•  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
  •  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
  •  678
    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.
  •  482
    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
  •  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.
  •  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
  •  1274
    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
  •  319
    In The Libertarian Idea, Jan Narveson explains his interpretation of social contract theory this way: "The general idea of this theory is that the principles of morality are (or should be) those principles for directing everyone's conduct which it is reasonable for everyone to accept. They are the rules that everyone has good reason for wanting everyone to act on, and thus to internalize in himself or herself, and thus to reinforce in the case of everyone." It is plain, here, that Narveson belie…Read more
  •  1126
    Honor Among Thieves: Some Reflections on Professional Codes of Ethics
    Professional Ethics, a Multidisciplinary Journal 2 (3): 83-103. 1993.
    As complicated an affair as it may be to give a fully acceptable general characterization of professional codes of ethics that will capture every nuance, one theme that has attracted widespread attention portrays them as contrivances whose primary function is to secure certain obligations of professionals to clients, or to the external community. In contrast to such an "externalist" characterization of professional codes, it has occasionally been contended that, first and foremost, they should b…Read more
  •  113
    People have been arguing about natural law for at least a couple of thousand years now. During that time, a number of substantially different sorts of theory have been identified as falling within the natural law tradition. Even within each sort of natural law theory, there has been a variety of quite different arguments proposed, both in behalf of and in opposition to the theory. These facts about the natural law tradition serve to confound its critics. It's extremely tough to get a tidy formul…Read more
  •  38
    The Ethical Argument Against Government
    University Press of America. 1980.
    The institution of government requires justification. It is a human creation, the product of deliberate human action. Acts are performed in its name, and these acts have huge consequences on the lives of people. The act of creating -- or deliberately maintaining -- government, as well as the acts typically performed in the name of government, may and should be evaluated as to morality, and as to appropriateness for achieving intended goals. This book challenges the almost universally held belief…Read more
  •  425
    The State of Statelessness
    In John T. Sanders & Jan Narveson (eds.), For and Against the State: New Philosophical Readings, Rowman & Littlefield. 1996.
    My objective in this paper is to address a handful of issues that typically get raised in discussions of philosophical anarchism. Some of these issues arise in discussions among partisans of anarchism, and some are more likely to be raised in efforts to defend the state against its opponents. My hope is to focus the argument in such a way as to make clearer the main issues that are at stake from the point of view of at least one version of philosophical anarchism.
  •  1640
    Justice and the Initial Acquisition of Property
    Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 10 (2): 367-99. 1987.
    There is a great deal that might be said about justice in property claims. The strategy that I shall employ focuses attention upon the initial acquisition of property -- the most sensitive and most interesting area of property theory. Every theory that discusses property claims favorably assumes that there is some justification for transforming previously unowned resources into property. It is often this assumption which has seemed, to one extent or another, to be vulnerable to attack by critics…Read more
  •  905
    An Ontology of Affordances
    Ecological Psychology 9 (1): 97-112. 1997.
    I argue that the most promising approach to understanding J.J. Gibson's "affordances" takes affordances themselves as ontological primitives, instead of treating them as dispositional properties of more primitive things, events, surfaces, or substances. These latter are best treated as coalescences of affordances present in the environment (or "coalescences of use-potential," as in Sanders (1994) and Hilditch (1995)). On this view, even the ecological approach's stress on the complementary organ…Read more
  •  209
    Harry Heft's Ecological Psychology in Context is an important book in many ways. For one thing, it adds considerably to our understanding of the historical background of J.J. Gibson's thought. But more than that, Heft aims to place ecological psychology not just historically, but philosophically. He says "This volume shows that radical empiricism stands at the heart of Gibson's ecological program, and it can usefully be employed as the conceptual centerpiece for ecological psychology more broadl…Read more
  •  618
    George Berkeley's apparently strange view – that nothing exists without a mind except for minds themselves – is notorious. Also well known, and equally perplexing at a superficial level, is his insistence that his doctrine is no more than what is consistent with common sense. It was every bit as crucial for Berkeley that it be demonstrated that the colors are really in the tulip, as that there is nothing that is neither a mind nor something perceived by a mind. In what follows, I shall attempt t…Read more
  •  155
    The most important voices concerning the changes now occurring in Central and Eastem Europe are those that come from within, for those voices are informed not only by indifferent data and objective reports, but by personal hopes, fears, desires and needs. Without careful consideration of what such voices say, judgment can only be sterile. Furthermore, policy decisions made without the benefit of the intemal perspective are likely to be flawed, and ineffectual. Policies won’t work if they do not …Read more
  •  337
    Projects and Property
    In David Schmidtz (ed.), Robert Nozick, Cambridge University Press. 2002.
    I try in this essay to accomplish two things. First I offer some first thoughts toward a clarification of the ethical foundations of private property rights that avoids pitfalls common to more strictly Lockean theories, and is thus better prepared to address arguments posed by critics of standard private property arrangements. Second, I'll address one critical argument that has become pretty common over the years. While versions of the argument can be traced back at least to Pierre Joseph Pro…Read more
  •  162
    Stan bezpanstwowosci. Apologia anarchizmu filozoficznego
    In Tadeusz Buksinski (ed.), Idee Filozoficzne w Polityce, Wydawnictwo Naukowe Instytutu Filozofii. 1998.
    Ksiazka Roberta Paula Wolfa Apologia anarchizmu, ktora ukazala sie w roku 1970, stala sie niezwyklym wydarzeniem w rozwoju dwudziestowiecznej filozofii zachodniej: oto bowiem szacowny filozof, reprezentujacy (mniej wiecej) glowny nurt swej dziedziny, przedstawial argumenty zyczliwe wobec anarchizmu.
  •  148
    Pragmatists, as I understand them, have their own view of what truth and progress are. William James, quite famously, offered a straightforward pragmatic definition of truth. In rejecting in general the idea of truth, Richard Rorty indicates thereby a rejection of this part of the pragmatic tradition. Perhaps Professor Rorty can clarify, in his response, what stops a pragmatist -- armed with the pragmatic definition of truth -- from saying that progress toward the truth was made (for example) th…Read more
  •  28
    Soul and Form (edited book)
    with Lukács György and Katie Terezakis
    Columbia University Press. 2010.
    György Lukács first published the original Hungarian language version of Soul and Form in 1910. It included eight of the ten essays later to be published in subsequent German, Italian, and English editions. This current centennial edition adds to the mix one additional Lukács essay, "On Poverty of Spirit", written at roughly the same time as the others and bearing a vital relationship to them. Finally, in this edition we have added to the Lukács material an important introductory essay by Judit…Read more
  •  1216
    Merleau-ponty, Gibson and the materiality of meaning
    Man and World 26 (3): 287-302. 1993.
    While there are numerous differences between the approaches taken by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and James J. Gibson, the basic motivation of the two thinkers, as well as the internal logic of their respective views, is extraordinarily close. Both were guided throughout their lives by an attempt to overcome the dualism of subject and object, and both devoted considerable attention to their "Gestaltist" predecessors. There can be no doubt but that it is largely because of this common cause that the sub…Read more
  •  277
    Progress in the last few decades in what is widely known as “Chaos Theory” has plainly advanced understanding in the several sciences it has been applied to. But the manner in which such progress has been achieved raises important questions about scientific method and, indeed, about the very objectives and character of science. In this presentation, I hope to engage my audience in a discussion of several of these important new topics.
  •  428
    Translation of "Von der Armut am Geiste; ein Dialog des jungen Lukács," by Ágnes Heller. This translation originally appeared in The Philosophical Forum, Spring-Summer 1972.