I’ve been thinking about Petri nets a lot. Around 2010, I got excited about using them to describe chemical reactions, population dynamics and more, using ideas taken from quantum physics. Then I started working with my student Blake Pollard on ‘open’ Petri nets, which you can glue together to form larger Petri nets. …
According to the oft-cited IPAT formula (I = P 9 A 9 T), environmental impact (I) is the product of complex interactions between three basic factors: population (P), affluence (A), and technology (T). Contemporary debates about climate justice have largely focused on the latter two factors, stressing the need to curb wasteful consumption and encouraging investment in green technologies that may enable us to maintain a high standard of living while leaving a smaller environmental footprint. However, while much attention has been paid to the A and T parts of the equation, relatively little attention has been paid to P. This omission, of course, is hardly surprising, for as a brief survey of twentieth-century history reminds us, state-sanctioned attempts to control population size – whether for environmental or nonenvironmental purposes – have often proved disastrous from a human rights perspective. However, as Sarah Conly argues in her new book, given the environmental calamity that sits at our doorstep, we no longer have the luxury of ignoring what has ostensibly become the elephant in the room in contemporary debates about climate justice. In addition to curbing consumption and boosting investment in green technology, we also need to start thinking seriously about curbing population growth, at least for the foreseeable future.
In August 2019, a bill was passed in Victoria, Australia making it possible for people to change their official record of sex in the birth register by making a statutory declaration that they believe their sex to be as nominated. From May 2020, any person observed male at birth will be able to change their legal sex to ‘female’, and any person observed female at birth will be able to change their legal sex to ‘male’. Similar bills have been considered in other countries (New Zealand, the UK), and have already passed into law in other states of Australia (Tasmania) and in other countries (Ireland, Malta, Norway, Argentina, Portugal, and Belgium).
I argue that racism is essentially a civic character trait: to be a racist is to have a character that rationally reflects racial supremacist sociopolitical values. As with moral vice accounts of racism, character is my account’s primary evaluative focus: character is directly evaluated as racist, and all other racist things are racist insofar as, and because, they cause, are caused by, express or are otherwise suitably related to racist character. Yet as with political accounts of racism, sociopolitical considerations provide my account’s primary evaluative standard: satisfying the sociopolitical standard of racial supremacy is what makes racist character racist.
Anna Stilz's Territorial Sovereignty covers an impressively wide terrain, from the state's right to rule over a territory to the right to secede, from cultural neutrality to equitable access to natural resources, from collective self-determination to cooperation with international institutions, from coercive to noncoercive responses to the commission of injustice. In this paper, I examine Stilz's account and defence of territorial sovereignty in the light of the view that there are landmarks (monuments, geological structures, and landscapes) which are located in and subject to the jurisdiction of sovereign states, but which are deemed to be of outstanding value to humankind as a whole, irrespective of whatever economic value they might have. Put differently, I am interested in bringing Stilz's account to bear on the notion of humankind's common heritage.
I recently became a father. Well, when I say recently, I mean just over a year ago (October 2019). Being a parent raises a number of practical and philosophical questions. Should you have children in the first place? …
To what extent are factors that are extrinsic to the artwork relevant to judgements of artistic value? One might approach this question using traditional philosophical methods, but one can also approach it using empirical methods; that is, by doing experimental philosophical aesthetics. This paper provides an example of the latter approach. We report two empirical studies that examine the significance of three sorts of extrinsic factors for judgements of artistic value: the causal-historical factor of contagion, the ontological factor of uniqueness, and the contextual factor of appreciative environment.
multimethod experiments (total N ⫽ 4,065 participants) investigated the nature of perceiving sexual harassment by testing whether perceptions of sexual harassment and its impact are facilitated when harassing behaviors target those who fit with the prototype of women (e.g., those who have feminine features, interests, and characteristics) relative to those who fit less well with this prototype. Studies A1–A5 demonstrate that participants’ mental representation of sexual harassment targets overlapped with the prototypes of women as assessed through participant-generated drawings, face selection tasks, reverse correlation, and self-report measures. In Studies B1–B4, participants were less likely to label incidents as sexual harassment when they targeted nonprototypical women compared with prototypical women. In Studies C1 and C2, participants perceived sexual harassment claims to be less credible and the harassment itself to be less psychologically harmful when the victims were nonprototypical women rather than prototypical women. This research offers theoretical and methodological advances to the study of sexual harassment through social cognition and prototypicality perspectives, and it has implications for harassment reporting and litigation as well as the realization of fundamental civil rights. For materials, data, and preregistrations of all studies, see https://osf.io/xehu9/.
