Frank Jackson's case of Mary the colour scientist, and the knowledge argument against physicalism built upon it, are well known. This paper starts from Jackson's other, more neglected, thought experiment, about Fred, who sees a unique shade of red. It explores two senses in which properties are said to be 'objective', roughly corresponding to the ideas of a property's being intersubjectively accessible, on the one hand, and its being knowable without the need for special experiences, on the other. These (...) senses of the objective are contrasted, and their links to the doctrine of physicalism explored, and it is argued that, in the sense of objectivity we should embrace, mental qualities come out as objective and physical properties. The paper ends up by proposing a novel theory about how mental qualities fit into the world—as determinates of determinable physical properties, a view that is distinguished from the closely related 'Russellian monism'. (shrink)
Fred Feldman's fascinating new book sets out to defend hedonism as a theory about the Good Life. He tries to show that, when carefully and charitably interpreted, certain forms of hedonism yield plausible evaluations of human lives. Feldman begins by explaining the question about the Good Life. As he understands it, the question is not about the morally good life or about the beneficial life. Rather, the question concerns the general features of the life that is good in itself (...) for the one who lives it. Hedonism says (roughly) that the Good Life is the pleasant life. After showing that received formulations of hedonism are often confused or incoherent, Feldman presents a simple, clear, coherent form of sensory hedonism that provides a starting point for discussion. He then presents a catalogue of classic objections to hedonism, coming from sources as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Brentano, Ross, Moore, Rawls, Kagan, Nozick, Brandt, and others. One of Feldman's central themes is that there is an important distinction between the forms of hedonism that emphasize sensory pleasure and those that emphasize attitudinal pleasure. Feldman formulates several kinds of hedonism based on the idea that attitudinal pleasure is the Good. He claims that attitudinal forms of hedonism - which have often been ignored in the literature -- are worthy of more careful attention. Another main theme of the book is the plasticity of hedonism. Hedonism comes in many forms. Attitudinal hedonism is especially receptive to variations and modifications. Feldman illustrates this plasticity by formulating several variants of attitudinal hedonism and showing how they evade some of the objections. He also shows how it is possible to develop forms of hedonism that are equivalent to the allegedly anti-hedonistic theory of G. E. Moore and the Aristotelian theory according to which the Good Life is the life of virtue, or flourishing. He also formulates hedonisms relevantly like the ones defended by Aristippus and Mill. Feldman argues that a carefully developed form of attitudinal hedonism is not refuted by objections concerning 'the shape of a life'. He also defends the claim that all of the alleged forms of hedonism discussed in the book genuinely deserve to be called 'hedonism'. Finally, after dealing with the last of the objections, he gives a sketch of his hedonistic vision of the Good Life. (shrink)
Fred Miller offers a controversial reappraisal of the Politics, suggesting that nature, justice, and rights are central to Aristotle's political thought. He sheds new light on Aristotle's relation to modern natural rights theorists, and to the current liberalism-communitarianism debate.
