Extensive research has demonstrated that rs1360780, a common single nucleotide polymorphism within the FKBP5 gene, interacts with early-life stress in predicting psychopathology. Previous results suggest that carriers of the TT genotype of rs1360780 who were exposed to child abuse show differences in structure and functional activation of emotion-processing brain areas belonging to the salience network. Extending these findings on intermediate phenotypes of psychopathology, we examined if the interaction between rs1360780 and child abuse predicts resting-state functional connectivity between the amygdala and (...) other areas of the salience network. We analyzed data of young European adults from the general population who took part in the IMAGEN study. In the absence of main effects of genotype and abuse, a significant interaction effect was observed for rsFC between the right centromedial amygdala and right posterior insula, which was driven by stronger rsFC in TT allele carriers with a history of abuse. Our results suggest that the TT genotype of rs1360780 may render individuals with a history of abuse more vulnerable to functional changes in communication between brain areas processing emotions and bodily sensations, which could underlie or increase the risk for psychopathology. (shrink)
In this essay I propose to explicate and defend a new and improved version of a Lockean proviso—the self-ownership proviso . I shall presume here that individuals possess robust rights of self-ownership. I shall take it that each individual has strong moral claims over the elements which constitute her person, e.g., her body parts, her talents, and her energies. However, in the course of the essay, I shall be challenging what I take to be the standard conception of self-ownership and (...) proposing an enrichment of that conception. The SOP is presented and in part justified as an implication of the right of self-ownership as it is more richly conceived—hence its designation as the self-ownership proviso. As an implication of the right of self-ownership which is also compatible, in theory and practice, with extensive and robust private property rights, the SOP is offered as an integral element of classical-liberal political theory. (shrink)
Was sind wir? Wie immer man sich zu dieser Frage stellt, eines scheint offenkundig: Wir sind Tiere, genauer gesagt: menschliche Tiere, Mitglieder der Art Homo sapiens. Dabei mag es überraschen, daß viele Philosophen diese vermeintlich banale Tatsache abstreiten. Plato, Augustinus, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant und Hegel, um nur einige herausragende zu nennen, waren alle der Meinung, wir seien keine Tiere. Es mag zwar sein, daß unsere Körper Tiere sind. Doch sind wir nicht mit unseren Körpern gleichzusetzen. Wir sind etwas (...) anderes als Tiere. Kaum anderer Meinung sind Denker nicht-westlicher Traditionen. Und rund neun von zehn Philosophen, die heutzutage über Probleme der personalen Identität nachdenken, vertreten Ansichten, die ausschließen, daß wir Tiere sind. (shrink)
On October 1, 1988, thirty-five years after co-discovering the structure of the DNA molecule, Dr. James Watson launched an unprecedented experiment in American science policy. In response to a reporter's question at a press conference, he unilaterally set aside 3 to 5 percent of the budget of the newly launched Human Genome Project to support studies of the ethical, legal, and social implications of new advances in human genetics. The Human Genome Project, by providing geneticists with the molecular maps of (...) the human chromosomes that they use to identify specific human genes, will speed the proliferation of a class of DNA-based diagnostic and risk-assessment tests that already create professional ethical and health-policy challenges for clinicians. “The problems are with us now, independent of the genome program, but they will be associated with it,” Watson said. “We should devote real money to discussing these issues.” By 1994, the “ELSI program” had spent almost $20 million in pursuit of its mission, and gained both praise and criticism for its accomplishments. (shrink)
Focusing on the breakthrough field of molecular engineering--a new technology enabling scientists to build tiny machines atom by atom--the author offers projections on how this technological revolution will affect the future of computer science, space travel, medicine, and manufacturing.
As an atheist, Dawkins strives to develop a scientific alternative to theism, and while he declares that science is not a religion, he also proclaims it to be a spiritual enterprise. His books are filled with fragmentary sketches of this "spiritual atheism", resembling a great unfinished cathedral. This book systematizes and completes Dawkins' arguments, and reveals their deep roots in Stoicism and Platonism. Expanding on Dawkins' ideas, Steinhart shows how atheists can develop powerful ethical principles, compelling systems of symbols and (...) images, and meaningful personal and social practices. Believing in Dawkins is a rigorous and potent entreaty for the use of science and reason to support spiritually rich and optimistic ways of thinking and living. (shrink)
My goal in this essay is to say something helpful about the philosophical foundations of deontic restraints, i.e., moral restraints on actions that are, roughly speaking, grounded in the wrongful character of the actions themselves and not merely in the disvalue of their results. An account of deontic restraints will be formulated and offered against the backdrop of three related, but broader, contrasts or puzzles within moral theory. The plausibility of this account of deontic restraints rests in part on how (...) well this account resolves the puzzles or illuminates the contrasts which make up this theoretical backdrop. (shrink)
To the student of the recent history of theological ideas in the West, it sometimes seems as though, of all the ‘new’ subjects that have been intro duced into theological discussion during the last hundred or so years, only two have proved to be of permanent significance. One is, of course, biblical criticism, and the other, the subject which in my University is still called ‘comparative religion’—the dispassionate study of the religions of the world as phenomena in their own right.
