This paper seeks to reinterpret the life and work of J. B. S. Haldane by focusing on an illuminating but largely ignored essay he published in 1927, "The Last Judgment" -- the sequel to his better known work, "Daedalus" (1924). This astonishing essay expresses a vision of the human future over the next 40,000,000 years, one that revises and updates Wellsian futurism with the long range implications of the "new biology" for human destiny. That vision served as a kind of (...) lifelong credo, one that infused and informed his diverse scientific work, political activities, and popular writing, and that gave unity and coherence to his remarkable career. (shrink)
When Thomas Nagel originally coined the expression “moral luck,” he used the term “luck” to mean lack of control. This use was a matter of stipulation, as Nagel’s target had little to do with luck itself, but the question of how control is related to moral responsibility. Since then, we have seen several analyses of the concept of luck itself, and recent contributors to the moral luck literature have often assumed that any serious contribution to the moral luck debate must (...) begin with a robust concept of luck simpliciter. I argue here that this assumption is a mistake, on the basis of three reasons: the issue was originally conceived as an issue about responsibility and control, analyses of luck tend to distort and needlessly to complicate what is at issue when shoehorned into the moral luck debate, and these analyses have very little (if anything) to contribute to the discussion. (shrink)
Even as media in myriad forms increasingly saturate our lives, we nonetheless tend to describe our relationship to it in terms from the twentieth century: we are consumers of media, choosing to engage with it. In _Feed-Forward_, Mark B. N. Hansen shows just how outmoded that way of thinking is: media is no longer separate from us but has become an inescapable part of our very experience of the world. Engaging deeply with the speculative empiricism of philosopher Alfred North (...) Whitehead, Hansen reveals how new media call into play elements of sensibility that deeply affect human selfhood without in any way _belonging_ to the human. From social media to data-mining to new sensor technologies, media in the twenty-first century work largely outside the realm of perceptual consciousness, yet at the same time inflect our every sensation. Understanding that paradox, Hansen shows, offers us a chance to put forward a radically new vision of human becoming, one that enables us to reground the human in a non-anthropocentric view of the world and our experience in it. (shrink)
2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology All rights reserved. No part of this book may ... ISBN 978-0-262-01324-6 (hardcover : alk. paper)— ISBN 978-0-262 -51304-3 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Science— Political aspects. 2. Science and state. 3 .
This paper will examine the nature of mechanisms and the distinction between the relevant and irrelevant parts involved in a mechanism’s operation. I first consider Craver’s account of this distinction in his book on the nature of mechanisms, and explain some problems. I then offer a novel account of the distinction that appeals to some resources from Mackie’s theory of causation. I end by explaining how this account enables us to better understand what mechanisms are and their various features.
In New Philosophy for New Media, Mark Hansen defines the image in digital art in terms that go beyond the merely visual. Arguing that the "digital image" encompasses the entire process by which information is made perceivable, he places the body in a privileged position -- as the agent that filters information in order to create images. By doing so, he counters prevailing notions of technological transcendence and argues for the indispensability of the human in the digital era.Hansen examines (...) new media art and theory in light of Henri Bergson's argument that affection and memory render perception impure -- that we select only those images precisely relevant to our singular form of embodiment. Hansen updates this argument for the digital age, arguing that we filter the information we receive to create images rather than simply receiving images as preexisting technical forms. This framing function yields what Hansen calls the "digital image." He argues that this new "embodied" status of the frame corresponds directly to the digital revolution: a digitized image is not a fixed representation of reality, but is defined by its complete flexibility and accessibility. It is not just that the interactivity of new media turns viewers into users; the image itself has become the body's process of perceiving it.To illustrate his account of how the body filters information in order to create images, Hansen focuses on new media artists who follow a "Bergsonist vocation"; through concrete engagement with the work of artists like Jeffrey Shaw, Douglas Gordon, and Bill Viola, Hansen explores the contemporary aesthetic investment in the affective, bodily basis of vision. The book includes over 70 illustrations from the works of these and many other new media artists. (shrink)
It is sometimes claimed by open theists that, on Molinism, God controls who is saved and who is damned and that, as a consequence, God's judgement of us is unjust. While this charge is usually lumped under the problem of evil, it could easily be classified under the problem of soteriological luck. I argue that the open theist is impugned by this latter problem. I then show that the Molinist has a solution to both problems and consider objections to that (...) solution. (shrink)
Kim claims that Bechtel and Mundale's case against multiple realization depends on the wrong kind of evidence. The latter argue that neuroscientific practice shows neural states across individuals and species are type identical. Kim replies that the evidence they cite to support this is irrelevant. I defend Bechtel and Mundale by showing why the evidence they cite is relevant and shows multiple realization does not occur.
