Kant writes: If … the only aim of Nature regarding some creature possessed of reason and a will were its preservation, its well-being, in a word its happiness, then she would have come to a very bad arrangement in choosing its reason as executor of that aim. For all actions that it had to execute in this her intention, and the whole regulation of its behaviour would have been able to be prescribed to it much more precisely by instinct, and (...) that aim thereby much more certainly maintained, than ever could happen through reason …. (shrink)
The following is a transcript of the interview I (Yasuko Kitano) conducted with Neil Levy (The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, CAPPE) on the 23rd in July 2009, while he was in Tokyo to give a series of lectures on neuroethics at The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy. I edited his words for publication with his approval.
Neil E. Williams develops a systematic metaphysics centred on the idea of powers, as a rival to neo-Humeanism, the dominant systematic metaphysics in philosophy today. Williams takes powers to be inherently causal properties and uses them as the foundation of his explanations of causation, persistence, laws, and modality.
The Taming of the True poses a broad challenge to realist views of meaning and truth that have been prominent in recent philosophy. Neil Tennant argues compellingly that every truth is knowable, and that an effective logical system can be based on this principle. He lays the foundations for global semantic anti-realism and extends its consequences from the philosophy of mathematics and logic to the theory of meaning, metaphysics, and epistemology.
Informed consent is a central topic in contemporary biomedical ethics. Yet attempts to set defensible and feasible standards for consenting have led to persistent difficulties. In Rethinking Informed Consent in Bioethics Neil Manson and Onora O'Neill set debates about informed consent in medicine and research in a fresh light. They show why informed consent cannot be fully specific or fully explicit, and why more specific consent is not always ethically better. They argue that consent needs distinctive communicative transactions, by (...) which other obligations, prohibitions, and rights can be waived or set aside in controlled and specific ways. Their book offers a coherent, wide-ranging and practical account of the role of consent in biomedicine which will be valuable to readers working in a range of areas in bioethics, medicine and law. (shrink)
By assessing interrelationships among variables within a specified theoretical framework, network analysis provides nuanced insights into how associations between psychological constructs are related to outcome measures. Noting this, the authors used NA to examine connections between Paranormal Belief, cognitive-perceptual factors, and well-being. Data derived from a sample of 3,090 participants who completed standardised self-report measures capturing the study constructs online. Transliminality, Unusual Experiences, and Depressive Experience demonstrated high expected influence centrality. This indicated that these factors were the most strongly connected (...) and influential in the network. Moreover, Transliminality was a connecting variable between Paranormal Belief, positive schizotypy, and psychopathology. Depressive Experience bridged the relationship between Transliminality and well-being. The conceptual implications of these outcomes are discussed with regards to better understanding relationships between Paranormal Belief, cognitive-perceptual factors, and well-being. (shrink)
Neil Levy presents a new theory of freedom and responsibility. He defends a particular account of consciousness--the global workspace view--and argues that consciousness plays an especially important role in action. There are good reasons to think that the naïve assumption, that consciousness is needed for moral responsibility, is in fact true.
