Do philosophy professors specializing in ethics behave, on average, any morally better than do other professors? If not, do they at least behave more consistently with their expressed values? These questions have never been systematically studied. We examine the self-reported moral attitudes and moral behavior of 198 ethics professors, 208 non-ethicist philosophers, and 167 professors in departments other than philosophy on eight moral issues: academic society membership, voting, staying in touch with one's mother, vegetarianism, organ and blood donation, responsiveness to (...) student emails, charitable giving, and honesty in responding to survey questionnaires. On some issues, we also had direct behavioral measures that we could compare with the self-reports. Ethicists expressed somewhat more stringent normative attitudes on some issues, such as vegetarianism and charitable donation. However, on no issue did ethicists show unequivocally better behavior than the two comparison groups. Our findings on attitude-behavior consistency were mixed: ethicists showed the strongest relationship between behavior and expressed moral attitude regarding voting but the weakest regarding charitable donation. We discuss implications for several models of the relationship between philosophical reflection and real-world moral behavior. (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection improves moral behavior, one might expect ethics professors to behave morally better than socially similar non-ethicists. Under the assumption that forms of political engagement such as voting have moral worth, we looked at the rate at which a sample of professional ethicists—and political philosophers as a subgroup of ethicists—voted in eight years’ worth of elections. We compared ethicists’ and political philosophers’ voting rates with the voting rates of three other groups: philosophers not specializing in ethics, political (...) scientists, and a comparison group of professors specializing in neither philosophy nor political science. All groups voted at about the same rate, except for the political scientists, who voted about 10–15% more often. On the face of it, this finding conflicts with the expectation that ethicists will behave more responsibly than non-ethicists. (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection tends to promote moral behavior, one might think that professional ethicists would behave morally better than do socially comparable non-ethicists. We examined three types of courteous and discourteous behavior at American Philosophical Association conferences: talking audibly while the speaker is talking (versus remaining silent), allowing the door to slam shut while entering or exiting mid-session (versus attempting to close the door quietly), and leaving behind clutter at the end of a session (versus leaving one's seat tidy). (...) By these three measures, audiences in ethics sessions did not appear to behave any more courteously than did audiences in non-ethics sessions. However, audiences in environmental ethics sessions did appear to leave behind less trash. (shrink)
This paper aims to uncover the explanatory profile of an idealized version of Karl Ernst von Baer’s notion of individuation, wherein the special develops from the general. First, because such sequences can only be exemplified by a multiplicity of causally-related events, they should be seen as the topics of historical why-questions, rather than initial condition why-questions. Second, because historical why-questions concern the diachronic unity or genidentity of the events under consideration, I argue that the von Baerian pattern elicits a distinctive (...) response to such questions, wherein we are inclined to simultaneously affirm and reject the temporal unity of these events. I buttress this claim by considering non-biological expressions of the von Baerian principle, drawn from institutional history and literature. In the second half of the paper, I consider the implications of my findings for ontogenetic and phylogenetic sequences. I argue that the explanatory profile of von Baer’s principle neatly describes the distinctive speciation events that characterize deep metazoan phylogeny, as described by Stuart Newman. I also argue that parallel considerations should move us to accept a sense in which ontogenetic stages are not diachronically unified. (shrink)
Do professional ethicists behave any morally better than other professors do? Do they show any greater consistency between their normative attitudes and their behavior? In response to a survey question, a large majority of professors (83 percent of ethicists, 83 percent of nonethicist philosophers, and 85 percent of nonphilosophers) expressed the view that “not consistently responding to student e-mails” is morally bad. A similarly large majority of professors claimed to respond to at least 95 percent of student e-mails. These professors, (...) and others, were sent three e-mails designed to look like queries from students. Ethicists’ e-mail response rates were not significantly different from the other two groups’. Expressed normative view correlated with self-estimated rate of e-mail responsiveness, especially among the ethicists. Empirically measured e-mail responsiveness, however, was at best weakly correlated with self-estimated e-mail responsiveness; and professors’ expressed normative attitude was not significantly correlated with empirically measured e-mail responsiveness for any of the three groups. (shrink)
We review and present a new meta‐analysis of research suggesting that ethicists in the United States appear to behave no morally better overall than do non‐ethicist professors. Measures include: returning library books, peer evaluation of overall moral behavior, voting participation, courteous and discourteous behavior at conferences, replying to student emails, paying conference registration fees and disciplinary society dues, staying in touch with one's mother, charitable giving, organ and blood donation, vegetarianism, and honesty in responding to survey questions. One multi‐measure study (...) found ethicists tending to embrace more stringent moral views, especially about meat eating and charitable donation. The same multi‐measure study found ethicists and other professors to show similarly small‐to‐medium correlations between their expressed normative attitudes and their self‐reported or directly measured behavior. (shrink)
