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Displaying: 41-60 of 547 documents

41. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Brock Bahler The Tree of Life: Wisdom Reflected in the Face of Domestic Terror
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book reviews
42. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Matthew Valentine Friedrich Nietzsche and European Nihilism
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43. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Greg McCreery On the Possibility of Action as Liberation from (Non)Violence
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44. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Peter Mehl Rethinking Liberalism: Sandel, Nussbaum, and the Good Society
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I critically examine the recent thought of Michael Sandel and Martha Nussbaum to reinvigorate our understanding of a just and flourishing society, and to address shortcomings of liberalism. I argue that while both offer important correctives to facile liberalisms, they both need to understand liberalism as a view of the good society. I spend more time with Nussbaum as she provides a more developed way forward for liberalism. Examining her epistemological approach leads me to argue that her appeal to an overlapping consensus is doing some epistemological work, and that her capabilities approach is tied to a theory of humans and their flourishing. In the final analysis, I judge that Nussbaum’s capabilities approach encompasses Sandel’s communitarian hope for a richer conversation about the good society.
45. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Andrew Oberg Dreaming of AI Lovers
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The vision of building machines that are or can be self-aware has long gripped humankind and now seems closer than ever to being realized. Yet behind this idea lie deep problems associated with the self, with consciousness, and with what it is to be a being capable of experience. It is the aim of this paper to first explore these important background concepts and seek clarity in each one before then turning to the question of artificial intelligence and whether or not such is really possible in the manner in which we are approaching it.
46. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Yotam Benziman Integrity and Self Image
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The connection between integrity and the notion of self seems obvious. A person of integrity is one whose various beliefs, views, experiences, are united into one totality. But if integrity is about the self, then it is for the self to decide what her personality revolves around. This might suggest that being a person of integrity means acting for no reason at all – just because this is “who I am”. I might consider my whimsical, or even corrupt ways of conduct, as manifestations of integrity, and I would not have to offer reasons to anybody. In trying to reply to such an objection, it has been suggested that integrity as an epistemic virtue, aiming at truth and correctness. I show why these attempts are mistaken. And yet, it is true that as persons of integrity we act for sound reasons. Our integrity is connected to our self image. Rather than aiming at truth, our actions manifest the people we aspire to be, the values we admire, the notions we care about. By choosing my commitments I manifest a certain image of what a worthy person should aim at, and I invite others to share this image.
47. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Blake Hereth Why It’s Wrong to Stand Your Ground
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Stand Your Ground laws have prompted frequent and sustained legal and ethical reflection on self-defense. Two primary views have emerged in the literature: the Stand Your Ground View and the Retreat View. On the former view, there is no presumptive moral requirement to retreat even if one can do so safely. According to the latter view, there is such a requirement. I offer a novel argument against the Stand Your Ground View. In cases where retreat or the infliction of defensive harm would be equally efficacious in protecting the rights of an individual, one cannot intend either simply as a means, since there is no means-relevant reason for choosing one over the other. Thus, if one intends to inflict defensive harm, one intends the infliction of defensive harm as an end. Because it is always wrong to intend harm for its own sake, there is a presumptive requirement to retreat.
48. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Yahalom Levinasian Caregiving: Dementia and the Other-In-Between
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This article reviews the work of philosopher Emmanuel Levinas to explore caregiving for dementia. It defends a dual thesis whereby it first articulates how Levinas provides a phenomenological description to account for why caregiving is subjectively dreadful and, second, how caregiving invites a fresh re-reading of Levinasian thought. The article introduces two different forms of otherness represented by death and dementia, respectively. This re-reading shows how dementia forces us to more immediately reckon with the intensity Levinas attributes to the nature of human interaction. The article concludes with reflections about what dementia suggests about cultural attitudes towards responsibility and implications for caregiving practice.
49. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Michael Goerger Only a Game?: On the Meaning of Violent Video Gameplay
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Many are disturbed by acts of simulated violent portrayed in contemporary video games. In this essay, I ask if violent gameplay is meaningful or significant outside of the gaming context. Following a recent discussion of the meaning of actions by T.M. Scanlon, I argue for two interrelated theses. First, I claim that in-game actions are only meaningful when the considerations and reasons that drive in-game actions are the same as those that drive analogous actions outside of the game-world. Second, I argue that this condition rarely holds because the gameworld creates a unique context in which the reasons and considerations that drive action are significantly altered. I conclude that violent video gameplay can be but is rarely meaningful outside of the gaming context.
50. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey Hankey Unframing the Human
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In a novel synthesis of Judith Butler’s social ontology, Rosi Braidotti’s posthumanism, Simon Critchley’s reading of Heidegger’s ontology of indebtedness, and my own system of ontic impunity premised on the illusion of free will, I make a case for a reframing—or perhaps an unframing—of the human. This unframing imbues those largely denied recognizability as human—such as pedophiles and Muslim civilian casualties of the war on terror—with a dignity and grievability denied them by the dominant ecumenical, Western epistemology of causa sui (the soul). It also forces us to consider the tenuous distinction between human and non-human animals. Finally, I offer some concluding thoughts on the meaning of authenticity as wanting-to-have-a-conscience.
51. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Geoff Pfeifer, Taine Duncan Doing Philosophy in the Contemporary World: A Joint Interview with the Editors
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With all of exciting changes happening with the Journal, we thought a joint interview of one another might be a great way to highlight the vision and mission for Philosophy in the Contemporary World moving forward. This edition is our first edition to be printed fully online, a practice we look forward to ensuring accessibility and worldwide access for subscribers. We also wish to acknowledge our appreciation of the patience of all who follow, read, and subscribe to our journal. Infrastructure changes and a reprint have caused us some publication delays. However, we are very excited about the future to come here at the journal!
52. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Charles Harvey, Christian Matheis Special Issue Editors’ Introduction
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The Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World maintains a commitment to pluralism in philosophical discourse by encouraging original, unconventional research with regard to contemporary concerns. Among our members, few have championed this commitment more steadfastly than the late Joe Frank Jones III who passed away in January 2015 while planning our annual meeting. Joe had spent a number of years advocating for and developing a graduate-level Bioethics Certificate at Radford University, his home institution. The certificate came to life in 2014, after which Joe and Christian Matheis (Virginia Tech and Radford University) proposed to co-host the next SPCW meeting on what would become this issue’s prototypical namesake: “America the Bioethical: Vitality, Trauma, and Questions of Bioethics in the 21st Century.” Following Joe’s death, both Christian and Charles W. Harvey (University of Central Arkansas) carried on planning the conference with Joe’s vision as a guide.
53. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Ralph D. Ellis The Biological Basis of Ethical Motivation: (It May Not Be What You’ve Heard)
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Naturalism does not necessarily imply an exclusive emphasis on the notoriously fickle empathic emotions. Contemporary neurobiological emotion research strongly suggests that the search for moral meaning, like any other everyday truth-seeking activity, is motivated not only by altruistic instincts or social conditioning, but also and more importantly it is motivated by a basic exploratory drive that makes us want to know what the truth is, independently of whether we happen to feel altruistic or nurturing in a particular instance. This innate biological drive is not socially learned or developed through reinforcement, yet it motivates us to try to find out what we really ought to do. That the love of truth is innate has survival value, yet does not lead to the naturalistic fallacy, as do the more frequently cited “moral” emotions such as sympathy and fellow-feeling. The endogenous love of truth, qua natural emotion, does not lead to the vacuous conclusion that “We ought to act morally because (and only if) we naturally feel altruistic in a given situation.”
54. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Melissa Burchard Abandoning Certainty in Favor of Moral Imagination: Shifting from Rule-Based Decision Making to Caring
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I argue that rule-based decision-making models are desired because thought to create certainty. I then raise a number of problems with this assumption. Desiring certainty, and relying on rules to obtain it, leads to inconsistency in decision-making, and atrophy of moral imagination. I draw a parallel between Dworkin’s principles-based models in legal theory and Beauchamp and Childress’ in medical ethics. These models are more successful because they can account for more moral intuitions, and do not encourage us to hide our intuitions. Still, feminist ethics challenge the possibility of certainty even more radically, moving in the direction of moral imagination and care.
55. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Janet Donohoe On a Hermeneutics of the Body
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In much of the contemporary situation for trans* persons, authority over identity has been given to, or perhaps taken by, arbiters of the medico-legal discourse. These identity “experts” have become the gatekeepers for sex reassignment and gender designation. Alternatively, many theorists argue that identity is exclusively about first-person appeals to one’s own sense of oneself. I show here that neither of these accounts does justice to our experience. Instead, drawing upon Hans Georg Gadamer’s notion of horizons, I outline a position where first-person and third-person accounts of the meaning of the body can meet somewhere in the middle. Such a position, characterized by a hermeneutics of the body, mediates between the phenomenological first-person while still recognizing the third-person view of the body as relevant. Approaching the body through a hermeneutic process allows us to find a place where we can all be open to different performances of gender and different particular bodily actions that recognize the bodies of us all as a combination of sedimented styles of action within social discourses.
56. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Jack Weir Abortion: A New Argument from Evolutionary Biology and Psychology
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Using conclusions from contemporary evolutionary biology and psychology, I defend a new argument for the moral permissibility of abortion. My analysis shows the falsity of some of the empirical and moral claims in two popular and widely anthologized anti-abortion articles, one by the judge and legal scholar John T. Noonan (1970) and the other by the moral philosopher Don Marquis (1989). My argument builds on my criticisms of Noonan and Marquis. People are contingent emergent beings, and cannot be reduced to their DNA or fetus. My analysis of four theses, two for males and two for females, shows that the absence of consent is enough to establish every woman's broad moral right to terminate unwanted pregnancies. A final section presents the conclusion and responds to two important objections.
57. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Lani Roberts The Phenomenology of Abortion Decisions
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The philosophical treatment of abortion has rarely placed actual women at the center of the discussion. This essay argues that moral decisions are made by actual persons and a woman, as a person, is more than a breeder of humans. Drawing on an analogy with the treatment of light in quantum physics, it also argues that the status of a fertilized ovum is indeterminate, often dependent on the context of the woman's life.
58. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Robert Metcalf Cormac McCarthy and the Bioethical
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This essay argues for a distinction between bioethics in the customary sense and the “bioethical”—where the latter involves exploration of disturbing literary and/or artistic material. The “bioethical” signifies an affective and imaginative sphere in which we experience the mattering-to-us-morally of other human beings and non-human animals. The essay further argues that Cormac McCarthy’s writings allow us to explore the bioethical, with certain philosophical implications of this discussed in detail.
59. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Robert Paul Churchill Armed Drone Warfare: Mythology, Mental Health, and Cultural Violence
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The United States is now relying on Reaper and Predator drone strikes as its primary strategy in the continuing “war on terrorism.” This paper argues for the rational scrutiny drone warfare has not yet received. Rather than a Just War critique, my focus is on the rhetoric used to justify drone warfare as the technologically most efficient and militarily appropriate response to terrorist threats. This rationalizing rhetoric evokes mythical claims about American exceptionalism. Myths in turn trigger linguistic frames that have the effect of subverting rational thinking about the ethical uses of technology and the best ways of defending America from terrorists. I conclude by noting the seriousness of this investigation for the present debate over armed drone warfare, for—given the reasons I present—rather than a long-term reduction in the likelihood of terrorists strikes, the U.S.’s reliance on armed drones strikes threatens to institutionalize terrorism as the status quo for the foreseeable future.
60. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Caroline Meline From Partiality to Impartiality: A Natural Expansion or Saltatory Leap?
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The aim of this paper is to help clarify the debate about whether human morality is continuous or discontinuous with nonhuman animal behavior by contrasting partiality and impartiality as moral terms. The problem for evolutionary ethicists, who derive ethics from human evolutionary history, is that only partiality, the practice of extending care and moral consideration to one’s in-group, can be accounted for by natural selection and therefore shown to be continuous with nonhuman animal behavior. Impartiality, the ideal of applying moral standards equally to all humans, on the other hand, cannot be accounted for by natural selection. A conceptual gap, or saltatory leap, thus opens up between behaviors classified morally as partial or impartial, pointing to a conclusion of discontinuity in explaining the origin of morality. Frans de Waal’s 2006 book Primates and Philosophers, How Morality Evolved, takes up this issue, with de Waal arguing for the evolutionary position, continuity, even while upholding impartiality as the highest form of morality. His opponents are “veneer theorists,” who view morality, generally, as a uniquely human construction, required in order to overcome base and selfish desires. De Waal entertains critical responses to his discussion by several thinkers, and I consider that of Peter Singer. I also look to the neuropsychological research of Joshua Greene and Jonathan Haidt, as does de Waal, for help with the apparent evolutionary gap between partial and impartial moral beliefs but do not find a solution. Finally, I suggest other ways of rescuing the continuity thesis.