Consider the crucible of character theodicy, that we are permitted by God to meet with great evils in order to form a character with virtues like courage and sacrificial love whose significant exercise requires significant evils. …
Samuel Scheffler has recently argued that the value of our most important activities depends on the Afterlife: the continued existence of the human species in future generations. The argument begins with a speculative psychological hypothesis: that we would lose interest in most things if we believed that our species was about to go extinct (e.g. through general infertility of the current generation). I argue that even if we accept this hypothesis, it wouldn't follow that the Afterlife is a condition for the value of our activities. For many of our most important activities, the imminent extinction of the species would not affect the properties that make them worth pursuing. I go on to propose an alternative way of thinking about Scheffler’s hypothesis, showing that it reflects psychic trauma on the part of those who are aware that they are the last generation of the species.
One of the many rich and interesting themes in Gary Watson’s very impressive body of philosophical work is the idea that moral responsibility involves a distinctive kind of interpersonal address. There is a characteristic practice of addressing moral standards to other agents that is associated with at least one prominent form of responsibility, and this practice can help us to understand both the nature of moral requirements and the conditions of responsible moral agency.
The View from Here looks at a range of retrospective attitudes that humans take toward things that have happened in the past. Some tendency to react emotionally toward past occurrences, I contend, is an ineluctable concomitant of investment in the ongoing world of value. Thus to value or cherish someone or something is, inter alia, to be disposed not only to anxiety when it is threatened and to satisfaction when it fares well, but also to sadness or distress when it is damaged or destroyed. The book focuses primarily on two extreme forms of retrospective attitude that stand in opposition to each other, which I call all-in regret and unconditional affirmation. I suggest that the second of these distinctive attitudes is characteristic of attachment: the kind of emotional investment in persons and projects that typically gives our lives meaning and personal significance. To be attached in this way is, I suggest, to be prone to affirming unconditionally both the objects of one’s attachments and the historical conditions of their existence, in ways that preclude all-in regret about those very things. The upshot is that we can be committed, in virtue of our attachments, to affirming past decisions that may have been unjustified at the time when they were taken, and even monstrous historical conditions that cannot possibly be thought to be worthy of being affirmed.
Kant famously claims that being is “obviously not a real predicate” (KrV, A 598/B 626) , i.e. a determination or a property of a thing. As Frege similarly states that existence is not a first-level predicate of objects but a second-level predicate of concepts, it is not surprising that the two philosophers have been compared on this point. Indeed, Jonathan Bennett speaks of the “Kant-Frege view”, according to which Frege first gave solid logical foundations for Kant’s claim (Bennett 1974, 62–5, 231). To my mind, although there is some truth to the Kant-Frege view, there is a fundamental disparity between Kant’s and Frege’s conceptions of existence that far outweighs their similarities.
This is a phenomenological description of what is happening when we experience the death of another that interprets surviving or living on after such death by employing the term event. This term of art from phenomenology and hermeneutics is used to describe a disruptive and transformative experience of singularity. I maintain that the death of the other is an experience of an event because such death is unpredictable or without a horizon of expectation, excessive or without any principle of sufficient reason, and transformative or a death of the world itself.
I am teaching Introduction to Neuroscience this spring semester and am using An Introduction to Brain and Behavior 5th edition by Kolb et al as the textbook (this is the book the biology program decided to adopt). …
Here is a simple argument against abortion:
(1) If an entity (X) has a right to life, it is, ceteris paribus, not permissible to terminate that entity’s existence. (2) The foetus has a right to life. …
Does time pass? A-theorists say it does; B theorists disagree. However both sides of the debate generally agree that it at least appears to us as though time passes, with B theorists standardly taking the passage of time to be some kind of cognitive illusion. This paper rejects the idea that temporal passage forms part of our conscious representation of the world. I consider a range of explanatory strategies for the aspects of our temporal experience generally taken to be passage-like—which I term ‘temporal qualia’—, and defend a reductionist account, according to which our temporal qualia are nothing more than our generally veridical experience of change, motion, succession, and other such features of the world well studied by empirical psychology. As such, I argue that our experience of time is neither illusory nor corresponds to temporal passage, and show that reductionism about temporal qualia is both continuous with and well supported by empirical work on time perception.
