsed in passing by the early Dennett , although he never followed up on it in his later work. According to Dennett, ‘No afferent can be said to have a significance ‘A’ until it is ‘taken’ to have the significance ‘A’ by the efferent side of the brain’ . Luria also stressed the neurophysiology of efferent processes as correlated with consciousness . Further elaborations of the enactive approach are defended by Ellis , Newton , Ellis and Newton , Watt , Thelen and Smith , Jarvilehto and Gendlin . According to this view, conscious information processing can arise only as the self-regulated action of a self-organizing process that confronts the world as a system of action affordances. While information can be passively absorbed in the form of afferent input, only efferent nervous activity in the interest of a living organism's homeostatic balance can create consciousness of any information, whether perceptual, imagistic, emotional or intellectual. (shrink)
This paper is a response to the "panel discussion of simultaneity by slow clock transport in the special and general theories of relativity" ("philosophy of science", 36, (march, 1969), Pp. 1-81) which arose out of a paper by brian ellis and peter bowman on "conventionality in distant simultaneity", ("philosophy of science", 34, (june, 1967), Pp. 116-36). It is argued that the basic disagreement between the pittsburgh panel and us is an epistemological one. In particular, Our concept of a good (...) physical reason is radically different from the pittsburgh panel's. For us the known existence of a number of concordant, Isotropic, And logically independent criteria for distant simultaneity, And the non-Existence of any known discordant but isotropic criteria for distant simultaneity is a good physical reason for choosing one of these criteria. For the pittsburgh panel it is not. (shrink)
In this volume comprised of sixteen essays and rebuttals, author and professor of philosophy Susan Haack responds to her fellow philosophers and her critics on a wide range of topics that involve much more than the esoteric nature of contemporary philosophy. Instead, as is Haack's forte, she asserts her views on important current issues such as how scientists conduct their work, the ethics of affirmative action and the pitfalls of preferential hiring, and how the distorted reality the postmodern thinkers (...) have presented has corrupted legal thinking. Her charge is to bring clarity, precision, integrity, and most of all, practicality to her field of study. (shrink)
Are science and religion compatible when it comes to understanding cosmology (the origin of the universe), biology (the origin of life and of the human species), ethics, and the human mind (minds, brains, souls, and free will)? Do science and religion occupy non-overlapping magisteria? Is Intelligent Design a scientific theory? How do the various faith traditions view the relationship between science and religion? What, if any, are the limits of scientific explanation? What are the most important open questions, problems, or (...) challenges confronting the relationship between science and religion, and what are the prospects for progress? These and other questions are explored in Science and Religion: 5 Questions--a collection of thirty-three interviews based on 5 questions presented to some of the world's most influential and prominent philosophers, scientists, theologians, apologists, and atheists. Contributions by Simon Blackburn, Susan Blackmore, Sean Carroll, William Lane Craig, William Dembski, Daniel C. Dennett, George F.R. Ellis, Owen Flanagan, Owen Gingerich, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, John F. Haught, Muzaffar Iqbal, Lawrence Krauss, Colin McGinn, Alister McGrath, Mary Midgley, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Timothy O'Connor, Massimo Pigliucci, John Polkinghorne, James Randi, Alex Rosenberg, Michael Ruse, Robert John Russell, John Searle, Michael Shermer, Victor J. Stenger, Robert Thurman, Michael Tooley, Charles Townes, Peter van Inwagen, Keith Ward, Rabbi David Wolpe. (shrink)
According to welfarism about value, something is good simpliciter just in case it is good for some being or beings. In her recent Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association, “Good-For-Nothings”, Susan Wolf argues against welfarism by appeal to great works of art, literature, music, and philosophy. Wolf provides three main arguments against this view, which I call The Superfluity Argument, The Explanation of Benefit Argument, and The Welfarist’s Mistake. In this paper, I reconstruct these arguments and explain where, (...) in my view, each goes wrong. (shrink)
