Consciousness raises a range of philosophical questions. We can distinguish between the How?, Where?, and What? questions. First, how does consciousness relate to other features of reality? Second, where are conscious phenomena located in reality? And, third, what is the nature of consciousness?
The rapid expansion of psychological research on unconscious processes has brought with it a similar expansion in philosophical discussions of what to make of these processes. One such discussion has asked whether we can be responsible for actions produced by unconscious processes – whether we should be praised or blamed for them. A venerable view holds conscious intentions to be necessary for agency and action. This straightforwardly rules out behaviours caused by unconscious processes as instances of responsibility-apt action. Levy (2014) provides perhaps the most comprehensive argument for this point, but it is often implicitly assumed. In fact, many arguments nominally aimed at supporting the claim that we can be responsible for automatically produced actions do so by tracing a relation between the unconscious process and some conscious process such that conscious processing is still really shouldering the weight (Wigley 2007, Levy and Bayne 2004) or advocating externalism about responsibility for unconscious action (Washington and Kelly 2016).
Berkeley’s ‘master argument’ for idealism has been the subject of extensive criticism. Two of his strongest critics, A.N. Prior and J.L. Mackie, argue that due to various logical confusions on the part of Berkeley, the master argument fails to establish his idealist conclusion. Prior (1976) argues that Berkeley’s argument ‘proves too little’ in its conclusion, while Mackie (1964) contends that Berkeley confuses two different kinds of self-refutation in his argument. In this paper, I put forward a defence of the master argument based on intuitionistic logic. I argue that, analysed along these lines, Prior’s and Mackie’s criticisms fail to undermine Berkeley’s argument.
Aesthetic attitude theories suggest we must attend disinterestedly to the properties of objects to experience aesthetic delight in them: we view them without regard to their use for us. Bence Nanay’s recent revival of the concept explains it through the distribution of our attention over the many properties of individual objects. While agreeing with Nanay’s approach, I argue such perception presupposes certain intentionality towards the object in the Fregean-Husserlian sense. Whether we see the same object as informative or aesthetically gratifying depends on whether we understand it as, say, a map or as a work of design or art. Furthermore, intending an object as aesthetic means we treat it as internally coherent: its properties are defined in relation to one another, rather than the purposes of a subject. This, I conclude, even affects the presentation of historical or moral values that obviously originate outside the object of aesthetic appreciation.
1. We express our personality by what we say and by what we do. 1.1 What we say we say with words...
1.2 What we do, we do in many ways, and these ways "show" a personality. 1.21 "Style" is a word sometimes used to describe this. …
This edition of the newsletter continues a focus on pedagogy and outreach—of teaching Native American and Indigenous philosophy and of creating supports for Native American and other underrepresented students so that more see college and further study of philosophy as live options for themselves.
The interlude in the Theaetetus was a seminal text for Plotinus, who endorsed both Socrates’ conception of the ideal of god-likeness (ὁμοίωσις θεῷ) and his claim that evil would “inevitably haunt mortal nature.” (176a7-8) However, in so far as the interlude raised more questions than could be addressed in what would become ten Stephanus pages, Plotinus reinterpreted the Socratic claims and integrated them in the framework of his emanative ontology. The god to whom we are to make ourselves “like” became the hypostasis Intellect and the archetypes of virtue therein; virtue became the state of embodied human souls who activate the traces of the Forms within themselves; and contemplation became the focus of the best life for a human being to lead. As for the claim that evil would forever stalk human nature, which Socrates had left vague and unsupported, it led Plotinus to formulate a highly complex theory of matter as metaphysical evil and indirect source of moral evil. Plotinus’ conception of both virtue and vice, it will be argued, is a form of moral realism avant la lettre.
Society’s relationship with modern animal farming is an ambivalent one: on the one hand there is rising criticism about modern animal farming; on the other hand people appreciate certain aspects of it, such as increased food safety and low food prices. This ambivalence reflects the two faces of modernity: the negative (exploitation of nature and loss of traditions) and the positive (progress, convenience, and efficiency). This article draws on a national survey carried out in the Netherlands that aimed at gaining a deeper understanding about the acceptance of modern dairy farming in Dutch society. People take two dimensions into account when evaluating different aspects of modern dairy farming: (1) the way living beings are used for production and (2) the way a dairy farm functions as a business.
