Volume 03 Abstracts

Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 1996

A Feminist Interpretation of Vulnerability
Nancy J. Annaromao
Under patriarchy, the rationally autonomous agent engages in contractual relations in a marketplace society. The contractual model reinforces a negative conception of the vulnerable as weak and as susceptible to injury and exploitation. Recent feminist writing has a positive notion of vulnerability that is in conflict with contractualism. Positive notions of vulnerability, the paper argues, are found in Virginia Held’s conception of mothering, Nel Noddings’ analysis of teaching, and Annette Baier’s development of trust as essential for social relationships.

The Teaching of Ethics
Mark J. Doorley
The most important philosophy course that contemporary undergraduates may take is ethics. Concerned with how to live a human life, ethics becomes ever more urgent as life unfolds. As the teacher, a philosopher likely wonders about the interaction in the classroom. This paper explores that interaction. Taking a cue from Aristotle, it is argued that the teaching of ethics is an invitation to self-reflection and self-responsibility, more so than a passing on of a set of ethical principles or laws.

Epistemology of Technology Assessment: Collingridge, Forecasting Methodologies, and Technological Control
Cassandra L. Pinnick
This paper criticizes Collingridge’s arguments against an epistemology of technological control. Collingridge claims that because prediction mechanisms are inadequate, his “dilemma of control” demonstrates that the sociopolitical impact of new technologies cannot be forecasted, and that, consequently, policy makers must concentrate their control measures on minimizing the costs required to alter entrenched technologies. I argue that Collingridge does not show on either horn that forecasting is impossible, and that his criticisms of forecasting methods are self-defeating for they undercut his positive case for the control of entrenched technologies. Finally, I indicate an empirical base for forecasting risk that may define epistemic principles of technology assessment.

Sexual Activity, Consent, Mistaken Belief, and Mens Rea
Peg Tittle
The gendered subcultures of our society may have different value systems. Consequently, sexual activity that involves members of these subcultures may be problematic, especially concerning the encoding and decoding of consent. This has serious consequences for labelling the activity as sex or sexual assault. Conceiving consent not as a mental act but as a behavioural act (that is, using a performative standard) would eliminate these problems. However, if we remove the mental element from one aspect, then to be consistent we must remove it from all; and, as a result, the “mistaken belief” defense would be eliminated and mens rea would become insignificant (in other words, if what the woman means is irrelevant, then what the man believes or intends should also be irrelevant). This consequence suggests major changes to our current conceptions of legal justice, which changes, if undesirable, prompt reconsideration of the initial proposal to use a performative standard for consent.

Volume 3, Number 2, Summer 1996

Is Naturalized Epistemology Experientially Vacuous?
Michael G. Barnhart
By naturalized epistemology, I mean those views expressed by Nozick and Margolis among others who favor an evolutionary account of human rationality as an adaptive mechanism which is unlikely to provide the means of its own legitimization and therefore unlikely to produce a single set of rules or norms which are certifiably rational. Analyzing the likely relativism that stems from such a view, namely that there could be divergent standards of rationality under different historical or environmental conditions, I conclude that evolutionary epistemologies are unable to account for rationality as an experienced capacity on the part of human beings. After giving a few examples of what seem to me to be cases where we do experience a form of reason that appears antinomian, I challenge a naturalized view of mind to embrace and provide some sort of explanatory account of this kind of mental elasticity that it both seems to make room for and is certainly not unfamiliar to other philosophical perspectives such as that of Zen Buddhism.

Rethinking Wilderness: The Need for a New Idea of Wilderness.
Michael P. Nelson
The “received” concept of wilderness as a place apart from and untouched by humans is five-times flawed: it is not universalizable, it is ethnocentric, it is ecologically naive, it separates humans from nature, and its referent is nonexistent. The received view of wilderness leads to dilemmas and unpalatable consequences, including the loss of designated wilderness areas by political and legislative authorities. What is needed is a more flexible notion of wilderness. Suggestions are made for a revised concept of wilderness.

Toward a Feminist Revision of Research Protocols on the Etiology of Homosexuality.
Stephanie S. Turner
Examining the language and paradigms of science as rhetorical, that is, arising from the sociocultural forces that shape ideology, reveals androcentric assumptions that tend to thwart democratic public policy as well as effective methodology. This paper applies some recent feminist critiques of the biological sciences to the current research on the possible hormonal and genetic factors contributing to homosexuality, clarifying how this research perpetuates hierarchical binaries and suggesting ways to reconceptualize human sexuality through revised research protocols.

Incommensurable Differences: Cultural Relativism and Anti-rationalism Concerning Self and Other.
Joseph Wagner
This paper is a defense of rationalism and a critique of what I call anti-rationalist themes in postmodernist, feminist and multiculturalist thought. I use the term rationalism in its broad sense to identify an extensive set of philosophic assumptions rooted in the Enlightenment. Rationalism in this sense encompasses the empiricist, materialist and Kantian positions out of which modern analytic philosophy develops. In particular, this paper focuses on criticisms that treat rationality and attendant presumptions of objectivity as a Eurocentric form of ethnocentrism. These anti-rationalist concerns are often expressed in prescriptions for multiculturalism and complaints about Western logocentrism and insensitivity to the importance of difference, diversity, attunement, and other. The paper identifies central themes that reflect this anti-modern and anti-rationalist temper and argues that each embodies a deep irresolvable philosophic confusion. In developing this critique, I try to show that the Enlightenment project, properly understood, provides the best and most comprehensive groundings for declaiming and remedying the faults of ethnocentrism and prejudice.

