In Physics I.8, Aristotle outlines and responds to an Eleatic argument against the reality of change. I defend a new reading according to which the argu- ment assumes Predicational Monism, the claim that each being can possess only one property. In Phys. I.2, Aristotle responds to Predicational Monism, which he attributes to the Eleatics; I argue that he uses this response to distinguish coin- cidental from non-coincidental becoming, a distinction he employs in Phys I.8 to resolve the argument against the (...) reality of change. The Eleatics’ acceptance of Predicational Monism, I argue, explains why this distinction is unavailable to them. (shrink)
In 'Physics' I.7, Aristotle claims that plants and animals are generated from sperma. Since most understood sperma to be an ovum, this claim threatens to undermine the standard view that, for Aristotle, the matter natural beings are generated from persists through their generation. By focusing on Aristotle’s discussion of sperma in the first book of the 'Generation of Animals', I show that, for Aristotle, sperma in the female is surplus blood collected in the uterus and not an ovum. I subsequently (...) argue that, for Aristotle, this blood does persist through the production of the fetus. (shrink)
Aristotle uses 'body' to describe the matter of animals, the elements and what they compose, as well as magnitudes extended in three-dimensions. These last bodies belong to the category of quantity, alongside surfaces and lines. It is this notion of body that interests Christian Pfeiffer, who presents Aristotle's various discussions of it as one exhaustive theory of body. According to this theory, magnitudes are form-matter composites, where boundaries are forms and extensions are matter. The boundary of a body is its (...) particular shape and its extension is its volume. It follows that Socrates destroys his body and gains another by standing up (since the shape of the sitting and standing bodies, and thus the bodies... (shrink)
The work argues that the koans of Zen Buddhism have several intriguing non-accidental parallels with the short stories of Catholic author Flannery O'Connor. Both typically portray characters in a state of non-enlightenment in which they are egoistically obsessed with something which prevents them from perceiving and properly responding to the real world around them. Both present the characters with some opportunity for enlightenment, which they may or may not take up. Both come in a variety of forms, in order (...) to portray and address a rich variety of ways in which such obsessions become obstacles to human self-understanding and fulfillment. And both are ultimately presented for the sake of the listener or reader, who may recognize in the stories parallels to their own state, and perhaps take a lesson therefrom on their own journey towards what Zen calls enlightenment, or what Christians call grace. (shrink)
De-Signing Design: Cartographies of Theory and Practice throws new light on the terrain between theory and practice in transdisciplinary discourses of design and art. The collection brings together a selection of essays on spatiality, difference, cultural aesthetics, and identity in the expanded field of place-making and being.
The book includes contributions by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, George F. R. Ellis , Christopher D. Frith, Mark Hallett, David Hodgson, Owen D. Jones, Alicia Juarrero, J. A. Scott Kelso, Christof Koch, Hans Küng, Hakwan C. Lau, Dean Mobbs, ...
This essay traces Newman’s rich legacy in modern American literature in the writings of three prominent American writers of the last century: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who plays off of Newman’s definition of a gentleman in his The Beautiful and Damned ; Sinclair Lewis, who connects the figure of Carlyle Vesper to Newman in Gideon Planish ; and Flannery O’Connor, who mentioned Newman in four published letters, and whose artistic vision was shaped appreciably by Newman’s Apologia and his Grammar of (...) Assent. (shrink)
"Why should we care about having true beliefs? And why do demonstrably false beliefs persist and spread despite consequences for the people who hold them? Philosophers of science Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall argue that social factors, rather than individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the spread and persistence of false belief. It might seem that there’s an obvious reason that true beliefs matter: false beliefs will hurt you. But if that’s right, then why is it irrelevant to many (...) people whether they believe true things or not? In an age riven by "fake news," "alternative facts," and disputes over the validity of everything from climate change to the size of inauguration crowds, the authors argue that social factors, not individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the persistence of false belief and that we must know how those social forces work in order to fight misinformation effectively."–Publisher’s description. (shrink)
Anselm presented his ontological argument in three main forms. In Proslogion II he argued that the very concept of God implies his actual existence. In Reply to Gaunilo —the argument from aseity—he argued that the conception of God as an eternal existent rules out his conception as a merely possible existent. In Proslogion III he argued that the concept of God implies his actual existence as logically necessary. Each of these arguments has its traditional refutation. Against Proslogion II it is (...) argued that the analytic use of ‘exists’ conceptually and descriptively is logically distinct from its synthetic use as an empirical judgement. Against the argument from aseity the same point is made about ‘exists eternally’, and against the detail of his argument it is said that the second premise is not a proposition with a single implication, but a disjunction. Against Proslogion III it is argued that ‘logically necessary existence’ is a meaningless notion. This paper is designed to show that Anselm's arguments may be refuted without recourse to these traditional criticisms; that each of his arguments contains at least one further error, of equal if not more importance, which has passed unnoticed. If this appears to be bringing yet further coals to Newcastle, the revival of the argument by Hartshorne and Malcolm, and the supposed ‘ontological disproof’ by Findlay, may indicate our need of further fuel. (shrink)
