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Date Created: 01/22/15
PHIL 110 The Importance of Classification 1 Essentialism Q What is an essence Q It is what makes that thing a thing I EX the function of a molecular structure or a physical structure 0 Conditions for Essentialism O 1 Each entity has an essential feature that makes it the kind of entity that is it The specific characteristics that makes the thing its specific identity 0 2 Universal amp Uniqueness gt All and Only 0 3 The essence explainspredicts the behaviors of the members of the categories 0 The role of an essence 0 Essence regarding human nature can provide morals which can help distinguish between good and bad actions 2 Cluster Analysis 0 Criteria for cluster analysis 0 Entities can share similar traits but none of them has to be essen aL 0 Conditions for cluster analysis 0 Cluster analysis does not require a natural essence 0 Major differences with essentialism O Essentialism categorized entities with their natural essence of an entity whereas cluster analysis tries to find similarities between entities without any of them being essential 3 Historical Approaches 0 Criteria for historical approaches 0 Historical approaches is based on the idea of causal relationship An example would be evolution 0 Major difference with essentialism amp cluster analysis 0 Essentialism and cluster analysis both categorize based on similarities that are seen in present time whereas historical approaches categorizes based on causal relationship or how entities are related together and create an essence for each other through time Essentialist Theories of Human Nature 4 Aristotle Forms of a good life pleasure honor reason 0 Pleasure Aristotle denies living life with pleasure in a good life because other animals also tries to pursue pleasure If living a good life is to live a life of pleasure then Aristotle argues humans are no different than cattles 0 Honor Aristotle does not believe living with honor is a good life because honor is not something that is within but is dictated by other s opinion 0 Reason Aristotle believes this is the ultimate form of a good life 0 The Human Function Argument structure of the argument 0 This argument begins with the premise of all action comes to an end that is good For example a knife is a good knife if it can cut well A good shipmaker is a shipmaker that can build ships well Now we apply this to what is means to live a good life Aristotle being an essentialist states that the natural essence of human is the ability to rationalize Therefore to live a good life is to live a rational life To live virtuously according to reason 0 Role of an Essentialist Conception of Human Nature ethical and political 0 Ethical Essentialist conception tells us to live a rational life 0 Political Aristotle creates a moral community based on essentialism which justifies how certain people are superior to others and how animals can be treated poorly 0 Impact of Moral Theories based on Human Nature Q It only puts white males in the moral community and disregards other people from the moral community such as females and slaves 5 Natural Law Theory Harris 0 Two Distinctions DescriptivePrescriptive amp Natural Conventional 0 Descriptive What it is logical base 0 Prescriptive What is should be ethical base 0 Natural applies equally to all humans Natural laws like gravity Happens to everyone 0 Conventional applies to certain humans that have a certain belief and are part of a particular society Conventional laws of government only pertain to certain people Muslims not eating pork 0 Human Nature and Human Values 0 Human nature is the natural inclination we all experiencethe standarddoesn t look at the individual but captures the community as a whole while human values allows us to complete our natural inclinationsreflections of human nature Examplegt living a life based on love truth and dignity 0 Absolute Values Life Procreation Knowledge Sociability 0 Life We need to preserve life Cannot put someone elses life before another one we and all animals have to protect our kind 0 Procreation Humans are suppose to create offspring we have to engage in intercourse we have an obligation to bear children 0 Knowledge Not morally right to refuse education naturally we seek the knowledge of God obligation to pursue O Sociability As Humans we are social creatures we need to seek friends and acceptance from society need affection and love from others 0 Human Nature Ethical Decision Framework link between Moral Principles amp Values 0 Natural Law theory suggests we all live according to the absolute values since Natural Law theory believes there are certain moral rules like there are scientific laws 0 Ethical Decision Framework meant to provide a mental standard on how to access the morality of our actions 0 Principle of forfeiture forfeits the right to be treated a certain way when they do not treat others the same way Ex applying the death penalty to a murderer 0 Double effect a situation with an outcome of both a negative and positive takeaway simultaneously justified if 1 the intent of the act was good 2 the outcome provides a good effect 3 the good outweighs the bad 6 The Animal Ethics Challenge to an Essentialist View of Human Nature Peter Singer Q Is all human life valuable Is all human life equaly valuable 0 Singer challenges the view of how all humans are equal He believes there should be a hierarchy based on cognitive abilities Singer argues that if humans are top of the moral hierarchy because of intelligence then the hierarchy is flawed because not all humans possess such cognitive abilities There are other animals that can demonstrate higher cognitive skills than people with mental disability therefore Singer argues those animals should be higher up in the hierarchy Q Speciesism bias to humans thinking we re the best species 0 Singer argues speciesism is not enough to justify superiority of humans is no different than other forms of discrimination such as racism and seXIsm Q Graduated View to Moral Status 0 Singer argues hierarchy of moral status should be based on cognitive ability 0 This would not give equal status to all humans Cluster Theories of Human Nature 7 Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations 0 The notion of family resemblance 0 Family resemblance is where entities are categorized based on their similarities O Overlapping network similarities by Classification amp Disjunction series of or 0 Family resemblance and inclusiveness O The problem with family resemblance is that if entities are categorized by the smallest similarity anything can be anything and categorizing itself would become meaningless O Porous boundaries Draw lineslimits where you need 0 Arbitrary 0 Family resemblance and vagueness how to make concepts more precise O vague is more precise by drawing a line for special purposes 0 non rigid amp porous boundary to a similar group of similar things that should belong to same family 0 To make concepts more precise Wittgenstein says to categorize entities by providing examples of that entity For example instead of giving a clear cut definition of what a game is we should give examples of games such as chess football or monopoly The finger pointing analogy 0 Human Nature as a family resemblance concept 0 Human nature should be based on what is general among most humans and should not be normative at the same time For example just because some people don t have legs doesn t make them inhuman or bad Historical Approaches to Human Nature 8 Darwin s The Descent ofMan Q The Argument for the Evolution of our Intellectual and Moral Faculties 5 steps 1 Emotions and Higher Fitness acquire instinctive feeling to interact socially Tribes that contain caringsympathetic members who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others will strive 2 The Challenge of the Free Rider sociability and cooperation with others increasing through natural selection and survival of the fittest People who are selfish should be more successful rather than people who will sacrifice themselves for others Therefore natural selection cannot explain morality 3 Learn Reciprocity receiving and giving aide these habits tend to be inherited Humans eventually learn reciprocity pays off 4 Praise and Blame the capacity to feel and be compelled People are praised when they do something errgood for others and gets punished when done something bad 5 Foundation of Morality do good unto others as they should unto you Society begins to construct morality based on the idea of good people being praised and to stay away from bad people 0 The Social Implications of Evolution the Fundamental Assumption behind Eugenics RacismSexism 0 Social darwinism argues that the stronger group of people should survive and there shouldn t be laws because laws protect the weak This would justify the holocaust and the eugenics movement in Germany 0 Genetic determinism argues that our genes dictates who we are and our abilities If you are stupid then it would be because of your genes 0 assumption since differences between individuals are inscribed in our own DNA it is assumed that this makes some individuals races and sexes inferior Social Constructivist Notions of Human Nature The Case of Race and Sexualitv 9 Henry Bracken Essence Accident Race 0 Conceptual Sources of Racism Empiricism vs Rationalism O Empiricism Idea of how the senses are the best way to know something For example you know the truth because you can see it or feel it Q Rationalism Idea of how the rational mind is the best way to know something 0 Empiricism amp the Expert Position Power 0 Empiricism creates room for experts who create theories about humans and those theories are used to justify racism 0 Historical Examples of experts arguing for the racial differences 0 Development of brain in black children after puberty Because there is a premature closing in the skull it does not allow intelligence to increase beyond puberty O Linguistic imperialism Because white people thought their language was more complex than the other countries they thought they were supenon Q How other races look more apelike 10 Foucault The Perverse Implantation Sexuality and Human Nature 0 Emergence of a World of Perversions Peripheral Sexualities 0 During 19th century society created normality in sexual activity 0 Society declared monogamous heterosexual relationship was normal and anything that deviates from that is considered not normal 0 The Four Functions Operations of Power 0 1 lnfantile Sexualityfought against this as if it was a disease It was unnatural for a young child to masturbate this was perverted O 2 New individuals being formed this allowed the identity of a person to be their sexual identity 3 Dysfunction Symptom Pleasure Power Sexuality was a medical object Dysfunctions to be found either into the depths of the organism or on the surface of the skin or among all the signs of behavior 4 Devices of sexual saturation Became possible to analyze any human interaction in sexual terms 0 The Social Construction of Homosexuality O The only way someone could be a homosexual is if they suffered a degree of sexual perversion such as biological abnormality brain did not develop correctly or induced by early childhood masturbation Existentialism and Human Nature 11 Sartre Existentialism is a Humanism 0 Existence precedes essence Q We are responsible for our purpose 0 we produce our own essence Human nature through our actions 0 Existence comes before essence We find out our essence or who we are after we are born Therefore there are no such thing as a predestined life 0 God does not exist Implications on Morality O No ultimate judge if God doesn t exist then everything is permissible There is no absolute right or wrong 0 Because Sartre is an atheist he does not believe in god Given this because god does not exist humans have no moral guidelines from god 0 Responsibility andArbitrary Choices 0 Anxiety because we are fully responsible O No excuses places that burden entirely on our shoulders 0 Fully responsible for our existence our actions decide who we become We decide who we become reality alone counts 0 Because there is no God to decide for us what is good or bad we have to make decisions on our own and interact with one another through the real world For example if someone has done something bad that action is bad not because God said so but because other people didn t think it was a bad action 12 Beauvoir The Second Sex 0 The Myth of