On his death in 2007, Richard Rorty was heralded by the New York Times as “one of the world’s most influential contemporary thinkers.” Controversial on the left and the right for his critiques of objectivity and political radicalism, Rorty experienced a renown denied to all but a handful of living philosophers. In this masterly biography, Neil Gross explores the path of Rorty’s thought over the decades in order to trace the intellectual and professional journey that led him to that (...) prominence. The child of a pair of leftist writers who worried that their precocious son “wasn’t rebellious enough,” Rorty enrolled at the University of Chicago at the age of fifteen. There he came under the tutelage of polymath Richard McKeon, whose catholic approach to philosophical systems would profoundly influence Rorty’s own thought. Doctoral work at Yale led to Rorty’s landing a job at Princeton, where his colleagues were primarily analytic philosophers. With a series of publications in the 1960s, Rorty quickly established himself as a strong thinker in that tradition—but by the late 1970s Rorty had eschewed the idea of objective truth altogether, urging philosophers to take a “relaxed attitude” toward the question of logical rigor. Drawing on the pragmatism of John Dewey, he argued that philosophers should instead open themselves up to multiple methods of thought and sources of knowledge—an approach that would culminate in the publication of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature , one of the most seminal and controversial philosophical works of our time. In clear and compelling fashion, Gross sets that surprising shift in Rorty’s thought in the context of his life and social experiences, revealing the many disparate influences that contribute to the making of knowledge. As much a book about the growth of ideas as it is a biography of a philosopher, Richard Rorty will provide readers with a fresh understanding of both the man and the course of twentieth-century thought. (shrink)
What is the opposite of freedom? In _Freedom as Marronage_, Neil Roberts answers this question with definitive force: slavery, and from there he unveils powerful new insights on the human condition as it has been understood between these poles. Crucial to his investigation is the concept of marronage—a form of slave escape that was an important aspect of Caribbean and Latin American slave systems. Examining this overlooked phenomenon—one of action from slavery and toward freedom—he deepens our understanding of freedom (...) itself and the origin of our political ideals. Roberts examines the liminal and transitional space of slave escape in order to develop a theory of freedom as marronage, which contends that freedom is fundamentally located within this space—that it is a form of perpetual flight. He engages a stunning variety of writers, including Hannah Arendt, W. E. B. Du Bois, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglass, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the Rastafari, among others, to develop a compelling lens through which to interpret the quandaries of slavery, freedom, and politics that still confront us today. The result is a sophisticated, interdisciplinary work that unsettles the ways we think about freedom by always casting it in the light of its critical opposite. (shrink)
Suppose that one thinks that certain symmetries of a theory reveal “surplus structure”. What would a formalism without that surplus structure look like? The conventional answer is that it would be a reduced theory: a theory which traffics only in structures invariant under the relevant symmetry. In this paper, I argue that there is a neglected alternative: one can work with a sophisticated version of the theory, in which the symmetries act as isomorphisms.
This essay presents an ideal for modern Western romantic love.The basic ideas are the following: people want to form a distinctive sort of plural subject with another, what Nozick has called a "We", they want to be loved for properties of certain kinds, and they want this love to establish and sustain a special sort of commitment to them over time.
Neil Tennant presents an original logical system with unusual philosophical, proof-theoretic, metalogical, computational, and revision-theoretic virtues. Core Logic is the first system that ensures both relevance and adequacy for the formalization of all mathematical and scientific reasoning.
In this paper, I construct and defend an account of harm, specifically, all-things-considered overall harm. I start with a simple comparative account, on which an event harms a person provided that she would have been better off had it not occurred. The most significant problems for this account are overdetermination and preemption cases. However, a counterfactual comparative approach of some sort is needed to make sense of harm, or so I argue. I offer a counterfactual comparative theory that accounts nicely (...) for such cases, by taking claims about harm to be, potentially, irreducibly plural. In some cases, there are some events such that they are harmful, even if no one of them is such that it is harmful. I try to work out the details. (shrink)
How shall we expand our appreciation of the beauties of nature? One set of resources for this project is the writings of John Muir (1838–1914). At the age of eleven, Muir came with family from Scotland to the United States, where, after working on family farms and taking a few science courses at the University of Wisconsin, he set forth on wide-ranging travels that led him to Yosemite in eastern California. My First Summer in the Sierra records his (...) life-changing discovery. He had long sought a soul-satisfying realization of divine beauty in nature, and his quest finally found fulfillment. Eventually, he was led into action to share and protect what had nourished him so deeply. He would crystallize his .. (shrink)
