ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. Among Those Who helped greatly in the initial stages of this project by making constructive suggestions on my first "caring" papers are NickBurbules, William Doll, Bruce Fuller, Brian Hill, William Pinar, Mary Anne ...
With very advanced technology, a very large population of people living happy lives could be sustained in the accessible region of the universe. For every year that development of such technologies and colonization of the universe is delayed, there is therefore a corresponding opportunity cost: a potential good, lives worth living, is not being realized. Given some plausible assumptions, this cost is extremely large. However, the lesson for standard utilitarians is not that we ought to maximize the pace of technological (...) development, but rather that we ought to maximize its safety, i.e. the probability that colonization will eventually occur. This goal has such high utility that standard utilitarians ought to focus all their efforts on it. Utilitarians of a ‘person-affecting’ stripe should accept a modified version of this conclusion. Some mixed ethical views, which combine utilitarian considerations with other criteria, will also be committed to a similar bottom line. (shrink)
In this exchange, Peter Coghlan and Nick Trakakis discuss the problem of natural evil in the light of the recent Asian tsunami disaster. The exchange begins with an extract from a newspaper article written by Coghlan on the tsunami, followed by three rounds of replies and counter-replies, and ending with some final comments from Trakakis. While critical of any attempt to show that human life is good overall despite its natural evils, Coghlan argues that instances of natural evil, even (...) horrific ones, can be justified as the unavoidable by-product of a natural system on which human life and culture depends. Trakakis, however, rejects this view, counselling instead a degree of skepticism about our ability to construct a plausible theodicy for horrific evil. (shrink)
To what extent should we use technological advances to try to make better human beings? Leading philosophers debate the possibility of enhancing human cognition, mood, personality, and physical performance, and controlling aging. Would this take us beyond the bounds of human nature? These are questions that need to be answered now.
This book explores both the embodied nature of social life and the social nature of human bodily life. It provides an accessible review of the contemporary social science debates on the body, and develops a coherent new perspective. Nick Crossley critically reviews the literature on mind and body, and also on the body and society. He draws on theoretical insights from the work of Gilbert Ryle, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, George Herbert Mead and Pierre Bourdieu, and shows how the work of (...) these writers overlaps in interesting and important ways which, when combined, provide the basis for a persuasive and robust account of human embodiment. The Social Body provides a timely review of the theoretical approaches to the sociology of the body. It offers new insights, and a coherent new perspective on the body. It will be valuable reading for students and academics in sociology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and cultural studies. (shrink)
A dizzying trip through the mind(s) of the provocative and influential thinker Nick Land. During the 1990s British philosopher Nick Land's unique work, variously described as “rabid nihilism,” “mad black deleuzianism,” and “cybergothic,” developed perhaps the only rigorous and culturally-engaged escape route out of the malaise of “continental philosophy” —a route that was implacably blocked by the academy. However, Land's work has continued to exert an influence, both through the British “speculative realist” philosophers who studied with him, and (...) through the many cultural producers—writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers—who have been invigorated by his uncompromising and abrasive philosophical vision. Beginning with Land's early radical rereadings of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Kant and Bataille, the volume collects together the papers, talks and articles of the mid-90s—long the subject of rumour and vague legend (including some work which has never previously appeared in print)—in which Land developed his futuristic theory-fiction of cybercapitalism gone amok; and ends with his enigmatic later writings in which Ballardian fictions, poetics, cryptography, anthropology, grammatology and the occult are smeared into unrecognisable hybrids. Fanged Noumena gives a dizzying perspective on the entire trajectory of this provocative and influential thinker's work, and has introduced his unique voice to a new generation of readers. (shrink)
The terms "imagination'' and "imaginative'' can be readily applied to a profusion of attitudes, experiences, activities, and further phenomena. The heterogeneity of the things to which they're applied prompts the thoughts that the terms are polysemous, and that there is no single, coherent, fruitful conception of imagination to be had. Nonetheless, much recent work on imagination ascribes implicitly to a univocal way of thinking about imaginative phenomena: the imitation theory, according to which imaginative experiences imitate other experiences. This approach is (...) infelicitous. It issues in unhelpful descriptions of imaginative activities, experiences, and attitudes, and frustrates theorizing about imagination's applications and intensional characteristics. A better way of thinking about imagination is the lens theory, according to which the imagination is a set of ways to focus, refine, clarify or concentrate the matter of other experiences. This approach offers better characterizations of imaginative phenomena, and promises brighter theoretical illumination of them. (shrink)
Darwinian matters : life, force and change -- Biological difference -- The evolution of sex and race -- Nietzsche's Darwin -- History and the untimely -- The eternal return and the overman -- Bergsonian differences -- The philosophy of life -- Intuition and the virtual -- The future.
