Current philosophical studies of the implications of a "minimalist" theory of truth reveal how problems otherwise unnoticed are arisen by the issue of true or false. As catalyzer of linguistic problems, this issue appears even today as a dark mirror wherein language reflects its profound enigmas and unavoidable uncertainties.
In this paper, I argue that, in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith conflates two different meanings of ?self-command?, which is particularly puzzling because of the central role of this virtue in his theory. The first is the matrix of rational action, the one described in Part III of the TMS and learned in ?the great school of self-command?. The second is the particular moral virtue of self-command. Distinguishing between these two meanings allows us, on the one hand, to (...) solve some apparent paradoxes of the text; and, on the other, to identify various features of both the practical reason and deontological ethical traditions that are present in Smith's sentimentalism, enriching his phenomenological account of moral actions. (shrink)
Willusionists claim that recent developments in psychology and neuroscience demonstrate that consciousness is causally inefficient [Carruthers, 2007; Eagleman, 2012; Wegner, 2002]. In section 1, I show that willusionists provide two types of evidence: first, evidence that we do not always know the causes of our actions; second, evidence that we lack introspective awareness of the causal efficiency of our intentional acts.In section 2, I analyze the first type of evidence. Recent research in the field of social psychology has shown that (...) irrelevant factors affect human behavior. For example, it has been shown that pleasant smells make a person more helpful toward strangers [Baron, 1997], whereas images of eyes that a person sees on a poster reduce the likelihood of cheating [Bateson, Nettle, & Roberts, 2006]. I argue that minor influences do not necessarily lead to something more sinister, and the contrary has not been empirically proven so far.In section 3, I analyze the second type of evidence that Daniel Wegner  provides in favor of willusionism. Wegner claims that conscious will is usually understood in one of two ways: «as something that is experienced when we perform an action» [Wegner, 2002, p. 3] or «as a force of mind, a name for the causal link between our minds and our actions» [ibid.]. According to Wegner, it is a conceptual truth that for something to count as an instance of conscious will it must both be felt as voluntary, and causally efficient in bringing about a certain effect. Wegner claims that what satisfies can fail to satisfy, and vice versa. The major part of Wegner’s book is the review and analysis of diverse psychological phenomena: automatisms, hypnosis, illusions of control, influence of unconscious factors on human behavior, as well as some neuroscientific data. I briefly review the data provided by Wegner, and come to the conclusion that, although they show that there is a double dissociation between consciously willed processes and the acts that are supposedly caused by these processes, they do not justify further conclusions made by Wegner.According to Wegner, the feeling of conscious will is just an indicator of unconscious processes which, in fact, cause our behavior. I argue that the data considered by Wegner do not provide direct information about the neuronal processes that underlie conscious intentional processes. Moreover, double dissociation can only show that one process neither a necessary nor sufficient cause of another process. It cannot show that one process is not among the causes leading to another process.In section 4, I argue that the experimental data discussed in the article are important for philosophical theories of intentionality. (shrink)
When members of a group doxastically disagree with each other, decisions in the group are often hard to make. The members are supposed to find an epistemic compromise. How do members of a group reach a rational epistemic compromise on a proposition when they have different (rational) credences in the proposition? I answer the question by suggesting the Fine-Grained Method of Aggregation, which is introduced in Brössel and Eder 2014 and is further developed here. I show how this method faces (...) challenges of the standard method of aggregation, Weighted Straight Averaging, in a successful way. One of the challenges concerns the fact that Weighted Straight Averaging does not respect the evidential states of agents. Another challenge arises because Weighted Straight Averaging does not account for synergetic effects. (shrink)
