Many scholars believe that it is procedurally undemocratic for the judiciary to have an active role in shaping the law. These scholars believe either that such practices as judicial review and creative statutory interpretation are unjustified, or that they are justified only because they improve the law substantively. This Article argues instead that the judiciary can play an important procedurally democratic role in the development of the law. Majority rule by legislatures is not the only defining feature of democracy; rather, a government is democratic to the extent to which it provides egalitarian forms of political participation. One such form of participation can be the opportunity to influence the law through the courts, either directly by participating in a case or indirectly by advocating litigation. Arguing from several examples, this Article shows that judicial decision-making allows different voices to be heard that may not necessarily have influence or power in majoritarian legislative structures or popular initiatives. Giving citizens the opportunity to change, to preserve, and to obtain authoritative clarification of the law through the courts can thus make a government procedurally more democratic.
Pretense is often characterized as a form of imagination, more specifically as a sort of enactive imagination. But for the most part, pretending and imagining interact with one’s evaluative / affective systems differently. One tends to respond to imagined content with emotions similar to (albeit more attenuated than) those one would feel if that content was real. When pretending, however, one’s affective responses are often much more generalized, and insensitive to the content of the pretense. We suggest that this is because one’s attentional focus in pretense is on the actions themselves, and their correspondence with the scripts or roles being used to generate the pretense. Moreover, because pretense is intrinsically motivated, pretending is generally fun, irrespective of what, in particular, is being pretended.
François-Marie d’Arouet (1694–1778), better known by his
pen name Voltaire, was a French writer and public activist who played
a singular role in defining the eighteenth-century movement called the
Enlightenment. At the center of his work was a new conception of
philosophy and the philosopher that in several crucial respects
influenced the modern concept of each. Yet in other ways Voltaire was
not a philosopher at all in the modern sense of the term. He wrote as
many plays, stories, and poems as patently philosophical tracts, and
he in fact directed many of his critical writings against the
philosophical pretensions of recognized philosophers such as Leibniz,
Malebranche, and Descartes.
Big Data promises to revolutionise the production of knowledge within
and beyond science, by enabling novel, highly efficient ways to plan,
conduct, disseminate and assess research. The last few decades have
witnessed the creation of novel ways to produce, store, and analyse
data, culminating in the emergence of the field of data
science, which brings together computational, algorithmic,
statistical and mathematical techniques towards extrapolating
knowledge from big data. At the same time, the Open Data
movement—emerging from policy trends such as the push for Open
Government and Open Science—has encouraged the sharing and
interlinking of heterogeneous research data via large digital
One of the central areas of dispute in the reception of Kant’s
critical philosophy concerns his distinction between the cognitive
faculties of sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) and intellect
(Verstand), and their characteristic representational
outputs—viz. intuition (Anschauung) and concept
(Begriff). Though the dispute is multi-faceted, it centers on
disagreement concerning the interpretation of Kant’s conception
of the contribution made by the higher cognitive faculties (or the
“intellect” in the broadest sense of that term) to a
subject’s sensory apprehension of the world around it.
The possibility that normative motivations are basic or psychologically primitive is an intriguing one worthy of more attention. On the one hand, there is a powerful case that human minds are equipped with a psychological system dedicated to norms and norm-guided behavior (Setman and Kelly forthcoming). On the other hand, there has not yet been a convincing case made that there are any distinct, sui generis motivational resources that are unique or exclusive to this system. To the extent that the issue is addressed, many discussions simply proceed as if the motivations that drive different norm-guided behaviors are drawn from a number of different and more basic psychological sources. However, I do not think the possibility that some normative motivations are psychologically primitive has been ruled out.
Hill (2014) argues that perceptual qualia, i.e. the ways in which things look from a viewpoint, are physical properties of objects. They are relational in nature, that is, they are functions of objects’ intrinsic properties, viewpoints, and observers. Hill also claims that his kind of representationalism is the only view capable of “naturalizing qualia”. After discussing a worry with Hill’s account, I put forward an alternative, which is just as “naturalization-friendly”. I build upon Chirimuuta’s color adverbialism (2015), and I argue that we would better serve the “naturalizing project” if we abandoned representationalism and preferred a broadly adverbialist view of perceptual qualia.
The Rawlsian veil of ignorance should induce agents to behave fairly in a distributive context. This work tried to re-propose, through a dictator game with giving and taking options, a sort of original position in which reasoning behind the veil should have constituted a moral cue for subjects involved in the distribution of a common output with unequal means of production. However, our experimental context would unwittingly recall more the Hobbesian state of nature than the Rawlsian original position, showing that the heuristic resource to the Rawlsian idea of a choice behind the veil is inefficacious in distributive contexts.
