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Dawn M Wilson, , . Facing the Camera: Self-portraits of Photographers as Artists
2012, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70(1): 56-66.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Introduction: Self-portrait photography presents an elucidatory range of cases for investigating the relationship between automatism and artistic agency in photography – a relationship that is seen as a problem in the philosophy of art. I discuss self-portraits by photographers who examine and portray their own identities as artists working in the medium of photography. I argue that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is radically different from previous visual arts.In Section I, I explain why self-portraiture offers a way to address the apparent conflict between automatism and agency that is debated in the philosophy of art. In Section II, I explain why mirrors play an important function in the production of a traditional self-portrait. In Sections III and IV, I discuss how photographers may create self-portraits with and without the use of mirrors to show how photography offers unique and important new forms of self-portraiture.

Comment: Argues that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is radically different from previous visual arts. Demonstrates that automatism need not stand in competition or conflict with artistic agency.

Artworks to use with this text:

Ilse Bing, Self-portrait with Leica (1931)

It is usual for portraits to show a person’s head either in profile or in a frontal position, but this self-portrait shows both alternatives simultaneously. It also depicts the presence of two mirrors in such a way that we are in a position to judge that the camera has recorded its own reflection. Thus, we see both the face of the artist and the “face” of the camera: it is a double self-portrait.

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Kuhse, Helga, , . Critical Notice: Why Killing Is Not Always Worse – and Is Sometimes Better – Than Letting Die
1998, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 7 (4):371-374.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The philosophical debate over the moral difference between killing and letting die has obvious relevance for the contemporary public debate over voluntary euthanasia. Winston Nesbitt claims to have shown that killing someone is, other things being equal, always worse than allowing someone to die. But this conclusion is illegitimate. While Nesbitt is correct when he suggests that killing is sometimes worse than letting die, this is not always the case. In this article, I argue that there are occasions when it is better to kill than to let die

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Lynch, Kate E., , . Heritability and causal reasoning
2017, Biology & Philosophy 32: 25–49.
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Hannah Rubin

Abstract: Gene–environment (G–E) covariance is the phenomenon whereby genetic differences bias variation in developmental environment, and is particularly problematic for assigning genetic and environmental causation in a heritability analysis. The interpretation of these cases has differed amongst biologists and philosophers, leading some to reject the utility of heritability estimates altogether. This paper examines the factors that influence causal reasoning when G–E covariance is present, leading to interpretive disagreement between scholars. It argues that the causal intuitions elicited are influenced by concepts of agency and blame-worthiness, and are intimately tied with the conceptual understanding of the phenotype under investigation. By considering a phenotype-specific approach, I provide an account as to why causal ascriptions can differ depending on the interpreter. Phenotypes like intelligence, which have been the primary focus of this debate, are more likely to spark disagreement for the interpretation of G–E covariance cases because the concept and ideas about its ‘normal development’ relatively ill-defined and are a subject of debate. I contend that philosophical disagreement about causal attributions in G–E covariance cases are in essence disagreements regarding how a phenotype should be defined and understood. This moves the debate from one of an ontological flavour concerning objective causal claims, to one concerning the conceptual, normative and semantic dependencies.

Comment: This paper discusses difficulties for determining whether traits like intelligence are heritable, drawing on philosophical work regarding causal intuitions. It’s accessible enough to use in a lower-level undergraduate course, but also generates good discussion in a graduate level course. It could be used to further a discussion about the nature of genes or in a discussion of philosophy of race/gender from a biological perspective.

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Mackenzie, Catriona (ed.), , Stoljar, Natalie (ed.). Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Automony, Agency, and the Social Self
2000, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: This collection of original essays explores the social and relational dimensions of individual autonomy. Rejecting the feminist charge that autonomy is inherently masculinist, the contributors draw on feminist critiques of autonomy to challenge and enrich contemporary philosophical debates about agency, identity, and moral responsibility. The essays analyze the complex ways in which oppression can impair an agent’s capacity for autonomy, and investigate connections, neglected by standard accounts, between autonomy and other aspects of the agent, including self-conception, self-worth, memory, and the imagination.

Comment: All but one of the papers in this volume are writtn by underrepresented authors.
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McIntosh, Esther, , . John Macmurray’s Religious Philosophy: What It Means to Be a Person
2011, Routledge.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Esther McIntosh

Publisher’s Note: Recent dissatisfaction with individualism and the problems of religious pluralism make this an opportune time to reassess the way in which we define ourselves and conduct our relationships with others. The philosophical writings of John Macmurray are a useful resource for performing this examination, and recent interest in Macmurray’s work has been growing steadily.
A full-scale critical examination of Macmurray’s religious philosophy has not been published and this work fills this gap, sharing his insistence that we define ourselves through action and through person-to-person relationships, while critiquing his account of the ensuing political and religious issues. The key themes in this work are the concept of the person and the ethics of personal relations.

