Epistemic diversity is the ability or possibility of producing diverse and rich epistemic apparati to make sense of the world around us. In this paper we discuss whether, and to what extent, different conceptions of knowledge – notably as ‘justified true belief’ and as ‘distributed and embodied cognition’ – hinder or foster epistemic diversity. We then link this discussion to the widespread move in science and philosophy towards monolingual disciplinary environments. We argue that English, despite all appearance, is no Lingua Franca, and we give reasons why epistemic diversity is also deeply hindered is monolingual contexts. Finally, we sketch a proposal for multilingual academia where epistemic diversity is thereby fostered.
In the Tractatus Wittgenstein argued that there are metaphysical truths. But these are ineffable, for metaphysical sentences try to say what can only be shown. Accordingly, they are pseudo-propositions because they are ill-formed. In the Investigations he no longer thought that metaphysical propositions are pseudo-propositions, but argued that they are either nonsense or norms of descriptions. Popper criticized Wittgenstein’s ideas and argued that metaphysical truths are effable. Yet it is by now clear that he misunderstood Wittgenstein’s arguments (namely that metaphysical propositions are ill-formed because they employ unbound variables) and misguidedly thought that Wittgenstein used the principle of verification for distinguishing empirical propositions from metaphysical propositions. Because Popper developed his philosophy in part as a critique of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, this invites the question of whether these misunderstandings have consequences for his own philosophy. I discuss this question and argue that Popper’s attempt to distinguish metaphysics and science with the aid of a criterion of testability is from Wittgenstein’s perspective misguided. The main problem facing Popper’s philosophy is that alleged metaphysical propositions are not theoretical propositions but rules for descriptions (in the misleading guise of empirical propositions). If Wittgenstein’s ideas are correct, then metaphysical problems are not scientific but grammatical problems which can only be resolved through conceptual investigations.
The uneducated person blames others for their failures; those who have just begun to be instructed blame themselves; those whose learning is complete blame neither others nor themselves.1 So says Epictetus, spelling out one tenet of Stoic thought: that blame, whether of oneself or another, has no place in a life wisely lived. To blame is unhealthy and dispensable. This tenet long endeared me to Stoicism. For I was, for many years, what Peter Graham calls a ‘blame sceptic’. That is not to say that I resiled from blaming. Rather, I blamed and then reproached myself for doing so. Since reproaching entails blaming, I thereby compounded my felony. And then, reproaching myself for compounding my felony, I compounded it some more.
The combination of panpsychism and priority monism leads to priority cosmopsychism, the view that the consciousness of individual sentient creatures is derivative of an underlying cosmic consciousness. It has been suggested that contemporary priority cosmopsychism parallels central ideas in the Advaita Vedānta tradition. The paper offers a critical evaluation of this claim. It argues that the Advaitic account of consciousness cannot be characterized as an instance of priority cosmopsychism, points out the differences between the two views, and suggests an alternative positioning of the Advaitic canon within the contemporary debate on monism and panpsychism.
Curiously, people assign less punishment to a person who attempts and fails to harm somebody if their intended victim happens to suffer the harm for coincidental reasons. This “blame blocking” effect provides an important evidence in support of the two-process model of moral judgment (Cushman, 2008). Yet, recent proposals suggest that it might be due to an unintended interpretation of the dependent measure in cases of coincidental harm (Prochownik, 2017; also Malle, Guglielmo, & Monroe, 2014). If so, this would deprive the two-process model of an important source of empirical support. We report and discuss results that speak against this alternative account.
Art can be addressed, not just to individuals, but to groups. Art can even be part of how groups think to themselves – how they keep a grip on their values over time. I focus on monuments as a case study. Monuments, I claim, can function as a commitment to a group value, for the sake of long-term action guidance. Art can function here where charters and mission statements cannot, precisely because of art’s powers to capture subtlety and emotion. In particular, art can serve as the vessel for group emotions, by making emotional content sufficiently public so as to be the object of a group commitment. Art enables groups to guide themselves with values too subtle to be codified.
