This article focuses both on the multifarious personality of Jos Decorte and on the primary themes that recur throughout his writings in light of his death in a tragic traffic accident fourteen years ago. Being a scholar in medieval philosophy, Decorte’s main purpoie was not only to rehabilitate the pivotal role that each of the aforementioned thinkers played within the evolution of medieval philosophy, but to apply their insights to contemporary problems as well. To that end, he wished to transform (...) Henry of Ghent’s ontology of relations and Cusanus’ conjectural ontology into subtler forms that could be adjusted to the predicaments of twentieth century philosophy. Wavering between the tradition of metaphysics and that of negative theology, he defined his own project as striving towards an ideal that, albeit not rationally grounded, could give rise to different and interrelated ramifications of rationality. Finally, it is shown how that ideal was reflected in his strong engagement, alike in his personal and in academic life. (shrink)
It has been a longstanding problem to show how the irreversible behaviour of macroscopic systems can be reconciled with the time-reversal invariance of these same systems when considered from a microscopic point of view. A result by Lanford shows that, under certain conditions, the famous Boltzmann equation, describing the irreversible behaviour of a dilute gas, can be obtained from the time-reversal invariant Hamiltonian equations of motion for the hard spheres model. Here, we examine how and in what sense Lanford’s theorem (...) succeeds in deriving this remarkable result. Many authors have expressed different views on the question which of the ingredients in Lanford’s theorem is responsible for the emergence of irreversibility. We claim that these interpretations miss the target. In fact, we argue that there is no time-asymmetric ingredient at all. (shrink)
This article discusses the design methodology of the Benedictine monk-architect Dom Hans van der Laan, famous for his manifesto De Architectonische Ruimte, in which he proposed his ideal elementary architecture. In the past, this ideal achitecture was linked to Van der Laan’s proportional system and to his general approach as an architect rather than to his Catholic background. Consequently, the changing conceptual landscape in which he developed his ideas on the relation between religion and design was neglected. Yet, as this (...) article will argue, it is only by carefully exploring the relation between Van der Laan’s attempts to define a fundamental architecture and his ambition to understand the religious traditions they may have sprung from that one can understand how his religion and design methodology influenced each other. Based on unedited primary sources, this article reveals forgotten interconnections between Van der Laan’s religious and architectural thinking. By analysing these motifs, it offers new insights on the interrelationships between religion and architecture that go beyond the traditionalist-modernist dichotomy. (shrink)
Der Gegenstand der Medizinethik ist die normative Analyse und ethische Reflexion von praktischen Fragen, denen sich Einzelne oder Gruppen mit Blick auf das Gesundheitswesen und insbesondere mit Blick auf den Umgang mit menschlicher Krankheit und Gesundheit gegenübersehen. Sie gehört damit zu den sogenannten angewandten oder Bereichsethiken.