Though virtually unknown before 1851, the exceptionally scenic Yosemite Valley of California soon attracted continuing attention as a geological anomaly. J. D. Whitney, state geologist and Harvard professor, advocated a tectonic theory of its origin. Despite its seemingly official status, Whitney's theory even failed to convince some of his own subordinates. An unexpectedly effective dissenter not associated with Whitney was John Muir, then a tatterdemalion vagrant. Though the two men never met, conflict between their inflexible and mutually exclusive geological (...) theories persisted well into the twentieth century. Eventually, both dogmatists were proved wrong, but Muir had come closer to what we now accept. Several geological and geomorphological issues of importance entered into later discussions of Yosemite. The whole controversy, moreover, illuminates such further issues as the influence of preconceptions on theorizing, the role of authority in science, and the interactions of professionals with amateurs. (shrink)
This Element explores what it means for two theories in physics to be equivalent, and what lessons can be drawn about their structure as a result. It does so through a twofold approach. On the one hand, it provides a synoptic overview of the logical tools that have been employed in recent philosophy of physics to explore these topics: definition, translation, Ramsey sentences, and category theory. On the other, it provides a detailed case study of how these ideas may be (...) applied to understand the dynamical and spatiotemporal structure of Newtonian mechanics - in particular, in light of the symmetries of Newtonian theory. In so doing, it brings together a great deal of exciting recent work in the literature, and is sure to be a valuable companion for all those interested in these topics. (shrink)
To date, philosophical discussions of animal ethics and Critical Animal Studies have been dominated by Western perspectives and Western thinkers. This book makes a novel contribution to animal ethics in showing the range and richness of ideas offered to these fields by diverse Asian traditions. Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics is the first of its kind to include the intersection of Asian and European traditions with respect to human and nonhuman relations. Presenting a series of studies focusing on specific Asian (...) traditions, as well as studies that put those traditions in dialogue with Western thinkers, this book looks at Asian philosophical doctrines concerning compassion and nonviolence as these apply to nonhuman animals, as well as the moral rights and status of nonhuman animals in Asian traditions. Using Asian perspectives to explore ontological, ethical and political questions, contributors analyze humanism and post-humanism in Asian and comparative traditions and offer insight into the special ethical relations between humans and other particular species of animals. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Asian religion and philosophy, as well as to those interested in animal ethics and Critical Animal Studies. (shrink)
Neil Levy defends no-platforming people who espouse dangerous or unacceptable views. I reject his notion of higher-order evidence as authoritarian and dogmatic. I argue that no-platforming frustrates the growth of knowledge.
Given the tremendous proliferation of student plagiarism involving the Internet, the purpose of this study is to determine which theory of ethical reasoning students invoke when defending their transgressions: deontology, utilitarianism, rational self-interest, Machiavellianism, cultural relativism, or situational ethics. Understanding which theory of ethical reasoning students employ is critical, as preemptive steps can be taken by faculty to counteract this reasoning and prevent plagiarism. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that unethical behavior in school can lead to unethical behavior in business; (...) therefore, correcting unethical behavior in school can have a positive impact on organizational ethics. To meet this objective, a content analysis was conducted on the written records of students formally charged with plagiarizing at a large West Coast university. Each case was classified according to the primary ethical reasoning that the student used to justify plagiarism. Results indicate that students predominately invoke deontology, situational ethics, and Machiavellianism. Based on these findings, specific recommendations are offered to curb plagiarism. (shrink)
Given that a person's death is bad for her, when is it bad? I defend subsequentism, the view that things that are bad in the relevant way are bad after they occur. Some have objected to this view on the grounds that it requires us to compare the amount of well-being the victim would have enjoyed, had she not died, with the amount she receives while dead; however, we cannot assign any level of well-being, not even zero, to a dead (...) person. In the population ethics literature, many philosophers have argued along similar lines that bringing someone into existence can neither harm nor benefit her. Working within the comparative framework, I respond by proposing a good sense in which we can say that dead people, and actual people at alternatives in which they do not exist, have a well-being level of zero. (shrink)
A central area of current philosophical debate in the foundations of mathematics concerns whether or not there is a single, maximal, universe of set theory. Universists maintain that there is such a universe, while Multiversists argue that there are many universes, no one of which is ontologically privileged. Often forcing constructions that add subsets to models are cited as evidence in favour of the latter. This paper informs this debate by analysing ways the Universist might interpret this discourse that seems (...) to necessitate the addition of subsets to V. We argue that despite the prima facie incoherence of such talk for the Universist, she nonetheless has reason to try and provide interpretation of this discourse. We analyse extant interpretations of such talk, and analyse various tradeoffs in naturality that might be made. We conclude that the Universist has promising options for interpreting different forcing constructions. (shrink)
