Eric Scerri and other authors have acknowledged that the reality of chemical orbitals is not compatible with quantum mechanics. Recently, however, Scerri and Sharon Crasnow have argued that if chemists cannot consider orbitals as real entities, then chemistry is in danger of being reduced to physics. I argue that the question of the existence of orbitals is best viewed as an issue of explanation, not metaphysics: In many chemically important cases orbitals do not make sufficiently accurate predictions, and must be (...) replaced. Chemists and physicists can acknowledge this fact while maintaining the utility of orbitals and the autonomy of chemistry. (shrink)
Although the concept of gender identity plays a prominent role in campaigns for trans rights, it is not well understood, and common definitions suffer from a problematic circularity. This paper undertakes an ameliorative inquiry into the concept of gender identity, taking as a starting point the ways in which trans rights movements seek to use the concept. First, I set out six desiderata that a target concept of gender identity should meet. I then consider three analytic accounts of gender identity: (...) the dispositional account, the self-identification account, and the norm-relevancy account. I argue that only the norm-relevancy account can meet all six desiderata. Finally, I defend the norm-relevancy account from three objections: that it is cis-normative, that it has problematic implications regarding trans women, and that it entails that some people do not have the gender identity they take themselves to have. (shrink)
Philosophers have little to lose in making practical proposals. If the proposals are enacted, the power of ideas to change the world is affirmed. If the proposals are rejected, there is new material for theoretical reflection. During the 1990s, I believed that broad public recognition of mixed race, particularly black and white mixed race, would contribute to an undoing of rigid and racist, socially constructed racial categories. I argued for such recognition in my first book, Race and Mixed Race ( (...) class='Hi'>Zack 1993), a follow-through anthology, American Mixed Race (Zack 1995), and numerous articles, especially the essay, ''Mixed Black and White Race and Public Policy," which appeared first in Hypatia in 1995. I aho delivered scores of public and academic lectures and presentations on this subject, all of which expressed the following in varied forms and formats: Race is an idea that lacks the biological foundation it is commonly assumed to have. There is need for broad education about this absence of foundation; mixed-race identities should be recognized, especially black-white identities. (shrink)
Author note: Naomi Zack is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Albany. She herself is of mixed race: Jewish, African American, and Native American.
We propose that the prevalent moral aversion to AWS is supported by a pair of compelling objections. First, we argue that even a sophisticated robot is not the kind of thing that is capable of replicating human moral judgment. This conclusion follows if human moral judgment is not codifiable, i.e., it cannot be captured by a list of rules. Moral judgment requires either the ability to engage in wide reflective equilibrium, the ability to perceive certain facts as moral considerations, moral (...) imagination, or the ability to have moral experiences with a particular phenomenological character. Robots cannot in principle possess these abilities, so robots cannot in principle replicate human moral judgment. If robots cannot in principle replicate human moral judgment then it is morally problematic to deploy AWS with that aim in mind. Second, we then argue that even if it is possible for a sufficiently sophisticated robot to make ‘moral decisions’ that are extensionally indistinguishable from (or better than) human moral decisions, these ‘decisions’ could not be made for the right reasons. This means that the ‘moral decisions’ made by AWS are bound to be morally deficient in at least one respect even if they are extensionally indistinguishable from human ones. Our objections to AWS support the prevalent aversion to the employment of AWS in war. They also enjoy several significant advantages over the most common objections to AWS in the literature. (shrink)
Filmmakers use continuity editing to engender a sense of situational continuity or discontinuity at editing boundaries. The goal of this study was to assess the impact of continuity editing on how people perceive the structure of events in a narrative film and to identify brain networks that are associated with the processing of different types of continuity editing boundaries. Participants viewed a commercially produced film and segmented it into meaningful events, while brain activity was recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging (...) (MRI). We identified three degrees of continuity that can occur at editing locations: edits that are continuous in space, time, and action; edits that are discontinuous in space or time but continuous in action; and edits that are discontinuous in action as well as space or time. Discontinuities in action had the biggest impact on behavioral event segmentation, and discontinuities in space and time had minor effects. Edits were associated with large transient increases in early visual areas. Spatial-temporal changes and action changes produced strikingly different patterns of transient change, and they provided evidence that specialized mechanisms in higher order perceptual processing regions are engaged to maintain continuity of action in the face of spatiotemporal discontinuities. These results suggest that commercial film editing is shaped to support the comprehension of meaningful events that bridge breaks in low-level visual continuity, and even breaks in continuity of spatial and temporal location. (shrink)
Naomi Zack pioneers a new theory of justice starting from a correction of current injustices. While the present justice paradigm in political philosophy and related fields begins from John Rawls’s 1970 Theory of Justice, Zack insists that what people in reality care about is not justice as an ideal, but injustice as a correctable ill.