This chapter provides an interpretation of the early Heidegger’s underdeveloped conception of the undistinguishedness of everyday human existence in Being and Time. After explaining why certain translation choices of some key terms in this text are interpretively and philosophically important, I first provide a concise argument for why the social constitution interpretation of the relation between ownedness and unownedness makes better overall sense of Heidegger’s ambivalent attitude toward the social constitution of the human being than the standard existentialist interpretation of (...) this relation. I then proceed to the heart of this chapter, which develops his inchoate conception of the undistinguishedness of everydayness by arguing that it specifies the third distinctive mode of concrete human existence in addition to ownedness and unownedness. Accordingly, I show how unownedness is actually a generic phenomenon with two distinct species, namely, undistinguishedness and disownedness, which are at once closely related to, but also differ in significant respects from, each other. Consequently, instead of taking for granted a one-dimensional and mutually exclusive opposition between ‘authenticity’ and ‘inauthenticity’, I argue that we should adopt a two-dimensional and more nuanced understanding of the relations among undistinguishedness, disownedness, and ownedness that intersects with Heidegger’s underappreciated distinction between genuineness and ungenuineness. After raising and replying to some objections to this interpretation of undistinguishedness, I conclude this chapter by briefly sketching three of its philosophical consequences and pointing out its potential as an important resource for contemporary social theories. (shrink)
Gao presents a critical reconsideration of a paper I wrote on the subject of protective measurement. Here, I take the occasion to reply to his objections. In particular, I retract my previous claim to have proven that in a protective measurement, the observable being measured on a system must commute with the system's Hamiltonian. However, I do maintain the viability of the interpretation I offered for protective measurements, as well as my analysis of a thought experiment proposed by Aharonov, Anandan (...) and Vaidman against Gao's objections. (shrink)
The starting point of the present paper is Bell’s notion of local causality and his own sharpening of it so as to provide for mathematical formalisation. Starting with Norsen’s analysis of this formalisation, it is subjected to a critique that reveals two crucial aspects that have so far not been properly taken into account. These are the correct understanding of the notions of sufficiency, completeness and redundancy involved; and the fact that the apparatus settings and measurement outcomes have very different (...) theoretical roles in the candidate theories under study. Both aspects are not adequately incorporated in the standard formalisation, and we will therefore do so. The upshot of our analysis is a more detailed, sharp and clean mathematical expression of the condition of local causality. A preliminary analysis of the repercussions of our proposal shows that it is able to locate exactly where and how the notions of locality and causality are involved in formalising Bell’s condition of local causality. (shrink)
Abstract At the present moment, American undergraduates are highly critical of their colleges and universities. Provoked by representations of the state of higher education in the popular press, students are vigorously engaged in debates regarding the ?Canon? and ?political correctness?. In this essay, I interpret student criticism and our responses to those criticisms in the context of larger questions of morality. I argue that a principal aim of education is the development of a moral imagination, and that the development of (...) a moral imagination is embedded in processes of identity formation and identification. In an educational setting, these processes involve students in locating their own questions in material to be studied and in identifying with and responding to the questions of others. I describe the use of fiction writing to enable students to find their own questions, and thereby find themselves. (shrink)
One of the founders of modern hermeneutics, German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey confronted the question of how modern, postmetaphysical human beings can cope with the ambivalence, contingency, and finitude that fundamentally characterize their lives. This book offers a reevaluation and fresh analysis of Dilthey’s hermeneutics of life against the background of the development of philosophy during the past two centuries. Jos de Mul relates Dilthey’s work to other philosophers who influenced or were influenced by him, including Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Comte, Mill, (...) Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, and Derrida. Weaving together systematic analysis and historical investigation, de Mul begins the book with an account of the horizon on which Dilthey developed his unfinished masterwork, _Critique of Historical Reason. _The author then elaborates a systematic reconstruction of Dilthey’s ontology of life, relates the ontology to the work of other twentieth-century philosophers, and positions Dilthey’s thought within current philosophical debate. (shrink)
Helmut Plessner was one of the founders of philosophical anthropology, and his book _The Stages of the Organic and Man_, first published in 1928, has inspired generations of philosophers, biologists, social scientists, and humanities scholars. This volume offers the first substantial introduction to Plessner’s philosophical anthropology in English, not only setting it in context with such familiar figures as Bergson, Cassirer, and Merleau-Ponty, but also showing Plessner’s relevance to contemporary discussions in a wide variety of fields in the humanities and (...) sciences. (shrink)
Violence in the book of Judges is a function of the lawless era it describes, but it is also intertwined with the lives of women. The women in the book are both perpetrators and victims of violence; the relationship between violence and women's lives is a surprisingly intimate one.
