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Friday, September 23, 2011

New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science

From now on, you will also see me over at New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science. I really look forward to being part of this excellent team of bloggers. You can read my first post here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Social Deviancy, the Law, and Society

By guest blogger Allison Gamble

Deviance and criminal behavior are closely linked concepts in modern thought, although they are not always the same in practice. While the average man on the street may assume deviant behavior is also criminal, in terms of forensic psychology this simply isn't the case. While the categories often overlap, it's possible to be a deviant without being a criminal, or to be a criminal without being socially deviant.

Deviant Behavior, Society, and Social Sanction

Deviant behavior violates what society considers acceptable, while criminal behavior violates the law of that society. The average person sees deviance as behavior not in accordance with the standards of “proper” behavior in society.

Social deviance may include any of the following behaviors:

• Refusing to respect social norms of polite behavior.
This can range from being rude to others to refusing to offer respect to social icons. In general, this sort of behavior brands adherents as standing outside what the majority sees as the acceptable bounds of social activity.

• Unpopular political or religious beliefs.
Minority social or political groups often fall into this category, especially during times of social or ethnic tension. Examples in the United States include abolitionist activists in the Antebellum South, as well as Catholics during the mid- and late-19th century.

• Defying normal class and gender roles.
Early feminists and civil rights advocates often found themselves accused of social deviancy for transgressing against the accepted standards of behavior as it applied to gender and ethnicity.

• Engaging in activities harmful to others.
Murder, theft, rape, and other transgressions that have a direct impact on others are almost universally regarded as both deviant and criminal.

• Criminal behavior.
Although not always the case, many individuals regard breaking the law as a deviant act in and of itself, regardless of the nature of the act. By breaking the law, an individual engages in a defiance of accepted standards of public behavior. However, this definition of deviancy is by no means universal, and a common attribute of unpopular laws is that the majority of the citizenry does not regard disobedience to be a sign of deviant behavior.

Thus, while socially deviant behavior can be criminal, not all criminal offenses are considered socially deviant. Especially in liberal societies, being socially deviant doesn't constitute criminal behavior.

Social Deviancy and Criminal Behavior

However, state and society both often ascribe social deviancy to criminals. In fact, being able to point to the social deviancy of crime is vital to securing the legitimacy of the law in the eyes of a people. Laws which aren't seen as curbing socially deviant behaviors often fail to gain acceptance. Laws that criminalize acts that are nearly universally regarded as socially deviant include laws against rape, pedophilia, murder, violent robbery, or fraud. While those accused of these crimes may deny guilt, they very seldom attempt to defend the acts themselves.

When a population isn't convinced a law enforces social norms, the law often fails. Perhaps the most dramatic example in recent history was Prohibition. Despite the best efforts of proponents, the majority of the population continued to consider alcohol socially acceptable, dooming Prohibition to eventual repeal.

At the other end of the spectrum, perceptions of social deviancy can lead to laws designed specifically to punish deviancy, even where it involves no harm to others. Nudity ordinances are an example of criminal statutes designed solely to enforce social norms and punish social deviants who defy them. Obscenity statues are much the same, and in fact the Supreme Court's approach to obscenity explicitly makes reference to community social standards when determining if something is deviant enough to be labeled obscene.

In these cases, individuals may have radically different opinions about the acceptable or deviant nature of the behavior in question. The legal dependence upon community standards and the average person’s interpretation of them make it clear that standards of social deviancy can vary widely from community to community. Unlike crimes such as murder, in these cases it's very difficult to achieve consensus as to what constitutes deviant behavior, and whether or not it should be criminalized. In the United States, such differences can divide states or even individual communities within those states.

Changing Times and Changing Definitions of Deviancy

This brings up a final factor: definitions of deviant and criminal behavior can change over time, impacting both social and criminal aspects of how behaviors are regarded by society. A number of behaviors, from same-sex relationships to the advocacy of reproductive rights, have been demonized and met with legal sanction. As definitions of deviance change, especially in the eyes of the average population, the relationship between the law and deviant behavior shifts as well.

