Formalised knowledge systems, including universities and research institutes, are important for contemporary societies. They are, however, also arguably failing humanity when their impact is measured against the level of progress being made in stimulating the societal changes needed to address challenges like climate change. In this research we used a novel futures-oriented and participatory approach that asked what future envisioned knowledge systems might need to look like and how we might get there. Findings suggest that envisioned future systems will need (...) to be much more collaborative, open, diverse, egalitarian, and able to work with values and systemic issues. They will also need to go beyond producing knowledge about our world to generating wisdom about how to act within it. To get to envisioned systems we will need to rapidly scale methodological innovations, connect innovators, and creatively accelerate learning about working with intractable challenges. We will also need to create new funding schemes, a global knowledge commons, and challenge deeply held assumptions. To genuinely be a creative force in supporting longevity of human and non-human life on our planet, the shift in knowledge systems will probably need to be at the scale of the enlightenment and speed of the scientific and technological revolution accompanying the second World War. This will require bold and strategic action from governments, scientists, civic society and sustained transformational intent. (shrink)
In Feminist, Queer, Crip Alison Kafer imagines a different future for disability and disabled bodies. Challenging the ways in which ideas about the future and time have been deployed in the service of compulsory able-bodiedness and able-mindedness, Kafer rejects the idea of disability as a pre-determined limit. She juxtaposes theories, movements, and identities such as environmental justice, reproductive justice, cyborg theory, transgender politics, and disability that are typically discussed in isolation and envisions new possibilities for crip futures and feminist/queer/crip (...) alliances. This bold book goes against the grain of normalization and promotes a political framework for a more just world. (shrink)
In this long-awaited compendium of new and newly revised essays, Alison Wylie explores how archaeologists know what they know. -/- Preprints available for download. Please see entry for specific article of interest.
Alison Wylie is one of the few full-time academic philosophers of the social and historical sciences on the planet today. And fortunately for us, she happens to specialise in archaeology! After emerging onto the archaeological theory scene in the mid-1980s with her work on analogy, she has continued to work on philosophical questions raised by archaeological practice. In particular, she explores the status of evidence and ideals of objectivity in contemporary archaeology: how do we think we know about the (...) past? Her other key interests include feminist initiatives in Anglo-American archaeology, and ethical conflicts in current archaeological practice. Kathryn Denning recently asked about her adventures in archaeology and academia and her thoughts on archaeology’s past, present, and future. (shrink)
In this wide-ranging interview with three members of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sao Paolo (Brazil) Wylie explains how she came to work on philosophical issues raised in and by archaeology, describes the contextualist challenges to ‘received view’ models of confirmation and explanation in archaeology that inform her work on the status of evidence and contextual ideals of objectivity, and discusses the role of non-cognitive values in science. She also is pressed to explain what’s feminist about feminist (...) research and in that connection outlines her account of feminist standpoint theory and the relevance of feminist analysis to science. (shrink)
Artificial Knowing challenges the masculine slant in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) view of the world. Alison Adam admirably fills the large gap in science and technology studies by showing us that gender bias is inscribed in AI-based computer systems. Her treatment of feminist epistemology, focusing on the ideas of the knowing subject, the nature of knowledge, rationality and language, are bound to make a significant and powerful contribution to AI studies. Drawing from theories by Donna Haraway and Sherry Turkle, (...) and using tools of feminist epistemology, Adam provides a sustained critique of AI which interestingly re-enforces many of the traditional criticisms of the AI project. Artificial Knowing is an esential read for those interested in gender studies, science and technology studies, and philosophical debates in AI. (shrink)
I argue that understanding why p involves a kind of intellectual know how and differsfrom both knowledge that p and knowledge why p (as they are standardly understood).I argue that understanding, in this sense, is valuable.
