•  158
    On ‘cuteness’
    British Journal of Aesthetics 31 (4): 162-165. 1991.
    John Morreall argues that “ . . . cuteness was probably essential in human evolution” because “ . . . our emotional and behavioral response . . . to cute things . . . has had survival value for the human race.” Cuteness, for Morreall, is an abstract general attribute of infants that causes adults to want to care for them (or which is the reason, or at least an important reason, for such solicitousness). I try to show that this is, if not an altogether fallacious way of explaining the matter, at …Read more
  •  242
    Time from the Inside Out
    Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 28 69-82. 2019.
    My objective is to offer at least a rough sketch of a new model for understanding time. Since many people are quite content with the model they have, I will try to show why a new model might be desirable or necessary. The exposition will be broken down into three parts. In the first part, I’ll try to show that no one has ever experienced time as such. In the second part, I shall argue that one good reason for this is that there is no such thing as time as such. Finally, in the third part, I’ll t…Read more
  •  1291
    Why the numbers should sometimes count
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 17 (1): 3-14. 1988.
    John Taurek has argued that, where choices must be made between alternatives that affect different numbers of people, the numbers are not, by themselves, morally relevant. This is because we "must" take "losses-to" the persons into account (and these don't sum), but "must not" consider "losses-of" persons (because we must not treat persons like objects). I argue that the numbers are always ethically relevant, and that they may sometimes be the decisive consideration.
  •  384
    Knowledge and Description: Bohr's Epistemology
    In Jan Such & Malgorzata Szczesniak (eds.), Z epistemologii wiedzy naukowej, Wydawnictwo Naukowe Instytutu Filozofii. 1998.
    In this paper, I try to explain the philosophical problems that Niels Bohr felt had been exposed by the discovery of the "quantum of action," and by the emergence of the quantum theory that arose in large part as a result of his efforts. I won't have space to make the case adequately here, but my own view is that we have not yet fully digested the message brought to us by Bohr's "Copenhagen Interpretation" of Quantum Mechanics, and I suspect that it will finally prove to be every bit as revoluti…Read more
  •  109
    Risk and value
    A.S.V.I. News 1996 (Spring): 4-5. 1996.
    Which risks are bad? This is not an easy question to answer in any non-circular way. Not only are risks sought out for various reasons, but risks are plainly discounted in many situations. What may seem "risky" when examined all by itself, may not seem risky when encountered in a real lived situation. Thus risks that are imposed by others, in particular, might seem horrendous when considered in abstraction, but quite acceptable when encountered in life. What we need to do, among other things, is…Read more
  •  363
    Benjamin Franklin and the League of the Haudenosaunee
    In St Petersburg Center for the History of Ideas (ed.), The Philosophical Age, Almanac 32: Benjamin Franklin and Russia, to the Tercentenary of His Birth, St. Petersburg Center For the History of Ideas. 2006.
    Benjamin Franklin's social and political thought was shaped by contacts with and knowledge of ancient aboriginal traditions. Indeed, a strong case can be made that key features of the social structure eventually outlined in the United States Constitution arose not from European sources, and not full-grown from the foreheads of European-American "founding fathers", but from aboriginal sources, communicated to the authors of the Constitution to a significant extent through Franklin. A brief sketch…Read more
  •  102
    While I strongly agree with Patrick Grim that abstract relationships are real, and that it is possible to get them right, the danger that we will get them wrong is just as real. The use of visual representation of abstract phenomena, precisely because of our predilection to see patterns in everything and because we don't have to think so hard about visible representations generally, may lead us to see things that aren't there.
  •  216
    Assessing Responsibility: Fixing Blame versus Fixing Problems
    Business and Professional Ethics Journal 12 (4): 73-86. 1993.
    In the midst of even the most tragic circumstances attending the aftermath of disaster, and co-existing with a host of complex emotions, arises a practical consideration: how might similar tragedies be prevented in the future? The complexity of such situations must not be neglected. More than mere prevention must usually be taken into consideration. But the practical question is of considerable importance. In what follows, I will offer some reasons for being concerned that efforts to fix the pro…Read more
  •  321
    I examine the claim that the underlying importance given to freedom within a society's scheme of values varies with historical circumstance and social context (I shall sometimes call this the "relativist claim"). The point of the examination will be to attempt to determine the manner in which, and the extent to which, this claim really endangers the liberal argument, which seems to suggest that freedom is valuable everywhere and always. It will be seen that several apparent challenges may be dis…Read more
  •  403
    Stanislaw Leśniewski's Logical Systems
    Axiomathes 7 (3): 407-415. 1996.
