In this paper, I explore a conception of self-transformation that attempts to provide a holistic account covering a range of body, mind, and spirit. I draw upon Kym Maclaren’s exploration of the role of the body inspired by the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (body); the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer (mind [language]); and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s transcendentalism (spirit). I present the case that each of these approaches develops important aspects of self-transformation and can be seen as complementary. I explore this in relation to philosophy as a practical activity, drawing upon Pierre Hadot’s perspective of philosophy as a way of life.
John Rawls recommends a method for evaluating which principles institutions should abide by, known as reflective equilibrium. In this paper, I identify and challenge three assumptions that he makes.
Introduced into the philosophical lexicon during the Eighteenth
Century, the term ‘aesthetic’ has come to be used to
designate, among other things, a kind of object, a kind of judgment, a
kind of attitude, a kind of experience, and a kind of value. For the
most part, aesthetic theories have divided over
questions particular to one or another of these designations:
whether artworks are necessarily aesthetic objects; how to square the
allegedly perceptual basis of aesthetic judgments with the fact that
we give reasons in support of them; how best to capture the elusive
contrast between an aesthetic attitude and a practical one; whether to
define aesthetic experience according to its phenomenological or
representational content; how best to understand the relation between
aesthetic value and aesthetic experience.
A well-known problem, noticed by Meirav, is that it is difficult to distinguish hope from despair. Both the hoper and the despairer are unsure about an outcome and they both have a positive attitude towards it. …
Loyalty is usually seen as a virtue, albeit a problematic one. It is
constituted centrally by perseverance in an association to which a
person has become intrinsically committed as a matter of his or her
identity. Its paradigmatic expression is found in close friendship, to
which loyalty is integral, but many other relationships and
associations seek to encourage it as an aspect of affiliation or
membership: families expect it, organizations often demand it, and
countries do what they can to foster it. May one also have loyalty to
principles or other abstractions? Derivatively. Two key issues in the
discussion of loyalty concern its status as a virtue and, if that
status is granted, the limits to which loyalty ought to be
Not long ago, psychologists commonly regarded emotions as disruptions of organized and rational thought and action (Leeper 1948). A functionalist approach, fostered by an adaptationist conception of evolution by natural selection, has in the past few decades led to a very different consensus. Other things being equal, our more enduring capacities must be good for something— though not necessarily for someone: some genes, perhaps, of which organisms are but vehicles (Dawkins 1976); or perhaps for a population or a species as a whole (Gould 2002). That consensus is not, however, committed to the uniformity or universality of our emotional repertoire. The extent to which our emotional potential is malleable remains an open question.
Blame is a central part of our moral practice. As such, it has rightly captured the attention of moral philosophers. There is a large and growing literature on when someone is to blame for a moral transgression and what it is to blame them for it. Its aim has been to secure a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for blameworthiness and blame, respectively.
BOOK LAUNCH - BUY NOW! I am pleased to announce that Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications (MIT Press, 2017), edited by myself and Neil McArthur, is now available for purchase. You can buy the hardcopy/ebook via Amazon in the US. …
Although Moritz Schlick (1882–1936) made a lasting mark in the
philosophical memory by his role as the nominal leader of the Vienna
Circle of Logical Positivists, his most lasting contribution includes
a broad range of philosophical achievements. Indeed, Schlick’s
reputation was established well before the Circle went public. In
1917, he published Space and Time in Contemporary Physics, a
philosophical introduction to the new physics of Relativity which was
highly acclaimed by Einstein himself as well as many others. The
following year, the first edition of his influential General
Theory of Knowledge appeared and, in 1922, he was appointed to
the prestigious chair of Naturphilosophie at the University
Many of us are tempted by the thought that the future is open, whereas the past is not. The future might unfold one way, or it might unfold another; but the past, having occurred, is now settled. In previous work we presented an account of what openness consists in: roughly, that the openness of the future is a matter of it being metaphysically indeterminate how things will turn out to be. We were previously concerned merely with presenting the view and exploring its consequences; we did not attempt to argue for it over rival accounts. That is what we will aim to do in this paper.
Transformative Experience is a rich, insightful, compelling book. LA Paul persuasively argues that our standard way of thinking about major life choices (and some minor ones too) is inadequate, because it fails to take into account the subjective phenomenal values of lived experiences. When deciding whether to do something, we need to assess how good the outcome will be for us. But Paul argues that in many such cases, we simply don’t have enough information to do this. And that’s because we don’t have information about the subjective phenomenal value of the experience we’re considering - that is, we don’t know what it’s like (for us) to have that experience. This means our decision is inherently under-informed. We can’t decide how to assign values to possible outcomes (undergoing the experience or failing to undergo the experience) because we don’t have a complete picture of what those values really are.
