Yet another tactic was offered the Negro. He was encouraged to seek unity with the millions of disadvantaged whites of the South, whose basic need for social change paralleled his own. Theoretically, this proposal held a measure of logic, for it is undeniable that great masses of Southern whites exist in conditions scarcely better than those which afflict the Negro. …
Symposium on Del Pinal and Spaulding, “Conceptual Centrality and Implicit Bias” Robert Briscoe April 23, 2018 Mind & Language Symposia / Philosophy of Mind / Psychology / Social CognitionI’m very glad to announce our latest Mind & Language symposium on Guillermo Del Pinal and Shannon Spaulding’s “Conceptual Centrality and Implicit Bias” from the journal’s February 2018 issue. …
Early on Saturday, 14 April, it was announced that the US, UK and France had conducted targeted strikes on three targets in Syria – a chemical weapons and storage facility, a research centre and a military bunker – in response to Assad’s (alleged) use of chemical weapons in Douma. …
The term ‘contractualism’ can be used in a broad
sense—to indicate the view that morality is based on contract or
agreement—or in a narrow sense—to refer to a particular
view developed in recent years by the Harvard philosopher T. M.
Scanlon, especially in his book What We Owe to Each Other. This essay takes ‘contractualism’ in the narrower sense. We begin with a brief summary of Scanlon’s contractualism, and
then situate his view in relation both to other social contract
theories and to its main rival among impartial accounts of
morality—namely, utilitarianism. Our discussion is then
organised around a series of challenges to the contractualist
Computers and Thought are the two categories that together define Artificial Intelligence as a discipline. It is generally accepted that work in Artificial Intelligence over the last thirty years has had a strong influence on aspects of computer architectures. In this paper we also make the converse claim; that the state of computer architecture has been a strong influence on our models of thought. The Von Neumann model of computation has lead Artificial Intelligence in particular directions. Intelligence in biological systems is completely different. Recent work in behavior-based Artificial Intelligence has produced new models of intelligence that are much closer in spirit to biological systems. The non- Von Neumann computational models they use share many characteristics with biological computation.
Rifling through two-hundred-year-old diaries, unfurling bundles of love-letters like flowers, saying every name in an orphanage registry under my breath, getting lost in a farmer’s field, gingerly lifting leaves long folded with perfumey motes, falling asleep in my sunshine chair, drooling spittle puddles onto a crackled map of Nunsmoor. The stories I stumbled across in the archives were often painful, shocking, and occasionally joyous. At first, they seem far away but after a short while they begin to move closer (or maybe it’s we who are moving?) and I begin to comprehend, just barely, a great aliveness.
Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was the founder of
“deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both
literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the
word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the
wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary
criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architectural theory,
and in political theory. Indeed, Derrida’s fame nearly reached
the status of a media star, with hundreds of people filling
auditoriums to hear him speak, with films and televisions programs
devoted to him, with countless books and articles devoted to his
In a recent article Martha Nussbaum identified three problems with the Stoic doctrine of respect for dignity: its exclusive focus on specifically human dignity, its indifference to the need for external goods, and its ineffectiveness as a moral motive. This article formulates a non-Stoic doctrine of respect for dignity that avoids these problems. I argue that this doctrine helps us to understand such moral phenomena as the dignity of nonhuman animals as well as the core human values of life, freedom, and equality. I end by arguing that Nussbaum underestimates the mutual support between motives of respect and other moral motives such as compassion.
In the fall of 1998 Trent Lott used his power as Senate Majority Leader to prevent the confirmation of James C. Hormel, an openly gay San Francisco philanthropist who was then President Clinton's nominee for Ambassador to Luxembourg. Mr. Lott made it clear that his opposition to Hormel was based on his opposition to homosexuality in general. Asked by a television interviewer during the controversy whether homosexuality is a sin, Mr. Lott answered "Yes, it is"; he went on to compare gay people to alcoholics, sex addicts, and kleptomaniacs.