    Stanislaw Lesniewski’s interests were, for the most part, more philosophical than mathematical. Prior to taking his doctorate at Jan Kazimierz University in Lvov, Lesniewski had spent time at several continental universities, apparently becoming relatively attached to the philosophy of one of his teachers, Hans Comelius, to the chapters of John Stuart Mill’s System of Logic that dealt specifically with semantics, and, in general, to studies of general grammar and philosophy of language. In these…Read more
  •  218
    In response to Professor Rorty’s reaction to Professor Habermas’s paper in this symposium, I confess that I am still not sure I understand Rorty’s hostility to ideals such as the ideal of truth. Such ideals as the ideal of truth -- and ideals like those of reason and morality surely stand and fall with the ideal of truth -- seem plainly to have an enormous pragmatic value. They lure us out of our too-constrained, too-limited ethnocentric or idiosyncratic frames of reference. It is always possibl…Read more
  •  452
    On ‘cuteness’
    British Journal of Aesthetics 32 (2): 162-165. 1992.
    For John Morreall, cuteness is an abstract general attribute of infants that causes adults to want to care for them (or which is the reason, or at least important reason, for such solicitousness). I shall try to show, in what follows, that this is, if not an altogether fallacious way of explaining the matter, at least an extremely misleading one. As it stands, in particular, it is too easy to infer from Morreall's line of reasoning 1) that infants in general might conceivably never have develope…Read more
  •  394
    The Myths of Academia: Open Inquiry and Funded Research
    Journal of College and University Law 19 (3): 227-50. 1993.
    Both professors and institutions of higher education benefit from a vision of academic life that is grounded more firmly in myth than in history. According to the myth created by that traditional vision, scholars pursue research wherever their drive to knowledge takes them, and colleges and universities transmit the fruits of that research to contemporary and future generations as the accumulated wisdom of the ages. Yet the economic and social forces operating on colleges and universities as ins…Read more
  •  493
    Experience, memory and intelligence
    The Monist 68 (4): 507-521. 1985.
    What characterizes most technical or theoretical accounts of memory is their reliance upon an internal storage model. Psychologists and neurophysiologists have suggested neural traces (either dynamic or static) as the mechanism for this storage, and designers of artificial intelligence have relied upon the same general model, instantiated magnetically or electronically instead of neurally, to do the same job. Both psychology and artificial intelligence design have heretofore relied, without mu…Read more
  •  55
    This book consists of the edited proceedings of a debate among Jurgen Habermas, Richard Rorty, and Leszek Kolakowski that was held in Warsaw in May of 1995. It includes also commentary from those in attendance, including extensive remarks by Ernest Gellner. The debate marked the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and focussed primarily on topics related to historicism and cultural relativism.
  •  107
    Freedom is generated in at least two distinct ways: as the ability to avoid perceived dangers and pursue perceived goods, and even to pursue complicated plans in those directions, freedom evolves. But as a social and political matter, freedom seems more subject to human will. The best social institutions -- the kind that serve to encourage or constrain freedom of choice -- also appear to be evolutionary products in some sense. Can there be too much freedom? Of course there can. No constraint at …Read more
  •  299
    Retinae don't see
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (6): 890-891. 2004.
    Sensation should be understood globally: some infant behaviors do not make sense on the model of separate senses; neonates of all species lack time to learn about the world by triangulating among different senses. Considerations of natural selection favor a global understanding; and the global interpretation is not as opposed to traditional work on sensation as might seem.
  •  343
    This is a more detailed version of my "On 'Cuteness'", which appeared in the British Journal of Aesthetics in April 1992. For John Morreall, cuteness is an abstract general attribute of infants that causes adults to want to care for them (or which is the reason, or at least important reason, for such solicitousness). I shall try to show, in what follows, that this is, if not an altogether fallacious way of explaining the matter, at least an extremely misleading one. As it stands, in particular, …Read more
  •  3
    Honor Among Thieves: Some Reflections on Professional Codes of Ethics
    Professional Ethics, a Multidisciplinary Journal 2 (3/4): 83-103. 1993.
  •  34
    Are there any “communications anomalies”?
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10 (4): 607. 1987.
    I address some specific problems in the two target articles offered here (Rao and Palmer/Alcock: Parapsychology review and critique), which are indicative of more general problems that plague the larger debate. Because such problems are rather typical of scientific conflict, I address general problems of assessment in a second section. In a final section. I make some comments about the future of this debate.
