A Talent for Friendship: Rediscovery of a Remarkable Trait

This lively, provocative text presents a new way to understand friendship. Professor John Terrell argues that the ability to make friends is an evolved human trait not unlike our ability to walk upright on two legs or our capacity for speech and complex abstract reasoning. Terrell charts how this trait has evolved by investigating two unique functions of the human brain: the ability to remake the outside world to suit our collective needs, and our capacity to escape into our own inner thoughts and imagine how things might and ought to be. The text is richly illustrated and written in an engaging style and will appeal to students, scholars, and general readers interested in anthropology, evolutionary and cognitive science, and psychology more broadly.

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Capabilities and Happiness

Few would dispute that the well-being of individuals is one of the most desirable aims of human actions. However, approaches on how to define, measure, evaluate, and promote well-being differ widely. The conventional economic approach takes income (or the power to acquire market goods) as the most important indicator for well-being, and the utility function as the formal device for positive and normative analysis. However, this approach to well-being has been questioned for being seriously limited and other approaches have arisen. The capability approach to well-being, which has been developed during the last two decades by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and the Happiness Approach to well-being, championed by Richard Easterlin, both provide an alternative. Both approaches come from different traditions and have developed independently, but nevertheless aim to overcome the rigid boundaries of the conventional economic approach to well-being. Given these common aims, it is surprising that little comparative work has been undertaken across these approaches. This book aims to correct this by providing the reader with contributions from leading names associated with both approaches, as well as contributions that evaluate the approaches and contrast one with the other.

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Reaching out to isolated older adults is essential during coronavirus

Older adults always need social connection, but they need it now more than ever. The novel coronavirus brings with it unprecedented fear and uncertainty. Vulnerable seniors need help. With face-to-face encounters discouraged, our society must develop creative strategies to help them connect.

As professors at the University of Washington, which is near the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, we study aging and the health concerns of older adults. There are a number of reasons they are more vulnerable: Those over 65 typically have more chronic conditions than younger people. An aging immune system makes it harder to fight off diseases, infections and viruses. Recoveries are usually slower and more complicated. Older adults – perhaps living alone, on a fixed income, no longer driving, unfamiliar with using public transportation, and with undiagnosed or poorly managed depression – might already be socially isolated. For millions of them, the risk of COVID-19 may amplify already-existing problems.

With that in mind, here are some ways to safely connect during this crisis with older family members, friends and neighbors.

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Social distancing comes with social side effects – how to stay connected

To fight the spread of coronavirus, government officials have asked Americans to swallow a hard pill: Stay away from each other.

In times of societal stress, such a demand runs counter to what evolution has hard-wired people to do: Seek out and support each other as families, friends, and communities. We yearn to huddle together. The warmth of our breath and bodies, of holding hands and hugging, of talking and listening, is a primary source of soothing. These connections are pivotal for responding to and maximizing our survival in times of stress.

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Self-Assembling Networks

We consider how an epistemic network might self-assemble from the ritualization of the individual decisions of simple heterogeneous agents. In such evolved social networks, inquirers may be significantly more successful than they could be investigating nature on their own. The evolved network may also dramatically lower the epistemic risk faced by even the most talented inquirers. We consider networks that self-assemble in the context of both perfect and imperfect communication and compare the behavior of inquirers in each. This provides a step in bringing together two new and developing research programs, the theory of self-assembling games and the theory of network epistemology.

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The personal nature of health

“Every man has his particular way of being in good health” – Emanuel Kant. Emanuel Kant’s description of health stands in stark contrast to accepted definitions of health. For example, the WHO defines ‘health’ as ‘a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. However, as people get on with day-to-day living, no one can achieve the goal of ‘complete physical, mental and social well-being’. It is odd to define ‘health’ as a negative state that puts it beyond the reach of everyone. This paper explores the idea of health being a personal state, health being the product of every man’s particular way of making sense of his particular circumstances.

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Cognitive Recycling

Theories in cognitive science, and especially cognitive neuroscience, often claim that parts of cognitive systems are reused for different cognitive functions. Philosophical analysis of this concept, however, is rare. Here, I first provide a set of criteria for an analysis of reuse, and then I analyze reuse in terms of the functions of subsystems. I also discuss how cognitive systems execute cognitive functions, the relation between learning and reuse, and how to differentiate reuse from related concepts like multi-use, redundancy, and duplication of parts. Finally, I illustrate how my account captures the reuse of dynamical subsystems as unveiled by recent research in cognitive neurobiology. This recent research suggests two different evolutionary justifications for reuse claims.

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Habermas: A Guide for the Perplexed

Jürgen Habermas’ work ranges across critical theory, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, the philosophy of science, citizenship, and democracy, religion, and psychoanalysis, forging new paradigms and engaging with other key thinkers. Habermas: A Guide for the Perplexed is the ideal starting point for anyone studying Habermas. It follows Habermas’s critical and philosophical project through all the stages of its development – the early critical theory, the linguistic turn, communicative action and discourse ethics, the theory of deliberative democracy-building up a complete overview of his work, and offering close and incisive analysis throughout.

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Women’s Activism, Feminism, and Social Justice

A wide range of issues besieges women globally, including economic exploitation, sexist oppression, racial, ethnic, and caste oppression, and cultural imperialism. This book builds a feminist social justice framework from practices of women’s activism in India to understand and work to overcome these injustices. The feminist social justice framework provides an alternative to mainstream philosophical frameworks that promote global gender justice: for example, universal human rights, economic projects such as microfinance, and cosmopolitanism. McLaren demonstrates that these frameworks are bound by a commitment to individualism and an abstract sense of universalism that belies their root neo-liberalism. Arguing that these frameworks emphasize individualism over interdependence, similarity over diversity, and individual success over collective capacity, McLaren draws on the work of Rabindranath Tagore to develop the concept of relational cosmopolitanism.

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A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil

What are our responsibilities in the face of injustice? How far should we go to fight it? Many would argue that as long as a state is nearly just, citizens have a moral duty to obey the law. Proponents of civil disobedience generally hold that, given this moral duty, a person needs a solid justification to break the law. But activists from Henry David Thoreau and Mohandas Gandhi to the Movement for Black Lives have long recognized that there are times when, rather than having a duty to obey the law, we have a duty to disobey it. Taking seriously the history of this activism, A Duty to Resist wrestles with the problem of political obligation in real-world societies that harbor injustice. Candice Delmas argues that the duty of justice, the principle of fairness, the Samaritan duty, and political association impose responsibility to resist under conditions of injustice. We must expand the political obligation to include a duty to resist unjust laws and social conditions even in legitimate states. For Delmas, this duty to resist demands principled disobedience, and such disobedience need not always be civil. At times, covert, violent, evasive, or offensive acts of lawbreaking can be justified, even required. Delmas defends the viability and necessity of illegal assistance to undocumented migrants, leaks of classified information, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, sabotage, armed self-defense, guerrilla art, and other modes of resistance. There are limits: principle alone does not justify lawbreaking. But uncivil disobedience can sometimes be not only permissible but required in the effort to resist injustice.

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