_Against Capital Punishment_ offers an innovative proceduralist argument against the death penalty. Worries about procedural injustice animate many popular and scholarly objections to capital punishment. Philosophers and legal theorists are attracted to procedural abolitionism because it sidesteps controversies over whether murderers deserve death, holding out a promise of gaining rational purchase among death penalty retentionists. Following in this path, the book remains agnostic on the substantive immorality of execution; in fact, it takes pains to reconstruct the best arguments for (...) capital punishment and presumes the appropriateness of execution in limited cases. At the same time, the book contends that the possibility of irrevocable mistakes precludes the just administration of the death penalty. The heart of _Against Capital Punishment_ is a philosophical defense of the well-known irrevocability argument, which analyzes the argument’s premises, establishes their validity, and vindicates them against objections. The central claim is that execution violates the principle of remedy, which requires legal institutions to remedy their mistakes and to compensate those who suffer from wrongful sanctions. The death penalty is repellent to the principle of remedy by dint of its irrevocability. The incompatibility of remedy and execution is the crux of the irrevocability argument: because the wrongly executed cannot enjoy the obligatory remedial measures, execution is impermissible. _Against Capital Punishment_ also reveals itself to be free from two serious defects plaguing other versions of proceduralism: the retributivist challenge and the problem of controversial consequences. (shrink)
Logic as a subject has existed for a long time. Aristotle and the Stoics identified some of its principles, as did Indian logicians. And this ancient logic underwent an extraordinary mathematical development in the last hundred and fifty years. So logic certainly exists, at least as a branch of mathematics. The question is whether it is anything more than that.
Andrew Kania has attempted to argue for nihilistic fictionalism about musical works. This view combines an error theory about musical work discourse with the proposal that musical work discourse has a non-alethic value which warrants continued participation in it. In this paper, I argue that Kania fails to establish either component of nihilistic fictionalism. First, I elaborate and reject Kania’s attempt to establish fictionalism on the basis of a methodological proposal he calls ‘descriptivism’. I argue that the methodology is unpopular, (...) unappealing and that the interest in its implications is unclear. What is worse descriptivism does not support fictionalism. I then elaborate and reject Kania’s attempt to establish fictionalism as the best theory compatible with nominalism. I argue that, even by Kania’s standards, eliminativist nominalism, materialist nominalism and materialist fictionalism are preferable to nihilistic fictionalism. (shrink)
This groundbreaking work by one of the world's foremost theoreticians of culture and scholars of Russian philosophy gives for the first time a systematic examination of the development of Russian philosophy during the late Soviet period. Countering the traditional view of an intellectual wilderness under the Soviet regime, Mikhail Epstein provides a comprehensive account of Russian thought of the second half of the 20th century that is highly sophisticated without losing clarity. It provides new insights into previously mostly ignored areas (...) such as late Soviet Russian nationalism and Eurasianism, religious thought, cosmism and esoterism, and postmodernism and conceptualism. Epstein shows how Russian philosophy has long been trapped in an intellectual prison of its own making as it sought to create its own utopia. However, he demonstrates that it is time to reappraise Russian thought, now freed from the bonds of Soviet totalitarianism and ideocracy but nevertheless dangerously engaged into new nationalist aspirations and metaphysical radicalism. We are left with not only a new and exciting interpretation of recent Russian intellectual history, but also the opportunity to rethink our philosophical heritage. (shrink)
I argue against inferentialism about logic. First, I argue against an analogy between logic and chess, before considering a more basic objection to stipulating inference rules as a way of establishing the meaning of logical constants. The objectionthe Mushroom Omelette Objectionis that stipulative acts are partly constituted by logical notions, and therefore cannot be used to explain logical thought. I then argue that the same problem also attaches to following existing conventional rules, since either those rules have logical (...) contents, or following those conventional rules is done for logical reasons. Lastly, I compare this argument with other arguments found in Quine’s early work, and consider two attempts to reply to Quine. (shrink)
