The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
Using the writings of slaves and former slaves, as well as commentaries on slavery, Between Slavery and Freedom explores the American slave experience to gain a better understanding of six moral and political concepts—oppression, paternalism, resistance, political obligation, citizenship, and forgiveness. The authors use analytical philosophy as well as other disciplines to gain insight into the thinking of a group of people prevented from participating in the social/political discourse of their times. Between Slavery and Freedom rejects the notion that philosophers (...) need not consider individual experience because philosophy is "impartial" and "universal." A philosopher should also take account of matters that are essentially perspectival, such as the slave experience. McGary and Lawson demonstrate the contribution of all human experience, including slave experiences, to the quest for human knowledge and understanding. (shrink)
David Owen wants to understand what Hume means by reason, given its pivotal importance in the wide range of issues that Hume discusses in his philosophical works. In order to achieve that understanding, Owen places Hume in the historical context of writers such as Descartes and Locke, what was later referred to as the way of ideas. Owen objects to stating Humes views in terms of contemporary semantic frameworks. After a careful review of the many contexts in which Hume discusses (...) reason in book 1 of the Treatise, Owen concludes that Hume rejected the notion of reason as an independent faculty and offered instead an account of reason as based on the imagination. Owens scholarship is meticulous and his attempt to understand Humes historical context commendable. The difficulties are that he tells us nothing new and his context is much too narrow. Hume was neither a scholastic nor a contemporary professional responding only to the works of other professional philosophers on some technical point. At the very least, Humes discussion of causal reasoning was very much influenced by the transition from Aristotelian physics and its attendant conception of causality to Newtons physics and its attendant conception of causality. The details of Humes mechanistic account of belief are not mentioned. (shrink)
We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...) warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. (shrink)
It is a rare privilege to have such eminent and insightful reviewers. Their kind words about the book are much appreciated – perhaps more than they realise. And I'm grateful to all three for having read the book so constructively. Each has given me several things to think about. In the space available here I will focus on the objections that seem most critical. Robert Rupert argues that I rely on an overly narrow understanding of what the cognitive sciences explain (...) (x1). Elisabeth Camp presses me on what precisely it takes to qualify as a structural representation and raises questions about holism (x2). John Krakauer makes a fundamental objection to positing representations when they seem not to be needed to explain behaviour (x3). (shrink)
In any society influenced by a plurality of cultures, there will be widespread, systematic differences about at least some important values, including moral values. Many of these differences look like deep disagreements, difficult to resolve objectively if that is possible at all. One common response to the suspicion that these disagreements are unsettleable has always been moral relativism. In the flurry of sympathetic treatments of this doctrine in the last two decades, attention has understandably focused on the simpler case in (...) which one fairly self-contained and culturally homogeneous society confronts, at least in thought, the values of another; but most have taken relativism to have implications within a single pluralistic society as well. I am not among the sympathizers. That is partly because I am more optimistic than many about how many moral disagreements can be settled, but I shall say little about that here. For, even on the assumption that many disputes are unsettleable, I continue to find relativism a theoretically puzzling reaction to the problem of moral disagreement, and a troubling one in practice, especially when the practice involves regular interaction among those who disagree. This essay attempts to explain why. (shrink)
As environmental concerns rightly take a greater role in the critical reevaluation of the American philosophical tradition, it behooves us to return again to the often slippery notion of “nature” to ask if it can be redeemed as not merely the canvas on which human endeavor is depicted but an active element of the diverse and distinct philosophical perspectives that make the tradition. Indeed, there is a great need to depict the potentially subversive ways that human and nature can be (...) understood as radically connatural, in intimate ecological and constructive relations that make nature not just the instrument for the exertion for human wants and desires but also thoroughly and... (shrink)
There is an increasingly widespread belief, both within and outside the discipline, that modern economics is irrelevant to the understanding of the real world. Economics and Reality traces this irrelevance to the failure of economists to match their methods with their subject, showing that formal, mathematical models are unsuitable to the social realities economists purport to address. Tony Lawson examines the various ways in which mainstream economics is rooted in positivist philosophy and examines the problems this causes. It focuses (...) on human agency, social structure and their interaction and explores how the understanding of this social phenomena can be used to transform the nature of economic practice. Economics and Reality concludes by showing how this newly transformed economics might set about shaping economic policy. (shrink)
Reagan, Lawson This article will argue that a Humanist future is a technoprogressive one. It will first give an overview of the emerging third dimension of 21st century politics, that of biopolitics. It will define the broad differences between the transhumanist and bioconservative movements. Then it will turn to the two main ideologically competing strands of the transhumanist movement: that of right wing 'Libertarian Transhumanism' and left wing 'Technoprogressivism'.