Articulate and perceptive, Intersubjectivity is a text that explains the notions of intersubjectivity as a central concern of philosophy, sociology, psychology, and politics. Going beyond this broad-ranging introduction and explication, author Nick Crossley provides a critical discussion of intersubjectivity as an interdisciplinary concept to shed light on our understanding of selfhood, communication, citizenship, power, and community. The volume traces the contributions of key thinkers engaged within the intersubjectivist tradition, including Husserl, Buber, Kojeve, Merlau-Ponty, Mead, Wittgenstein, Schutz, and Habermas. A (...) clear, concise introduction to a range of difficult concepts and thinkers, Intersubjectivity demystifies this very interdisciplinary subject for advanced and graduate-level students of philosophy, sociology, social psychology, and social and political theory. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophical attitudes toward beauty are hard to reconcile with its importance in the history of philosophy. Philosophers used to allow it a starring role in their theories of autonomy, morality, or the good life. But today, if beauty is discussed at all, it is often explicitly denied any such importance. This is due, in part, to the thought that beauty is the object of “disinterested pleasure”. In this paper I clarify the notion of disinterest and develop two general strategies (...) for resisting the emphasis on it, in the hopes of getting a clearer view of beauty’s significance. I present and discuss several literary depictions of the encounter with beauty that motivate both strategies. These depictions illustrate the ways in which aesthetic experience can be personally transformative. I argue that they present difficulties for disinterest theories and suggest we abandon the concept of disinterest to focus instead on the special kind of interest beauty fuels. I propose a closer look at the Platonic thought that beauty is the object of love. (shrink)
_What place do Anna Freud’s ideas have in the history of psychoanalysis? What can her writings teach us today about how to work therapeutically with children? Are her psychoanalytic ideas still relevant to those entrusted with the welfare of infants and young people? _ _Reading Anna Freud_ provides an accessible introduction to the writings of one of the most significant figures in the history of psychoanalysis. Each chapter introduces a number of her key papers, with clear summaries of the main (...) ideas, historical background, a discussion of the influence and contemporary relevance of her thinking, and recommendations for further reading. Areas covered include Anna Freud’s writings on: • The theory and practice of child analysis and 'developmental therapy' • The application of psychoanalytic thinking to education, paediatrics and the law • The assessment and diagnosis of childhood disorders • Psychoanalytic research and developmental psychopathology Nick Midgley draws on his extensive experience as a child psychotherapist and a teacher to bring Anna Freud's ideas to life. He illustrates the remarkable originality of her thinking, and shows how analytic ideas can be used not only in child psychotherapy, but also to inform the care of children in families, hospitals, classrooms, residential care and the court-room. __Reading Anna Freud__ will be of interest to child therapists, child analysts and psychoanalysts, as well as others working in the field of child and adolescent mental health, such as clinical psychologists, child psychiatrists and educational psychologists. It also has much to offer to those entrusted with the care of children in a wide range of settings - including teachers, nurses and social workers - for whom Anna Freud was always keen to demonstrate the value of a psychoanalytic approach. _Nick Midgley_ trained as a child and adolescent psychotherapist at the Anna Freud Centre, where he now works as a clinician and as Programme Director for the MSc in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice. Nick has written articles on a wide range of topics and is joint editor of _Minding the Child: Mentalization-based Interventions with Children, Young People and their Families_ and _Child Psychotherapy and Research: New Directions, Emerging Findings_. (shrink)
In _The Powers of Dignity_ Nick Bromell unpacks Frederick Douglass's 1867 claim that he had “elaborated a political philosophy” from his own “slave experience.” Bromell shows that Douglass devised his philosophy because he found that antebellum Americans' liberal-republican understanding of democracy did not provide a sufficient principled basis on which to fight anti-Black racism. To remedy this deficiency, Douglass deployed insights from his distinctively Black experience and developed a _Black_ philosophy of democracy. He began by contesting the founders' racist (...) assumptions about humanity and advancing instead a more robust theory of “the human” as a collection of human “powers.” He asserted further that the conscious exercise of those powers is what confirms human dignity and that human rights and democracy come into being as ways to affirm and protect that dignity. Thus, by emphasizing the powers and the dignity of all citizens, deriving democratic rights from these, and promoting a remarkably activist, power-oriented model of citizenship, Douglass's Black political philosophy aimed to rectify two major failings of US democracy in his time and ours: its complacence and its racism. (shrink)
'The Probabilistic Mind' is a follow-up to the influential and highly cited 'Rational Models of Cognition'. It brings together developments in understanding how, and how far, high-level cognitive processes can be understood in rational terms, and particularly using probabilistic Bayesian methods.