Attempts to ‘naturalize’ phenomenology challenge both traditional phenomenology and traditional approaches to cognitive science. They challenge Edmund Husserl’s rejection of naturalism and his attempt to establish phenomenology as a foundational transcendental discipline, and they challenge efforts to explain cognition through mainstream science. While appearing to be a retreat from the bold claims made for phenomenology, it is really its triumph. Naturalized phenomenology is spearheading a successful challenge to the heritage of Cartesian dualism. This converges with the reaction against Cartesian thought within science itself. Descartes divided the universe between res cogitans, thinking substances, and res extensa, the mechanical world. The latter won with Newton and we have, in most of objective science since, literally lost our mind, hence our humanity. Despite Darwin, biologists remain children of Newton, and dream of a grand theory that is epistemologically complete and would allow lawful entailment of the evolution of the biosphere. This dream is no longer tenable. We now have to recognize that science and scientists are within and part of the world we are striving to comprehend, as proponents of endophysics have argued, and that physics, biology and mathematics have to be reconceived accordingly. Interpreting quantum mechanics from this perspective is shown to both illuminate conscious experience and reveal new paths for its further development. In biology we must now justify the use of the word “function”. As we shall see, we cannot prestate the ever new biological functions that arise and constitute the very phase space of evolution. Hence, we cannot mathematize the detailed becoming of the biosphere, nor write differential equations for functional variables we do not know ahead of time, nor integrate those equations, so no laws “entail” evolution. The dream of a grand theory fails. In place of entailing laws, a post-entailing law explanatory framework is proposed in which Actuals arise in evolution that constitute new boundary conditions that are enabling constraints that create new, typically unprestatable, Adjacent Possible opportunities for further evolution, in which new Actuals arise, in a persistent becoming. Evolution flows into a typically unprestatable succession of Adjacent Possibles. Given the concept of function, the concept of functional closure of an organism making a living in its world, becomes central. Implications for patterns in evolution include historical reconstruction, and statistical laws such as the distribution of extinction events, or species per genus, and the use of formal cause, not efficient cause, laws.
My topic is a certain view about mental images: namely, the ‘Multiple Use Thesis’. On this view, at least some mental image-types, individuated in terms of the sum total of their representational content, are potentially multifunctional: a given mental image-type, individuated as indicated, can serve in a variety of imaginative-event-types. As such, the presence of an image is insufficient to individuate the content of those imagination-events in which it may feature. This picture is argued for, or (more usually) just assumed to be true, by Christopher Peacocke, Michael Martin, Paul Noordhof, Bernard Williams, Alan White, and Tyler Burge. It is also presupposed by more recent authors on imagination such as Amy Kind, Peter Kung and Neil Van Leeuwen. I reject various arguments for the Multiple Use Thesis, and conclude that instead we should endorse SINGLE: a single image-type, individuated in terms of the sum total of its intrinsic representational content, can serve in only one imagination event-type, whose content coincides exactly with its own, and is wholly determined by it. Plausibility aside, the interest of this thesis is also in its iconoclasm, as well as the challenge it poses for the diverse theories that rest on the truth of the Multiple Use Thesis.
According to philosophers who ground your anticipation of future experiences in psychological continuity and connectedness, it is rational to anticipate the experiences of someone other than yourself, such as a self that is the product of fission or of replication. In this article, I concur that it is rational to anticipate the experiences of the product of fission while denying the rationality of anticipating the experiences of a replica. In defending my position, I offer the following explanation of why you have good reason to anticipate the experiences of your post-fission successor but not your replica: in the former case, you become (i.e., substantially change into) somebody else, whereas, in the latter case, you are merely replaced by somebody else.
Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau all look to empirical accounts of human behavior from their own time, from history, and from travelers’ accounts of foreign lands – as opposed to natural law theory – to ground their theories of human nature. Thus, they are all naturalists of a sort; for them political philosophy must be constrained by the type of beings we are; for them there’s no use in creating a system of justice that could not be instantiated here on this earth with its inhabitants.
