Some, but not all, of the mistakes a person makes when acting in apparently necessary self-defense are reasonable: we take them not to violate the rights of the apparent aggressor. I argue that this is explained by duties grounded in agents' entitlements to a fair distribution of the risk of suffering unjust harm. I suggest that the content of these duties is filled in by a social signaling norm, and offer some moral constraints on the form such a norm can (...) take. (shrink)
I argue that inferences from highly probabilifying racial generalizations are not solely objectionable because acting on such inferences would be problematic, or they violate a moral norm, but because they violate a distinctively epistemic norm. They involve accepting a proposition when, given the costs of a mistake, one is not adequately justified in doing so. First I sketch an account of the nature of adequate justification—practical adequacy with respect to eliminating the ~p possibilities from one’s epistemic statespace. Second, I argue (...) that inferences based on demographic generalizations tend to disproportionately expose group members to the risks associated with mistakenly assuming stereotypical propositions, and so magnify the wrong involved in relying on such inferences without adequate justification. (shrink)
I argue that the offense generation pattern of slurring terms parallels that of impoliteness behaviors, and is best explained by appeal to similar purely pragmatic mechanisms. In choosing to use a slurring term rather than its neutral counterpart, the speaker signals that she endorses the term. Such an endorsement warrants offense, and consequently slurs generate offense whenever a speaker's use demonstrates a contrastive preference for the slurring term. Since this explanation comes at low theoretical cost and imposes few constraints on (...) an account of the semantics of slurs, this suggests that we should not require semantic accounts to provide an independent explanation of the offense profile. (shrink)
Several authors have recently suggested that moral factors and norms `encroach' on the epistemic, and because of salient parallels to pragmatic encroachment views in epistemology, these suggestions have been dubbed `moral encroachment views'. This paper distinguishes between variants of the moral encroachment thesis, pointing out how they address different problems, are motivated by different considerations, and are not all subject to the same objections. It also explores how the family of moral encroachment views compare to classical pragmatic encroachment accounts.
The problem of moral disagreement has been presented as an objection to contextualist semantics for ‘ought’, since it is not clear that contextualism can accommodate or give a convincing gloss of such disagreement. I argue that independently of our semantics, disagreements over ‘ought’ in non-cooperative contexts are best understood as indirect metalinguistic disputes, which is easily accommodated by contextualism. If this is correct, then rather than posing a problem for contextualism, the data from moral disagreements provides some reason to adopt (...) a semantics that allows contextual variance in the meanings of ‘ought’. (shrink)
In addition to protecting agents’ autonomy, consent plays a crucial social role: it enables agents to secure partners in valuable interactions that would be prohibitively morally risk otherwise. To do this, consent must be observable: agents must be able to track the facts about whether they have received a consent-based permission. I argue that this morally justifies a consent-practice on which communicating that one consents is sufficient for consent, but also generates robust constraints on what sorts of behaviors can be (...) taken as consent- communicating. (shrink)
Sometimes speakers within a linguistic community use a term that they do not conceptualize as a slur, but which other members of that community do. Sometimes these speakers are ignorant or naïve, but not always. This article explores a puzzle raised when some speakers stubbornly maintain that a contested term t is not derogatory. Because the semantic content of a term depends on the language, to say that their use of t is semantically derogatory despite their claims and intentions, we (...) must individuate languages in a way that counts them as speaking our language L, assigns t a determinately derogatory content in L, and still accommodates the other features of slurs’ linguistic profile. Given the difficulty of doing this, there is some reason to give a non-semantic analysis of the derogatory aspect of slurs. The author suggests that rather than dismissing the stubborn as semantically incompetent, we would do better to appeal to expected uptake as moral reasons for the stubborn to adjust their linguistic practices. (shrink)
A popular informal argument suggests that statistics about the preponderance of criminal involvement among particular demographic groups partially justify others in making defensive mistakes against members of the group. One could worry that evidence-relative accounts of moral rights vindicate this argument. After constructing the strongest form of this objection, I offer several replies: most demographic statistics face an unmet challenge from reference class problems, even those that meet it fail to ground non-negligible conditional probabilities, even if they did, they introduce (...) new costs likely to cancel out any justificatory contribution of the statistic, but even if they didn’t, demographic facts are the wrong sort to make a moral difference to agents’ negative rights. I conclude that the popular argument should be rejected, and evidence-relative theories do not have the worrisome implication. (shrink)
A regulative norm for permissible defense distinguishes the conditions under which we will hold defenders to be innocent of any wrongdoing from those in which we hold them responsible for assault or manslaughter. The norm must strike a fair balance between defenders' security, on the one hand, and other agents’ legitimate claim to live without fear of suffering mistaken defensive harm, on the other. Since agents must make defensive decisions under high pressure and on only partial information, they will sometimes (...) make mistakes. We have reason to want a norm that considers a mistake permissible when it was highly likely on the evidence that defense was proportionate and necessary to avert a threat. However, adopting an evidentialist norm under non-ideal conditions is treacherous business. I briefly survey empirical data suggesting that the type and extent of bias prevalent in the US renders a straightforward evidentialist norm unjust, and thus since the legal practice in the US relies on such a norm, we must explore avenues for reform. Preferably this will take the form of adopting a modified evidential norm, and I explore some promising options. If this proves impossible, however, then we have to accept a strict regulative norm (which does not consider any mistakes permissible), as the sole just alternative. (shrink)
A type of argument occasionally made in metaethics, epistemology and philosophy of science notes that most ordinary uses of some expression fail to satisfy the strictest interpretation of the expression, and concludes that the ordinary assertions are false. This requires there to be a presumption in favour of a strict interpretation of expressions that admit of interpretations at different levels of strictness. We argue that this presumption is unmotivated, and thus the arguments fail.