Do the rich descriptions and narrative shapings of literature provide a valuable resource for readers, writers, philosophers, and everyday people to imagine and confront the ultimate questions of life? Do the human activities of storytelling and complex moral decision-making have a deep connection? What are the moral responsibilities of the artist, critic, and reader? What can religious perspectives—from Catholic to Protestant to Mormon—contribute to literary criticism? Thirty well known contributors reflect on these questions, including iterary theorists Marshall Gregory, James Phelan, (...) and Wayne Booth; philosophers Martha Nussbaum, Richard Hart, and Nina Rosenstand; and authors John Updike, Charles Johnson, Flannery O'Connor, and Bernard Malamud. Divided into four sections, with introductory matter and questions for discussion, this accessible anthology represents the most crucial work today exploring the interdisciplinary connections between literature, religion and philosophy. (shrink)
In this classic, exciting, and thoughtful text, Metaphysics , Peter van Inwagen examines three profound questions: What are the most general features of the world? Why is there a world? and What is the place of human beings in the world? Metaphysics introduces to readers the curious notion that is metaphysics, how it is conceived both historically and currently. The author's work can serve either as a textbook in a university course on metaphysics or as an introduction to metaphysical thinking (...) for the interested reader. This second edition, revised though not fundamentally changed, includes the basis of the first edition with a new chapter on the nature of time. (shrink)
The core argument of the paper is that the modern philosophical notion of self-constitution is directed against the prospect of human beings dissolving into idleness. Arguments for self-constitution are marked by non-philosophical presuppositions about the value of usefulness. Those arguments also assume a particular conception of superior experience as conscious integration of a person’s actions within an identifiable set of chosen commitments. Exploring particular arguments by Hegel, Kant, Korsgaard and Frankfurt the paper claims that those arguments are problematic in the (...) various ways in which they suppose usefulness and explicitly or implicitly take extra-philosophical views of idleness. (shrink)
Combating homophobia, racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination and violence in our society requires more than just focusing on the overt acts of prejudiced and abusive individuals. The very intelligibility of such acts, in fact, depends upon a background of shared beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that together form the context of social practices in which these acts come to have the meaning they do. This book, inspired by Wittgenstein as well as feminist and critical race theory, shines a critical (...) light on this background in order to show that we all share more responsibility for the persistence of oppressive social practices than we commonly suppose—or than traditional moral theories that connect responsibility just with the actions, rights, and liberties of individuals would lead us to believe. First sketching a nonessentialist view of rationality, and emphasizing the role of power relations, Peg O’Connor then examines in subsequent chapters the relationship between a variety of "foreground" actions and "background" practices: burnings of African American churches, hate speech, child sexual abuse, coming out as a gay or lesbian teenager, and racial integration of public and private spaces. These examples serve to illuminate when our "language games" reinforce oppression and when they allow possibilities for resistance. Attending to the background, O’Connor argues, can give us insight into ways of transforming the nature and meaning of foreground actions. (shrink)
In the present state of philosophy in the English-speaking world, to choose to talk about sense data may seem perverse. What could be more boring for one's audience than to attempt variations on so threadbare a theme? And worse, what could be more unfashionable in the aftermath of Wittgenstein and Austin? My reasons for selecting this unpromising topic are twofold. First, the general theme of this series of lectures is empiricism. And whatever meanings we put upon that ambiguous word, it (...) is clear that as a matter of history the problems of perception have been important problems for nearly all those philosophers who would consider themselves to be empiricists. And however unsatisfactory sense datum theories of perception may now be held to be, such theories have been central to the empiricist tradition. Secondly, it is important not to be too much impressed by the fact that a particular philosophical opinion is fashionable or unfashionable. The former certainly does not guarantee its truth nor the latter its falsity. It has often been remarked that philosophical opinions are very rarely refuted. Instead they fall out of vogue only to return some years later in another guise. It is perhaps time to take another look at the notion of sense data. The most ingenious and persistent attacks on analyses of perception in terms of sense data have been at best indecisive, as Professor Ayer showed in his reply to Austin's Sense and Sensibilia. (shrink)
This provocative book refurbishes the traditional account of freedom of will as reasons-guided "agent" causation, situating its account within a general metaphysics. O'Connor's discussion of the general concept of causation and of ontological reductionism v. emergence will specially interest metaphysicians and philosophers of mind.