In this essay Nicholas C. Burbules reviews his experiences and the lessons he learned as editor of Educational Theory for more than twenty years, and he explores some of the normative choices that are inevitably made by any editor in carrying out his or her role. Burbules examines the relationship of a journal to its intellectual field; the review process; communications and interactions with authors; the process of editing and revising manuscripts; questions of representativeness in a theoretically pluralistic (...) field; the business of journal publishing; and the dilemmas that confront an editor in terms of his or her own position and identity within a field. In all of these reflections, he examines the ethical and political background of the choices made, and how these in turn reveal deeper assumptions about the nature and purpose of academic publishing. The result is to “lift up the curtain” and reveal how one philosophically reflective and self-questioning editor handled his responsibilities. (shrink)
Liberal democracies deal poorly with states of emergency because they underestimate the corrosive effect of arbitrary coercion on established liberal democratic values. Far from protecting the rights of citizens, arbitrary emergency measures undermine citizens’ rights.
It is intuitively plausible that art and imagination are intimately connected. This chapter explores attempts to explain that connection. We focus on three areas in which art and imagination might be linked: production, ontology, and appreciation. We examine views which treat imagination as a fundamental human faculty, and aim for comprehensive accounts of art and artistic practice: for example, those of Kant and Collingwood. We also discuss philosophers who argue that a specific kind of imagining may explain some particular element (...) of the artistic domain: for example, Walton's ideas about representational art, and Kivy’s about reading. (shrink)
The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. Other animals have stronger muscles or sharper claws, but we have cleverer brains. If machine brains one day come to surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of (...) our species then would come to depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence. But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed AI or otherwise to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation? To get closer to an answer to this question, we must make our way through a fascinating landscape of topics and considerations. Read the book and learn about oracles, genies, singletons; about boxing methods, tripwires, and mind crime; about humanity's cosmic endowment and differential technological development; indirect normativity, instrumental convergence, whole brain emulation and technology couplings; Malthusian economics and dystopian evolution; artificial intelligence, and biological cognitive enhancement, and collective intelligence. (shrink)
It is common to allocate scarce health care resources by maximizing QALYs per dollar. This approach has been attacked by disability-rights advocates, policy-makers, and ethicists on the grounds that it unjustly discriminates against the disabled. The main complaint is that the QALY-maximizing approach implies a seemingly unsatisfactory conclusion: other things being equal, we should direct life-saving treatment to the healthy rather than the disabled. This argument pays insufficient attention to the downsides of the potential alternatives. We show that this sort (...) of discrimination is one of four unpalatable consequences that any approach to priority setting in health care must face. We argue that, given the alternatives, it is far from clear that we should revise the QALY-maximizing approach in response to this objection. (shrink)
I develop a theory of social virtue around the concept of a "social opening" and argue that a range of contemporary terms track various modes of success and failure with respect to social openings: ‘awesome’, ‘down’, ‘chill’, ‘sucks’, ‘wack’, ‘lame’, ‘douchebag’, and others. A basic idea is that the normative character of contemporary social life cannot be fully understood in traditional philosophical terms: ‘obligation’, ‘demand’, ‘duty’, ‘right’, ‘just’, ‘requirement’. ‘Sucks’ and ‘awesome’ (and their ilk) capture a special mode of interpersonal (...) critique. Old modes of critique fall short because contemporary social life embodies a concern for cultivating, expressing, and appreciating individuality. This is partly an aesthetic affair, which flavors the modes of response and critique that constitute the normative framework. I detail how our interest in the "ethics of awesomeness" has influenced a range of post-’60s cultural practices, including art, charity, athletics, public life, and others. (shrink)
Our paradigms of aesthetic value condition the philosophical questions we pose and hope to answer about it. Theories of aesthetic value are typically individualistic, in the sense that the paradigms they are designed to capture, and the questions to which they are offered as answers, center the individual’s engagement with aesthetic value. Here I offer some considerations that suggest that such individualism is a mistake and sketch a communitarian way of posing and answering questions about the nature of aesthetic value.