Arguments for multiple realization depend on the idea that the same kind of function is realized by different kinds of structures. It is important to such arguments that we know the kinds used in the arguments have been individuated properly. In the philosophical literature, though, claims about how to individuate kinds are frequently decided on intuitive grounds. This paper criticizes this way of approaching kinds by considering how practicing researchers think about the matter. I will consider several examples in which (...) the practice of researchers on comparative vision conflicts with the standard account of these issues. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper the outlines of an explicitly ?Vygotskian? perspective on moral education are sketched. I begin by briefly reviewing and critiquing the two most well?known and widely used approaches to moral education??the cognitive?developmental approach and the character education approach??and I suggest that a Vygotskian/socio?cultural perspective has the potential to address many of the problems faced by contemporary moral educators. Vygotsky's ideas about the ?zone of proximal development? are then summarised and those ideas are extended to the domain of (...) moral education, focusing on an excerpt from the film, Boyz ?n the Hood. Narrative and story?telling are considered briefly as an example of how the zone of proximal development works to facilitate moral development in a way that is markedly different from that described by contemporary character educators, and I conclude with some brief reflections on questions left unanswered, and speculations about future directions for both theory and practice in moral education from a Vygotskian/socio?cultural perspective. (shrink)
PTSD was formalized as a diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 with the publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), 3rd edition. Since that time, the diagnosis has been widely utilized in the courts including the use in criminal proceedings. PTSD may play a role in the assessment of violent crimes both as a possible contributing factor in the perpetrators as well as a consequence in the victims. There are a number of ethical and (...) clinical considerations in the use of this diagnosis. Importantly, the diagnostic criteria have changed to a degree with subsequent editions of the DSM. This may have an impact on the interpretation of past legal judgments. Moreover, extensive psychiatric comorbidity may complicate the clinical picture, e.g., mood disorders, substance use disorders, or psychosis. The diagnosis of PTSD is still based on clinical, largely subjective criteria, e.g., biological markers are not yet utilized. As such, there may not be consistent agreement about the diagnosis among experts. This paper summarizes some of these relevant issues in adjudicating violent crimes. (shrink)
Debates over the politicization of science have led some to claim that scientists have or should have a “right to research.” This article examines the political meaning and implications of the right to research with respect to different historical conceptions of rights. The more common “liberal” view sees rights as protections against social and political interference. The “republican” view, in contrast, conceives rights as claims to civic membership. Building on the republican view of rights, this article conceives the right to (...) research as embedding science more firmly and explicitly within society, rather than sheltering science from society. From this perspective, all citizens should enjoy a general right to free inquiry, but this right to inquiry does not necessarily encompass all scientific research. Because rights are most reliably protected when embedded within democratic culture and institutions, claims for a right to research should be considered in light of how the research in question contributes to democracy. By putting both research and rights in a social context, this article shows that the claim for a right to research is best understood, not as a guarantee for public support of science, but as a way to initiate public deliberation and debate about which sorts of inquiry deserve public support. (shrink)
Efforts to develop a coherent role for white people in racial justice initiatives in the USA are often stymied by the defensiveness, paternalism, and guilt of many white liberals. Such efforts are also undermined by critiques of whiteness that conflate white identity and white supremacy. I address this dilemma by developing an account of antiracist white identity politics, conceived of here as taking responsibility for the effects of being socially defined as white. I locate conceptual resources for this project in (...) James Baldwin’s reflections on tragedy, love, and identity. In contrast to those who invoke Baldwin to argue for abolishing white identity, I make a case for politicizing it. I draw on Baldwin’s articulation of a tragic sensibility to argue that white antiracism requires accepting a morally compromised identity one has not chosen. It also requires accepting that serious efforts to end white supremacy inevitably lead to mistakes, misunderstandings, and counterproductive outcomes. By adopting a tragic perspective on these aspects of white antiracism, white people would become more capable of forging antiracist white identities through robust engagement in struggles for racial justice. (shrink)
