In March, I’ll be talking at Spencer Breiner‘s workshop on Applied Category Theory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. I’ll be giving a joint talk with John Foley about our work using operads to design networks. …
Joseph Butler is best known for his criticisms of the hedonic and
egoistic “selfish” theories associated with Hobbes and
Bernard Mandeville and for his positive arguments that self-love and
conscience are not at odds if properly understood (and indeed promote
and sanction the same actions). In addition to his importance as a
moral philosopher Butler was also an influential Anglican theologian. Unsurprisingly his theology and philosophy were connected — his
main writings in moral philosophy were published sermons, a work of
natural theology, and a brief dissertation attached to that work. Although most of Butler’s moral arguments make rich use of passages
from scripture and familiar Christian stories and concepts, they make
little reference to — and depend little on the reader having
— any particular religious commitments.
Respect has great importance in everyday life. As children we are
taught (one hopes) to respect our parents, teachers, and elders,
school rules and traffic laws, family and cultural traditions, other
people's feelings and rights, our country's flag and leaders, the
truth and people's differing opinions. And we come to value respect
for such things; when we're older, we may shake our heads (or fists)
at people who seem not to have learned to respect them. We develop
great respect for people we consider exemplary and lose respect for
those we discover to be clay-footed, and so we may try to respect only
those who are truly worthy of our respect.
Traditionally philosophical discussions on moral responsibility have
focused on the human components in moral action. Accounts of how to
ascribe moral responsibility usually describe human agents performing
actions that have well-defined, direct consequences. In today’s
increasingly technological society, however, human activity cannot be
properly understood without making reference to technological
artifacts, which complicates the ascription of moral responsibility
(Jonas 1984; Waelbers
2009).[ 1 ]
As we interact with and through these artifacts, they affect the
decisions that we make and how we make them (Latour 1992).
Autonomous agents are self-governing agents. But what is a
self-governing agent? Governing oneself is no guarantee that one will
have a greater range of options in the future, or the sort of
opportunities one most wants to have. Since, moreover, a person can
govern herself without being able to appreciate the difference between
right and wrong, it seems that an autonomous agent can do something
wrong without being to blame for her action. What, then, are the
necessary and sufficient features of this self-relation? Philosophers
have offered a wide range of competing answers to this question.
The internet has made it easier than ever to speak to others. It has empowered individuals to publish our opinions without first convincing a media company of their commercial value; to find and share others' views without the fuss of photocopying and mailing newspaper clippings; and to respond to those views without the limitations of a newspaper letter page. …
In ‘Freedom and Resentment’ P. F. Strawson argues that reactive attitudes like resentment and indignation cannot be eliminated altogether, because doing so would involve exiting interpersonal relationships altogether. I describe an alternative to resentment: a form of moral sadness about wrongdoing that, I argue, preserves our participation in interpersonal relationships. Substituting this moral sadness for resentment and indignation would amount to a deep and far-reaching change in the way we relate to each other – while keeping in place the interpersonal relationships, which, Strawson rightfully believes, cannot be eliminated.
International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Louis Pierre Althusser (1918–1990) was one of the most
influential Marxist philosophers of the 20th Century. As
they seemed to offer a renewal of Marxist thought as well as to render
Marxism philosophically respectable, the claims he advanced in the
1960s about Marxist philosophy were discussed and debated
worldwide. Due to apparent reversals in his theoretical positions, to
the ill-fated facts of his life, and to the historical fortunes of
Marxism in the late twentieth century, this intense interest in
Althusser’s reading of Marx did not survive the 1970s. Despite the
comparative indifference shown to his work as a whole after these
events, the theory of ideology Althusser developed within it has been
broadly deployed in the social sciences and humanities and has
provided a foundation for much “post-Marxist”
In Japan, Confucianism stands, along with Buddhism, as a major religio-philosophical teaching introduced from the larger Asian cultural arena at the dawn of civilization in Japanese history, roughly the mid-sixth century. Unlike Buddhism which ultimately hailed from India, Confucianism was first and foremost a distinctly Chinese teaching. It spread, however, from Han dynasty China, into Korea, and then later entered Japan via, for the most part, the Korean peninsula. In significant respects, then, Confucianism is the intellectual force defining much of the East Asian identity of Japan, especially in relation to philosophical thought and practice.
