On the 24th June 2015, Feminist Legal Studies and the London School of Economics Law Department hosted an afternoon event with Professor Wendy Brown, Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science, University of California. Professor Brown kindly agreed to discuss her scholarship on feminist theory, and its relationship to both the law and neoliberalism. The event included an interview by Dr Katie Cruz and a Q&A session, which are presented here in an edited version of the transcript. (...) Sumi Madhock, Professor of Gender Studies, LSE chaired the interview and discussion and introduced Professor Brown’s work. Katie Cruz asked Wendy Brown to reflect upon topics that span her scholarship and activism, including the state of critical, feminist, and Left approaches to rights, neoliberalism, despair and utopianism, and the future of feminist theory and practice in the context of neoliberalism and current debates about intersectionality. Participants in the discussion asked questions on a wide range of issues, including the limits of feminist engagement with law as a tool for social change, the dominance of neoliberalism, imperialist feminism, Islamophobia, secularism, and our attachment to the figure of homo politicus. (shrink)
Decision theory and folk psychology both purport to represent the same phenomena: our belief-like and desire- and preference-like states. They also purport to do the same work with these representations: explain and predict our actions. But they do so with different sets of concepts. There's much at stake in whether one of these two sets of concepts can be accounted for with the other. Without such an account, we'd have two competing representations and systems of prediction and explanation, a dubious (...) dualism. Folk psychology structures our daily lives and has proven fruitful in the study of mind and ethics, while decision theory is pervasive in various disciplines, including the quantitative social sciences, especially economics, and philosophy. My interest is in accounting for folk psychology with decision theory -- in particular, for believe and wanting, which decision theory omits. Many have attempted this task for belief. (The Lockean Thesis says that there is such an account.) I take up the parallel task for wanting, which has received far less attention. I propose necessary and sufficient conditions, stated in terms of decision theory, for when you're truly said to want; I give an analogue of the Lockean Thesis for wanting. My account is an alternative to orthodox accounts that link wanting to preference (e.g. Stalnaker (1984), Lewis (1986)), which I argue are false. I argue further that want ascriptions are context-sensitive. My account explains this context-sensitivity, makes sense of conflicting desires, and accommodates phenomena that motivate traditional theses on which 'want' has multiple senses (e.g. all-things-considered vs. pro tanto). (shrink)
Proponents of the value ladenness of science rely primarily on arguments from underdetermination or inductive risk, which share the premise that we should only consider values where the evidence runs out or leaves uncertainty; they adopt a criterion of lexical priority of evidence over values. The motivation behind lexical priority is to avoid reaching conclusions on the basis of wishful thinking rather than good evidence. This is a real concern, however, that giving lexical priority to evidential considerations over values is (...) a mistake and unnecessary for avoiding the wishful thinking. Values have a deeper role to play in science. (shrink)
Physical Relativity explores the nature of the distinction at the heart of Einstein's 1905 formulation of his special theory of relativity: that between kinematics and dynamics. Einstein himself became increasingly uncomfortable with this distinction, and with the limitations of what he called the 'principle theory' approach inspired by the logic of thermodynamics. A handful of physicists and philosophers have over the last century likewise expressed doubts about Einstein's treatment of the relativistic behaviour of rigid bodies and clocks in motion in (...) the kinematical part of his great paper, and suggested that the dynamical understanding of length contraction and time dilation intimated by the immediate precursors of Einstein is more fundamental. Harvey Brown both examines and extends these arguments, after giving a careful analysis of key features of the pre-history of relativity theory. He argues furthermore that the geometrization of the theory by Minkowski in 1908 brought illumination, but not a causal explanation of relativistic effects. Finally, Brown tries to show that the dynamical interpretation of special relativity defended in the book is consistent with the role this theory must play as a limiting case of Einstein's 1915 theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity.Appearing in the centennial year of Einstein's celebrated paper on special relativity, Physical Relativity is an unusual, critical examination of the way Einstein formulated his theory. It also examines in detail certain specific historical and conceptual issues that have long given rise to debate in both special and general relativity theory, such as the conventionality of simultaneity, the principle of general covariance, and the consistency or otherwise of the special theory with quantum mechanics. Harvey Brown' s new interpretation of relativity theory will interest anyone working on these central topics in modern physics. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to review literature that is relevant to the social scientific study of ethics and leadership, as well as outline areas for future study. We first discuss ethical leadership and then draw from emerging research on “dark side” organizational behavior to widen the boundaries of the review to include unethical leadership. Next, three emerging trends within the organizational behavior literature are proposed for a leadership and ethics research agenda: 1) emotions, 2) fit/congruence, and 3) identity/identification. (...) We believe each shows promise in extending current thinking. The review closes with discussion of important issues that are relevant to the advancement of research on leadership and ethics. (shrink)
Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are two distinct political rationalities in the contemporary United States. They have few overlapping formal characteristics, and even appear contradictory in many respects. Yet they converge not only in the current presidential administration but also in their de-democratizing effects. Their respective devaluation of political liberty, equality, substantive citizenship, and the rule of law in favor of governance according to market criteria on the one side, and valorization of state power for putatively moral ends on the other, undermines (...) both the culture and institutions of constitutional democracy. Above all, the two rationalities work symbiotically to produce a subject relatively indifferent to veracity and accountability in government and to political freedom and equality among the citizenry. (shrink)
In applied ethics, debates about responsibility have been relentlessly individualistic and synchronic, even as recognition has increased in both philosophy and psychology that agency is distributed across time and individuals. I therefore warmly welcome Brown and Savulescu’s analysis of the conditions under which responsibility can be shared and extended. By carefully delineating how diachronic and dyadic responsibility interact with the long-established control and epistemic conditions, they lay the groundwork needed for identifying how responsibility may be inter-individual and intra-individual. Unsurprisingly, (...) I don’t agree with every aspect of their rich account. I strongly suspect that the privileged place the individual continues to occupy in their taxonomy is a residue of the kind of internalist intuitions which dominate WEIRD thinking.1 2 However, I won’t pursue this line of thought here. Instead, I apply Brown and Savulescu’s analysis. Moving beyond the programmatic level at which they develop their account, I will show how it provides a basis for excusing many individuals, focusing not on the dyadic level but the diachronic. Most of the …. (shrink)
Peirce nurtured a lifelong interest in the mathematics, metaphysics, and logic of time. For him, time was the primal form of continuum, and he studied it as such. That study is fundamentally connected to Peirce’s semiotic and metaphysical exploration of the continuum of consciousness. In this paper I will use two successive approaches to answer the question “To what extent does the flow of time regulate the flow of signs and the flow of signs influence or determine the flow of (...) time?” I will first examine Peirce’s views concerning the connection between time, the flow of perception, and the emergence of perceptual judgments. I will then apply several resulting distinctions to show how they illuminate the mutual determination of time and semiosis in Peirce’s mature semiotic theory. I will finish with considerations about how Peirce ended up viewing the genealogy of both time and logic in relation to the birth of a semiotic universe. (shrink)
Tools and technologies expand our capacities, including our cognitive capacities. Microscopes extend our perceptual capacities. Notebooks extend the natural limits of memory. These facts are important, for all that they are obvious. The extended cognition hypothesis wants more. Some external devices and processes are literal parts of cognitive processes themselves. When there is fast and reliable access to external data or processes, then the cognitive processes that occur uncontroversially inside the brain literally and controversially extend out into the world to (...) incorporate external structures or processes. Retrieval of an address from memory and retrieval of the same information from a notebook can both be fully cognitive processes involving fully cognitive representations. So say the proponents of extended cognition.It is an attractive metaphor. But is there any good reason to take it as literal truth? Adams and Aizawa argue that the debate on extended cognition implicates an …. (shrink)
I want to see the concert, but I don’t want to take the long drive. Both of these desire ascriptions are true, even though I believe I’ll see the concert if and only if I take the drive.Yet they, and strongly conflicting desire ascriptions more generally, are predicted incompatible by the standard semantics, given two standard constraints. There are two proposed solutions. I argue that both face problems because they misunderstand how what we believe influences what we desire. I then (...) sketch my own solution: a coarse-worlds semantics that captures the extent to which belief influences desire. My semantics models what I call some-things-considered desire. Considering what the concert would be like, but ignoring the drive, I want to see the concert; considering what the drive would be like, but ignoring the concert, I don’t want to take the drive. (shrink)
In Better Never to Have Been, David Benatar argues that existence is always a harm. His argument, in brief, is that this follows from a theory of personal good which we ought to accept because it best explains several???asymmetries???. I shall argue here that Benatar's theory suffers from a defect which was already widely known to afflict similar theories, and that the main asymmetry he discusses is better explained in a way which allows that existence is often not a harm.