Evolutionary convergence is often appealed to in support of claims about multiple realization. The idea is that convergence shows that the same function can be realized by different kinds of structures. I argue here that the nature of convergence is more complicated than it might appear at first look. Broad claims about convergence are made by biologists during general discussions of the mechanisms of evolution. In their specialized work, though, biologists are often more limited in the claims they make. I (...) will examine a standard example to show how claims about convergence can be oversimplified. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that it is quite useful, both theoretically and empirically, to adopt a socio?cultural approach to the study of moral development. This entails viewing ?moral functioning? as a form of mediated action, and moral development as the process by which persons gradually appropriate a variety of ?moral mediational means?. Mediated action entails two central elements: an ?agent?, the person who is doing the acting, on the one hand, and ?cultural tools? or ?mediational means?, the tools, means, (...) or ?instruments?, appropriated from the culture, and used by the agent to accomplish a given action, on the other. I make this argument drawing on recent work in socio?cultural psychology, specifically the work of James Wertsch (1998). I also consider the work of both Carol Gilligan (1982) and Lawrence Kohlberg (1981, 1984) as illustrative examples, to show how their respective insights about moral functioning and the process of moral development can be interpreted from, and enriched by, a mediated action/socio?cultural perspective. (shrink)
A crucial objection to the doctrine of original sin is that it conflicts with a common intuition that agents are morally responsible only for factors under their control. Here, I present an account of moral responsibility by Michael Zimmerman that accommodates that intuition, and I consider it as a model of original sin, noting both attractions and difficulties with the view.
Philip Kitcher is a leading figure in the philosophy of science, and he is part of a growing community of scholars who have turned their attention from the field’s long-time focus on questions of logic and epistemology to the relation between science and society. Kitcher’s book Science, Truth, and Democracy (2001) charted a course between relativism and realism, arguing that the aims of science emerge from not only scientific curiosity but also practical and public concerns. The book also drew on (...) John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1999) to develop an ideal of “well-ordered science,” and then applied the ideal to various aspects of the scientific research agenda. Ten years later, complex public issues like climate change have grown more urgent, and with many people questioning mainstream science on climate change, evolutionary biology, vaccines, stem cell research, and other topics, the tensions between science and democracy seem more pronounced than ever. Kitcher’s Science in a Democrat. (shrink)
There are a number of considerations, including ethical and clinical or diagnostic factors, in utilizing the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder in criminal proceedings. The reliability and validity of the diagnosis may be questioned. Legal precedent may consider extant diagnostic criteria for PTSD and comorbid diagnoses. However, these diagnostic criteria are often in flux considering new research findings. For example, the introduction of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, (...) includes some changes in the PTSD diagnostic criteria. How will this affect interpretation of past legal judgments? Moreover, PTSD has significant psychiatric comorbidity, e.g., substance abuse, which in itself may influence violent behavior and its consequences. Some of these comorbid diagnoses also have changes in their diagnostic criteria. The introduction of biological tests in the assessment of PTSD will likely facilitate more objective diagnosis. (shrink)
Many commentators today lament the politicization of bioethics, but some suggest distinguishing among different kinds of politicization. This essay pursues that idea with reference to three traditions of political thought: liberalism, communitarianism, and republicanism. After briefly discussing the concept of politicization itself, the essay examines how each of these political traditions manifests itself in recent bioethics scholarship, focusing on the implications of each tradition for the design of government bioethics councils. The liberal emphasis on the irreducible plurality of values and (...) interests in modern societies, and the communitarian concern with the social dimensions of biotechnology, offer important insights for bioethics councils. The essay finds the most promise in the republican tradition, however, which emphasizes institutional mechanisms that allow bioethics councils to enrich but not dominate public deliberation, while ensuring that government decisions on bioethical issues are publicly accountable and contestable. (shrink)