Under conditions of ideology, a standard model of normative political epistemology – relying on a domain-specific reflective equilibrium – risks status-quo bias. Social critique requires a more critical standpoint. What are the aims of social critique? How is such a standpoint achieved and what grounds its claims? One way of achieving a critical standpoint is through consciousness raising. Consciousness raising offers a paradigm shift in our understanding of the social world; but not all epistemic practices that appear to “raise” consciousness, are warranted. However, under certain conditions sketched in the paper, consciousness raising produces a warranted critical standpoint and a pro tanto claim against others. This is an important epistemic achievement, yet under conditions of collective self-governance, there is no guarantee that all warranted claims can be met simultaneously. There will be winners and losers even after legitimate democratic processes have been followed.
« Quantum Computing Lecture Notes 2.0
The Collapsing Leviathan
I was seriously depressed for the last week, by noticeably more than my baseline amount for the new pandemic-ravaged world. The depression seems to have been triggered by two pieces of news:
The US Food and Drug Administration—yes, the same FDA whose failure to approve covid tests in February infamously set the stage for the deaths of 100,000 Americans—has now also banned the Gates Foundation’s program for at-home covid testing. …
The boundaries of social categories are frequently altered to serve normative projects, such as social reform. Griffiths and Khalidi argue that the value-driven modification of categories diminishes the epistemic value of social categories. I argue that concerns over value-modified categories are an endorsement of problematic assumptions of the value-free ideal of science. Contrary to those concerns, non-epistemic value considerations can increase the epistemic success of a scientific category. For example, the early history of the category infantile autism shows how non-epistemic value considerations can contribute to delimiting and establishing infantile autism as a distinct category in mainstream psychiatry. In the case of infantile autism, non-epistemic considerations have led to a new interpretation of existing data, the expansion of research to include biology, and the creation of diagnostic criteria that further contribute to collecting relevant data. Given this case study, we see that non-epistemic considerations may not be epistemically detrimental but can be epistemically beneficial in scientific classification.
The concept of animal culture began to be increasingly used in the context of animal behaviour research around the 1960s. In spite of its success, I shall argue that animal culture as it is currently conceived does not represent a fully articulated “natural kind”. But how does it fail in this regard and what consequences follow? Firstly, an analysis of the epistemological landscape of author keywords related to the concept of animal cultures is presented. I then systematically enumerate the ways in which culture cannot be considered a natural kind in the study of animal behaviour. Finally, a plausible interpretation of the scientific status of the animal culture concept is suggested that is congenial to both its well established use in animal behaviour research and its inferential limitations.
Edmund Burke, author of Reflections on the Revolution in
France, is known to a wide public as a classic political thinker:
it is less well understood that his intellectual achievement depended
upon his understanding of philosophy and use of it in the practical
writings and speeches by which he is chiefly known. The present essay
explores the character and significance of the use of philosophy in
his political thought. That thought is of the very first importance
for intellectual history and for the conduct of politics. This essay
is the first attempt to examine its philosophical character and to
connect the latter with Burke's political activity.
In my paper, I defend an interpretation according to which Aristotle thinks in Nicomachean Ethics (EN) that the rational aspect of soul is needed in discerning which ends of desire would be good. Many interpreters have traditionally supported this, ‘rationalist’ line of interpreting Aristotle’s theory of value cognition. The rationalist interpretation has, however, recently come under a novel challenge from Jessica Moss (2011, 2012), but has not yet received a defence. Moss attempts to resurrect now virtually abandoned ‘anti-rationalist’ interpretation, which claims, in a contrast to the rationalist one, that discerning good ends may require no activity from the rational aspect, but only well-habituated non-rational desire. Moss’ interpretation appeals to certain Aristotle’s claims in De Anima (DA) 3, which, she thinks, show that non-rational phantasia suffices for discerning good ends if only accompanied with the habituated desire. Although her interpretation can successfully avoid some problems that earlier anti-rationalist interpretations faced with certain passages of EN, I also argue, however that it introduces some new problems, and attributes philosophically incoherent views about moral responsibility to Aristotle. Therefore I conclude that even after Moss’ improvements to the anti-rationalist interpretation, the rationalist interpretation remains overall more plausible.
Brentanians defend the view that there are distinct types of object, but that this does not entail the admission of different modes of being. The most general distinction among objects is the one between realia, which are causally efficacious, and irrealia, which are causally inert. As for being, which is equated with existence, it is understood in terms of “correct acknowledgeability.” This view was defended for some time by Brentano himself and then by his student Anton Marty. Their position is opposed to Bolzanian, Husserlian, and Meinongian ontologies, in which a distinction in the (higher) types of object implies a distinction in their mode of being. These Austro-German discussions anticipate much of the contemporary debate between Quineans, who accept only differences in objects, and neo-Meinongians or other ontological pluralists, who accept different modes of being. My paper first presents the Brentanian view in detail and then evaluates its philosophical significance.