Woman Definition amp Aspects of the Myth 0 1 Static Myth There are two classes of sexes male and female I Each gender has their own gender role I It is descriptive as well as prescriptive O 2 Unfalsifiable Myth can t be contradicted by behavior of flesh amp blood women 0 3 lndisputable Myth beyond the given it is the absolute truth 0 4 The Feminine Myth man who does not understand a women is happy to substitute an objective resistance for a subjective deficiency of the mind and thus men find in mystery an alibi that flatters laziness vanity at once I Because society runs around males anything males find odd is considered as mysterious l Beauvoir argues this is just laziness from men of trying to understand women 0 Femininity and its Relation to FleshandBlood Women what is flesh amp blood women 0 unfalsifiable contradicted by behavior of flesh and blood women Q If a woman acts like a man and goes against the static myth then she is at fault and it does not disprove the static myth The idea of femininity still exist 0 The Political Role of the Myth 0 Justifies the inequality as well as the privileges that men receive Q It helps justify the suppression and discrimination towards women It allows men to be superior over women Human Nature and Feminism 13 Nancy Holmstrom quotDo Women Have a Distinct Naturequot 0 Conceptual Methodological Ontological Concerns about the question Do Women Have a Distinct Nature 0 Conceptual most concepts are cluster concepts 0 Methodological Inquire whether if physical difference actually does put men and women into different social roles O Ontological concerns psychological difference is social in origin which can be changed Ex Just because females have the ability to bear children does not make them the primary caregivers of children 0 Sexdifferentiated female nature and its relation to social roles 0 Because there are no statistically significant psychological difference between males and females Social roles are the result of society not to do with real differences between malesfemales Q Psychological differences are mainly social in origin 0 Although there are differences between males and females when it comes to physical strength when it comes to psychological differences there aren t many differences For example females can be just as or even more aggressive than males or there are females that surpass males in math 0 Because there are not as many hard evidence of psychological difference between men and women the fact that there is a difference must come from social reasons lnteractionist Notions of Human Nature 14 S Oyama Essentialism Women amp War Protesting too much Protesting too little 0 An Unlikely Encounter Feminism amp Essentialism reasons 0 Women are more nurturing Women are against war 0 The Lumping of Important Distinctions definitional crossspecies developmental levels of analysis 0 Oyama is arguing against lumping O Lumping is defined as stereotyping by putting it all on nature or all on nurture O definitional behavior feelings intentions are effects of aggression This means that if someone is aggressive they will always have aggressive feelings and intentions 0 cross species not the only species that are aggressive ex male monkeys are aggressive thus all human males must be aggressive as well 0 developmental ie child rough and tumble play and teenagers delinquency not the same throughout someones life Society thinks you can link a fouryearold behaviors to a fortyyearolds but Oyama thinks this is false 0 levels of analysis the activity of nations is reductiver collapsed to the level of individuals Similar to reductionism Q Protesting too much argument amp Protesting too little argument 0 Human nature is not just defined by nurture or biology It is defined by both This argument says that we should reject the assumption of an essentialist 15 Lewontin Rose amp Kamin Not in Our Genes Biology Ideology and Human Nature 0 Reductionism amp Biological Determinism O Reductionism This states how each unit comes together to form a chain to create a whole For example a racist community is racist because the community contains racist people 0 Biological Determinism Argues human nature is fixed by our genes therefore human nature is unchangeable inevitable Uniquely defined by the constituents of the genes that make up an individual 0 New Conception of the Organism Dialectical Explanation O Dialectical Explanation challenges Reductionism and it states how each society is composed of individual person but also argues society is made by the interaction between people In other words people create society as well as society creates people Constant and active interpenetration of the organism with its environment 0 1 we shouldn t split culture and biology because connection is too interesting 0 2 properties of individual don t exist from random place yet the nature they come from is socialization we are designed to be social being so social interactions shape us as beings O 3 no correlation between genotype and environment culture and biology mind and body 0 Human Nature Elusive Concept 0 the idea that HN can t be confined to one school of thought HN is both biologically and socially constructed Human Nature amp Justice 16 Michael Foucault amp Noam Chomsky Human Nature Justice Vs Power 0 Innate Linguistic Structure of the Mind 0 Chomsky argues that humans especially children have an innate ability to acquire language Furthermore children have the ability to automatically learn rather than being taught language because of certain cognitive mechanism Q Fundamentally Creative Human Nature 0 Chomsky argues humans are creative because we are able to create millions of different sentences that we nev er seen through the use of language 0 there is something in our foundation that makes us creative 0 there is also a direct link between creativity and justice or our nature and justice Chomsky is a normativepolitics is linked to human nature 0 The Collective Construction of Human Knowledge 0 Foucault argues humans learn knowledge that are based on certain restriction and constraints made by society mainly the government Foucault further argues that human nature is constructed by external environments
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