This is a chapter of the planned monograph "Out of Nowhere: The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity", co-authored by Nick Huggett and Christian Wüthrich and under contract with Oxford University Press. (More information at www<dot>beyondspacetime<dot>net.) This chapter investigates the meaning and significance of string theoretic dualities, arguing they reveal a surprising physical indeterminateness to spacetime.
In this article, Nicholas C. Burbules explores the effects of various social media on the ways people communicate, and the implications of these effects for the use of social media in educational contexts. Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other applications are being used in increasing numbers, especially by young people. It is where they live, share, and learn, so it is to be expected that educators would want to find ways to use these technologies to engage them. At (...) the same time, however, these new media come with a host of issues and dangers as well as possibilities. Creative educators need to be aware of these in weighing the advantages and disadvantages of social media for educational purposes. (shrink)
According to Arthur Danto, post-modern or post-historical art began when artists like Andy Warhol collapsed the Modern distinction between art and everyday life by bringing “the everyday” into the artworld. I begin by pointing out that there is another way to collapse this distinction: bring art out of the artworld and into everyday life. An especially effective way of doing this is to make street art, which, I argue, is art whose meaning depends on its use of the street. I (...) defend this definition and show how it handles graffiti and public art. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis essay explores the concept of phronesis in two contexts: phronesis as a virtue, in fact a meta-virtue because it guides the exercise of other virtues; and phronesis as an element in theories of practice. I argue that these two aspects are closely related, because ethics – especially virtue ethics – is best understood as a kind of practice. The second part of the essay explores some of the consequences of thinking about ethics in this way.
In chapters ranging from "The Beautiful, the Dainty, and the Dumpy" to "Skin-deep or In the Eye of the Beholder?" Nick Zangwill investigates the nature of beauty as we conceive it, and as it is in itself. The notion of beauty is currently attracting increased interest, particularly in philosophical aesthetics and in discussions of our experiences and judgments about art. In The Metaphysics of Beauty, Zangwill argues that it is essential to beauty that it depends on the ordinary features (...) of things. He uses this principle to defend the notion of the aesthetic, to call for a version of aesthetic formalism, and to reconsider the reality of beauty. The Metaphysics of Beauty brings beauty to the center of intellectual consciousness in a manner informed by contemporary metaphysics and engages with beauty as an enduring object of human thought and experience. (shrink)
The hope that art could be personally or socially transformational is an important part of art history and contemporary art practice. In the twentieth century, it shaped a movement away from traditional media in an effort to make social life a medium. Artists imagined and created participatory situations designed to facilitate potentially transformative expression in those who engaged with the works. This chapter develops the concept of “transformative expression,” and illustrates how it informs a diverse range of such works. Understanding (...) these artworks in this way raises two interesting questions, one about the nature of aesthetic value and the other about the nature of action. Answers to these questions lie in understanding the social and aesthetic character of our capacity to distance ourselves from our commitments and act in the expressive, playful, spontaneous, or imaginative ways that participatory art invites. (shrink)
Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades.  It promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology. Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
This essay reflects upon certain aspects of Wittgenstein's own practices as a teacher. Doing philosophy always took priority for Wittgenstein, whether this was in oral or written form: it was important to show the deep puzzles in our language (and our culture and thinking) as a step toward dissolving them. In this respect, one can teach only as a guide; it is a matter of showing more than saying. Wittgenstein's approach suggests a model that I will call tacit teaching. Tacit (...) teaching refers to the many forms of informal instruction—some intentional, some unintentional, and some difficult to categorize simply as one or the other—by which skills, capacities, and dispositions are passed along within a domain of practice. Wittgenstein repeatedly uses the language of signposts, of wandering through a city, of being lost and finding one's way, of needing a guide, of learning how to go on by one's self, to refer to the complex web of knowledge and understanding that allows successful autonomous practice in some discipline: most pertinently, in the context of Wittgenstein's own teaching and writing, the discipline of doing philosophy, but with clear reference to teaching and learning in other complex and ill-structured domains as well. (shrink)