Rights to do wrong are not necessary even within the framework of interest-based rights aimed at preserving autonomy. Agents can make morally significant choices and develop their moral character without a right to do wrong, so long as we allow that there can be moral variation within the set of actions that an agent is permitted to perform. Agents can also engage in non-trivial self-constitution in choosing between morally indifferent options, so long as there is adequate non-moral variation among the (...) alternatives. The stubborn intuition that individuals have a right to do wrong in some cases can be explained as stemming from a cautionary principle motivated by the asymmetry between the risk of wrongly interfering and that of refraining from interfering. (shrink)
Law-enforcement agencies are increasingly able to leverage crime statistics to make risk predictions for particular individuals, employing a form of inference some condemn as violating the right to be "treated as an individual". I suggest that the right encodes agents' entitlement to fair distribution of the burdens and benefits of the rule of law. Rather than precluding statistical prediction, it requires that citizens be able to anticipate which variables will be used as predictors, and act intentionally to avoid them. Furthermore, (...) it condemns reliance on various indexes of distributive injustice, or unchosen properties, as evidence of law-breaking. (shrink)
In the year 2002, I came across a manuscript by Jean-Pierre Dupuy that linked the work of Ivan Illich with that of René Girard. I immediately set about translating the text, which was published in Spanish as part of the essay collection The Other Titan: Ivan Illich.1 The original “Detour and Sacrifice” can be found in two books that pay tribute to the authors. The first was compiled by Lee Hoinacki and Carl Mitcham, Illich’s disciples;2 the second is a book (...) edited by Sandor Goodhart, Jorgen Jorgensen, Tom Ryba, and James G. Williams that celebrates Girard’s work.3The genesis of Dupuy’s text actually goes back to 1996 and was inspired by Ivan Illich’s seventieth birthday, which was celebrated with a series of... (shrink)
Part 1. Social and political language: methodological and foundational Issues 1. Conceptual engineering in philosophy (Matti Eklund) 2. Social ontology (Mari Mikkola) 3. An invitation to social and political metasemantics (Derek Ball) 4. Linguistic prescriptivism (Alex Barber) 5. Speech acts (Rachel McKinney and Dan Harris) 6. On the Uselessness of the Distinction between Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory (at least in the Philosophy of Language) (Herman Cappelen and Josh Dever) Part 2. Non-ideal semantics and pragmatics 7. Lying, Deception, and Epistemic Advantage (...) (Eliot Michaelson and Andreas Stokke) 8. Propaganda (Anne Quaranto and Jason Stanley) 9. Code words (Justin Khoo) 10. Racist and sexist figleaves (Jennifer Saul) 11. Protest and speech act theory (Matthew Chrisman and Graham Hubbs) 12. Defective contexts (Andrew Peet) Part 3. Linguistic harms 13. Varieties of pejoratives (Robin Jeshion) 14. Microaggressions and the problem of attributional ambiguity (Christina Friedlaender) 15. Hermeneutical injustice (Rebecca Mason) 16. Generics and essentializing (Rachel Sterken) 17. Language extinction (Ethan Nowak) 18. ’laxwalxwashpotamáay súngaan ‘áawq // to be between the blind snake’s teeth’: Indigenous Language Reclamation Between The Fangs Of A (Simulated) Dilemma (Shelbi Meissner) Part 4. Applications / Applied Philosophy of Language 19. Language and free speech (Ishani Maitra and Mary Kate McGowan) 20. Language and ideology (Eric Swanson) 21. Language and legitimation (Robert Simpson) 22. How much gender is too much gender? (Robin Dembroff and Daniel Wodak) 23. On Language and Sexuality: Demisexuals, Polyamorous, Bambi Lesbians, and Other Queers (Esa Diaz-Leon and Saray Ayala-Lopez) 24. The language of mental illness (ReneeJorgensen Bolinger). (shrink)
"Rene Descartes is often called the 'Father of Modern Philosophy.' The profound controversies that his doctrines have engendered are alone sufficient to establish his eminence. Yet if he is to be paid a due respect, it is necessary to understand him on his own terms- to distinguish his doctrines from myriad notions labeled 'Cartesian.' The quest for certainty may be a constitutional imperative for every philosopher; in the case of Descartes it was an acknowledged passion. Thus there is no more (...) fitting approach to him than to study seriously his claims to having attained certainty regarding what he took to be the questions of metaphysics, namely, the questions of the existence of God and of the nature of the human mind."--The Preface. (shrink)
