The reach of the social and behavioral sciences is currently so broad and interdisciplinary that staying abreast of developments has become a daunting task. The thirty papers that constitute Leading Edges in Social and Behavioral Science provide a unique composite picture of recent findings and promising new research opportunities within most areas of social and behavioral research. Prepared by expert scholars under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, these timely and well-documented reports define research priorities for an impressive range of topics: Part I: Mind and Brain Part II: Behavior in Social Context Part III: Choice and Allocation Part IV: Evolving Institutions Part V: Societies and International Orders Part VI: Data and Analysis
“An extraordinarily good synthesis from an amazing range of philosophical, legal, and technological sources . . . the book will appeal to legal academics and students, lawyers involved in e-commerce and cyberspace legal issues, technologists, moral philosophers, and intelligent lay readers interested in high tech issues, privacy, [and] robotics.”
—Kevin Ashley, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
As corporations and government agencies replace human employees with online customer service and automated phone systems, we become accustomed to doing business with nonhuman agents. If artificial intelligence (AI) technology advances as today’s leading researchers predict, these agents may soon function with such limited human input that they appear to act independently. When they achieve that level of autonomy, what legal status should they have?
Samir Chopra and Laurence F. White present a carefully reasoned discussion of how existing philosophy and legal theory can accommodate increasingly sophisticated AI technology. Arguing for the legal personhood of an artificial agent, the authors discuss what it means to say it has “knowledge” and the ability to make a decision. They consider key questions such as who must take responsibility for an agent’s actions, whom the agent serves, and whether it could face a conflict of interest.
Michael Jackson’s Lifeworlds is a masterful collection of essays, the culmination of a career aimed at understanding the relationship between anthropology and philosophy. Seeking the truths that are found in the interstices between examiner and examined, world and word, and body and mind, and taking inspiration from James, Dewey, Arendt, Husserl, Sartre, Camus, and, especially, Merleau-Ponty, Jackson creates in these chapters a distinctive anthropological pursuit of existential inquiry. More important, he buttresses this philosophical approach with committed empirical research.
Traveling from the Kuranko in Sierra Leone to the Maori in New Zealand to the Warlpiri in Australia, Jackson argues that anthropological subjects continually negotiate—imaginatively, practically, and politically—their relations with the forces surrounding them and the resources they find in themselves or in solidarity with significant others. At the same time that they mirror facets of the larger world, they also help shape it. Stitching the themes, peoples, and locales of these essays into a sustained argument for a philosophical anthropology that focuses on the places between, Jackson offers a pragmatic understanding of how people act to make their lives more viable, to grasp the elusive, to counteract external powers, and to turn abstract possibilities into embodied truths.
The Limits of History
Constantin Fasolt University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress D16.8.F328 2004 | Dewey Decimal 901
History casts a spell on our minds more powerful than science or religion. It does not root us in the past at all. It rather flatters us with the belief in our ability to recreate the world in our image. It is a form of self-assertion that brooks no opposition or dissent and shelters us from the experience of time.
So argues Constantin Fasolt in The Limits of History, an ambitious and pathbreaking study that conquers history's power by carrying the fight into the center of its domain. Fasolt considers the work of Hermann Conring (1606-81) and Bartolus of Sassoferrato (1313/14-57), two antipodes in early modern battles over the principles of European thought and action that ended with the triumph of historical consciousness. Proceeding according to the rules of normal historical analysis—gathering evidence, putting it in context, and analyzing its meaning—Fasolt uncovers limits that no kind of history can cross. He concludes that history is a ritual designed to maintain the modern faith in the autonomy of states and individuals. God wants it, the old crusaders would have said. The truth, Fasolt insists, only begins where that illusion ends.
With its probing look at the ideological underpinnings of historical practice, The Limits of History demonstrates that history presupposes highly political assumptions about free will, responsibility, and the relationship between the past and the present. A work of both intellectual history and historiography, it will prove invaluable to students of historical method, philosophy, political theory, and early modern European culture.
Lines of Descent
Kwame Anthony Espinosa Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress LB875.D83A67 2014 | Dewey Decimal 973.04960730092
W. E. B. Du Bois never felt so at home as when he was a student in Berlin. Germany was the first place white people had treated him as an equal. But anti-Semitism was prevalent, and Du Bois' challenge, says Kwame Anthony Appiah, was to take the best of German intellectual life without its parochialism--to steal the fire without getting burned.
We’re losing our culture… our heritage… our traditions… everything is being swept away.
Such sentiments get echoed around the world, from aging Trump supporters in West Virginia to young villagers in West Africa. But what is triggering this sense of cultural loss, and to what ends does this rhetoric get deployed?
To answer these questions, anthropologist David Berliner travels around the world, from Guinea-Conakry, where globalization affects the traditional patriarchal structure of cultural transmission, to Laos, where foreign UNESCO experts have become self-appointed saviors of the nation’s cultural heritage. He also embarks on a voyage of critical self-exploration, reflecting on how anthropologists handle their own sense of cultural alienation while becoming deeply embedded in other cultures. This leads into a larger examination of how and why we experience exonostalgia, a longing for vanished cultural heydays we never directly experienced.
Losing Culture provides a nuanced analysis of these phenomena, addressing why intergenerational cultural transmission is vital to humans, yet also considering how efforts to preserve disappearing cultures are sometimes misguided or even reactionary. Blending anthropological theory with vivid case studies, this book teaches us how to appreciate the multitudes of different ways we might understand loss, memory, transmission, and heritage.