How sexuality should be regulated in a liberal political community is an important, controversial theoretical and empirical question—as shown by the recent criminalization of possession of some adult pornography in the United Kingdom. Supporters of criminalization argue that Mill, often considered a staunch opponent of censorship, would support prohibition due to his feminist commitments. I argue that this account underestimates the strengths of the Millian account of private conduct and free expression, and the consistency of Millian anticensorship with feminist values. (...) A Millian contextual defense of liberty, however, suggests several other policy approaches to addressing the harms of pornography. (shrink)
This article responds to recent debates in critical algorithm studies about the significance of the term “algorithm.” Where some have suggested that critical scholars should align their use of the term with its common definition in professional computer science, I argue that we should instead approach algorithms as “multiples”—unstable objects that are enacted through the varied practices that people use to engage with them, including the practices of “outsider” researchers. This approach builds on the work of Laura Devendorf, Elizabeth Goodman, (...) and Annemarie Mol. Different ways of enacting algorithms foreground certain issues while occluding others: computer scientists enact algorithms as conceptual objects indifferent to implementation details, while calls for accountability enact algorithms as closed boxes to be opened. I propose that critical researchers might seek to enact algorithms ethnographically, seeing them as heterogeneous and diffuse sociotechnical systems, rather than rigidly constrained and procedural formulas. To do so, I suggest thinking of algorithms not “in” culture, as the event occasioning this essay was titled, but “as” culture: part of broad patterns of meaning and practice that can be engaged with empirically. I offer a set of practical tactics for the ethnographic enactment of algorithmic systems, which do not depend on pinning down a singular “algorithm” or achieving “access,” but which rather work from the partial and mobile position of an outsider. (shrink)
A broad-scale quantification of the measure of quality for scholarship is under way. This trend has fundamental implications for the future of academic publishing and employment. In this essay we want to raise questions about these burgeoning practices, particularly how they affect philosophy of education and similar sub-disciplines. First, details are given of how an ‘impact factor’ is calculated. The various meanings that can be attached to it are scrutinised. Second, we examine how impact factors are used to make various (...) ‘high stakes’ academic decisions, such as hiring and promotion, funding of research projects and how much money is to be awarded to a particular area. By focusing on a particular practice, problems with the application of the metric generally are outlined. Finally, we offer some general observations about the unintended consequences and other problems arising from the widespread use of this metric, including attempts to ‘game the system’. We argue that the use of impact factors increasingly shapes the kind of topics and issues scholars write on, their choices of methodology, and their choice of publication venues for their work. Technical measures and mechanisms tend to ‘colonise’ the qualitative and professional judgments that must also be part of the process of evaluation, and for which bibliometrics alone cannot offer a substitute. (shrink)
Nick Hopwood, Simon Schaffer and Jim Secord, “Seriality and scientific objects in the nineteenth century”, History of Science, xlviii. Series represent much that was new and significant in the sciences between the French Revolution and the First World War. From periodical publication to the cinema, tabulation to industrialized screening, series feature in major innovations in scientific communication and the organization of laboratories, clinics, libraries, museums and field - XIXe siècle – Nouvel article.
We present a theory of decision by sampling (DbS) in which, in contrast with traditional models, there are no underlying psychoeconomic scales. Instead, we assume that an attribute’s subjective value is constructed from a series of binary, ordinal comparisons to a sample of attribute values drawn from memory and is its rank within the sample. We assume that the sample reﬂects both the immediate distribution of attribute values from the current decision’s context and also the background, real-world distribution of attribute (...) values. DbS accounts for concave utility functions; losses looming larger than gains; hyperbolic temporal discounting; and the overestimation of small probabilities and the underestimation of large probabilities. Ó 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)