Can consideration of the emotions help to solve the problem of other minds? Intuitively, it should. We often think of emotions as public: as observable in the body, face, and voice of others. Perhaps you can simply see another's disgust or anger, say, in her demeanour and expression; or hear the sadness clearly in his voice. Publicity of mind, meanwhile, is just what is demanded by some solutions to the problem. But what does this demand amount to, and do emotions (...) actually meet it? This paper has three parts. First, I consider the nature of the problem of other minds. Second, I consider the publicity of emotions. And third, I bring these together to show how emotions can help to solve the problem. (shrink)
The Counterfactual Comparative Account of Harm says that an event is overall harmful for someone if and only if it makes her worse off than she otherwise would have been. I defend this account from two common objections.
Against Hanna on Phenomenal Conservatism Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s12136-012-0148-2 Authors Kevin McCain, Department of Philosophy, University of Rochester, Box 270078, Rochester, NY 14627-0078, USA Journal Acta Analytica Online ISSN 1874-6349 Print ISSN 0353-5150.
An observation of Hume’s has received a lot of attention over the last decade and a half: Although we can standardly imagine the most implausible scenarios, we encounter resistance when imagining propositions at odds with established moral (or perhaps more generally evaluative) convictions. The literature is ripe with ‘solutions’ to this so-called ‘Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance’. Few, however, question the plausibility of the empirical assumption at the heart of the puzzle. In this paper, we explore empirically whether the difficulty we (...) witness in imagining certain propositions is indeed due to claim type (evaluative v. non-evaluative) or whether it is much rather driven by mundane features of content. Our findings suggest that claim type plays but a marginal role, and that there might hence not be much of a ‘puzzle’ to be solved. (shrink)
Necessarily and trivially, ‘I’ means its occurrent utterer or thinker. But how is self-reference possible? Providing an adequate answer to this very hard question is the task undertaken by John Campbell in Past, Space, and Self. His answer, in a nutshell, is that the fundamental ground of self-reference is self-consciousness; and the bulk of the book is devoted to sketching the architecture of this cognitive capacity. Campbell wants to say that the essence of self-consciousness is given in the set of (...) cognitive abilities making it possible to think of oneself as presented and individuated by means of a causal-spatiotemporal self-narrative. Not only is self-consciousness the ground of self-reference, however, but also “possession of this core set of abilities defines possession of concepts”. While Campbell thinks of his account as making up a seamless whole, I would like to distinguish for the purposes of exposition between the thesis that self-consciousness in his sense explains self-reference and the thesis that Campbellian self-consciousness explains concept-possession. It may be that the case made for one of the theses is stronger and more convincing than the case made for the other; I shall address that issue briefly later. (shrink)
W artykule analizuję znaczenia, jakie można przypisać pojęciu i doświadczeniu obcości.Najpierw przypominam dwa opisy fenomenologiczne tego doświadczenia, z których wynika, iż już na tym abstrakcyjnym poziomiedoświadczenie obcości ma sens ambiwalentny: obcy może być doświadczany jako zagrożeniedla mojej podmiotowości, ale również jako wezwanie do jej pogłębienia. Następnie przyglądamsię bardziej empirycznym sposobom doświadczania obcości w świecie społeczno-politycznym,stawiając tezę, iż kryje się za nimi polityczna konstrukcjaobcości. Wreszcie pytam o moralny sens doświadczenia obcości, konkludując, że również natym poziomie jest to sens ambiwalentny: chociaż słuchanie (...) obcego można uznać za obowiązekmoralny, to moralnie dopuszczalne, a czasem konieczne jest również traktowanie go jakowroga w imię uniwersalnych wartości. (shrink)
When philosophers want an example of a person who lacks the ability to do otherwise, they turn to psychopathology. Addicts, agoraphobics, kleptomaniacs, neurotics, obsessives, and even psychopathic serial murderers, are all purportedly subject to irresistible desires that compel the person to act: no alternative possibility is supposed to exist. I argue that this conception of psychopathology is false and offer an empirically and clinically informed understanding of disorders of agency which preserves the ability to do otherwise. First, I appeal to (...) standard clinical treatment for disorders of agency and argue that it undermines this conception of psychopathology. Second, I offer a detailed discussion of addiction, where our knowledge of the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning the disorder is relatively advanced. I argue that neurobiology notwithstanding, addiction is not a form of compulsion and I explain how addiction can impair behavioural control without extinguishing it. Third, I step back from addiction, and briefly sketch what the philosophical landscape more generally looks like without psychopathological compulsion: we lose our standard purported real-world example of psychologically determined action. I conclude by reflecting on the centrality of choice and free will to our concept of action, and their potency within clinical treatment for disorders of agency. (shrink)
“Libertarian paternalism” aims to harness cognitive biases in order to improve prudential decision-making. Some critics have objected that libertarian paternalism is wrongly manipulative. I argue that this objection is mostly unsuccessful. First, I point out that some strategies endorsed by libertarian paternalists can help people to better appreciate reasons. Second, I develop an account of manipulation according to which an agent manipulates her target by worsening the target’s deliberative position. The means of influence defended by libertarian paternalists—for instance, the judicious (...) use of default rules—are not manipulative in this way. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that punishment is intentionally harmful and that this makes it especially hard to morally justify. Explanations for the latter intuition often say questionable things about the moral significance of the intent to harm. I argue that there’s a better way to explain this intuition.