"Taken as a trilogy, _consent not to be a single being_ is a monumental accomplishment: a brilliant theoretical intervention that might be best described as a powerful case for blackness as a category of analysis."—Brent Hayes Edwards, author of _Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination_ In _Stolen Life_—the second volume in his landmark trilogy _consent not to be a single being_—Fred Moten undertakes an expansive exploration of blackness as it relates to black life and the collective refusal of social (...) death. The essays resist categorization, moving from Moten's opening meditation on Kant, Olaudah Equiano, and the conditions of black thought through discussions of academic freedom, writing and pedagogy, non-neurotypicality, and uncritical notions of freedom. Moten also models black study as a form of social life through an engagement with Fanon, Hartman, and Spillers and plumbs the distinction between blackness and black people in readings of Du Bois and Nahum Chandler. The force and creativity of Moten's criticism resonate throughout, reminding us not only of his importance as a thinker, but of the continued necessity of interrogating blackness as a form of sociality. (shrink)
"Taken as a trilogy, _consent not to be a single being_ is a monumental accomplishment: a brilliant theoretical intervention that might be best described as a powerful case for blackness as a category of analysis."—Brent Hayes Edwards, author of _Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination_ In _The Universal Machine_—the concluding volume to his landmark trilogy _consent not to be a single being_—Fred Moten presents a suite of three essays on Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, and Frantz Fanon in which he (...) explores questions of freedom, capture, and selfhood. In trademark style, Moten considers these thinkers alongside artists and musicians such as William Kentridge and Curtis Mayfield while interrogating the relation between blackness and phenomenology. Whether using Levinas's idea of escape in unintended ways, examining Arendt's antiblackness through Mayfield's virtuosic falsetto and Anthony Braxton's musical language, or showing how Fanon's form of phenomenology enables black social life, Moten formulates blackness as a way of being in the world that evades regulation. Throughout _The Universal Machine_—and the trilogy as a whole—Moten's theorizations of blackness will have a lasting and profound impact. (shrink)
Comparative political theory is at best an embryonic and marginalized endeavor. As practiced in most Western universities, the study of political theory generally involves a rehearsal of the canon of Western political thought from Plato to Marx. Only rarely are practitioners of political thought willing (and professionally encouraged) to transgress the canon and thereby the cultural boundaries of North America and Europe in the direction of genuine comparative investigation. Border Crossings presents an effort to remedy this situation, fully launching a (...) new era in political theory. Thirteen scholars from around the world examine the various political traditions of West, South, and East Asia and engage in a reflective cross-cultural discussion that belies the assumptions of an Asian essence and of an unbridgeable gulf between West and non-West. The denial of essential differences does not, however, amount to an endorsement of essential sameness. As viewed and as practiced by contributors to this ground-breaking volume, comparative political theorizing must steer a course between uniformity and radical separation--this is the path of border crossings. (shrink)
An Invitation to Formal Reasoning introduces the discipline of formal logic by means of a powerful new system formulated by Fred Sommers. This system, term logic, is different in a number of ways from the standard system employed in modern logic; most striking is its greater simplicity and naturalness. Borrowing insights from Aristotle's syllogistic, Scholastic logicians, Leibniz, and the 19th century British algebraists, term logic takes its syntax directly from natural language. Its naturalness is the result of its ability (...) to stay close to the forms of sentences usually found in every day discourse. Written by the founders of the term logic approach, An Invitation to Formal Reasoning is a unique introduction and exploration of this new system, offering numerous exercises and examples throughout the text. Summarizing the standard system of mathematical logic to set term logic in context, and showing how the two systems compare, this book presents an alternative approach to standard modern logic for those studying formal logic, philosophy of language or computer theory. (shrink)
This paper proposes a third meditation-category—automatic self-transcending— to extend the dichotomy of focused attention and open monitoring proposed by Lutz. Automaticself-transcending includes techniques designed to transcend their own activity. This contrasts with focused attention, which keeps attention focused on an object; and open monitoring, which keeps attention involved in the monitoring process. Each category was assigned EEG bands, based on reported brain patterns during mental tasks, and meditations were categorized based on their reported EEG. Focused attention, characterized by beta/gamma activity, (...) included meditations from Tibetan Buddhist, Buddhist, and Chinese traditions. Open monitoring, characterized by theta activity, included meditations from Buddhist, Chinese, and Vedic traditions. Automaticself-transcending, characterized by alpha1 activity, included meditations from Vedic and Chinese traditions. Between categories, the included meditations differed in focus, subject/object relation, and procedures. These findings shed light on the common mistake of averaging meditations together to determine mechanisms or clinical effects. (shrink)
Ἀσέβεια is one of Greek religion's vexatious topics. It was a crime, or γραφή, as well as a religious wrong according to ‘sacred law’. It happened to be the charge in the most famous Greek trial, that of Socrates, and thus became part of alocus classicus, with the result, as Kenneth Dover showed, that later reports of ἀσέβεια trials were often distorted by the influence of Socrates' example. Focussing mostly on the sources found reliable by Dover, this article proposes that (...) ἀσέβεια sometimes resembled μίασμα, which was contagious religious pollution. An impious person could sometimes spread his or her ἀσέβεια, and others could catch it. (shrink)
This essay reviews three books in the ethics literature of interest to contemporary Rand scholars: Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics by Tara Smith; EthicalIntuitionism by Michael Huemer; and Is Virtue Only a Means to Happiness? by Neera Badhwar.
