Underlying the recent focus on embodied and interactive aspects of social understanding are several intuitions about what roles the body, interaction processes, and interpersonal experience play. In this paper, we introduce a systematic, hands-on method for investigating the experience of interacting and its role in intersubjectivity. Special about this method is that it starts from the idea that researchers of social understanding are themselves one of the best tools for their own investigations. The method provides ways for researchers to calibrate (...) and to trust themselves as sophisticated instruments to help generate novel insights into human interactive experience. We present the basics of the method, and two empirical studies. The first is a video-study on autism, which shows greater refinement in the way people with autism embody their social interactions than previously thought. The second is a study of thinking in live interactions, which provides insight into the common feeling that too much thinking can hamper interaction, and into how this kind of interactional awkwardness might be unblocked. (shrink)
Essays in Memory of Richard Helgerson: Laureations brings together new essays by leading literary scholars of the British and European middle ages and early modern period who have been influenced by the groundbreaking scholarship of Richard Helgerson. The contributors evince the ongoing impact of Helgerson's work in critical debates including those of nationalism, formal analysis, and literary careerism.
Individual objects have potentials: paper has the potential to burn, an acorn has the potential to turn into a tree, some people have the potential to run a mile in less than four minutes. Barbara Vetter provides a systematic investigation into the metaphysics of such potentials, and an account of metaphysical modality based on them. -/- In contemporary philosophy, potentials have been recognized mostly in the form of so-called dispositions: solubility, fragility, and so on. Vetter takes dispositions as her (...) starting point, but argues for and develops a more comprehensive conception of potentiality. She shows how, with this more comprehensive conception, an account of metaphysical modality can be given that meets three crucial requirements: Extensional correctness: providing the right truth-values for statements of possibility and necessity; formal adequacy: providing the right logic for metaphysical modality; and semantic utility: providing a semantics that links ordinary modal language to the metaphysics of modality. -/- The resulting view of modality is a version of dispositionalism about modality: it takes modality to be a matter of the dispositions of individual objects. This approach has a long philosophical tradition going back to Aristotle, but has been largely neglected in contemporary philosophy. In recent years, it has become a live option again due to the rise of anti-Humean, powers-based metaphysics. The aim of Potentiality is to develop the dispositionalist view in a way that takes account of contemporary developments in metaphysics, logic, and semantics. (shrink)
I compare Locke's views on the nature and powers of the self with E. J. Lowe's view, ‘non-Cartesian substance dualism’. Lowe agrees with Locke that persons have a power to choose or not to choose. Lowe takes this power to be non-causal. I argue that this move does not obviously succeed in evading the notorious interaction problem that arises for all forms of substance dualism, including those of Locke and Descartes. However, I am sympathetic to Lowe's attempt to give a (...) metaphysical account of a robust sort of agency that would explain how human beings might be genuinely autonomous. (shrink)
How does thinking affect doing? There is a widely held view that thinking about what you are doing, as you are doing it, hinders performance. Once you have acquired the ability to putt a golf ball, play an arpeggio on the piano, or parallel-park, reflecting on your actions leads to inaccuracies, blunders, and sometimes even utter paralysis--that's what is widely believed. But is it true? After exploring some of the contemporary and historical manifestations of the idea, Barbara Gail Montero (...) develops a theory of expertise which emphasizes the role of the conscious mind in expert action. She aims to dispel various myths about experts who proceed without any understanding of what guides their action, and she analyzes research in both philosophy and psychology that is taken to show that conscious control and explicit monitoring of one's movements impedes well practiced skills. Montero explores a wide range of real-life examples of optimal performance, in sports, the performing arts, healthcare, the military, and other fields, and draws from psychology, neuroscience, and literature to offer a refreshing and persuasive view of expertise, according to which expert action generally is and ought to be thoughtful, effortful, and reflective. (shrink)
