Moral dilemmas – situations in which an agent has a moral requirement to do each of two acts but cannot do both – seem to suggest some kind of inconsistency. I argue that the inconsistency felt intuitively is actually a logical inconsistency, and then go on to show that we can neither deny the existence of moral dilemmas nor give up the deontic principles involved in the deduction of a contradiction, as both our moral judgements and the deontic principles depend (...) on intuitions that form the basis of our morality. Rather than rejecting our intuitions and thus undermining morality, I suggest regarding moral dilemmas as situations in which a contradiction is not only false, but at the same time true. Finally, the view that moral dilemmas are an example of true contradictions – so-called dialetheias – leads to the application of paraconsistent logic to moral judgements. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.24(2) 2005: 77-86. (shrink)
I have been asked to consider two questions: How Christian ‘oughts’ are related to Christian ‘is-es’, and, What does Christianity take flourishing to be? The background to these questions is that Christian ethics have traditionally been taken, both by supporters and opponents, as au ethic of creature-hood, sometimes quite crudely conceived. It is a sketch, but by no means a caricature, of a great deal of standard Christian thinking, to depict it as answering the two questions as follows: God is (...) your Creator: therefore you ought to obey him. The end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever. (shrink)
This article examines the place of human and animal subjectivity in two autobiographically informed texts by Hélène Cixous. It takes her view on the word ‘human’ and the figure of Fips, the dog of the Cixous family, as a point of departure. By thinking through this figure, I argue, Cixous analyses the dehumanizing logic of colonialism and anti-Semitism in Algeria and develops her own response to such kinds of political evils, arguing for human relationality and animal corporeality. The article shows (...) that Cixous’ meeting with Fips creates a stigma that, belatedly, breaks through the barrier between herself and the dog; the reopening of the wound takes place in a poetical writing that reveals an intense ‘animal humanity’ formed by communal suffering, finiteness, and love. The lesson Cixous learns from the memory of Fips the dog is how to become ‘better human’. This becoming is also an assault on the false humanism of the colonial project and on racialized social exclusion. (shrink)
Helen Steward argues that determinism is incompatible with agency itself--not only the special human variety of agency, but also powers which can be accorded to animal agents. She offers a distinctive, non-dualistic version of libertarianism, rooted in a conception of what biological forms of organisation might make possible in the way of freedom.
In a recent paper (Bird 2001), Alexander Bird argues that the law that common salt dissolves in water is metaphysically necessary - and he does so without presupposing dispositionalism about properties. If his argument were sound, it would thus show that at least one law of nature is meta- physically necessary, and it would do so without illicitly presupposing a position (dispositionalism) that is already committed to a necessitarian view of laws. I shall argue that Bird's argument is unsuccesful.
James Tabery Helen Longino’s Studying Human Behavior is an overdue effort at a nonpartisan evaluation of the many scientific disciplines that study the nature and nurture of human behavior, arguing for the acceptance of the strengths and weaknesses of all approaches. After years of conflict, Longino makes the pluralist case for peaceful coexistence. Her analysis of the approaches raises the following question: how are we to understand the pluralistic relationship among the peacefully coexisting approaches? Longino is ironically rather unpluralistic (...) about her pluralism, forcing a choice between integrative pluralism and her preferred ineliminative pluralism. I hope to show that the analysis of approaches she offers actually accommodates a pluralism that is both integrative and ineliminative.Approaches to studying human behaviorPhilosophy of biology took shape as a discipline in the 1970s. This disciplinary formation over. (shrink)
Helen Steward puts forward a radical critique of the foundations of contemporary philosophy of mind, arguing that it relies too heavily on insecure assumptions about the sorts of things there are in the mind--events, processes, and states. She offers a fresh investigation of these three categories, clarifying the distinctions between them, and argues that the category of state has been very widely and seriously misunderstood.
In Studying Human Behavior, Helen E. Longino enters into the complexities of human behavioral research, a domain still dominated by the age-old debate of “nature versus nurture.” Rather than supporting one side or another or attempting..