For the past few weeks, people on- and offline have spoken up to question Winston Churchill’s legacy. They generally highlight his racism, his support for the use of concentration camps, his treatment of Ireland, his complicity in the Bengal famine, and more. …
A proper understanding of the moral and political significance of migration requires a focus on global inequalities. More specifically, it requires a focus on those global inequalities that affect people’s ability to participate in the production of economic goods and non-economic goods (e.g., relationships of intimacy and care, opportunities for self-expression, well-functioning institutions, etc.). We call cooperative infrastructures the complex material and immaterial technologies that allow human beings to cooperate in order to generate human goods. By enabling migrants to access high-quality cooperative infrastructures, migration contributes to the diffusion of technical and socio-political innovations; in this way, it positively affects the ability of individuals from poorer countries to participate in the production of human goods. However, migration can also damage the material and immaterial components of the cooperative infrastructures accessible in both host countries and sending countries; these potential downsides of migration should not be ignored, although arguably they can often be neutralized, alleviated, or compensated.
John Austin is considered by many to be the creator of the school of
analytical jurisprudence, as well as, more specifically, the approach
to law known as “legal positivism.” Austin’s particular
command theory of law has been subject to pervasive criticism, but its
simplicity gives it an evocative power that continues to attract
When philosophers, social scientists, and politicians seek to
determine the justice of institutional arrangements, their discussions
have often taken the form of questioning whether and under what
circumstances the redistribution of wealth or other valuable goods is
justified. This essay examines the different ways in which
redistribution can be understood, the diverse political contexts in
which it has been employed, and whether or not it is a useful concept
for exploring questions of distributive justice.
The word ‘pluralism’ generally refers to the view that
there are many of the things in question (concepts, scientific world
views, discourses, viewpoints etc.) The issues arising from there
being many differ widely from subject area to subject area. This entry
is concerned with moral pluralism—the view that there are many
different moral values. Moral value pluralism should be distinguished from political
pluralism. Political pluralism, which, like moral value pluralism, is
often referred to as ‘value pluralism’, is a view
associated with political liberalism. Political pluralism is concerned
with the question of what sort of restrictions governments can put on
people’s freedom to act according to their values.
Constantin Brancusi. Socrates
Image © The Museum of Modern Art;
Licensed by Scala/Art Resource, NY
©2005 Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York/ADAGP, Paris
reproduced with permission
of the Brancusi Estate
The philosopher Socrates remains, as he was in his
B.C.E. ),[ 1 ]
an enigma, an inscrutable individual who, despite having written
nothing, is considered one of the handful of philosophers who forever
changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived. All our information
about him is second-hand and most of it vigorously disputed, but his
trial and death at the hands of the Athenian democracy is nevertheless
the founding myth of the academic discipline of philosophy, and his
influence has been felt far beyond philosophy itself, and in every
A heated debate surrounds the significance of reproducibility as an indicator for research quality and reliability, with many commentators linking a “crisis of reproducibility” to the rise of fraudulent, careless and unreliable practices of knowledge production. Through the analysis of discourse and practices across research fields, I point out that reproducibility is not only interpreted in different ways, but also serves a variety of epistemic functions depending on the research at hand. Given such variation, I argue that the uncritical pursuit of reproducibility as an overarching epistemic value is misleading and potentially damaging to scientific advancement. Requirements for reproducibility, however they are interpreted, are one of many available means to secure reliable research outcomes. Furthermore, there are cases where the focus on enhancing reproducibility turns out not to foster high-quality research. Scientific communities and Open Science advocates should learn from inferential reasoning from irreproducible data, and promote incentives for all researchers to explicitly and publicly discuss (1) their methodological commitments, (2) the ways in which they learn from mistakes and problems in everyday practice, and (3) the strategies they use to choose which research component of any project needs to be preserved in the long term, and how.
The following small reflection was written around a year ago, but it has taken on new urgency for me with Nancy Moules’ (2017) and Kate Beamer’s (2017) writing late last year, and my own more recent (Jardine, 2018), slightly unexpected response.
The Laws is one of Plato’s last dialogues. In it, he sketches
the basic political structure and laws of an ideal city named Magnesia. Despite the fact that the Laws treats a number of basic issues
in political and ethical philosophy as well as theology, it has
suffered neglect compared with the Republic. In recent years,
however, more scholarly attention has been paid to the Laws. This entry discusses some of the most important issues arising in
recent scholarship and suggests avenues for future research.