Do famous athletes have special obligations to act virtuously? A number of philosophers have investigated this question by examining whether famous athletes are subject to special role model obligations (Wellman 2003; Feezel 2005; Spurgin 2012). In this paper we will take a different approach and give a positive response to this question by arguing for the position that sport and gaming celebrities are ‘ambassadors of the game’: moral agents whose vocations as rule-followers have unique implications for their non-lusory lives. According to this idea, the actions of a game’s players and other stakeholders—especially the actions of its stars—directly affect the value of the game itself, a fact which generates additional moral reasons to behave in a virtuous manner. We will begin by explaining the three main positions one may take with respect to the question: moral exceptionalism, moral generalism, and moral exemplarism. We will argue that no convincing case for moral exemplarism has thus far been made, which gives us reason to look for new ways to defend this position. We then provide our own ‘ambassadors of the game’ account and argue that it gives us good reason to think that sport and game celebrities are subject to special obligations to act virtuously.
Despite its long history of investigating sociality, phenomenology has, to date, said little about online sociality. The phenomenological tradition typically claims that empathy is the fundamental way in which we experience others and their experiences. While empathy is discussed almost exclusively in the context of face-to-face interaction, I claim that we can empathetically perceive others and their experiences in certain online situations. Drawing upon the phenomenological distinction between the physical, objective body and the expressive, lived body, I: (i) highlight that empathy involves perceiving the other’s expressive, lived body, (ii) show that the lived body is not tied to the physical body and that empathy can take place outside of face-to-face interactions, and (iii) argue that the lived body can enter online space and is empathetically available to others there. I explore two ways in which the other’s lived body enters online space and can be empathetically perceived: first, in cases where our face-to-face encounter is technologically-mediated over video link and, second, by showing how the other’s texts, as speech, can form part of the other’s lived body. Investigating empathy online not only furthers our understanding of online encounters but also leads to a refined conception of empathy more generally.
Each of the ten million densely populated planets in Empress Alice’s vast intergalactic empire has an average of one person on death row who has exhausted all appeals. Empress Alice’s justice system is a really good one, but she knows it to be fallible like all justice systems, and her statistics show there is one in a million chance of an innocent being sentenced to death and exhausting all appeals. …
Franz Brentano is well known for highlighting the importance of intentionality, but he said curiously little about the nature of intentionality. According to Mark Textor, there is a deep reason for this: Brentano took intentionality to be a conceptual primitive the nature of which is revealed only in direct grasp. Although there is certainly textual support for this interpretation, it appears in tension with Brentano’s repeated attempts to analyze intentionality in terms of ‘notional constituents’ – aspects which cannot come apart in reality but which can be conceptually distinguished. After bringing out this tension, I explore some options for resolving it, ultimately offering my own favored interpretation.
This joyful book tells the story of how meaning came into existence, and how we ourselves came to be able to make sense of our world. It blithely ignores hostile boundaries and unites philosophy and science, poetry and biochemistry, Shannon’s mathematical theory of information and good old- fashioned literary scholarship. What could you possibly learn from Aristotle or Francis Bacon about the dynamics of gene regulation, and what could you possibly learn about literary interpretation from the role of retroviruses in rewiring placental regulatory networks?
Wilhelm Windelband (1848–1915) was a German neo-Kantian
philosopher. He is considered the founding father of the Baden (or
Southwest) school of Neo-Kantianism. The Baden school included his
student and successor at Heidelberg, Heinrich Rickert
(1863–1936), and Rickert’s student Emil Lask
(1875–1915) as its core members. Alongside his contemporary
Hermann Cohen (1842–1918)—the founder of the Marburg
school of Neo-Kantianism—Windelband is a central proponent of
the anti-psychologistic interpretation of Kant that became dominant in
German academic philosophy from the 1880s onwards, and that
constituted the backbone of “orthodox” neo-Kantianism in
the late nineteenth century.
You have come to the troubling realization that a friend of yours, whom you have loved with affection for many years, isn’t the person he seemed to be. You hadn’t taken seriously enough the gossip about his obnoxious and cruel behavior. You never doubted his values when he made “colorful remarks”. And in the last few years, you’ve been so busy and distracted with work and family that you haven’t really been paying much attention to him at all. But now your attention is focused, your awareness heightened, and your eyes clear. You see now that he really is a pig, that his kindness really is put on, and that his charms are merely that charms. He is not refreshingly flakey, but unreliable and insincere. Not charismatic, but sloppy and arrogant. What you once believed to be his good qualities you now see as veneer over a mix of vice and hollowness underneath.
