Sainsbury and Tye (2011) propose that, in the case of names and other simple extensional terms, we should substitute for Frege's second level of content—for his senses—a second level of meaning vehicle—words in the language of thought. I agree. They also offer a theory of atomic concept reference—their ‘originalist’ theory—which implies that people knowing the same word have the ‘same concept’. This I reject, arguing for a symmetrical rather than an originalist theory of concept reference, claiming that individual concepts are (...) possessed only by individual people. Concepts are classified rather than identified across different people. (shrink)
In this interview, Ruth Groff discusses how she came to be a realist, her role as a community organizer, her relationship to critical realism, and various issues arising from her published work over the years. Discussion ranges across the nature of positivism and its legacy, the concept of falsehood, realism about causal powers, mind-independent reality, the history of philosophy, and the underlying interest in ideology-critique that runs through her thinking.
Ruth Boeker offers a new perspective on Locke’s account of persons and personal identity by considering it within the context of his broader philosophical project and the philosophical debates of his day. Her interpretation emphasizes the importance of the moral and religious dimensions of his view. By taking seriously Locke’s general approach to questions of identity, Boeker shows that we should consider his account of personhood separately from his account of personal identity over time. On this basis, she argues (...) that Locke endorses a moral account of personhood, according to which persons are subjects of accountability, and that his particular thinking about moral accountability explains why he regards sameness of consciousness as necessary for personal identity over time. In contrast to some Neo-Lockean views about personal identity, Boeker argues that Locke’s account of personal identity is not psychological per se, but rather his underlying moral, religious, metaphysical, and epistemic background beliefs are relevant for understanding why he argues for a consciousness-based account of personal identity. Taking his underlying background beliefs into consideration not only sheds light on why many of his early critics do not adopt Locke’s view, but also shows why his view cannot be as easily dismissed as some of his critics assume. -/- . (shrink)
This paper is the introduction to the volume. It gives an argumentative view of the philosophical landscape concerning incommensurability and incomparability. It argues that incomparability, not incommensurability, is the important phenomenon on which philosophers should be focusing and that the arguments for the existence of incomparability are so far not compelling.
Applied ethics, a subdiscipline of philosophy, lends itself to an encyclopedia format because of the many industries and intellectual fields that it encompasses. The Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics is based on twelve major categories, such as Biomedical Ethics and Environmental Ethics. Religious traditions that embody normative beliefs, as well as classical theories of ethics, are explored in a non-judgmental manner. Each of the twelve categories is divided into discrete areas that are covered by 5,000-6,000 word articles. Each of the 281 (...) articles begins with a definition of the subject and includes a table of contents, glossary of key terms, and bibliography. Second- and third- level headings, boxes, sidebars, and the like emphasize the reference-oriented nature of the material. The four volumes are arranged in an A-Z format, with a complete subject index at the end of the last volume. Articles are written by international experts, arranged alphabetically by title, not by subject, and cross-referenced so the reader can locate relevant information in other articles. One of Library Journal's Best Reference Sources for 1997! One of the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Books for 1998! Cross-references appear in each article to refer readers to related information A glossary and bibliography in each article provide readers with tools for learning and creative thinking. (shrink)
