2009 (31) Issue 2
Table of Contents
Title: Experimental Philosophy
Author: Adam Feltz
Abstract: Experimental philosophy is a new approach to philosophy that incorporates the experimental methodologies of psychology, behavioral economics, and sociology. Experimental philosophers generally maintain that, in addition to traditional philosophical practices, these ways of gathering evidence can be instrumental in shedding light on philosophically important issues. Rather than relying on their own intuitions about specific cases, experimental philosophers perform systematic experiments to determine what intuitions people have about those cases. These intuitions are then used as evidence. In this context, four main approaches to experimental philosophy are introduced, a sample of experimental philosophy’s results is offered, and some of the philosophical importance of those results is explained.
Title: Experimental Philosophy Is Here to Stay
Author: Chris Weigel
Abstract: Experimental philosophy is comprised of two broad projects, the negative project and the positive project, each of which is a response to a kind of armchair use of intuitions. I examine two examples of the negative project the analysis of knowledge and the theory of reference and two examples of the positive project free will and intentional action and review criticisms of each example. I show how the criticisms can be met and argue that even if they could not have been met, experimental philosophy raises important questions about methodology, opening the door on new questions and new ways of looking at old questions. For that reason, experimental philosophy as a movement is robust and full of potential.
Title: Warum selber denken? Zum Problem und Begriff des epistemischen Individualismus
Author: Ursula Renz
Abstract: Since the last two decades of the 20th century it has been widely accepted that testimony has to be acknowledged as a source of knowledge. As a side effect, any form of epistemic individualism has been discredited. The article provides some arguments against the dismissive attitude towards epistemic individualism. I distinguish between three forms of epistemic individualism, and I argue that only the most extreme form can be flatly rejected while there are good reasons for maintaining the other two forms of epistemic individualism. I show that weak individualism, according to which individuals are the bearers of knowledge, is concerned with a necessary condition of the instantiation of knowledge. We only accept knowledge claims if there is good reason to believe that they are maintained by at least one individual. My main interest, however, is focused on a discussion of the third more challenging form of epistemic individualism, namely normative epistemic individualism, which claims that priority of one’s own epistemic experiences over the testimony of others. I first swow that such a priority claim can only be understood as a local device, i.e. if a belief based on our own experiences is challenged by other people’s assertations, then we are committed to trust our own experiences more than the words of others. In a second step, the relations between such a restricted version of the individualist priority claim and the ideal of rationality are discussed.
Title: Die Objektivität der Wissenschaften als soziales Phänomen
Author: Torsten Wilholt
Abstract: Scientific procedures are widely expected to be unbiased, in the sense that they do not single out one specific set of claims about which they yield false results more often than about others. This assumed feature of the practices of science can be called procedural objectivity. I argue that attempts to analyze procedural objectivity on the level of individual rationality fail. The appropriate balance of inductive risks for each scientific investigation hinges upon value judgments for which no binding, ,neutral’ standard can be derived from universal principles. I make the case that the perspective of social epistemology offers a much more promising approach to establish a substantial conception of procedural objectivity. I examine two genuinely social elements of the sciences’ procedural objectivity. One consists in conventional standards, which are adopted by research communities in order to facilitate epistemic trust and which impose constraints on methodological choices that affect the balance of inductive risks. The other is constituted by the plurality of approaches within research communities and the mechanism of mutual criticism. Procedural objectivity in science thus becomes understandable as a social phenomenon.
Title: Autonomy, Recognition, and Social Dislocation
Author: John Christman
Abstract: In numerous accounts of both autonomy and freedom, social or relational elements have been offered as conceptual requirements in addition to purely procedural conditions. In addition, it is claimed that social recognition of the normative authority or self-trust of the agent is conceptually required for autonomy. In this paper I argue that in cases where people find themselves completely dislocated from the social and cultural homes that had provided them with the language in which to formulate and express their values, it is clear that social recognition of the sort defended in relational models is causally but not conceptually required for agency to be (re-)established. This is shown by noting that often victims of human trafficking or smuggling find themselves in foreign settings where it is quite up for grabs where and how they will attempt to reconstruct a life narrative which they can generally embrace. Therefore, seeing social recognition as conceptually required for autonomous agency or freedom would ignore the variability in the ways that such recognition must be expressed.
Title: The Motive of Commitment and Its Implications for Rational Choice Theory
Author: Catherine S. Herfeld
Abstract: This paper addresses the explanatory role of the concept of a motive for action in economics. The aim of the paper is to show the difficulty economists have to accommodate the motive of commitment into their explanatory and predictive framework, i.e. rational choice theory. One difficulty is that the economists’ explanation becomes analytic when assuming preferences of commitment. Another difficulty is that it is highly doubtful whether commitment can be represented by current frameworks while (pre-)serving the ’folk-psychological’ idea of what is commonly understood by the idea of a commitment. Both difficulties lead to the conclusion that, although motives do matter, conceptualizing the motive of commitment would cause trouble for rational choice theory.
Title: Norms and the Agency of Justice
Author: Justin Weinberg
Abstract: In this paper I argue that when thinking about justice, political philosophers should pay more attention to social norms, not just the usual subjects of basic principles, rights, laws, and policies. I identify two widely-endorsed ideas about political philosophy that interfere with recognizing the importance of social norms ideas I dub ’compulsoriness’ and ’institutionalism’ and argue for their rejection. I do this largely by focusing on questions about who can and should be an agent of justice. I argue that careful reflection on these questions supports a kind of pluralism that reveals the importance of social norms, three types of which I discuss.
Title: Achtung und ihre moralische Bedeutung
Author: Rüdiger Bittner
Abstract: While ,Achtung’ in ordinary German means either attention or esteem, Kant used the word, on the one hand, to indicate the attitude of those who do what is right for the reason that it is right (,respect for the law’), and on the other, to indicate an attitude that we are morally required to entertain towards all human beings (,respect for humanity’). What that attitude is and why we are bound to adopt it, does not become clear. Recent writers do give content to the notion, a rather arbitrary one, though, given the ordinary meaning of ,Achtung’. Contrary to what is widely believed, then, the moral significance of ,Achtung’ is limited; limited, that is, to the fact that attentiveness to others’ virtues is itself a virtue.
Title: Wieso moralische Achtung wichtig ist
Author: Peter Schaber
Abstract: Bittner argues in his paper that the idea of a general duty to respect persons is of much less importance than some moral philosophers think. If respect plays a role in our lives it is mainly appriciation respect persons have to merit. Respecting persons as such is, Bittner thinks, not just irrelevant, but also incompatibel with personal relations. Against this it is argued that respect for persons should be seen as the basic moral duty we have towards persons. And in addition, it is argued, that you can only be a proper friend of someone, if the relation to her or him is based on moral respect.
Title: Achtung und ihre moralische Bedeutung: Erwiderung auf Peter Schaber
Author: Rüdiger Bittner
Abstract: The present reply to Peter Schaber’s critique of my paper Achtung und ihre moralische Bedeutung argues, first, that Schaber has no good grounds for maintaining that we have an obligation to respect every human being. Second, it explains why respect is not a fruitful attitude to take in the face of social divisions.