The ancient Greek thinker refutes skepticism, demonstrates God's existence, compares metaphysics to the other sciences, elucidates the nature of the infinite, and explores other major philosophical issues.
Analysis of three kinds of flow of viscous, incompressible, electrically conducting fluids in high-aspect-ration rectangular channels subjected to transverse magnetic fields: turbulent flow in the presence of a d-c magnetic field, and both laminar and turbulent induction-driven flows.
How should pragmatists respond to and contribute to the resolution of one of America’s greatest and most enduring problems? Given that the most important thinkers of the pragmatist movement—Charles S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and George Herbert Mead—said little about the problem of race, how does their distinctly American way of thinking confront the hardship and brutality that characterizes the experience of many African Americans in this country? In 12 thoughtful and provocative essays, contemporary American pragmatists connect ideas with (...) action and theory with practice to come to terms with this seemingly intractable problem. Exploring themes such as racism and social change, the value of the concept of race, the role of education in ameliorating racism, and the place of democracy in dealing with the tragedy of race, the voices gathered in this volume consider how pragmatism can focus new attention on the problem of race. Contributors are Michael Eldridge, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Judith M. Green, D. Micah Hester, Donald F. Koch, Bill E. Lawson, David E. McClean, Gregory F. Pappas, Scott L. Pratt, Alfred E. Prettyman, John R. Shook, Paul C. Taylor, and Cornel West. (shrink)
The reality of truth -- The reality of truth in a fallen world -- The reality of truth in the inerrant word -- The reality of truth in the written word -- The reality of truth in the exclusive Gospel -- The rejection of truth -- The rejection of truth by the first couple -- The rejection of truth by an unbelieving age -- The rejection of truth by a worldly church -- The rejection of truth in the Christian's life (...) -- The reign of truth -- The reign of truth in the expository pulpit -- The reign of truth in a believer's walk -- The reign of truth in the highest worship -- The reign of truth in the final judgment. (shrink)
Nicholas Rescher presents a critical reaction against two currently influential tendencies of thought. On the one hand, he rejects the facile relativism that pervades contemporary social and academic life. On the other hand, he opposes the rationalism inherent in neo-contractarian theory--both in the idealized communicative-contract version promoted in continental European political philosophy by J;urgen Habermas, and in the idealized social contract version of the theory of political justice promoted in the Anglo-American context by John Rawls. Against such tendencies, Rescher's (...) pluralist approach takes a more realistic and pragmatic line, eschewing the convenient recourse of idealization in cognitive and practical matters. Instead of a utopianism that looks to a uniquely perfect order that would prevail under ideal conditions, he advocates incremental improvements within the framework of arrangements that none of us will deem perfect but that all of us "can live with." Such an approach replaces the yearning for an unattainable consensus with the institution of pragmatic arrangements in which the community will acquiesce--not through agreeing on their optimality, but through a shared recognition among the dissonant parties that the available options are even worse. (shrink)
Book synopsis: For the Pre-Socratic philosophers the soul was the source of movement and sensation, while for Plato it was the seat of being, metaphysically distinct from the body that it was forced temporarily to inhabit. Plato's student Aristotle was determined to test the truth of both these beliefs against the emerging sciences of logic and biology. His examination of the huge variety of living organisms - the enormous range of their behaviour, their powers and their perceptual sophistication - convinced (...) him of the inadequacy both of a materialist reduction and of a Platonic sublimation of the soul. In De Anima, he sought to set out his theory of the soul as the ultimate reality of embodied form and produced both a masterpiece of philosophical insight and a psychology of perennially fascinating subtlety. (shrink)
Lawson and McCauley have argued that non-cultural regularities in how actions are conceptualized inform and constrain participants' understandings of religious rituals. This theory of ritual competence generates three predictions: 1) People with little or no knowledge of any given ritual system will have intuitions about the potential effectiveness of a ritual given minimal information about the structure of the ritual. 2) The representation of superhuman agency in the action structure will be considered the most important factor contributing to effectiveness. (...) 3) Having an appropriate intentional agent initiate the action will be considered relatively more important than any specific action to be performed. These three predictions were tested in two experiments with 128 North American Protestant college students who rated the probability of various fictitious rituals to be effective in bringing about a specified consequence. Results support Lawson and McCauley's predictions and suggest that expectations regarding ordinary social actions apply to religious rituals. (shrink)