The aesthetics of our own actions are already a natural part of the rich experience of our lives. And the arts of action already exist in plenty; we are surrounded by them. Many of our artifacts are designed for the sake of encouraging and structuring the aesthetics of actions.
Here is an old joke: what is black and white and red all over? A newspaper. Why though? As we assume that nothing could really be black and white and red all over, we infer that ‘red’ should be heard as ‘read.’ In the grand philosophical tradition of making even humour unfunny, I want to take issue with this assumption. My thesis is that it is possible to see two objects in black and white, while at the same time seeing one of them as redder than the other. More generally, I argue that it is possible to perceptually represent colour relations between two objects, without perceptually representing their colours. I call this primitive relational colour representation (PRCR). This goes against the orthodox view that we represent colour relations by virtue of representing colours. This orthodoxy has been challenged by several authors in the recent literature, and I here add my name to the chorus.
What follows is an attempt to rewrite Michael Smith’s ‘What is the Moral Problem?’ in a way that is more accessible to introductory philosophy students. ‘What is the Moral Problem?’ is the first chapter of Smith’s The Moral Problem (1994), but I have rewritten here as if it is a standalone essay. This is one rewrite in a series that I am tentatively calling ‘Philosophy Uncovered’. My hope is that the piece can be read on its own, without any prior knowledge of philosophy in general or meta-ethics in particular. I have made no efforts to imitate Smith’s inimitable writing style.
This is the story of how the largest multigene family in the mammalian genome was found. The story of the discovery of the olfactory receptors (ORs) by Linda Buck and Richard Axel is really a tale of two tales: the first is the birth of olfaction as a model for neurobiology, the second is a methodological breakthrough in the bench life of Buck. At the core of this discovery sits its experimental design, raising the question: what makes discovery tools fit their tasks? Why are some strategies more fruitful than others?
This paper puts forward an account of blame combining two ideas that are usually set ABSTRACT up against each other: that blame performs an important function, and that blame is justified by the moral reasons making people blameworthy rather than by its functionality. The paper argues that blame could not have developed in a purely instrumental form, and that its functionality itself demands that its functionality be effaced in favour of non-instrumental reasons for blame—its functionality is self-effacing. This notion is sharpened and it is shown how it offers an alternative to instrumentalist or consequentialist accounts of blame which preserves their animating insight while avoiding their weaknesses by recasting that insight in an explanatory role. This not only allows one to do better justice to the authority and autonomy of non-instrumental reasons for blame, but also reveals that autonomy to be a precondition of blame’s functionality. Unlike rival accounts, it also avoids the “alienation effect” that renders blame unstable under reflection by undercutting the authority of the moral reasons which enable it to perform its function in the first place. It instead yields a vindicatory explanation that strengthens our confidence in those moral reasons.
What are the fundamental properties of our world, and what is the best metaphysical account of them? Many assume we should look to physics to answer these questions. Physics refers to properties such as mass, spin and charge, and seems to characterise these properties in exclusively dispositional terms. Mass, for example, is characterised in terms of gravitational attraction and resistance to acceleration; charge is characterised in terms of attraction and repulsion. Perhaps, then, we should conclude that the fundamental properties of our world are dispositions: properties essentially defined in terms of how they dispose their bearers to behave. This, at least, is the argument of dispositional essentialists.
Questions central to the ontology of art include the following: what
sort of things are works of art? Do all works of art belong to a
single category of entities? Do they have multiple instances? Do
works have parts or constituents, and if so, what is their relation to
the work as a whole? How are works of art individuated? Are they
created or discovered? Can they be destroyed? Explicit and extensive treatments of these topics written
prior to the 19th century have yet to be found. This does
not mean, however, that there is nothing relevant to these ontological
questions in early writings on beauty, the arts, and related
Though happiness and related mental states have been the object of systematic scientific study since the beginning of the twentieth century, interest in the topic has accelerated rapidly in the last few decades (Angner 2009). By now, psychologists, economists, and other social and behavioral scientists have convinced themselves that it is possible to develop reliable and valid measures of happiness (and the like), and that these measures can be used to study systematically the determinants and distribution of happiness (and such) in the population. The measures, which are often discussed under the heading of 'subjective measures of well-being,’ are typically based on direct questions such as ’Taking things all together, how would you say things are these days — would you say you’re very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy these days?’ (Gurin et al. 1960, p. 411; italics in original). Answers to such questions are used to construct numerical measures of both individual well-being (the well-being of persons) and social well-being (the well-being of groups).1