I argue that the main goal of the Mechanical Problems, a short treatise transmitted in the Corpus Aristotelicum, is to explain the working of technology in terms of the concepts of Aristotelian natural philosophy. The author's explanatory strategy is to reduce the thirty-five "problems" or questions that he discusses to one or more of three simple models: the circle, balance, and lever. The conceptual foundation of this reduction program is a principle concerning circular motion, viz. that a point on the (...) circumference of a larger circle moves more quickly than one on a smaller circle, assuming that the circles turn about the same center at the same angular speed. I analyze the author's argument for this principle and his application of it throughout the text, especially to the analysis of the lever. The main conclusions are that the author's justification of the circular motion principle is based on an innovative geometrical analysis of motion, not on a highly theoretical conceptualization of force; and while the author is aware of a reciprocal relationship between weights and distances from the fulcrum in the case of the lever, his explanation of this fact makes no reference to the conditions for static equilibrium. (shrink)
According to the thesis of the extended mind (EM) , at least some token cognitive processes extend into the cognizing subject's environment in the sense that they are (partly) composed of manipulative, exploitative, and transformative operations performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. EM has attracted four ostensibly distinct types of objection. This paper has two goals. First, it argues that these objections all reduce to one basic sort: all the objections can be resolved by the provision of an (...) adequate and properly motivated criterion—or mark—of the cognitive. Second, it provides such a criterion—one made up of four conditions that are sufficient for a process to count as cognitive. (shrink)
Mark Balaguer’s project in this book is extremely ambitious; he sets out to defend both platonism and ﬁctionalism about mathematical entities. Moreover, Balaguer argues that at the end of the day, platonism and ﬁctionalism are on an equal footing. Not content to leave the matter there, however, he advances the anti-metaphysical conclusion that there is no fact of the matter about the existence of mathematical objects.1 Despite the ambitious nature of this project, for the most part Balaguer does not (...) shortchange the reader on rigor; all the main theses advanced are argued for at length and with remarkable clarity and cogency. There are, of course, gaps in the account but these should not be allowed to overshadow the sig-. (shrink)
The central argument of this interesting paper is that Popper appears to be inconsistent: on the one hand, he preaches methodological monism-scientific method in the social sciences is identical to scientific method in the natural sciences-and on the other hand he advocates “situational analysis” as the unique method of the social sciences. Situational analysis is nothing but our old neoclassical friend, the rationality principle-individual maximizing behavior subject to constraints-and thus, Popper seems to be saying, neoclassical economics is the only valid (...) kind of social science. (shrink)
J. L. Schellenberg has constructed major arguments for atheism based on divine hiddenness in two separate works. This paper reviews these arguments and highlights how they are grounded in reflections on perfect divine love. However, Schellenberg also defends what he calls the ‘subject mode’ of religious scepticism. I argue that if one accepts Schellenberg's scepticism, then the foundation of his divine-hiddenness arguments is undermined by calling into question some of his conclusions regarding perfect divine love. In other words, if his (...) scepticism is correct, then Schellenberg's case for atheism cannot stand. Finally, I demonstrate how my argument avoids the many defences that Schellenberg has employed thus far in defending these particular atheistic arguments. (shrink)
The recent philosophical literature on religious experience has mostly been concerned with experiences which are taken by the subject of the experience to be directly of God or some other supernatural entity, or to involve some suspension of the subject–object structure of conventional experience. In this paper I consider a further kind of experience, where the sense of God is mediated by way of an appreciation of the existential meanings which are presented by a material context. In this way the (...) paper aims to extend the standard philosophical concept of religious experience so as to take account of phenomenological treatments of sacred place, and to give more prominence to the materially mediated or sacramental character of much religious experience. (shrink)
An archive of Mark Sharlow's two blogs, "The Unfinishable Scroll" and "Religion: the Next Version." Covers Sharlow's views on metaphysics, epistemology, mind, science, religion, and politics. Includes topics and ideas not found in his papers.
There is a new way of thinking about the mind that does not locate mental processes exclusively "in the head." Some think that this expanded conception of the mind will be the basis of a new science of the mind. In this book, leading philosopher Mark Rowlands investigates the conceptual foundations of this new science of the mind. The new way of thinking about the mind emphasizes the ways in which mental processes are embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended. The (...) new way of thinking about the mind, Rowlands writes, is actually an old way of thinking that has taken on new form. Rowlands describes a conception of mind that had its clearest expression in phenomenology -- in the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. He builds on these views, clarifies and renders consistent the ideas of embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended mind, and develops a unified philosophical treatment of the novel conception of the mind that underlies the new science of the mind. (shrink)
Mark Olssen is one of the leading social scientists writing in the world today. Inspired by the writings of Michel Foucault, Olssen’s writing traverses philosophy, politics, education, and epistemology. This book comprises a selection of his papers published in academic journals and books over thirty-five years.