In 1919, Lukács posed the question, “What is orthodox Marxism?” Even for Lukács, there was an undertone of irony: if by orthodoxy we mean devoutness, then “the most appropriate answer [is] a pitying smile.” But Lukács also points out that the question can be understood and asked in such a way that it invites or even requires a different kind of answer. If we understand it as a question about quintessence, Lukács’ answer is as follows: The quintessence of Marxism does not reside in the results of Marx’s research or a “‘belief’ in one or another proposition,” nor in the “exegesis of a ‘holy book.’” Rather, “orthodoxy in matters of Marxism refers exclusively to method.” In this essay I want to reapply Lukács’ question to Critical Theory: What is orthodox Critical Theory? And I’d like to advocate an approach that could be called orthodox in three respects.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher and
cultural critic who published intensively in the 1870s and 1880s. He
is famous for uncompromising criticisms of traditional European
morality and religion, as well as of conventional philosophical ideas
and social and political pieties associated with modernity. Many of
these criticisms rely on psychological diagnoses that expose false
consciousness infecting people’s received ideas; for that
reason, he is often associated with a group of late modern thinkers
(including Marx and Freud) who advanced a “hermeneutics of
suspicion” against traditional values (see Foucault  1990,
Ricoeur  1970, Leiter 2004).
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher of the late
19th century who challenged the foundations of Christianity and
traditional morality. He was interested in the enhancement of
individual and cultural health, and believed in life, creativity,
power, and down-to-earth realities, rather than those
situated in a world beyond. Central to his philosophy is the idea of
“life-affirmation,” which involves an honest questioning of
all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energies, however socially
prevalent those views might be. Often referred to as one of the first
existentialist philosophers along with Søren Kierkegaard
(1813–1855), Nietzsche’s revitalizing philosophy has inspired leading
figures in all walks of cultural life, including dancers, poets,
novelists, painters, psychologists, philosophers, sociologists and
In our view, behavior is to be understood as influenced by a number of different control systems. We shall focus in particular on what we will call the habit system, the desire system, and the planning system. These three systems are of crucial importance for determining almost all of our choices, addictive and otherwise. It seems likely that the first two of these systems are shared with other animals, but that the planning system is peculiar to humans. By describing these three systems, we aim to provide a framework that will clarify the mechanisms of addiction and the loss of control they involve.
Can we maintain that purple seems composed of red and blue without giving up the impenetrability of the red and blue parts that compose it? Brentano thinks we can. Purple, according to him, is a chessboard of red and blue tiles which, although individually too small to be perceived, are together indistinctly perceived within the purple. After a presentation of Brentano’s solution, we raise two objections to it. First, Brentano’s solution commits him to unperceivable intentional objects (the chessboard’s tiles). Second, his chessboard account fails in the end to explain the phenomenal spatial continuity of compound colours. We then sketch an alternative account, which, while holding fast to the phenomenal compoundedness of the purple and to the impenetrability of component colours, avoids introducing inaccessible intentional objects and compromising on the continuity of the purple. According to our proposal, instead of being indistinctly perceived spatial parts of the purple, red and blue are distinctly perceived non-spatial parts of it.
Moses ben Maimon [known to English speaking audiences as Maimonides
and Hebrew speaking as Rambam] (1138–1204) is the greatest Jewish
philosopher of the medieval period and is still widely read today. The
Mishneh Torah, his 14-volume compendium of Jewish law,
established him as the leading rabbinic authority of his time and quite
possibly of all time. His philosophic masterpiece, the Guide of the
Perplexed, is a sustained treatment of Jewish thought and practice
that seeks to resolve the conflict between religious knowledge and
secular. Although heavily influenced by the Neo-Platonized
Aristotelianism that had taken root in Islamic circles, it departs from
prevailing modes of Aristotelian thought by emphasizing the limits of
human knowledge and the questionable foundations of significant parts
of astronomy and metaphysics.
