Nudges can pose serious threats to citizens’ privacy. The essay discusses several examples of nudges that must appear problematic to anyone valuing privacy. The paper also re-draws a well established connection between privacy and autonomy and argues that insofar as nudges incur too great a loss of privacy, they are incompatible with the libertarianism that libertarian paternalism is committed to by virtue of its very name.
In this note, we would like to respond to some remarks with which Cass Sunstein has, in turn, responded to our paper 'Nudges as a Threat to Privacy' in this journal. First, we address his contention that nudges are among the less problematic government practices as regards to privacy issues. Second, as he has clarified in his response that he doesn't think an all too well-informed government would be a good idea, we point out that this leaves a gaping hole (...) in his justification of libertarian paternalism. Third, we point out a new problem with gathering information about the preferences of citizens, namely that observation tends to distort behavior and hence leads to misguided inferences about goals and ends. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
_Retrieving Political Emotion _engages the reader in an excursion through our ancient Greek heritage to recover a concept of emotion useful for enriching political philosophy today. Focusing on _thumos_, Barbara Koziak reveals misinterpretations of the concept that have hampered recognition of its possibilities for normative theory. Then, drawing especially on Aristotle's construal of it as a general capacity for emotion and relating this to contemporary multidisciplinary work on emotion, she reformulates _thumos_ to provide a more adequate theory of political (...) emotion, as an antidote to the modern fixation on rational self-interest as the key to explaining political behavior. The book proceeds by recounting the way _thumos_ is used in Homer's _Iliad_ and Plato's _Republic_ and then showing how, while borrowing from both, Aristotle went substantially beyond them. From the _Nicomachean Ethics and Politics_ we can see the activity of _thumos_—how a person with good _thumos_ acts and through which institutions. Through the _Poetics_ we observe the characteristic disposition of _thumos_—what patterns and objects typify a person's emotional capacity in the best regime. Her reconstructed Aristotelian theory of political emotion allows Koziak in the concluding chapter to show how it can help us better understand political behavior today, as manifested in recent congressional debates on welfare reform, and through constructive engagement with feminist thinking on the "ethics of care" lead political theory to pay more attention to the importance of passions in political life. (shrink)
The book highlights how well-intentioned white people who might even consider themselves as paragons of antiracism might be unwittingly sustaining an unjust system that they say they want to dismantle.
Barbara Stafford is a pioneering art historian whose research has long helped to bridge the divide between the humanities and cognitive sciences. In _A Field Guide to a New Meta-Field_, she marshals a distinguished group of thinkers to forge a ground-breaking dialogue between the emerging brain sciences, the liberal arts, and social sciences. Stafford’s book examines meaning and mental function from this dual experimental perspective. The wide-ranging essays included here—from Frank Echenhofer’s foray into shamanist hallucinogenic visions to David Bashwiner’s (...) analysis of emotion and danceability—develop a common language for implementing programmatic and institutional change. Demonstrating how formerly divided fields are converging around shared issues, _A Field Guide to a New Meta-Field _maps a high-level, crossdisciplinary adventure from one of our leading figures in visual studies. (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.
Classrooms and schools represent a "culture of power" to the extent that they mirror unjust social relations that exist in the larger society. Progressive educators committed to social justice seek to disrupt those social relations in the classroom that function to silence marginalised students, but neutralising those who attempt to reassert power is problematic. This paper investigates the questions: is it ever justified to use power to interrupt power? Does all silencing subjugate? Arguments for and against the censorship of teachers (...) who believe that portraying homosexual lifestyles in a positive light undermines their integrity are outlined. I highlight and explain two crucial considerations absent in the aforementioned debate. Finally, the implications of the debate for social justice educators are explicated. (shrink)
The prototypes of definiteness and indefiniteness in English are the definite article the and the indefinite article a/an, and singular noun phrases (NPs)1 determined by them. That being the case it is not to be predicted that the concepts, whatever their content, will extend satisfactorily to other determiners or NP types. However it has become standard to extend these notions. Of the two categories definites have received rather more attention, and more than one researcher has characterized the category of definite (...) NPs by enumerating NP types. Westerståhl (1985), who is concerned only with determiners in the paper cited, gives a very short list: demonstrative NPs, possessive NPs, and definite descriptions. Prince (1992) lists proper names and personal pronouns, as well as NPs with the, a demonstrative, or a possessive NP as determiner. She notes, in addition, that “certain quantifiers (e.g. all, every) have been argued to be definite” (Prince 1992: 299). This list, with the quantifiers added, agrees with that given by Birner & Ward (1998, 114). Ariel (1988, 1990) adds null anaphoric NPs. (shrink)
Some presuppositions seem to be weaker than others in the sense that they can be more easily neutralized in some contexts. For example some factive verbs, most notably epistemic factives like know, be aware, and discover, are known to shed their factivity fairly easily in contexts such as are found in (1). (1) a. …if anyone discovers that the method is also wombat-proof, I’d really like to know! b. Mrs. London is not aware that there have ever been signs erected (...) to stop use of the route… c. Perhaps God knows that we will never reach the stars…. (The examples in (1) are all naturally occurring ones, discovered by David Beaver with the aid of Google; cf. Beaver 2002, exx. 32, 43, and 51, respectively.) On the other hand some other factives, e.g. regret, matter, and be surprised, do not exhibit the same type of behavior: (2) a. If any of the students regrets behaving badly, they’ll let us know. b. It doesn’t matter that the chimpanzees escaped. c. Was Bill surprised that spinach was included? Unlike the examples in (1), those in (2) could not be used appropriately in contexts where the speaker was not assuming that the complement clause was true. Our main concern will be trying to find the cause of this difference. However, before we get to that, we will look more closely at the concept “presupposition” itself, as well as its close neighbor in the linguistic literature, “conventional implicature” (section 2), and also at various ways of getting rid of presuppositions (section 3). In section 4 we will investigate two possible explanations for differences in presupposition triggering – the “lexical alternative” approach of Abusch (2002, 2005), and a suggestion of Ladusaw’s involving detachability of presuppositions. The final section contains concluding remarks. (shrink)