In the twenty-four years since the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, a body of high-quality scholarship on socialism has slowly accumulated. Here I discuss two superb additions to this incipient post–Cold War canon, Mark Bevir’s The Making of British Socialism and Jonathan Sperber’s Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life. Both authors take it as axiomatic that the socialist utopia, with its quasi-eschatological promise of complete human emancipation, is an idea whose time has passed. But Bevir and, to a lesser (...) degree, Sperber discern a utopian afterglow that warrants our interest—and is still quite capable of providing inspiration. “This book has been a long time in the making,” Mark Bevir admits in the .. (shrink)
The Greek term mártyras carries the double meaning of witness and martyr. This paper invites an exploration of the relationship between these two concepts in the contexts of first century and contemporary Africa using the life of St Mark as a historical lens. The paper suggests that many Western authored histories of the Christian movement are distorted by a lack of attention to the Eastern and African expansion of the Church in the early centuries and that contemporary African Christians (...) have erroneously bought into this emaciated history and the theology to which it has given rise. Through an examination of various themes in the life, witness and death of St Mark, and the relationship between martyrdom and witness in African Christian history, the paper encourages a reappraisal of the African roots of Christianity as a rich source for contemporary discipleship in Africa and the universal Church. (shrink)
This Review Essay examines Mark Freeman’s thoughtful book, Necessary Evils: Amnesties and the Search for Justice. One of the book’s core arguments is that amnesties from criminal prosecution, however unpalatable to liberal legalist sensibilities, should not be entirely purged from the toolbox of post-conflict transitions. Although advancing this argument, Freeman also struggles with it, and ultimately builds a very restrained and heavily technocratic defense of the amnesty. This Review Essay weighs this argument, among others, on its own terms and (...) also within the context of recent events that post-date the book’s publication. The result is a vibrant exposition of the limits of law, and the limits of politics, in transcending episodes of massive human rights violations. (shrink)
Drawing on themes important in moral and political philosophy, much of the scholarship on the constitutional law of privacy in the United States distinguishes between privacy understood as a person's control over information and privacy understood as a person's ability to make autonomous decisions. For example, Katz v. United States established the framework for analyzing whether police activity constituted a “search” subject to the Fourth Amendment's requirement that the police either obtain a warrant before conducting a search or otherwise act (...) reasonably. The defendant was a professional gambler who knew enough about police techniques to use a public telephone to make his business calls. Police agents attached a listening device to the outside of the phone booth, and sought to use the recordings against the defendant. The Supreme Court agreed with the defendant that the Fourth Amendment had been violated. Justice John Marshall Harlan's influential concurring opinion asserted that a person's privacy, in the sense of control over information, depended on two factors: “that a person have exhibited an actual expectation of privacy and, second, that the expectation be one that society is prepared to recognize as ‘reasonable.’” Fourth Amendment cases like Katz involve informational control; they define the circumstances under which the government may acquire information from or about a person without first obtaining the person's agreement. In contrast, cases like Griswold v. Connecticut, which barred the state from making it a criminal offense to use contraceptives, and Roe v. Wade, which restricted the state's power to prohibit or regulate abortions, used the language of privacy rights to protect a much broader interest in autonomous decision-making. Seeing these cases and related ones through lenseees provided by moral and political philosophy, scholars have attempted to describe what a morally sound constitutional law of privacy would be, and the broadest sense, dworkinian. That is, they seek to provide an account of privacy with two characteristics: it is broadly consistent with the relevant constitutional decisions, and it is the most morally attractive account possible that satisfies the requirement of consistency with the decisions. (shrink)
If libertarianism is true, then there is a sense in which agents have it within their power to bring it about that some world is actual. Against recent arguments for the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom, I offer an account of power over the past which takes this implication of libertarianism into consideration. I argue that the resulting account is available to Ockhamists and that it is immune to recent criticisms of the notion of counterfactual power over the (...) past. But I contend that it is not an option for Molinists and that this fact leaves that position vulnerable to incompatibilist arguments. (shrink)
This paper argues that the occurrence of a non-native species, such as purple loosestrife, on one's property does not constitute a nuisance in the context of background principles of common law. No one is injured by it. The control of non-native species, such as purple loosestrife, does not constitute a compelling public interest, moreover, but represents primarily the concern of an epistemic community of conservation biologists and ecologists. This paper describes a history of cases in agricultural law that establish that (...) a public authority may enter private property to destroy a tree or other species but only to protect a compelling public interest, such as the apple industry in Virginia or the citrus industry in Florida, and only if it pays all the costs including just compensation. The paper argues a fortiori that if a public authority enters private property to control non-native or “invasive” species it must pay all the costs and indemnify the owner—contrary to what many state laws contemplate and the Environmental Law Institute recommends. (shrink)
It is a commonplace of British History that following the onset of the French Revolution and the publication of Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France a widespread debate on political principles took place. The ‘debate on France’—the trial of the French Revolution before the enlightened and independent tribunal of the English public, as James Mackintosh referred to it,—was, according to Alfred Cobban, ‘perhaps the last real discussion of the fundamentals of politics in this country’.
It is often claimed that John Finnis's natural law theory is detachable from the ultimate theistic explanation that he offers in the final chapter of Natural Law and Natural Rights. My aim in this paper is to think through the question of the detachability of Finnis's theistic explanation of the natural law from the remainder of his natural law view, both in Natural Law and Natural Rights and beyond. I argue that Finnis's theistic explanation of the natural law as actually (...) presented can be, without too much strain, treated as largely detachable in the way that his readers have by and large supposed it to be; indeed, Finnis's account as actually presented really amounts to no explanation of the natural law at all, theistic or otherwise, and that fact accounts in part for the ease with which Finnis's natural law view can be detached from theism of that final chapter. Nevertheless, the considerations raised in that chapter militate in favor of a much more thoroughgoing, largely nondetachable theistic account. And it is just such an account that we find Finnis affirming in the development of his views after Natural Law and Natural Rights. (shrink)