In this way, both criminal and social standards of deviancy evolve over time, as does the average perception of what constitutes social and legal transgression. The two issues are tightly linked and will always affect each other through mutual influence.

Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing with

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CFP - McDowell Conference

The Inaugural Dorothy Edgington Lectures will be given by Professor John McDowell

March 2nd-3rd 2012, Birkbeck College

As well as giving two public lectures, John McDowell will lead a 2 day graduate workshop on the Epistemology of Perception. We invite submissions on this topic, from graduate and postgraduate students, to be presented at the workshop.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 15th November 2011


(1) Papers should be no more than 3,000 words

(including footnotes, excluding bibliography), to be presented in 30 minutes

(2) They should be prepared for blind refereeing

(3) They should include a cover-sheet, with the title, an abstract, your name, institution affiliation, and student status

(4) They should be formatted with 1.5 spacing, 10pt font, and saved as .pdfs, or .doc (not .docx)

(5) Send all submissions to:

Small student bursaries will be available for speakers who require assistance with travel costs.

Accommodation for student speakers will be available with members of the department.

Workshop registration is free for graduate students, but there are limited spaces - to register for either the workshop or the lectures email:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Perceptual Reports

I have uploaded a new version of my "Perceptual Reports" to my website. Here is the link.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Final Program for the 2011 Meeting of the Central States Philosophical Association

Program, Moonrise Hotel, St. Louis, September 15–17

All talks will take place at (across the street from the Moonrise Hotel):

Regional Arts Commission
6128 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO. 63112

Plenary Sessions

September 15, RAC- Conference Room C

5:00 Keynote Address: John Doris, Washington University
Chair: Berit Brogaard, UMSL

September 16, RAC- Conference Room C

4:00 Business Meeting and Presidential Address: Berit Brogaard, UMSL
“Intellectual Flourishing as the Fundamental Epistemic Norm”
Chair: Paul Weirich, University of Missouri

5:00-7:00 Reception, Moonrise Rooftop

September 17, RAC- Conference Room C

5:00 Keynote Address: John Hawthorne, University of Oxford
Chair: Berit Brogaard, UMSL

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room C, September 15

9:00 An Impasse over Epistemic Value - A Critique of Linda Zagzebski's Arguments Against Pure Reliabilism and Proper Functionalism
Speaker: Devon Bryson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Chair: John Greco, St. Louis University
Commentator: Andrew Spear, Grand Valley State University

10:00 The Value of Knowledge: A Primary Good
Speaker: Daniel Pilchman, University of California, Irvine
Chair: Heather Werner, UMSL
Commentator: Kristian Marlow, UMSL

11:00 Knowing Versus Knowledge - The Two Questions within the Secondary Value Problem
Speaker: Zack Robinson, UMSL
Chair: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College
Commentator: Trent Dougherty, Baylor University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Neo-Aristotelian Plenitude
Speaker: Ross Inman, Trinity College, Dublin
Chair: John Heil, Washington University
Commentator: Irem Kurtsal Steen, UMSL

2:00 Functions Must be Performed at Appropriate Rates in Appropriate Situations
Speaker: Gualtiero Piccinini, UMSL, and Justin Garson, Hunter College/City University of New York
Chair: Lynn Chien-Hui Chiu, University of Missouri
Commentator: Eric Kraemer, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

3:00 Special Science Kinds - Property Clusters without Homeostasis
Speaker: Bernhard Nickel, Harvard University
Chair: Sarah Robins, Washington University
Commentator: Christopher Pearson, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

4:00 Panel: Natural Kinds
Speakers: Daniel A. Weiskopf, The Human Stain - Concepts, Anthropic Kinds, and Realism, Georgia State University
Andrew McFarland, How are Kinds Individuated?, University of Kansas
Alexander Bird, The Ontology of Natural Kinds, University of Bristol
John Camacho, Natural Kinds and Scientific Practices, UMSL
Chair: Kent Staley, St. Louis University

