Preposed negation yes/no (yn)-questions like Doesn''t Johndrink? necessarily carry the implicature that the speaker thinks Johndrinks, whereas non-preposed negation yn-questions like DoesJohn not drink? do not necessarily trigger this implicature. Furthermore,preposed negation yn-questions have a reading ``double-checking'''' pand a reading ``double-checking'''' p, as in Isn''t Jane comingtoo? and in Isn''t Jane coming either? respectively. We present otheryn-questions that raise parallel implicatures and argue that, in allthe cases, the presence of an epistemic conversational operator VERUMderives the existence and content of the (...) implicature as well as thep/ p-ambiguity. (shrink)
It has been a long-standing puzzle that Negative Polarity Items appear to split into two subvarieties when their effect on the interpretation of questions is taken into account: while questions with any and ever can be used as unbiased requests of information, questions with so-called `minimizers', i.e. idioms like lift a finger and the faintest idea, are always biased towards a negative answer (cf. Ladusaw 1979). Focusing on yes/no questions, this paper presents a solution to this puzzle. Specifically it is (...) shown that in virtue of containing even (cf. Heim 1984), minimizers, unlike any, trigger a presupposition, which reduces the set of the possible answers to a question to the singleton containing the negative answer. (shrink)
Certain information-seeking yes/no (yn)-questions –e.g. Did Jorge really bring a present? and Doesn’t John drink?– convey an epistemic bias of the speaker. Two main approaches to biased yn-questions are compared: the VERUM approach and the Decision Theory approach. It is argued that, while Decision Theory can formally characterize the notion of “intent” of a question, VERUM is needed to derive the data.
There is a long history of using logic to model the interpretation of indirect speech acts. Classical logical inference, however, is unable to deal with the combinations of disparate, conflicting, uncertain evidence that shape such speech acts in discourse. We propose to address this by combining logical inference with probabilistic methods. We focus on responses to polar questions with the following property: they are neither yes nor no, but they convey information that can be used to infer such an answer (...) with some degree of confidence, though often not with enough confidence to count as resolving. We present a novel corpus study and associated typology that aims to situate these responses in the broader class of indirect question–answer pairs (IQAPs). We then model the different types of IQAPs using Markov logic networks, which combine first-order logic with probabilities, emphasizing the ways in which this approach allows us to model inferential uncertainty about both the context of utterance and intended meanings. (shrink)
Although it seems intuitively clear that acts of requesting are different from acts of commanding, it is not very easy to sate their differences precisely in dynamic terms. In this paper we show that it becomes possible to characterize, at least partially, the effects of acts of requesting and compare them with the effects of acts of commanding by combining dynamified deontic logic with epistemic logic. One interesting result is the following: each act of requesting is appropriately differentiated from an (...) act of commanding with the same content, but for each act of requesting, there is another act of commanding with much more complex content which updates models in exactly the same way as it does. We will also consider an application of our characterization of acts of requesting to acts of asking yes-no questions. It yields a straightforward formalization of the view of acts of asking questions as requests for information. (shrink)
This paper discusses the philosophical and logical motivations for rejectivism, primarily by considering a dialogical approach to logic, which is formalized in a Question–Answer Semantics. We develop a generalised account of rejectivism through close consideration of Mark Textor’s arguments against rejectivism that the negative expression ‘No’ is never used as an act of rejection and is equivalent with a negative sentence. In doing so, we also shed light upon well-known issues regarding the supposed non-embeddability and non-iterability of force indicators.