Between the years 1643 and 1649, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia and René Descartes exchanged fifty-eight letters—thirty-two from Descartes and twenty-six from Elisabeth. Their correspondence contains the only known extant philosophical writings by Elisabeth, revealing her mastery of metaphysics, analytic geometry, and moral philosophy, as well as her keen interest in natural philosophy. The letters are essential reading for anyone interested in Descartes’s philosophy, in particular his account of the human being as a union of mind and body, as well as (...) his ethics. They also provide a unique insight into the character of their authors and the way ideas develop through intellectual collaboration. Philosophers have long been familiar with Descartes’s side of the correspondence. Now Elisabeth’s letters—never before available in translation in their entirety—emerge this volume, adding much-needed context and depth both to Descartes’s ideas and the legacy of the princess. Lisa Shapiro’s annotated edition—which also includes Elisabeth’s correspondence with the Quakers William Penn and Robert Barclay—will be heralded by students of philosophy, feminist theorists, and historians of the early modern period. (shrink)
René Descartes n'est pas un auteur consacré de la littérature politique. Pourtant ses textes contiennent de nombreuses vues sur la société et sur l'Etat. Ils définissent la conduite que doit suivre en politique le Philosophe, mais aussi le Prince. Les éléments de sa politique sont, il est vrai, dispersés dans toute son oeuvre et dans son abondante correspondance. Ils sont également illustrés par sa vie. Le premier intérêt de cet ouvrage est de réunir dans un dictionnaire comprenant environ 170 entrées (...) les textes relatifs aux idées, aux sentiments et aux actes politiques de Descartes. Deux études rappellent le contexte historique et mettent en évidence l'actualité de la politique de Descartes. Ses vues sur l'Etat se montrent bien plus modernes que celle de Machiavel ou Hobbes. Et ses préoccupations essentielles sont de tous les temps. Comment avoir une pensée indépendante sans être persécuté? un esprit libre sans troubler ou ruiner la République? Comment se gouverner selon la raison dans la nef de fous décrite par Erasme? Comment ^tre un homme de paix dans un siècle de sang?...Reprochera-t-on à cette politique d'être modeste? Depuis deux ou trois siècle, on semble n'avoir d'estime que pour les systèmes et les utopies, même si tout système est une falsification, même si les lendemains ne chantent jamais. Descartes ne fait pas voyager au pays des chimères, il ne construit pas de mythes. Il enseigne à vivre content et sans illusions, à marcher avec assurance dans le monde comme il va. Voilà pourquoi il est urgent de relire Descartes. (shrink)
Between the years 1643 and 1649, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618–80) and Rene; Descartes (1596–1650) exchanged fifty-eight letters—thirty-two from Descartes and twenty-six from Elisabeth. Their correspondence contains the only known extant philosophical writings by Elisabeth, revealing her mastery of metaphysics, analytic geometry, and moral philosophy, as well as her keen interest in natural philosophy. The letters are essential reading for anyone interested in Descartes’s philosophy, in particular his account of the human being as a union of mind and body, as (...) well as his ethics. They also provide a unique insight into the character of their authors and the way ideas develop through intellectual collaboration. Philosophers have long been familiar with Descartes’s side of the correspondence. Now Elisabeth’s letters—never before available in translation in their entirety—emerge this volume, adding much-needed context and depth both to Descartes’s ideas and the legacy of the princess. Lisa Shapiro’s annotated edition—which also includes Elisabeth’s correspondence with the Quakers William Penn and Robert Barclay—will be heralded by students of philosophy, feminist theorists, and historians of the early modern period. (shrink)
Le 15 décembre 2005, René Girard, lors de son entrée à l'Académie française, prononça l'éloge de son prédécesseur, le révérend père Carré. Michel Serres répondit à ce discours par un tableau de la vie et de l'oeuvre du récipiendaire dont, dit-il, la théorie compte parmi les plus fécondes du XXe siècle.