In recent years there has been an outpouring of work at the intersection of social movement studies and organizational theory. While we are generally in sympathy with this work, we think it implies a far more radical rethinking of structure and agency in modern society than has been realized to date. In this article, we offer a brief sketch of a general theory of strategic action fields (SAFs). We begin with a discussion of the main elements of the theory, describe (...) the broader environment in which any SAF is embedded, consider the dynamics of stability and change in SAFs, and end with a respectful critique of other contemporary perspectives on social structure and agency. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider the problem of omission for the counterfactual comparative account of harm. A given event harms a person, on this account, when it makes her worse off than she would have been if it had not occurred. The problem arises because cases in which one person merely fails to benefit another intuitively seem harmless. The account, however, seems to imply that when one person fails to benefit another, the first thereby harms the second, since the second (...) person would have been better off if the first had benefited her. I argue that the cases of failing to benefit at issue are in fact cases of harming. They are cases of preventive harm. I also argue that we can explain away the intuition that no harm occurs in these cases, and that the relevant implication of the counterfactual comparative account is consistent with a variety of plausible views about the moral significance of harm. (shrink)
In this essay, we provide an overview of how production systems can be re-engineered to improve the welfare of the animals involved. At least three potential options exist: engineering their environments to better fit the animals, engineering the animals themselves to better fit their environments, and eliminating the animals from the system by growing meat in vitro rather than on farms. The morality of consuming animal products and the conditions under which agricultural animals are maintained remain highly contentious, and when (...) concerns about animal welfare are coupled with concerns about sustainability and global food security, the problem of welfare in animal agriculture constitutes “a wicked problem,” because it is unlikely that any proposed solution will simultaneously address all the issues of concern. In the final section of this essay, we offer some observations on how debate over reforms in animal agriculture could proceed going forward. (shrink)
Noam Chomsky is one of the leading intellectual figures of modern times. He has had a major influence on linguistics, psychology and philosophy, and a significant effect on many other disciplines, from anthropology to mathematics, education to literary criticism. In this rigorous yet accessible account of Chomsky's work and influence, Neil Smith analyses Chomsky's key contributions to the study of language and the study of mind. He gives a detailed exposition of Chomsky's linguistic theorizing, discusses the psychological and philosophical (...) implications of Chomsky's work, and argues that he has fundamentally changed the way we think of ourselves, gaining a position in the history of ideas on a par with that of Darwin or Descartes. This second edition has been thoroughly updated to account for Chomsky's most recent work, including his continued contributions to linguistics, his further discussion on evolution, and his extensive work on the events of September 11th, 2001. (shrink)
The problem of the relationship between actors and the social structures in which they are embedded is central to sociological theory. This paper suggests that the "new institutionalist" focus on fields, domains, or games provides an alternative view of how to think about this problem by focusing on the construction of local orders. This paper criticizes the conception of actors in both rational choice and sociological versions of these theories. A more sociological view of action, what is called "social skill," (...) is developed. The idea of social skill originates in symbolic interactionism and is defined as the ability to induce cooperation in others. This idea is elaborated to suggest how actors are important to the construction and reproduction of local orders. I show how its elements already inform existing work. Finally, I show how the idea can sensitize scholars to the role of actors in empirical work. (shrink)
Philosophers from Hart to Lewis, Johnston and Bennett have expressed various degrees of reservation concerning the doctrine of double effect. A common concern is that, with regard to many activities that double effect is traditionally thought to prohibit, what might at first look to be a directly intended bad effect is really, on closer examination, a directly intended neutral effect that is closely connected to a foreseen bad effect. This essay examines the extent to which the commonsense concept of intention (...) supports a reasonably consistent and coherent application of double effect. Two important conclusions are these: (1) a number of traditionally proscribed activities involve a kind of “targeting” of innocents that can be taken to exhibit a direct intention to harm them; (2) a direct intention to harm need not involve a desire to harm in any ordinary sense of the latter expression. (shrink)
This article gives an explicit presentation of Newtonian gravitation on the backdrop of Maxwell space-time, giving a sense in which acceleration is relative in gravitational theory. However, caution is needed: assessing whether this is a robust or interesting sense of the relativity of acceleration depends on some subtle technical issues and on substantive philosophical questions over how to identify the space-time structure of a theory.