The most important difference between contemporary compatibilist and libertarian theories is not the difference in their positions regarding the truth of the thesis of physical determinism, but their different approaches to the causal role of agents. According to libertarians, volitional acts performed by agents constitute a specific type of causes, which are not themselves caused by other causes. In this respect, event-causal libertarianism is similar to the agent-causal libertarianism, because it insists that in performing a volitional act an agent can (...) choose one of the alternative outcomes without being caused to do so by anything else, where ‘anything else’ includes all the facts about the past and the present. Since event-causal libertarians maintain that volitional acts and the causal role of agents can be explained naturalistically, they must solve the problem of luck, i.e., they must explain how an agent is able to control her choices, given that she can choose one way or another without there being any difference in her state immediately preceding the moment of choice. This problem arises not from the indeterminism per se, but from the way it is coupled with the causal role of agents.In section one, I consider the historical development of compatibilist views on physical determinism and indeterminism. In section two, I present an overview of conditional analyses of alternative possibilities. In section three, I analyze the reasons why libertarians reject any type of conditional analysis, and show that intuitive objections against physical determinism, which portrait it as an obstacle to freedom, are untenable. In section four, I consider the consequence argument and show how it is related to the libertarian condition of sourcehood. In the final section, I analyze the problem of luck and show that it inevitably arises for any version of libertarianism. I demonstrate that indeterminism is a problem for libertarians, although they need it. And it is not a problem for compatibilists, who, while they do not need it, can incorporate it in their theories without facing the problem of luck. (shrink)
Synchronic and diachronic unity of consciousness and their interrelation pose interdisciplinary problems that can only be addressed by the combined means of philosophical and scientific theories. In the first part of the article the author briefly reviews psychological and materialistic accounts of personal identity. Historically these accounts were introduced to solve the problem of diachronic identity of persons, i.e., the problem of their persistence through time. She argues that they don’t explain how synchronic unity of consciousness, subjectively experienced as the (...) unity of the phenomenal field, correlates with diachronic identity of persons. In the second part of the article the author reviews Tim Bayne’s “virtual phenomenalism”. In the third part of the article she formulates two questions that virtual phenomenalism has to answer in order to solve the problems that face both the psychological and the materialistic accounts of personal identity. The first question concerns some cognitive and neurobiological characteristics of consciousness that Bayne invokes in order to propose an original solution of the problem of the synchronic unity of consciousness. It might be asked whether the same characteristics can undermine Bayne’s solution of the problem of the diachronic unity of consciousness. The second question is a development of Bernard Williams’ arguments against psychological accounts of personal identity. The author suggests that similar arguments can be used against virtual phenomenalism. (shrink)
As a leading measure of journal quality, acceptance rates of journals can influence faculty recruitment, salary, tenure and promotion decisions; subscription decisions; and authors’ intention to submit manuscripts. Recent literature from both the Communication and Hospitality Management disciplines suggests that there are wide differences in the formulas used by editors to calculate acceptance rates. Because differing methods of acceptance rate calculation potentially impact significant decisions, a universally accepted and applied standard could be developed. A normative standard, grounded in a specific (...) core ethical principle, is generally preferable to a nonfoundational approach. Two primary approaches to the study of ethics have prevailed through time, teleological ethics with a focus on consequences as represented by Mill’s Utilitarian ideals and deontological ethics with a focus on duty as represented by Kant’s Categorical Imperative. This analysis applies these two ethical frameworks, utility and duty, to the journal editors’ dilemma of finding a common, normative method to calculate acceptance rates. (shrink)
This article discusses Aristotle’s doctrine of intellectual virtues in Nicomachean Ethics. The author describes all the intellectual virtues that Aristotle indicates, but mainly focuses on some “secondary” virtues that clarify the concept of reasonableness, with a detailed unpacking of the concepts of “consideration” and “consideration for others”. In addition to commenting on the interrelation of the moral and intellectual virtues, the article also shows why Aristotle must recognize “natural virtues” along with the virtues in the substantive sense of the word.
