On the 24th June 2015, Feminist Legal Studies and the London School of Economics Law Department hosted an afternoon event with Professor Wendy Brown, Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science, University of California. Professor Brown kindly agreed to discuss her scholarship on feminist theory, and its relationship to both the law and neoliberalism. The event included an interview by Dr Katie Cruz and a Q&A session, which are presented here in an edited version of the transcript. Sumi Madhock, (...) Professor of Gender Studies, LSE chaired the interview and discussion and introduced Professor Brown’s work. Katie Cruz asked Wendy Brown to reflect upon topics that span her scholarship and activism, including the state of critical, feminist, and Left approaches to rights, neoliberalism, despair and utopianism, and the future of feminist theory and practice in the context of neoliberalism and current debates about intersectionality. Participants in the discussion asked questions on a wide range of issues, including the limits of feminist engagement with law as a tool for social change, the dominance of neoliberalism, imperialist feminism, Islamophobia, secularism, and our attachment to the figure of homo politicus. (shrink)
The last part of Wittgenstein's Blue Book consists of a discussion of Solipsism. In the course of that discussion there occur several remarks which are explicitly concerned with the concept of a person and with the criteria of personal identity. This section is replaced in the Philosophical Investigations by half a sentence which reads: ‘… there is a great variety of criteria for personal “ identity ”’. Wittgenstein has italicised the word ‘identity’, and has placed it in inverted commas: I (...) don't quite know why he does this, but it might be a hint to the effect that there is something slightly suspect about the notion of personal identity. (shrink)
The ever increasing ability of medical technology to reshape the human body in fundamental ways—from organ and tissue transplants to reconstructive surgery and prosthetics—is something now largely taken for granted. But for a philosopher, such interventions raise fundamental and fascinating questions about our sense of individual identity and its relationship to the physical body. Drawing on and engaging with philosophers from across the centuries, Jenny Slatman here develops a novel argument: that our own body always entails a strange dimension, (...) a strangeness that enables us to incorporate radical physical changes. (shrink)
Boorse’s biostatistical theory states that diseases should be defined in ways that reflect disturbances of biological function and that are objective and value free. We use three examples from contemporary medicine that demonstrate the complex issues that arise when defining the boundaries of disease: polycystic ovary syndrome, chronic kidney disease, and myocardial infarction. We argue that the biostatistical theory fails to provide sufficient guidance on where the boundaries of disease should be drawn, contains ambiguities relating to choice of reference class, (...) and is out of step with medical processes for identifying disease boundaries. Although proponents of the biostatistical theory might regard these practical issues as irrelevant to the aim of providing a theoretical account of disease, we take them to indicate the need for a theoretical account that is adequate for current needs—including limiting new forms of medicalization that are driven by the identification of disease based on dysfunction. Our processes for determining the boundaries for disease need to recognize that there is no value-free method for making these decisions. (shrink)
Does the real difference between non-consequentialist and consequentialist theories lie in their approach to value? Non-consequentialist theories are thought either to allow a different kind of value (namely, agent-relative value) or to advocate a different response to value ('honouring' rather than 'promoting'). One objection to this idea implies that all normative theories are describable as consequentialist. But then the distinction between honouring and promoting collapses into the distinction between relative and neutral value. A proper description of non-consequentialist theories can only (...) be achieved by including a distinction between temporal relativity and neutrality in addition to the distinction between agent-relativity and agent-neutrality. (shrink)
I develop a theory of counterfactuals about relative computability, i.e. counterfactuals such as 'If the validity problem were algorithmically decidable, then the halting problem would also be algorithmically decidable,' which is true, and 'If the validity problem were algorithmically decidable, then arithmetical truth would also be algorithmically decidable,' which is false. These counterfactuals are counterpossibles, i.e. they have metaphysically impossible antecedents. They thus pose a challenge to the orthodoxy about counterfactuals, which would treat them as uniformly true. What’s more, I (...) argue that these counterpossibles don’t just appear in the periphery of relative computability theory but instead they play an ineliminable role in the development of the theory. Finally, I present and discuss a model theory for these counterfactuals that is a straightforward extension of the familiar comparative similarity models. (shrink)
Recent years have seen dramatic changes in the attitudes and expectations brought to bear on companies. Over ten years of research at MORI has shown the increasing prominence of corporate responsibility for a wide range of stakeholders, from consumers and employees to legislators and investors.