Mitchell: Could we begin by discussing the problem of public art? When we spoke a few weeks ago, you expressed some uneasiness with the notion of public art, and I wonder if you could expand on that a bit.Kruger: Well, you yourself lodged it as the “problem” of public art and I don’t really find it problematic inasmuch as I really don’t give it very much thought. I think on a broader level I could say that my “problem” is with (...) categorization and naming: how does one constitute art and how does one constitute a public? Sometimes I think that if architecture is a slab of meat, then so-called public art is a piece of garnish laying next to it. It has a kind of decorative function. Now I’m not saying that it always has to be that way—at all—and I think perhaps that many of my colleagues are working to change that now. But all too often, it seems the case.Mitchell: Do you think of your own art, insofar as it’s engaged with the commercial public sphere—that is, with advertising, publicity, mass media, and other technologies for influencing a consumer public—that it is automatically a form of public art? Or does it stand in opposition to public art?Kruger: I have a question for you: what is a public sphere which is an uncommercial public sphere? Barbara Kruger is an artist who works with words and pictures. W. J. T. Mitchell, editor of Critical Inquiry, is Gaylord Donnelly Distinguished Professor of English and art at the University of Chicago. (shrink)
Advances in artificial intelligence create an increasing similarity between the performance of AI systems or AI-based robots and human communication. They raise the questions: whether it is possible to communicate with, understand, and even empathically perceive artificial agents; whether we should ascribe actual subjectivity and thus quasi-personal status to them beyond a certain level of simulation; what will be the impact of an increasing dissolution of the distinction between simulated and real encounters. To answer these questions, the paper argues that (...) the precondition for actually understanding others consists in the implicit assumption of the subjectivity of our counterpart, which makes shared feelings and a „we-intentionality” possible. This assumption is ultimately based on the presupposition of a shared form of life, conceived here as „conviviality.” The possibility that future artificial agents could meet these preconditions is refuted on the basis of embodied and enactive cognition, which links subjectivity and consciousness to the aliveness of an organism. Even if subjectivity is in principle impossible for artificial agents, the distinction between simulated and real subjectivity might nevertheless become increasingly blurred. Here, possible consequences are discussed, especially using the example of virtual psychotherapy. Finally, the paper makes case for a mindful appproach to the language we use to talk about artificial systems and pleads for preventing a systematic pretense of subjectivity. (shrink)
This essay reconstructs the career of the 18th-cetnury Neapolitan publicist Giuseppe Maria Galanti, who championed the genre of anthropological geography in the Kingdom of Naples. Although little attention has been paid to Galanti by the English-language historiography, the person and work of the Neapolitan publicist has loomed large in Italian studies on the Enlightenment. In landmark Italian studies, Galanti has been hailed as a clear-sighted reformer committed to the improvement of socioeconomic conditions within the Kingdom. Likewise, the geographical literature he (...) wrote has been read not as such but rather in light of its program of socioeconomic reform. However important that same program was, undue emphasis upon it has conflated his empirical approach to political geography with a connotation of realism that fundamentally has obscured the place of Galanti's project in the history of anthropology and, in particular, the emergence of European ethnography. By reconstructing the career of Galanti, it is my hope to provide a privileged window on what motivated a precocious ethnographer of Europe to undertake the unusual and arduous project of visiting and describing the provinces of his kingdom, on why he chose to conceptualize the terrain of the Kingdom as an object of philosophical study, and on how he understood his vocation in relation to the alternatives available to him as a man of Enlightenment. While bearing in mind the political aims of Galanti's work, this essay will also return it to the context in which it was first conceived and piloted—namely the ethos, epistemology, and professional culture of the human sciences of the Enlightenment city of Naples, which, it can be said, smacked of a Rousseauian contempt for the “civilization” of the capital, for its learned professions, and for the cosmopolitan theories of Europe's most urbane philosophes. (shrink)
In times of global economic and political crises, the notion of solidarity is gaining new currency. This book argues that a solidarity-based perspective can help us to find new ways to address pressing problems. Exemplified by three case studies from the field of biomedicine: databases for health and disease research, personalised healthcare, and organ donation, it explores how solidarity can make a difference in how we frame problems, and in the policy solutions that we can offer.