A central debate in early modern philosophy, between empiricism and rationalism, turned on the question which of two cognitive faculties— sensibility or understanding— should be accorded logical priority in an account of the epistemic credentials of knowledge. As against both the empiricist and the rationalist, Kant wants to argue that the terms of their debate rest on a shared common assumption: namely that the capacities here in question— qua cognitive capacities— are self- standingly intelligible. The paper terms this assumption the Layer- Cake Conception of Human Mindedness and focuses on Kant’s argument against the empiricist version of the assumption, in particular, as that argument is developed in the B version of the Transcendental Deduction in the Critique of Pure Reason. The paper seeks to show how a proper understanding of the structure of the B Deduction reveals its aim to be one of making sense of each of these two capacities (sensibility and understanding) in the light of the other. For the front of the argument that is directed against the empiricist, this means coming to see how a reading of the text that is informed by the layer- cake conception (and which therefore takes the Transcendental Aesthetic to furnish us with the full story about the nature of our faculty for sensory apprehension) is mistaken. For the front of the argument which is directed against the rationalist, this requires coming to see how a mere inversion of the central claim of such a reading would be equally wrong. It would require seeing how a discursive faculty of
One of the main topics Kant is concerned with in the Critique of Pure Reason is the relation between thought and perception, or, in Kant’s own terminology, between understanding and sensibility. Kant regards these as the two fundamental cognitive powers, and he takes it to be among his most important achievements in the Critique to have correctly determined the nature of these powers as well as their relation to each other. Indeed, he claims that it is this achievement which enabled him to advance over the philosophical positions of his most prominent predecessors, on both the Empiricist and the Rationalist side. Yet exactly how the relation between understanding and sensibility ought to be conceived, according to Kant, is unclear. On the one hand, he claims that understanding and sensibility are distinct, and indeed heterogeneous, capacities. This claim is crucial to his critique of both Empiricism and Rationalism. On the other hand, he is concerned to show that intuitions, the acts of sensibility, themselves involve the understanding. This claim is no less crucial: Kant’s justification of the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge demands it. How are these two claims to be reconciled? The aim of this dissertation is to propose an answer to this question by developing a new interpretation of Kant’s conception of the understanding, the capacity of thought.
One of the main topics Kant is concerned with in the Critique of Pure Reason is the relation between thought and perception, or, in Kant’s own terminology, between understanding and sensibility. Kant regards these as the two fundamental cognitive powers, and he takes it to be among his most important achievements in the Critique to have correctly determined the nature of these powers as well as the relation they bear to each other. Indeed, he claims that it is this achievement which enabled him to advance over the philosophical positions of his most prominent predecessors, on both the Empiricist and the Rationalist side. Yet exactly how the relation between understanding and sensibility ought to be conceived, according to Kant, is unclear. On the one hand, he claims that understanding and sensibility are distinct, and indeed heterogeneous, capacities. This claim is crucial to his critique of both Empiricism and Rationalism. On the other hand, he is concerned to show that intuitions, the acts of sensibility, themselves involve the understanding. This claim is no less crucial: Kant’s justification of the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge demands it. How are these two claims to be reconciled? The aim of this dissertation is to propose an answer to this question by developing a new interpretation of Kant’s conception of the understanding, the capacity of thought.
Excuses are commonplace. They are part and parcel of our ordinary practice of holding each other morally responsible. But excuses are also curious. They have normative force. Whether someone has an excuse for something they have done matters for how it is rational to respond to their action. For example, an excuses can make it rational to forgo blame, to revise judgments of blameworthiness, and to feel compassion and pity instead of anger and resentment.
Empirical studies of the social lives of non-human primates, cetaceans, and other social animals have prompted scientists and philosophers to debate the question of whether morality and moral cognition exists in non-human animals. Some researchers have argued that morality does exist in several animal species, others that these species may possess various evolutionary building blocks or precursors to morality, but not quite the genuine article, while some have argued that nothing remotely resembling morality can be found in any non-human species. However, these different positions on animal morality generally appear to be motivated more by different conceptions of how the term “morality” is to be defined than on empirical disagreements about animal social behaviour and psychology. After delving deeper into the goals and methodologies of various of the protagonists, I argue that, despite appearances, there are actually two importantly distinct debates over animal morality going on, corresponding to two quite different ways of thinking about what it is to define “morality”, “moral cognition”, and associated notions. Several apparent skirmishes in the literature are thus cases of researchers simply talking past each other. I then focus on what I take to be the core debate over animal morality, which is concerned with understanding the nature and phylogenetic distribution of morality conceived as a psychological natural kind. I argue that this debate is in fact largely terminological and non-substantive. Finally, I reflect on how this core debate might best be re-framed.
When reading literature, we might have an emotional connection with the author, or at least what appears to be such, even when that literature is a work of fiction. But it is unclear how a work of fictional literature could supply the resources for such an experience. It is, after all, a work of fiction, not a report of the author’s experience, as with memoir or autobiography. The task of this paper is twofold: first, to explain the nature and value of this emotional experience; second, to argue that a fictional literary work can supply the resources for such an experience.