Ichikawa and Jarvis offer a new rationalist theory of mental content and defend a traditional epistemology of philosophy. They argue that philosophical inquiry is continuous with non-philosophical inquiry, and can be genuinely a priori, and that intuitions do not play an important role in mental content or the a priori.
There is surely something right about Craig’s view: we are unlikely to succeed in any attempt to analyse away the intricacies in our concept of knowledge. We cannot realistically hope to uncover a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for A knows that p which are in all cases either clearly satisfied or clearly not satisfied. Nor, I suspect, is it possible to offer necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge which are widely accepted as being more securely understood than knowledge (...) itself. (shrink)
In a study examining the effects of time of day on problem solving, participants solved insight and analytic problems at their optimal or non-optimal time of day. Given the presumed differences in the cognitive processes involved in solving these two types of problems, it was expected that the reduced inhibitory control associated with non-optimal times of the day would differentially impact performance on the two types of problems. In accordance with this expectation, results showed consistently greater insight problem solving performance (...) during non-optimal times of day compared to optimal times of day but no consistent time of day effects on analytic problem solving. The findings indicate that tasks involving creativity might benefit from a non-optimal time of day. (shrink)
Examining racial profiling in American policing, Naomi Zack argues against white privilege discourse while introducing a new theory of applicative justice. Deepening understanding without abandoning hope, Zack shows why it is more important to consider black rights than white privilege as we move forward through today's culture of inequality.
The book develops and synthesises two main ideas: contextualism about knowledge ascriptions and a knowledge-first approach to epistemology. The theme of the book is that these two ideas fit together much better than it's widely thought they do. Not only are they not competitors: they each have something important to offer the other.
Contextualist treatments of clashes of intuitions can allow that two claims, apparently in conflict, can both be true. But making true utterances is far from the only thing that matters — there are often substantive normative questions about what contextual parameters are appropriate to a given conversational situation. This paper foregrounds the importance of the social power to set contextual standards, and how it relates to injustice and oppression, introducing a phenomenon I call "contextual injustice," which has to do with (...) the unjust manipulation of conversational parameters in context-sensitive discourse. My central example applies contextualism about knowledge ascriptions to questions about knowledge regarding sexual assault allegations, but I will also discuss parallel dynamics in other examples of context-sensitive language involving politically significant terms, including gender terms. The central upshot is that the connections between language, epistemology, and social justice are very deeply interlinked. (shrink)
I argue that “consent” language presupposes that the contemplated action is or would be at someone else’s behest. When one does something for another reason—for example, when one elects independently to do something, or when one accepts an invitation to do something—it is linguistically inappropriate to describe the actor as “consenting” to it; but it is also inappropriate to describe them as “not consenting” to it. A consequence of this idea is that “consent” is poorly suited to play its canonical (...) central role in contemporary sexual ethics. But this does not mean that nonconsensual sex can be morally permissible. Consent language, I’ll suggest, carries the conventional presupposition that that which is or might be consented to is at someone else’s behest. One implication will be a new kind of support for feminist critiques of consent theory in sexual ethics. (shrink)
A theory of gender ought to be compatible with trans-inclusive definitions of gender identity terms, such as ‘woman’ and ‘man’. Appealing to this principle of trans-inclusion, Katharine Jenkins argues that we ought to endorse a dual social position and identity theory of gender. Here, I argue that Jenkins’s dual theory of gender fails to be trans-inclusive for the following reasons: it cannot generate a definition of ‘woman’ that extends to include all trans women, and it understands transgender gender (...) identity through a cisgender frame. (shrink)
Naomi Zack brings us an indispensable work in the ethics of race through an inquiry into the history of moral philosophy. The Ethics and Mores of Race: Equality after the History of Philosophy enters into a web of ideas, ethics, and morals that untangle our evolving ideas of racial equality straight into the twenty-first century.