  •  161
    The Attractiveness of Risk
    American Society for Value Inquiry Newsletter 1994 (Fall). 1994.
    Risk is not always nasty. Risk can be the cost of opportunity, of course; but sometimes risk is regarded not as a cost at all, but as a close attendant of pleasure. Many things that people invest considerable time and resources in would not be pursued at all if not for the attendant risk. Attempting to offer clarification of the role that risk plays in human affairs is thus itself a risky business. People largely want to avoid unnecessary risk except when they deliberately seek it out. One might…Read more
  •  679
    The free market model versus government: A reply to Nozick
    Journal of Libertarian Studies 1 (1): 35-44. 1977.
    In Anarchy, State and Utopia, Robert Nozick argues, first, that free-market anarchism is unstable -that it will inevitably lead back to the state; and, second, that without a certain "redistributive" proviso, the model is unjust. If either of these things is the case, the model defeats itself, for its justification purports to be that it provides a morally acceptable alternative to government (and therefore to the state). I argue, against Nozick's contention, that his "dominant protection agency…Read more
  •  256
    How Ethical Is Investigative Testing?
    Employment Testing Law and Policy Reporter 3 (2). 1994.
    Analyzing three key cases that arose in 1993, I argue that the practice of sending in "testers" -- persons posing as job applicants -- to ferret out workplace discrimination is easier to defend from an ethical standpoint in an agency's investigation stems from an actual complaint. By contrast, defendants may rightfully challenge the legitimacy of the procedures used for "test" subjects when an investigation is based solely on the general goals of an antidiscrimination agency.
  •  315
    Political Authority
    The Monist 66 (4): 545-556. 1983.
    I begin this essay with a notion of "authority" that makes a sharp distinction between authority and power, and grant that such authority is not only legitimate, but perhaps even necessary in human affairs. I then trace the devaluation of this idea through varying degrees of institutionalization, culminating in its political cooptation. I argue, finally, that what goes by the name of political authority is the very antithesis of the legitimate and necessary element that we began with.
  •  483
    Interest in "embodiment", and over how one may best express the implications of embodiment, is no parochial question, of interest only to a small number of effete philosophers. It confronts perceptual psychologists, developmental psychologists, and psychotherapists, of course. It may not be surprising, either, that it has become an important issue to some students of history and sociology, and to linguists, literary theorists and aestheticians. But that's not all. As physicists -- working wi…Read more
  •  48
    For and Against the State: New Philosophical Readings (edited book)
    Rowman & Littlefield. 1996.
    This collection addresses the central issue of political philosophy or, in a couple of cases, issues very close to the heart of that question: Is government justified? This ancient question has never been more alive than at the present time, in the midst of continuing political and social upheaval in virtually every part of the world. Only two of the pieces collected here have been published previously. All the other contributions were, at the time of the inception of the volume, fresh from the…Read more
  •  372
    An Ecological Approach to Cognitive Science
    Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy 1996 (Spring). 1996.
    Cognitive science is ready for a major reconceptualization. This is not at all because efforts by its practitioners have failed, but rather because so much progress has been made. The need for reconceptualization arises from the fact that this progress has come at greater cost than necessary, largely because of more or less philosophical (at least metatheoretical) straightjackets still worn - whether wittingly or not - by those doing the work. These bonds are extremely hard to break. Even some o…Read more
  •  1277
    Merleau-Ponty on Meaning, Materiality, and Structure
    Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 25 (1): 96-100. 1994.
    Against David Schenck's interpretation, I argue that it is not absolutely clear that Merleau-Ponty ever meant to replace what Schenck refers to as the "unity of meanings" interpretation of "structure" with a "material meanings" interpretation. A particular problem-setting -- for example, an attempt to understand the "truth in naturalism" or the "truth in dualism" -- may very well require a particular mode of expression. I argue that the mode of expression chosen by Merleau-Ponty for these purpos…Read more
  •  9
    Soul and Form (edited book)
    with Katie Terezakis and Anna Bostock
    Cambridge University Press. 2010.
    György Lukacs was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher, writer, and literary critic who shaped mainstream European Communist thought. _Soul and Form_ was his first book, published in 1910, and it established his reputation, treating questions of linguistic expressivity and literary style in the works of Plato, Kierkegaard, Novalis, Sterne, and others. By isolating the formal techniques these thinkers developed, Lukács laid the groundwork for his later work in Marxist aesthetics, a field that introduc…Read more