I argue that denial plays a central but insufficiently recognized role in addiction. The puzzle inherent in addiction is why drug use persists despite negative consequences. The orthodox conception of addiction resolves this puzzle by appeal to compulsion; but there is increasing evidence that addicts are not compelled to use but retain choice and control over their consumption in many circumstances. Denial offers an alternative explanation: there is no puzzle as to why drug use persists despite negative consequences if these (...) consequences are not straightforwardly known. I describe the nature of the causal knowledge that one's drug use is causing negative consequences; map the conceptual landscape of denial and explain how it can block such knowledge; and explore some of the processes and mechanisms that have been studied by philosophy and the cognitive sciences and which may underpin denial in addiction, including well-established information-processing biases, motivational influences on belief formation and self-deception, and cognitive deficits with respect to insight and self-awareness. I conclude by suggesting that addiction is as much a disorder of cognition as a disorder of conation. (shrink)
According to the causal theory of parenthood, people incur parental obligations by causing children to exist. Proponents of the causal theory often argue that gamete donors have special obligations to their genetic offspring. In response, many defenders of current gamete donation practices would reject the causal theory. In particular, they may invoke the ‘too many parents problem’: many people who causally contribute to the existence of children – for instance, fertility doctors – do not thereby incur parental obligations. This article (...) argues that the conclusions commonly drawn by causal theorists, and by their critics, are premature. Causal theorists have a promising response to the too many parents problem. This response, however, defuses the moral concern that many causal theorists have raised about gamete donation. A similar point, it is argued, applies to Rivka Weinberg’s ‘Hazmat Theory’. -/- . (shrink)
Drug use and drug addiction are severely stigmatised around the world. Marc Lewis does not frame his learning model of addiction as a choice model out of concern that to do so further encourages stigma and blame. Yet the evidence in support of a choice model is increasingly strong as well as consonant with core elements of his learning model. I offer a responsibility without blame framework that derives from reflection on forms of clinical practice that support change and recovery (...) in patients who cause harm to themselves and others. This framework can be used to interrogate our own attitudes and responses, so that we can better see how to acknowledge the truth about choice and agency in addiction, while avoiding stigma and blame, and instead maintaining care and compassion alongside a commitment to working for social justice and good. (shrink)
I clarify some ambiguities in blame-talk and argue that blame's potential for irrationality and propensity to sting vitiates accounts of blame that identify it with consciously accessible, personal-level judgements or beliefs. Drawing on the cognitive psychology of emotion and appraisal theory, I develop an account of blame that accommodates these features. I suggest that blame consists in a range of hostile, negative first-order emotions, towards which the blamer has a specific, accompanying second-order attitude, namely, a feeling of entitlement—a feeling that (...) these hostile, negative first-order emotions are what the blamed object deserves. (shrink)
Our decision-making is often subject to framing effects: alternative but equally informative descriptions of the same options elicit different choices. When a decision-maker is vulnerable to framing, she may consent under one description of the act, which suggests that she has waived her right, yet be disposed to dissent under an equally informative description of the act, which suggests that she has not waived her right. I argue that in such a case the decision-maker’s consent is simply irrelevant to the (...) permissibility of proceeding. I then consider two alternative views. According to the first, people susceptible to framing are able to give valid consent so long as they are sufficiently informed. This suggestion, I argue, maintains an overly narrow focus on mere quantity of information to the exclusion of other choice-affecting factors. A second response, which appeals to hypothetical consent, is likewise of little use in resolving the moral problem posed by framing effects. I conclude that if susceptibility to framing undermines the validity of consent, we may have good reason to reconsider whether consent has the rights-waiving function commonly attributed to it. (shrink)
Robert Hanna presents a fresh view of the Kantian and analytic traditions that have dominated continental European and Anglo-American philosophy over the last two centuries, and of the connections between them. But this is not just a study in the history of philosophy, for out of this emerges Hanna's original approach to two much-contested theories that remain at the heart of contemporary philosophy. Hanna puts forward a new 'cognitive-semantic' interpretation of transcendental idealism, and a vigorous defense of (...) Kant's theory of analytic and synthetic necessary truth, making this compelling reading for all who are interested in these fundamental philosophical issues. (shrink)