In this paper I explore the various meanings of embodiment from a patient’s perspective. Resorting to phenomenology of health and medicine, I take the idea of ‘lived experience’ as starting point. On the basis of an analysis of phenomenology’s call for bracketing the natural attitude and its reduction to the transcendental, I will explain, however, that in medical phenomenological literature ‘lived experience’ is commonly one-sidedly interpreted. In my paper, I clarify in what way the idea of ‘lived experience’ should be (...) revisited and, subsequently, what this reconsideration means for phenomenological research on embodiment in health and medicine. The insight that the body is a condition of possibility for world-disclosing yet, at the same time, itself conditioned by this world forces us to not only zoom in on the body’s subject-side, but also on its object-side. I argue that in order to render account for this double body ontology, phenomenology should include empirical sociological analyses as well. I thus argue in favor of the idea of a socio-phenomenology. Drawing on material from my own research project on embodied self-experiences after breast surgery, I show how this approach can be fruitful in interpreting the impact of disfigurements on a person’s embodied agency, or a person’s ‘I can’. (shrink)
Decision theory and folk psychology both purport to represent the same phenomena: our belief-like and desire- and preference-like states. They also purport to do the same work with these representations: explain and predict our actions. But they do so with different sets of concepts. There's much at stake in whether one of these two sets of concepts can be accounted for with the other. Without such an account, we'd have two competing representations and systems of prediction and explanation, a dubious (...) dualism. Folk psychology structures our daily lives and has proven fruitful in the study of mind and ethics, while decision theory is pervasive in various disciplines, including the quantitative social sciences, especially economics, and philosophy. My interest is in accounting for folk psychology with decision theory -- in particular, for believe and wanting, which decision theory omits. Many have attempted this task for belief. (The Lockean Thesis says that there is such an account.) I take up the parallel task for wanting, which has received far less attention. I propose necessary and sufficient conditions, stated in terms of decision theory, for when you're truly said to want; I give an analogue of the Lockean Thesis for wanting. My account is an alternative to orthodox accounts that link wanting to preference (e.g. Stalnaker (1984), Lewis (1986)), which I argue are false. I argue further that want ascriptions are context-sensitive. My account explains this context-sensitivity, makes sense of conflicting desires, and accommodates phenomena that motivate traditional theses on which 'want' has multiple senses (e.g. all-things-considered vs. pro tanto). (shrink)
"The doctrine of materialism is one of the perennial and most controversial ideas in the arts and sciences. Throughout history it has aroused strong passions, and in the Sixteenth and Twentieth centuries was a doctrine over which people were persecuted and killed. Yet it has been equally aligned with empirical, enlightened and tolerant thinking. This book explores the fascinating and important philosophy of materialism in an engaging and thought-provoking way. Opening with an overview of the ideas of some of the (...) most important materialists, including Lucretius, Epicurus, Hobbes and Hume up to Darwin and Marx, Brown and Ladyman show how materialism's origins were twofold: it was an early form of scientific explanation but also an intellectual outlook, or belief-system, about the world in general. They then explain how materialism's beginnings as imaginative vision of the true nature of things faced a major challenge from modern physics, in the form of quantum theory and the general theory of relativity. This posed major questions for materialism: how could it be reconciled with unobservable entities and new discoveries about the nature of space and time? As the authors show, out of this challenge materialism did not die but re-emerged - as the new doctrine of physicalism. Drawing on colourful examples throughout - from modern physics, the nature of the mind, and atheism - the authors argue that whilst materialism may not have all the answers, its humanism and staunch belief in observation, evidence and experiment remains our best hope in a fragmented and hyper-specialised world"--. (shrink)