In recent work, Amie Thomasson has sought to develop a new approach to the philosophy of the categories which is metaphysically neutral between traditional realist and conceptualist approaches, and which has its roots in the ‘correlationalist’ approach to categories put forward in Husserl’s writings in the 1900s–1910s and systematically charted over the past few decades by David Woodruff Smith in his studies of Husserl’s philosophy. Here the author aims to provide a recontextualization and critical assessment of correlationalism in a Husserlian vein. To this end, the author presents, first, the reasons why, later in his life, Husserl himself found his earlier treatment of categories philosophically naive, and why he increasingly advocated for a more genetic-teleological account. The author then draws upon arguments made a century earlier by Schelling and Hegel, in criticism of Fichte, to point up what might remain philosophically unsatisfying about even the post-correlationalist genetic position of the later Husserl, in light of the pronounced trend in Husserl’s own development, on the questions of reason and spirit, toward absolute idealism.
At first glance, it might seem that logic does not play a central role in Kant’s critical philosophy. Kant himself authored no books or essays on logic during the critical period; indeed, in his whole career, he wrote only one essay specifically on logic, his early 1762 essay “False Subtlety,” on the figures of the syllogisms – hence, well before his so-called “Copernican” turn. The most well-known remarks Kant makes about logic during the critical period itself can surely suggest he does not take this discipline to be of much interest for his own revolutionary program. At the outset of the B-edition preface, Kant famously claims that, since the time of Aristotle, logic has been “unable to take a single step forward, and therefore seems in every respect to be finished and complete” (Bviii, translation modified). Indeed, immediately thereafter Kant contrasts the already “finished and complete” standing of logic with the “much more difficult” task that the Critique itself will aim to accomplish: that of getting “reason [Vernunft]” on “the secure path of a science” (Bix).
The German Idealist tradition after Kant has much of interest to say on key questions in the philosophy of mind, though this is not always easy to draw out, given their dense prose and often unelaborated or even merely implicit allusions to their predecessors or to one another. Here I aim to highlight and clarify an important line of thought that emerges in the wake of Kant’s ‘critique’ of our powers of ‘cognition’ (Erkenntnis).
Pure Land Buddhist
teachings have played a major role in Japanese intellectual and social
life from the sixth century CE, when emissaries from the Korean
peninsula first officially introduced Buddhist images and texts to the
Japanese court, down to the present. While the influence of the Zen
tradition on Japanese thought and culture is widely acknowledged, the
role of Pure Land Buddhist concepts and sensibilities have tended to
receive only marginal recognition in the West; nevertheless, it is
impossible to ignore their perhaps even more pervasive force. Moreover,
as D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) has noted,
The Japanese may not have
offered very many original ideas to world thought or world culture, but
in Shin we find a major contribution the Japanese can make to the
outside world and to all other Buddhist
On 7 July 1688 the Irish scientist and politician William Molyneux
(1656–1698) sent a letter to John Locke in which he put forward
a problem which was to awaken great interest among philosophers and
other scientists throughout the Enlightenment and up until the present
day. In brief, the question Molyneux asked was whether a man who has
been born blind and who has learnt to distinguish and name a globe and
a cube by touch, would be able to distinguish and name these objects
simply by sight, once he had been enabled to see.
Anarchism is a political theory, which is skeptical of the
justification of authority and power, especially political power. Anarchism is usually grounded in moral claims about the importance of
individual liberty. Anarchists also offer a positive theory of human
flourishing, based upon an ideal of non-coercive consensus building. Anarchism has inspired practical efforts at establishing utopian
communities, radical and revolutionary political agendas, and various
forms of direct action. This entry primarily describes
“philosophical anarchism”: it focuses on anarchism as a
theoretical idea and not as a form of political activism.
Why do we think in moral and evaluative terms (i.e., have moral and evaluative beliefs)? According to some philosophers, it is just because such thinking conferred a fitness advantage on our ancestors (i.e., helped them to survive and reproduce) and we have inherited this disposition. It is not because the things that we morally or evaluatively believe are ever true and we are apprehending or otherwise responding to these truths.1
Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer have argued that our intuitions about Nozick’s experience machine are untrustworthy because they are distorted by biases and irrelevant factors. De Brigard and Weijers recently conducted empirical studies regarding people’s intuitions about versions of the experience machine to test which of our intuitions are not distorted by such biases and irrelevant factors. They claim their results show that our intuitions about the experience machine do not undermine hedonism (section I). I argue, on the basis of further empirical studies, that De Brigard and Weijers fail to establish that our intuitions about the experience machine do not undermine hedonism (section II).
Nicholas Wolterstorff is concerned to find an appropriate grounding of human rights understood as inherent natural rights. Unfortunately, he thinks no adequate secular account of the grounding of such rights is available. Fortunately, however, he thinks that an adequate theistic account of the grounds of human rights is available. According to his proposed account, human rights are grounded in our standing in the relation of being loved by God.1 After saying a word about how Wolterstorff understands rights in general and human rights in particular, I explain his proposed theistic account of the grounding of human rights and argue that it fails.