Richard Henson attempts to take the sting out of this view of Kant on moral worth by arguing (i) that attending to the phenomenon of the overdetermination of actions leads one to see that Kant might have had two distinct views of moral worth, only one of which requires the absence of cooperating inclinations, and (ii) that when Kant insists that there is moral worth only when an action is done from the motive of duty alone, he need not also (...) hold that such a state of affairs is morally better, all things considered, than one where supporting inclination is present. Henson's proposals seem to me both serious and plausible. I do not think that either of his models, in the end, can take on the role Kant assigns to moral worth in the argument of the Groundwork. But seeing the ways Henson's account diverges from Kant's makes clearer what Kant intended in his discussion of those actions he credits with moral worth. [...] An action has moral worth if it is required by duty and has as its primary motive the motive of duty. The motive of duty need not reflect the only interest the agent has in the action (or its effect); it must, however, be the interest that determines the agent's acting as he did. (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)
This paper presents problems for Stalnaker’s common ground theory of presupposition. Stalnaker (Linguist and Philos 25:701–721, 2002) proposes a 2-stage process of utterance interpretation: presupposed content is added to the common ground prior to acceptance/rejection of the utterance as a whole. But this revision makes presupposition difficult to distinguish from assertion. A more fundamental problem is that the common ground theory rests on a faulty theory of assertion—that the essence of assertion is to present the content of an utterance as (...) new information. Many examples are presented of utterances which are felicitous but not informative in this way. (shrink)
Fundamental to spatial knowledge in all species are the representations underlying object recognition, object search, and navigation through space. But what sets humans apart from other species is our ability to express spatial experience through language. This target article explores the language ofobjectsandplaces, asking what geometric properties are preserved in the representations underlying object nouns and spatial prepositions in English. Evidence from these two aspects of language suggests there are significant differences in the geometric richness with which objects and places (...) are encoded. When an object is named, detailed geometric properties – principally the object's shape – are represented. In contrast, when an object plays the role of either “figure” or “ground” in a locational expression, only very coarse geometric object properties are represented, primarily the main axes. In addition, the spatial functions encoded by spatial prepositions tend to be nonmetric and relatively coarse, for example, “containment,” “contact,” “relative distance,” and “relative direction.” These properties are representative of other languages as well. The striking differences in the way language encodes objects versus places lead us to suggest two explanations: First, there is a tendency for languages to level out geometric detail from both object and place representations. Second, a nonlinguistic disparity between the representations of “what” and “where” underlies how language represents objects and places. The language of objects and places converges with and enriches our understanding of corresponding spatial representations. (shrink)
According to David Chalmers , 'we have good reason to suppose that consciousness has a fundamental place in nature' . This, he thinks is because the world as revealed to us by fundamental physics is entirely structural -- it is a world not of things, but of relations -- yet relations can only account for more relations, and consciousness is not merely a relation . Call this the 'structural argument against physicalism.' I shall argue that there is a view about (...) the relationship between mind and body, what I call, 'Russellian physicalism' that is consistent with the premises of the structural argument yet does not imply that consciousness is fundamental. (shrink)
This paper, which is based on an extensive analysis of the literature, gives a brief overview of the main ways in which solidarity has been employed in bioethical writings in the last two decades. As the vagueness of the term has been one of the main targets of critique, we propose a new approach to defining solidarity, identifying it primarily as a practice enacted at the interpersonal, communal, and contractual/legal levels. Our three-tier model of solidarity can also help to explain (...) the way in which crises of solidarity can occur, notably when formal solidaristic arrangements continue to exist despite ‘lower tiers’ of solidarity practices at inter-personal and communal levels having ‘broken away’. We hope that this contribution to the growing debate on the potential for the value of solidarity to help tackle issues in bioethics and beyond, will stimulate further discussion involving both conceptual and empirically informed perspectives. (shrink)
In recent years, critical scholarship has drawn attention to increasing power differentials between corporations that use data and people whose data is used. A growing number of scholars see digital data and information commons as a way to counteract this asymmetry. In this paper I raise two concerns with this argument: First, because digital data and information can be in more than one place at once, governance models for physical common-pool resources cannot be easily transposed to digital commons. Second, not (...) all data and information commons are suitable to address power differentials. In order to create digital commons that effectively address power asymmetries we must pay more systematic attention to the issue of exclusion from digital data and information commons. Why and how digital data and information commons exclude, and what the consequences of such exclusion are, decide whether commons can change power asymmetries or whether they are more likely to perpetuate them. (shrink)