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Lawyering Somewhere Between Computation and the Will to Act: A Digital Age Reflection

At the same time, there is wide acceptance, at least among legal academics, of the conclusions from behavioral psychology that slow, deliberative “System 2” thinking (perhaps replicated computationally) needs to control the heuristics and biases to which fast, intuitive “System 1” thinking is prone.

We therefore need to be circumspect about the extent to which we privilege System 2-like deliberation (particularly that which can be replicated computationally) over uniquely human contributions to lawyering: those mixed blessings like persistence, passion, and the occasional compulsiveness.

The 50 Most Influential Living Philosophers

For millennia, philosophers have attempted to shape our beliefs, usually behind the scenes, and their influence is present in many of our existing practices, institutions, and basic assumptions about ourselves and the world we think we know.

Though usually not household names, contemporary philosophers have radically altered the way we think about all sorts of things --- from the nature of God to the role of race in democracy.

In his books Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race (1996) and The Ethics of Identity (2005), Appiah has approached the notion of “biological race” as conceptually problematic, and argues that such notions of group identity like race, religion, gender, and sexuality harm the individual by oversimplifying their identity and constraining their freedom.

In keeping with this line of argument, Appiah has been critical of what he identifies as contemporary Afrocentrism, and has promoted a philosophy of cosmopolitanism that goes beyond nationality and citizenship, a message that he spreads through lectures given at universities worldwide.

In philosophy, Blackburn's work is primarily concerned with metaethics, arguing for a quasi-realist approach, arguing that, rather than expressing propositions, ethical sentences project emotional attitudes as though they were real properties.

Blackburn has been influential as patron of the British Humanist Organization and mainstream figure of atheism (though he refers to himself as an “infidel”), and has been vocal about the need for the reduction of religious influence in politics and governmental issues.

In this text, Brandom explores the role of inference in the attribution of meaning to linguistic expressions, arguing that the meaning of expressions is developed through what we can infer about that expression in relation to other expressions, about which our ability to do so is governed by the social norm usage of language.

Burge has been most influential with his article “Individualism and Self-Knowledge” (1988) in which he argued for the theory in philosophy of mind of “anti-individualism.” Essentially, Burge has argued for a conception of the mind in which the contents of one's own thoughts are not entirely the product of the individual, but are, to some extent, also the product of the environment.

She is primarily known as a major proponent of gender theory and criticism, and her work has been influential to many areas of critical thought, both in and out of philosophy, including ethics, political philosophy, feminist theory, queer theory, and literary theory.

Essentially, Butler argues that sex, gender, and sexuality are all culturally constructed normative frameworks, and as such, the individual uses their body in the performance of identifying with or against these norms.

Chalmers is best known for his influential formulation of the “hard problem” of consciousness, and his introduction of the “philosophical zombies” thought experiment, which he has used to argue the thesis that physical properties alone cannot account for cognition and sentience.

Noam Chomsky may be the “father of modern linguistics,” and Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT, but his interests and influence extend into philosophy, cognitive science, history, logic, social criticism, and political activism.

Chomsky's work in linguistics challenged the school of thought that dominated linguistics at the time, structural linguistics, and helped establish the field as a natural science, by approaching the study of linguistics through the lens of cognitive science, such as in his book Syntactic Structures (1957).

Clark's views run counter to traditional models of cognition in that, rather than understanding cognition as a one-way flow of sensory phenomena, he argues that cognition takes a two-way route of sensory input, assessment, and prediction.

In this hypothesis, building upon the aforementioned ideas, it is argued that the mind and the world form a kind of information feedback loop in which the mind is not just within the individual experiencing the world, but that it extends into the environment they are experiencing

Dennett is a cognitive scientist in addition to being a philosopher, and his work considers philosophy of mind and science in relation to the fields of cognitive science and evolutionary biology.

Though he has done significant work in philosophy of mind and cognitive science, such as arguing for consciousness the product of the interaction between physical and cognitive processes in the brain in his book Consciousness Explained (1991), Dennett might be most well known for his criticism of religion.

Dennett, an atheist and strong supporter of evolution (arguing for natural selection as an algorithmic process) has seen plenty of criticism and controversy from religious groups for his views, and has the unofficial title of one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism,” (self-imposed) along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.

Gettier stands out on this list because, unlike many of his counterparts, many of whom are best known for long, dense books, developed over the length of their careers, Gettier's fame and influence in the philosophy game comes from a three-page long essay written at the beginning of his career (which, reportedly, he only wrote on a whim in order to pad his publication list).