In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle examines the nature of happiness, which he defines as a specially good kind of life. He considers the nature of practical reasoning, friendship, and the role and importance of the moral virtues in the best life. This new edition features a revised translation and valuable new introduction and notes.
The quantum theory of de Broglie and Bohm solves the measurement problem, but the hypothetical corpuscles play no role in the argument. The solution ﬁnds a more natural home in the Everett interpretation.
In recent years, campaigns across the globe have called for the removal of objects symbolic of white supremacy. This paper examines the ethics of altering or removing such objects. Do these strategies sanitize history, destroy heritage and suppress freedom of speech? Or are they important steps towards justice? Does removing monuments and renaming schools reflect a lack of parity and unfairly erase local identities? Or can it sometimes be morally required, as an expression of respect for the memories of people (...) who endured past injustices; a recognition of this history's ongoing legacies; and a repudiation of unjust social hierarchies? (shrink)
In her recent book Anti-Individualism and Knowledge, Jessica Brown has presented a novel answer to the self-knowledge achievement problem facing the proponent of anti-individualism. She argues that her answer is to be preferred to the traditional answer (based on Burge, 1988a). Here I present three objections to the claim that her proposed answer is to be preferred. The significance of these objections lies in what they tell us about the nature of the sort of knowledge that is in dispute. (...) Perhaps the most important lesson I draw from this discussion is that, given the nature of knowledge of one's own thoughts, discriminability (from relevant alternatives) is not a condition on knowledge as such. (shrink)
In recent times we have seen an explosion in the amount of attention paid to the conscious brain from scientists and philosophers alike. One message that has emerged loud and clear from scientific work is that the brain is a dynamical system whose operations unfold in time. Any theory of consciousness that is going to be physically realistic must take account of the intrinsic nature of neurons and brain activity. At the same time a long discussion on consciousness among philosophers (...) has resulted in our distinguishing several kinds of consciousness. So when we ask where the place of consciousness is in nature we may mean several different things. In this chapter I will argue that it is plausible that all of the kinds of consciousness turn out to be nothing but patterns of synchronized neural activity in various frequencies against a dynamically changing chemical background. (shrink)
Everyone appreciates a clever mathematical picture, but the prevailing attitude is one of scepticism: diagrams, illustrations, and pictures prove nothing; they are psychologically important and heuristically useful, but only a traditional verbal/symbolic proof provides genuine evidence for a purported theorem. Like some other recent writers (Barwise and Etchemendy ; Shin ; and Giaquinto ) I take a different view and argue, from historical considerations and some striking examples, for a positive evidential role for pictures in mathematics.
Campbell Brown has recently argued that G.E. Moore's intrinsic value holism is superior to Jonathan Dancy's. I show that the advantage which Brown claims for Moore's view over Dancy's is illusory, and that Dancy's view may be superior.
The ‘No Ought From Is’ principle (or ‘NOFI’) states that a valid argument cannot have both an ethical conclusion and non-ethical premises. Arthur Prior proposed several well-known counterexamples, including the following: Tea-drinking is common in England; therefore, either tea-drinking is common in England or all New Zealanders ought to be shot. My aim in this paper is to defend NOFI against Prior’s counterexamples. I propose two novel interpretations of NOFI and prove that both are true.
This volume is about the notion of 'defeat' in philosophy. The idea is that someone who has some knowledge, or a justified belief, can lose this knowledge or justified belief if they acquire a 'defeater' - evidence that undermines it. The contributors examine the role of defeat not just in epistemology but in practical reasoning and ethics.
The case of Brown and Brownson can be thought of as an updated version of John Locke’s prince-cobbler example, one that replaces a soul transfer with a brain transplant. Briefly, Brown and Robinson are operated on for the removal of brain tumors by a procedure that involves the temporary removal of the brain from the skull, and by a surgical blunder Brown’s brain ends up in Robinson’s skull; the resulting person, Brownson, has Brown’s brain and Robinson’s (...) body, and his psychological states, including memories, are those one would expect Brown to have. (shrink)