In their recent book, Oreskes and Conway describe the ‘tobacco strategy’, which was used by the tobacco industry to influence policymakers regarding the health risks of tobacco products. The strategy involved two parts, consisting of promoting and sharing independent research supporting the industry’s preferred position and funding additional research, but selectively publishing the results. We introduce a model of the tobacco strategy, and use it to argue that both prongs of the strategy can be extremely effective—even when policymakers rationally update (...) on all evidence available to them. As we elaborate, this model helps illustrate the conditions under which the tobacco strategy is particularly successful. In addition, we show how journalists engaged in ‘fair’ reporting can inadvertently mimic the effects of industry on public belief. 1Introduction2Epistemic Network Models3Selective Sharing4Biased Production5Journalists as Unwitting Propagandists6ConclusionAppendix. (shrink)
David O’Connor has criticized my arguments for the conclusion that God’s existence is compatible with genuinely gratuitous natural evil. In this reply, I show that his own arguments fail to achieve their objective; in addition, I point out several respects in which he has misstated my position.
Collaboration is increasingly popular across academia. Collaborative work raises certain ethical questions, however. How will the fruits of collaboration be divided? How will the work for the collaborative project be split? In this paper, we consider the following question in particular. Are there ways in which these divisions systematically disadvantage certain groups? -/- We use evolutionary game theoretic models to address this question. First, we discuss results from O'Connor and Bruner (unpublished). In this paper, we show that underrepresented groups (...) in academia can be disadvantaged in such situations by dint of their small numbers. Second, we present novel results exploring how the hierarchical structure of academia can lead to bargaining disadvantage. We investigate models where one actor has a higher baseline of academic success, less to lose if collaboration goes south, or greater rewards for non-collaborative work. We show that in these situations, the less powerful partner is disadvantaged in bargaining over collaboration. (shrink)
We show that previous results from epistemic network models showing the benefits of decreased connectivity in epistemic networks are not robust across changes in parameter values. Our findings motivate discussion about whether and how such models can inform real-world epistemic communities. As we argue, only robust results from epistemic network models should be used to generate advice for the real-world, and, in particular, decreasing connectivity is a robustly poor recommendation.
I distinguish restrictive and permissive multiverse solutions to the problems of evil and no best world. Restrictive multiverses do not admit a single instance of gratuitous evil and they are not improvable. I show that restrictive multiverses unacceptably entail that all modal distinctions collapse. I consider Timothy O’Connor’s permissive multiverse. I show that a perfect creator minimizes aggregative suffering in permissive multiverses only if the actual universe is not included in any actualizable multiverse. I conclude that permissive multiverses do not (...) offer a credible solution to the problems of evil and no best world. (shrink)
In this paper we use an experimental approach to investigate how linguistic conventions can emerge in a society without explicit agreement. As a starting point we consider the signaling game introduced by Lewis. We find that in experimental settings, small groups can quickly develop conventions of signal meaning in these games. We also investigate versions of the game where the theoretical literature indicates that meaning will be less likely to arise—when there are more than two states for actors to transfer (...) meaning about and when some states are more likely than others. In these cases, we find that actors are less likely to arrive at strategies where signals have clear conventional meaning. We conclude with a proposal for extending the use of the methodology of experimental economics in experimental philosophy. (shrink)
In almost every human society some people get more and others get less. Why is inequity the rule in human societies? Philosopher Cailin O'Connor reveals how cultural evolution works on social categories such as race and gender to generate unfairness.