Though short, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” (1963) has been influential far beyond its diminutive page length, lays out a problem at the center of a long-running philosophical debate, and has likely been read by every philosophy undergraduate in most of the last century.

Haack's work can be primarily described as pragmatic philosophy, and she has written on logic, philosophy of language, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of law, philosophy of science, feminism, and literature.

While her interests and writings range in many different areas of philosophical study, Haack is probably best known for her influential book Evidence and Inquiry (1993) in which she presented her epistemological theory of “foundherentism.” Through this idea, Haack to applied her pragmatic approach to epistemology in order to account for the justification of knowledge, avoiding the problem of infinite regress which foundationalism falls prey to, while also avoiding the problem of circularity that plagues coherentism.

Much of her later work has been concerned with defending science and scientific inquiry against skepticism and faulty epistemologies, with religious doctrine being a primary obstacle.

In what is perhaps his most important work, Theory of Communicative Action (1981), Habermas expressed criticism of modern society for the development of the welfare state, corporate capitalism, and its demand for mass consumption.

Habermas argued that with the development of modern industrial society since the start of the 19th century, democracy shifted from being participatory to representative, and the body of the public lost its voice in the democratic discourse, as public life became rationalized and quantified.

In his first and major work, Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects (2002), and in other works since, he has used Martin Heidegger's concept of “tool-analysis” to legitimately examine the autonomous existence of objects, removed from their relationships with humans, resulting in the term “tool-being,” which gives the book its namesake.

In his book The Universe as we Find It (2012), Heil considers how our notions of causation and truth making contribute to our ontological understanding of the world, and pursues the application of this ontology to contemporary philosophical problems.

1998), which seeks to provide a simple, broad introduction to the area of contemporary philosophy of mind for both students of philosophy, and interested readers in the general public.

In his book Ontological Investigations: An Inquiry into the Categories of Nature, Man, and Society (1989) Johansson has worked toward developing a modern realist version of Aristotle's theory of categories, in order to update Aristotle's ontology and for the theory to be made compatible with modern science.

He holds that while some mental states (intentional mental states, such as beliefs and desires) can be reduced to physical sources in the brain, other mental states, (phenomenal mental states, such as sensations) cannot be reduced to physical sources, and are epiphenomenal.

To do this, she surveyed several major arguments about moral obligation, all of which call for the necessity of normative entities in determining moral obligation, finding that Immanuel Kant and contemporary Kantians offer the strongest approach to the justification of moral obligation.

If we take anything to be of value, then, in Korsgaard's view, we have to acknowledge that we have moral obligations, implied through us finding value in those things, which we must maintain in order to be consistent with our autonomy, the source of our moral obligation.

Strongly embedded in the Analytic tradition, Kripke's major contributions in philosophy are in the areas of logic (specifically modal logic), philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, set theory, and philosophy of mind.

In it, Kripke challenges and overturns Immanuel Kant's theory on truth in propositions, arguing that some propositions are only knowable a posteriori, but are necessarily true, while others are knowable a priori, but are only contingently true.

Through this notion, along with others, Kripke was able to turn the conventional understanding of truth, propositions, and logic on its head, significantly contributing to the decline of ordinary language philosophy, and the public understanding of the function of philosophy in the 20th century.

Arguing from history, Macintyre's work is largely concerned with accounting for the decline of morality and moral rationality in society since the Enlightenment, and reclaiming the philosophy of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas as a potential solution to what he sees associety's current ills.

In the book, Macintyre develops his critique of modern liberal capitalism and the society it has produced, arguing that because there is an absence of any coherent moral code, the sense of purpose and community has been lost for most people in modern society.

John McDowell is currently University Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and though he has a lengthy bibliography covering metaphysics, epistemology, ancient philosophy, and meta-ethics, he is best known for his influential work in the areas of philosophy of mind and philosophy of language.

In this view, McDowell sees philosophy as therapeutic, with its goal being to sooth and dissolve philosophical error, to find where philosophers have caused aggravation and to quiet it by discovering where things went wrong.

Instead of pushing for radical new ideas, and increasingly complicated conceptions of meaning, knowledge, reality, etc., McDowell has adopted Wittgenstein's position that we, basically, should leave everything as it is, such as in his book Mind and World (1994).