Abstract: Faced with the thesis of the exhaustion of analytic philosophy, the work of Susan Haack shows a process of deep transformation within analytical philosophy. Instead of considering the analytic tradition as an abrupt breakdown with classical pragmatism, the resurgence of pragmatism in the last decades endorses, on the contrary, the continuity between both movements. In this process Susan Haack's work has a decisive role. This paper around the pragmatism of Susan Haack is organized into three sections: (...) 1) The pragmatist development in Haack's biography; 2) the two rival versions of pragmatism; and 3) the future of pragmatism. -/- Frente a la tesis del agotamiento de la filosofía analítica, el trabajo de Susan Haack muestra un proceso de profunda transformación en el seno de la filosofía analítica. En lugar de considerar la tradición analítica como una abrupta ruptura con el pragmatismo clásico, el resurgimiento del pragmatismo de las últimas décadas avala, por el contrario, la continuidad entre ambos movimientos. En este proceso el trabajo de Susan Haack tiene un papel decisivo. Esta colaboración en torno al pragmatismo de Susan Haack está organizada en tres secciones: 1) El desarrollo pragmatista en la biografía de Haack; 2) las dos versiones rivales del pragmatismo; y 3) el futuro del pragmatismo. (shrink)
Reviewing "The Ethics of Gender, Feminism and Christian Ethics," and "The Cambridge Companion to Feminist Theology," the author suggests that Susan Parsons responds to questions postmodernism has posed to both feminism and Christian ethics by using insights gained from various accounts of the moral subject found in feminist philosophy, ethics, and theology. Hesitant to embrace postmodernism's critique of the possibility of ethics, Parsons redefines ethics by establishing a moral point of view within discursive communities. Yet in her brief treatment (...) of Emmanuel Levinas, Parsons does not explore the postmodern option he offers feminists: an understanding of moral responsibility that can be critical of ethics. Parsons also ignores some feminist perspectives in the physical and natural sciences, thereby missing valuable insights of feminists who insist upon the materiality of the body. (shrink)
An essay on the article "Reason and Feeling in Thinking about Justice," by Susan Moller Okin is presented. It offers a history of the original position in philosophical reasoning for explaining a sense of justice and examines feminist criticisms against such thinking for failure to appreciate differences and otherness while focused on universality and impartiality. The author relates the choice feminist theories on ethic of sympathy or care for others in place of an ethic of justice in general.
Efforts to introduce particular-focused and emotionally engaged storytelling into historiography have sparked intense debate. Stone-Mediatore argues that women and other under-represented groups have a particular interest in defending the epistemic value of storytelling, but that we can do so meaningfully -- not by endorsing all storytelling -- but only by articulating a metahistory that challenges the division between history and story as well as makes explicit the interrelated epistemic and ethical goals of historical inquiry. The author draws on Hannah Arendt (...) and Susan Griffin to begin to articulate such a feminist metahistory. She argues that such a metahistory throws light on the potential value of creative and engaged storytelling, not only for understanding historical events but also for building less violent worlds. (shrink)
[ Susan Hurley] I argue that the aim to neutralize the influence of luck on distribution cannot provide a basis for egalitarianism: it can neither specify nor justify an egalitarian distribution. Luck and responsibility can play a role in determining what justice requires to be redistributed, but from this we cannot derive how to distribute: we cannot derive a pattern of distribution from the 'currency' of distributive justice. I argue that the contrary view faces a dilemma, according to whether (...) it understands luck in interpersonal or counterfactual terms. /// [Richard J. Arneson] Does it make sense to hold that, if it is bad that some people are worse off than others, it is worse if those who are worse off come to be so through sheer bad luck that it is beyond their power to control? In her contribution to this symposium, Susan Hurley cautions against a closely related fallacy: from the fact that people have come to an unequal condition through unchosen bad luck, it does not follow that, if we aim to undo the influence of unchosen luck, we ought to institute equality of condition. Forswearing the fallacy that Hurley analyses is compatible with answering the question affirmatively, and more generally with holding that principles of distributive justice should be sensitive to the distinction between chosen and unchosen bad luck. This essay explores how this might be done. (shrink)
In this paper I lay out what I take to be the crucial insights in Susan Bordo's "Feminist Skepticism and the 'Maleness' of Philosophy" and point out some additional difficulties with the skeptical position. I call attention to an ambiguity in the nature or content of the "maleness" of philosophy that Bordo identifies. Finally, I point out that, unlike some feminist skeptics, Bordo never loses sight in her work of women's lived experiences.