Most anti-paternalists claim that informed and competent self-regarding choices are protected by autonomy, while ill-informed or impaired self-regarding choices are not. Joel Feinberg, among many others, argues that we can in this way distinguish impermissible “hard” paternalism from permissible “soft” paternalism. I argue that this view confronts two related problems in its treatment of ill-informed decision-makers. First, it faces a dilemma when applied to decision-makers who are responsible for their ignorance: it either permits too much, or else too little, intervention (...) to satisfy its proponents. Second, the most promising rationales in favor of the view ignore the distinction between an agent’s voluntarily bringing about some state of affairs, on the one hand, and an agent’s voluntarily assuming a risk, on the other. I conclude that a decision-maker’s ignorance is irrelevant to the permissibility of intervention on her behalf. If it is permissible to intervene in a given ill-informed choice, it would be permissible to intervene in an otherwise similar but informed choice, at least provided that intervention would produce similar benefits in both cases. This shows that we should sometimes accept straightforwardly paternalistic rationales. (shrink)
Some philosophers think that the challenge of justifying punishment can be met by a theory that emphasizes the expressive character of punishment. A particular type of theories of this sort - call it Expressive Retributivism [ER] - combines retributivist and expressivist considerations. These theories are retributivist since they justify punishment as an intrinsically appropriate response to wrongdoing, as something wrongdoers deserve, but the expressivist element in these theories seeks to correct for the traditional obscurity of retributivism. Retributivists often rely on (...) appeals to controversial intuitions involving obscure concepts. While retributive intuitions can be compelling, some worry that the justificatory challenge cannot be met merely by appealing to them. ER tries to enhance the clarity and justificatory power of these intuitions and the concepts they invoke by appealing to an expressive conception of punishment. I argue that these theories fail to justify punishment and that there is reason to think that they cannot, in principle, justify punishment. (shrink)
I argue that addiction is not a chronic, relapsing, neurobiological disease characterized by compulsive use of drugs or alcohol. Large-scale national survey data demonstrate that rates of substance dependence peak in adolescence and early adulthood and then decline steeply; addicts tend to “mature out” in their late twenties or early thirties. The exceptions are addicts who suffer from additional psychiatric disorders. I hypothesize that this difference in patterns of use and relapse between the general and psychiatric populations can be explained (...) by the purpose served by drugs and alcohol for patients. Drugs and alcohol alleviate the severe psychological distress typically experienced by patients with comorbid psychiatric disorders and associated problems. On this hypothesis, consumption is a chosen means to ends that are rational to desire: Use is not compulsive. The upshot of this explanation is that the orthodox view of addiction as a chronic, relapsing neurobiological disease is misguided. I delineate five folk psychological factors that together explain addiction as purposive action: strong and habitual desire; willpower; motivation; functional role; and decision and resolve. I conclude by drawing lessons for research and effective treatment. (shrink)
Hanna Pitkin argues that Wittgenstein's later philosophy offers a revolutionary new conception of language, and hence a new and deeper understanding of ourselves and the world of human institutions and action.
Building on contemporary research in embodied cognition, enactivism, and the extended mind, this book explores how social institutions in contemporary neoliberal nation-states systematically affect our thoughts, feelings, and agency. Human beings are, necessarily, social animals who create and belong to social institutions. But social institutions take on a life of their own, and literally shape the minds of all those who belong to them, for better or worse, usually without their being self-consciously aware of it. Indeed, in contemporary neoliberal societies, (...) it is generally for the worse. In The Mind-Body Politic, Michelle Maiese and Robert Hanna work out a new critique of contemporary social institutions by deploying the special standpoint of the philosophy of mind—in particular, the special standpoint of the philosophy of what they call essentially embodied minds—and make a set of concrete, positive proposals for radically changing both these social institutions and also our essentially embodied lives for the better. (shrink)
Extant philosophical accounts of schizophrenic alien thought neglect three clinically signiﬁ cant features of the phenomenon. First, not only thoughts, but also impulses and feelings, are experienced as alien. Second, only a select array of thoughts, impulses, and feelings are experienced as alien. Th ird, empathy with experiences of alienation is possible. I provide an account of disownership that does justice to these features by drawing on recent work on delusions and selfknowledge. Th e key idea is that disownership occurs (...) when there is a failure of rational control over one’s mind. Th is produces a clash between the deliverances of introspection and practical enquiry as ways of knowing one’s mind. Th is explanation places disownership on a continuum with more common aspects of our psychological life, such as addiction, akrasia, obsessional thinking, and immoral, selﬁ sh or shameful thoughts. I conclude by addressing objections, and exploring the relevance of my account to questions in the philosophy of psychiatry concerning the validity of our current taxonomy of symptoms, and the nature of psychiatric classiﬁ cation.. (shrink)