I develop an account of counterfactual conditionals using “causal models”, and argue that this account is preferable to the currently standard account in terms of “similarity of possible worlds” due to David Lewis and Robert Stalnaker. I diagnose the attraction of counterfactual theories of causation, and argue that it is illusory.
David Silver has argued that there is an illegitimate circularity in Plantinga's account of how a Christian theist can defend herself against the potential defeater presented by Paul Draper's formulation of the problem of evil. The way out of the circle for the theist, thinks Silver, would be by adopting a kind of evidentialism: she needs to make an appeal to evidence that is independent of the reasons she has for holding theistic belief in the first place. I shall argue (...) that Silver's argument is unsuccessful, mainly because he does not get Plantinga's thought right. Silver's confusion is in taking causes of belief as reasons for belief, and in failing to account for the impact of belief holism and our web of beliefs on the very hope for independent reasons. (shrink)
Wealth and income are highly predictive of health and longevity. Egalitarians who maintain that this “socioeconomic-status gradient” in health is unjust are challenged by the fact that a significant component of it is owed to the higher prevalence of certain kinds of voluntary risk-taking among members of lower socioeconomic groups. Some egalitarians have argued that these apparently free personal choices are not genuinely free, and that those who make them should not be held morally responsible for the resulting harms to (...) their health. I argue to the contrary that such choices usually are fully free, and that those who make them are responsible for their consequences. This does not imply, however, that society cannot also be responsible for those consequences. It is responsible for them if they are statistically foreseeable and avoidable outcomes of unjust public institutions and policies. I show that many of the harms to health that contribute to the voluntary behavioral component of the SES health gradient satisfy that description. Society can therefore be morally responsible for those harms, even though the individuals who suffer them are also fully responsible for them. (shrink)
In this paper I offer three main challenges to James (2011). All three turn on the nature of philosophy and secure knowledge in Spinoza. First, I criticize James's account of the epistemic role that experience plays in securing adequate ideas for Spinoza. In doing so I criticize her treatment of what is known as the ‘conatus doctrine’ in Spinoza in order to challenge her picture of the relationship between true religion and philosophy. Second, this leads me into a criticism of (...) her account of the nature of philosophy in Spinoza. I argue it is less piecemeal and less akin to what we would recognize as ‘science’ than she suggests. Third, I argue against James's core commitment that Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge differ in degree; I claim they differ in kind. My argument will offer a new interpretation of Spinoza's conception of ‘common notions’. Moreover, I argue that Spinozistic adequate knowledge involves something akin to angelic disembodiment. (shrink)
Although much legal scholarship discusses the meaning of the religion clauses of the U.S. Constitution, very few articles analyze the ways in which state regulation affects actors' incentives to engage in religious behavior. Yet the question of how a law influences religious behavior is important for determining whether various laws are desirable, and whether they violate constitutional constraints. This article draws on recent economic models of religious organization to analyze the ways in which laws affect the behavior of religious groups. (...) Religious groups produce collective goods for their members, and the effect of laws can be analyzed by examining how they modify the payoffs members receive for cooperating or free riding. The article examines the use of laws to establish religious groups, to subsidize them with cash or tax benefits, to provide accommodations for them, to provide symbolic support for them, to provide secular substitutes for the collective goods they produce, and to regulate disputes between members. The article also briefly discusses the constitutional implications of the analysis. (shrink)
Whole Brain Emulation has been championed as the most promising, well-defined route to achieving both human-level artificial intelligence and superintelligence. It has even been touted as a viable route to achieving immortality through brain uploading. WBE is not a fringe theory: the doctrine of Computationalism in philosophy of mind lends credence to the in-principle feasibility of the idea, and the standing of the Human Connectome Project makes it appear to be feasible in practice. Computationalism is a popular, independently plausible theory, (...) and Connectomics a well-funded empirical research program, so optimism about WBE is understandable. However, this optimism may be misplaced. This article argues that WBE is, at best, no more compelling than any of the other far-flung routes to achieving superintelligence. Similarly skeptical conclusions are found regarding immortality. The essay concludes with some positive considerations in favor of the Biological Theory of consciousness, as well as morals about the limits of Computationalism in both artificial intelligence and the philosophy of mind more generally. (shrink)