In this book, Alison Ross engages in a detailed study of Walter Benjamin’s concept of the image, exploring the significant shifts in Benjamin’s approach to the topic over the course of his career. Using Kant’s treatment of the topic of sensuous form in his aesthetics as a comparative reference, Ross argues that Benjamin’s thinking on the image undergoes a major shift between his 1924 essay on ‘Goethe’s Elective Affinities ,’ and his work on The Arcades Project from 1927 up (...) until his death in 1940 . The two periods of Benjamin’s writing share a conception of the image as a potent sensuous force able to provide a frame of existential meaning. In the earlier period this function attracts Benjamin’s critical attention, whereas in the later he mobilises it for revolutionary outcomes. The book gives a critical treatment of the shifting assumptions in Benjamin’s writing about the image that warrant this altered view. It draws on hermeneutic studies of meaning, scholarship in the history of religions and key texts from the modern history of aesthetics to track the reversals and contradictions in the meaning functions that Benjamin attaches to the image in the different periods of his thinking. Above all, it shows the relevance of a critical consideration of Benjamin’s writing on the image for scholarship in visual culture, critical theory, aesthetics and philosophy more broadly. (shrink)
John Fischer and Mark Ravizza defend in this book a painstakingly constructed analysis of what they take to be a core condition of moral responsibility: the notion of guidance control. The volume usefully collects in one place ideas and arguments the authors have previously published in singly or jointly authored works on this and related topics, as well as various refinements to those views and some suggestive discussions that aim to show how their account of guidance control might fit into (...) a more comprehensive account of moral responsibility. (shrink)
We propose that children employ specialized cognitive systems that allow them to recover an accurate “causal map” of the world: an abstract, coherent, learned representation of the causal relations among events. This kind of knowledge can be perspicuously understood in terms of the formalism of directed graphical causal models, or “Bayes nets”. Children’s causal learning and inference may involve computations similar to those for learning causal Bayes nets and for predicting with them. Experimental results suggest that 2- to 4-year-old children (...) construct new causal maps and that their learning is consistent with the Bayes net formalism. (shrink)
This short article argues that an adequate response to the implications for governance raised by ‘Big Data’ requires much more attention to agency and reflexivity than theories of ‘algorithmic power’ have so far allowed. It develops this through two contrasting examples: the sociological study of social actors used of analytics to meet their own social ends and the study of actors’ attempts to build an economy of information more open to civic intervention than the existing one. The article concludes with (...) a consideration of the broader norms that might contextualise these empirical studies, and proposes that they can be understood in terms of the notion of voice, although the practical implementation of voice as a norm means that voice must sometimes be considered via the notion of transparency. (shrink)
Issues of global justice have received increasing attention in academic philosophy in recent years but the gendered dimensions of these issues are often overlooked or treated as peripheral. This groundbreaking collection by Alison Jaggar brings gender to the centre of philosophical debates about global justice. -/- The explorations presented here range far beyond the limited range of issues often thought to constitute feminists’ concerns about global justice, such as female seclusion, genital cutting, and sex trafficking. Instead, established and emerging (...) scholars expose the gendered and racialized aspects of transnational divisions of paid and unpaid labor, class formation, taxation, migration, mental health, the so-called resource curse, and conceptualizations of violence, honor, and consent. Jaggar's introduction explains how these and other feminist investigations of the transnational order raise deep challenges to assumptions about justice that for centuries have underpinned Western political philosophy. -/- Taken together the pieces in this volume present a sustained philosophical engagement with gender and global justice. Gender and Global Justice provides an accessible and original perspective on this important field and looks set to reframe philosophical reflection on global justice. (shrink)
The supplemented edition of this important reader includes a substantive new introduction by the author on the changing nature of feminist methodology. It takes into account the implications of a major new study included for this first time in this book on poverty and gender (in)equality, and it includes an article discussing the ways in which this study was conducted using the research methods put forward by the first edition. This article begins by explaining why a new and better poverty (...) metric is needed and why developing such a metric requires an alternative methodological approach inspired by feminism. Feminist research is a growing tradition of inquiry that aims to produce knowledge not biased by inequitable assumptions about gender and related categories such as class, race, religion, sexuality, and nationality."Just Methods" is designed for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in a range of disciplines. Rather than being concerned with particular techniques of inquiry, the interdisciplinary readings in this book address broad questions of research methodology. They are designed to help researchers think critically and constructively about the epistemological and ethical implications of various approaches to research selection and research design, evidence-gathering techniques, and publication of results.A key theme running through the readings is the complex interrelationship between social power and inequality on the one hand and the production of knowledge on the other. A second and related theme is the inseparability of research projects and methodologies from ethical and political values. (shrink)