In this paper the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company’s decision to continue rubber production during Liberia’s chaotic civil war is critically discussed. Evaluating whether this decision, in intent or execution, violated ethical norms for MNEs operating internationally is complicated by the fact that such norms seem not to exist. If as Windsor suggests such norms are only likely to be established through an evolutionary path then it should be asked whether Firestone’s experiences, and discussion thereof, have informed the (...) development of norms in any meaningful way. It is argued here that conflicting conclusions about the meaning and morality of Firestone’s decisions have meant that the case study has contributed little in the way of meaningful norms for future decisions made by MNEs in conflict zones. Further it is argued that the underlying chaos of broad, violent conflict may make consensus around specific norms—and progress along the path to the development of norms—more laborious and fraught with difficulty than other policy arenas such as labor and environmental standards. (shrink)
Chris L. Firestone and Nathan Jacobs integrate and interpret the work of leading Kant scholars to come to a new and deeper understanding of Kant's difficult book, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. In this text, Kant's vocabulary and language are especially tortured and convoluted. Readers have often lost sight of the thinker's deep ties to Christianity and questioned the viability of the work as serious philosophy of religion. Firestone and Jacobs provide strong and cogent grounds for (...) taking Kant's religion seriously and defend him against the charges of incoherence. In their reading, Christian essentials are incorporated into the confines of reason, and they argue that Kant establishes a rational religious faith in accord with religious conviction as it is elaborated in his mature philosophy. For readers at all levels, this book articulates a way to ground religion and theology in a fully fledged defense of Religion which is linked to the larger corpus of Kant's philosophical enterprise. (shrink)
God is a problematic idea in Kant's terms, but many scholars continue to be interested in Kantian theories of religion and the issues that they raise. In these new essays, scholars both within and outside Kant studies analyse Kant's writings and his claims about natural, philosophical, and revealed theology. Topics debated include arguments for the existence of God, natural theology, redemption, divine action, miracles, revelation, and life after death. The volume includes careful examination of key Kantian texts alongside discussion of (...) their themes from both constructive and analytic perspectives. These contributions broaden the scope of the scholarship on Kant, exploring the value of doing theology in consonance or conversation with Kant. It builds bridges across divides that often separate the analytic from the continental and the philosophical from the theological. The resulting volume clarifies the significance and relevance of Kant's theology for current debates about the philosophy of God and religion. (shrink)
Arguably the most foundational principle in perception research is that our experience of the world goes beyond the retinal image; we perceive the distal environment itself, not the proximal stimulation it causes. Shape may be the paradigm case of such “unconscious inference”: When a coin is rotated in depth, we infer the circular object it truly is, discarding the perspectival ellipse projected on our eyes. But is this really the fate of such perspectival shapes? Or does a tilted coin retain (...) an elliptical appearance even when we know it’s circular? This question has generated heated debate from Locke and Hume to the present; but whereas extant arguments rely primarily on introspection, this problem is also open to empirical test. If tilted coins bear a representational similarity to elliptical objects, then a circular coin should, when rotated, impair search for a distal ellipse. Here, nine experiments demonstrate that this is so, suggesting that perspectival shapes persist in the mind far longer than traditionally assumed. Subjects saw search arrays of three-dimensional “coins,” and simply had to locate a distally elliptical coin. Surprisingly, rotated circular coins slowed search for elliptical targets, even when subjects clearly knew the rotated coins were circular. This pattern arose with static and dynamic cues, couldn’t be explained by strategic responding or unfamiliarity, generalized across shape classes, and occurred even with sustained viewing. Finally, these effects extended beyond artificial displays to real-world objects viewed in naturalistic, full-cue conditions. We conclude that objects have a remarkably persistent dual character: their objective shape “out there,” and their perspectival shape “from here.”. (shrink)
Ruth Garrett Millikan presents a strikingly original account of how we get to grips with the world in thought. Her question is Kant's 'How is knowledge possible?', answered from a contemporary naturalist standpoint. We begin with an understanding of what the world is like prior to cognition, then develop a theory of cognition within that world.