Volume 3, Number 3, Fall 1996

Born to Affirm the Eternal Recurrence: Nietzsche, Buber, and Springsteen.
Jonathan R. Cohen
I argue that the Bruce Springsteen song “Born to Run” needs to be interpreted in light of–and thus gives evidence of a connection between–the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Buber. Along the way I give an in-depth reading of the Nietzschean doctrines of Eternal Recurrence and Overman as they emerge from Also Sprach Zarathustra, as well as a brief overview of Buber’s I and Thou.

Ethics and MIS Education
Matthew K. McGowan & Richard J. McGowan
In this paper, we document the need for an education in ethics in management information systems (MIS) curricula, identify the gap in current curricula materials for MIS, and propose material and an organization of material to include in MIS curricula. The paper contributes to the development of material on ethics for MIS curricula, and also advances the discussion between people educated in MIS and people educated in ethics.

Fragmented Selves and Loss of Community
Erin McKenna & J. Craig Hanks
In this paper we try to provide the beginning of an analysis of some of the crises of our time. We do so by arguing that a certain account of the individual blocks our ability to think about solutions at the individual and the social levels. As an example we take the industrialization of housework in the United States and its effects on women’s identity and on notions of “home.” We suggest that the rise of liberal individualism, the industrialization of public and private life, and the predomination of capitalism are central to the disintegration of the individual/self, and that they limit the possibilities of some to determine the content and direction of self change. We argue that a notion of self as integrated and in process is needed in order to address our rapidly changing world.

The Theory of Meaning: An Impasse
Abdur Razzaque
This paper endeavors to delineate the salient features of the theory of meaning and to show how meaning converges with metaphysics. For the British classical linguistic philosophers, meaning concerns only autonomous propositions, which allegedly in isolation clarify thought and facilitate understanding of language. But for the American philosophers W. V. O. Quine and Donald Davidson, meaning is inextricably related to human life and its problems. According to them, our experiences are interrelated and cannot be separated from one another. A statement cannot be meaningful in isolation; that is to say, it cannot have meaning without holistic connections and metaphysical presumptions.

Volume 3, Number 4, Winter 1996

The Supreme God in African (Igbo) Religious Thought
Egbeke Aja
From African ontology, religious experiences, myths of creation, and language, I argue that even though Africans (Igbo) conceive of supreme deities, none of the adjudged supreme deities is identifiable with the Supreme God propagated by Christian missionaries and theologians. To translate, therefore, the names of African deities, such as Chukwu or Chineke, to mean the God preached by Christians is to yoke to the Igbo religious thought the concept “creation out of nothing,” which is alien to traditional African cosmology. Such a translation will not only distort the architecture of traditional African religion, it will impose on the Igbo the recognition of a deity that would be beyond the reach of their standard reciprocity arrangements with their Gods. Moreover, throughout Igboland, no shrines are dedicated to the worship of an unknown God identifiable with that propagated by Christians.

I Married an Empiricist: A Phenomenologist Examines Philosophical Personae
Laura Duhan Kaplan
I suggest that philosophical writers should connect epistemological theorizing with life experience in order to explore the complex relationship between the two. The relationship of theory to experience does not fit the neat hierarchical model of a small number of general organizing principles giving form to or receiving form from a large mass of facts. Instead, as the narrative of my honeymoon and my life following it suggests, philosophical theories are one of the many genres of stories philosophers tell themselves in the process of creating and recreating personal identities and personae.

Liberalism and Consumerism
Roger Paden
Communitarians have argued that liberalism somehow causes or leads to a consumer society. Moreover, they have argued that consumer society is somehow morally suspect. Given the connection between liberalism and consumerism, they have argued that the moral problems they have found in consumer society give reason to oppose liberalism. In this paper, after defining “consumerism” and “liberalism,” I examine the various communitarian arguments against consumerism, and the various arguments that seek to connect liberalism to consumerism. I argue that only one of these arguments has any hope of establishing this connection.

Re-claiming Hestia: Goddess of Everyday Life.
Patricia J. Thompson
The concepts of “hearth and home” and “keeping the home fire burning” can be traced back to ancient Greece and are associated with the oikos. Such metaphors remain pervasive (if often disregarded) expressions in contemporary life. The goddess Hestia, identified as the “goddess of the hearth,” has been maligned in the patriarchal literature and ignored in feminist writing. This paper argues for re-visiting and re-claiming Hestia as a unifying principle in meeting the quotidian demands of everyday life. It suggests a new perspective for further philosophical exploration of the “private sphere” with special relevance for practical reasoning in the ethics and aesthetics involved in contemporary life.