This paper develops a conception of misandrogyny that is analogous to Kate Manne’s account of misogyny. On Manne’s view, misogyny is a system of mechanisms that together police and enforce the gendered hierarchy of a patriarchal order. The patriarchal gender hierarchy is constituted by norms that call women to give femininecoded goods to men. On the account developed here, misandrogyny is a system of mechanisms that together police and enforce the gender binary of a patriarchal order. The gender binary is constituted by norms that preclude the existence of persons who aren’t consistently ‘read’ either as a man (and only a man) or as a woman (and only a woman). Misandrogyny thus polices and enforces exactly the nonexistence of people who are neither women (only) nor men (only). While misogyny pushes women down into their patriarchal place, misandrogyny pushes gender nonconforming persons out of existence—either by pushing the person out of literal or social existence or by pushing the person into a stable, patriarchal gendered position. Section 1 articulates and motivates the overall account of misandrogyny; section two characterizes three kinds of misandrogynist mechanism.
Partisanship continues to divide Americans. Using data from the American National Election Studies (ANES), we find that partisans not only feel more negatively about the opposing party, but also that this negativity has become more consistent and has a greater impact on their political participation. We find that while partisan animus began to rise in the 1980s, it has grown dramatically over the past two decades. As partisan affect has intensified, it is also more structured; ingroup favoritism is increasingly associated with outgroup animus. Finally, hostility toward the opposing party has eclipsed positive affect for ones’ own party as a motive for political participation.
Herbert Simon (1983, pp. 34– 35) distinguished three “visions of rationality”: (1) the “Olympian model,” which “serves, perhaps, as a model of the mind of God, but certainly not as a model of the mind of man;” (2) the “behavioral” model, which “postulates that human rationality is very limited, very much bounded by the situation and by human computational powers;” and (3) the “intuitive model,” which “is in fact a component of the behavioral theory.” Bounded rationality, with its intuitive component, is to be explained, Simon adds, in an evolutionary perspective. Our joint work on reasoning and in particular our book The Enigma of Reason (Mercier & Sperber, 2017) describes mechanisms of intuitive inference in general and the mechanism of reason in a way that is quite consistent with Simon’s defense of a “bounded rationality” approach to human reason. Like other evolutionary psychologists (in particular, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, see Tooby & Cosmides, 1992) and like Gerd Gigerenzer’s ‘adaptive toolbox’ approach (Gigerenzer, 2007; Gigerenzer, Todd, & ABC Research Group, 1999), we don’t see bounded rationality as an inferior version of Olympian rationality, nor do we think that human or other animal inferences should be measured against abstract rationality criteria. Our distinct contribution is to argue that there is an evolved mechanism that can reasonably be called “reason,” the function of which is to address problems of coordination and communication by producing and evaluating reasons used as justifications or as arguments in communicative interactions.
In present times, around the globe, we are witnessing a public sphere in crisis, distorted through fake news, lies, threats of violence and call for constraints. This has occurred not only in states of authoritarian rule, but also in liberal societies. Thus, one of the great challenges for critical thought today is to be able to maintain sound methods of reflection when the public space, which since the enlightenment has been called upon to maintain a legacy of critical reflection and freedom, appears undermined. For Kant, Arendt, Habermas and others the public sphere was expected to sustain a measure of soundness of thought. But when the public sphere can no longer do so, and thought retreats into itself, what means do we have to engage in the world and develop a thought that is congruent with political possibilities? The concept of “critical thought” in this context refers not to the school of critical theory, but to the kind of thought that Arendt advocates—a thought that is socially, ethically and poli— tically astute. It means to scrutinise opinions and beliefs and to practice a certain “Socratic midwifery”.l It is in this context that the inner voice is heard.
Scientists warn us that we are living in an era of human—induced mass extinc— tion of species caused by our social practice of “co—opting resources, fragment— ing habitats, introducing non—native species, spreading pathogens, killing species directly, and changing global climate”.1 Mass extinction is characterised by a dramatic reduction in species during a geologically short interval. This kind of species extinction has happened five times over the last half billion years—referred to as the Big Five. And now we are entering into a sixth, expected to be the most detrimental since the asteroid impact eradicated the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.2 Today, over 26,500 species are threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN Red list.3 Even without the impact of humans, species would die out, but, as an example, the extinction of anthro— pogenic vertebrae is estimated to be up to 100 times higher than what scientists refer to as “the background rate”.4
We are very thankful to our colleagues who have provided such thoughtful and constructive discussions of our book, The Enigma of Reason. Since these commentaries each raise a different set of issues, we respond to them one by one.
Plato’s Euthyphro, I argue, lays out a metaethics that responds to persistent and unresolved value disagreement, and that is a genuine contender for us today. With this proposal, I reject centuries of scholarship, not to speak of countless anthologies and syllabi in ethics and the philosophy of law. The Euthyphro begins with three cases of unresolved value disagreement. These cases are to be adjudicated by the law, which turns out to be difficult. Today if an author starts with three examples, we expect that the subsequent text is going to address them. This, I submit, is the structure of the Euthyphro.
