What I call the active mind approach revolves around the claim that what is “on” a person’s mind is in an important sense brought on and held on to through the agent’s self-conscious rational activity. In the first part, I state the gist of this perspective in a deliberately strong way in order to create a touchstone for critical discussion. In the second part, I engage with two categories of our mental lives that seem to speak against construing the mind as active. First, I discuss affectivity, in particular emotion, and show that emotional episodes are active engagements. Second, I discuss habitual action, and in particular those manifestations of habit which are initially opaque to the agent. In my responses to both objections, the notion of a practical self-understanding will play a central role. The result will be a qualified defence and expansion of the active mind position.
The origin of life occupies a very important place in the study of the evolution. Its liminal location between life and non-life poses special challenges to researchers who study this subject. Current approaches in studying the origin and evolution of early life are reductive: they either reduce the domain of non-life to the domain of life or vice versa. This contribution seeks to provide a perspective that would avoid reductionism of any kind. Its goal is to outline a frame that would include both domains and their respective evolutions as its particular cases. The study examines the main theoretical perspectives on the origin and evolution of early life and provides a constructive critique of these perspectives. An objective view requires viewing an object or a phenomenon from all available points of view. The goal of this contribution is not to prove the current perspectives wrong and to deny their achievements. It seeks to provide an angle that would be sufficiently wide and would allow synthesizing current perspectives for a comprehensive and objective interpretation of the origin and evolution of early life. In other words, it seeks to outline a frame for an objective view that will help understand life’s place within the universe.
Effective altruism is based on a very simple idea: we should do the most good we can. Obeying the usual rules about not stealing, cheating, hurting, and killing is not enough, or at least not enough for those of us who have the good fortune to live in material comfort, who can feed, house, and clothe ourselves and our families and still have money or time to spare. …
As many Western countries emerged from initial periods of lockdown in spring 2020, they had brought COVID-19 infection rates down significantly. This was followed, however, with more drastic second and third waves of viral spread, which many of these same countries are struggling to bring under control, even with the implementation of further periods of lockdown. Could this have been prevented by policymakers? We revisit two strategies that were focus of much discussion during the early stages of the pandemic, and which were implemented in several Western countries, albeit in a weakened form. These strategies both proceed by targeting certain segments of the population, while allowing others to go about their lives unhindered. The first suggests selectively isolating those that would most likely suffer severe adverse effects if infected – in particular the elderly. The second involves identifying and quarantining those who are likely to be infected through a contact tracing app that would centrally store users’ information. We suggest that both strategies showed promise in preventing the need for further lockdowns, albeit in a significantly more stringent form than anything that was implemented in Western countries. We then proceed to an ethical evaluation of these more stringent policies. We contend that selective isolation strategies face severe ethical problems due to its discriminatory nature, while the ethical issues with a more aggressive contact tracing regime can be mitigated. This analysis has implications for how to respond effectively and ethically to future pandemics, and perhaps contains lessons on how to successfully emerge from our current predicament.
ABSTRACT: Many artists, art critics, and poets suggest that an aesthetic appreciation of artworks may modify our perception of the world, including quotidian things and scenes. I call this Art-to-World, AtW. Focusing on visual artworks, in this paper I articulate an empirically-informed account of AtW that is based on content-related views of aesthetic experience, and on Goodman’s and Elgin’s concept of exemplification. An aesthetic encounter with artworks demands paying attention to its aesthetic, expressive, or design properties that realize its purpose. Attention to these properties make percipients better able to spot them in other entities and scenes as well. The upshot is that an aesthetic commerce with artworks enlarges the scope of what we are able to see and has therefore momentous epistemic consequences.
Leo Strauss was a twentieth-century German Jewish émigré
to the United States whose intellectual corpus spans ancient, medieval
and modern political philosophy and includes, among others, studies of
Plato, Maimonides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, and Nietzsche. Strauss wrote mainly as a historian of philosophy and most of his
writings take the form of commentaries on important thinkers and their
writings. Yet as he put it: “There is no inquiry into the
history of philosophy that is not at the same time a
philosophical inquiry” (PL, p. 41). While much of his
philosophical project involved an attempt to rethink pre-modern
philosophy, the impetus for this reconsideration and the philosophical
problems that vexed Strauss most were decidedly modern.
Early modern philosophy in Europe and Great Britain is awash with
discussions of the emotions: they figure not only in philosophical
psychology and related fields, but also in theories of epistemic
method, metaphysics, ethics, political theory and practical reasoning
in general. Moreover, interest in the emotions links philosophy with
work in other, sometimes unexpected areas, such as medicine, art,
literature, and practical guides on everything from child-rearing to
the treatment of subordinates. Because of the breadth of the topic,
this article can offer only an overview, but perhaps it will be enough
to give some idea how philosophically rich and challenging the
conception of the emotions was in this period.
