Virtue ethics seems to be a promising moral theory for understanding and interpreting the development and behavior of artificial moral agents. Virtuous artificial agents would blur traditional distinctions between different sorts of moral machines and could make a claim to membership in the moral community. Accordingly, we investigate the “machine question” by studying whether virtue or vice can be attributed to artificial intelligence; that is, are people willing to judge machines as possessing moral character? An experiment describes situations where either (...) human or AI agents engage in virtuous or vicious behavior and experiment participants then judge their level of virtue or vice. The scenarios represent different virtue ethics domains of truth, justice, fear, wealth, and honor. Quantitative and qualitative analyses show that moral attributions are weakened for AIs compared to humans, and the reasoning and explanations for the attributions are varied and more complex. On “relational” views of membership in the moral community, virtuous machines would indeed be included, even if they are indeed weakened. Hence, while our moral relationships with artificial agents may be of the same types, they may yet remain substantively different than our relationships to human beings. (shrink)
In this paper, I provide the outlines of an alternative metaphilosophical orientation for Continental philosophy, namely, a form of scientific naturalism that has proximate roots in the work of Bachelard and Althusser. I describe this orientation as an “alternative” insofar as it provides a framework for doing justice to some of the motivations behind the recent revival of metaphysics in Continental philosophy, in particular its ecological-ethical motivations. In the second section of the paper, I demonstrate how ecological-ethical issues motivate new (...) metaphysicians like Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, Timothy Morton, Ian Bogost, and Graham Harman to impute to objects real features of agency. I also try to show how their commitments lead to deep ambiguities in their metaphysical projects. In the final section, I outline a type of scientific naturalism in Continental philosophy that parallels the sort of naturalism championed by Quine, both conceptually and historically, and suggest that it might serve our ecological-ethical purposes better. (shrink)
This paper argues against a common misunderstanding of Foucault's work. Even after the release of his lectures at the Collège de France, which ran throughout the 1970s until his death in 1984, he is still often taken to have made an "ethical" turn toward the end of his life. As opposed to his genealogies of power published in the 1970s, which are relentlessly suspicious of claims of individual agency, his final monographs focus on the ethical self-formation of free individuals. I (...) suggest that this basic misinterpretation makes possible interpretations of Foucault's work as being sympathetic to neoliberal government, by linking the ethical turn to a "liberal" or "neoliberal" turn in his thought. I present a case against the ethical turn by arguing that Foucault's main focus, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, is a concern for the ways in which we become obligated by truth. (shrink)
In this article I want to argue that Foucault’s engagement with the Iranian Revolution was neither romantic fascist atavism nor does it presage any sort of transformation of his thought. Indeed, Foucault’s investigations of neoliberalism and subsequent work on spirituality, truth-telling and ethics are fully continuous with his critical genealogy of power. This is an important point, as we shall see, insofar as Foucault’s journalism on the Iranian Revolution occurs in the midst of his Collège de France lectures on biopolitics (...) and governmentality. Foucault’s enthusiasm for the Revolution might indicate, albeit very indirectly, directions for thought that might resist neoliberalism. I will argue that Foucault was engaged in a very specific telling of the ‘history of truth’, emphasizing a partisan and agonistic form of truth-telling and transformation through struggle and ordeal, as opposed to the pacifying, neutralizing and normalizing forms of modern Western power. The ‘political spirituality’ Foucault wit... (shrink)
I present an account of nihilism, following Foucault and Nietzsche, as a sort of colonization of our thinking by a religious form of normativity, grounded in our submission to truth as correspondence, in the idea that the facts themselves could be binding upon us. I then present Brassier’s radicalization of nihilism and showed how it remains subservient to this religious ideal of truth. I argue, further, that far than showing how a commitment to Enlightenment reason and science demands a cold (...) metaphysics of death, in dismissing the irreducibly plural ways in which what is determines thought, Brassier’s attempt to secure a fit between thought and disenchanted world suggests that the view is an expression of the unliveable condition of nihilism, rather than its proof. Finally, I present a form of naturalism that makes legitimate claim to the legacy of Enlightenment, drawing from French historical epistemology, and dispenses with the problems animating Brassier’s nihilism by radically transforming the concept of truth and how we relate to it. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to set out the structure and order of Leibniz’s discussion of the so-called “static shift,” in his correspondence in Clarke. The immediate point of this exercise is to determine precisely how Leibniz puts to use his two famous principles – the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) and the Principleof Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) – in constructing, and defending his relational view of space, while providing a refutation of Absolute Space. In specific, it is to (...) set out an interpretation of this argument contrary to the generally accepted one – here represented by Chernoff – about the use of the PII. (shrink)
In this paper, I trace some of Ricoeur’s criticisms of Foucault in his major works on historiography, and evaluate them. I find that Ricoeur’s criticisms of Foucault’s archaeological project in Time and Narrative are not particularly worrisome, and that Foucault’s “critical” project actually provides alternatives for enriching and expanding on some of Ricoeur’s later insights in Memory, History, Forgetting and – in particular – for troubling the distinction made between critique and ontology.