Helmuth Plessner’s Levels of Organic Life and the Human [Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch, 1928] is one of the founding texts of twentieth century philosophical anthropology. It is argued that Plessner’s work demonstrates the fundamental indispensability of the qualitative humanities vis-à-vis the natural-scientific study of man. Plessner’s non-reductionist, emergentist naturalism allots complementary roles to the causal and functional investigations of the life sciences and the phenomenological and hermeneutic interpretation of the phenomenon of life in its successive levels and (...) stages. Within this context, human agency can be understood as a higher-order property of organic life, which act by the selective activation of lower-level psychophysical powers. Plessner’s three ‘anthropological laws’ are used to situate the notion of practical self-understanding in between two extremes: deterministic views that deny human freedom and responsibility and views that ascribe an unrealistic amount of autonomy to human beings. (shrink)
In Western countries a considerable number of older people move to a residential home when their health declines. Institutionalization often results in increased dependence, inactivity and loss of identity or self-worth (dignity). This raises the moral question as to how older, institutionalized people can remain autonomous as far as continuing to live in line with their own values is concerned. Following Walker's meta-ethical framework on the assignment of responsibilities, we suggest that instead of directing all older people towards more autonomy (...) in terms of independence, professional caregivers should listen to the life narrative of older people and attempt to find out how their personal identity, relations and values in life can be continued in the new setting. If mutual normative expectations between caregivers and older people are not carefully negotiated, it creates tension. This tension is illustrated by the narrative of Mr Powell, a retired successful public servant now living in a residential home. The narrative describes his current life, his need for help, his independent frame of mind, and his encounters with institutional and professional policies. Mr Powell sees himself as a man who has always cared for himself and others, and who still feels that he has to fulfil certain duties in life. Mr Powell's story shows that he is not always understood well by caregivers who respond from a one-sided view of autonomy as independence. This leads to misunderstanding and an underestimation of his need to be noticed and involved in the residential community. (shrink)
Background Over the past decade, the exponential growth of the literature devoted to personalized medicine has been paralleled by an ever louder chorus of epistemic and ethical criticisms. Their differences notwithstanding, both advocates and critics share an outdated philosophical understanding of the concept of personhood and hence tend to assume too simplistic an understanding of personalization in health care. Methods In this article, we question this philosophical understanding of personhood and personalization, as these concepts shape the field of personalized medicine. (...) We establish a dialogue with phenomenology and hermeneutics in order to achieve a more sophisticated understanding of the meaning of these concepts We particularly focus on the relationship between personal subjectivity and objective data. Results We first explore the gap between the ideal of personalized healthcare and the reality of today’s personalized medicine. We show that the nearly exclusive focus of personalized medicine on the objective part of personhood leads to a flawed ethical debate that needs to be reframed. Second, we seek to contribute to this reframing by drawing on the phenomenological-hermeneutical movement in philosophy. Third, we show that these admittedly theoretical analyses open up new conceptual possibilities to tackle the very practical ethical challenges that personalized medicine faces. Conclusion Finally, we propose a reversal: if personalization is a continuous process by which the person reappropriates all manner of objective data, giving them meaning and thereby shaping his or her own way of being human, then personalized medicine, rather than being personalized itself, can facilitate personalization of those it serves through the data it provides. (shrink)
This essay explicates and evaluates the roles that fetal metaphysics and moral status play in Rosalind Hursthouse’s abortion ethics. It is motivated by Hursthouse’s puzzling claim in her widely anthologized paper Virtue Ethics and Abortion that fetal moral status and (by implication) its underlying metaphysics are in a way, fundamentally irrelevant to her position. The essay clarifies the roles that fetal ontology and moral status do in fact play in her abortion ethics. To this end, it presents and then develops (...) her fetal metaphysics of the potential and actual human being, which she merely adumbrates in her more extensive treatment of abortion ethics in her book Beginning Lives. The essay then evaluates her fetal ontology in light of relevant research on fetal neural and psychological development. It concludes that her implied view that the late-stage fetus is an actual human being is defensible. The essay then turns to the analysis of late-stage abortions in her paper and argues that it is importantly incomplete. (shrink)