This essay expands on Barry Smith’s paper “Against Fantology” of 2005, which defends the view that analytic philosophy has throughout its history been marked by a tendency to conceive the syntax of first-order predicate logic as a key to ontology. I present fantology (or "F(a)ntology") in the light of a more general and in itself ontologically neutral operation that I call a default ontologization of a language. I then discuss Quine’s views, since he is the most outspoken fantologist in (...) the second half of the twentieth century. As Smith points out, “fantology sometimes takes the form of a thesis according to which the language of standard predicate logic can serve the formulation of the truths of natural science in a uniquely illuminating way”. Hence Quine’s doctrine according to which the ontological commitments of a theory become evident only when the theory has been regimented in fantological clothing. (shrink)
Fictional realists claim that fictional characters like Spiderman really do exist. Against this view, Anthony Everett (2005; 2013) argues that fictional realists cannot determine whether characters α and β are identical if the relevant fiction states that α and β are identical and distinct at the same time. Some fictional realists, such as Ross Cameron (2013) and Richard Woodward (2017), respond to this objection by saying that the sense in which α and β are identical differs from the sense (...) in which they are distinct. In this paper, I argue against Cameron and Woodward, that they cannot handle all cases without undermining the theoretical foundation of their approach, namely, the thesis that the identity of fictional characters must be determined by the content of the relevant fiction. (shrink)
Many contemporary discussions of religion take an absolute, intractable approach to belief and non-belief, which privileges faith and dogmatism while treating doubt as a threat to religious values. As Madhuri M. Yadlapati demonstrates, however, there is another way: a faith that embraces doubt and its potential for exploring both the depths and heights of spiritual reflection and speculation. Through three distinct discussions of faith, doubt, and hope, Yadlapati explores what it means to live creatively and responsibly in the everyday world (...) as limited, imaginative, and questioning creatures. She begins with a perceptive survey of diverse faith experiences in Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Protestant Christianity, then narrows her focus to Protestant Christianity and Hinduism to explore how the great thinkers of those faiths have embraced doubt in the service of spiritual transcendence. Defending the rich tapestry of faith and doubt against polarization, Against Dogmatism reveals a spiritual middle way, an approach native to the long-standing traditions in which faith and doubt are interwoven in constructive and dynamic ways. (shrink)
"Against Ethics is beautifully written, clever, learned, thought-provoking, and even inspiring." —Theological Studies "Writing in the form of his ideas, Caputo offers the reader a truly exquisite reading experience.... his iconic style mirrors a truly refreshing honesty that draws the reader in to play." —Quarterly Journal of Speech "Against Ethics is, in my judgment, one of the most important works on philosophical ethics that has been written in recent years.... Caputo speaks with a passion and a concern that (...) are rare in academic philosophy. His profound sense of humor deepens the passion of the viewpoints he develops." —Mark C. Taylor "Obligation happens!" declares Caputo in this brilliant and witty postmodern critique of ethics, framed as a contemporary restaging of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. (shrink)
Against Nature – Chapter Abstracts Chapter 1. A Transdisciplinary Approach. In this short book you will find philosophy – metaphysical and political - economics, critical theory, complexity theory, ecology, sociology, journalism, and much else besides, along with the signposts and reference texts of the Information Systems field. Such transdisciplinarity is a challenge for both author and reader. Such books are often problematic: sections that are just old hat to one audience are by contrast completely new and difficult to another. (...) My hope is that in the interconnections, arguments and thrust of this polemic, readers will discover both interest and insight, alongside a range of new avenues to explore. This introductory chapter sets the scene – today’s digital world of Tech Giants and Fake News, its roots in the philosophical arguments of the 1920s, and the book’s key claims: (i) that the early 20th century philosophical grounding of today’s digital revolution is culpable in digital’s (growing) contribution to the ecological catastrophe unfolding in the 21st century; (ii) that process philosophy offers a new way to rethink that philosophical grounding, and reshape the digital revolution to support strategies to counter that catastrophe. Chapter 2. The Problem with Digital. This chapter begins with a brief overview of the research approaches in information systems as an academic field, before turning to the deeper roots of its malaise, in individualism, and its looming consequences. The three branches of Information Systems research, in academia, prove to be a useful lens through which to understand the field: Positivism, Interpretivism, and the Critical