Volumes I and II provided a completely new translation of the philosophical works of Descartes, based on the best available Latin and French texts. Volume III contains 207 of Descartes' letters, over half of which have previously not been translated into English. It incorporates, in its entirety, Anthony Kenny's celebrated translation of selected philosophical letters, first published in 1970. In conjunction with Volumes I and II it is designed to meet the widespread demand for a comprehensive, authoritative and accurate edition (...) of Descartes' philosophical writings in clear and readable modern English. (shrink)
This book is a systematic reappraisal of Leibniz’s philosophy of mind. The main argument of this book is easy to state: Leibniz offers a fully natural theory of mind. In today’s philosophical climate, in which much effort has been put into discovering a naturalized theory of mind, Leibniz’s efforts to reach a similar goal 300 years earlier will provide a critical stance from which we can assess our own theories. But while the goals might be similar, the content of Leibniz’s (...) theory significantly diverges from the majority of today’s theories. Leibniz’s philosophy of mind meets the standards of what he would regard as a fully natural theory. Perhaps surprisingly, Leibniz’s theological commitments yield a thoroughgoing naturalizing methodology: the properties of an object are explicable in term of the object’s nature. This book argues that Leibniz pursued his philosophy of mind with this methodology in hand. If we keep this commitment to a naturalizing project in mind, then we will find in Leibniz a rich and interesting philosophy of mind. -/- This book provides an account of Leibniz’s naturalizing constraints and traces them through Leibniz’s philosophy of mind. It covers issues relating to mental representation, perception, sensation, consciousness, memory, and moral identity. (shrink)
In Descartes's Meditations, one of the key texts of Western philosophy, the thinker rejects all his former beliefs in the quest for new certainties. Discovering his own existence as a thinking entity in the very exercise of doubt, he goes on to prove the existence of God, who guarantees his clear and distinct ideas as a means of access to the truth. He develops new conceptions of body and mind, capable of serving as foundations for the new science of nature. (...) Subsequent philosophy has grappled with Descartes's legacy, questioning many of its conclusions and even his basic approach, but his arguments set the agenda for many of the greatest philosophical thinkers, and their fascination endures.This new translation includes the Third and Fourth Objections and Replies in full, and a selection from the rest of Descartes's exchanges with contemporaries that helped to shape and expound his philosophy. (shrink)
RESUMEN Francis Bacon y René Descartes han sido presentados tradicionalmente como pioneros de corrientes filosóficas opuestas entre sí. Sin embargo, son cada vez más los estudios que muestran importantes continuidades entre sus filosofías. Este artículo explora una de ellas: sus perspectivas sobre la medicina. El dominio sobre la naturaleza y el instinto de autoconservación son los elementos centrales del marco teórico dentro del cual se inserta su valoración de la medicina como la disciplina más destacada por sus beneficios para el (...) cuidado del ser humano. A partir de ahí son muchas sus coincidencias acerca del estatus, la práctica y la reforma de la medicina. ABSTRACT Francis Bacon and René Descartes have traditionally been presented as leaders of opposed philosophical currents. However, more and more studies show important continuities between their philosophies. This article explores one of them: their perspectives on medicine. The dominion over nature and the instinct for self-preservation are the central elements of the theoretical framework within which they inserted their assessments of medicine. Medicine is valued as the most outstanding discipline for its benefits for the care of the human being. Departing from this start-point, one finds further coincidences about the status, practice, and reform of medicine. (shrink)
First published in 1923 as part of the Cambridge Plain Texts series, this volume contains Descartes' Discours de la méthode in the original French. A short editorial introduction in English is also included. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in the works of Descartes and the development of rationalism.
A translation by Thomas Steele Hall, an historian of physiology, of the 1664 edition of Descartes' L'Homme (ed. Claude Clerselier). Includes an introduction, review of Descartes' physiology, a synopsis of the first French edition, bibliographical materials (editions and sources of L'Homme), and extensive interpretive notes. Also incorporates the French text of 1664 of L'Homme. Forward by I. B. Cohen.