How is it possible that models from game theory, which are typically highly idealised, can be harnessed for designing institutions through which we interact? I argue that game theory assumes that social interactions have a specific structure, which is uncovered with the help of directed graphs. The graphs make explicit how game theory encodes counterfactual information in natural collections of its models and can therefore be used to track how model-interventions change model-outcomes. For model-interventions to inform real-world design requires the truth of a causal hypothesis, namely that structural relations specified in a model approximate causal relations in the target interaction; or in other words, that the directed graph can be interpreted causally. In order to increase their confidence in this hypothesis, market designers complement their models with natural and laboratory experiments, and computational methods. Throughout the paper, the reform of a matching market for medical residents provides a case study for my proposed view, which hasn’t been previously considered in the philosophy of science.
Law and democracy seem oddly estranged in academic philosophical discourse. Aside from some controversies about constitutionalism, there is very little mention of democracy in most contemporary jurisprudential treatments. Likewise, one can leaf through extensive discussions of democracy that do not elaborate any distinctive, essential role that law plays in achieving democratic aims. Law tends to be treated as an instrumental afterthought.
In the previous lecture, I argued that citizens have a moral need to convey and to receive certain moral messages from each other that affirm their mutual equality, basic rights, and their belonging in a moral community. Those particular messages must take the form of collective commitments. Democratic law plays an inspiring, unique role in satisfying that need by constituting a community of equal membership that can pursue collective moral ends for and in the name of the community by producing articulate, public commitments to mandatory and discretionary ends.
In this paper, I make explicit some implicit commitments to realism and conceptualism in recent work in social epistemology exemplied by Miranda Fricker and Charles Mills. I offer a survey of recent writings at the intersection of social epistemology, feminism, and critical race theory, showing that commitments to realism and conceptualism are at once implied yet undertheorized in the existing literature. I go on to offer an explicit defense of these commitments by drawing from the epistemological framework of John McDowell, demonstrating the relevance of the metaphor of the “space of reasons” for theorizing and criticizing instances of epistemic injustice. I then point out how McDowell’s own view requires expansion and revision in light of Mills’ concept of “epistemologies of ignorance.” I conclude that, when their strengths are used to make up for each others’ weaknesses, Mills and McDowell’s positions mutually reinforce one another, producing a powerful model for theorizing instances of systematic ignorance and false belief.
Personality is increasingly being viewed as a complex and changing system. Self-processes are worth considering in this context because of their highly dynamic quality: they interact and influence one another in extremely intricate ways. In this chapter we first classify self-related terms and examine the following key processes in detail: self-awareness and associated processes (e.g., self-reflection, self-distancing, mindfulness), mental time travel (autobiography and prospection), and self-knowledge (including self-concept). More briefly, we also review Theory-of-Mind, self-rumination, self-esteem, and self-talk. We present information about neuroanatomy, subtypes, measurement, and functions of self-processes, as well as links with personality. Some important messages proposed are: (1) self-awareness is made up of various sub-processes and must be divided into self-reflection and self-rumination, (2) prospection depends on autobiographical knowledge, (3) our self-concept often is inaccurate, and (4) self-talk is present in most—if not all—other self-processes.
Examining previous discussions on how to construe the concepts of gender and race, we advocate what we call strategic conceptual engineering. This is the employment of a (possibly novel) concept for specific epistemic or social aims, concomitant with the openness to use a different concept (e.g., of race) for other purposes. We illustrate this approach by sketching three distinct concepts of gender and arguing that all of them are needed, as they answer to different social aims. The first concept serves the aim of identifying and explaining gender-based discrimination. It is similar to Haslanger’s well-known account, except that rather than offering a definition of ‘woman’ we focus on ‘gender’ as one among several axes of discrimination. The second concept of gender is to assign legal rights and social recognitions, and thus is to be trans-inclusive. We argue that this cannot be achieved by previously suggested concepts that include substantial gender-related psychological features, such as awareness of social expectations. Instead, our concept counts someone as being of a certain gender solely based on the person’s self-identification with this gender. The third concept of gender serves the aim of personal empowerment by means of one’s gender identity. In this context, substantial psychological features and awareness of one’s social situation are involved. While previous accounts of concepts have focused on their role in determining extensions, we point to contexts where a concept’s role in explanation and moral reasoning can be more important.