Understanding causal structure is a central task of human cognition. Causal learning underpins the development of our concepts and categories, our intuitive theories, and our capacities for planning, imagination and inference. During the last few years, there has been an interdisciplinary revolution in our understanding of learning and reasoning: Researchers in philosophy, psychology, and computation have discovered new mechanisms for learning the causal structure of the world. This new work provides a rigorous, formal basis for theory theories of concepts and (...) cognitive development, and moreover, the causal learning mechanisms it has uncovered go dramatically beyond the traditional mechanisms of both nativist theories, such as modularity theories, and empiricist ones, such as association or connectionism. (shrink)
Archaeological facts have a perplexing character; they are often seen as less likely to “lie,” capable of bearing tangible, material witness to actual conditions of life, actions and events, but at the same time they are notoriously fragmentary and enigmatic, and disturbingly vulnerable to dispersal and attrition. As Trouillot (1995) argues for historical inquiry, the identification, selection, interpretation and narration of archaeological facts is a radically constructive process. Rather than conclude on this basis that archaeological facts and fictions are indistinguishable, (...) I identify a number of strategies that archaeologists rely on to make discerning use of “legacy” data – archaeological data recovered and curated over for decades, even centuries, often for very different purposes than those that animate contemporary archaeological inquiry. These include source criticism, secondary retrieval, repositioning and recontextualizing these data in ways that can, sometimes radically shift the “facts” associated with them. The construction of critical genealogies of these facts – the travels and transformations of the material, interpretive and narrative facts of archaeology – is a crucial condition for the successful exploitation of these epistemic possibilities. (shrink)
The Beloved Self is about the holy grail of moral philosophy, an argument against egoism that proves that we all have reasons to be moral. Part One introduces three different versions of egoism. Part Two looks at attempts to prove that egoism is false, and shows that even the more modest arguments that do not try to answer the egoist in her own terms seem to fail. But in part Three, Hills defends morality and develops a new problem for egoism, (...) an epistemological problem. She shows that it is not epistemically rational to believe the most plausible versions of egoism. The first part of the book will be most relevant to those interested in moral theory, as it contains detailed discussions of recent interpretations of virtue ethics and especially of Kant's moral theory. The second and third part of the book turn to epistemology, particularly moral epistemology, and include an account of the relationship between knowledge and action, a new theory of moral understanding, and a discussion of the epistemically rational response to various kinds of disagreement. Hills also defends a new account of virtue and of morally worthy action. (shrink)
The doctrine (or principle) of double effect is often invoked to explain the permissibility of an action that causes a serious harm, such as the death of a human being, as a side effect of promoting some good end. According to the principle of double effect, sometimes it is permissible to cause a harm as a side effect (or “double effect”) of bringing about a good result even though it would not be permissible to cause such a harm as a (...) means to bringing about the same good end. Does the principle of double effect play the important explanatory role that has been claimed for it? To consider this question, one must be careful to clarify just what the principle is supposed to explain. Three misinterpretations of the principle’s force or range of application are common. 1. To ensure that Double Effect is not misunderstood as principle issuing a blanket permission on causing any unintended harm that yields a benefit, applications must require that the agent seek to minimize the harm involved. 2. Since it is widely accepted that it is wrong to aim to produce harm to someone as an end, to rule this out is not part of double effect’s distinctive content. 3. Harms that were produced regretfully and only for the sake of producing a good end may be prohibited by double effect because they were brought about as part of the agent’s means to realizing the good end. (shrink)
We standardly evaluate counterfactuals and abilities in temporally asymmetric terms—by keeping the past fixed and holding the future open. Only future events depend counterfactually on what happens now. Past events do not. Conversely, past events are relevant to what abilities one has now in a way that future events are not. Lewis, Sider and others continue to evaluate counterfactuals and abilities in temporally asymmetric terms, even in cases of backwards time travel. I’ll argue that we need more temporally neutral methods. (...) The past shouldn’t always be held fixed, because backwards time travel requires backwards counterfactual dependence. Future events should sometimes be held fixed, because they’re in the causal history of the past, and agents have evidence of them independently of their decisions now. We need temporally neutral methods to maintain connections between causation, counterfactuals and evidence, and if counterfactuals are used to explain the temporal asymmetry of causation. (shrink)
This paper argues that Spinoza does not take extension in space to be a fundamental property of physical things. This means that when Spinoza calls either substance or a mode “an Extended thing”, he does not mean that it is a thing extended in three dimensions. The argument proceeds by showing, first, that Spinoza does not associate extension in space with substance, and second, that finite bodies, or physical things, are not understood through the intellect when they are conceived as (...) extended in space. I conclude by articulating some suggestions about where we should go from here in trying to understand Spinoza’s account of the attribute of extension and of the physical world. (shrink)