To this end, I maintain that this property is individuated by its phenomenal roles, which can be internal – individuating the property per se – and external – determining further phenomenal or physical properties or states. I then argue that this individuation allows phenomenal roles to be organized in a necessarily asymmetrical net, thereby overcoming the circularity objection to dispositionalism. Finally, I provide reasons to argue that these roles satisfy modal fixity, as posited by Bird, and are not fundamental properties, contra Chalmers’ panpsychism. Thus, bodily pain can be considered a substantial dispositional property entrenched in non-fundamental laws of nature.
Joseph Henrich's ambitious tome, The WEIRDest People in the World, is driving me nuts. It's good enough and interesting enough that I want to read it. Henrich's general idea is that people in Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic (WEIRD) societies differ psychologically from people in more traditionally structured societies, and that the family policies of the Catholic Church in medieval Europe lie at the historical root of this difference. …
People care very much about being listened to. In everyday talk, we make moral-sounding judgements of people as listeners: praising a doctor who listens well even if she does not have a ready solution, or blaming a boss who does not listen even if the employee manages to get her situation addressed. In this sense, listening is a normative behaviour: that is, we ought to be good listeners. Whilst several disciplines have addressed the normative importance of interpersonal listening—particularly in sociology, psychology, media and culture studies— analytic philosophy does not have a framework for dealing with listening as a normative interpersonal behaviour. Listening usually gets reduced mere speech-parsing (in philosophy of language), or into a matter of belief and trust in the testimony of credible knowers (in social epistemology). My preliminary task is to analyse why this reductive view is taken for granted in the discipline; to diagnose the problem behind the reduction and propose a more useful alternative approach.
The article at hand presents the results of a literature review on the ethical issues related to scientific authorship. These issues are understood as questions and/or concerns about obligations, values or virtues in relation to reporting, authorship and publication of research results. For this purpose, the Web of Science core collection was searched for English resources published between 1945 and 2018, and a total of 324 items were analyzed. Based on the review of the documents, ten ethical themes have been identified, some of which entail several ethical issues. Ranked on the basis of their frequency of occurrence these themes are: 1) attribution, 2) violations of the norms of authorship, 3) bias, 4) responsibility and accountability, 5) authorship order, 6) citations and referencing, 7) definition of authorship, 8) publication strategy, 9) originality, and 10) sanctions. In mapping these themes, the current article explores major ethical issue and provides a critical discussion about the application of codes of conduct, various understandings of culture, and contributing factors to unethical behavior.
This article is concerned with one of the notable but forgotten research strands that developed out of French nineteenth-century positivism, a strand that turned attention to the study of scientific discovery and was actively pursued by French epistemologists around the turn of the nineteenth century. I first sketch the context in which this research program emerged. I show that the program was a natural offshoot of French neopositivism; the latter was a current of twentieth-century thought that, even if implicitly, challenged the positivism of first-generation positivists such as Comte. I then survey what French epistemologists—including Ernest Naville, Élie Rabier, Pierre Duhem, Édouard Le Roy, Abel Rey, André Lalande, Théodule-Armand Ribot, Edmond Goblot, and Jacques Picard, among others—had to say about the logic, psychology, and sociology of discovery. My story demonstrates the inaccuracy of existing historical accounts of the philosophical study of scientific discovery.
Many consider Nozick’s “utility monster”—a being more efficient than ordinary people at converting resources into well-being, with no upper limit—to be a damning counterexample to utilitarianism. But our intuitions may be reversed by considering a variation in which the utility monster starts from a baseline status of massive suffering. This suggests a rethinking of the force of the original objection.
It has been claimed that a unique feature of human culture is that it accumulates beneficial modifications over time. On the basis of a couple of methodological considerations, we here argue that, perhaps surprisingly, there is insufficient evidence for a proper test of this claim. And we indicate what further research would be needed to firmly establish the cumulativeness of human culture.
Tommaso Campanella (Stilo, 1568–Paris, 1639) was one of the
most important philosophers of the late Renaissance. Although his
best-known work today is the utopian text La città del
Sole (The City of the Sun), his thought was extremely
complex and engaged with all fields of learning. The fundamental core
of his thinking, which will be examined in this article, was concerned
with the philosophy of nature (what would nowadays be called science),
magic, political theory and natural religion.