We argue that comparative psychologists have been too quick to jump to metacognitive interpretations of their data. We examine two such cases in some detail. One concerns so-called “uncertainty monitoring” behavior, which we show to be better explained in terms for first-order estimates of risk. The other concerns informational search, which we argue is better explained in terms of a first-order curiosity-like motivation that directs questions at the environment.
At first glance there does not seem to be anything philosophically
problematic about human enhancement. Activities such as physical
fitness routines, wearing eyeglasses, taking music lessons and prayer
are routinely utilized for the goal of enhancing human capacities. This
entry is not concerned with every activity and intervention that might
improve people’s embodied lives. The focus of this entry is a
cluster of debates in practical ethics that is conventionally labeled
as “the ethics of human enhancement”. These debates include
clinicians’ concerns about the limits of legitimate health care,
parents’ worries about their reproductive and rearing
obligations, and the efforts of competitive institutions like sports to
combat cheating, as well as more general questions about distributive
justice, science policy, and the public regulation of medical
In politics, representation is as representation does. Or – it is the contingent product of what is done with it, or in its name. Against this background, efforts by theorists to extract representation’s essence from its contexts and functions do not necessarily advance our understanding (Derrida 1982, 301). Likewise, neat distinctions between (e.g.) two or more types, forms or qualities of representation are common in democratic theory, but the practices which produce representation often traverse and disrupt static and neat distinctions. Consider the example of “self-appointed representation” (SAR) (Montanaro 2012) and its implied opposite “other-appointed representation” (OAR). SAR, to be representation, depends in some form on recognition by others. OAR, to be representation, depends on a presentation of a self adequate to representation. This is one instance of representation’s diverse and common liminal qualities, which see it traversing and complicating neat categorisations.
In his On the Genealogy of Morality Nietzsche famously discusses a psychological condition he calls ressentiment, a form of toxic, vengeful anger. In this paper, I offer a free-standing theory in philosophical psychology of what is characteristic of this state. My view takes some inspiration from Nietzsche, but this paper will not be a work of exegesis. In the process of developing my account, I will try to chart the terrain around ressentiment and closely-related and sometimes overlapping states (ordinary moral resentment, envy, vengefulness, anger, and the like) and also seek to explain what’s ethically objectionable as well as psychologically pernicious about ressentiment. Ressentiment, I shall contend in this paper, is not simply a ten dollar word substitutable for ‘resentment,’ though it is indeed a species of that genus. On the account I develop, the perception of being slighted, insulted, or demeaned figures centrally in cases of ressentiment.
The Four Ages of Man - Nicolas Lancret
There’s an oft-repeated ‘fact’ thrown around in debates about retirement and old age. The details can vary but it’s something to the effect that when the pension entitlement age was set at 65 in the early part of the 20th century, very few people could expect to collect it, and those that did could only expect to collect for a few years (probably no more than 5). …
What are the epistemic benefits of democracy? According to the ‘epistemic democrats’, democratic procedures such as deliberation and voting are valuable in part because they produce epistemically valuable outcomes. Indeed, epistemic democrats claim the legitimacy of democracy depends, at least in part, on the epistemic quality of the outcomes of political decision-making processes. In this paper, I want to consider two epistemic factors that might figure into the value of democracy, namely, veritistic and non-veritistic epistemic goals.
There’s been a lot of excitement about the new gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. Discussion of the technology has largely focused on its precision, accuracy, customizability, and affordability. But the CRISPR-Cas system from which the technology was derived has a fascinating life of its own. The work of Eugene V. Koonin’s lab is mapping the rich histories of CRISPR-Cas systems in microbial populations. In “CRISPR: A New Principle of Genome Engineering Linked to Conceptual Shifts in Evolutionary Biology,” Koonin argues that fundamental research studying adaptive immune mechanisms has (among other things) illuminated “fundamental principles of genome manipulation.” I think Koonin’s discussion provides important philosophical insights for how we should understand the significance of CRISPR-Cas systems, and the technologies derived from them. Yet the analysis he provides is only part of a larger story that fully captures the biological significance that CRISPR-Cas systems represent. There is also a human element to the CRISPR-Cas story that concerns its development as a technology. Accounting for the human history of CRISPR-Cas reveals that the story Koonin provides requires greater nuance. I’ll show how CRISPR-Cas technologies are not “natural” genome editing systems but are partly artifacts of human ingenuity. Furthermore, I’ll argue that when it comes to the story of CRISPR-Cas, fundamental and applied research are importantly intertwined.
