spective. As a consequence of the perspectival nature of perception, when we perceive, say, a circular coin from different angles, there is a respect in which the coin looks circular throughout, but also a respect in which the coin's appearance changes. More generally, perception of shape and size properties has both a constant aspect—an aspect that remains stable across changes in perspective—and a perspectival aspect—an aspect that changes depending on one's perspective on the object. How should we account for the perspectival aspect of spatial perception? We present a framework within which to discuss the perspectival aspect of perception and put forward three desiderata that any account of the perspectival aspect of perception should satisfy. We discuss views on which the perspectival aspect of perception is analyzed in terms of constitutively mind‐dependent appearance properties as well as views on which the perspectival aspect of perception is analyzed in terms of representations of mind‐independent perspectival properties.
Suppose you agreed with me that the science of well-being should strive to be value-apt, that mid-level theories is the way to provide value-aptness, and that all of this is compatible with scientific objectivity. …
When I awoke with glowing, translucent hands, and hundreds of five-pointed yellow stars lined up along the left of my visual field, my first thought was that a dream must have made itself self-defeatingly obvious. …
Anna Alexandrova, A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being (OUP, 2017)Here’s an attitude I sometimes encounter among scientists: “It is not my job as a scientist to figure out what true well-being is and to choose my constructs accordingly. …
I’d like to explain a conjecture about Wigner crystals, which we came up with in a discussion on Google+. It’s a purely mathematical conjecture that’s pretty simple to state, motivated by the picture above. …
Like most other ancient philosophers, Plato maintains a virtue-based
eudaemonistic conception of ethics. That is to say, happiness or
well-being (eudaimonia) is the highest aim of moral thought
and conduct, and the virtues (aretê:
‘excellence’) are the requisite skills and dispositions
needed to attain it. If Plato’s conception of happiness is
elusive and his support for a morality of happiness seems somewhat
subdued, there are several reasons. First, he nowhere defines the
concept or makes it the direct target of investigation, but introduces
it in an oblique way in the pursuit of other questions.
This paper considers the temporal dimension of data processing and use, and the ways in which it affects the production and interpretation of knowledge claims. I start by distinguishing the time at which data collection, dissemination and analysis occur (Data time, or Dt) from the time in which the phenomena for which data serve as evidence operate (Phenomena time, or Pt). Building on the analysis of two examples of data re-use from modelling and experimental practices in biology, I then argue that Dt affects how researchers (1) select and interpret data as evidence and (2) identify and understand phenomena.
[Thanks to the Singularity Bros podcast for inspiring me to write this post. It was a conversation I had with the hosts of this podcast that prompted me to further elaborate on the idea of ethical behaviourism.] …
Pierre Bayle (1647–1706) was a Huguenot, i.e., a French
Protestant, who spent almost the whole of his productive life as a
refugee in Holland. His life was devoted entirely to scholarship, and
his erudition was second to none in his, or perhaps any,
period. Although much of what he wrote was embedded in technical
religious issues, for a century he was one the most widely read
philosophers. In particular, his Dictionnaire historique et
critique was among the most popular works of the eighteenth
century. The content of this huge and strange, yet fascinating work is
difficult to describe: history, literary criticism, theology,
obscenity, in addition to philosophical treatments of toleration, the
problem of evil, epistemological questions, and much more.
Richard Lewontin is often cited as an inspiration and founder of what is now known as Niche Construction Theory. The first goal of this paper is to argue that they present distinct arguments from niche construction against Adaptationism. While Niche Construction Theory argues that natural selection is not the only adaptive evolutionary force, Lewontin rejects the externalist characterization of natural selection. The key difference lies in the types of phenomena that are allowed to count as “niche construction” and their argumentative roles. The second goal is to argue that it is time to revive Lewontin’s argument. I argue that it finds renewed support in Denis Walsh’s ecological affordance framework (Walsh 2015) and empirical evidence from ecological developmental biology (Sultan 2015). Reexamining the roots of Niche Construction Theory (Odling-Smee 1988), I suggest that the rich conceptual resources therein provide a way for Niche Construction Theory to also develop a neo-Lewontinian argument against the externalism of natural selection explanations.