It seems plausible that visual experiences of darkness have perceptual, phenomenal content which clearly differentiates them from absences of visual experiences. I argue, relying on psychological results concerning auditory attention, that the analogous claim is true about auditory experiences of silence. More specifically, I propose that experiences of silence present empty spatial directions like ‘right’ or ‘left’, and so have egocentric spatial content. Furthermore, I claim that such content is genuinely auditory and phenomenal in the sense that one can, in principle, recognize that she is experiencing silence. This position is far from obvious as the majority of theories concerning silence perception do not ascribe perceptual, phenomenal content to experiences of silence.
Over the past three years, I have returned to one question over and over again: how does technology reshape our moral beliefs and practices? In his classic study of medieval technology, Lynn White Jr argues that simple technological changes can have a profound effect on social moral systems. …
The most striking feature of Autrecourt’s academic career is his
condemnation in 1347. In almost every history of medieval philosophy,
his censure is presented as one of the most important events in
fourteenth-century Paris. In the older literature, Autrecourt’s
views have become linked to allegedly skeptical tendencies in
scholastic thought, and have been unduly shadowed by assumptions about
their relation to the views of William of Ockham. Over the last two
decades, however, it has become apparent that the study of
Autrecourt’s thought has been wrongly placed in the larger
context of the battle against Ockhamism at the University of Paris in
the years 1339–1347.
It is one of the great good fortunes of my life that I was able to count Dick as a friend for almost 40 years. I first met him shortly after I arrived at the University in 1975 as a new assistant professor in the Philosophy Department. I moved to California in 1999, but the friendship continued at a distance after that.
Amodal completion is the representation of those parts of the perceived object that we get no sensory stimulation from. While amodal completion is rife and plays an essential role in all sense modalities, philosophical discussions of this phenomenon have almost entirely been limited to vision. The aim of this paper is to examine in what sense we can talk about amodal completion in olfaction. We distinguish three different senses of amodal completion – spatial, temporal and feature-based completion – and argue that all three are present and play a significant role in olfaction.
This paper explores the feasibility of offering a restorative justice (RJ) approach in cases of domestic violence (DV). I argue that widely used RJ processes—such as ‘conferencing’ —are unlikely to be sufficiently safe or effective in cases of DV, at least as these processes are standardly designed and practiced (Sections 1-6). I then support the view that if RJ is to be used in cases of DV, then new specialist processes will need to be co-designed with key stakeholders to ensure they embody not only RJ principles, but also feminist theory and the concept of transformative justice (Section 7).
This is worth doing because, so often, what counts as regulation is taken for granted, especially when people are arguing that it offers crucial solutions or constitutes intolerable interference. Often such discussions focus on a particular case – “regulations” issued by the FDA for example – and ask whether the regulations that prevail are the best ones and indeed whether things would be better if there were no regime of drug regulation at all. This approach involves restricting the scope of the topic in two ways: first, it narrows the domain (to some specific area of policy); and second, it conceives of regulation as a distinctive business of governments. Both such restrictions are, we think, important to call into question.
Resolving to finish reading a novel, staying true to your punk style, or dedicating your life to an artistic project: these are examples of aesthetic commitments. I develop an account of the nature of such commitments, and I argue that they are significant insofar as they help us manage the temporally extended nature of our aesthetic agency and our relationships with aesthetic objects. At the same time, focusing on aesthetic commitments can give us a better grasp on the nature of aesthetic normativity; this is because, in making aesthetic commitments, we are capable of giving aesthetic concerns the weight of obligation. I argue that appealing to aesthetic commitments allows us to account for the existence of aesthetic obligations as well as their grounding. I conclude by arguing that, although the aesthetic domain is a domain of play and freedom of choice, there is nevertheless an important place in it for both aesthetic commitments and the aesthetic obligations they generate.
In this paper, I argue that the philosophy of science has not paid enough attention to the future of science. Even though the philosophy of science has deepened our understanding of science, explicit conceptual tools to understand the estimating of possible futures of science are missing from its repertoire. I argue that the philosophy of science can achieve two main objectives of the futures research: enhancing understanding and challenging conventional thinking. While there are legitimate concerns about the epistemic and ethical impossibility of predicting scientific innovations and discoveries, it is nevertheless possible to investigate a wide range of questions concerning the future of science. I sketch structural taxonomies as a tool for the estimating of possible futures of science. A structural taxonomy is a map of scenarios that are possible according to some philosophical theory of science. I show how the merits of such taxonomies can be assessed and how the assessment sheds new light on the existing philosophy of science. I conclude by noting that future-oriented thinking is highly valuable for our current understanding of science.