I will introduce six constraints that should guide the formulation and use of DE. One goal in listing them is to engage in dialectical fair play by ruling out criticisms of the doctrine that are directed at misformulations of DE or that result from misapplications of it. Each of these constraints should be acceptable to any proponent of DE. Yet when these constraints on the application of DE are respected, it becomes clear that many of the examples provided as illustrations (...) of DE actually illustrate other, more interesting uses of the contrast between intention and foresight. (shrink)
I argue that explanation should be thought of as the phenomenological mark of the operation of a particular kind of cognitive system, the theory-formation system. The theory-formation system operates most clearly in children and scientists but is also part of our everyday cognition. The system is devoted to uncovering the underlying causal structure of the world. Since this process often involves active intervention in the world, in the case of systematic experiment in scientists, and play in children, the cognitive system (...) is accompanied by a theory drive, a motivational system that impels us to interpret new evidence in terms of existing theories and change our theories in the light of new evidence. What we usually think of as explanation is the phenomenological state that accompanies the satisfaction of this drive. However, the relation between the phenomenology and the cognitive system is contingent, as in similar cases of sexual and visual phenomenology. Distinctive explanatory phenomenology may also help us to identify when the theory-formation system is operating. (shrink)
There are temporal asymmetries in our attitudes towards the past and future. For example, we judge that a given amount of work is worth twice as much if it is described as taking place in the future, compared to the past :796–801, 2008). Does this temporal value asymmetry support a tensed metaphysics? By getting clear on the asymmetry’s features, I’ll argue that it doesn’t. To support a tensed metaphysics, the value asymmetry would need to not vary with temporal distance, apply (...) equally to events concerning oneself and others, and be rational and judged to be so. But evidence suggests the value asymmetry lacks these features. There are, moreover, independent arguments against its rationality. The asymmetry’s features suggest instead that it arises as an emotion-driven generalisation from a temporal bias concerning our future actions. This explanation points towards mechanisms that can play a role in explaining other instances where we generalise about the past and future, and why we’re tempted towards metaphysical pictures of time. (shrink)
Traditional accounts of the emergence of professional biology have privileged not only metropolis over province, but research over teaching and laboratory over museum. This paper seeks to supplement earlier studies of the ‘transformation of biology’ in the late nineteenth century by exploring in detail the developments within three biology departments in Northern English civic colleges. By outlining changes in the teaching practices, research topics and the accommodation of the departments, the authors demonstrate both locally contingent factors in their development and (...) continuities with existing traditions in natural history. The appointment of Arthur Milnes Marshall in preference to Louis Miall to the new zoology chair in Manchester in 1879 casts light on contemporary views of the laboratory and museum as ‘equal though different’. The transformation in biology, in Northern England at least, was shaped more by such local institutional changes than by a phoenix-like rise of the laboratory from the ashes of the museum—more by the rhetorical construction of a professional academic community than any dramatic shift in sites. In this period the biology laboratory supplemented, rather than eclipsed, the museum, and the dichotomy between the ‘naturalist’ and the ‘experimentalist’ was far from clear-cut. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are powerful similarities between cognitive development in children and scientific theory change. These similarities are best explained by postulating an underlying abstract set of rules and representations that underwrite both types of cognitive abilities. In fact, science may be successful largely because it exploits powerful and flexible cognitive devices that were designed by evolution to facilitate learning in young children. Both science and cognitive development involve abstract, coherent systems of entities and rules, theories. In both (...) cases, theories provide predictions, explanations, and interpretations. In both, theories change in characteristic ways in response to counterevidence. These ideas are illustrated by an account of children's developing understanding of the mind. (shrink)
What did Leibniz have to contribute to the philosophy of mind? To judge from textbooks in the philosophy of mind, and even Leibniz commentaries, the answer is: not much. That may be because Leibniz’s philosophy of mind looks roughly like a Cartesian philosophy of mind. Like Descartes and his followers, Leibniz claims that the mind is immaterial and immortal; that it is a thinking thing ; that it is a different kind of thing from body and obeys its own laws; (...) and that it comes stocked with innate truth-tracking intellectual ideas and an epistemically troubling habit of forming confused sensory ideas on the occasion of external corporeal events. Nothing is new. Of course, Leibniz adds unconscious perceptions to the mind in the form of his famous petites perceptions, and he offers a unique solution to the problem of mind-body interaction in the form of his infamous pre-established harmony. In the overall scheme of things, however, these look like minor alterations in a philosophy of mind that the Cartesians had been advocating for some fifty years. Or so it appears. (shrink)