“Contractarianism” names both a political theory of the
legitimacy of political authority and a moral theory about the origin
or legitimate content of moral norms. The political theory of
authority claims that legitimate authority of government must derive
from the consent of the governed, where the form and content of this
consent derives from the idea of contract or mutual agreement. The
moral theory of contractarianism claims that moral norms derive their
normative force from the idea of contract or mutual agreement. Contractarians are skeptical of the possibility of grounding morality
or political authority in either divine will or some perfectionist
ideal of the nature of humanity.
Juan Luis Vives (1493–1540) was a Spanish humanist and
educational theorist who strongly opposed scholasticism and made his
mark as one of the most influential advocates of humanistic learning
in the early sixteenth century. His works are not limited to education
but deal with a wide range of subjects including philosophy,
psychology, politics, social reform and religion. Vives was not a
systematic writer, which makes it difficult to classify him as a
philosopher. His thought is eclectic and pragmatic, as well as
historical, in its orientation. He took what he considered most valid
from a variety of sources and combined these elements into a
Killer robots. You have probably heard about them. You may also have heard that there is a campaign to stop them. One of the main arguments that proponents of the campaign make is that they will create responsibility gaps in military operations. …
In this article, I argue that what is commonly lamented as the decline of qualitative research might be because of our own inability to reveal something true about being-in-the-world. Four problems with qualitative work are identified: making what is obvious inescapable, confusion around what constitutes qualitative research and phenomenology, uniformed and disrespectful mixing of methods, and devolution into “little t” truth. I finish by calling for bold, evocative interpretation, and posing the question: What is the nature of the revolution that hermeneutics can foment?
According to the antirealist argument known as the pessimistic induction, the history of science is a graveyard of dead scientific theories and abandoned theoretical posits. Support for this pessimistic picture of the history of science usually comes from a few case histories, such as the demise of the phlogiston theory and the abandonment of caloric as the substance of heat. In this paper, I wish to take a new approach to examining the “history of science as a graveyard of theories” picture. Using JSTOR Data for Research and Springer Exemplar, I present new lines of evidence that are at odds with this pessimistic picture of the history of science. When rigorously tested against the historical record of science, I submit, the pessimistic picture of the history of science as a graveyard of dead theories and abandoned posits may turn out to be no more than a philosophers’ myth.
Despite numerous and increasing attempts to define what life is, there is no consensus on necessary and sufficient conditions for life. Accordingly, some scholars have questioned the value of definitions of life and encouraged scientists and philosophers alike to discard the project. As an alternative to this pessimistic conclusion, we argue that critically rethinking the nature and uses of definitions can provide new insights into the epistemic roles of definitions of life for different research practices. This paper examines the possible contributions of definitions of life in scientific domains where such definitions are used most (e.g., Synthetic Biology, Origins of Life, Alife, and Astrobiology). Rather than as classificatory tools for demarcation of natural kinds, we highlight the pragmatic utility of what we call operational definitions that serve as theoretical and epistemic tools in scientific practice. In particular, we examine contexts where definitions integrate criteria for life into theoretical models that involve or enable observable operations. We show how these definitions of life play important roles in influencing research agendas and evaluating results, and we argue that to discard the project of defining life is neither sufficiently motivated, nor possible without dismissing important theoretical and practical research.
Naturalistic philosophers rely on literature search and review in a number of ways and for different purposes. Yet this article shows how processes of literature search and review are likely to be affected by widespread and systematic biases. A solution to this problem is offered here. Whilst the tradition of systematic reviews of literature from scientific disciplines has been neglected in philosophy, systematic reviews are important tools that minimize bias in literature search and review and allow for greater reproducibility and transparency. If naturalistic philosophers wish to reduce bias in their research, they should then supplement their traditional tools for literature search and review by including systematic methodologies.