The rise of medically unexplained conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome in the United States looks remarkably similar to the explosion of neurasthenia diagnoses in the late nineteenth century. In this paper, I argue the historical connection between neurasthenia and today’s medically unexplained conditions hinges largely on the uncritical acceptance of naturalism in medicine. I show how this cultural acceptance shapes the way in which we interpret and make sense of nervous distress while, at the same time, neglecting the unique social and historical forces that continue to produce it. I draw on the methods of hermeneutic philosophy to expose the limits of naturalism and forward an account of health and illness that acknowledges the extent to which we are always embedded in contexts of meaning that determine how we experience and understand our suffering.
“Affirmative action” means positive steps taken to
increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of
employment, education, and culture from which they have been
historically excluded. When those steps involve preferential
selection—selection on the basis of race, gender, or
ethnicity—affirmative action generates intense controversy. The development, defense, and contestation of preferential affirmative
action has proceeded along two paths. One has been legal and
administrative as courts, legislatures, and executive departments of
government have made and applied rules requiring affirmative action.
Within a few decades it is likely that gene editing technologies will become increasingly viable, safe, and cheap. As scientists uncover the genetic basis for heritable personality traits, including different cognitive styles, parents will face hard choices. Some of these traits will involve trade-offs from the standpoint of the individual's welfare, while others will involve trade-offs between what is best for each and what is good for all. A simple example is extraversion, which positively correlates with subjective well-being and increased sociality, but which negatively correlates with academic performance. Another example is neuroticism, which can lead to increased achievement but also a greater risk of anxiety and depression. Although we think we should generally defer to the informed choices of parents about what kinds of children to create, we argue that decisions to manipulate polygenic personality traits will be much more ethically complicated than choosing our children’s eye color or hair type. We end by defending the principle of regulatory parsimony, which holds that when legislation is necessary to prevent serious harms we should aim for simple laws that apply to all, rather than micro-managing parental choices that shape the cognitive traits of their children.
There are four notions in this thesis that deserve close examination: epistemic status, opinion, dependence, and moral features. The first four sections of this paper examine each of these notions in turn. Along the way, I raise some objections to existing accounts of moral encroachment. For instance, many theories fail to give sufficient attention to moral encroachment on credences. Also, many theories focus on moral features that do not have the correct structure to support standard analogies between pragmatic and moral encroachment. The fifth and final section of the paper addresses several objections and frequently asked questions.
Empirical research into moral decision-making is often taken to have normative implications. For instance, in his recent book, Joshua Greene (2013) relies on empirical findings to establish utilitarianism as a superior normative ethical theory. Kantian ethics, and deontological ethics more generally, is a rival view that Greene attacks. At the heart of Greene’s argument against deontology is the claim that deontological moral judgments are the product of certain emotions and not of reason.
In its most expansive sense, Latin American philosophy is philosophy
produced in Latin America or philosophy produced by persons of Latin
American ancestry who reside outside of Latin America. It is typically
taken to exclude philosophy produced in non-Iberian former colonies,
with the occasional exception of former French colonies in the
Caribbean. Other names have also been used to refer to the whole or
part of Latin American philosophy, including Spanish American, Hispanic
American, Iberoamerican, and Latino/a philosophy. The first two refer
specifically to the philosophy of former Spanish colonies, the third to
that of former Iberian colonies, and the fourth to the philosophy
produced in the United States by descendants of Latin Americans.