I’ve been thinking about Thomson’s Violinist case. I should say about that case that it seems utterly obvious to me that in the case where the violinist is your child and you are in no long term danger from the connection, it’s a vicious failure of parental duties to disconnect. …
I'm puzzled that in the literature on the nature of sex, gender, race, etc., there are so few philosophers who take a biological realist stance. Maybe this is a function of who is drawn to these topics. …
My interest in what is now called the science of well-being dates back to my graduate school days at UC San Diego. Sometime in the mid-aughts I came across a debate between psychologists who advanced ‘hedonic profile’ measures of happiness and those who favoured life satisfaction questionnaires. …
Via Wikimedia Commons
We’ve all heard the saying “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. It’s a classic statement of the value-neutrality thesis. This is the thesis that technology, by itself, is value-neutral. …
Case 1: A child is drowning in a dirty pond. You can easily pull out the child. But you’ve got cuts all over your dominant arm and the water is full of nasty bacteria and medical help is a week away. …
Philosophy of the Social Sciences 2017, Vol. 47(6) 410 –439 © The Author(s) 2017 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0048393117726172 https://doi.org/10.1177/0048393117726172 journals.sagepub.com/home/pos Many existing defenses of group rights seem to rely on the notion of group freedom. To date, however, no adequate analysis of this notion has been offered. Group freedom is best understood in terms of processes of social categorization that are embedded in social mechanisms. Such processes often give rise to group-specific constraints and enablements. On the proposed social mechanism account, group rights are demands for group freedom. Even so, group rights often serve to eradicate individual unfreedom. Furthermore, generic measures sometimes provide the most appropriate solution to a problem of group unfreedom.
What does it mean for a thing to be ugly, or perhaps better, for something to be judged as such? We should admit that the matter is not transparent. Maybe that seems odd, since we find things ugly all the time; should not this be plain as day, then? But usually, it is what seems plainest that, in the end, is most obscure. So what, then, is ugliness? What does it mean to find something ugly? Looking to cast some light on the matter, we might consider using Kant’s well-known account of beauty as our starting point, since Kant—apparently following ‘common sense’ (in the usual, and not Kantian sense of the term)—says that ugliness is ‘contrary to beauty’. Assuming the adequacy of Kant’s account of the beautiful, then, we should only need to work out its ‘opposite’ to clarify ugliness.
John Anderson (1893–1962) was a Scottish philosopher who worked
primarily in Australia. In 1927 he was appointed to the Challis Chair
of Philosophy at the University of Sydney and occupied this position
until his retirement in 1958. In relative isolation he developed a
distinctive realist philosophy which was inspirational for generations
of students at Sydney. While developing this position, he carried most
of the teaching load in philosophy at the university, wrote the
articles for which he is primarily known, and as contributor and
editor kept the Australasian Journal of Psychology and
Feminism is a complex school of thought. Indeed, it’s not really a school of thought at all. It’s many different schools of thought, often uncomfortably lumped together under a single label. Within these schools of thought, there are some that are deeply opposed to mainstream, hardcore pornography. …
The topic of scientific revolutions has been philosophically important
since Thomas Kuhn’s account in The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions (1962, 1970). Kuhn’s death in 1996 and the
fiftieth anniversary of Structure in 2012 have renewed
attention to the issues raised by his work. It is controversial
whether or not there have been any revolutions in the strictly Kuhnian
sense. It is also controversial what exactly a Kuhnian revolution is,
or would be. Although talk of revolution is often exaggerated, most
analysts agree that there have been transformative scientific
developments of various kinds, whether Kuhnian or not.
The French Cartesian Nicolas Malebranche was hailed by his
contemporary, Pierre Bayle, as “the premier philosopher of our
age.” Over the course of his philosophical career, Malebranche
published major works on metaphysics, theology, and ethics, as well as
studies of optics, the laws of motion and the nature of color. He is
known principally for offering a highly original synthesis of the views
of his intellectual heroes, St. Augustine and René Descartes. Two distinctive results of this synthesis are Malebranche’s doctrine
that we see bodies through ideas in God and his occasionalist
conclusion that God is the only real cause.
To some extent, scholars disagree about the role of the Greek
sources in Arabic and Islamic philosophy (henceforth falsafa,
the Arabic loan word for
φιλοσοφία).[ 1 ]
While acknowledging the existence of a Greek heritage, those who
consider the Qur’an and the Islamic tradition as the main source
of inspiration for
falsafa claim that the latter did not arise from the encounter
of learned Muslims with the Greek philosophical heritage: instead,
according to them falsafa stemmed from the Qur’anic
hikma (“wisdom”). As a consequence, the Greek
texts in translation are conceived of as instruments for the
philosophers to perform the task of seeking
wisdom.[ 2 ]
However, most scholars
frequently side with the opinion that what gave rise to the
intellectual tradition of falsafa was the so-called movement
of translation from
Greek.[ 3 ]
This entry will not discuss the issue, let
alone try to settle it: it will limit itself to p
Arguably the foremost social theorist of the twentieth century, Max
Weber is known as a principal architect of modern social science along
with Karl Marx and Emil Durkheim. Weber’s wide-ranging
contributions gave critical impetus to the birth of new academic
disciplines such as sociology as well as to the significant
reorientation in law, economics, political science, and religious
studies. His methodological writings were instrumental in establishing
the self-identity of modern social science as a distinct field of
inquiry; he is still claimed as the source of inspiration by empirical
positivists and their hermeneutic detractors alike.