Timothy O’Connor has recently defended a version of libertarianism that has significant advantages over similar accounts. One of these is an argument that secures indeterminism on the basis of an argument that shows how causal determinism threatens agency in virtue of the nature of the causal relation involved in free acts. In this paper, I argue that while it does turn out that free acts are not causally determined on O’Connor’s view, this fact is merely stipulative and the argument that (...) he presents for this conclusion begs the question. (shrink)
Collaboration is increasingly popular across academia. Collaborative work raises certain ethical questions, however. How will the fruits of collaboration be divided? How will the work for the collaborative project be split? In this paper, we consider the following question in particular. Are there ways in which these divisions systematically disadvantage certain groups? We use evolutionary game theoretic models to address this question. First, we discuss results from O'Connor and Bruner showing that underrepresented groups in academia can be disadvantaged in (...) collaboration and bargaining by dint of their small numbers. Second, we present novel results exploring how the hierarchical structure of academia can lead to bargaining disadvantage. We investigate models where one actor has a higher baseline of academic success, less to lose if collaboration goes south, or greater rewards for non-collaborative work. We show that in these situations, the less powerful partner can be disadvantaged in bargaining over collaboration. (shrink)
In this new book, Alessandra Tanesini demonstrates that feminist thought has a lot to offer to the study of Wittgenstein's philosophical work, and that -at the same time-that work can inspire feminist reflection in new directions. In Wittgenstein, Tanesini offers a highly original interpretation of several themes in Wittgenstein's philosophy. She argues that when we look at his work through feminist eyes we discover that he is not primarily concerned with providing solutions to technical problems in the philosophy of mind, (...) mathematics, and language. Instead, his remarks on these topics are intended to offer insights about human finitude, the loneliness of the modern autonomous self, and our relations to other human beings. Thus, the modern conception of the individual emerges as the critical target of Wittgenstein's philosophical work, both early and late. This conception has also been one of the dominant concerns of contemporary feminist philosophy. In this book, Wittgenstein's insights are deployed to further feminist debates on issues such as identity, difference, the masculine character of the modern self. (shrink)
Flannery O'Connor is considered one of America's greatest fiction writers. The immensely talented Robert Giroux, editor-in-chief of Harcourt, Brace & Company and later of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, was her devoted friend and admirer. He edited her three books published during her lifetime, plus Everything that Rises Must Converge, which she completed just before she died in 1964 at the age of thirty-nine, the posthumous The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor, and the subsequent award-winning collection of her letters (...) titled The Habit of Being. When poet Robert Lowell first introduced O'Connor to Giroux in March 1949, she could not have imagined the impact that meeting would have on her life or on the landscape of postwar American literature. Flannery O'Connor and Robert Giroux: A Publishing Partnership sheds new light on an area of Flannery O?Connor?s life?her relationship with her editors?that has not been well documented or narrated by critics and biographers. Impressively researched and rich in biographical details, this book chronicles Giroux?s and O?Connor?s personal and professional relationship, not omitting their circle of friends and fellow writers, including Robert Lowell, Caroline Gordon, Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, Allen Tate, Thomas Merton, and Robert Penn Warren. As Patrick Samway explains, Giroux guided O'Connor to become an internationally acclaimed writer of fiction and nonfiction, especially during the years when she suffered from lupus at her home in Milledgeville, Georgia, a disease that eventually proved fatal. Excerpts from their correspondence, some of which are published here for the first time, reveal how much of Giroux's work as editor was accomplished through his letters to Milledgeville. They are gracious, discerning, and appreciative, just when they needed to be. In Father Samway's portrait of O'Connor as an extraordinarily dedicated writer and businesswoman, she emerges as savvy, pragmatic, focused, and determined. This engrossing account of O'Connor's publishing history will interest, in addition to O'Connor's fans, all readers and students of American literature. (shrink)
“Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives. Which sort is the free will sort is what all the fuss is about. (And what a fuss it has been: philosophers have debated this question for over two millenia, and just about every major philosopher has had something to say about it.) Most philosophers suppose that the concept of free will is very (...) closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility. Acting with free will, on such views, is just to satisfy the metaphysical requirement on being responsible for one's action. (Clearly, there will also be epistemic conditions on responsibility as well, such as being aware—or failing that, being culpably unaware—of relevant alternatives to one's action and of the alternatives' moral significance.) But the significance of free will is not exhausted by its connection to moral responsibility. Free will also appears to be a condition on desert for one's accomplishments (why sustained effort and creative work are praiseworthy); on the autonomy and dignity of persons; and on the value we accord to love and friendship. (See Kane 1996, 81ff. and Clarke 2003, Ch.1.). (shrink)
Scientists are generally subject to social pressures, including pressures to conform with others in their communities, that affect achievement of their epistemic goals. Here we analyze a network epistemology model in which agents, all else being equal, prefer to take actions that conform with those of their neighbors. This preference for conformity interacts with the agents’ beliefs about which of two possible actions yields the better result. We find a range of possible outcomes, including stable polarization in belief and action. (...) The model results are sensitive to network structure. In general, though, conformity has a negative effect on a community’s ability to reach accurate consensus about the world. (shrink)