Though not self-identified as a Christian, and not a supporter of the theory of intelligent design, Midgley takes issue with what she identifies as “scientism,” characterized by the views of Richard Dawkins, which takes a materialistic approach toward explaining the phenomena of consciousness, emotion, and cognition.

Moreland's work combines metaphysics, philosophy of mind, chemistry, and theology, and he is known for his defense of the existence of God and thesupernatural, as well as “Old-Earth” creationism (a form of creationism that is somewhat more compatible with modern science than the “New-Earth” version).

In his work in the OOO movement, which focuses on the ontology of objects in the world apart from human ontology (the goal being to avoid anthropocentrism), Morton has coined the term “hyperobjects” as a way of describing objects that transcend attempts to pin them to any particular locality in time and space.

Nagel might be most famous for his aforementioned essay, in which he refutes the materialist reductionist view of consciousness that dominated the field of philosophy of mind at the time, promoting a subjectivist approach.

To simplify, what Nagel argues is that even though we may be able to objectively describe the physical processes that produce what we understand as consciousness, that does not enable us to describe consciousness itself, as consciousness is a subjective mental experience.

Though not arguing from religion (he is an atheist) and not arguing for a theory of intelligent design, Nagel claims that the theory of natural selection alone cannot account for the existence of consciousness.

Much of his early work focused on commenting on and interpreting the work of other major thinkers, such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant, René Descartes, and Martin Heidegger, but he is best known for his writings that apply deconstructionist thought to issues of freedom, existence, and community.

His most influential work, The Inoperative Community (1986) presents and explores this focus, arguing that much of society's problems result from designing society around pre-conceived definitions of what society should be, and failing to understand it for how it actually is.

She came from a background of East Coast high society (which she resents) and in her career has experienced no shortage of sexist discrimination, harassment, and resistance as she has entered and challenged the old boys' club of philosophical academia, an institution about which Nussbaum has criticized Noam Chomsky for helping to maintain.

Much of Nussbaum's work focuses on unequal freedom and opportunity for women, making her a notable feminist, and she has argued for a radical reconsideration of gender relations, roles and norms.

However, Oderberg is in support of the state's right to capital punishment as retribution, and in the concept of a “just war.” Animals, in Oderberg's view, are not moral agents, and so have no rights that can be infringed upon.

Oderberg has also been in the forefront of philosophers interested in renewing traditional (i.e., Aristotelian-Scholastic) metaphysics and bringing it into fruitful contact with contemporary analytical metaphysics, as well as with empirical science.

Plantinga's work blends epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion, largely focusing on the existence and nature of God, argued from a protestant viewpoint, in such books as God and Other Minds (1967), The Nature of Necessity (1974), and Warranted Christian Belief (2000).

In regards to evolution, Plantinga supports the notion of intelligent design, but he holds a nuanced view, arguing that although he is opposed to the idea of “unguided” evolution (meaning that things evolved entirely on their own accord) on theological grounds, he supports the idea that evolution could be “guided” by intelligent design, and so, by God, finding evolution and intelligent design to be compatible.

He is best known for his influential work on logical paradoxes, arguing that many major paradoxes hold a uniform solution, and for his defense of dialtheism, the idea that some statements can be both false and true simultaneously, making them “true contradictions.”

Instead, Searle used the Chinese Room thought experiment to refute what he referred to as “Strong A.I.” (used to represent functionalism and computationalism) to show that the human mind is more than just a quantifiable, information processing machine.

Singer is a very popular moral philosopher, both in and out of academia, and because of his fame, influence, outspokenness and moral stance, Singer has garnered controversy and protest, especially among conservative groups.

The opposite of David Oderberg, Singer has argued in favor of abortion, on the grounds that the “right to life” is tied to an individual's capacity to hold preferences (which include pain and pleasure) and a fetus cannot do this.

As evidenced from his professorial titles, Smith occupies both the role of philosopher and scientist, blending the two areas of study through his dual focus on ontology and biomedical informatics.

Smith has published articles in as many scientific publications has he has in philosophical publications, and his approach can be roughly described as applied ontology, as opposed to the very theoretical approach that is usually associated with ontology.

Virtue epistemology represents a renewed philosophical interest in the concept of virtue, introducing intellectual virtues as a way to resolve the debate between foundationalism and coherentism.

Finding problems with both schools of thought, Sosa put forth virtue epistemology, foregoing formulaic expressions that are designed to explain knowledge and instead applying virtue theory to human intellect, using virtue as the basis for assessing what is and is not knowledge.