Fred Stoutland was a major figure in the philosophy of action and philosophy of language. This collection brings together essays on truth, language, action and mind and thus provides an important summary of many key themes in Stoutland’s own work, as well as offering valuable perspectives on key issues in contemporary philosophy.
Dallmayr argues that G W F Hegel is perhaps the leading philosopher of modernity and explores his philosophy as it pertains to the meaning of modernity and postmodernity: its celebration of individual freedom and the importance of a network of social relationships, public justice and civic virtue. This important text explains Hegel's work in the context of current theoretical and philosophical debates about modernity, illustrating his response to contemporary issues and recognizing him as a major figure in the history of (...) political thought. (shrink)
The people of classical Athens did not regard suicide as a crime committed by the victim. Instead, the Athenians regarded suicide as a crime committed by the instrument that the victim used, or by the victim's hand as opposed to the victim himself. This non-human agent was culpable, just like non-human agents were blamed for accidental deaths. Although suicide victims were innocent, inanimate agents were guilty. In Sophocles'Ajax, for example, the sword that the hero turned upon himself was blamed for (...) his death. The Athenian response to suicide was more about objects than it was about people. (shrink)
A generation ago Moses Finley said that the councils and the assemblies in the Homeric poems were not genuine deliberative bodies but looser, less productive gatherings. Finley and others regarded these bodies as transitional, so that regular councils and assemblies appear only later, in systems like those identified with Lycurgus and Solon. In recent years scholars have returned to an older view that Homeric deliberative bodies were well enough organized to make decisions, even if leaders or dissenters could undermine these (...) decisions. Differences between councils, on the one hand, and assemblies, on the other, have not been prominent in this scholarship. The noteworthy exception is Fabian Schulz's 2011 dissertation on parallels between Homeric councils and the Spartan Gerousia, in which he draws several comparisons between βουλαί and ἀγοραί. (shrink)
The main claim of this book is that the very same distinction between semantic singularity and plurality that is fundamental to the semantics of nouns in the nominal domain is operative and fundamental in the verbal domain as well, applying ...
Fred Feldman is an important philosopher, who has made a substantial contribution to utilitarian moral philosophy. This collection of ten previously published essays plus a new introductory essay reveal the striking originality and unity of his views. Feldman's version of utilitarianism differs from traditional forms in that it evaluates behaviour by appeal to the values of accessible worlds. These worlds are in turn evaluated in terms of the amounts of pleasure they contain, but the conception of pleasure involved is (...) a novel one and the formulation of hedonism improved. In Feldman's view pleasure is not a feeling but a propositional attitude. He also deals with problems of justice that affect standard forms of utilitarianism. The collection is ideally suited for courses on contemporary utilitarian theory. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the flaws of Clark’s extended mind hypothesis. Clark’s hypothesis assumes that the nature of the processes internal to an object has nothing to do with whether that object carries out cognitive processing. The only condition required is that the object is coupled with a cognitive agent and interacts with it in a certain way. In making this tenuous connection, Clark commits the most common mistake extended mind theorists make; alleging that an object becomes cognitive once it is (...) connected to a cognitive agent is a “coupling-constitution fallacy.” From this fallacy, many hastily proceed to the conclusion that the object or process constitutes part of the agent’s cognitive apparatus or cognitive processing. (shrink)
This essay analyzes Fred Moten’s “antipolitical” romance with the “fugitive black sociality” that he radically opposes to “politics,” defined as inescapably tied to antiblack modernity. By comparing Moten’s argument to other voices in the black radical tradition, and by triangulating Moten with Hannah Arendt and Sheldon Wolin, this essay opens inherited conceptions of the political to risk and reworking but also complicates figurations of fugitivity and resists the antagonism Moten posits between black fugitivity and democratic politics.