stance taken by this book. The ‘scientism’ at the root of positivism is examined, and the positivism in Information Systems critiqued as a historically contingent response to the ascendancy of a new brand of economics in Business Schools after the Second World War. But the computational market-fundamentalist form of economics sponsored in the 1950s (and applied by governments since the 1970s) centred around notions of the individual rational actor as an information processor. The philosophical underpinning of methodological and possessive individualism in this approach is exposed, and its influence upon the development – long before computing – of the science of ecology, and our notion of ecosystems, introduced. Chapter 3. The Future Does Not Exist. The philosophical core of the book, this chapter introduces process philosophy. Through an examination of the irreversible reality of subjectivity, Bergson’s famous notion of the durée reélle, and Whitehead’s critique of the bifurcation of subject and object, are introduced. The causally closed ‘time’ of positive science determines existence from the beginning to the end of the universe, be it three seconds or three trillion years. But the reality, of course, is that the future does not exist: our choices are real, and only one of myriad potential futures comes into being at each moment. As Bergson insists, durational succession exists, I am conscious of it; it is a fact. Bergson’s star – once the brightest of any living philosopher in the world – faded almost as quickly as it rose, under the onslaught from the logical positivists whose verificationism insisted that any proposition has no factual meaning if no evidence of observation can count for or against it: all ethics, aesthetics, romance, and metaphysics – and the very subjectivity with which duration is experienced - were thus closed down and dismissed. In this chapter it is reintroduced, to a new audience. Chapter 4. The World in a New Light. Many fundamental problems in the world can be seen as resulting from the false philosophy of bifurcation, fixity, and the reification of abstractions critiqued by process philosophy. Being – with all the isolation and focus upon the individual that it entails – must, if we are to address these problems, be seen as secondary to Becoming, with all the connection, interrelatedness, and complex collectivity that it implies. Choices become clearer, between positivism and interpretivism, between accents upon individualism or collectivism, between reductionist and complex adaptive systems approaches. The systemic individualism in Anglo-American societies can be regarded as actually harmful: the Tech Giants severing ties and bonds rather than connecting us; algebraic ecological models actually breaking the co-dependencies and co-requisites upon which real – complex - ecological health depends. Positivism, built as it is upon methodological individualism, seen in the light of process philosophy, becomes a danger to personal psychological balance – cutting us off from one another; a danger to the social fabric – undermining and impoverishing our civic life; and a danger to the ecological health of the planet – ignoring the immense (eco)systemic impact of our activities over the last centuries upon everything around us in the natural world. Chapter 5. A Theoretical Manifesto for Green IT. We are not islands, and in a process-relational social organisation much must be held in common. We are individuals, but we cannot survive alone. Four different perspectives on individualism show it to be little more than greed. An ecological economics reintegrating the household, the social, the supportive State, and – crucially – the life-giving earth into our polities is introduced and promoted. I introduce the concept of ‘Infomateriality’ – a non-bifurcated digital world where the physical bodies of people - fingers touching keyboards and eyes scanning screens - are as much ‘hardware’ as cabling, circuitboards and haptic interfaces, and the social practices, power relations, and embedded politics within IT artefacts define all such techné as fundamentally social. Abstract divisions are false, and whole, socially embedded systems should be the focus of IS, and from a philosophically and sociologically much deeper perspective. ‘Tech for Good’ is held up as movement in the right direction. My hope is that this book will help promote action, in the field of information systems, toward a better world, where Green Tech for Good is deployed for Nature, rather than against it. (shrink)