Most people believe that it is sometimes morally permissible for a person to use force to defend herself or others against harm. In Defensive Killing, Helen Frowe offers a detailed exploration of when and why the use of such force is permissible. She begins by considering the use of force between individuals, investigating both the circumstances under which an attacker forfeits her right not to be harmed, and the distinct question of when it is all-things-considered permissible to use force (...) against an attacker. Frowe then extends this enquiry to war, defending the view that we should judge the ethics of killing in war by the moral rules that govern killing between individuals. She argues that this requires us to significantly revise our understanding of the moral status of non-combatants in war. Non-combatants who intentionally contribute to an unjust war forfeit their rights not to be harmed, such that they are morally liable to attack by combatants fighting a just war. (shrink)
"Open Democracy envisions what true government by mass leadership could look like."—Nathan Heller, New Yorker How a new model of democracy that opens up power to ordinary citizens could strengthen inclusiveness, responsiveness, and accountability in modern societies To the ancient Greeks, democracy meant gathering in public and debating laws set by a randomly selected assembly of several hundred citizens. To the Icelandic Vikings, democracy meant meeting every summer in a field to discuss issues until consensus was reached. Our contemporary representative (...) democracies are very different. Modern parliaments are gated and guarded, and it seems as if only certain people—with the right suit, accent, wealth, and connections—are welcome. Diagnosing what is wrong with representative government and aiming to recover some of the lost openness of ancient democracies, Open Democracy presents a new paradigm of democracy in which power is genuinely accessible to ordinary citizens. Hélène Landemore favors the ideal of “representing and being represented in turn” over direct-democracy approaches. Supporting a fresh nonelectoral understanding of democratic representation, Landemore recommends centering political institutions around the “open mini-public”—a large, jury-like body of randomly selected citizens gathered to define laws and policies for the polity, in connection with the larger public. She also defends five institutional principles as the foundations of an open democracy: participatory rights, deliberation, the majoritarian principle, democratic representation, and transparency. Open Democracy demonstrates that placing ordinary citizens, rather than elites, at the heart of democratic power is not only the true meaning of a government of, by, and for the people, but also feasible and, today more than ever, urgently needed. (shrink)
A computer can come to understand natural language the same way Helen Keller did: by using “syntactic semantics”—a theory of how syntax can suffice for semantics, i.e., how semantics for natural language can be provided by means of computational symbol manipulation. This essay considers real-life approximations of Chinese Rooms, focusing on Helen Keller’s experiences growing up deaf and blind, locked in a sort of Chinese Room yet learning how to communicate with the outside world. Using the SNePS computational (...) knowledge-representation system, the essay analyzes Keller’s belief that learning that “everything has a name” was the key to her success, enabling her to “partition” her mental concepts into mental representations of: words, objects, and the naming relations between them. It next looks at Herbert Terrace’s theory of naming, which is akin to Keller’s, and which only humans are supposed to be capable of. The essay suggests that computers at least, and perhaps non-human primates, are also capable of this kind of naming. (shrink)
The paper considers and opposes the view that processes are best thought of as continuants, to be differentiated from events mainly by way of the fact that the latter, but not the former, are entities with temporal parts. The motivation for the investigation, though, is not so much the defeat of what is, in any case, a rather implausible claim, as the vindication of some of the ideas and intuitions that the claim is made in order to defend — and (...) the grounding of those ideas and intuitions in a more plausible metaphysics than is provided by the continuant view. It is argued that in addition to a distinction between events and processes there is room and need for a third category, that of the individual process, which can be illuminatingly compared with the idea of a substance. Individual processes indeed share important metaphysical features with substantial continuants, but they do not lack temporal parts. Instead, it is argued that individual processes share with substantial continuants an important property I call ‘modal robustness in virtue of form’. The paper explains what this property is, and further suggests that the category of individual process, thus understood, might be of considerable value to the philosophy of action. (shrink)
El filósofo español José Ortega y Gasset y su traductora al alemán Helene Weyl intercambiaron correspondencia entre los años 1923 y 1946. José Ortega y Gasset y Helene Weyl formaron parte de dos grandes comunidades de intelectuales europeos: Ortega, representante de la filosofía académica en España y Helene Weyl, representante de una intelectualidad vivida más allá de cualquier corsé academicista. Su correspondencia documenta el desarrollo de dos grandes espíritus europeos así como la singular intersección de estos dos mundos y culturas (...) a través de un momento histórico difícil y turbulento del siglo XX. (shrink)
The Habits of Racism examines some of the complex questions raised by the phenomenon and experience of racism. Helen Ngo argues that the conceptual reworking of habit as bodily orientation helps to identify the more subtle but fundamental workings of racism, exploring what the lived experience of racism and racialization teaches about the nature of the embodied and socially-situated being.