His work is primarily focused in political philosophy, philosophy of social science, the history of philosophy, and in the later portion of his career, philosophy of religion.

Rather than offer a complex, highly abstract rebuttal of such arguments, Thomasson has provided a simpler (though not to imply insignificant) answer: that these questions can be answered much more easily than many philosophers have imagined, using inferences from uncontroversial premises.

In the thought experiment, Thomson argues by analogy from a hypothetical situation that each person has a right to bodily autonomy, and to infringe on that right is immoral, whether it is a comatose violinist depending on another person for life-support, or a fetus.

He is well known for his book Ignorance: A Case for Skepticism (1975) in which he defends philosophical skepticism arguing, basically, that we do not know anything, and cannot claim to know anything, a stance that he has continued to defend in his suggestively titled Empty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy (2014).

Unger is also famous for his controversial book on applied ethics, Living High and Letting Die (1996), inspired by Peter Singer, in which he has argued that citizens of first-world countries are morally obligated to donate all money and possessions that they do not require beyond what is necessary for bare survival to charity organizations that will help citizens of third-world countries.

Though he has written numerous books and articles that are widely references, such as Race Matters (1994), West is probably most readily recognized as a political commentator, making frequent appearances as on television and radio news programs, as well as late night talk shows.

His work is primarily concerned with philosophy of mind and philosophy of mathematics, and he is a major proponent neo-Fregeanism (sometimes called neo-logicism), having written on reviving Frege's philosophy of mathematics, as seen in his book Frege's Conception of Numbers (1983).

Best known for his contributions to political and continental philosophy, his work draws on the continental tradition and blends political theory, cultural theory, psychoanalysis, film studies and aesthetics, and theology.

Known for being politically radical and proposing ideas that challenge both liberal and conservative politics alike, Žižek's idiosyncratic approach to philosophy and criticism mixes high and low culture fluidly.

Putnam has been influential in analytic philosophy, working in the areas of philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of science, but has had the most significant impact through his work in philosophy of mind.

In response, Putnam argued that mental states cannot be reduced to physical states, and even if another creature lacks the human brain structure and the physical process we associate with pain, be it a bat or a dog or an alien or something even stranger, that creature can still experience the mental state of pain.

Dreyfus is also notable for his influential critique of Artificial Intelligence, dating back to his 1965 article Alchemy and AI, which draws on his phenomenological background to argue that AI research is problematic because of its reliance on four implausible assumptions: the biological, the psychological, the epistemological, and the ontological.

Hidden Forces

This is the year of the stablecoin, or so says Nevin Freeman, the founder of a new stable-value cryptocurrency project based in the San Francisco Bay area.

The medium of exchange component of money allows it to function as a vital coordination mechanism for society, allowing humans and international governments and organizations to collaborate on a massive scale.

The mismanagement of our financial system by such institutions has become a major source of systemic risk, the brunt of which is disproportionately carried by those at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

This becomes difficult to do when currency volatility can wipe out 50% of your net worth in a single day or double the cost of your company’s inputs overnight.

Even if the cryptocurrency in question were rarely to drop in price, upside volatility can create a speculative feed-back loop that discourages anyone from actually using it as a medium of exchange.

Instead, stablecoins effectively “price themselves” by making a standing promise to fulfill any buy or sell order at a set price, regardless of changes in demand for the currency by market participants.

In traditional currency pegs and exchange rate mechanisms, currency boards manage the value of the peg by overseeing the promise to buy or sell at a preset conversion price.

So, how does a currency peg work in the case of stablecoins?Here is an overview of how the most prominent stablecoin projects on the market promise to do this today: Traditional asset-backed stablecoins: In short, under this system, each unit of the particular stablecoin is backed by a corresponding unit of fiat currency.

Collateralized Debt Stablecoins: Under this system, instead of attempting to back units of a stablecoin one-to-one with a fiat currency, the stablecoins hold a ratio greater than one-to-one of a crypto asset (or more commonly, various kinds of crypto assets).

The peg (the value of the stablecoin) is primarily maintained by the promise of future redemption for collateral if the stablecoin price diverges from the target for too long or the value of the collateral begins to drop.

In theory, speculators will step in to buy stablecoins below the target price based on this promise of future redemption and that will keep the price stable all of the time.

Conversely, when the price of the stablecoin drops below its target price, the system will reduce the supply of stablecoins and increase the price of the coin so that it returns to its target level.