Thursday, 12 September 2019

Publication Announcement: A Ne(uroEthics)w Book is Born!

 And I’m very pleased to say, it’s Open Access!

Neuroethics in Principle and Praxis
Edited by the one and only Denis Larrivee

With the conclusion of the Decade of the Brain and Decade of the Mind, neuroscience has advanced well beyond single neuron functions, and begun to investigate global properties that emerge from central nervous system operation. Core ethical issues for neural intervention, in consequence, now touch on concerns over how the individual as a whole may be affected. Central to these concerns is the fundamental value of the human being, which lends normative weight to questions, interventions, and practices influencing him or her. Yet, despite wide recognition of the crucial relevance of human value, the derivation of metaethical principles that underwrite this value is by no means uniformly agreed to. Why and how the human being is normatively privileged, accordingly, emerge as core questions that frame issues of ethical praxis. This book tackles this dissonance, and exposes the philosophical foundations that are rooting contemporary divisions in ethical approaches to intervention in the nervous system.

Download or order your hardcopy from

Or Tomorrow!

Sunday, 8 September 2019

2nd CFP: Inscriptions Vol. 3, No. 1

Mediatisation and Rivalry

Inscriptions, an international, peer-reviewed journal of contemporary thinking on philosophy, psychoanalysis and the arts, invites contributions to our upcoming issue Outsourced! Mediatisation and rivalry. We are particularly interested in texts that engage notions such as mediation/mediatisation, interpassivity, and mimetic rivalry, and/or further the thought of Slavoj Žižek, Wolfgang Schirmacher, and Rene Girard.
Please note that we are always open to well-crafted and skillfully written scholarly essays (1,500 to 3,000 words), interviews, reviews, short interventions, and opinion pieces that are topical to our mandate ( Prospective authors are encouraged to submit proposals for review prior to their writing/submitting entire full-length manuscripts. Include title, proposal (150 words), short biography, and institutional affiliation in your preliminary submission. All academic essays undergo double-blind peer review.

Deadline for proposals: September 15, 2019. CfP and submission instructions: 

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Torgeir Fjeld
Editor-in-Chief, Inscriptions

Sunday, 1 September 2019

In the Sphere of the Personal: Foreword by Thomas O. Buford

The late and very much lamented Tom Buford, a good friend and a great philosopher, kindly wrote this Foreword for the collection In the Sphere of the Personal: New Perspectives in the Philosophy of Persons, which James Beauregard and I edited back in 2016. 


Personalism has deep roots both in India and in the Western world. In the West its roots lie in the theological controversies in Christianity. There the word ‘person’ came into use when speaking of the three persons of the Trinity. Soon it was used when speaking of individual humans created by God and, bearing God's image, acquiring a dignity not possessed by any other creature. As thought continued and Western science developed, the theological understanding of nature and persons was deeply undercut. It was in this context that Personalism formed to combat what became known as Impersonalism. The latter presented itself in two forms, a substructure such as materialism, as in the hands of Samuel Alexander, or a superstructure, such as Absolute Being or God whose nature manifests itself in all found within it and to which all else, including persons, is subordinated. Spinoza’s thought is a case in point. Over a period of time, grand metaphysical systems lost their appeal, and philosophers became influenced by scientific developments in brain sciences and mental health, in language studies, and political developments that subordinate persons and their freedom to the state, as in totalitarian systems. Such developments also called for rethinking the nature of the person.

Since the formation of the International Forum on Persons, philosophers have presented a plethora of papers, whose central focus has been to defeat Impersonalism in all its forms, and to gain a clearer understanding of persons. Those papers have come from many fields of study, including Philosophy, Political Science, Linguistics, Psychology, and Physics. In this book, we find a wide range of topics, similar to previous meetings of the International Forum. Occasionally, a paper appears that attempts a new formulation of a classic aspect of Personalism. Such a case is Burgos’ search for a full epistemology, which he believes has not been done by Personalists in any thoroughgoing manner. He references Borden Parker Bowne’s Personalism and ignores A Theory of Thought and Knowledge, which is a full account of Personalist epistemology, deeply influenced by Kant. Burgos, on the other hand, is building within Thomism and ultimately Aristotle. From that perspective, he provides a new formulation and is to be congratulated. Regarding a new formulation of persons, Richard Prust continues to develop a theory rooted in resolve. Thus, making an original contribution. These strengths are offset by the omission of transhumanism, and global bioethics. Obviously, no conference can cover all topics, and we can hope that in future conferences, many more of significant contemporary importance will be addressed.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Book Review: In the Sphere of the Personal

August is nearly over and the International Conference on Persons has come and gone for another year, or rather two years. In view of that, I thought I might share with you this review of the first ICP collection, one that James Beauregard and I put together in 2016, following the Boston conference. I do so, purely because the sun is shining, the birds are signing, and we all like to feel appreciated once in a while. Best of all, it has a foreword by one of the great American philosophers, and a very dear friend, Thomas O. Buford. I shall try to post that too, in the near future.
In case anyone is wondering, the book is still very available, both from Vernon Press and Amazon.

by John F. Hofbauer
Review:  In the Sphere of the Personal:  New Perspectives in the Philosophy of Persons (Edited by Simon Smith and James Beauregard)

Simon Smith and James Beauregard had the daunting task of editing and encapsulating the varied spectrum of divergent viewpoints that structure what could be loosely called the “philosophy of persons.”  On the one hand, this book certainly relishes traditional understandings of personhood (e.g., Burgos), with all the consolations that a solid metaphysical grounding brings to these orthodox positions.  On the other hand, the book does well not to flinch from confronting the brave new world of perspectives (e.g., Larrivee’s “Neuroethics and Impersonalism”) that have the potential to eradicate any normalized conception of “person” entirely.  Here, coldly logical conclusions present themselves with frightening clarity and force:  the supplantation of the human person with eugenically designed “enhanced” human specimens hearkens in the specter of an existence where basic human rights have no real metaphysical, epistemological, or ethical grounding in the transcendent.
For the record, Simon Smith’s and James Beauregard’s introduction is, by itself, worth the purchase price of this book.  For it effectively polishes the fine art of balancing a comprehensive synopsis of the book’s contents, while, at the same time, providing a logically compelling critique of any reductionist viewpoints that might eventually lead one to a Socratic absurdity.  The introduction, in an admirably nuanced fashion, bravely pounces upon the blatant, self-refuting, and ironic positions that utilize self-evident, personal capacities (powers) to impotently refute the very existence of these obvious powers, or of any distinguishable, personal experiences that persist over time.