The Ethics of War and Peace is a lively introduction to one of the oldest but still most relevant ethical debates. Focusing on the philosophical questions surrounding the ethics of modern war, Helen Frowe presents contemporary just war theory in a stimulating and accessible way. This 2nd edition includes new material on weapons and technology, and humanitarian intervention, in addition to: theories of self-defence and national defence jus ad bellum, jus in bello and jus post bellum the moral status (...) of combatants the principle of non-combatant immunity and the nature of terrorism and the moral status of terrorists. Each chapter uses examples and concludes with a summary, discussion questions and suggestions for further reading to aid student engagement, learning and revision. The glossary has been expanded to cover the full range of relevant terminology. This is the ideal textbook for students of philosophy and politics approaching this important area for the first time. (shrink)
The paper argues that actions should be thought of as processes and not events. A number of reasons are offered for thinking that the things that it is most plausible to suppose we are trying to cotton on to with the generic talk of ‘actions’ in which philosophy indulges cannot be events. A framework for thinking about the event-process distinction which can help us understand how we ought to think about the ontology of processes we need instead is then developed, (...) building on some excellent work already done by philosophers working at the intersection of philosophy and linguistics. (shrink)
The aim of this literature review was to compose a narrative review supported by a systematic approach to critically identify and examine concerns about accountability and the allocation of responsibility and legal liability as applied to the clinician and the technologist as applied the use of opaque AI-powered systems in clinical decision making. This review questions if it is permissible for a clinician to use an opaque AI system in clinical decision making and if a patient was harmed as a (...) result of using a clinician using an AIS’s suggestion, how would responsibility and legal liability be allocated? Literature was systematically searched, retrieved, and reviewed from nine databases, which also included items from three clinical professional regulators, as well as relevant grey literature from governmental and non-governmental organisations. This literature was subjected to inclusion/exclusion criteria; those items found relevant to this review underwent data extraction. This review found that there are multiple concerns about opacity, accountability, responsibility and liability when considering the stakeholders of technologists and clinicians in the creation and use of AIS in clinical decision making. Accountability is challenged when the AIS used is opaque, and allocation of responsibility is somewhat unclear. Legal analysis would help stakeholders to understand their obligations and prepare should an undesirable scenario of patient harm eventuate when AIS were used. (shrink)
Understanding the pervasiveness of sin is central to Christian theology. The question of why humans are so sinful given an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God presents a challenge and a puzzle. Here, we investigate Friedrich Schleiermacher’s biocultural evolutionary account of sin. We look at empirical evidence to support it and use the cultural Price equation to provide a naturalistic model of the transmission of sin. This model can help us understand how sin can be ubiquitous and unavoidable, even though it (...) is not biologically transmitted, and even if there is no historical Fall that precipitated the tendency to sin. (shrink)
Helen Frowe has recently offered what she calls a “practical” account of self-defense. Her account is supposed to be practical by being subjectivist about permissibility and objectivist about liability. I shall argue here that Frowe first makes up a problem that does not exist and then fails to solve it. To wit, her claim that objectivist accounts of permissibility cannot be action-guiding is wrong; and her own account of permissibility actually retains an objectivist (in the relevant sense) element. In (...) addition, her attempt to restrict subjectivism primarily to “urgent” situations like self-defense contradicts her own point of departure and is either incoherent or futile. Finally, the only actual whole-heartedly objectivist account she criticizes is an easy target; while those objectivist accounts one finds in certain Western European jurisdictions are immune to her criticisms. Those accounts are also clearly superior to hers in terms of action-guidingness. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the question what a continuant is, in the context of a very interesting suggestion recently made by Rowland Stout, as part of his attempt to develop a coherent ontology of processes. Stout claims that a continuant is best thought of as something that primarily has its properties at times, rather than atemporally—and that on this construal, processes should count as continuants. While accepting that Stout is onto something here, I reject his suggestion that we should (...) accept that processes are both occurrents and continuants; nothing, I argue, can truly occur or happen, which does not have temporal parts. I make an alternative suggestion as to how one might deal with the peculiar status of processes without jettisoning a very natural account of occurrence; and assess the consequences for the category of continuant. (shrink)
This paper presents a dilemma which it has been alleged by Kim Frost must be faced by any defender of the notion of a two-way power and offers a solution to the dilemma which is distinct from Frost’s own. The dilemma is as follows: assuming that powers are to be individuated by what they are powers to do or undergo, then either there is a unified description of the manifestation-type which individuates the power, or there is not. If there is, (...) then two-way powers are revealed really to be one-way powers, after all. If there is not, then it is difficult to explain why the two-way power does not simply dissolve into a mere combination of two one-way powers. The paper offers an account of what a two-way power is that is distinct from the one Frost takes for granted, and argues that this different conception is the key to avoiding the dilemma. It is also argued that this alternative conception has several further advantages over its rival and also that it has no less of a claim than Frost’s notion to be prefigured in Aristotle’s original discussion. (shrink)
William Rapaport, in “How Helen Keller used syntactic semantics to escape from a Chinese Room,” (Rapaport 2006), argues that Helen Keller was in a sort of Chinese Room, and that her subsequent development of natural language fluency illustrates the flaws in Searle’s famous Chinese Room Argument and provides a method for developing computers that have genuine semantics (and intentionality). I contend that his argument fails. In setting the problem, Rapaport uses his own preferred definitions of semantics and syntax, (...) but he does not translate Searle’s Chinese Room argument into that idiom before attacking it. Once the Chinese Room is translated into Rapaport’s idiom (in a manner that preserves the distinction between meaningful representations and uninterpreted symbols), I demonstrate how Rapaport’s argument fails to defeat the CRA. This failure brings a crucial element of the Chinese Room Argument to the fore: the person in the Chinese Room is prevented from connecting the Chinese symbols to his/her own meaningful experiences and memories. This issue must be addressed before any victory over the CRA is announced. (shrink)
The paper argues that it is possible for an incompatibilist to accept John Martin Fischer's plausible insistence that the question whether we are morally responsible agents ought not to depend on whether the laws of physics turn out to be deterministic or merely probabilistic. The incompatibilist should do so by rejecting the fundamentalism which entails that the question whether determinism is true is a question merely about the nature of the basic physical laws. It is argued that this is a (...) better option for ensuring the irrelevance of physics than the embrace of semi-compatibilism, since there are reasons for supposing that alternate possibilities are necessary for moral responsibility, despite Fischer's claims to the contrary. There are two distinct reasons for supposing that alternate possibilities might be necessary for moral responsibility—one of which is to do with fairness, the other to do with agency itself. It is suggested that if one focuses on the second of these reasons, Fischer's arguments for supposing that alternate possibilities are unnecessary for moral responsibility can be met by the incompatibilist. Some possible reasons for denying that alternate possibilities are necessary for the existence of agency are then raised and rejected. (shrink)