According to a standard interpretation, Plato’s conception of our moral psychology evolved over the course of his written dialogues. In his earlier dialogues, notably the Protagoras, Meno, and Gorgias, Plato’s Socrates maintains that we always do what we believe is best. Many commentators infer from this that Socrates holds that the psyche is simple, in the sense that there is only one ultimate source of motivation: reason. By contrast, in the Republic, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, Socrates holds that the psyche is complex, or has three distinct and semi-autonomous sources of motivation, which he calls the reasoning, spirited, and appetitive parts. While the rational part determines what is best overall and motivates us to pursue it, the spirited and appetitive parts incline us toward different objectives, such as victory, honor, and esteem, or the satisfaction of our desires for food, drink, and sex.
José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955) was a prolific and
distinguished Spanish philosopher in the twentieth century. In the
course of his career as philosopher, social theorist, essayist,
cultural and aesthetic critic, educator, politician and editor of the
influential journal, Revista de Occidente, he has written on
a broad range of themes and issues. Among his many books are:
Meditations on Quixote (1914), Invertebrate Spain
(1921), The Theme of Our Time (1923), Ideas on the
Novel (1925), The Dehumanization of Art (1925), What
is Philosophy? (1929), The Revolt of the Masses (1930),
En Torno a Galileo [Man and Crisis] (1933),
History as a System (1935), Man and People
(1939–40), The Origin of Philosophy (1943), The
Idea of Principle in Leibnitz and the Evolution of Deductive
According to Dominic Lopes, expressiveness in pictures should be analyzed solely in terms of “expression looks” of various sorts, namely the look of a figure, a scene and/or a design. But, according to this view, it seems puzzling that expressive pictures should have any emotional effect on their audiences. Yet Lopes explicitly ties his “contour theory” of expression in pictures to empathic responses in spectators. Thus, despite his deflationary account of pictorial expression, he claims that pictures can give us practice in various “empathic skills.” I argue that Lopes’s account of empathic responses to pictures, while interesting and enlightening, nevertheless ignores the most important way in which pictures exercise and enhance our empathic skills, namely, by giving us practice in taking the emotional perspective of another person.
I argue that the function attributed to episodic memory by Mahr & Csibra (that is, grounding one’s claims to epistemic authority over past events) fails to support the essentially autonoetic character of such memories. I suggest, in contrast, that episodic event-memories are sometimes purely first-order, sometimes autonoetic, depending on relevance in the context.
You aren’t supposed to talk about it. Not really. And certainly not in front of the kids. But that isn’t why you don’t remember it. That isn’t why you don’t remember the way it feels. You don’t remember the way it feels because it doesn’t leave a memory trace to begin with. The facts are retained, but the feeling disappears. What I’m alluding to is the pain of childbirth—hush, don’t let my kids read this, but it did hurt! Yet although I can remember that labor pains hurt, I can’t remember what they felt like. Although I can remember that they were too traumatic to sleep through and that while standing under the shower trying to alleviate the agony, I tore down the soap dish bolted into the wall, I can’t conjure up the sensory experience itself. Although my memory of the events leading up to the birth is pellucid—I remember how the nurses were impressed that I wanted to suffer through it unmedicated and how, when it came down to the wire, my obstetrician started humming Blue Moon—my memory of the bodily sensations is nonexistent. Introspection, here, reveals an utter blank. Contrary to the adage about experience being the best teacher, experience’s pedagogy was an utter failure.
What is the role of affective experience in explaining how our desires provide us with reasons for action? When we desire that p, we are thereby disposed to feel attracted to the prospect that p, or to feel averse to the prospect that not-p. In this paper, we argue that affective experiences – including feelings of attraction and aversion – provide us with reasons for action in virtue of their phenomenal character. Moreover, we argue that desires provide us with reasons for action only insofar as they are dispositions to have affective experiences. On this account, affective experience has a central role to play in explaining how desires provide reasons for action.
This article develops an account of local epistemic practices on the basis of case studies from ethnobiology. I argue that current debates about objectivity often stand in the way of a more adequate understanding of local knowledge and ethno-biological practices in general. While local knowledge about the biological world often meets criteria for objectivity in philosophy of science, general debates about the objectivity of local knowledge can also obscure their unique epistemic features. In modification of Ian Hacking’s suggestion to discuss “ground level questions” instead of objectivity, I propose an account that focuses on both epistemic virtues and vices of local epistemic practices.