FIRST PARAGRAPH I have argued that dispositionalism is incompatible with the Principle of Least Action (PLA) (Katzav 2004). In ‘Katzav on the Limitations of Dispositionalism,’ Brian Ellis responds, arguing that while naïve dispositionalism is incompatible with the PLA, sophisticated dispositionalism is not. Naive dispositionalism, according to Ellis, is the view that the world is ultimately something like a conglomerate of objects and their dispositions, and that, therefore, dispositions are the ultimate ontological units that explain events. Sophisticated dispositionalism, according (...) to Ellis, supposes that, how things are disposed to behave depends also on what kinds of things they are, what kinds of property they have, and how these kinds of things and properties are placed in the natural kinds hierarchies to which they belong (Ellis 2005). Further, it supposes that at the top of each hierarchy of natural kinds there is a global kind. For example, ‘[t]he global natural kind in the category of substance is that of the physical system’ (Ellis 2005). Ellis continues, claiming that the PLA is of the essence of the global kind in the category of objects or substances. If this is so, then, of course, every continuing object must be Lagrangian, i.e. disposed to evolve in accordance with the principle of least action (Ellis 2005). Ellis concludes that, therefore, a sophisticated dispositionalist can accommodate the PLA and its metaphysical necessity. (shrink)
Does Spinoza present philosophy as the preserve of an elite, while condemning the uneducated to a false though palliative form of ‘true religion’? Some commentators have thought so, but this contribution aims to show that they are mistaken. The form of religious life that Spinoza recommends creates the political and epistemological conditions for a gradual transition to philosophical understanding, so that true religion and philosophy are in practice inseparable.
Susan Stebbing’s work on incomplete symbols and analysis was instrumental in clarifying, sharpening, and improving the project of logical constructions which was pivotal to early analytic philosophy. She dispelled use-mention confusions by restricting the term ‘incomplete symbol’ to expressions eliminable through analysis, rather than those expressions’ purported referents, and distinguished linguistic analysis from analysis of facts. In this paper I explore Stebbing’s role in analytic philosophy’s development from anti-holism, presupposing that analysis terminates in simples, to the more holist or (...) foundherentist analytic philosophy of the later 20th century. I read Stebbing as a transitional figure who made room for more holist analytic movements, e.g., applications of incomplete symbol theory to Quinean ontological commitment. Stebbing, I argue, is part of a historical narrative which starts with the holism of Bradley, an early influence on her, to which Moore and Russell’s logical analysis was a response. They countered Bradley’s holist reservations about facts with the view that the world is built up out of individually knowable simples. Stebbing, a more subtle and sympathetic reader of the British idealists, defends analysis, but with important refinements and caveats which prepared the way for a return to foundherentism and holism within analytic philosophy. (shrink)
In Lange 2004a, I argued that 'scientific essentialism' [Ellis 2001 cannot account for the characteristic relation between laws and counterfactuals without undergoing considerable ad hoc tinkering. In recent papers, Brian Ellis 2005 and Toby Handfield 2005 have defended essentialism against my charge. Here I argue that Ellis's and Handfield's replies fail. Even in ordinary counterfactual reasoning, the 'closest possible world' where the electron's electric charge is 5% greater may have less overlap with the actual world in its (...) fundamental natural kinds than a 'more distant possible world' where the electron's charge is 5% greater. But more importantly, essentialism's flexibility in being able to accommodate virtually any relation between laws and counterfactuals is a symptom of essentialism's explanatory impotence as far as that relation is concerned. (shrink)
Susan Stebbing’s paper “Logical Positivism and Analysis” (March 1933) was unusually critical of Wittgenstein. It put up a sharp opposition between Cambridge analytic philosophy of Moore and Russell and the positivist philosophy of the Vienna Circle to which she included Wittgenstein from 1929–32. Above all, positivists were interested in analyzing language, analytic philosophers in analyzing facts. Moreover, whereas analytic philosophers were engaged in directional analysis which seeks to illuminate the multiplicity of the analyzed facts, positivists aimed at final analysis (...) which “proves” that there are simples. Stebbing’s paper urged Wittgenstein to recast his philosophy and 1933 abandon those components of it that linked him to the Vienna Circle. (shrink)