Despite an enormous philosophical literature on models in science, surprisingly little has been written about data models and how they are constructed. In this paper, I examine the case of how paleodiversity data models are constructed from the fossil data. In particular, I show how paleontologists are using various model-based techniques to correct the data. Drawing on this research, I argue for the following related theses: First, the 'purity' of a data model is not a measure of its epistemic reliability. Instead it is the fidelity of the data that matters. Second, the fidelity of a data model in capturing the signal of interest is a matter of degree. Third, the fidelity of a data model can be improved 'vicariously', such as through the use of post hoc model-based correction techniques. And, fourth, data models, like theoretical models, should be assessed as adequate (or inadequate) for particular purposes.
We assess the arguments for recognising functionally integrated multi-species consortia as genuine biological individuals, including cases of so-called ‘holobionts’. We provide two examples in which the same core biochemical processes that sustain life are distributed across a consortium of individuals of different species. Although the same chemistry features in both examples, proponents of the holobiont as unit of evolution would recognize one of the two cases as a multi-species individual whilst they would consider the other as a compelling case of ecological dependence between separate individuals. Some widely used arguments in support of the ‘holobiont’ concept apply equally to both cases, suggesting that those arguments have misidentified what is at stake when seeking to identify a new level of biological individuality. One important aspect of biological individuality is evolutionary individuality. In line with other work on the evolution of individuality, we show that our cases can be distinguished by focusing on the fitness alignment between the partners of the consortia. We conclude that much of the evidence currently presented for the ubiquity and importance of multi-species individuals is simply not to the point, at least unless the issue of biological individuality is firmly divorced from the question of evolutionary individuality.
The rise and fall of spectators performing “the wave” in a football stadium offers an analogy for how brain waves ripple across the cortex and lower brain. In both, the underlying actors (humans, neurons) serve multiple roles. First, in the stadium, each spectator dutifully passes along each wave to his neighbors. Second, any motivated spectator can initiate his own wave and enlist his neighbors’ support to broadcast it to the rest of the stadium. Third, a spectator can perceive incoming waves, and retain a memory of historical wave patterns (frequency and amplitude changes) in his local, private notebook. Fourth, a spectator can scour his library of existing notebooks (assuming he has these with him) to compare new incoming wave patterns with legacy patterns. Fifth, a spectator can assign himself a unique name within the stadium. Sixth, a spectator can broadcast (via waves) an inquiry to any other spectator in the stadium and receive a reply, addressing the other spectator by their unique name. Seventh, a spectator can train himself to learn more specifics and subtleties about his environment and make this skill available to any other spectator who requests it.
Olympiodorus of Alexandria, presumably a late pupil of Ammonius Hermeiou,
the commentator on Aristotle and teacher of Simplicius and Philoponus,
was one of the last pagans to teach philosophy at the school of
Alexandria in the 6th century. In his lectures, he
interpreted classical philosophical texts, mainly by Plato and
Aristotle; we still possess three of his commentaries on Plato and two
on Aristotle. At times, these seem to be carefully crafted pieces of
pedagogy, but at other times they read more like transcripts drawn up
by one of the students. Although Olympiodorus comes across as a
learned man and guardian of traditional paideia, both
literary and philosophical, his œuvre compares unfavorably, from
a philosophical standpoint, with commentaries written by either
Ammonius or Olympiodorus’ contemporaries such as Simplicius and John
[It] was hard to know what lessons to draw. The democracies had shown their resilience in the long run. How they had done it, and what it meant for the future, was much less clear. The knowledge of their hidden strengths the democracies had been given did not translate into greater self-knowledge or self-control. …
All the legal maneuvers, the decades of recriminations, came down in the end to two ambiguous syllables. No one knew why old man Memeson had named his two kids “Laurel” and “Yanny,” or why his late wife had gone along with it. …
But the scanty wisdom of man, on entering into an affair which looks well at first, cannot discern the poison that is hidden in it, as I have said above of hectic fevers. Therefore, if he who rules a principality cannot recognize evils until they are upon him, he is not truly wise; and this insight is given to few. …
Among the philosophical disciplines transmitted to the Arabic and
Islamic world from the Greeks, metaphysics was of paramount
importance, as its pivotal role in the overall history of the
transmission of Greek thought into Arabic makes evident. The
beginnings of Arabic philosophy coincide with the production of the
first extensive translation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics,
within the circle of translators associated with the founder of Arabic
philosophy, al-Kindī. The so-called “early” or
“classical” phase of falsafa ends with the
largest commentary on the Metaphysics available in Western
philosophy, by Ibn Rushd (Averroes).