Does the human mind resemble the machines that can behave like it? Biologically inspired machine-learning systems approach “human-level” accuracy in an astounding variety of domains, and even predict human brain activity—raising the exciting possibility that such systems represent the world like we do. However, even seemingly intelligent machines fail in strange and “unhumanlike” ways, threatening their status as models of our minds. How can we know when human–machine behavioral differences reflect deep disparities in their underlying capacities, vs. when such failures (...) are only superficial or peripheral? This article draws on a foundational insight from cognitive science—the distinction between performance and competence—to encourage “species-fair” comparisons between humans and machines. The performance/competence distinction urges us to consider whether the failure of a system to behave as ideally hypothesized, or the failure of one creature to behave like another, arises not because the system lacks the relevant knowledge or internal capacities (“competence”), but instead because of superficial constraints on demonstrating that knowledge (“performance”). I argue that this distinction has been neglected by research comparing human and machine behavior, and that it should be essential to any such comparison. Focusing on the domain of image classification, I identify three factors contributing to the species-fairness of human–machine comparisons, extracted from recent work that equates such constraints. Species-fair comparisons level the playing field between natural and artificial intelligence, so that we can separate more superficial differences from those that may be deep and enduring. (shrink)
While earlier work has emphasized Kant’s philosophy of religion as thinly disguised morality, this timely and original reappraisal of Kant’s philosophy of religion incorporates recent scholarship. In this volume, Chris L. Firestone, Stephen R. Palmquist, and the other contributors make a strong case for more specific focus on religious topics in the Kantian corpus. Main themes include the relationship between Kant’s philosophy of religion and his philosophy as a whole, the contemporary relevance of specific issues arising out of Kant’s (...) philosophical theology, and the relationship of Kant’s philosophy to Christian theology. As a whole, this book capitalizes on contemporary movements in Kant studies by looking at Kant not as an anti-metaphysician, but as a genuine seeker of spirituality in the human experience. (shrink)
The recent emergence of machine-manipulated media raises an important societal question: How can we know whether a video that we watch is real or fake? In two online studies with 15,016 participants, we present authentic videos and deepfakes and ask participants to identify which is which. We compare the performance of ordinary human observers with the leading computer vision deepfake detection model and find them similarly accurate, while making different kinds of mistakes. Together, participants with access to the model’s prediction (...) are more accurate than either alone, but inaccurate model predictions often decrease participants’ accuracy. To probe the relative strengths and weaknesses of humans and machines as detectors of deepfakes, we examine human and machine performance across video-level features, and we evaluate the impact of preregistered randomized interventions on deepfake detection. We find that manipulations designed to disrupt visual processing of faces hinder human participants’ performance while mostly not affecting the model’s performance, suggesting a role for specialized cognitive capacities in explaining human deepfake detection performance. -/- . (shrink)
" Biosemantics " was the title of a paper on mental representation originally printed in The Journal of Philosophy in 1989. It contained a much abbreviated version of the work on mental representation in Language Thought and Other Biological Categories. There I had presented a naturalist theory of intentional signs generally, including linguistic representations, graphs, charts and diagrams, road sign symbols, animal communications, the "chemical signals" that regulate the function of glands, and so forth. But the term " biosemantics " (...) has usually been applied only to the theory of mental representation. Let me first characterize a more general class of theories called "teleological theories of mental content" of which biosemantics is an example. Then I will discuss the details that distinguish biosemantics from other naturalistic teleological theories. (shrink)
Recent iterations of feminist theory and activism, especially intersectional, ‘third-wave’ feminism, have cast much second-wave feminism as politically unacceptable in failing to centre the experiences of less privileged subjects than the often white, often middle-class names with which the second wave is usually associated. While bearing those critiques in mind, this article argues that some second-wave writers, exemplified by Shulamith Firestone and Monique Wittig, may still offer valuable feminist perspectives if viewed through the anti-normative lens of queer theory. Queer (...) resists the reification of identity categories. It focuses on resistance to hegemonic norms, rather than on group identity. By viewing Wittig's and Firestone's critique of the institutions of the family, reproduction, maternity, and work as proto-queer — and specifically proto-antisocial queer — it argues for a feminism that refuses to shore up identity, that rejects groupthink, and that articulates meaningfully the crucial place of... (shrink)