This paper aims to determine whether it is necessary to propose the extreme of putrefaction as the only unmistakable sign in diagnosing the death of the human organism, as David Oderberg does in a recent paper. To that end, we compare Oderberg’s claims to those of other authors who align with him in espousing the so-called theory of hylomorphism but who defend either a neurological or a circulatory-respiratory criterion for death. We then establish which interpretation of biological phenomena is the (...) most reasonable within the metaphysical framework of hylomorphism. In this regard, we hold that technology does not obscure the difference between life and death or confect metaphysically anomalous beings, such as living human bodies who are not organisms or animals of the human species who are informed by a vegetative soul, but instead demands a closer and more careful look at the “fuzzy area” between a healthy organism and a decaying corpse. In the light of hylomorphism, we conclude that neurological and circulatory-respiratory criteria are not good instruments for diagnosing death, since they can offer only probabilistic prognoses of death. Of the two, brain death is further away from the moment of death as it merely predicts cardiac arrest that will likely result in death. Putrefaction, the criterion that Oderberg proposes, is at the opposite end of the fuzzy area. This is undoubtedly a true diagnosis of death, but it is not necessary to wait for putrefaction proper—a relatively late stage of decomposition—to be sure that death has already occurred. Rather, early cadaveric phenomena demonstrate that the matter composing a body is subject to the basic forces governing all matter in its environment and has thus succumbed to the universal current of entropy, meaning that the entropy-resisting activity has ceased to constitute an organismal unity. When this unity is lost, there is no possibility of return. (shrink)
Despite the countless similarities between David Hume’s and Adam Smith’s moral theories, many people have lately argued that the Theory of Moral Sentiments can be read as a critical response to Hume’s ethics. In this paper I contend that the most important difference between these sentimentalist philosophers has to do with the source and nature of morality’s normative authority, which in turn determines what is a legitimate moral reason or what is morality properly speaking.
For almost 50 years, the Council of Europe through a series of documents has been helping to build up a set of rules, principles, and strategies related to culture, environment, ethics, and sustainable development. At the moment, one of the most important aims of the Council of Europe’s agenda deals with the elaboration of the General Principles for the Protection of the Environment and Sustainable Development, as raised in document CO-DBP (2003)2 related to the environmental subject. The intention of the (...) Council of Europe is to encourage national authorities to implement these General Principles into their national environmental policies. These principles should have an important effect, especially in those countries which are new members of the European Union. The primary target of this paper is the study of these principles and the setting of their entailed implications in order to establish a relation between values and policy making. Quite often, the conclusions adopted by the agreements generated within the framework of the European Union are controversial. Therefore, a study aiming to lay the foundations of these principles will make the exchange of ideas easier, providing a wider and more detailed scope in the European environmental policy. (shrink)
This paper proposes that the particular moral point of view embodied in Adam Smith's ethics, which ultimately follows a model based on the determination of justice, enables him to introduce impartiality as a measure for every virtue, and to posit the equal dignity of all human beings as the justification of his ethics. This moral viewpoint, which I here call the `sympathetic-impartial perspective', is naturally learned by human beings in the course of socialization through the ongoing interaction between the innate (...) impulse to sympathize and practically-informed reason. Moreover, this particular perspective creates a bridge between Smith's moral and political theories, shedding new light upon the moral foundations of his `system of natural liberty'. (shrink)
The analysis of the irregular moral sentiments that Smith describes in TMS II.iii evidences the enormous influence of David Hume’s theory of passions in the moral theory of his successor, as well as the critical differences between these Scottish philosophers’ moral proposals. Moreover, these atypical situations also allow us to grasp the different parts of Smithian moral judgment, and to exclude – despite Smith’s assertion – the influence of moral luck on these judgments.Keywords: Adam Smith, David Hume, moral judgment, passions, (...) moral luck. (shrink)
ResumenLeo Strauss, en un ambiente filosófico adverso, tuvo la osadía de interrogarse acerca de la mejor forma de vida. Sin embargo, no parece haber alcanzado acabadamente su meta. El carácter zetético de su gnoseología, el abandono de conceptos metafísicos indispensables para alcanzar la unidad de ser, su énfasis en la «negatividad» del método socrático que limita la «positividad» propia de la mayéutica: el amor a la verdad, etc. le han conducido a la aporía consistente en la imposibilidad de alcanzar una (...) síntesis entre razón y revelación, consideradas como «totalidades» incompatibles entre sí. Por ello, no llega a dar respuesta a su interrogante más profundo.Palabras claveLeo Strauss, razón-revelación, escepticismo moderado, mayéutica.In philosophical adverse times, Leo Strauss dared question about the best way of life. However, he does not seem to have achieved his objective completely. His zetetic epistemology; the abandonment of key metaphysical concepts necessary to comprehend the unity of being; his stress on the negativity stage of the Socratic method, limiting the conclusive positive stage of the maieutic have led him to an aporia. This is the impossibility of reaching a synthesis between reason and revelation, considered as «wholes» incompatible with each other. Hence he doesn’t find a convincing answer to his deepest inquiry about the best way of life.KeywordsLeo Strauss, reason-revelation, moderate scepticism, mai. (shrink)