Suppose something bad happens to my friend, and while I am properly motivated in the right degree to alleviate the bad, I just don’t feel bad about it (nor do I feel good about). Common sense says I am morally defective. …
Richard Hare left behind at his death a long essay titled “A
Philosophical Autobiography”, which was published after his
death. Its opening is striking:
I had a strange dream, or half-waking vision, not long ago. I found
myself at the top of a mountain in the mist, feeling very pleased with
myself, not just for having climbed the mountain, but for having
achieved my life’s ambition, to find a way of answering moral
questions rationally. But as I was preening myself on this
achievement, the mist began to clear, and I saw that I was surrounded
on the mountain top by the graves of all those other philosophers,
great and small, who had had the same ambition, and thought they had
In recent years there has been an explosion of philosophical work on blame. Much of this work has focused on explicating the nature of blame or on examining the norms that govern it, and the primary motivation for theorizing about blame seems to derive from blame’s tight connection to responsibility. However, very little philosophical attention has been given to praise and its attendant practices. In this paper, I identify three possible explanations for this lack of attention. My goal is to show that each of these lines of thought is mistaken and to argue that praise is deserving of careful, independent analysis by philosophers interested in theorizing about responsibility.
The human being is a paradox. We, a result of evolution, have developed the theory of evolution. Namely, the evolutionary process, in an unprecedented attempt, has been thought by one of its products — the bootstrapping is in place: the explanandum nominates itself as the explanans . Yet, the concept of evolution is one thing, while evolution itself is another. Upfront, this is an attempt to rescue Bergson’s intuitionsii on heterogeneous continuity, his notion of multiplicity, so as to recover that which, being at the core of evolution, has been lost by our habitual ways of thinking about it.
In this article, Michael Marder interprets the “toxic flood” we are living or dying through as a global dump. On his reading, multiple levels of existence—from the psychic to the physiological, from the environmental-elemental to the planetary—are being converted into a dump, a massive and still growing hodgepodge of industrial and consumer byproducts and emissions; shards of metaphysical ideas and theological dreams; radioactive materials; light, sound, and other modes of sensory pollution; pesticides and herbicides; and so forth. Toxicity targets our bodily tissues, senses, and minds, not to mention our worlds, without individuating us in this targeting, as indifferent and random as the global dump that nourishes it. Disrupting metabolism at every scrambled register of existence, it waxes into what Marder calls “ontological toxicity,” the mangled parts of the dump that do not pass through and out of being and, in not passing, warrant the annihilation, the rapid passing away, of all else. In an ontologically toxic state, the meaning of being is being dumped.
This is a (likely incomplete) transcendental phenomenology of professional failure. You can read it, if you like. Or don’t. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The problem of synthetic judgements touches on the question of whether philosophy can draw independent statements about reality in the first place. For Kant, the synthetic judgements a priori formulate the conditions of the possibility for objectively valid knowledge. Despite the principle fallibility of its statements, modern science aims for objective knowledge. This gives the topic of synthetic a priori unbroken currency. This paper aims to show that a modernized version of transcendental philosophy, if it is to be feasible at all, must “bid farewell” to the concept of being “free of empiricism” or the “purity” of the a priori. Approaches to this end can already been found in Kant’s reflections on non-pure synthetic knowledge. Moreover, the a priori validity of knowledge does not exclude the possibility that it can be discovered empirically. In keeping with Kant, Fries and Nelson anticipated this separation (usually first attributed to Reichenbach) between the validity and discovery context of knowledge and pointed out that the a priori could be discovered empirically, but never proven.
During the last few years, it has become usual to turn to some seventeenth century readings of the traditional idea of an original common possession of the earth for philosophical aid to explain and support the rights of persons in situations of extreme need, including refugees. Hugo Grotius’s conception of this idea is one of the most cited ones. In this paper, I hold that a Grotian reading of the idea of an original common possession of the earth is not a fruitful principle if we want to elaborate a solid defence of the rights of the ones in need. I reconstruct and analyse the role this idea has in Grotius’s theory of private property and present objections to it from a Kantian perspective.