By contributing a few hundred dollars to a charity like UNICEF, a prosperous person can ensure that fewer poor children die, and that more will live reasonably long, worthwhile lives. Even when knowing this, however, most people send nothing, and almost all of the rest send little. What is the moral status of this behavior? To such common cases of letting die, our untutored response is that, while it is not very good, neither is the conduct wrong. What is the (...) source of this lenient assessment? In this contentious new book, one of our leading philosophers argues that our intuitions about ethical cases are generated not by basic moral values, but by certain distracting psychological dispositions that all too often prevent us from reacting in accord with our commitments. Through a detailed look at how these tendencies operate, Unger shows that, on the good morality that we already accept, the fatally unhelpful behavior is monstrously wrong. By uncovering the eminently sensible ethics that we've already embraced fully, and by confronting us with empirical facts and with easily followed instructions for lessening serious suffering appropriately and effectively, Unger's book points the way to a compassionate new moral philosophy. (shrink)
Structures for Semantics offers an advanced course in logical and mathematical techniques and structures that are used in semantics, in relation to their semantic applications. The book helps students with a background in semantics to develop their skills of formalization and it makes research in semantics accessible. Workers in other disciplines will use it to discover more about the role of formal modelling in current semantic research, and about semantics itself. Following a chapter on logic and set theory there are (...) three parts of chapters: two pairs of chapters on partial order and equivalence relations in relation to semantic analyses of tense, partial information and vagueness; two chapters on methods for creating ordered structures in relation to intervals, events, and the semantics of change; two chapters on lattices and Boolean algebras in relation to types for noun phrases and verbs, and the semantics of plurals and mass nouns. For upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students in semantics: theoretical linguists, logicians, philosophers of language, computer scientists interested in natural language semantics. (shrink)
Among philosophers, there are at least two prevalent views about the core concept of intentional action. View I (Adams 1986, 1997; McCann 1986) holds that an agent S intentionally does an action A only if S intends to do A. View II (Bratman 1987; Harman 1976; and Mele 1992) holds that there are cases where S intentionally does A without intending to do A, as long as doing A is foreseen and S is willing to accept A as a consequence (...) of S’s action. Joshua Knobe (2003a) presents intriguing data that may be taken to support the second view.1 Knobe’s data show an asymmetry in folk judgements. People are more inclined to judge that S did A intentionally, even when not intended, if A was perceived as causing a harm (e.g. harming the environment). There is an asymmetry because people are not inclined to see S’s action as intentional, when not intended, if A is perceived as causing a beneﬁt (e.g. helping the environment). In this paper we will discuss Knobe’s results in detail. We will raise the question of whether his ordinary language surveys of folk judgments have accessed core concepts of intentional action. We suspect that instead Knobe’s surveys are tapping into pragmatic aspects of intentional language and its role in moral praise and blame. We will suggest alternative surveys that we plan to conduct to get at this difference, and we will attempt to explain the pragmatic usage of intentional language. (shrink)
For much of its history, philosophy was not merely a theoretical discipline but a way of life, an "art of living." This practical aspect of philosophy has been much less dominant in modernity than it was in ancient Greece and Rome, when philosophers of all stripes kept returning to Socrates as a model for living. The idea of philosophy as an art of living has survived in the works of such major modern authors as Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Each of (...) these writers has used philosophical discussion as a means of establishing what a person is and how a worthwhile life is to be lived. In this wide-ranging, brilliantly written account, Alexander Nehamas provides an incisive reevaluation of Socrates' place in the Western philosophical tradition and shows the importance of Socrates for Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Why does each of these philosophers—each fundamentally concerned with his own originality—return to Socrates as a model? The answer lies in the irony that characterizes the Socrates we know from the Platonic dialogues. Socratic irony creates a mask that prevents a view of what lies behind. How Socrates led the life he did, what enabled or inspired him, is never made evident. No tenets are proposed. Socrates remains a silent and ambiguous character, forcing readers to come to their own conclusions about the art of life. This, Nehamas shows, is what allowed Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault to return to Socrates as a model without thereby compelling them to imitate him. This highly readable, erudite study argues for the importance of the tradition within Western philosophy that is best described as "the art of living" and casts Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault as the three major modern representatives of this tradition. Full of original ideas and challenging associations, this work will offer new ways of thinking about the philosophers Nehamas discusses and about the discipline of philosophy itself. (shrink)