Most philosophers writing about personal identity in recent years claim that what it takes for us to persist through time is a matter of psychology. In this groundbreaking new book, Eric Olson argues that such approaches face daunting problems, and he defends in their place a radically non-psychological account of personal identity. He defines human beings as biological organisms, and claims that no psychological relation is either sufficient or necessary for an organism to persist. Olson rejects several famous thought-experiments (...) dealing with personal identity. He argues, instead, that one could survive the destruction of all of one's psychological contents and capabilities as long as the human organism remains alive--as long as its vital functions, such as breathing, circulation, and metabolism, continue. (shrink)
This is the first complete, one-volume English translation of the ancient Chinese text Xunzi, one of the most extensive, sophisticated, and elegant works in the tradition of Confucian thought. Through essays, poetry, dialogues, and anecdotes, the Xunzi articulates a Confucian perspective on ethics, politics, warfare, language, psychology, human nature, ritual, and music, among other topics. Aimed at general readers and students of Chinese thought, Eric Hutton's translation makes the full text of this important work more accessible in English than (...) ever before. Named for its purported author, the Xunzi has long been neglected compared to works such as the Analects of Confucius and the Mencius. Yet interest in the Xunzi has grown in recent decades, and the text presents a much more systematic vision of the Confucian ideal than the fragmented sayings of Confucius and Mencius. In one famous, explicit contrast to them, the Xunzi argues that human nature is bad. However, it also allows that people can become good through rituals and institutions established by earlier sages. Indeed, the main purpose of the Xunzi is to urge people to become as good as possible, both for their own sakes and for the sake of peace and order in the world. In this edition, key terms are consistently translated to aid understanding and line numbers are provided for easy reference. Other features include a concise introduction, a timeline of early Chinese history, a list of important names and terms, cross-references, brief explanatory notes, a bibliography, and an index. (shrink)
Among the most widely discussed of William of Ockham’s texts on ethics is his Quodlibet III, q. 14. But despite a large literature on this question, there is no consensus on what Ockham’s answer is to the central question raised in it, specifically, what obligations one would have if one were to receive a divine command to not love God. (Surprisingly, there is also little explicit recognition in the literature of this lack of consensus.) Via a close reading of the (...) text, I argue, contrary to much of the literature, that Ockham believes that if one were given this command, one would be obligated to refrain from loving God and would also be able to fulfill this obligation without any moral wrongdoing. Among other results, this study will help clarify Ockham’s much-discussed claim that loving God is “a necessarily virtuous act.”. (shrink)
According to Eric Olson, the Thinking Animal Argument (TAA) is the best reason to accept animalism, the view that we are identical to animals. A novel criticism has been advanced against TAA, suggesting that it implicitly employs a dubious epistemological principle. I will argue that other epistemological principles can do the trick of saving the TAA, principles that appeal to recent issues regarding disagreement with peers and experts. I conclude with some remarks about the consequence of accepting these modified (...) principles, drawing out some general morals in defending animalism. (shrink)
1. Introduction This essay deals with the hard topic of the permissible killing of the innocent. The relevance of this topic to the morality of war is obvious. For even the most defensive and just wars, i.e., the most defensive and just responses to existing or imminent large-scale aggression, will inflict harm upon – in particular, cause the deaths of – innocent bystanders. 1 The most obvious and relevant example is that of innocent Soviet noncombatants who would be killed by (...) even the most precise defensive strike against Soviet strategic weapons or troop formations that is now possible. Should there be no vindication or, at least, no excuse for some killings of such innocent bystanders, morality would dictate that even defensive counterforce measures against largescale attacks should be renounced. (shrink)
Standard animalists are committed to a stringent form of restricted composition, thereby denying the existence of brains, hands, and other proper parts of an organism . One reason for positing this near-nihilistic ontology comes from various challenges to animalism such as the Thinking Parts Argument, the Unity Argument, and the Argument from the Problem of the Many. In this paper, I show that these putatively distinct arguments are all instances of a more general problem, which I call the ‘Too Many (...) Candidates Problem’ . Given my formulation of the problem, it is evident that standard animalists are mistaken in believing that restricting composition is the only solution. I show that there is another option for solving the TMC. The advantage of such a position, which I call ‘unrestricted animalism’, is that it is compatible with unrestricted composition and the existence of brains and other proper parts of an organism. I conclude by sketching several strategies one can take regarding this latter solution to the TMC. (shrink)
William Ockham held that, in addition to written and spoken language, there exists a mental language, a structured representational system common to all thinking beings. Here I present and evaluate an argument found in several places across Ockham's corpus, wherein he argues that positing a mental language is necessary for the nominalist to meet certain ontological constraints imposed by Aristotle’s account of scientific demonstration.