Were governments justified in imposing lockdowns to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic? We argue that a convincing answer to this question is to date wanting, by critically analyzing the factual basis of a recent paper, “How Government Leaders Violated Their Epistemic Duties During the SARS-CoV-2 Crisis” (Winsberg et al. 2020). In their paper, Winsberg et al. argue that government leaders did not, at the beginning of the pandemic, meet the epistemic requirements necessitated to impose lockdowns. We focus on Winsberg et al.’s contentions that knowledge about COVID-19 resultant projections were inadequate; that epidemiologists were biased in their estimates of relevant figures; that there was insufficient evidence supporting the efficacy of lockdowns; and that lockdowns cause more harm than good. We argue that none of these claims are sufficiently supported by evidence, thus impairing their case against lockdowns, and leaving open the question of whether lockdowns were justified.
Research Professor, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA); Professor, Medical Anthropology Research Center-DAFITS, Rovira i Virgili University email@example.com aBstract: Tracheostomy with invasive ventilation (TIV) may be required for the survival of patients at advanced stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In Japan it has been shown that a proactive approach toward TIV may prolong the survival of ALS patients by over 10 years by preventing the lethal respiratory failure that generally occurs within 3-5 years of the onset of the disease. Measures to prolong life expectancy without foregoing quality of life have produced better results in Japan than in other developed countries. This ‘Japanese bias’ has been attributed to socio-cultural and religious factors as well as to the availability of material resources in Japan. In this article, we use the concepts of onozukara in kadō (Japanese traditional flower art, also called ikebana) and amae (passive love) to illuminate features of patient care that may contribute to this ‘Japanese bias’.
Monism about well-being is the view that there is exactly one basic (prudential) good and exactly one basic (prudential) bad. Pluralism about well-being is the view that there is either more than one basic good or more than one basic bad. We can illustrate this distinction by contrasting hedonism and desire satisfactionism, on the one hand, with objective list theories, on the other. Hedonism and desire satisfactionism disagree about what the basic goods and bads are, but they agree about their number: they both say that there is a single basic good and a single basic bad. By contrast, objective list theories—or at least the paradigmatic ones—posit either a plurality of basic goods or a plurality of basic bads. Parfit, for example, considers an objective list theory on which “moral goodness, rational activity, … and the awareness of true beauty” are all basic goods (Parfit 1984: 499).
It is commonly accepted that what we ought to do collectively does not imply anything about what each of us ought to do individually. According to this line of reasoning, if cooperating will make no difference to an outcome, then you are not morally required to do it. And if cooperating will be personally costly to you as well, this is an even stronger reason to not do it. However, this reasoning results in a self-defeating, yet entirely predictable outcome. If everyone is rational, they will not cooperate, resulting in an aggregate outcome that is devastating for everyone. This dismal analysis explains why climate change and other collective action problems are so difficult to ameliorate. The goal of this paper is to provide a different, exploratory framework for thinking about individual reasons for action in collective action problems. I argue that the concept of commitment gives us a new perspective on collective action problems. Once we take the structure of commitment into account, this activates requirements of diachronic rationality that give individuals instrumental reasons to cooperate in collective action problems.
If one had to identify the biggest change within the philosophical tradition in the 21st century, it would certainly be the rapid rise of experimental philosophy to address differences in intuitions about concepts. Yet, it is within the philosophy of medicine that one particular conceptual debate has overshadowed all others: the long-standing dispute between so-called ‘naturalists’ and ‘normativists’ about the concepts of health and disease. It is, therefore, surprising that the philosophy of medicine has, so far, not drawn on the tools of XPhi. I shall use this opportunity to defend and advocate the use of empirical methods to inform and advance this and other debates within the philosophy of medicine.
I'm delighted that Eden Lin agreed to contribute the following post to my "philosopher spotlight" series. Enjoy! * * *Most of my work
has focused on the normative ethics of well-being
or welfare, which investigates (i)
what counts as a life that is going well or badly for the individual whose life
it is, (ii) what determines how well or badly someone’s life is going, and
(iii) what things are good or bad for individuals in the most basic way.Theories of
well-being typically purport to identify the basic goods and bads—the kinds of things that it is ultimately in
or against an individual’s interests to possess and whose presence in a life
makes it go well or badly. …
Democracies around the world are suffering paroxysms of populist rage. Obviously this has many contributing causes and individuals, from rising inequality to social media to political entrepreneurs like Trump. …
This chapter develops an account of epistemic nihilism—roughly, the rejection of truth’s intrinsic or instrumental value in favor of statements that reject or obscure truth to secure an advantage for the speaker—by examining three instances of such nihilism: lying, bullshit, and trolling. It further argues that epistemic nihilism, exacerbated by changes in the media landscape, can pose a significant threat to liberal democratic institutions and ideals by undermining the democratic ideal of good faith engagement on a level playing field, while also encouraging undemocratic actions (e.g., terrorism) among interlocutors who take the nihilist’s claims seriously. Finally, this chapter argues that in extreme cases, we are justified in denying epistemic nihilists a platform from which to speak by drawing a parallel with vexatious litigant laws that deny individuals the right to petition courts for redress on the grounds that abuse of that right results in significant harm to both individuals and the legal system itself.