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room B, September 15

9:00 Frankfurt Cases, Gettier, and the Principle of Alternative Possibilities
Speaker: Adam R. Thompson, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Chair: Krista Hyde, UMSL
Commentator: Michael Neal, UMSL

10:00 Against Counterfactuals of Libertarian Freedom - There is Nothing I Would have Done if I Could Have Done Otherwise
Speaker: Paul C. Anders, Mount Marty College, and Joshua Thurow, College of Southern Nevada
Chair: Seth Kurtenbach, University of Missouri
Commentator: Grant Sterling, Eastern Illinois University

11:00 Are There True Libertarian Action Counterfactuals?
Speaker: Daniel Rubio, Western Michigan University
Chair: Krista Wiley, UMSL
Commentator: David Killoren, University of Wisconsin – Madison

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Compositional Nihilism and the Puzzles of Coincidence: A Response to McGrath
Speaker: Holly Kantin, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Chair: Leigh C. Vicens, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Commentator: Andrew McFarland, University of Kansas

2:00 Physical Causal Closure and Non-Coincidental Mental Causation
Speaker: Leigh C. Vicens, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Chair: Andrew Melnyk, University of Missouri
Commentator: Eric Douglas Hiddleston, Wayne State University

3:00 Hume, Counterfactuals and Causation
Speaker: Joshua Anderson, St. Louis University
Chair: Dean Obermark, UMSL
Commentator: John Camacho, UMSL

4:00 Panel: Causation
Speakers: David Killoren, Moral Causation, Consequentialism, and the Hazards of Pure Metaethics, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Hannah Abigail Bondurant, Consciousness, Control, and Causation: Some Issues for the Cognitive Physicalist, UMSL
Nicholas K. Simmons, How Much Bearing Does the Correct Construal of 'Causation' Really Have on the Problem of Mental Causation?, University of Kansas
Andrew Ward, Causal Criteria, Inference to the Best Explanation, and Causal Inferences, University of Minnesota
Chair: Simine Vazire, Washington University

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room B, September 16

9:00 Rawls on Rectification
Speaker: Sarah Kenehan, Marywood University
Chair: Eric Wilcox, University of Missouri – Kansas City
Commentator: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa

10:00 Individual Rights and the Restrictive Force of Just Cause - A Response to Jeff McMahan
Speaker: Crystal Allen, University of Missouri
Chair: Bre'Anna Liddell, UMSL
Commentator: Eric Reitan, Oklahoma State University

11:00 Killing in Self-Defense and the Doctrine of Double Effect
Speaker: Phil M. Mouch, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Chair: David McGraw, UMSL
Commentator: Crystal Allen, University of Missouri

12:00 Lunch

1:00 From Insensitivity to Moral Debunking
Speaker: Matthew Braddock, Duke University
Chair: Dan Haybron, St. Louis University
Commentator: Brian Besong, Purdue University

2:00 Moral Perpendiculars
Speaker: Hallie Liberto, University of Connecticut
Chair: Holly Kantin, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Commentator: Molly Gardner, University of Wisconsin – Madison

3:00 Moral Intuitionism and Fundamental Disagreement
Speaker: Brian Besong, Purdue University
Chair: Mylan Engel, Jr., Northern Illinois University
Commentator: Brian Hutchinson, Metropolitan State College of Denver

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room C, September 16

9:00 Solving the Generality Problem for Reliabilism and Resolving the Internalist/Externalist Controversy
Speaker: Mylan Engel Jr., Northern Illinois University
Chair: Matthew Cashen, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Commentator: Matthew Braddock, Duke University

10:00 Against the Minimalistic Reading of Epistemic Contextualism - A Reply to Wolfgang Freitag
Speaker: Michael D. Ashfield, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Jeff Dauer, Washington University
Commentator: Geoff Pynn, Northern Illinois University