By whatever general principles and mechanisms animal behavior is governed, human behavior control rides piggyback on top of the same or very similar mechanisms. We have reflexes. We can be conditioned. The movements that make up our smaller actions are mostly caught up in perception-action cycles following perceived Gibsonian affordances. Still, without doubt there are levels of behavior control that are peculiar to humans. Following Aristotle, tradition has it that what is added in humans is rationality ("rational soul"). Rationality, however, (...) can be and has been characterized in many different ways. I am going to speculate about two different kinds of cognitive capacities that we humans seem to have, each of which is at least akin to rationality as Aristotle described it. The first I believe we share with many other animals, the second perhaps with none. Since this session of the conference on rational animals has been designated a "brainstorming" session, I will take philosopher's license, presenting no more than the softest sort of intuitive evidence for these ideas. (shrink)
Charles Taylor is one of the most influential and prolific philosophers in the English-speaking world today. The breadth of his writings is unique, ranging from reflections on artificial intelligence to analyses of contemporary multicultural societies. This thought-provoking introduction to Taylor's work outlines his ideas in a coherent and accessible way without reducing their richness and depth. His contribution to many of the enduring debates within Western philosophy is examined and the arguments of his critics assessed. Taylor's reflections on the topics (...) of moral theory, selfhood, political theory and epistemology form the core chapters within the book. Ruth Abbey engages with the secondary literature on Taylor's work and suggests that some criticisms by contemporaries have been based on misinterpretations and suggests ways in which a better understanding of Taylor's work leads to different criticisms of it. The book serves as an ideal companion to Taylor's ideas for students of philosophy and political theory, and will be welcomed by the non-specialist looking for an authoritative guide to Taylor's large and challenging body of work. (shrink)
Written by one of today's most creative and innovative philosophers, Ruth Garrett Millikan, this book examines basic empirical concepts; how they are acquired, how they function, and how they have been misrepresented in the traditional philosophical literature. Millikan places cognitive psychology in an evolutionary context where human cognition is assumed to be an outgrowth of primitive forms of mentality, and assumed to have 'functions' in the biological sense. Of particular interest are her discussions of the nature of abilities as (...) different from dispositions, her detailed analysis of the psychological act of reidentifying substances, and her critique of the language of thought for mental representation. In a radical departure from current philosophical and psychological theories of concepts, this book provides the first in-depth discussion on the psychological act of reidentification. (shrink)
This encyclopedia entry provides an overview of the field of public health ethics. It focuses on what distinguishes public health ethics from other nearby subfields—especially biomedical ethics. It also frames the problems of public health ethics in terms of the concepts of justice and political legitimacy.
In this comment on Firestone and Jacobs’s book, In Defense of Kant’s Religion, I take issue with the authors’ strategy in demonstrating that it is possibleto positively incorporate religion and theology into Kant’s critical corpus, and their intention to focus on the coherence of Kant’s theory without necessarily recommending it for Christianity. Regarding, I argue that in pursuing their strategy the authors ignore the fact that Kant has transposed what appear to be traditional religious doctrines to a completely different (...) level of reflection, in effect turning them into imaginary tropes intended to mask otherwise irreducible contradictions in his view of human agency. As for, I claim that the authors’ intention runs the risk of being disingenuous, since Kant presented his religion as the true religion, opposing it to historical Christianity. (shrink)
Ruth Abbey presents a close study of Nietzsche's works, Human, All Too Human, Daybreak, and The Gay Science. Although these middle period works tend to be neglected in commentaries on Nietzsche, they repay careful attention. Abbey's commentary brings to light important differences across Nietzsche's oeuvre that have gone unnoticed, filling a serious gap in the literature.
Ruth Millikan is well known for having developed a strikingly original way for philosophers to seek understanding of mind and language, which she sees as biological phenomena. She now draws together a series of groundbreaking essays which set out her approach to language. Guiding the work of most linguists and philosophers of language today is the assumption that language is governed by prescriptive normative rules. Millikan offers a fundamentally different way of viewing the partial regularities that language displays, comparing (...) them to biological norms that emerge from natural selection. This yields novel and quite radical consequences for our understanding of the nature of public linguistic meaning, the process of language understanding, how children learn language, and the semantics/pragmatics distinction. (shrink)
