Aristotle tells us that the Nicomachean Ethics (= NE ) is an “inquiry” and an “investigation” ( methodos and zētēsis , see NE 1094b10–11, 1102a12–15). One important way that the work comprises an investigation is that it is a prolonged search for the definition of
Many historians and philosophers of logic have claimed that during the 19th century, before Gottlob Frege’s Begriffsschrift (1879), there was a long period of stagnation or even of decline in the field of logic. The aim of this book is to show that such an evaluation of 19th century logic is misdirected and needs to be corrected. A Hundred Years of Logical Investigations discusses both philosophical and mathematical efforts to reform logic in Germany from Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1781) up to Frege’s Begriffsschrift (1879). Amongst others, J.F. Herbart, M.W. Drobisch, G.W.F. Hegel, F.A. Trendelenburg, R. Graßmann, and E. Schröder are discussed in addition to Kant and Frege with regard to their thoughts about the place, the task, and the justification of logic not only as a philosophical discipline, but also as a formal and fundamental theory of science.
One oft the most fascinating abilities of humans is the ability to become conscious of the own physical and mental states. In this systematic investigation of self-consciousness, a representational theory is developed that is able to distinguish between different levels of self-consciousness. The most basic levels are already present in such simple animals as ants. From these basic forms, which are also relevant for adult human self-consciousness, high-level self-consciousness including self-knowledge can arise. Thereby, the theory is not only able to integrate developmental considerations but also to sharply distinguish different aspects of the complex phenomenon self-consciousness. Pathological breakdowns of these different aspects, as they can be found in schizophrenia, are explained by specific impairments on different levels of self-representation. In this way, the work shows that a naturalistic theory of self-consciousness is possible, if the analysis starts with very simple and basic mechanisms instead of starting on the 'top of the iceberg'.
Radical life extension is the direct and intentional extension of the maximum human life span through hypothetical biotechnologies. Although no such technologies do currently exist, it is imperative to analyze whether they should be developed because they could have considerable effects on individuals and societal structures. This book provides a comprehensive ethical analysis of radical life extension by investigating its possible influence on human welfare. Effects resulting from the actions of isolated individuals, such as the satisfaction or frustration of certain desires, are taken into account as well as collective effects, such as an increased trend towards overpopulation. Topics that are not directly related to human welfare are covered as well, for example, human nature and human dignity, the right to life, and the relationship between aging and the meaning of life. The book concludes with an outline of policy recommendations for future research on life extension technologies.
How do we understand other people’s minds? This question has been discussed intensively in the theory of mind debate. ‘Theory of mind’ is defined as the capacity to attribute mental states to oneself and to others and to make use of that capacity in behavior understanding. This book offers a critical analysis of a variety of tasks that have been conducted to investigate the development of a theory of mind in children. The heart of the book is a pluralistic account of social understanding. Rather than relying on a default procedure of social understanding (e.g., theory or simulation), individuals understand the behavior of another person in various ways dependent on their cognitive competencies and the socio-situational context. As a rule of thumb, individuals are prone to make use of that procedure that is cognitively least effortful to them in a given context. Covering a wide range of studies, the implications of the pluralistic account are discussed with respect to culture and psychopathology. Finally, the book points to the role that social interaction may play in social understanding.
Scepticism, the view that knowledge is impossible, threatens our conception of ourselves as epistemic subjects as much as it endangers our conception of the external world. The book develops a modal account of knowledge and provides an answer to scepticism based on a detailed examination of the main sceptical argument. It discusses prominent contemporary theories of knowledge, in particular safety and sensitivity theories, and shows that they cannot handle Gettier-type examples of a new kind. An alternative analysis of knowledge in terms of relevantly normal possibilities is developed. The sceptical argument addressed aims to show that we cannot know ordinary things because we cannot rule out that we are in a sceptical scenario. Classical responses, like dogmatism, non-closure theories, and epistemic contextualism, are explored and rejected as unnecessary for a refutation of the sceptical argument. A detailed investigation reveals, first, that the failure to know that we are not in a sceptical scenario does not conflict with ordinary knowledge, but only with knowledge that we know, and, second, that we can indeed know that we are not in a sceptical scenario. It is therefore claimed not only that we know, but also that we know that we know.