Thérèse Wilson Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress QH641.W55 2013 | Dewey Decimal 572.4358
Bioluminescence is everywhere on earth—most of all in the ocean, from angler fish in the depths to flashing dinoflagellates at the surface. Wilson and Hastings explore the natural history, evolution, and biochemistry of the diverse array of organisms that emit light and offer an evolutionary explanation for their sporadic distribution and rarity.
A renowned philosopher argues that singular causation in the mind is not grounded in general patterns of causation, a claim on behalf of human distinctiveness, which has implications for the future of social robots.
A blab droid is a robot with a body shaped like a pizza box, a pair of treads, and a smiley face. Guided by an onboard video camera, it roams hotel lobbies and conference centers, asking questions in the voice of a seven-year-old. “Can you help me?” “What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?” “Who in the world do you love most?” People pour their hearts out in response.
This droid prompts the question of what we can hope from social robots. Might they provide humanlike friendship? Philosopher John Campbell doesn’t think so. He argues that, while a social robot can remember the details of a person’s history better than some spouses can, it cannot empathize with the human mind, because it lacks the faculty for thinking in terms of singular causation.
Causation in Psychology makes the case that singular causation is essential and unique to the human species. From the point of view of practical action, knowledge of what generally causes what is often all one needs. But humans are capable of more. We have a capacity to imagine singular causation. Unlike robots and nonhuman animals, we don’t have to rely on axioms about pain to know how ongoing suffering is affecting someone’s ability to make decisions, for example, and this knowledge is not a derivative of general rules. The capacity to imagine singular causation, Campbell contends, is a core element of human freedom and of the ability to empathize with human thoughts and feelings.
With BPA in baby bottles, mercury in fish, and lead in computer monitors, the world has become a toxic place. But as Emily Monosson demonstrates in her groundbreaking new book, it has always been toxic. When oxygen first developed in Earth's atmosphere, it threatened the very existence of life: now we literally can't live without it. According to Monosson, examining how life adapted to such early threats can teach us a great deal about today's (and tomorrow's) most dangerous contaminants. While the study of evolution has advanced many other sciences, from conservation biology to medicine, the field of toxicology has yet to embrace this critical approach. In Evolution in a Toxic World, Monosson seeks to change that. She traces the development of life's defense systems—the mechanisms that transform, excrete, and stow away potentially harmful chemicals—from more than three billion years ago to today. Beginning with our earliest ancestors' response to ultraviolet radiation, Monosson explores the evolution of chemical defenses such as antioxidants, metal binding proteins, detoxification, and cell death.
As we alter the world's chemistry, these defenses often become overwhelmed faster than our bodies can adapt. But studying how our complex internal defense network currently operates, and how it came to be that way, may allow us to predict how it will react to novel and existing chemicals. This understanding could lead to not only better management and preventative measures, but possibly treatment of current diseases. Development of that knowledge starts with this pioneering book.
Andrew Cutrofello's book performs a psychoanalytic inversion of transcendental philosophy, taking Kant's synthetic a prior judgments and reading them in terms of a foreclosed Kantian category--that of the analytic a posteriori. Working primarily out of Freudian and Lacanian problematics, Cutrofello not only subjects Kantian thought to psychoanalytic questioning, but also develops a systematic critique of metapsychology itself, disclosing and assessing its own paralogisms, antinomies, ideal, and ethics. This is a provocative reflection on the tensions between the Enlightenment project of critique and psychoanalytic theory.
Holism maintains that a phenomenon is more than the sum of its parts. Yet analysis--a mental process crucial to comprehension--involves dismantling the whole to grasp it piecemeal and relationally. Wading through such quandaries, Vincent Descombes guides readers to a deepened appreciation of the entity that enables understanding: the human mind.
Critics have maintained that John Rawls’s theory of justice is unrealistic and undemocratic. Andrius Gališanka’s incisive intellectual biography argues that in misunderstanding the origins and development of Rawls’s argument, previous narratives fail to explain the novelty of his philosophical approach and so misunderstand his political vision.
The Logical Alien
Sofia Miguens Harvard University Press, 2019 Library of Congress BC71.L64 2019 | Dewey Decimal 160
Is our logical form of thought merely one among many, or must it be the form of thought as such? From Kant to Wittgenstein, philosophers have wrestled with variants of this question. This volume brings together nine distinguished thinkers on the subject, including James Conant, author of the seminal paper “The Search for Logically Alien Thought.”