: Catholic teaching has no moral difficulties with research on stem cells derived from adult stem cells or fetal cord blood. The ethical problem comes with embryonic stem cells since their genesis involves the destruction of a human embryo. However, there seems to be significant promise of health benefits from such research. Although Catholic teaching does not permit any destruction of human embryos, the question remains whether researchers in a Catholic institution, or any researchers opposed to destruction of human (...) embryos, could participate in research on cultured embryonic stem cells, or whether a Catholic institution could use any therapy that ultimately results from such research. This position paper examines how such research could be conducted legitimately in a Catholic institution by using an ethical analysis involving a narrative context, the nature of the moral act, and the principle of material cooperation, along with references to significant ethical assessments. It also offers tentative guidelines that could be used by a Catholic institution in implementing such research. (shrink)
The central fact underlying all relations is the question of power and how it can be used to get one's way. When power does not work, we move to compromise. This paper questions the validity of compromise as an effective means of settling differences. My standpoint is that compromise debases relationships, is wrong in principle and does not work in practice either. There is a better strategy: integration, when the contending parties find the wider solution that includes both their (...) interests. Ethically right, integration also works better in practice, for it leads to longer-term, more productive and happier relations. (shrink)
After a mild indoctrination into the Christian faith, at the age of 15 I discovered myself to be a non-believer: the idea of an invisible, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God suddenly seemed simply unbelievable. Years later I decided to re-examine the question. Perhaps I had missed something. This in turn led to a fascination with God questions and religious belief, but a re-confirmation of my earlier discovery: the traditional Christian concept of God was not only unbelievable, but incoherent and morally (...) muddled. But further reflection has yielded a qualifying conclusion: God—or rather gods, many gods—do exist but as ideas, tremendously powerful ideas that shape our reality. The crucial concern is that these be good ideas, which has not always been the case. (shrink)
Many philosophers are impressed by the progress achieved by physical sciences. This has had an especially deep effect on their ontological views: it has made many of them physicalists. Physicalists believe that everything is physical: more precisely, that all entities, properties, relations, and facts are those which are studied by physics or other physical sciences. They may not all agree with the spirit of Rutherford's quoted remark that 'there is physics; and there is stamp-collecting',' but they all grant physical science (...) a unique ontological authority: the authority to tell us what there is. Physicalism is now almost orthodox in much philosophy, notably in much recent philosophy of mind. But although often invoked, it is rarely explicitly defined. It should be. The claim that everything is physical is not as clear as it seems. In this paper, we examine a number of proposed definitions of physicalism and reasons for being a physicalist. We will argue both that physicalism lacks a clear and credible definition, and that in no non-vacuous interpretation is it true. We are concerned here only with physicalism as a doctrine about the empirical world. In particular, it should not be confused with nominalism, the doctrine that there are no universals.2 Nominalism and physicalism are quite independent doctrines. Believers in universals may as consistently assert as deny that the only properties and relations are those studied by physical science. And nominalists may with equal consistency assert or deny that physical science could provide enough predicates to describe the world. That is the question which concerns physicalists, not whether physical predicates name real universals. (We will for brevity write as if they do, but we do not need that assumption.). (shrink)
In what does the sense of a sentential connective consist? Like many others, I hold that its sense lies in rules that govern deductions. In the present paper, however, I argue that a classical logician should take the relevant deductions to be arguments involving affirmative or negative answers to yes-or-no questions that contain the connective. An intuitionistic logician will differ in concentrating exclusively upon affirmative answers. I conclude by arguing that a well known intuitionistic criticism of classical logic fails if (...) the answer "No" is accorded parity with the answer "Yes". (shrink)
Molyneux’s question, whether the newly sighted might immediately recognize tactilely familiar shapes by sight alone, has produced an array of answers over three centuries of debate and discussion. I propose the first pluralist response: many different answers, both yes and no, are individually sufficient as an answer to the question as a whole. I argue that this is possible if we take the question to be cluster concept of sub-problems. This response opposes traditional answers that isolate specific (...) perceptual features as uniquely applicable to Molyneux’s question and grant viability to only one reply. Answering Molyneux’s question as a cluster concept may also serve as a methodology for resolving other philosophical problems. (shrink)