Against the Modern World is the first history of Traditionalism, an important yet surprisingly little-known twentieth-century anti-modern movement. Comprising a number of often secret but sometimes very influential religious groups in the West and in the Islamic world, it affected mainstream and radical politics in Europe and the development of the field of religious studies in the United States, touching the lives of many individuals. French writer Rene Guenon rejected modernity as a dark age and sought to reconstruct the (...) Perennial Philosophy - the central truths behind all the major world religions. Guenon stressed the urgent need for the West's remaining spiritual and intellectual elite to find personal and collective salvation in the surviving vestiges of ancient religious traditions. A number of disenchanted intellectuals responded to his call. In Europe, America, and the Islamic world, Traditionalists founded institutes, Sufi brotherhoods, Masonic lodges, and secret societies. Some attempted unsuccessfully to guide Fascism and Nazism along Traditionalist lines; others later participated in political terror in Italy. Traditionalist ideas were the ideological cement for the alliance of anti-democratic forces in post-Soviet Russia, and in the Islamic world entered the debate about the relationship between Islam and modernity. Although its appeal in the West was ultimately limited, Traditionalism has wielded enormous influence in religious studies, through the work of such Traditionalists as Ananda Coomaraswamy, Huston Smith, Mircea Eliade, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. (shrink)
From the school yard to the workplace, there’s no charge more damning than “you’re being unfair!” Born out of democracy and raised in open markets, fairness has become our de facto modern creed. The very symbol of American ethics—Lady Justice—wears a blindfold as she weighs the law on her impartial scale. In our zealous pursuit of fairness, we have banished our urges to like one person more than another, one thing over another, hiding them away as dirty secrets of our (...) humanity. In Against Fairness, polymath philosopher Stephen T. Asma drags them triumphantly back into the light. Through playful, witty, but always serious arguments and examples, he vindicates our unspoken and undeniable instinct to favor, making the case that we would all be better off if we showed our unfair tendencies a little more kindness—indeed, if we favored favoritism. Conscious of the egalitarian feathers his argument is sure to ruffle, Asma makes his point by synthesizing a startling array of scientific findings, historical philosophies, cultural practices, analytic arguments, and a variety of personal and literary narratives to give a remarkably nuanced and thorough understanding of how fairness and favoritism fit within our moral architecture. Examining everything from the survival-enhancing biochemistry that makes our mothers love us to the motivating properties of our “affective community,” he not only shows how we favor but the reasons we should. Drawing on thinkers from Confucius to Tocqueville to Nietzsche, he reveals how we have confused fairness with more noble traits, like compassion and open-mindedness. He dismantles a number of seemingly egalitarian pursuits, from classwide Valentine’s Day cards to civil rights, to reveal the envy that lies at their hearts, going on to prove that we can still be kind to strangers, have no prejudice, and fight for equal opportunity at the same time we reserve the best of what we can offer for those dearest to us. Fed up with the blue-ribbons-for-all absurdity of "fairness" today, and wary of the psychological paralysis it creates, Asma resets our moral compass with favoritism as its lodestar, providing a strikingly new and remarkably positive way to think through all our actions, big and small. (shrink)
In what follows I offer a parodic brief against analytic style philosophy just as it is that style characteristic of professional philosophy of science. I discuss the ad hoc resilience and sophisticated disdain variously operative in analytic discourse, including reviews of the maverick rhetoricism of the late Paul Feyerabend and others towards a critique of the postmodern condition in science and philosophy. What I name continental style philosophical thinking primarily regards the historical and expressly hermeneutic style of thinking found (...) in the reflections on science characteristic of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. Other continental approaches to the philosophy of science growing out of the phenomenological critiques of Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty may be expected to be more congenial to analytic sensibilities as suggested by the recent resurgence of interest in the common roots of continental and analytic style philosophic thinking in Husserl and Frege. An approach combining both hermeneutic and phenomenological styles with a sensitivity to the themes of mainstream or analytic philosophy of science is characteristic of the essays and books of, for one important example, Patrick A. Heelan, but also Joseph Kockelmans and Ted Kisiel, Robert Crease and Joseph Rouse, and so on - among rather not a lot of others. Although scholars advocating continental approaches to the philosophy of science routinely refer to traditional adherents of analytic style philosophy of science, there is no reciprocal recognition on the part of analytical philosophers of science. And as a result there is no received tradition of continental scholarship within the professional establishment of the philosophy of science. Thus the philosophy of science remains an analytic discipline, with continental perspectives excluded by the sovereign expedient of disregard, an absence of critical reference which effects the professional annihilation of scholarship. It is this factor that accounts for - that commands - the mixed style of the present essay. (shrink)