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race provides up-to-date explanation and analyses by leading scholars of contemporary issues in African American philosophy and philosophy of race. These original essays encompass the major topics and approaches in this emerging philosophical subfield that supports demographic inclusion and diversity while at the same time strengthening the conceptual arsenal of social and political philosophy. Over the course of the volume's ten topic-based sections, ideas about race held by Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche are (...) supplemented by suppressed thought from the African diaspora, early twentieth-century African American perspectives and Native-, Asian-, and Latin-, American views. The contributors bring philosophical analysis to bear on the status of racial divisions as categories of humanity in the biological sciences, as well as within contemporary criticism and conceptual analysis. Essays present the special applications of American philosophy and continental philosophy to ideas of race as methodological alternatives to more analytic approaches. As a collection of analyses and assessments of 'race' in the real world, the volume pays trenchant and relevant attention to historical and contemporary racism and what it means to say that 'race' and racial identities are socially constructed. The essays analyze contemporary social issues including the importance of racial difference and identity in education, public health, medicine, IQ and other standardized tests, and sports. Additionally, the essays consider the societal limitations and structures provided by public policy and law. As a critical theory, the volume compares the study of race to feminism. Historical and contemporary, academic and popular, racisms pertaining to male and female gender receive special consideration throughout the volume. While this comprehensive collection may have the effect of a textbook, each of the original essays is a fresh and authentic development of important present thought. (shrink)
We consider the complex interactions between rape culture and epistemology. A central case study is the consideration of a deferential attitude about the epistemology of sexual assault testimony. According to the deferential attitude, individuals and institutions should decline to act on allegations of sexual assault unless and until they are proven in a formal setting, i.e., a criminal court. We attack this deference from several angles, including the pervasiveness of rape culture in the criminal justice system, the epistemology of testimony (...) and norms connecting knowledge and action, the harms of tacit idealizations away from important contextual factors, and a contextualist semantics for 'knows' ascriptions. (shrink)
Does the concept of “race” find support in contemporary science, particularly in biology? No, says Naomi Zack, together with so many others who nowadays argue that human races lack biological reality. This claim is widely accepted in a number of fields (philosophy, biology, anthropology, and psychology), and Zack’s book represents only the latest defense of social constructivism in this context. There are several reasons why she fails to make a convincing case.
We thank Carrie Jenkins and Neil Levy for their thoughtful comments on our article about love and addiction. Although we do not have room for a comprehensive reply, we will touch on a few main issues.Jenkins points out, correctly in our view, that the word ‘addiction’ can trigger “connotations of reduced autonomy.” It may therefore be used, she argues, to “excuse” violent or otherwise harmful behaviors—disproportionately carried out by men—within the context of romantic relationships. Debates about love addiction, (...) therefore, “are best addressed with an eye to the more general issue of how we as a society apportion responsibility for things like date rape and intimate partner violence” (Jenkins... (shrink)
Context: The need to reinvigorate medical confidentiality protections is recognised as an important objective in building patient trust necessary for successful health outcomes. Little is known about patient understanding and expectations from medical confidentiality.Objective: To identify and describe patient views of medical confidentiality and to assess provisionally the range of these views.Design: Qualitative study using indepth, open ended face-to-face interviews.Setting: Southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, USA.Participants: A total of 85 women interviewed at two clinical sites and three community/research centres.Main (...) outcome measures: Subjects’ understanding of medical confidentiality, beliefs about the handling of confidential information and concerns influencing disclosure of information to doctors.Results: The subjects defined medical confidentiality as the expectation that something done or said would be kept “private” but differed on what information was confidential and the basis and methods for protecting information. Some considered all medical information as confidential and thought confidentiality protections functioned to limit its circulation to medical uses and reimbursement needs. Others defined only sensitive or potentially stigmatising information as confidential. Many of these also defined medical confidentiality as a strict limit prohibiting information release, although some noted that specific permission or urgent need could override this limit.Conclusions: Patients share a basic understanding of confidentiality as protection of information, but some might have expectations that are likely not met by current practice nor anticipated by doctors. Doctors should recognise that patients might have their own medical confidentiality models. They should address divergences from current practice and provide support to those who face emotional or practical obstacles to self-revelation. (shrink)