Comment: There are hardly any women working on the concept of the person or on Macmurray’s philosophy. As well as being of use for modules on personhood, this book is useful for philosophy of religion, philosophy of education, feminist ethics and theology.

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Nida-Rümelin, Martine, , . Freedom and the Phenomenology of Agency
2018, Erkenntnis 83 (1):61-87.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Abstract: Free action and microphysical determination are incompatible but this is so only in virtue of a genuine conflict between microphysical determination with any active behavior. I introduce active behavior as the veridicality condition of agentive experiences and of perceptual experiences and argue that these veridicality conditions are fulfilled in many everyday cases of human and non-human behavior and that they imply the incompatibility of active behavior with microphysical determination. The main purpose of the paper is to show that the view proposed about active behavior leads to a natural compromise between libertarianism and compatibilism, which avoids the flaws of both positions while preserving their central insights.

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Steward, Helen, , . A Metaphysics for Freedom
2012, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: A metaphysics for freedom argues that determinism is incompatible with agency itself–not only the special human variety of agency, but also powers which can be accorded to animal agents. It offers a distinctive, non-dualistic version of libertarianism, rooted in a conception of what biological forms of organisation might make possible in the way of freedom.

Comment: Specific chapters (e.g. 1 and 4) would be useful for an advanced philosophy of mind/action course, but also it could be really nice to read the whole book in a dedicated Masters course – reading and discussing one chapter per seminar. Chapter 1 is especially useful because it outlines Steward’s position, ‘agency incompatibilism’ which it could be useful to have students discuss and compare with classical compatibilism and incompatibilism. Chapter 4 is also a great one to use because it discusses animal agency – this could perhaps come towards the end of an intermediate philosophy of mind course – once students have already learned something about agency when considered in relation to humans.

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Steward, Helen, , . The Truth in Compatibilism and the Truth of Libertarianism
2009, Philosophical Explorations 12 (2):167 – 179.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Will Hornett

Abstract: The paper offers the outlines of a response to the often-made suggestion that it is impossible to see how indeterminism could possibly provide us with anything that we might want in the way of freedom, anything that could really amount to control, as opposed merely to an openness in the flow of reality that would constitute the injection of chance, or randomness, into the unfolding of the processes which underlie our activity. It is suggested that the best first move for the libertarian is to make a number of important concessions to the compatibilist. It should be conceded, in particular, that certain sorts of alternative possibilities are neither truly available to real, worldly agents nor required in order that those agents act freely; and it should be admitted also that it is the compatibilist who tends to give the most plausible sorts of analyses of many of the ‘can’ and ‘could have’ statements which seem to need to be assertible of those agents we regard as free. But these concessions do not bring compatibilism itself in their wake. The most promising version of libertarianism, it is argued, is based on the idea that agency itself (and not merely some special instances of it which we might designate with the honorific appellation ‘free’) is inconsistent with determinism. This version of libertarianism, it is claimed, can avoid the objection that indeterminism is as difficult to square with true agential control as determinism can sometimes seem to be.

Comment: Steward’s paper is an innovative response to a classic problem for libertarianism in the free will debate. It should be taught in any Free Will module which deals with libertarianism and luck.

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Tsai, George, , . Rational Persuasion as Paternalism
2014, Philosophy and Public Affairs 42(1): 78-112.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Content: Tsai argues that offering another agent reasons can sometimes count as paternalism when it is motivated by distrust of the other’s agency, conveys this lack of confidence, and intervenes in the target’s sphere of agency.

Comment: Best suited as further or specialised reading on paternalism and agency.
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Wiseman, Rachael, , . Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Anscombe’s Intention
2016, Routledge.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Will Hornett

Publisher’s Note: G. E. M. Anscombe’s Intention is a classic of twentieth-century philosophy. The work has been enormously influential despite being a dense and largely misunderstood text. It is a standard reference point for anyone engaging with philosophy of action and philosophy of psychology.

In this Routledge Philosophy GuideBook, Rachael Wiseman situates Intention in relation to Anscombe’s moral philosophy and philosophy of mind considers the influence of Aquinas, Aristotle, Frege, and Wittgenstein on the method and content of Intention adopts a structure for assessing the text that shows how Anscombe unifies the three aspects of the concept of intention considers the influence and implications of the piece whilst distinguishing it from subsequent work in the philosophy of action

Ideal for anyone wanting to understand and gain a perspective on Elizabeth Anscombe’s seminal work, this guide is an essential introduction, useful in the study of the philosophy of action, ethics, philosophy of psychology and related areas.

Comment: Wiseman’s guidebook is essential reading for a course directly on Anscombe’s work and chapters or sections could be set alongside pieces by Anscombe. Early chapters could also be set for First Year introductory readings on Anscombe’s approach to the philosophy of action and her place in the history of philosophy.

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