But if we consider, where Monies are raised according to wealth, there they who have made equall gain, have not equall possessions, because that one preserves what he hath got by frugality, another wastes it by luxury, and therefore equally rejoycing in the benefit of Peace, they doe not equally sustaine the Burthens of the Commonweal [civitatis]: and on the other side, where the goods themselves are taxt, there every man, while he spends his private goods, in the very act of consuming them he undiscernably payes [imperceptibiliter persolvit] part due to the Commonweal, according to, not what he hath, but what by the benefit of the Realm he hath had. …
My thesis in this paper is a fairly simple one, and one, I believe, that is fairly simple to support on rational grounds – although I imagine it will prove controversial among some dedicated to a strictly ‘scientific’ understanding of life. But the thesis can be stated simply enough: A materialist interpretation of evolutionary theory cannot account for the subjective dimension of life, and, in particular, cannot account for that aspect of life of most concern to religion, its spiritual aspirations. Indeed, not only can it not account for desire of a spiritual sort, it cannot account for desire at all, not even the desire for physical survival, which it presupposes.
Guardians of companion animals killed wrongfully in the U.S. historically receive compensatory judgments reflecting the animal’s economic value. As animals are property in torts law, an animal’s economic value is its fair market value (FMV), its value, as it were, to strangers. However, in light of the fact that guardians often value their companion animals at rates in excess of FMV, legislatures and courts have begun to recognize a second value, the animal’s value to its guardian, or its capital. Since guardians invest in their animals, when animals are killed guardians lose the opportunity to recoup their investments. In this paper, I argue for a third value, an animal’s intrinsic value, its value to itself, and I propose a method to determine it. The method assesses investments animals make in themselves expecting a return. The theory has legal implications for economic damages in wrongful companion animal death lawsuits and philosophical implications for proper assessment of the value of nonhuman animal life.
Climate science investigates the structure and dynamics of
earth’s climate system. It seeks to understand how global,
regional and local climates are maintained as well as the processes by
which they change over time. In doing so, it employs observations and
theory from a variety of domains, including meteorology, oceanography,
physics, chemistry and more. These resources also inform the
development of computer models of the climate system, which are a
mainstay of climate research today. This entry provides an overview of
some of the core concepts and practices of contemporary climate
science as well as philosophical work that engages with them.
The Minim friar Marin Mersenne (1588–1648) played a central role
in French intellectual life of the first half of the seventeenth
century. At a time when scientific periodicals were still sorely
lacking, he was rightly referred to as “The Secretary of Learned
Europe” (“le secrétaire de l’Europe
savante”, Hauréau 1877, p. 177) thanks to his
sprawling correspondence, which extended his network across the whole
of learned Europe, to his role as translator, editor, disseminator of
scientific information, and to his ability to generate research and
discoveries by creating “fine questions” (de belles
questions, Pascal 1658, p. 1) addressed to the foremost
scholars of the time.
Although it was only in the first half of the twentieth century
that the term ‘personalism’ became known as a designation
of philosophical schools and systems, personalist thought had
developed throughout the nineteenth century as a reaction to perceived
depersonalizing elements in Enlightenment rationalism, pantheism,
Hegelian absolute idealism, individualism as well as collectivism in
politics, and materialist, psychological, and evolutionary
determinism. In its various strains, personalism always underscores
the centrality of the person as the primary locus of investigation for
philosophical, theological, and humanistic studies.