In this paper, I intend to deny the morality and instrumentality of the behavior known as bestiality, or the use of non-human animals for sexual gratification by human beings. While to most modern peoples, this hardly even seems like it should be in question, it should be the nature of the human mind to occasionally question long-standing traditional moray in the hopes of finding solutions to problems and the disbanding of superstition. It has been proposed that the moral question, and (...) by extension the legal question, of bestiality is based on traditions long outlived and unnecessary. In an IceNews.is article written in 2008, Norwegian lawyers were growing concerned over the prevalence of animal brothels in Denmark and the precedent it set for Norway [http://www.icenews.is, 2008]. The article, when coupled with the 2001 article title “Heavy Petting” by prominent Utilitarian philosopher, Peter Singer, proves that the issue of bestiality is no longer the purview of jokes and psychological discussions. I will argue against bestiality as a socially acceptable practice based on five standard premises. The standard premises I will present will contain notes in regard to: instrumentality; consent; disease transmission; deviance; and morality. There is significant work available on the harm done to the beast, so aside from brief summary; the question of the good of the beast is not in the focus. I will also ignore any religious concerns, either surrounding morality or freedom of practice. Instead, these arguments are in support of the moral identity of the individual and of society as a whole. (shrink)
This paper criticizes the epistemological doctrine of moderate rationalism that has been defended in recent years by such writers as Laurence BonJour, Alvin Plantinga, and George Bealer. It is argued that this new form of rationalism is really no better than the old one and that the key claim common to both---that intuition or rational insight provides a satisfactory basis for a priori knowledge---is untenable. Most of the criticism is directed specifically against Laurence BonJour’s recent “dialectical” defense of the (...) doctrine. Since BonJour’s defense is essentially an attempt to show how a priori knowledge is possible, an alternative, empiricist view of a priori knowledge is presented that eludes his objections and is supported by the criticism brought against moderate rationalism. (shrink)
I defend traditional aesthetics against sociological criticism. I argue that “historicist” approaches are not supported by arguments and are intrinsically implausible. Hence the traditional ahistorical philosophical approach to the judgment of taste is justified. Many Marxist, feminist and postmodernist writers either eliminate aesthetic value or reduce it to their favourite political value. Others say that they merely want to give a historical explanation of the culturally local phenomenon of thinking in terms of the aesthetic. As a preliminary, I point (...) out that the conception of the aesthetic these theorists operate with is a straw man. In particular, Kant would have rejected it. I then point out that the empirical evidence does not support their historicist views. Most sociological theorists adduce no evidence, thinking their view obviously correct. Where evidence is adduced, the evidence has little connection with their general historicist conclusions. Lastly, I put pressure on the historicist view, first by appealing to the enormity of the error attributed to ordinary people, and second by appealing to the inevitability of pragmatic inconsistency by those who assert the view. I conclude that traditional philosophical aesthetics was right to be ahistorical. (shrink)
I argue against the analytic moral functionalist view propounded by Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit. I focus on the ‘input’ clauses of our alleged ‘folk moral theory’. I argue that the examples they give of such input clauses cannot plausibly be interpreted as analytic truths. They are in fact substantive moral claims about the moral ‘domain’. It is a substantive claim that all human beings have equal moral standing. There are those who have rejected this, such as Herman Göring. (...) He was loyal to a sub-class of humankind, but he suffered no conceptual confusion. Claims about what is morally relevant are substantive claims that cannot be known on purely conceptual grounds. (shrink)
I argue against the analytic moral functionalist view propounded by Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit. I focus on the ‘input’ clauses of our alleged ‘folk moral theory’. I argue that the examples they give of such input clauses cannot plausibly be interpreted as analytic truths. They are in fact substantive moral claims about the moral ‘domain’. It is a substantive claim that all human beings have equal moral standing. There are those who have rejected this, such as Herman Göring. (...) He was loyal to a sub‐class of humankind, but he suffered no conceptual confusion. Claims about what is morally relevant are substantive claims that cannot be known on purely conceptual grounds. (shrink)
