Recently, several authors have utilized the notion of dependence to respond to the traditional argument for the incompatibility of freedom and divine foreknowledge. However, proponents of this response have not always been so clear in specifying where the incompatibility argument goes wrong, which has led to some unfounded objections to the response. We remedy this dialectical confusion by clarifying both the dependence response itself and its interaction with the standard incompatibility argument. Once these clarifications are made, it becomes clear both (...) (1.) that the dependence response does not beg the question against the proponent of the incompatibility argument and (2.) that the dependence response advances the dialectic whether it is developed as a version of Ockhamism or as a version of multiple-pasts compatibilism. (shrink)
This paper develops a challenge to theism. The challenge is to explain why the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-good god should be considered significantly more reasonable than the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-evil god. Theists typically dismiss the evil-god hypothesis out of hand because of the problem of good–there is surely too much good in the world for it to be the creation of such a being. But then why doesn't the problem (...) of evil provide equally good grounds for dismissing belief in a good god? I develop this evil-god challenge in detail, anticipate several replies, and correct errors made in earlier discussions of the problem of good. (shrink)
Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism aims to show that naturalism is, as he puts it, ‘incoherent or self defeating’. Plantinga supposes that, in the absence of any God-like being to guide the process, natural selection is unlikely to favour true belief. Plantinga overlooks the fact that adherents of naturalism may plausibly hold that there exist certain conceptual links between belief content and behaviour. Given such links, natural selection will favour true belief. A further rather surprising consequence of the existence of (...) such links is this: even if semantic properties are epiphenomenal, unguided evolution will still favour true belief. (shrink)
The aim of the article is to intervene in debates about the digital and, in particular, framings that imagine the digital in terms of epochal shifts or as redefining life. Instead, drawing on recent developments in digital methods, we explore the lively, productive and performative qualities of the digital by attending to the specificities of digital devices and how they interact, and sometimes compete, with older devices and their capacity to mobilize and materialize social and other relations. In doing so, (...) our aim is to explore the implications of digital devices and data for reassembling social science methods or what we call the social science apparatuses that assemble digital devices and data to ‘know’ the social and other relations. Building on recent work at CRESC on the social life of methods, we recommend a genealogical approach that is alive to the ways in which digital devices are simultaneously shaped by social worlds, and can in turn become agents that shape those worlds. This calls for attending to the specificities of digital devices themselves, how they are varied and composed of diverse socio-technical arrangements, and are enrolled in the creation of new knowledge spaces, institutions and actors. Rather than exploring what large-scale changes can be revealed and understood through the digital, we argue for explorations of how digital devices themselves are materially implicated in the production and performance of contemporary sociality. To that end we offer the following nine propositions about the implications of digital data and devices and argue that these demand rethinking the theoretical assumptions of social science methods: transactional actors; heterogeneity; visualization; continuous time; whole populations; granularity; expertise; mobile and mobilizing; and non-coherence. (shrink)
Skeptical theism is a leading response to the evidential argument from evil against the existence of God. Skeptical theists attempt to block the inference from the existence of inscrutable evils to gratuitous evils by insisting that given our cognitive limitations, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were God-justifying reasons we can’t think of. A well-known objection to skeptical theism is that it opens up a skeptical Pandora’s box, generating implausibly wide-ranging forms of skepticism, including skepticism about the external world and (...) past. This paper looks at several responses to this Pandora’s box objection, including a popular response devised by Beaudoin and Bergmann. I find that all of the examined responses fail. It appears the Pandora’s box objection to skeptical theism still stands. (shrink)
The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testamentdocuments alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima (...) facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed—a principle I call the contamination principle—entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of good independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence. (shrink)
Human rights discourse has been likened to a global lingua franca, and in more ways than one, the analogy seems apt. Human rights discourse is a language that is used by all yet belongs uniquely to no particular place. It crosses not only the borders between nation-states, but also the divide between national law and international law: it appears in national constitutions and international treaties alike. But is it possible to conceive of human rights as a global language or lingua (...) franca not just in a figurative or metaphorical sense, but in a literal or linguistic sense as a legal dialect defined by distinctive patterns of word choice and usage? Does there exist a global language of human rights that transcends not only national borders, but also the divide between domestic and international law? Empirical analysis suggests that the answer is yes, but this global language comes in at least two variants or dialects. New techniques for performing automated content analysis enable us to analyze the bulk of all national constitutions over the last two centuries, together with the world’s leading regional and international human rights instruments, for patterns of linguistic similarity and to evaluate how much language, if any, they share in common. Specifically, we employ a technique known as topic modeling that disassembles texts into recurring verbal patterns. The results highlight the existence of two species or dialects of rights talk—the universalist dialect and the positive-rights dialect—both of which are global in reach and rising in popularity. The universalist dialect is generic in content and draws heavily on the type of language found in international and regional human rights instruments. It appears in particularly large doses in the constitutions of transitional states, developing states, and states that have been heavily exposed to the influence of the international community. The positive-rights dialect, by contrast, is characterized by its substantive emphasis on positive rights of a social or economic variety, and by its prevalence in lengthier constitutions and constitutions from outside the common law world, especially those of the Spanish-speaking world. Both dialects of rights talk are truly transnational, in the sense that they appear simultaneously in national, regional, and international legal instruments and transcend the distinction between domestic and international law. Their existence attests to the blurring of the boundary between constitutional law and international law. (shrink)