Analysis of online mathematics forums can help reveal how explanation is used by mathematicians; we contend that this use of explanation may help to provide an informal conceptualization of simplicity. We extracted six conjectures from recent philosophical work on the occurrence and characteristics of explanation in mathematics. We then tested these conjectures against a corpus derived from online mathematical discussions. To this end, we employed two techniques, one based on indicator terms, the other on a random sample of comments lacking (...) such indicators. Our findings suggest that explanation is widespread in mathematical practice and that it occurs not only in proofs but also in other mathematical contexts. Our work also provides further evidence for the utility of empirical methods in addressing philosophical problems. (shrink)
The rise of applied biology was one of the most striking features of the biological sciences in the early 20th century. Strongly oriented toward agriculture, this was closely associated with the growth of a number of disciplines, notably, entomology and mycology. This period also saw a marked expansion of the English University system, and biology departments in the newly inaugurated civic universities took an early and leading role in the development of applied biology through their support of Economic Biology. This (...) sought explicitly to promote the application of biological knowledge to economically important problems and especially to agriculture. The impact of Economic Biology was felt most strongly within Zoology, where it became synonymous with entomology. The transience of Economic Biology belies its significance, for example, in providing a means for the expansion of biology at the civic universities. More broadly, it opened up new research and employment opportunities within the life sciences. In late Edwardian Britain, newly available state funds for agriculturally relevant biological disciplines transformed the life sciences. This paper examines the impact of these funds -- mobilized either under the 1909 Development Act, or under the auspices of colonial interests -- on Economic Biology and the institutionalization of applied biology. The rise and fall of Economic Biology casts new light on the way in which institutional and political alignments profoundly shaped the development of British biology. (shrink)
Abstract: If anger is the emotion of injustice, and if most injustices have prominent epistemic dimensions, then where is the anger in epistemic injustice? Despite the question my task is not to account for the lack of attention to anger in epistemic injustice discussions. Instead, I argue that a particular texture of transformative anger – a knowing resistant anger – offers marginalized knowers a powerful resource for countering epistemic injustice. I begin by making visible the anger that saturates the silences (...) that epistemic injustices repeatedly manufacture and explain the obvious: silencing practices produce angry experiences. I focus on tone policing and tone vigilance to illustrate the relationship between silencing and angry knowledge management. Next, I use María Lugones’s pluralist account of anger to bring out the epistemic dimensions of knowing resistant anger in a way that also calls attention to their histories and felt textures. The final section draws on feminist scholarship about the transformative power of angry knowledge to suggest how it might serve as a resource for resisting epistemic injustice. (shrink)
This paper problematises the ways women’s leadership has been understood in relation to male leadership rather than on its own terms. Focusing specifically on ethical leadership, we challenge and politicise the symbolic status of women in leadership by considering the practice of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In so doing, we demonstrate how leadership ethics based on feminised ideals such as care and empathy are problematic in their typecasting of women as being simply the other to men. We apply (...) different strategies of mimesis for developing feminist leadership ethics that does not derive from the masculine. This offers a radical vision for leadership that liberates the feminine and women’s subjectivities from the masculine order. It also offers a practical project for changing women’s working lives through relationality, intercorporeality, collective agency and ethical openness with the desire for fundamental political transformation in the ways in which women can lead. (shrink)
At least since Augustine, philosophers have constructed developmental just-so stories about the origins of certain concepts. In these just-so stories, philosophers tell us how children must develop these concepts. However, philosophers have by and large neglected the empirical data about how children actually do develop their ideas about the world. At best they have used information about children in an anecdotal and unsystematic, though often illuminating, way.
What is the relationship between evolutionary contingency and diversity? The evolutionary contingency thesis emphasizes dependency relations and chance as the hallmarks of evolution. While contingency can be destructive of, for example, the fragile and complex dynamics in an ecosystem, I will mainly focus on the productive or causal aspect of contingency for a particular sort of diversity. There are many sorts of diversities: Gould is most famous for his diversity-to-decimation model, which includes disparate body plans distinguishing different phyla. However, structural (...) diversity construed more broadly spans scales, such as organization in and among cells, structural arrangements and biomechanics on various scales, and even the profile of ancestor-descendent relationships or community structure of interactions within ecosystems. By focusing on stochastic processes in contingent evolution, I argue that contingency causes structural diversity. Specifically, I focus on the plurality of structural types of cells, genetic codes, and phyla diversity as case studies. (shrink)
Alison Stone investigates how human existence is conditioned by the fact that it begins with birth. How does birth shape the way we are in the world, and the meaning of our lives? Philosophers have written much about death, but neglected birth. Stone brings natality into philosophical view, offering fascinating insights into the human condition.