Review of: "Computation, Information, Cognition: The Nexus and the Liminal", Ed. Susan Stuart & Gordana Dodig Crnkovic, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, September 2007, xxiv+340pp, ISBN: 9781847180902, Hardback: £39.99, $79.99 ---- Are you a computer? Is your cat a computer? A single biological cell in your stomach, perhaps? And your desk? You do not think so? Well, the authors of this book suggest that you think again. They propose a computational turn, a turn towards computational explanation and towards the explanation (...) of computation itself. The explanation of computation is the core of the present volume, but the computational turn to regard a wide variety of systems as computational is a potentially very wide-ranging project. (shrink)
Event synopsis: Professor Susan James inverses Leo Strauss’ reading of Spinoza. Whereas Strauss emphasized the hidden subtext of Spinoza’s arguments, James revives the explicit debates of his time within which Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise was situated. But this is not a simple historical reconstruction. James’ close reading of the Treatise offers a radically new perspective on Spinoza’s revolutionary book – a reading that presents startling new perspective on the political, metaphysical and theological implications of the book. Given the importance of (...) Spinoza’s political writings in contemporary radical democratic approaches to the state, James intervention has the potential to reshape the way we think of a Spinozan politics. (shrink)
“Sucks and stones will break my bones,” Justice Scalia pronounced from the bench in oral arguments in Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network, “but words can never hurt me. That's the First Amendment,” he added. Jay Alan Sekulow, the lawyer for the petitioners, anti-abortion protesters who had been enjoined from moving closer than fifteen feet away from those entering an abortion facility, was obviously pleased by this characterization of the right to free speech, replying, “That's certainly our position on it, and that (...) is exactly correct …”. (shrink)
There are differences between human beings, and some of these differences are, for many, a matter of identity. Some people are men, and some are white. Some people are poor, others are wealthy. These identity-constituting differences are deeply connected with different kinds of injustices. Susan Hekman's main contention in The Future of Differences is that a new epistemology is required if we are to acknowledge all these differences and, consequently, address these injustices.
In a way that is rarely even attempted, and even more rarely actually pulled off, Susan Hurley, in her book Consciousness in Action, brings scientific ideas into contact with mainstream philosophy. It is not at all unusual for empirical results from cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience to be raised in discussion of issues in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind--Dennett and the Churchlands, for example, have been doing so for years. But Hurley attempts to draw empirical results even (...) closer to the center of philosophy, using them to make points about metaphysics and epistemology more broadly, especially PutnamÂ’s Twin Earth cases. We are very fond of Hurley's book, and we agree with nearly all of her conclusions. We do think, though, that there are two important cases where Hurley has misunderstood scientific work. First, we think she misunderstand dynamical systems theory; second, we think her criticism of ecological psychology is misplaced. In neither case do these misunderstandings derail HurleyÂ’s overall project--indeed, the former of them makes her conclusions all the more plausible. We consider them in order. (shrink)
ABSTRACTWe trace Susan Moller Okin’s reception of Mary Wollstonecraft with respect to the relationship between religion and feminist liberalism, by way of manuscripts housed at Somerville College, Oxford and Harvard University. These unpublished documents – dated from 1967 to 1998 – include her Somerville advising file, with papers dated from 1967 to 1979; her 1970 Oxford B.Phil. thesis on the feminist political theory of Wollstonecraft, William Thompson, and J.S. Mill; her teaching notes on Wollstonecraft originating in 1978, for her (...) course ‘Gender and Political Theory’ held at Brandeis and Stanford in the 1980s and 1990s; and her correspondence with John Rawls, dated from 1985 to 1998. A consistently secular feminist liberal, Okin had a blind spot with regard to religion, which led her to misinterpret Wollstonecraft’s theology as contradictory to her consequentialist arguments for women’s rights. Wollstonecraft virtually disappeared from Okin’s published corpus, overshadowed by the secular utilitarian feminist liberal J.S. Mill. Wollstonecraft nevertheless remained a deep philosophical source for both the method and the principle behind Okin’s distinctive brand of feminist liberalism. Okin’s reception of Wollstonecraft suggests that the fissures caused by religious conflict in modern politics have not only generated multiple liberalisms, as Rawls argued, but also multiple feminist liberalisms. (shrink)