This collection of essays serves both as an introduction to Ruth Millikan’s much-discussed volume Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories and as an extension and application of Millikan’s central themes, especially in the philosophy of psychology. The title essay discusses meaning rationalism and argues that rationality is not in the head, indeed, that there is no legitimate interpretation under which logical possibility and necessity are known a priori. In other essays, Millikan clarifies her views on the nature of mental (...) representation, explores whether human thought is a product of natural selection, examines the nature of behavior as studied by the behavioral sciences, and discusses the issues of individualism in psychology, psychological explanation, indexicality in thought, what knowledge is, and the realism/antirealism debate. Table of Contents Preface Acknowledgments Introduction 1 In Defense of Proper Functions 2 Propensities, Exaptations, and the Brain 3 Thoughts without Laws 4 Biosemantics 5 On Mentalese Orthography, Part 1 6 Compare and Contrast Dretske, Fodor, and Millikan on Teleosemantics 7 What Is Behavior? A Philosophical Essay on Ethology and Individualism in Psychology, Part 1 8 The Green Grass Growing All Around: A Philosophical Essay on Ethology and Individualism in Psychology, Part 2 9 Explanation in Biopsychology 10 Metaphysical Antirealism? 11 Truth Rules, Hoverflies, and the Kripke-Wittgenstein Paradox 12 Naturalist Reflections on Knowledge 13 The Myth of the Essential Indexical 14 White Queen Psychology; or, The Last Myth of the Given References Index. (shrink)
Questioning the usual judgements of political ethics, Ruth W. Grant argues that hypocrisy can actually be constructive while strictly principled behavior can be destructive. _Hypocrisy and Integrity_ offers a new conceptual framework that clarifies the differences between idealism and fanaticism while it uncovers the moral limits of compromise. "Exciting and provocative.... Grant's work is to be highly recommended, offering a fresh reading of Rousseau and Machiavelli as well as presenting a penetrating analysis of hypocrisy and integrity."—Ronald J. Terchek, _American (...) Political Science Review_ "A great refreshment.... With liberalism's best interests at heart, Grant seeks to make available a better understanding of the limits of reason in politics."—Peter Berkowitz, _New Republic_. (shrink)
Some things look more complex than others. For example, a crenulate and richly organized leaf may seem more complex than a plain stone. What is the nature of this experience—and why do we have it in the first place? Here, we explore how object complexity serves as an efficiently extracted visual signal that the object merits further exploration. We algorithmically generated a library of geometric shapes and determined their complexity by computing the cumulative surprisal of their internal skeletons—essentially quantifying the (...) “amount of information” within each shape—and then used this approach to ask new questions about the perception of complexity. Experiments 1–3 asked what kind of mental process extracts visual complexity: a slow, deliberate, reflective process (as when we decide that an object is expensive or popular) or a fast, effortless, and automatic process (as when we see that an object is big or blue)? We placed simple and complex objects in visual search arrays and discovered that complex objects were easier to find among simple distractors than simple objects are among complex distractors—a classic search asymmetry indicating that complexity is prioritized in visual processing. Next, we explored the function of complexity: Why do we represent object complexity in the first place? Experiments 4–5 asked subjects to study serially presented objects in a self‐paced manner (for a later memory test); subjects dwelled longer on complex objects than simple objects—even when object shape was completely task‐irrelevant—suggesting a connection between visual complexity and exploratory engagement. Finally, Experiment 6 connected these implicit measures of complexity to explicit judgments. Collectively, these findings suggest that visual complexity is extracted efficiently and automatically, and even arouses a kind of “perceptual curiosity” about objects that encourages subsequent attentional engagement. (shrink)
In _Feminist Interpretations of John Rawls_, Ruth Abbey collects eight essays responding to the work of John Rawls from a feminist perspective. An impressive introduction by the editor provides a chronological overview of English-language feminist engagements with Rawls from his Theory of Justice onwards. She surveys the range of issues canvassed by feminist readers of Rawls, as well as critics’ wide disagreement about the value of Rawls’s corpus for feminist purposes. The eight essays that follow testify to the continuing (...) ambivalence among feminist readers of Rawls. From the perspectives of political theory and moral, social, and political philosophy, the essayists address particular aspects of Rawls’s work and apply it to a variety of worldly practices relating to gender inequality and the family, to the construction of disability, to justice in everyday relationships, and to human rights on an international level. The overall effect is to give a sense of the broad spectrum of possible feminist critical responses to Rawls, ranging from rejection to adoption. Aside from the editor, the contributors are Amy R. Baehr, Eileen Hunt Botting, Elizabeth Brake, Clare Chambers, Nancy J. Hirschmann, Anthony Simon Laden, Janice Richardson, and Lisa H. Schwartzman. (shrink)
What is the purpose of perception? And how might the answer to this question help distinguish perception from other mental processes? Block’s landmark book, The Border between Seeing and Thinking, investigates the nature of perception, how perception differs from cognition, and why the distinction matters. It is, as one would expect, wide-ranging, deeply informed by relevant science, and hugely stimulating. Here, we explore a central project of the book — Block’s attempts to identify the features of perception that distinguish it (...) from higher-level cognition — by focusing on his suggestion that such features closely relate to perception’s purpose. As well as offering detailed critical discussion of these proposals, our more general aim is to advertise both the promise and pitfalls of asking: What is perception for? (shrink)