Human behavior is frequently described both in abstract, general terms and in concrete, specific terms. We asked whether these two ways of framing equivalent behaviors shift the inferences people make about the biological and psychological bases of those behaviors. In five experiments, we manipulated whether behaviors are presented concretely (i.e. with reference to a specific person, instantiated in the particular context of that person’s life) or abstractly (i.e. with reference to a category of people or behaviors across generalized contexts). People judged concretely framed behaviors to be less biologically based and, on some dimensions, more psychologically based than the same behaviors framed in the abstract. These findings held true for both mental disorders (Experiments 1 and 2) and everyday behaviors (Experiments 4 and 5) and yielded downstream consequences for the perceived efficacy of disorder treatments (Experiment 3). Implications for science educators, students of science, and members of the lay public are discussed.
Alcmaeon of Croton was an early Greek medical writer and
philosopher-scientist. His exact date, his relationship to other early
Greek philosopher-scientists, and whether he was primarily a medical
writer/physician or a typical Presocratic cosmologist, are all matters
of controversy. He is likely to have written his book sometime between
500 and 450 BCE. The surviving fragments and testimonia focus
primarily on issues of physiology, psychology, and epistemology and
reveal Alcmaeon to be a thinker of considerable originality. He was
the first to identify the brain as the seat of understanding and to
distinguish understanding from perception.
The first paper in Idealism and Christian Theology is James Spiegel’s “The Theological Orthodoxy of Berkeley’s Immaterialism.” This piece was originally published in Faith and Philosophy in 1996, though I must confess that I had not read it before today. …
Party scene from Second Life
In 1993, Julian Dibbell wrote an article in The Village Voice describing the world’s first virtual rape. It took place in a virtual world called LambdaMOO, which still exists to this day. …
I am going to discuss our intuitive sense of the motives for bad actions, especially very bad actions. The combination of intuitive grasp of motive with moral judgement is very delicate and problematic, as I shall argue. One connection with legal reasoning arises with sentencing decisions by judges. (Another is with the decision that a case is too trivial to hear.) I shall not say a lot about this connection, because I do not have the background for it. I shall assume, though, that judges often have considerable discretion in sentencing, in spite of sentencing guidelines in some jurisdictions, and that the moral character of the particular instance of a crime for which a particular person has been convicted plays a large role in this. (If this assumption is in fact less evident than it seems to me, please correct me.) Similar considerations apply when juries have discretion such as deciding whether the death penalty is to apply, but I shall not discuss these, again out of ignorance.
Marsilius of Inghen, master at the Universities of Paris (1362–1378)
and Heidelberg (1386–1396), wrote a number of treatises on logic,
natural philosophy and theology popular at many late medieval and
early modern universities. He adopted the logico-semantic approach of
William of Ockham and John Buridan while at the same time defending
the traditional views of Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure. His thinking
sheds light on the discussion between nominalists and realists and
allows insight into the changing interests of philosophy and theology,
from the critical attitude of many fourteenth-century authors to the
search for tradition which was characteristic of the fifteenth
Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) was an American philosopher,
poet, and environmental scientist whose major work, Walden,
draws upon each of these identities in meditating on the concrete
problems of living in the world as a human being. He sought to revive
a conception of philosophy as a way of life, not only a mode of
reflective thought and discourse. Thoreau’s work was informed by
an eclectic variety of sources. He was well-versed in classical Greek
and Roman philosophy, ranging from the pre-Socratics through the
Hellenistic schools, and was also an avid student of the ancient
scriptures and wisdom literature of various Asian traditions.
The past decade has witnessed a growing awareness of conceptual and methodological hurdles within psychology and neuroscience that must be addressed for taxonomic and explanatory progress in understanding psychological functions to be possible. In this paper, I evaluate several recent knowledge-building initiatives aimed at overcoming these obstacles. I argue that while each initiative offers important insights about how to facilitate taxonomic and explanatory progress in psychology and neuroscience, only a “coordinated pluralism” that incorporates positive aspects of each initiative will have the potential for success.