The fallacy of many questions or the complex question, popularized by the sophism ‘Have you stopped beating your spouse?’ (when a yes-or-no answer is required), is similar to the fallacy of begging the question orpetitio principii. Douglas N. Walton inBegging the Question has recently argued that the two forms are alike in trying unfairly to elicit an admission from a dialectical opponent without meeting burden of proof, but distinct because of the circularity of question-begging argument and (...) noncircularity of many questions. I offer a reconstruction of the many questions fallacy according to which it is just as circular as begging the question, concluding that many questions begs the question. The same analysis contradicts Walton's claim that questions can beg the question, drawing a distinction between questions as the instruments of question-begging, and as vehicles for categorical noninterrogative presuppositions that beg the question. (shrink)
This article explores and critically assesses the metaxological account of a philosophy of God professed by William Desmond. Postmodern reflection on the philosophy of God has a tendency to focus on the 'signs' of God and urges for a passive acceptance of these signs. Desmond argues, contrary to this tendency, for a mindful togetherness of philosophical activity and religious passivity. After exploring Desmond's thought on this topic, I move to assess his 'metaxological yes' to God as the agapeic origin from (...) an existential point of view. Initially it seems that his 'yes' is somewhat strained as it burdens itself with an excessive task of having faith into something that is beyond determination. I illustrate this insight by referring to Friedrich Nietzsche’s 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra.' Nietzsche's existential 'No' toward transcendence is a consequence of a mindful confrontation with the excesses as play. (shrink)
The concept of Umwertung, central to Ecce Homo, is marked by discrepancies and incongruities that seem to defy philosophical comprehension. This paper focuses on the problem of Yes-saying and No-saying at the core of Umwertung. How can total affirmation be combined with radical critique, as Nietzsche claims? Nietzsche's favoured idiom of warfare exhibits the incommensurability of these positions, but it also points to a deeper problem: in waging war against idealism, Nietzsche risks repeating idealism, conceived as a war to the (...) death against other forms of life and thought. In §2 idealist warfare is analysed more closely, and in §3 it is contrasted with Nietzschean warfare, cinceived as an agonal form of oppositional thinking that avoids repeating idealism. This model of warfare is, however, undermined by the affirmative and destructive excesses of Nietzsche's text, and §4 proposes a different approach to the problem of Yes- and No-saying. On this approach, the affirmation of reality as war or conflictual multiplicity demands 1. the adoption of antagonistic positions with destructive intent against life-negating positions , but also 2. the overcoming of every antagonistic position in favour of an 'impossible' or fictional standpoint in the relation between antagonists; this alone allows all antagonistic positions to be affirmed. This approach is proposed as a general way to make sense of the fictional qualities of Ecce homo, its excesses and incongruities, and in §5 it is applied as a corrective to the account of Umwertung as a comparative practice proposed by Gerd Schank. (shrink)
We examine a special case of inquiry games and give an account of the informational import of asking questions. We focus on yes-or-no questions, which always carry information about the questioner's strategy, but never about the state of Nature, and show how strategic information reduces uncertainty through inferences about other players' goals and strategies. This uncertainty cannot always be captured by information structures of classical game theory. We conclude by discussing the connection with Gricean pragmatics and contextual constraints on interpretation.
I approach the study of echo chambers from the perspective of veritistic social epistemology. A trichotomous belief model is developed featuring a mechanism by which agents will have a tendency to form agreement in the community. The model is implemented as an agent-based model in NetLogo and then used to investigate a social practice called Impartiality, which is a plausible means for resisting or dismantling echo chambers. The implementation exposes additional factors that need close consideration in an evaluation of Impartiality. (...) In particular, resisting or dismantling echo chambers requires the selection of sufficiently low levels of doxastic entrenchment, but this comes with other tradeoffs. (shrink)
In this paper I propose that, since the mid-eighteenth century medical science has simultaneously generated and disavowed ‘undead’ bodies, suspended between life and death. Through close analysis of three examples of ‘undeath’ taken from different moments in medical history, I consider what these bodies can tell us about medicine, its history, cultural meaning, scientific status and its role in shaping ideas of embodiment, identity and death. My first example is Edgar Allan Poe’s story ‘The facts in the case of M. (...) Valdemar’ which imagines the possibility of a man mesmerised at the point of death. I read this story as a response to the rise of professional, scientific medicine in the 1840s. I then look at the recurring issue of brain death in order to consider tensions within twentieth-century medical hegemony. Finally I read the Alder Hey scandal as a reactivation of undead anxiety in response to the emergent culture of medical consumerism at the end of the twentieth century. (shrink)