Newton fächert einen weißen Lichtstrahl durch prismatische Brechung (Refraktion) auf und entdeckt dadurch sein Vollspektrum, das die größte Farbenvielfalt zeigt und aus Lichtstrahlen unterschiedlicher Refrangibilität besteht (1672). Laut Newtons Theorie müsste sich die Farbvielfalt seines Vollspektrums steigern lassen, wenn man den Auffangschirm immer weiter vom brechenden Prisma entfernt; denn dadurch müssten zuvor noch vermischte Lichtbündel ähnlicher Farbe schließlich doch auseinanderstreben. Diese Prognose ist empirisch falsch, wie Goethe in seiner Farbenlehre (1810) herausstreicht: Das Endspektrum enthält weniger Farben, insbesondere fehlt dort das (...) Gelb. Das ist eine Anomalie (à la Kuhn) der newtonischen Theorie. Wie lässt sich diese Anomalie erklären? Der Gelbverlust im Endspektrum muss irgendetwas mit der Licht- und Farbempfindlichkeit des menschlichen Auges zu tun haben. Aber was? Der Bezold/Brücke-Effekt bietet offenbar keine befriedigende Erklärung des Phänomens, wie ich mit Matthias Rangs experimenteller Hilfe empirisch zeige. Ein zweiter Erklärungsansatz beruft sich auf die rot/grüne spektrale Umgebung, die das Gelb offenbar in den Hintergrund treten lässt. Die Farbwahrnehmung einer farbigen Figur hat ja immer auch mit der Umgebungsfarbe zu tun, wie zum Beispiel beim Simultankontrast. Das zeigt sich im Experiment: Man kann das Gelb im Endspektrum zurückgewinnen, wenn man die anderen Farben des Spektrums abdeckt. Woran das wiederum liegt, ist bis heute ungeklärt. Es lässt sich jedenfalls nicht als Spezialfall des Simultankontrasts verstehen. (shrink)
Doktryna moralna Kościoła katolickiego odnosząca się do kwestii bioetycznych stanowi jedno ze stanowisk obecnych w polskiej debacie bioetycznej, co wydaje się zrozumiałe zważywszy na deklarowaną przynależność większości Polaków do tegoż Kościoła. Katoliccy moraliści stoją na stanowisku, że reprezentowana przez nich doktryna nie ma czysto religijnego charakteru. Odwołują się do kategorii prawa naturalnego, wyprowadzając z niego obowiązek szacunku dla życia każdej istoty ludzkiej, od momentu jej powstania aż do naturalnej śmierci, stąd zdecydowanie negatywnie oceniana jest aborcja, eutanazja, a także proceder niszczenia (...) ludzkich zarodków. Obok punktów spornych istnieją też takie kwestie bioetyczne, w których stanowisko Kościoła katolickiego nie budzi w społecznej debacie kontrowersji, np. transplantologia. (shrink)
Borderline personality disorder is characterized by severe disturbances in a subject’s sense of identity. Persons with BPD suffer from recurrent feelings of emptiness, a lack of self-feeling, and painful incoherence, especially regarding their own desires, how they see and feel about others, their life goals, or the roles to which they commit themselves. Over the past decade or so, clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists have turned to philosophical conceptions of selfhood to better understand the borderline-specific ruptures in the sense of (...) identity, which are frequently associated with severe affective instability and turbulence in interpersonal relationships. Fuchs has suggested that these disturbances in self-experience can best be described and explained by using notions—widely discussed in philosophy and psychology—of narrativity and narrative identity. On such a narrative view, key features of BPD present significant modifications of proto-narrative structures and inhibit the development of a narrative identity, resulting in a disturbed sense of identity. Although the role of narrativity in BPD has been acknowledged by many researchers, some have voiced dissatisfaction with what they take to be limitations of a narrativistic understanding of the disorders of identity characterizing BPD, and have proposed alternative, allegedly non-narrativistic, accounts. In this paper, we critically examine an example of the latter, viz. Gold and Kyratsous’ account of the person as an intrapersonal team reasoner. We defend a narrativistic understanding of BPD identity disorder against their objections. To this end, we propose a broader, and more finely-differentiated, concept of narrativity. On this account, four aspects of narrativity are distinguished, the disordering of which can affect those with BPD. As it turns out, our account implies that even Gold and Kyratsous—in order to ground their approach—must either make use of these aspects or propose an as-yet unarticulated alternative. This casts doubt upon whether their approach is non-narrativistic after all. (shrink)