Philosophy of Race: An Introduction provides plainly written access to a new subfield that has been in the background of philosophy since Plato and Aristotle. Part I provides an overview of ideas of race and ethnicity in the philosophical canon, egalitarian traditions, race in biology, and race in American and Continental Philosophy. Part II addresses race as it operates in life through colonialism and development, social constructions and institutions, racism, political philosophy, and gender. This book constructs an outline that will (...) serve as a resource for students, nonspecialists, and general readers in thinking, talking, and writing about philosophy of race. (shrink)
I argue that evaluating the knowledge norm of practical reasoning is less straightforward than is often assumed in the literature. In particular, cases in which knowledge is intuitively present, but action is intuitively epistemically unwarranted, provide no traction against the knowledge norm. The knowledge norm indicates what it is appropriately to hold a particular content as a reason for action; it does not provide a theory of what reasons are sufficient for what actions. Absent a general theory about what sorts (...) of reasons, if genuinely held, would be sufficient to justify actions—a question about which the knowledge norm is silent—many of the kinds of cases prevalent in the literature do not bear on the knowledge norm. (shrink)
This paper will articulate and defend a novel theory of epistemic justification; I characterize my view as the thesis that justification is potential knowledge . My project is an instance of the ‘knowledge-first’ programme, championed especially by Timothy Williamson. So I begin with a brief recapitulation of that programme.
Naomi Zack’s unique and important collection, Women of Color and Philosophy, brings together for the first time the voices of twelve philosophers who are women of color. She begins with the premise that the work of women of color who do philosophy in academe, but who do not write exclusively on issues of race, ethnicity, and gender, merits a collection of its own. It’s rare that women of color pursue philosophy in academic contexts; Zack counts at most thirty (...) among the ten thousand members of the American Philosophical Association. Women of color in philosophy often suffer an initial lack of credibility with colleagues and students, their success is often attributed to affirmative action, and the merit of their research is often questioned. They are expected to teach classes on race and gender, and asked to serve on endless committees vouching for the diversity of university programs and policies. But Zack’s collection is not about the philosophical import of these professional considerations. The idea underlying her anthology is that social identity is relevant to both philosophical activity and the production of ideas even when an author does not address race and gender. -/- This landmark volume is divided into three sections intended to reflect three critical themes: direct critiques of traditional academic philosophy; new and original applications of philosophical methods to social issues; and the fresh interpretation of traditional philosophy in ways that suggest new areas of study. (shrink)
As robots slip into more domains of human life-from the operating room to the bedroom-they take on our morally important tasks and decisions, as well as create new risks from psychological to physical. This book answers the urgent call to study their ethical, legal, and policy impacts.
Naomi Zack begins this extraordinary book with the premise that if one is to understand Western conceptions of racialized and gendered identity, one needs to go back to a period when such categories were not salient and examine how notions ...
To many, the idea of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) killing human beings is grotesque. Yet critics have had difficulty explaining why it should make a significant moral difference if a human combatant is killed by an AWS as opposed to being killed by a human combatant. The purpose of this paper is to explore the roots of various deontological concerns with AWS and to consider whether these concerns are distinct from any concerns that also apply to long- distance, human-guided weaponry. (...) We suggest that at least one major driver of the intuitive moral aversion to lethal AWS is that their use disrespects their human targets by violating the martial contract between human combatants. On our understanding of this doctrine, service personnel cede a right not to be directly targeted with lethal violence to other human agents alone. Artificial agents, of which AWS are one example, cannot understand the value of human life. A human combatant cannot transfer his privileges of targeting enemy combatants to a robot. Therefore, the human duty-holder who deploys AWS breaches the martial contract between human combatants and disrespects the targeted combatants. We consider whether this novel deontological objection to AWS forms the foundation of several other popular yet imperfect deontological objections to AWS. (shrink)