There are well-known problems associated with the idea of gravitational energy in general relativity. We offer a new perspective on those problems by comparison with Newtonian gravitation, and particularly geometrized Newtonian gravitation. We show that there is a natural candidate for the energy density of a Newtonian gravitational field. But we observe that this quantity is gauge dependent, and that it cannot be defined in the geometrized theory without introducing further structure. We then address a potential response by showing that (...) there is an analogue to the Weyl tensor in geometrized Newtonian gravitation. (shrink)
Mental content and the problem of De Se belief -- Cognitive attitudes and content -- The doctrine of propositions -- The problem of De Se belief -- The property theory of content -- In favor of the property theory -- Perry's messy shopper and the argument from explanation -- Lewis's case of the two Gods -- Arguments from internalism and physicalism -- An inference to the best explanation -- Alternatives to the property theory -- The triadic view of belief -- (...) How the property theory and the triadic view are rivals -- Dyadic propositionalism reconsidered -- Arguments against the property theory -- Self-ascription and self-awareness -- Nonexistence and impossible contents -- Stalnaker's argument -- Propositionalist arguments from inference -- The property theory and De Re belief -- Lewis's account of De Re belief -- McKay's objection to Lewis -- Mistaken identity and the case of the shy secret admirer -- Some other worries and concluding remarks -- The property theory, rationality, and Kripke's puzzle about belief -- Kripke's puzzle about belief -- The puzzle argument -- A solution to the puzzle -- Puzzles with empty names and kind terms -- The property theory, twin earth, and belief about kinds -- Twin earth and two kinds of internalism -- The twin earth argument -- An internalist response (stage one) -- An internalist response (stage two) -- Self-ascription and belief about kinds. (shrink)
Zero provides a challenge for philosophers of mathematics with realist inclinations. On the one hand it is a bona fide cardinal number, yet on the other it is linked to ideas of nothingness and non-being. This paper provides an analysis of the epistemology and metaphysics of zero. We develop several constraints and then argue that a satisfactory account of zero can be obtained by integrating an account of numbers as properties of collections, work on the philosophy of absences, and recent (...) work in numerical cognition and ontogenetic studies. (shrink)
This is an essay about general covariance, and what it says about spacetime structure. After outlining a version of the dynamical approach to spacetime theories, and how it struggles to deal with generally covariant theories, I argue that we should think about the symmetry structure of spacetime rather differently in generally-covariant theories compared to non-generally-covariant theories: namely, as a form of internal rather than external symmetry structure.
In the contemporary philosophy of set theory, discussion of new axioms that purport to resolve independence necessitates an explanation of how they come to be justified. Ordinarily, justification is divided into two broad kinds: intrinsic justification relates to how `intuitively plausible' an axiom is, whereas extrinsic justification supports an axiom by identifying certain `desirable' consequences. This paper puts pressure on how this distinction is formulated and construed. In particular, we argue that the distinction as often presented is neither well-demarcated nor (...) sufficiently precise. Instead, we suggest that the process of justification in set theory should not be thought of as neatly divisible in this way, but should rather be understood as a conceptually indivisible notion linked to the goal of explanation. (shrink)