Words change meaning, usually in unpredictable ways. But some words’ meanings are revised intentionally. Revisionary projects are normally put forward in the service of some purpose – some serve specific goals of inquiry, and others serve ethical, political or social aims. Revisionist projects can ameliorate meanings, but they can also pervert. In this paper, I want to draw attention to the dangers of meaning perversions, and argue that the self-declared goodness of a revisionist project doesn’t suffice to avoid meaning perversions. The road to Hell, or to horrors on Earth, is paved with good intentions. Finally and more importantly, I want to demarcate what meaning perversions are. This, I hope, can help us assess the moral and political legitimacy of revisionary projects.
In this paper I claim that perceptual discriminatory skills rely on a suitable type of environment as an enabling condition for their exercise. This is because of the constitutive connection between environment and perceptual discriminatory skills, inasmuch as such connection is construed from an ecological approach. The exercise of a discriminatory skill yields knowledge of affordances of objects, properties, or events in the surrounding environment. This is practical knowledge in the first-person perspective. An organism learns to perceive an object by becoming sensitized to its affordances. I call this position ecological disjunctivism. A corollary of this position is that a case of perception and its corresponding case of hallucination—which is similar to the former only in some respects—are different in nature. I show then how the distinguishability problem is addressed by ecological disjunctivism.
Robert Grosseteste (ca. 1168–1253), Bishop of Lincoln from 1235 to
1253, was one of the most prominent and remarkable figures in
thirteenth-century English intellectual life. He was a man of many
talents: commentator and translator of Aristotle and Greek patristic
thinkers, philosopher, theologian, and student of nature. He was
heavily influenced by Augustine, whose thought permeates his writings
and from whom he drew a Neoplatonic outlook, but he was also one of
the first to make extensive use of the thought of Aristotle, Avicenna
and Averroes. He developed a highly original and imaginative
account of the generation and fundamental nature of the physical world
in terms of the action of light, and composed a number of short works
regarding optics and other natural phenomena, as well as works of
philosophy and theology.
I don’t usually write too much about veganism/vegetarianism since it is a deeply personal issue (but see here and here). However, I have been trying to write more about deeply personal issues and I recently revisited one of my favorite albums from way back in the late ’80’s. …
Imagined interactions (IIs) occur when individuals recall past conversations with others as well as anticipate future ones. IIs intersect with the concept of inner speech, yet little is known about what elements IIs and inner speech share as well as how they differ. Information is offered about both Imagined Interaction Theory and inner speech, followed by a discussion pertaining to how they interact with other inner experiences. Results based on self-reported inner speech using a Thought Listing procedure are also presented. Two main conclusions are reached: (1) IIs constitute mental activities that do include one type of inner speech but which recruit additional components absent in the latter. (2) Inner speech includes IIs, but also encompasses many other topics and functions not present in, or served by, IIs. Consequently, inner speech and IIs ought not to be equated.
Some time ago, after hearing something along the lines of “the infinite differs from the finite” or “infinite numbers are different from finite numbers” for the umpteenth time, two things occurred to me. These are phrases reminiscent of the language used in bubbles. And infinite numbers need not differ from finite numbers. This paper develops those ideas.
To be an enthusiast, for Locke, is to believe oneself, on insufficient evidence, to be the recipient of immediate divine inspiration. We describe the theological context that led Locke to insert a chapter on this subject into the fourth edition of the Essay, and then examine why Locke held enthusiasm to be particularly objectionable. Far from being an obscure historical footnote, the chapter raises foundational questions for Locke’s epistemology. We look more closely than have previous treatments of this topic at the religious practices that Locke targets, and find them to be less obviously irrational than his criticisms suggest. Reflection on those criticisms allows us a clearer understanding of where Locke locates the ultimate grounds of rational belief.
Yesterday, I was rereading Philip Pettit's 2018 article "Consciousness Incorporated". Due to some vocabulary mismatch, I find his exact commitments on group phenomenal consciousness not entirely clear [note 1]. …
Jacques Maritain (1882–1973), French philosopher and political
thinker, was one of the principal exponents of Thomism in the
twentieth century and an influential interpreter of the thought of St