Technical artifacts do not seem particularly continuous with institutional statuses. If statuses are defined in terms of their constitutive rules, as Searle maintains, then disassociation is always possible – someone or something can satisfy those rules without being able to realize the functional effects that are associated with that status. The gap between technical artifacts and Searlean statuses suggests the possibility of an additional social kind, which I call, following Muhammad Ali Khalidi, a ‘real social kind’. However, the placement of (...) real social kinds between technical artifacts and statuses recommends a reconfiguration of Khalidi’s most abstract characterization of the notion. This reconfiguration also lends support to his surprising claim that money is a real social kind. (shrink)
John Searle (1932-) is one of the most famous living American philosophers. A pupil of J. L. Austin at Oxford in the 1950s, he is currently Mills Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Language at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1995 John Searle published "The Construction of Social Reality", a text which not only promises to disclose the institutional backdrop against which speech takes place, but initiate a new 'philosophy of society'. Since then "The Construction of Social Reality" (...) has been subject to a flurry of criticism. While many of Searle's interlocutors share the sense that the text marks an important breakthrough, he has time and again accused critics of misunderstanding his claims. Despite Searle's characteristic crispness and clarity there remains some confusion, among both philosophers and sociologists, regarding the significance of his proposals. This book traces some of the high points of this dialogue, leveraging Searle's own clarifications to propose a new way of understanding the text. In particular, Joshua Rust looks to Max Weber in suggesting that Searle has articulated an ideal type. In locating The Construction of Social Reality under the umbrella of one of sociology's founding fathers, this book not only makes Searle's text more accessible to the readers in the social sciences, but presents Max Weber as a thinker worthy of philosophical reconsideration. Moreover, the recharacterization of Searle's claims in terms of the ideal type helps facilitate a comparison between Searle and other social theorists such as Talcott Parsons. (shrink)
Introduction -- Fundamental ontology : external realism and scientific naturalism -- Consciousness and materialist theories of mind -- Intentional mental states -- Reason and action -- From acts to speech acts : the intention to communicate -- From sounds to words : the intention to represent -- On the meaning of meaning : critical remarks -- The construction of social reality -- Topics concerning institutional reality : reasons, language, politics, and the background.
While developments of a shared intellectual tradition, the enactivist approach and the organizational account proffer importantly different accounts of organismic normativity. Where enactivists tend to follow Hans Jonas, Andres Weber, and Francisco Varela in grounding intrinsic affordance norms in existential concern, organizational theorists such as Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio, and Leonardo Bich seek a more deflationary account of these normative phenomena. Critiques directed at both of these accounts of organismic normativity motivate the introduction of the precedential account of organismic normativity, (...) which I nevertheless locate within the enactivist approach, broadly construed. After detailing empirical evidence that would seem to vindicate the precedential account, I explore some of its implications. (shrink)
Against the neo-Darwinian assumption that genetic factors are the principal source of variation upon which natural selection operates, a phenotype-first hypothesis strikes us as revolutionary because development would seem to constitute an independent source of variability. Richard Watson and his co-authors have argued that developmental memory constitutes one such variety of phenotypic variability. While this version of the phenotype-first hypothesis is especially well-suited for the late metazoan context, where animals have a sufficient history of selection from which to draw, appeals (...) to developmental memory seem less plausible in the evolutionary context of the early metazoans. I provide an interpretation of Stuart Newman’s account of deep metazoan phylogenesis that suggests that spandrels are, in addition to developmental memory, an important reservoir of phenotypic variability. I conclude by arguing that Gerd Müller’s “side-effect hypothesis” is an illuminating generalization of the proposed non-Watsonian version of the phenotype-first hypothesis. (shrink)
There is much in The Sensory Order that recommends the oft-made claim that Hayek anticipated connectionist theories of mind. To the extent that this is so, contemporary arguments against and for connectionism, as advanced by Jerry Fodor, Zenon Pylyshyn, and John Searle, are shown as applicable to theoretical psychology. However, the ﬁnal section of this chapter highlights an important disanalogy between theoretical psychology and connectionist theories of mind.
Key elements of John Searle’s articulation of the Standard Model of Social Ontology can be found within Max Weber’s ideal type of legal-rational authority. However, the fact that, for Weber, legal-rational authority is just one of three types of legitimate authority, along with traditional and charismatic authority, suggests limitations to the Standard Model’s scope of applicability. Where Searle takes himself to have provided an account of “the structure of human civilization,” Weber’s taxonomy suggests that Searle has only given us an (...) account of a way of being a civilization. This understanding of traditional authority also reveals why the Standard Model misconstrues the structure of ordinary, informal statuses, such as friendship. (shrink)