On an evidentialist position, it is epistemically rational for us to believe propositions that are (stably) supported by our total evidence. We are epistemically permitted to believe such propositions, and perhaps even ought to do so. Epistemic rationality is normative. One popular way to explain the normativity appeals to epistemic teleology. The primary aim of this paper is to argue that appeals to epistemic teleology do not support that we ought to believe what is rational to believe, only that we (...) are permitted to do so. In arguing for that, I defend an epistemic teleological position that is radical in nature. It involves no commitment to aiming at the truth. I conclude by dispelling some worries that have been raised about my position. (shrink)
In everyday life and in science we acquire evidence of evidence and based on this new evidence we often change our epistemic states. An assumption underlying such practice is that the following EEE Slogan is correct: 'evidence of evidence is evidence' (Feldman 2007, p. 208). We suggest that evidence of evidence is best understood as higher-order evidence about the epistemic state of agents. In order to model evidence of evidence we introduce a new powerful framework for modelling epistemic states, Dyadic (...) Bayesianism. Based on this framework, we then discuss characterizations of evidence of evidence and argue for one of them. Finally, we show that whether the EEE Slogan holds, depends on the specific kind of evidence of evidence. (shrink)
In the literature, one finds two accounts of the normative status of rational belief: the ought account and the permissibility account. Both accounts have their advantages and shortcomings, making it difficult to favour one over the other. Imagine that there were two principles of rational belief or rational degrees of belief commonly considered plausible, but which, however, yielded a paradox together with one account, but not with the other. One of the accounts therefore requires us to give up one of (...) the plausible principles; whereas the other allows us to save them both. The fact that it allows us to save both of the plausible principles might well be considered a strong reason in favour of the relevant account. The permissibility-account-based resolution of the lottery paradox suggests that the permissibility account is a candidate for being supported in this way, since the account seems to save two plausible principles of rational belief and rational degrees of belief. I argue that even if the permissibility account were supported in this way the support would be defeated, since one cannot provide an analogous resolution of the preface paradox. The principles remain unsaved by the permissibility account. (shrink)
In spite of their striking differences with real-life perception, films are perceived and understood without effort. Cognitive film theory attributes this to the system of continuity editing, a system of editing guidelines outlining the effect of different cuts and edits on spectators. A major principle in this framework is the 180° rule, a rule recommendation that, to avoid spectators’ attention to the editing, two edited shots of the same event or action should not be filmed from angles differing in a (...) way that expectations of spatial continuity are strongly violated. In the present study, we used high-density EEG to explore the neural underpinnings of this rule. In particular, our analysis shows that cuts and edits in general elicit early ERP component indicating the registration of syntactic violations as known from language, music, and action processing. However, continuity edits and cuts-across the line differ from each other regarding later components likely to be indicating the differences in spatial remapping as well as in the degree of conscious awareness of one's own perception. Interestingly, a time–frequency analysis of the occipital alpha rhythm did not support the hypothesis that such differences in processing routes are mainly linked to visual attention. On the contrary, our study found specific modulations of the central mu rhythm ERD as an indicator of sensorimotor activity, suggesting that sensorimotor networks might play an important role. We think that these findings shed new light on current discussions about the role of attention and embodied perception in film perception and should be considered when explaining spectators’ different experience of different kinds of cuts. (shrink)
How should an agent revise her epistemic state in the light of doxastic disagreement? The problems associated with answering this question arise under the assumption that an agent’s epistemic state is best represented by her degree of belief function alone. We argue that for modeling cases of doxastic disagreement an agent’s epistemic state is best represented by her confirmation commitments and the evidence available to her. Finally, we argue that given this position it is possible to provide an adequate answer (...) to the question of how to rationally revise one’s epistemic state in the light of disagreement. (shrink)