Against Theory is unique in that it puts disparate thinkers from both the analytic and continental traditions into conversation on a central topic in moral philosophy. It also addresses the issue of the impact of postmodernism on ethics, unlike most of the literature on postmodernism which tends to deal with social and political issues rather than ethics. Dwight Furrow's Against Theory is a spirited assessment of two main alternatives to the theoretical approach. One approach, Furrow argues, posits moral (...) life has the form of a narrative and emphasizes the role of historical understanding or imaginative identification in recognizing moral obligation. The second postmodernist alternative, stresses that moral obligation is a feeling of being bound by a presence the source of which cannot be identified through reason or understanding. Furrow's position compellingly negotiates the tension between the living practice of ethics on the one hand, and normative ideals of equality and justice on the other. Furrow questions whether it is possible to resolve this seeming contradition. In doing so, he provides lucidly detailed examinations of such major thinkers as Bernard Williams, Alasdair MacIntyre, Martha Nussbaum, Richard Rorty, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Francois Lyotard. Against Theory 's is a compelling examination of the continental and analytical philosophical ethical traditions. It is one od the few available books that thoroughly considers the impact of postmodernism on the subject and practice of ethics. (shrink)
Up Against Foucault offers both a feminist critique of Foucauldian theories as well as an attempt to reconcile these seemingly irreconcilable perspectives. Feminists are often "up against Foucault" because he questions key conclusions in feminism regarding the nature of gender relations, and men's possession of power. This book, however, fills the gap in literature about Foucault by showing how his theories of sexuality and power relations are often applicable to the everyday realities of women's lives. Drawing upon their (...) diverse backgrounds in social theory and philosophy, the contributors discuss the ways in which Foucault provokes feminists into questioning their grasp of power relations, and examines the implications of his decision to overlook categories of gender in his discussion of sexuality and power relations. They also show that in spite of his lack of interest in gender, Foucault's ways of understanding the control of women and female sexuality ultimately have much to offer feminism. (shrink)
Violence, especially against children, is a very serious problem worldwide. Violence at schools is one aspect of violence against children and it occurs in the similar ways in Turkey as it does in other countries. The studies on the roles and functions of school staff reveal that there is a problem with regard to this issue in Turkey. This study aims to discuss school staff’s ethical roles in ensuring the wellbeing of students in Turkey. The current situation of (...) violence at schools in the country is discussed in terms of the expected roles of school staff. (shrink)
Against Nature examines the history of the concept of nature in the tradition of Critical Theory, with chapters on Lukacs, Horkheimer and Adorno, Marcuse, and Habermas. It argues that the tradition has been marked by significant difficulties with respect to that concept; that these problems are relevant to contemporary environmental philosophy as well; and that a solution to them requires taking seriously--and literally--the idea of nature as socially constructed.
In Against Moral Responsibility, Bruce Waller launches a spirited attack on a system that is profoundly entrenched in our society and its institutions, deeply rooted in our emotions, and vigorously defended by philosophers from ancient times to the present. Waller argues that, despite the creative defenses of it by contemporary thinkers, moral responsibility cannot survive in our naturalistic-scientific system. The scientific understanding of human behavior and the causes that shape human character, he contends, leaves no room for moral responsibility. (...) Waller argues that moral responsibility in all its forms--including criminal justice, distributive justice, and all claims of just deserts--is fundamentally unfair and harmful and that its abolition will be liberating and beneficial. What we really want--natural human free will, moral judgments, meaningful human relationships, creative abilities--would survive and flourish without moral responsibility. In the course of his argument, Waller examines the origins of the basic belief in moral responsibility, proposes a naturalistic understanding of free will, offers a detailed argument against moral responsibility and critiques arguments in favor of it, gives a general account of what a world without moral responsibility would look like, and examines the social and psychological aspects of abolishing moral responsibility. Waller not only mounts a vigorous, and philosophically rigorous, attack on the moral responsibility system, but also celebrates the benefits that would result from its total abolition. (shrink)