Recently, Michael Huemer has defended the Principle of Phenomenal Conservatism: If it seems to S that p, then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has at least some degree of justification for believing that p. This principle has potentially far-reaching implications. Huemer uses it to argue against skepticism and to defend a version of ethical intuitionism. I employ a reductio to show that PC is false. If PC is true, beliefs can yield justification for believing their contents in cases (...) where, intuitively, they should not be able to do so. I argue that there are cases where a belief that p can behave like an appearance that p and thereby make it seem to one that p. (shrink)
This paper argues that perception of one's body ‘from the inside’ provides one with an awareness of acting, and that this awareness explains a previously overlooked feature of one's knowledge of one's own actions. Actions are events: they occur during periods of time. Knowledge of such events must be sensitive to their course through time. Perception of one's body ‘from the inside’ allows one to monitor one's actions as they unfold, thereby sustaining one's knowledge of what one is doing over (...) the period of time in which one is doing it. (shrink)
One of the most brilliant political theorists of our time, Hannah Arendt intended her work to liberate, to convince us that the power to improve our flawed arrangements is in our hands. At the same time, Arendt developed a metaphor of "the social" as an alien, appearing as if from outer space to gobble up human freedom; she blamed it—not us—for our public paralysis. In _The Attack of the Blob_, Hanna Pitkin seeks to resolve this seeming paradox by tracing (...) Arendt's notion of "the social" throughout her writings. Doing this, Pitkin developes a resolution that considers everything from language to the nature of political theory itself. (shrink)
Most people believe that it is permissible to kill a nonresponsible threat, or someone who threatens one's life without exercising agency. Defenders of this view must show that there is a morally relevant difference between nonresponsible threats and innocent bystanders. Some philosophers, including Jonathan Quong and Helen Frowe, have attempted to do this by arguing that one who kills a bystander takes advantage of another person, while one who kills a threat does not. In this paper, I show that the (...) proposals offered by Quong and Frowe have unacceptable implications. I then argue that those who claim that nonresponsible threats may be killed face a dilemma generated by the possibility of a stationary threat, or someone who endangers another person's life without moving. Unless we arbitrarily distinguish between stationary and moving nonresponsible threats, it is unclear how the permission to kill nonresponsible threats is to be explicated. I conclude that nonresponsible threats are not legitimate targets of self-defence. (shrink)
My first experience as a clinician was in a Therapeutic Community for service users with personality disorder. As well as having personality disorder, many of the Community members also suffered from related conditions, such as addiction and eating disorders. Broadly speaking, these conditions are what we might call ‘disorders of agency’. Core diagnostic symptoms or maintaining factors of disorders of agency are actions and omissions: patterns of behaviour central to the nature or maintenance of the condition. For instance, borderline personality (...) disorder is diagnosed in part via deliberate self-harm and attempted suicide, reckless and impulsive behaviour, substance use, violence, and outbursts of anger; addiction is diagnosed via maladaptive patterns of drug consumption; eating disorders involve eating too much or too little. If a service user is to improve let alone recover from these disorders, they must change the diagnostic or maintaining pattern of behaviour (cf. Pearce and Pickard, 2010). For instance, service users with borderline personality disorder must stop self-harming; addicts need to quit using drugs or alcohol; anorexics must eat. (shrink)
Most opponents of paternalism agree that autonomy does not protect substantially impaired choices. Yet this common anti-paternalist view faces serious problems. First, I argue that it threatens to justify nearly all beneficial intervention, since all imprudent choices are impaired. Attempts to avoid this problem yield other implications that anti-paternalists would reject. Second, I argue that anti-paternalists have no convincing way of showing that impaired choices, such as those produced by emotional distress, are not protected by autonomy. In light of these (...) problems, we should likely accept a hard paternalist view--one that permits intervention simply in virtue of the consequences. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen proposes a criterion of philosophical success. He takes it to support an extremely pessimistic view about philosophy. He thinks that all philosophical arguments for substantive conclusions fail, including the argument from evil. I’m more optimistic on both counts. I’ll identify problems with van Inwagen’s criterion and propose an alternative. I’ll then explore the differing implications of our criteria. On my view, philosophical arguments can succeed and the argument from evil isn’t obviously a failure.
Robert Hanna argues for the importance of Kant's theories of the epistemological, metaphysical, and practical foundations of the "exact sciences"--relegated to the dustbin of the history of philosophy for most of the 20th century. In doing so he makes a valuable contribution to one of the most active and fruitful areas in contemporary scholarship on Kant.
Many philosophers think that, when someone deserves something, it’s intrinsically good that she get it or there’s a non-instrumental reason to give it to her. Retributivists who try to justify punishment by appealing to claims about what people deserve typically assume this view or views that entail it. In this paper, I present evidence that many people have intuitions that are inconsistent with this view. And I argue that this poses a serious challenge to retributivist arguments that appeal to desert.