On one view of ethical development, someone not yet virtuous can reliably progress by engaging in what meaningfully resembles virtuous conduct. However, one’s character may degrade from one’s well-intended conduct because this conduct is advanced for one’s character, which falls short of virtue. This risk of degradation casts doubt on the developmental view. I counter the doubt through one interpretation and one application of the Mengzi. In passage 2A2, invoking the image of a farmer who “helped” the crop grow by (...) pulling the sprouts, MENG Ke cautions, “do not help it grow.” I defend a novel interpretation: do not advance with a naïve negligence about your psycho-physiological constitution. I also show how to advance with realistic care by pointing out an overlooked application of a much-discussed cultivation technique illustrated in Mengzi 1A7: ethical reflection can conciliate one with one’s ongoing or past advanced action, lowering the action’s risk of degradation. (shrink)
Although much recent social science and humanities work has been a revolt against simplification, this volume explores the contrast between simplicity and complexity to reveal that this dichotomy, itself, is too simplistic. John Law and Annemarie Mol have gathered a distinguished panel of contributors to offer—particularly within the field of science studies—approaches to a theory of complexity, and at the same time a theoretical introduction to the topic. Indeed, they examine not only ways of relating to complexity but complexity _in (...) practice._ Individual essays study complexity from a variety of perspectives, addressing market behavior, medical interventions, aeronautical design, the governing of supranational states, ecology, roadbuilding, meteorology, the science of complexity itself, and the psychology of childhood trauma. Other topics include complex wholes in the sciences, moral complexity in seemingly amoral endeavors, and issues relating to the protection of African elephants. With a focus on such concepts as multiplicity, partial connections, and ebbs and flows, the collection includes narratives from Kenya, Great Britain, Papua New Guinea, the Netherlands, France, and the meetings of the European Commission, written by anthropologists, economists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and scholars of science, technology, and society. _Contributors._ Andrew Barry, Steven D. Brown, Michel Callon, Chunglin Kwa, John Law, Nick Lee, Annemarie Mol, Marilyn Strathern, Laurent Thévenot, Charis Thompson. (shrink)
There is an old but powerful argument for the claim that exhaustive divine foreknowledge is incompatible with the freedom to do otherwise. A crucial ingredient in this argument is the principle of the “Fixity of the Past”. A seemingly new response to this argument has emerged, the so-called “dependence response,” which involves, among other things, abandoning FP for an alternative principle, the principle of the “Fixity of the Independent”. This paper presents three arguments for the claim that FI ought to (...) be preferred to FP. (shrink)
Law's article begins by restating the classical ANT position that objects do not exist `in themselves' but are the effect of a performative stabilization of relational networks. In addition, these material enactments inevitably have a spatial dimension; they simultaneously establish spatial conditions for objectual identity, continuity, and difference. Space must not be reified as a natural, pre-existing container of the social and the material, but is itself a performance. Moreover, there are multiple forms of spatiality beyond the Euclidean space of (...) regions , and objects may exist and achieve homeomorphism within several different spatial systems. Technologies such as the Zimbabwe Bush Pump present a fluid object which is able to exist and cohere without the presence of fixed boundaries or the permanence of a particular functional definition. The network logic, however, which gravitates towards stability and functionality, tends to exclude and silence this spatial Other. An alternative political ontology is needed which goes beyond the reification of network space in order to give voice to the fluid objects which escape its unidimensional functionality. (shrink)
This paper suggests the adoption of a ‘capability approach’ to key concepts in healthcare. Recent developments in theoretical approaches to concepts such as ‘health’ and ‘disease’ are discussed, and a trend identified of thinking of health as a matter of having the capability to cope with life’s demands. This approach is contrasted with the WHO definition of health and Boorse’s biostatistical account. We outline the ‘capability approach’, which has become standard in development ethics and economics, and show how existing work (...) in those areas can profitably be adapted to healthcare. Cases are used to illustrate the value of adopting a capability approach. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes five key interpretations of the argument presented by Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations I, §258. I also argue that on none of these five interpretations is the argument cogent. The paper is primarily concerned with the most popular interpretation of the argument: that which that makes it rest upon the principle that one can be said to follow a rule only if there exists a 'useable criterion of successful performance' (Pears) or 'operational standard of correctness' (Glock) for its (...) correct application. This principle, I suggest, is untrue. The private language argument upon which it rests therefore fails. (shrink)
Playing the mystery card -- "But it fits!" -- Going nuclear -- Moving the semantic goalposts -- "But I just know!" -- Pseudo-profundity -- Piling up the anecdotes -- Pressing your buttons -- Conclusion -- The Tapescrew letters.