This work by an accomplished and respected comparative philosopher criticizes the Western ideology of individualism from the perspective of a Confucian morality of the family. Individualism is a name for the Enlightenment era ideology of the autonomous individual. The philosophical pillars of this ideology are Locke and especially Kant, and it runs through practically all modern moral philosophy. It is the moral psychology of classical liberalism, no less than of its libertarian and communitarian critics. They are different politically, but ontologically (...) of a piece. Individual selves—rational, calculating, selfish, autonomous—are what we are. Rosemont thinks this ideology is philosophically wrong, morally, politically, and ecologically destructive, but also optional. We sometimes feel painted into a corner where the only alternatives seem to be unrestrained freedom or totalitarian dictatorship. Moral philosophy still awaits the end of the Cold War. It would be good for people to understand that there are more options. Rosemont thinks Confucianism is one of them—a Confucianism for post-modern or even post-Western Westerners, with an ideology of the family that Rosemont thinks is more amenable than indigenous alternatives to our moral and ecological crises. “The vision of classical Confucianism can be reclaimed today with its integrity basically intact.” Rosemont advances two points. First, Confucian moral psychology conceives of the person as the bearer of roles. We are our roles as the onion is its leaves, without a an essential core self. Placing roles at the center of moral psychology eliminates the value of impersonal rules or universal principles. There are many ways to be a good father, teacher, friend, or son. Moral decency acquires an almost aesthetic quality, as our approach to roles (our own and those of others) expresses such qualities as zest, grace, or tenderness. His second point is that the moral center of Confucian philosophy is the family. The family is largely ignored in Western ethical tradition. Plato wanted to eliminate family life for his guardians. Kant, Bentham, and Mill have nothing useful to say about the family. For Rosemont the family is the first and best school for morality. It is there, if at all, that we learn to love, trust, cooperate, and obey. Rosemont’s best pages describe the important Confucian concept of family reverence (xiao). The gist is unswerving loyalty to parents, obligations extending even beyond death. It is easy for Western people to misunderstand that. Confucian tradition has a carefully worked out idea of filial reverence, and it should not be dismissed with a label (paternalistic, dogmatic, Asiatic). Obedience is expected, but not servility. In the inter-generational family, the child obeys the parents, but also sees parents obeying grandparents. Remonstrance is expected when appropriate. Deference motivated by gratitude can be genuinely appreciative without fawning, and dissent can remain respectful and polite. Rosemont believes that filial reverence is a way of life as open to anyone today as it was to Chinese two thousand years ago. Confucianism is a relentlessly secular philosophy. It entails practically no theological or metaphysical commitments, and contains little if anything to offend modern scientific sensibilities. This moral philosophy is at once remote (from individualism) and close, familiar, a fairly straightforward account of how we actually live our lives. Rosemont carefully argues that Confucian ideas of family are flexible enough to accommodate progressive ideals, and may even be our best hope against sexism, racism, homophobia, and other anti-humanistic altitudes and behaviors. He urges this version of Confucianism as a human-centered spirituality for a global civilization suspicious of discredited universalism. All cultures are made of families. How alien can they be? Respect for and accommodation with diversity begins in the family, when people learn from infancy to enjoy contributing to the well-being of others. While it would be wrong to expect Western people to abandon their Greek or Abrahamic heritage, those values might be reordered in light of Confucian thought, which deserves to be better understood in the West. A traditional Confucian might be baffled and dismayed by things that pass for normal in modern families, but our families could be better at what they have to be anyway by absorbing Confucian wisdom. There is a growing body of literature on Confucianism and virtue ethics. It is worth noting that Rosemont’s thought is probably the leading alternative to this paradigm in comparative moral philosophy. He takes an uncompromisingly critical attitude toward this particular effort to build a bridge from West to East by attributing to the Confucians a Western virtue ethics, which is, he thinks, objectionably individualistic in all its usual forms. (shrink)
Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) was a cultural philosopher, sociologist, literary critic, and historian of music who, along with Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, and Erich Fromm, founded the Frankfurt School. Against Epistemology is one of his most important works.