11:00 Knowledge, Assertion, and the Belief that One Knows
Speaker: Dylan Black, Indiana University – Bloomington
Chair: Michael D. Ashfield, Northern Illinois University
Commentator: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Options and Epistemic Modals
Speaker: Tomis Kapitan, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Roy Sorensen, Washington University
Commentator: Wenwen Fan, University of Missouri

2:00 Epistemic Modals and Practical Reasoning
Speaker: Joshua S. Heter, St. Louis University
Chair: Andrew Spear, Grand Valley State University
Commentator: Lisa Cagle, Washington University

3:00 Determining the Field of Concern with Knowledge
Speaker: Seth Kurtenbach, University of Missouri
Chair: Jessica Wilson, UMSL
Commentator: John Pauley, Simpson College

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room C, September 17

9:00 On Hawthorne on Lewis on the Case for Modal Realism
Speaker: Robert William Fischer, University of Illinois at Chicago
Chair: Thomas Sattig, Washington University
Commentator: John Gabriel, Washington University

10:00 Cappelen, Content Relativism, and the “Creative Interpreter”
Speaker: Mark Criley, Illinois Wesleyan University
Chair: Nicholas Baima, Washington University
Commentator: Ronald Loeffler, Grand Valley State University

11:00 A Prosententialist Account of Vagueness
Speaker: Renee Jorgensen, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Ronald Glass, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Commentator: Nicholas Baima, Washington University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 A Simple Proof of Mind-Body Dualism
Speaker: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa
Chair: Ronald Loeffler, Grand Valley State University
Commentator: Daniel Ryan Weed, UMSL

2:00 The Fact of Cartesian Qualia
Speaker: Brett Coppenger, University of Iowa
Chair: William Robinson, Iowa State University
Commentator: Donald Sievert, University of Missouri

3:00 The (One and Only) Argument for Physicalism about the Mind
Speaker: Jared Bates, Hanover College
Chair: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa
Commentator: Angie Harris, University of Utah

4:00 Panel: Physicalism
Speakers: William S. Robinson, The Poverty of Physicalism, Iowa State University
Andrew Melnyk, Pereboom on the Formulation of Non-reductive Physicalism, University of Missouri
Eric Kraemer, The Challenges of Non-Physicalism, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Chair: Jared Bates, Hanover College

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room B, September 17

9:00 Remembering Does Entail Knowing
Speaker: Andrew Moon, University of Missouri
Chair: Lisa Cagle, Washington University
Commentator: Zack Robinson, UMSL

10:00 Fallibilism and the Flexibility of Epistemic Modals
Speaker: Charity Anderson, St. Louis University
Chair: Amy Broadway, UMSL
Commentator: Andrew Moon, University of Missouri

11:00 Skepticism in the Problem of the Criterion
Speaker: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College
Chair: Mark Steen, UMSL
Commentator: Casey Swank, St. Cloud State University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 A Textualist Argument for a Living Constitution
Speaker: A. J. Kreider, Miami Dade College
Chair: Xiaofei Liu, University of Missouri
Commentator: John Collins, East Carolina University

2:00 Republican Political Justification and Unreasonable Citizens
Speaker: Christopher McCammon, University of Nebraska – Lincoln/Grand View College
Chair: Christian Richeson, UMSL
Commentator: Richard Lauer, University of Missouri

3:00 The Connection between Political Legitimacy and Justification
Speaker: Leo Yan, University of Missouri
Chair: Daniel Pilchman, UC Irvine
Commentator: Christopher McCammon, University of Nebraska – Lincoln/Grand View College

4:00 Panel: Risk
Speakers: Ashton T. Sperry-Taylor, Bounded Rationality, Risk, and Moral Heuristics, University of Missouri
Michael Neal, Epistemic Risk, Epistemic Peerage, and Rational Disagreement, UMSL
Chair: Kevin Lepore, UMSL