The aim of this review is to assess the ethical implications of finfish aquaculture, regarding fish welfare and environmental aspects. The finfish aquaculture industry has grown substantially the last decades, both as a result of the over-fishing of wild fish populations, and because of the increasing consumer demand for fish meat. As the industry is growing, a significant amount of research on the subject is being conducted, monitoring the effects of aquaculture on the environment and on animal welfare. The areas (...) of concern when it comes to animal welfare have here been divided into four different stages: breeding period; growth period; capturing and handling; and slaughter. Besides these stages, this report includes a chapter on the current evidence of fish sentience, since this issue is still being debated among biologists. However, most biologists are at present acknowledging the probability of fish being sentient creatures. Current aquaculture practices are affecting fish welfare during all four of the cited stages, both on physical and mental levels, as well as on the ability of fish to carry out natural behaviors. The effect fish farming has on the environment is here separated into five different categories: the decline of wild fish populations; waste and chemical discharge; loss of habitat; spreading of diseases; and invasion of exotic organisms. There is evidence of severe negative effects on the environment when looking at these five categories, even when considering the difficulty of studying environmental effects, due to the closely interacting variables. The ethical arguments and scientific evidences here reviewed have not all come to the same conclusions. Nevertheless, the general agreement is that current aquaculture practices are neither meeting the needs of fish nor environment. Thus, the obvious environmental and animal welfare aspects of finfish aquaculture make it hard to ethically defend a fish diet. (shrink)
The social model of disability gives us the tools not only to challenge the discrimination and prejudice we face, but also to articulate the personal experience of impairment. Recognition of difference is therefore a key part of the assertion of our common humanity and of an ethics of care that promotes our human rights.
The frequency and severity of natural disasters and extreme weather events are increasing, taking a dramatic economic and relational toll on the communities they strike. Given the critical role that entrepreneurship plays in a community’s viability, it is necessary to understand how small business owners respond to these events and move forward over time. This study explores the long-term dynamics and trajectory of individuals within the broader business community following a natural disaster, paying particular attention to the influence of social (...) identity. Results suggest that the community identity changes over the course of recovery and rebuilding, underscoring the need for a holistic approach so that intervening agencies can achieve the sustainable economic recovery desired. (shrink)
Infants have been described as 'statistical learners' capable of extracting structure (such as words) from patterned input (such as language). Here, we investigated whether prior knowledge influences how infants track transitional probabilities in word segmentation tasks. Are infants biased by prior experience when engaging in sequential statistical learning? In a laboratory simulation of learning across time, we exposed 9- and 10-month-old infants to a list of either disyllabic or trisyllabic nonsense words, followed by a pause-free speech stream composed of a (...) different set of disyllabic or trisyllabic nonsense words. Listening times revealed successful segmentation of words from fluent speech only when words were uniformly disyllabic or trisyllabic throughout both phases of the experiment. Hearing trisyllabic words during the pre-exposure phase derailed infants' abilities to segment speech into disyllabic words, and vice versa. We conclude that prior knowledge about word length equips infants with perceptual expectations that facilitate efficient processing of subsequent language input. (shrink)
Physical Relativity explores the nature of the distinction at the heart of Einstein's 1905 formulation of his special theory of relativity: that between kinematics and dynamics. Einstein himself became increasingly uncomfortable with this distinction, and with the limitations of what he called the 'principle theory' approach inspired by the logic of thermodynamics. A handful of physicists and philosophers have over the last century likewise expressed doubts about Einstein's treatment of the relativistic behaviour of rigid bodies and clocks in motion in (...) the kinematical part of his great paper, and suggested that the dynamical understanding of length contraction and time dilation intimated by the immediate precursors of Einstein is more fundamental. Harvey Brown both examines and extends these arguments, after giving a careful analysis of key features of the pre-history of relativity theory. He argues furthermore that the geometrization of the theory by Minkowski in 1908 brought illumination, but not a causal explanation of relativistic effects. Finally, Brown tries to show that the dynamical interpretation of special relativity defended in the book is consistent with the role this theory must play as a limiting case of Einstein's 1915 theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity.Appearing in the centennial year of Einstein's celebrated paper on special relativity, Physical Relativity is an unusual, critical examination of the way Einstein formulated his theory. It also examines in detail certain specific historical and conceptual issues that have long given rise to debate in both special and general relativity theory, such as the conventionality of simultaneity, the principle of general covariance, and the consistency or otherwise of the special theory with quantum mechanics. Harvey Brown' s new interpretation of relativity theory will interest anyone working on these central topics in modern physics. (shrink)