At once provocative and inspiring_, Against the Flow_ is a work of polemic from an internationally respected writer and thinker on arts education. Peter Abbs argues that contemporary education ignores the aesthetic and ethical as a result of being in thrall to such forces as the market economy and managerial and functional dictates. He identifies the present education system as being inimical to creativity and authentic learning and instead, narrowly focused on the quantitative measuring of results. This absence of (...) a creative and ethical dimension in education has implications for art making in wider society. Art is shown as emerging from, and appealing to, the ironic postmodernist sensibility and mass media-led culture, while being devoid of philosophical significance. This book opens up a fresh and timely debate about the vital power of creativity in modern education. Drawing on examples from modern poetry, literature and visual art, it is an eloquent and passionate argument for the need to develop ethical and aesthetic energies to confront the growing vacuity of contemporary culture. (shrink)
Knowledge closure is the claim that, if an agent S knows P, recognizes that P implies Q, and believes Q because it is implied by P, then S knows Q. Closure is a pivotal epistemological principle that is widely endorsed by contemporary epistemologists. Against Knowledge Closure is the first book-length treatment of the issue and the most sustained argument for closure failure to date. Unlike most prior arguments for closure failure, Marc Alspector-Kelly's critique of closure does not presuppose any (...) particular epistemological theory; his argument is, instead, intuitively compelling and applicable to a wide variety of epistemological views. His discussion ranges over much of the epistemological landscape, including skepticism, warrant, transmission and transmission failure, fallibilism, sensitivity, safety, evidentialism, reliabilism, contextualism, entitlement, circularity and bootstrapping, justification, and justification closure. As a result, the volume will be of interest to any epistemologist or student of epistemology and related subjects. (shrink)
In Against Purity, Alexis Shotwell proposes a powerful new conception of social movements as custodians for the past and incubators for liberated futures. Against Purity undertakes an analysis that draws on theories of race, disability, gender, and animal ethics as a foundation for an innovative approach to the politics and ethics of responding to systemic problems.
Modularity is a fundamental doctrine in the cognitive sciences. It holds a preeminent position in cognitive psychology and generative linguistics, as well as a long history in neurophysiology, with roots going all the way back to the early nineteenth century. But a mature field of neuroscience is a comparatively recent phenomenon and has challenged orthodox conceptions of the modular mind. One way of accommodating modularity within the new framework suggested by these developments is to go for increasingly soft versions of (...) modularity. One such version, which I call the “system” view, is so soft that it promises to meet practically any challenge neuroscience can throw at it. In this paper, I reconsider afresh what we ought to regard as the sine qua non of modularity and offer a few arguments against the view that an insipid “system” module could be the legitimate successor of the traditional notion. (shrink)
Recent years have brought relativistic accounts of knowledge, first-person belief, and future contingents to prominence. I discuss these views, distinguish non-trivial from trivial forms of relativism, and then argue against relativism in all of its substantive varieties.
On the State of Nature and On the Sovereignty of the People are Maistre's most comprehensive treatment of Rousseau's ideas and his most sustained critique of the ideological foundations of the revolution. On the State of Nature, a detailed critique of Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality, focuses on Rousseau's belief in the natural goodness of man; On the Sovereignty of the People, a critique of Social Contract, explores Rousseau's theory of popular sovereignty. In Maistre's eyes Rousseau (...) encouraged the socially destructive individualism that lay at the heart of the French Revolution. However, the essays reveal some surprising ambiguities in the relationship between two seminal thinkers who are usually thought of as polar opposites, suggesting that Maistre's vision was more akin to Rousseau's than he would have admitted. Against Rousseau offers valuable insights into the evolution of Maistre's counter-revolutionary ideas during the crucial years of 1792-97 and illustrates his remarkable insights into society and politics. It is vital to any consideration of his thought or the counter-revolutionary movement in eighteenth-century France. (shrink)
Sextus Empiricus was a Pyrrhonist skeptic. Although his dates and many of the details of his life are uncertain, he probably lived in the second century A.D. Our knowledge of his philosophical skepticism is drawn primarily from a series of skeptical treatises which have survived, usually titled in English, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Against the Logicians, Against the Physicists, Against the Learned, and Against the Ethicists. These works are invaluable, not only for the insights which they provide (...) into Pyrrhonism, but also for their sustained criticisms, elucidating in themselves, of doctrines held by the dogmatic philosophers whom Sextus opposes. (shrink)
Samuel Clarke was one of Spinoza's earliest and fiercest opponents in England. I uncover three related Clarkean arguments against Spinoza's metaphysic that deserve more attention from readers today. Collectively, these arguments draw out a tension at the very heart of Spinoza's rationalist system. From the conjunction of a necessary being who acts necessarily and the principle of sufficient reason, Clarke reasons that there could be none of the diversity we find in the universe. In doing so, Clarke potentially reveals (...) an inconsistent triad in Spinoza. Responses to this inconsistency map onto a deep division in the contemporary Spinoza literature. I conclude that Clarke's arguments provide a new approach to the recently revived debate over acosmic interpretations of Spinoza and point to new interpretive possibilities. (shrink)