Julian Savulescu has long-defended the idea that if you are going to procreate then you have a duty to procreate the child with the best expected quality of life that it is possible for you to procreate. …
A satisfactory account of the nature of health is important for a wide range of theoretical and practical reasons. No theory offered in the literature thus far has been able to meet all the desiderata for an adequate theory of health. This paper introduces a new theory of health, according to which health is best defined in terms of dispositions at the level of the organism as a whole. After outlining the main features of the account and providing formal definitions of ‘health’, ‘healthy’, and ‘healthier than’, I present the main strengths of the proposed account. I argue that the proposed dispositional theory accounts for all paradigm cases of health and pathology, that it circumvents a number of problems faced by rival theories, and that it makes for a naturalistic theory of health with a rigorous metaphysical underpinning.
In this article I defend an unpopular, some might say discredited, position: psychological egoism, the thesis that we are always ultimately motivated by self-interest. In the course of this article we shall see that people may be mistaken about what really is in their self-interest. We will also see that people commonly rationalize the choice of a present good that turns out not to be in their self-interest. Perhaps most surprisingly, we will see that, thanks to the merging of self and other, I can see another’s interests and my own as forming a larger whole.
Timothy Sandefur’s lengthy article raises an array of issues. I’ve decided to go for depth over breadth and focus primarily on the question: What is the law? Law is what judges are supposed to uphold, after all, and we seem to have some serious differences over this. What is the law? Is it, as Sandefur claims, a promise? An abstraction? An understanding? A process? A becoming? At different stages, he characterizes it as all of these things.
Do we have a duty to explore space? In part one, I looked at Schwartz’s positive case for the existence of such a duty. That positive case rested on three main arguments. The first argument claimed that we have a duty to explore space in order to access scarce resources. …
Mike Stay is applying category theory to computation at a new startup called Pyrofex. And this startup has now entered a deal with RChain. But let me explain why I’m interested. I’m interested in applied category theory… but this is special. …
Lucrezia Marinella was a Venetian author of the sixteenth century, who
published prolifically in a range of genres, primarily devotional
literature (in prose and verse) and philosophical polemics. Her work,
La nobiltà et l’eccellenza delle donne, co’
difetti et mancamenti de gli uomini, (The Nobility and
Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men), published
in 1600, was one of the first polemical treatises written by a woman
in Italian as part of an ongoing debate about the nature and worth of
women, often called the querelle des femmes (the debate about
women).[ 1 ]
The Nobility and Excellence of Women is an erudite
recapitulation of the arguments and evidence brought forward to
support claims for the merits of women, but it is more than a summary.
This paper argues that the controversy over GM crops is not best understood in terms of the supposed bias, dishonesty, irrationality, or ignorance on the part of proponents or critics, but rather in terms of differences in values. To do this, the paper draws upon and extends recent work of the role of values and interests in science, focusing particularly on inductive risk and epistemic risk, and it shows how the GMO debate can help to further our understanding of the various epistemic risks that are present in science and how these risks might be managed.
While the science and values literature has seen recurrent concerns about wishful thinking, there have been few efforts to characterize this phenomenon. Based on a review of varieties of wishful thinking involved in climate skepticism, we argue that instances of wishful thinking can be fruitfully characterized in terms of the mechanisms that generate them and the problems associated with them. We highlight the array of mechanisms associated with wishful thinking, as well as the fact that it can be evaluated both from epistemic and ethical perspectives. We argue that it is doubtful that a single unified definition of wishful thinking can be developed. Moreover, the concept of wishful thinking can problematically focus excessive attention on individual and epistemic problems in science, to the exclusion of social and ethical problems.
tion to perform in order to change a currently undesirable situation. The policymaker has at her disposal a team of experts, each with their own understanding of the causal dependencies between different factors contributing to the outcome. The policymaker has varying degrees of confidence in the experts’ opinions. She wants to combine their opinions in order to decide on the most effective intervention. We formally define the notion of an effective intervention, and then consider how experts’ causal judgments can be combined in order to determine the most effective intervention. We define a notion of two causal models being compatible, and show how compatible causal models can be combined. We then use it as the basis for combining experts causal judgments. We illustrate our approach on a number of real-life examples.
Many societies have state norms of equity—that those who make symmetric social contributions deserve symmetric rewards. Despite this, there are widespread patterns of social inequity, especially along gender and racial lines. It is often the case that members of certain social groups receive greater rewards per contribution than others. In this paper, we draw on evolutionary game theory to show that the emergence of this sort of inequitable convention is far from surprising. In simple cultural evolutionary models, inequity is much more likely to emerge than equity, despite the presence of stable, equitable outcomes that groups might instead learn. As we outline, social groups provide a way to break symmetry between actors in determining both contributions and rewards in joint projects.