We’ve all heard of the Marshmallow Test. Put a kid in a room with a marshmallow on a plate in front of them. Tell them that they can eat that marshmallow now, if they want, but if they can refrain from eating it for ten minutes, you’ll give them three. …
The United Nations Population Division’s latest report predicts a global population of over 11 billion by 2100. That is the ‘medium’ projection, based on standard demographic transition theory. There is also a ‘low’ projection, in which the total fertility rate is lower by half a child per woman; here, population peaks at 8.7 billion mid-century, returning to 7.3 billion by 2100.
This chapter focusses on the question of optimal human population size: how many people it is best to have alive on Earth at a given time. The exercise is one of optimisation subject to constraints. Population axiology is one highly relevant input to the exercise, as it supplies the objective: it tells us which logically possible states of affairs – in the sense of assignments of well-being levels to persons – are better than which others. But not all logically possible states of affairs are achievable: we cannot in practice have (say) a population of a quadrillion humans, all living lives of untold bliss, on Earth simultaneously. The real world supplies constraints.
Consider this case: Tonya plans to do Y, but Irving wants her
to do X instead. Irving has tried unsuccessfully to provide
Tonya with reasons for doing X rather than Y. If Irving
is unwilling to resort to coercion or force, he might deploy any of
the following tactics to try to influence Tonya’s choice. For
example, Irving might …
Charm Tonya into wanting to please Irving by doing
X. Exaggerate the advantages of doing X and the
disadvantages of doing Y, and/or understate the disadvantages
of doing X and the advantages of doing Y.
Last year, Kevin C. Elliott published three new books on ‘values in science’:
Given that empirical research is often used by moral, social, and political philosophers in scholarship on questions of justice, we thought it would be interesting to chat to Kevin about his recent work and its implications for moral, social, and political philosophy. …
If competent patients request that physicians participate in the deactivation of total artificial hearts and left ventricular assist devices, should physicians always comply? Patients and physicians currently have unsettled attitudes towards this question. I maintain that this issue is unsettling largely because the prospect of deactivation seems to give rise to a conflict between two deeply entrenched commitments of medical ethics: a commitment to the moral equivalency of withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, and a commitment to the prohibition on physicians’ harming patients. I examine this apparent conflict and look at different ways of resolving it. I argue that the moral equivalency of withholding and withdrawing provides a decisive reason for physicians to participate in deactivation when a competent patient requests it, and that the prohibition on harming patients does not constitute a reason for physicians not to participate in deactivation. I also argue that an understanding of why it is acceptable for physicians to participate in deactivation reveals why physician-assisted death is morally acceptable in certain kinds of cases.
What do you do when you get onto a train? Chances are that you try to find a seat. If there’s nowhere to sit, you look for somewhere to stand. Perhaps you lean against the luggage rack, or sit down on the corridor floor. As more people get on, everyone shuffles around so that no-one is standing too close to anyone else. I imagine that you don’t get on to the train and start throwing shopping down the corridor, or practising your clarinet, or undressing in the middle of the aisle. The railway has, at various times, explicitly told people how to behave, prohibiting drivers from ‘skylarking’, and requesting of passengers, ‘please adjust your dress before leaving’. Yet for the most part, you don’t need to explicitly think about what to do. You can be absentmindedly wondering what to cook for dinner, yet still manage to successfully navigate the space of the train. How is this possible?
Some people end up worse off than others partly because of their
bad luck. For instance, some die young due to a genetic disease,
whereas others live long lives. Are such differential luck induced
inequalities unjust? Many are inclined to answer this question
affirmatively. To understand this inclination, we need a clear account
of what luck involves. On some accounts, luck nullifies
responsibility. On others, it nullifies desert. It is often said that
justice requires luck to be ‘neutralized’. However, it is
contested whether a distributive pattern that eliminates the influence
of luck can be described.
Suppose soft determinism is true: the world is deterministic and yet we are responsible for our actions. Now imagine a device that can be activated at a time when an agent is about to make a decision. …