In a provocative article published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, Susan Pockett argues for the plausibility of considering consciousness as an epiphenomenon of neural activity. This means that consciousness, though caused by the brain, would not in its turn have any role in the causation of neural activity and, consequently, of behaviour. Critical for her argument is the distinction she makes between 'consciousness per se' and 'the neural processing that accompanies it' . In her discussion, though, the author (...) begs the question concerning whether there really is such 'consciousness itself, as distinct from the neural processing that goes with it' . If consciousness as it exists happens not to be distinct from some sort of neural processing, then Pockett's 'consciousness per se' has no causal effect simply because it does not exist. (shrink)
Consider Susan Hurley's depiction of mainstream views of the mind: "The mind is a kind of sandwich, and cognition is the filling" (p. 401). This particular sandwich (with perception as the bottom loaf and action as the top loaf) tastes foul to Hurley, who devotes most of "Consciousness in Action" to a systematic and sometimes extraordinarily detailed critique of what has otherwise been dubbed "classical" models of the mind. This critique then provides the basis for her alternative proposal, in (...) which perception, action and environment are deeply intertwined. (shrink)
The sudden resurgence of interest in the emotions that has recently overtaken analytical philosophy has raised a range of questions about the place of the passions in established explanatory schemes. How, for example, do the emotions fit into theories of action organized around beliefs and desires? How can they be included in analyses of the mind developed to account for other mental states and capacities? Questions of this general form also arise within political philosophy, and the wish to acknowledge their (...) importance and find a space for them has led to some fruitful developments. Among these are a new sensitivity to ways in which attributions of emotion can create and sustain unequal power relations, an interest in the underlying emotional capacities that make politics possible, a concern with the kinds of emotional suffering that politics should aim to abolish, and analyses of the emotional traits it should foster. While these and comparable explorations have enormously enriched contemporary political philosophy, a great deal of mainstream work continues to ignore or marginalize the emotions, so that their place remains uncertain and obscure. There is no consensus as to what kind of attention should be paid to them, or indeed whether they deserve any systematic attention at all. This is a curious state of affairs, because it was until quite recently taken for granted that political philosophy and psychology are intimately connected, and that political philosophy needs to be grounded on an understanding of human passion. In this essay I shall first consider why political philosophers ever rejected this set of assumptions. I shall then return to the pressing issue of how we might take account of the emotions in our own political theorizing. (shrink)
Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life and Why it Matters Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10677-011-9321-8 Authors Simon Derpmann, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Philosophisches Seminar, Domplatz 23, 48143 Münster, Germany Journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice Online ISSN 1572-8447 Print ISSN 1386-2820.
In God, Value, and Nature, Fiona Ellis dissects philosophical and theological positions on the metaphysics of our universe. Drawing on the works of John McDowell and Peter Railton, Ellis examines the dominant dichotomy between naturalism and supernaturalism among the perspectives of scientists, philosophers, and theologians. She challenges this metaphysical bifurcation, reframing the question of naturalism. Rather than asking what fits into the category of natural and what fits into the category of supernatural, the question should be, how should (...) we understand this category of natural that we are talking about in the first place? Ellis then seeks to expand the scope of what... (shrink)
In Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her, Susan Griffin's embedding of language and culture within the natural world implicitly offers a critique of widespread assumptions, shared by many feminists, that language belongs only to the powerful and that it is inherently violent. Griffin's depiction of the process through which women come to speech is illuminated by V. N. Vološinov's work on the multiaccentuality of language and by Trinh Minh-ha's characterizations of oral traditions. Both authors stress the constant re-creation (...) of language by speakers and listeners. (shrink)