What might it be to write a post-colonial social science? And how might the intellectual legacy of Chinese classical philosophy—for instance Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu—contribute to such a project? Reversing the more usual social science practice in which EuroAmerican concepts are applied in other global locations, this paper instead considers how a “Chinese” term, _shi_ might be used to explore the UK’s 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic. Drawing on anthropological insights into mis/translation between different worlds and their alternative ways of knowing (...) and being, the paper explores that epidemic in three differently inspired _shi_-inflected “empirical” accounts. The first uses Sun Tzu’s strategic understanding of _shi_ to tell a conventionally representational story. The second resists the causes and background factors implied in standard social science by offering a “light” and _shi_-inflected form of knowing. And the third combines the referentiality of social science with a Lao Tzu-informed commitment to the paradoxes of normative epigram. This third narrative thus illustrates the possible features of a situated and _shi_-inflected social science that recognizes that it participates in the contexted and immanent flows and counterflows of things in the world. The paper concludes by noting that such a _shi_-inflected social science is experimental, and suggests that it is important to explore a range of ways of reversing the flow of concepts between EuroAmerica and other global locations. (shrink)
This paper presents an extension of Putnam's account of how substance terms such as ‘water’ and ‘gold’ function and of how a posteriori necessary truths concerning the underlying microstructures of such kinds may be derived. The paper has three aims. I aim to refute a familiar criticism of Putnam's account: that it presupposes what Salmon calls an ‘irredeemably metaphysical, and philosophically controversial, theory of essentialism’. I show how all of the details of Putnam's account—including those that Salmon believes smuggle in (...) such essentialist commitments—can be squared with a rejection of any such essentialist metaphysics. I aim to reveal why Steward is wrong to suppose that, by helping himself to the claim that ‘H2O’ is a rigid designator of a substance, Kripke, too, presupposes something controversially ‘metaphysical’. I aim to show how my proposed account also sidesteps a variety of objections raised by Needham and others who argue that Kripke's and Putnam's accounts of how ‘water’ and.. (shrink)
This brief position paper is stimulated from the continued need to define and redefine the area of transpersonal psychology. Understandably, being able to articulate what ‘transpersonal psychology’ is enables discussions within the wider academic and public community, yet all existing definitions are complex, conveying a number of inherent meanings in their definition, which in turn, can cloud others’ perceptions on the area.
Skeptical theism is a popular - if not universally theistically endorsed - response to the evidential problem of evil. Skeptical theists question how we can be in a position to know God lacks God-justifying reason to allow the evils we observe. In this paper I examine a criticism of skeptical theism: that the skeptical theists skepticism re divine reasons entails that, similarly, we cannot know God lacks God-justifying reason to deceive us about the external world and the past. This in (...) turn seems to supply us with a defeater for all our beliefs regarding the external world and past? Critics argue that either the skeptical theist abandon their skeptical theism, thereby resurrecting the evidential argument from evil, or else they must embrace seemingly absurd skeptical consequences, including skepticism about the external world and past. I look at various skeptical theist responses to this critique and find them all wanting. (shrink)
We examined participants' reading and recall of informed consent documents presented via paper or computer. Within each presentation medium, we presented the document as a continuous or paginated document to simulate common computer and paper presentation formats. Participants took slightly longer to read paginated and computer informed consent documents and recalled slightly more information from the paginated documents. We concluded that obtaining informed consent online is not substantially different than obtaining it via paper presentation. We also provide suggestions for improving (...) informed consent-in both face-to-face and online experiments. (shrink)
This is an article that explores the question "what is the meaning of life?" particularly with respect to humanism and theism. It defends a humanist position, and refutes a number of arguments for the conclusion that a meaningful human existence requires the existence of God.
Many computational tools for the simulation and design of emergency evacuation and egress are now available. However, due to the scarcity of human and social behavioral data, these computational tools rely on assumptions that have been found inconsistent or unrealistic. This paper presents a multi-agent based framework for simulating human and social behavior during emergency evacuation. A prototype system has been developed, which is able to demonstrate some emergent behaviors, such as competitive, queuing, and herding behaviors. For illustration, an example (...) application of the system for safe egress design is provided. (shrink)
Brian Loar believes he has refuted all those antiphysicalist arguments that take as their point of departure observations about what is or isn't conceivable. I argue that there remains an important, popular and plausible-looking form of conceivability argument that Loar has entirely overlooked. Though he may not have realized it, Saul Kripke presents, or comes close to presenting, two fundamentally different forms of conceivability argument. I distinguish the two arguments and point out that while Loar has succeeded in refuting one (...) of Kripke's arguments he has not refuted the other. Loar is mistaken: physicalism still faces an apparently insurmountable conceptual obstacle. (shrink)