Climate change and justice are so closely associated that many people take it for granted that a global climate treaty should--indeed, must--directly address both issues together. But, in fact, this would be a serious mistake, one that, by dooming effective international limits on greenhouse gases, would actually make the world's poor and developing nations far worse off. This is the provocative and original argument of Climate Change Justice. Eric Posner and David Weisbach strongly favor both a climate change agreement (...) and efforts to improve economic justice. But they make a powerful case that the best--and possibly only--way to get an effective climate treaty is to exclude measures designed to redistribute wealth or address historical wrongs against underdeveloped countries. In clear language, Climate Change Justice proposes four basic principles for designing the only kind of climate treaty that will work--a forward-looking agreement that requires every country to make greenhouse--gas reductions but still makes every country better off in its own view. This kind of treaty has the best chance of actually controlling climate change and improving the welfare of people around the world. (shrink)
In trying to establish the view that there are no non-living macrophysical objects, Trenton Merricks has produced an influential argument—the Overdetermination Argument—against the causal efficacy of composite objects. A serious problem for the Overdetermination Argument is the ambiguity in the notion of overdetermination that is being employed, which is due to the fact that Merricks does not provide any theory of causation to support his claims. Once we adopt a plausible theory of causation, viz. interventionism, problems with the Overdetermination will (...) become evident. After laying out the Overdetermination Argument and examining one extant objection to it, I will explicate the relevant aspects of an interventionist theory of causation and provide a characterization of overdetermination that follows from such an account. From this, I will argue that the Causal Principle that undergirds the Overdetermination Argument is false and hence the argument is invalid; and I claim that the only other available characterization of overdetermination would render a key premise in the argument false. Thus, the Overdetermination Argument fails to provide us with any reason to deny the causal efficacy of macrophysical objects, and therefore provides no reason to doubt their existence. (shrink)
Only by classifying things into kinds can we gain knowledge beyond memory and perception. Eric Funkhouser uncovers a logical structure that is common to many, if not all, classificatory systems, given by the determination dimensions of kinds. His account of multiple realizability provides standards for establishing the autonomy of the sciences.
This paper develops a compositional, type-driven constraint semantic theory for a fragment of the language of subjective uncertainty. In the particular application explored here, the interpretation function of constraint semantics yields not propositions but constraints on credal states as the semantic values of declarative sentences. Constraints are richer than propositions in that constraints can straightforwardly represent assessments of the probability that the world is one way rather than another. The richness of constraints helps us model communicative acts in essentially the (...) same way that we model agents’ credences. Moreover, supplementing familiar truth-conditional theories of epistemic modals with constraint semantics helps capture contrasts between strong necessity and possibility modals, on the one hand, and weak necessity modals, on the other. (shrink)
The historical debate on representation in cognitive science and neuroscience construes representations as theoretical posits and discusses the degree to which we have reason to posit them. We reject the premise of that debate. We argue that experimental neuroscientists routinely observe and manipulate neural representations in their laboratory. Therefore, neural representations are as real as neurons, action potentials, or any other well-established entities in our ontology.
Current empirical evidence does not seem to confirm that an improvement in living conditions is the cause of the shift in the human mindset toward innovation and long-term risky investment. However, it may well be one of the conditions for greater tolerance of income inequality in exchange for a steady increase in average income.
An enduring question in the philosophy of science is the question of whether a scientific theory deserves more credit for its successful predictions than it does for accommodating data that was already known when the theory was developed. In The Paradox of Predictivism, Eric Barnes argues that the successful prediction of evidence testifies to the general credibility of the predictor in a way that evidence does not when the evidence is used in the process of endorsing the theory. He (...) illustrates his argument with an important episode from nineteenth-century chemistry, Mendeleev's Periodic Law and its successful predictions of the existence of various elements. The consequences of this account of predictivism for the realist/anti-realist debate are considerable, and strengthen the status of the 'no miracle' argument for scientific realism. Barnes's important and original contribution to the debate will interest a wide range of readers in philosophy of science. (shrink)
This is a Review Essay of Neil Levy's Bad Beliefs: Why They Happen to Good People. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022 forthcoming in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science. After summarizing the book it focuses on methodological and political issues pertaining to his synthetic philosophy and regulative epistemology.