It has frequently been argued that there must be a necessary and important difference between the methods of the natural and social sciences, or that an empirical method in social science must be supplemented by or is inferior to an interpretative method. Often these claims have been supported by arguments using premises derived from the early Heidegger or the late Wittgenstein. These arguments, in turn, tend either to be transcendental in form or to follow a hermeneutic argument strategy. This paper (...) argues that neither of these types of argument, based on Heideggerian or Wittgensteinian premises, can be used successfully to show an important or essential difference between natural and social science. It does this by examining arguments proposed by Peter Winch and Hubert Dreyfus, showing how they are fallacious and misconstrue the import of the premises upon which they are based, and generalizing these objections to the transcendental and hermeneutic styles of argument in this field as such. The paper concludes with a consideration of Richard Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, which reaches conclusions in this area which are similar to those of this paper but which, it is argued, misconstrues the character of its own argument. (shrink)
Poised on the cusp between phenomenology and materiality, media institute a theoretical oscillation that promises to displace the empirical-transcendental divide that has structured western meditation on thinking, including the thinking of technics. Because media give the infrastructure conditioning thought without ceasing to be empirical, they form the basis for a complex hermeneutics that cannot avoid the task of accounting for its unthematizable infrastructural condition. Tracing the oscillation constitutive of such a hermeneutics as it serves variously to constitute media theory in (...) the work of critics from McLuhan to Kittler, from Leroi-Gourhan to Stiegler, my interrogation ultimately conceptualizes the medium as an environment for life:by giving concrete form to ‘epiphylogenesis’, concrete media find their most ‘originary’ function not as artifacts but via their participation in human technogenesis. (shrink)
This book prepares readers for the challenges of studying philosophy and writing philosophical essays. This classic textbook, in print for over thirty years, addresses such foundational topics as discerning philosophical questions, the purpose of philosophy, and the practice of doing philosophy.
Hindu religious and philosophical thought revolves around the basic metaphysical thesis that Atman, the individual self, is identical with Brahman, the Universal Self in which all things are sustained. With a few notable exceptions most Western philosophers have found this thesis too far removed from common sense to consider seriously. My purpose in this essay is to clarify and defend five theses about consciousness which, while formulated independently, have their closest collective affinities to the Advaita Vedanta view of consciousness.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty was described by Paul Ricoeur as 'the greatest of the French phenomenologists'. The essays in this volume examine the full scope of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, from his central and abiding concern with the nature of perception and the bodily constitution of intentionality to his reflections on science, nature, art, history, and politics. The authors explore the historical origins and context of his thought as well as its continuing relevance to contemporary work in phenomenology, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, biology, (...) art criticism and political and social theory. What emerges is a fresh image of Merleau-Ponty as a deep and original thinker whose philosophical importance has been underestimated, in part owing to the influence of intellectual movements such as existentialism and structuralism, into which his work could not be easily assimilated. New readers will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to Merleau-Ponty currently available. (shrink)
In a recent article Richard Rorty has attempted to juxtapose Heidegger and Dewey. While finding significant points of agreement between the two, and by implication praising much of Heidegger’s work, Rorty also suggests a series of criticisms of Heidegger. The problems which Rorty finds with Heidegger can, I think, all be reduced to one basic criticism, which has two main sides. In Rorty’s view Heidegger can not really differentiate between Being and beings in the way that he wants, and thus (...) can give no sense to the word ‘Being’ other than the old metaphysical one. That is, Being and the ontological difference are metaphysical remnants, the last evaporating presence of the Platonic distinction of the real world and the apparent world. This is indicated in two ways. First, Rorty feels that Heidegger can make no real distinction between philosophy, which they both agree has ended, and ‘thinking’ in the specifically Heideggerian sense. Second, Rorty claims that it is impossible to distinguish ontic from ontological becoming. That is, the various epochs of Being which Heidegger distinguishes are, for Rorty, parasitic upon and reducible to the ordinary history of man’s activity in relation to things, material and social. As such, Heidegger’s account of ontological epochs is a species of idealistic reflection upon the history of man’s activity upon things. (shrink)