We live in the era of culinary spectacles. Chefs populate our media portrayed as creative geniuses. Food and cooking performances are by now standard within the artworld, e.g. in art museums, art fairs, and exhibitions. In short, as some scholars have already suggested, they are highly valued and rewarding aesthetic practices, possibly counting as artforms. Philosophers Dom Lopes (2014) and Yuriko Saito (2008), for example, challenge the divide between traditional art kinds and culinary practices, contending that value ought not to be confined to the former; rather, to say it with Lopes’s words, “a paradigm example of everyday appreciation is cooking and eating food” (Lopes 2014: 121).
It is widely believed that democracies require knowledgeable citizens to function well. But the most politically knowledgeable individuals also tend to be the most partisan, and the strength of partisan identity tends to corrupt political thinking. This creates a conundrum. On one hand, an informed citizenry is allegedly necessary for a democracy to flourish. On the other hand, the most knowledgeable and passionate voters are also the most likely to think in corrupted, biased ways. What to do? This paper examines this tension and draws out several lessons. First, it is not obvious that more knowledgeable voters will make better political decisions. Second, worries about voter ignorance may be misguided because partisans tend to become more dogmatic when they acquire more information. Third, ‘epistocratic’ solutions that emphasize voter knowledge are troubling, in part, because they increase the political power of the most dogmatic and biased individuals. Fourth, I suggest that solutions to citizen incompetence should focus less on voter knowledge and more on the intellectual virtue of objectivity. Unfortunately, a likely way to foster political objectivity is by encouraging political apathy.
time, the law is normative for all reasoners. That is, the Stoics don’t draw a distinction that is characteristic of later philosophy, between the laws of physics and the laws that hold for human action. The very same law shapes the movements of the cosmos and governs our actions. The Stoics’ conception of the law contributes to the age-old debate about nomos and phusis, law and nature. There is only one nature, the thought goes, and thus there is only one law. That there is only one nature means that there is only one natural way to live. It also, and more fundamentally, means that there is only one world. The world, rather than some particular state, is where reasoners are to lead lawful lives.
Individuals of many animal species are said to have a personality. It has been shown that some individuals are bolder than other individuals of the same species, or more sociable or more aggressive. In this paper, we analyse what it means to say that an animal has a personality. We clarify what an animal personality is, that is, its ontology, and how different personality concepts relate to each other, and we examine how personality traits are identified in biological practice. Our analysis shows that biologists often study specific personality traits, such as boldness, sociability or aggressiveness, rather than personalities in general. We claim that personality traits are best understood as dispositions and that they are operationally defined in terms of certain sets of behaviours, which are studied in specific experimental set-ups. Furthermore, we develop an integrative philosophical account that specifies and formalises three criteria for identifying personality traits, which are used in biological practice. For an individual animal to have a personality trait it must, first, behave differently than others (Individual Differences). Second, these behavioural differences must be stable over a certain time (Temporal Stability), and third, they must be consistent in different contexts (Contextual Consistency).
The COVID-19 pandemic presents us with the question of how healthcare systems can be prevented from being overwhelmed while avoiding general lockdowns. We focus on two strategies that show promise in achieving this, by targeting certain segments of the population, while allowing others to go about their lives unhindered. The first would selectively isolate those who most likely suffer severe adverse effects if infected – in particular the elderly. The second would identify and quarantine those who are likely to be infected through a contact tracing app that would centrally store users’ information. We evaluate the ethical permissibility of these strategies, by comparing, first, the ways in which they target segments of the population for isolation. We argue that the way in which selective isolation targets salient groups discriminates against these groups. While the contact tracing strategy cannot plausibly be objected to in terms of discrimination, its individualized targeting raises privacy concerns, which we argue can be overcome. Second, we compare the ethical implications of their respective aims. Here, we argue that a prominent justification of selective isolation policies – that it is in the best interests of the individuals affected – fails to support this strategy, but rather exacerbates its discriminatory nature.
Racism is a global phenomenon that one can find everywhere from South Africa to Brazil to India to Japan, but it takes different forms in different places. Americans are too quick to assume that their particular experience of the oppression of black people and their stop-start struggle for equal rights provides a universal diagnosis and treatment plan for racism. …
Tese apresentada ao Programa de Pós-graduação em Filosofia do Departamento de Filosofia da Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas da Universidade de São Paulo.