This article surveys the debate focused on manipulation arguments against the compatibility of moral responsibility in the basic desert sense and the naturalistic determination of an action by factors beyond the agent’s control. Manipulation arguments draw an analogy between such causal determination and intentional deterministic manipulation by other agents, claiming that because the intentional determination precludes responsibility, so does causal determination. The dialectical structure of these arguments is analyzed, and the main sorts of objections are discussed. Compatibilist responses to manipulation arguments can be divided into two categories. Soft-line replies do not resist the intuition that the manipulated agent is not morally responsible, and instead aim to show that an agent who is merely naturalistically determined differs from the manipulated agent in a way relevant to moral responsibility. Hard-line replies, by contrast, resist the intuition, essential to the incompatibilist’s case, that the intentionally and deterministically manipulated agent is not morally responsible. Versions of each type of reply are critically assessed.
A possible person’s conditional expected well-being is what the quality of their prospects would be if they were to come into existence. This article examines the role that this form of expected well-being should play in distributing benefits among prospective people and in deciding whom to bring into existence. It argues for a novel egalitarian view on which it is important to ensure equality in people’s life prospects, not merely between actual individuals, but also between all individuals who, given our choices, have a chance of coming into existence. The article argues that such egalitarianism for prospective people springs from equal concern for each prospective person and has plausible implications. It further shows that it has a rationale in respect for both the unity of the individual and the separateness of persons. Finally, it defends this view against a key objection and shows it is superior to a rival view.
The early Stoics diagnose vicious agents with various psychological diseases, e.g. love of money and love of wine. Such diseases are characterised as false evaluative opinions that lead the agent to form emotional impulses for certain objects, e.g. money and wine. Scholars have therefore analysed psychological diseases simply as dispositions for assent. This interpretation is incomplete, I argue, and should be augmented with the claim that psychological disease also affects what kind of action-guiding impressions are created prior to giving assent. This proposal respects the Stoic insistence that impression-formation, no less than assent, is an activity of reason. Insofar as the wine-lover’s reason is corrupted in a different way from the money-lover’s, the two vicious agents will form different action-guiding impressions when faced with similar stimuli. Here I juxtapose the Stoic account of expertise, on which experts form more precise action-guiding impressions compared to the amateur, in virtue of possessing a system of grasps (katalēpseis). So expertise enhances, whereas psychological disease degrades, the representational fidelity of the impressions that prefigure action. With these commitments, the Stoics can be seen to offer a nuanced and principled theory of cognitive penetration and to anticipate some recent proposals in epistemology and cognitive science.
In ‘The Concept of Valuing: Experimental Studies’ (CV), Joshua Knobe and Erica Roedder argue that moral considerations “play a role in the concept” of valuing. The short paper is a part of a broader project by one of the co-authors (Knobe) to show through experimental studies that folk psychology is not purely descriptive. Instead, Knobe argues, the criteria for application of a broad range of folk psychological concepts, including those of intentional action and causation, include normative elements. This thesis, though not entirely novel, certainly goes against the prevailing interpretations of folk psychology, and is supported by evidence gathered through innovative, cross-disciplinary empirical studies. The challenge it presents to the received view is therefore no doubt worth serious consideration. In earlier work I have critically examined Knobe’s empirical methodology. Here, I leave those concerns aside and focus on the explanation of the empirical data. I argue that while we are indeed more likely to interpret someone as valuing something if we ourselves take the object of valuing to be good than if we think it is not, this interpretive tendency can be explained by appeal to the principle of charity while holding on to a traditional, descriptive understanding of folk psychological concepts.
Experimental archaeology is often understood both as testing hypotheses about processes shaping the archaeological record and as generating tacit knowledge. Considering lithic technologies, I examine the relationship between these conceptions. Experimental archaeology is usefully understood via ‘maker’s knowledge’: archaeological experiments generate embodied know-how enabling archaeological hypotheses to be grasped and challenged, further well-positioning archaeologists to generate integrated interpretations. Finally, experimental archaeology involves ‘material speculation’: the constraints and affordances of archaeologists and their materials shape productive exploration of the capacities of objects and human skill in ways relevant to archaeological questions.
Samuel Freiherr von Pufendorf (1632–1694) was almost as unknown
during most of the 19th and 20th centuries as he had been familiar
during the preceding hundred years and more. His fate shows well how
philosophical interests shape historical background narratives. More
or less consciously, individual thinkers and the traditions they spawn
frame themselves in terms of an edited past which – as in other
forms of genealogy – they either appropriate, reject, revise, or
ignore. Thus intellectual ancestry is always more controversial than
biological inheritance, and the mere presence or absence of thinkers
in particular developmental accounts is not necessarily an accurate
indication of their actual historical role or importance.