One of the major themes of the history of science is the replacement of substance assumptions about the phenomena of interest with process models. Thus, phlogiston has been replaced by combustion, caloric by random thermal motion, and vital fluid by far-from-equilibrium self-reproducing organizations of process. The most significant exceptions to this historical pattern are found in studies of the mind. Here, substance assumptions are still ubiquitous, ranging from models of representation to those of emotions to personality and psychopathology. Substance assumptions do pernicious damage to our ability to understand such phenomena. In this discussion, I will focus on the problem of representation.
It is now just over three weeks since my sister died. The ordinary patterns of life are beginning to resume. Deadlines loom, meetings have been scheduled, and the obligations of work are making themselves felt once more. …
The question of whether the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is crucially involved in conscious experience is one that I have been interested in for quite a while. The issue has flared up again recently, especially with the defenders of the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness defending an anti-PFC account of consciousness (as in Christof Koch’s piece in Nature). …
by Will Swanson and Eric Schwitzgebel
Droids—especially R2-D2, C-3PO, and BB-8—propel the plot of the Star Wars movies. A chance encounter between R2-D2 and Luke Skywalker in “Episode IV: A New Hope” starts Luke on his fateful path to joining the rebel forces, becoming a Jedi, and meeting his father. …
Hobbes made a distinctive contribution to the discussion of freedom on two fronts. He persuaded later, if not immediate, successors that it is only the exercise of a power of interference that reduces people’s freedom, not its (unexercised) existence – not even its existence in an arbitrary, unchecked form. Equally, he persuaded them that the exercise of a power of interference always reduces freedom in the same way, whether it occurs in a republican democracy, purportedly on a ‘non-arbitrary’ basis, or under a dictatorial, arbitrary regime. But the basis on which Hobbes maintained those two propositions was very different from any that successors would have found plausible. This article explores the idiosyncratic principles that led Hobbes to develop his influential point of view.
In the contextualist methodology that Quentin Skinner has championed throughout his career, ‘‘the history of thought should be viewed not as a series of attempts to answer a canonical set of questions, but as a sequence of episodes in which the questions as well as the answers have frequently changed.’’ Bringing this methodology to bear on the work of a single thinker, Skinner argues in his recent book that in a short span of just over ten years Hobbes, stung by the work of radical and parliamentary writers, went through just such a radical shift in his thinking about the meaning of political liberty. While describing Hobbes as concerned throughout that period with the single ‘‘question of human liberty,’’ he maintains that his 1651 ‘‘analysis of liberty in Leviathan represented not a revision but a repudiation of what he had earlier argued’’ in his 1640 manuscript, The Elements of Law, and indeed his two editions of De Cive in the mid 1640s. In upholding this thesis he describes my claim that there is ‘‘no evidence of any significant change’’ in Hobbes’s theory between those works as an example of the sort of position he rejects.
I approach these questions in the step-by-step, unnuanced manner of the philosopher. In the first section, I characterise the republican tradition in its broad historical sweep, drawing on an earlier book on republicanism, and then, in the second section, I give an account of what the system of culture should be taken to encompass. With those matters fixed, I go on in the third section to look at the role and significance of culture in the republican way of thinking. And finally, in the fourth section, I turn to the policy lessons for the state that this picture of the significance of culture would support. These lessons must be seen as important, I think, by anyone who embraces a republican philosophy, and they stand in conflict with the positions that might attract adherents of opposed philosophies, such as libertarianism and communitarianism.
The background thesis is that an implicit ontology of the people and the relation between the people and the state often shapes how we think in normative terms about politics. This article attempts to defend that thesis in relation to Rawls. The argument is that the rejection of an image of the people as a group agent connects with his objection to utilitarianism and the rejection of an image of the people as a mere aggregate connects with his objection to libertarianism. Rawls, it is argued, holds by an in-between picture and it is this that explains many of his most distinctive commitments.