Skeptical theism is the view that God exists but, given our cognitive limitations, the fact that we cannot see a compensating good for some instance of evil is not a reason to think that there is no such good. Hence, we are not justified in concluding that any actual instance of evil is gratuitous, thus undercutting the evidential argument from evil for atheism. This paper focuses on the epistemic role of context and contrast classes to advance the debate over skeptical (...) theism in two ways. First, considerations of context and contrast can be invoked to offer a novel defense of skeptical theism. Second, considerations of context and contrast can be invoked to undermine the two most serious objections to skeptical theism: the global skepticism objection and the moral objection. The gist of the paper is to defend a connection between context and contrast-driven views in epistemology with skeptical views in philosophy of religion. (shrink)
In this article I develop a theory of political ontology, working to differentiate it from traditional political philosophy and Schmittian political theology. As with political theology, political ontology has its primary grounding not in disinterested contemplation from the standpoint of pure reason, but rather in a confrontation with an existential problem. Yet while for Schmitt this is the problem of how to live and think in obedience to God, the problem for political ontology is the question of being. Thus (...) the political ontologist agrees with the political theologian that the political cannot be thought without an awareness of an irreducible exigency – the fact that one thinks as situated in response to a certain moral or ethical demand – but it takes this demand to consist not in divine revelation, but rather in the fact that the human being is a being for which being is at issue. With this definition in mind I go on to read Giorgio Agamben in resolutely ontological terms, arguing that his concepts of bare life and the exception are largely unintelligible if understood ontically. Instead, these concepts are part of a critique that has as its primary target not the ontic political systems and material institutions of modern states but rather the (negative) metaphysical ground of those systems. Political ontology insists on the intertwining of ontology and politics, claiming that theirs is a relation of mutual determination. (shrink)
Of all my recollections connected with the H of C that of my having had the honour of being the first to make the claim of women to the suffrage a parliamentary question, is the most gratifying as I believe it to have been the most important public service that circumstances made it in my power to render. This is now a thing accomplished.….
The motifs of love and seduction in the Phaedrus are not about sexual love but about philosophy, and particularly about two different approaches to philosophy, one engaged and emotionally, even poetically, involved and one cold, rational and detached. Socrates' palinode speech in the Phaedrus contrasts the lover of beauty whose philosophical sensitivities enable the wings to grow and intellectual vision to occur, with the cool rational character of the non-lover who has no place for love of beauty and cares only (...) for utility and reason. When Socrates took the part of the non-lover, and denigrated the value of love in philosophical enquiry, in his first speech that attacked love as a distorting factor, and praised reason devoid of emotion, he had been seduced by a calculating and over-rational love of "speeches" which is the dominant character of Phaedrus, cool lover of reason with no emotional intelligence. (shrink)
From an ethical standpoint, the goal of clinical research is to benefit patients. While individual investigations may not yield results that directly improve patients’ evaluation or treatment, the corpus of the research should lead in that direction. Without the goal of ultimate benefit to patients, such research fails as a moral enterprise. While this may seem obvious, the need to protect and benefit patients can get lost in the milieu of clinical research. Many advances in emergency medicine have been based (...) upon the results of research studies conducted both within the specialty and by others outside of the field. But has this research benefited patients? Has it followed the Hippocratic commitment “to do good or at least do no harm”? The answer is: yes, and no. This paper attempts to demonstrate this: first by citing advances from applied research that have benefited emergency department patients over the past three decades, and follows with some aspects of emergency medicine research that makes one question both its safety and its efficacy. While enormous gains have been made in patient care as a result of emergency medical research, ethical considerations complicate this rosy picture, and point to future areas of concern for researchers. (shrink)
This paper begins with three observations: 1) At what is generally believed to be its origin in ancient Greece, “Western” philosophy is not sharply distinguished from poetry, science, or theology; 2) At what is generally believed to be its origin, “Western” philosophy is not Western; it is born in a multicultural matrix consisting of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Southern European influences; 3) As philosophy comes to think of itself as “Western,” it separates itself from poetry, science, and the rest (...) of the world-particularly from its roots in Northern Africa.In the first three sections, I examine each observation in turn. In the fourth section, I take up the implications of “Western” philosophy’s alienation from its roots for the contemporary controversy surrounding multiculturalism. If the roots of “Western” philosophy are multicultural, I propose a “radical” philosophy that reclaims them in our own multicultural context. More specifically, I propose to ask a question posed here in its most brutal (but also most honest) form: does “Western” philosophy depend on the abandonment of its friends and the murder of the indigenous peoples it encounters? If yes, then it is necessary to ask whether (in Virgil’s terms) “piety” demands that the West march on in any case. Colonialism and neocolonialism join Aeneas in answering both questions affirmatively. If no, then it is possible to proceed with the kind of radical reclamation suggested above. (shrink)