We have entered a new era of nature. What remains of the frontiers of modern thought that divided the living from the inert, subjectivity from objectivity, the apparent from the real, value from fact, and the human from the nonhuman? Can the great oppositions that presided over the modern invention of nature still claim any cogency? In Nature as Event, Didier Debaise shows how new narratives and cosmologies are necessary to rearticulate that which until now had been separated. Following William James and Alfred North Whitehead, Debaise presents a pluralistic approach to nature. What would happen if we attributed subjectivity and potential to all beings, human and nonhuman? Why should we not consider aesthetics and affect as the fabric that binds all existence? And what if the senses of importance and value were no longer understood to be exclusively limited to the human?
In The Philosophical Structure of Historical Explanation, Paul A. Roth resolves disputes persisting since the nineteenth century about the scientific status of history. He does this by showing why historical explanations must take the form of a narrative, making their logic explicit, and revealing how the rational evaluation of narrative explanation becomes possible. Roth situates narrative explanations within a naturalistic framework and develops a nonrealist (irrealist) metaphysics and epistemology of history—arguing that there exists no one fixed past, but many pasts. The book includes a novel reading of Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, showing how it offers a narrative explanation of theory change in science. This book will be of interest to researchers in historiography, philosophy of history, philosophy of science, philosophy of social science, and epistemology.
In these selected essays, Charles Parsons surveys the contributions of philosophers and mathematicians who shaped the philosophy of mathematics over the past century: Brouwer, Hilbert, Bernays, Weyl, Gödel, Russell, Quine, Putnam, Wang, and Tait.
Cora Diamond follows two major philosophers as they think about thinking, and about our ability to respond to thinking that has gone astray. Acting as both witness to and participant in the encounter, she provides fresh perspective on the value of Wittgenstein’s and Anscombe’s work, and demonstrates what genuinely independent thought can achieve.
In Reflections on Frege’s Philosophy, Reinhardt Grossmann investigates the most important themes in the philosophy of Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (1848-1925): his distinction between objects and functions, his characterization of numbers as nonmental classes, his theory of sense and reference, and his ontology of truth-values. Grossmann examines Frege’s solutions to basic philosophical problems, and where he finds them inadequate provides what he considers to be more viable alternatives. Grossmann argues that an ontology should contain states of affairs rather than Fregean senses, and that the sense-reference distinction, Frege’s most original and famous metaphysical innovation, must ultimately be rejected. This study is both an exposition of Frege’s philosophy and an original contribution to the philosophical enterprise.
In the rigorous and highly original Self-Awareness and Alterity, Dan Zahavi provides a sustained argument that phenomenology, especially in its Husserlian version, can make a decisive contribution to discussions of self-awareness. Engaging with debates within both analytic philosophy (Elizabeth Anscombe, John Perry, Sydney Shoemaker, Héctor-Neri Castañeda, David Rosenthal) and contemporary German philosophy (Dieter Henrich, Manfred Frank, Ernst Tugendhat), Zahavi argues that the phenomenological tradition has much more to offer when it comes to the problem of self-awareness than is normally assumed.
As a contribution to the current philosophical debate concerning self-awareness, the book presents a comprehensive reconstruction of Husserl’s theory of pre-reflective self-awareness, thereby criticizing a number of prevalent interpretations. In addition, Zahavi also offers a systematic discussion of a number of phenomenological insights related to the issue of self-awareness, including analyses of the temporal, intentional, reflexive, bodily, and social nature of the self.
The new edition of this prize-winning book has been updated and revised, and all quotations have been translated into English. It also contains a new preface in which Zahavi traces the developments of the debates around self-awareness over the last twenty years and situates this book in the context of his subsequent work.
In an original defense of armchair philosophy, Michael Strevens seeks to restore philosophy to its traditional position as an essential part of the quest for knowledge, by reshaping debates about the nature of philosophical thinking. His approach explores experimental philosophy’s methodological implications and the cognitive science of concepts.
When Words Are Called For
Avner Baz Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress B828.36.B39 2012 | Dewey Decimal 149.94
Challenging mainstream analytic philosophers to reconsider basic assumptions, Baz defends the much maligned ordinary language philosophy as a form of practice that might provide a viable alternative to current work on philosophical “intuitions,” knowledge, and other areas of philosophical difficulty. He both argues for OLP and practices it here.