In the Bayesian approach to quantum mechanics, probabilities—and thus quantum states—represent an agent’s degrees of belief, rather than corresponding to objective properties of physical systems. In this paper we investigate the concept of certainty in quantum mechanics. Particularly, we show how the probability-1 predictions derived from pure quantum states highlight a fundamental difference between our Bayesian approach, on the one hand, and Copenhagen and similar interpretations on the other. We first review the main arguments for the general claim that probabilities (...) always represent degrees of belief. We then argue that a quantum state prepared by some physical device always depends on an agent’s prior beliefs, implying that the probability-1 predictions derived from that state also depend on the agent’s prior beliefs. Quantum certainty is therefore always some agent’s certainty. Conversely, if facts about an experimental setup could imply agent-independent certainty for a measurement outcome, as in many Copenhagen-like interpretations, that outcome would effectively correspond to a preexisting system property. The idea that measurement outcomes occurring with certainty correspond to preexisting system properties is, however, in conflict with locality. We emphasize this by giving a version of an argument of Stairs [(1983). Quantum logic, realism, and value-definiteness. Philosophy of Science, 50, 578], which applies the Kochen–Specker theorem to an entangled bipartite system. (shrink)
It is widely thought that focusing on highly skilled movements while performing them hinders their execution. Once you have developed the ability to tee off in golf, play an arpeggio on the piano, or perform a pirouette in ballet, attention to what your body is doing is thought to lead to inaccuracies, blunders, and sometimes even utter paralysis. Here I re-examine this view and argue that it lacks support when taken as a general thesis. Although bodily awareness may often interfere (...) with well-developed rote skills, like climbing stairs, I suggest that it is typically not detrimental to the skills of expert athletes, performing artists, and other individuals who endeavor to achieve excellence. Along the way, I present a critical analysis of some philosophical theories and behavioral studies on the relationship between attention and bodily movement, an explanation of why attention may be beneficial at the highest level of performance and an error theory that explains why many have thought the contrary. Though tentative, I present my view as a challenge to the widespread starting assumption in research on highly skilled movement that at the pinnacle of skill attention to one's movement is detrimental. (shrink)
According to QBism, quantum states, unitary evolutions, and measurement operators are all understood as personal judgments of the agent using the formalism. Meanwhile, quantum measurement outcomes are understood as the personal experiences of the same agent. Wigner’s conundrum of the friend, in which two agents ostensibly have different accounts of whether or not there is a measurement outcome, thus poses no paradox for QBism. Indeed the resolution of Wigner’s original thought experiment was central to the development of QBist thinking. The (...) focus of this paper concerns two very instructive modifications to Wigner’s puzzle: One, a recent no-go theorem by Frauchiger and Renner, and the other a thought experiment by Baumann and Brukner. We show that the paradoxical features emphasized in these works disappear once both friend and Wigner are understood as agents on an equal footing with regard to their individual uses of quantum theory. Wigner’s action on his friend then becomes, from the friend’s perspective, an action the friend takes on Wigner. Our analysis rests on a kind of quantum Copernican principle: When two agents take actions on each other, each agent has a dual role as a physical system for the other agent. No user of quantum theory is more privileged than any other. In contrast to the sentiment of Wigner’s original paper, neither agent should be considered as in “suspended animation.” In this light, QBism brings an entirely new perspective to understanding Wigner’s friend thought experiments. (shrink)
This book introduces the most important problems of reference and considers the solutions that have been proposed to explain them. Reference is at the centre of debate among linguists and philosophers and, as Barbara Abbott shows, this has been the case for centuries. She begins by examining the basic issue of how far reference is a two place (words-world) or a three place (speakers-words-world) relation. She then discusses the main aspects of the field and the issues associated with them, (...) including those concerning proper names; direct reference and individual concepts; the difference between referential and quantificational descriptions; pronouns and indexicality; concepts like definiteness and strength; and noun phrases in discourse. Professor Abbott writes with exceptional verve and wit. She presupposes no technical knowledge or background and presents issues and analyses from first principles, illustrating them at every stage with well-chosen examples. Her book is addressed in the first place to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in linguistics and philosophy of language, but it will also appeal to students and practitioners in computational linguistics, cognitive psychology, and anthropology. All will welcome the clarity this guide brings to a subject that continues to challenge the leading thinkers of the age. (shrink)