We think of modern liberalism as the novel product of a world reinvented on a secular basis after 1945. In The Theology of Liberalism, one of the country's most important political theorists argues that we could hardly be more wrong. Eric Nelson contends that the tradition of liberal political philosophy founded by John Rawls is, however unwittingly, the product of ancient theological debates about justice and evil. Once we understand this, he suggests, we can recognize the deep incoherence of (...) various forms of liberal political philosophy that have emerged in Rawls's wake.--. (shrink)
It is impossible to hold patently contradictory beliefs in mind together at once. Why? Because we know that it is impossible for both to be true. This impossibility is a species of rational necessity, a phenomenon that uniquely characterizes the relation between one person's beliefs. Here, Eric Marcus argues that the unity of the rational mind--what makes it one mind--is what explains why, given what we already believe, we can't believe certain things and must believe certain others in this (...) special sense. What explains this is that beliefs, and the inferences by which we acquire them, are constituted by a particular kind of endorsement of those very states and acts. This, in turn, entails that belief and inference are essentially self-conscious: to hold a belief or to make an inference is at the same time to know that one does. An examination of the nature of belief and inference, in light of the phenomenon of rational necessity, reveals how the unity of the rational mind is a function of our knowledge of ourselves as bound to believe the true. Rational self-consciousness is the form of mental togetherness. (shrink)
With the originality and energy that have marked his earlier works, Eric Wolf now explores the historical relationship of ideas, power, and culture. Responding to anthropology's long reliance on a concept of culture that takes little account of power, Wolf argues that power is crucial in shaping the circumstances of cultural production. Responding to social-science notions of ideology that incorporate power but disregard the ways ideas respond to cultural promptings, he demonstrates how power and ideas connect through the medium (...) of culture. Wolf advances his argument by examining three very different societies, each remarkable for its flamboyant ideological expressions: the Kwakiutl Indians of the Northwest Pacific Coast, the Aztecs of pre-Hispanic Mexico, and National Socialist Germany. Tracing the history of each case, he shows how these societies faced tensions posed by ecological, social, political, or psychological crises, prompting ideological responses that drew on distinctive, historically rooted cultural understandings. In each case study, Wolf analyzes how the regnant ideology intertwines with power around the pivotal relationships that govern social labor. Anyone interested in the history of anthropology or in how the social sciences make comparisons will want to join Wolf in _Envisioning Power_. (shrink)
Preface -- Introduction -- How to value democracy -- Paper stones, the ethics of participation -- Philosophers-citizens -- Superdeliberators -- What is it like to be a citizen? -- Democracy's ethics of belief -- The division of democratic labor -- Representing principles -- Democratic complicity -- Not in my name, macrodemocratic design.
Foundational theories of mental content seek to identify the conditions under which a mental representation expresses, in the mind of a particular thinker, a particular content. Normativists endorse the following general sort of foundational theory of mental content: A mental representation r expresses concept C for agent S just in case S ought to use r in conformity with some particular pattern of use associated with C. In response to Normativist theories of content, Kathrin Glüer-Pagin and Åsa Wikforss propose a (...) dilemma, alleging that Normativism either entails a vicious regress or falls prey to a charge of idleness. In this paper, I respond to this argument. I argue that Normativism can avoid the commitments that generate the regress and does not propose the sort of explanation required to charge that its explanation has been shown to be problematically idle. The regress-generating commitment to be avoided is, roughly, that tokened, contentful mental states are the product of rule-following. The explanatory task Normativists should disavow is that of explaining how it is that beliefs and other contentful mental states are produced. I argue that Normativism, properly understood as a theory of content, does not provide this kind of psychological explanation, and therefore does not entail that such explanations are to be given in terms of rule-following. If this is correct, Normativism is not the proper target of the dilemma offered by Glüer-Pagin and Wikforss. Understanding why one might construe Normativism in the way Glüer-Pagin and Wikforss must, and how, properly understood, it avoids their dilemma, can help us to appreciate the attractiveness of a genuinely normative theory of content and the importance of paying careful attention to the sort of normativity involved in norm-based theories of content. (shrink)