Metapsychology Online Reviews - Volume 23, Number 49
Featured Reviews
The Dutch House by Ann PatchetThe Dutch House
by Ann Patchet
Tue, Oct 29th 2019
The Birth of Ethics by Philip Pettit The Birth of Ethics
by Philip Pettit
Tue, Oct 22nd 2019
Hellenistic Philosophy by John SellarsHellenistic Philosophy
by John Sellars
Tue, Oct 22nd 2019
Responsible Brains
Neuroscience, Law, and Human Culpability
By William Hirstein, Katarina L. Sifferd and Tyler K. Fagan
Review by Diana Soeiro on Tue, Dec 3rd 2019.
Responsible Brains by William Hirstein, Katarina L. Sifferd and Tyler K. FaganWhen someone is found guilty in the eyes of the law, how do we know if we are before an evil person or a sick person? How can the law find more reliable, and fairer, criteria in order to attribute responsibility and, consequently, culpability? This book argues that neuroscience can make a significant contribution to better justice be performed. According to the authors, whose academic background is in Philosophy, "[N]euroscience is both relevant to responsibility and consistent with our ordinary "folk" conceptions of it. Evidence from cognitive science and neuroscience can illuminate and infor
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A Philosophical Exploration
By Hili Razinsky
Review by Robert Zaborowski on Tue, Dec 3rd 2019.
Ambivalence by Hili Razinsky The book is composed of preface, three parts, an appendix, bibliography, and an index. It contains a general introduction - the first chapter of the first part - but no separate conclusion (some concluding remarks are appended to the last chapter of the last part). The book's aim is to explain the phenomena of ambivalence where ambivalence concerns mental attitudes (emotion, belief, value judgment, and desire). In Razinsky's view ambivalence occurs when two opposed mental attitudes are held toward one and the same object. One of her recurrent theses is that people are regularly ambivalent su
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The Fall of Language
Benjamin and Wittgenstein on Meaning
By Alexander Stern
Review by R.A. Goodrich, Ph.D. on Tue, Dec 3rd 2019.
The Fall of Language by Alexander SternHovering over Alexander Stern's ambitious volume about Walter Benjamin and Ludwig Wittgenstein on meaning is the thesis promoted by Charles Taylor's 2016 The Language Animal. According to Taylor, we have inherited two abiding conceptions of language. On the one hand, there is the "designative" or instrumental notion of language issuing from the likes of John Locke's 1689 An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding and Étienne Bonnot de Condillac's 1746 Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge. On the other hand, there is the "constitutive" or holistic construal of languag
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Watching You
By Lisa Jewell
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Dec 3rd 2019.
Watching You by Lisa JewellI listened to this audiobook over the summer and enjoyed it, but forgot about it. I started listening again recently, and it took me at least half an hour into it before I could tell that I had listened to it previously. Even then, the plot did not come rushing back to memory. Passages sounded familiar but they were also so generic that they might appear in any contemporary British mystery novel. There are many characters and it takes a while to work out what the crime is, let alone who the suspects are. The focus is more on people's stories rather than the mystery. Unfortunately, few of the c
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The Medical Model in Mental Health
An Explanation and Evaluation
By Ahmed Samei Huda
Review by Duncan Double on Tue, Nov 26th 2019.
The Medical Model in Mental Health by Ahmed Samei HudaSamei Huda, the author of this book, a prolific tweeter @SameiHuda, is primarily a clinical psychiatrist rather than an academic. The book is written to try to justify what he recognizes as his intrinsic bias in favor of the medical model in psychiatry. From his point of view, psychiatry shouldn’t be caricatured as unscientific, treating non-existent diseases with ineffective and toxic drugs. Contrasting the rest of medicine as scientific and treating known diseases effectively unnecessarily polarizes debate. Huda makes the case that many of the concerns about psychiatric diagnosis and
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A Scientific Search for Altruism
Do We Only Care About Ourselves?
By C. Daniel Batson
Review by Harry Lewendon-Evans on Tue, Nov 26th 2019.
A Scientific Search for Altruism by C. Daniel BatsonThe question of whether altruism exists remains a central, if not foundational, issue for a number of disciplines, including philosophy (in particular, moral theory), psychology, biology, and economics. At stake here is the altruism versus egoism debate. In recent years, this debate has been shaped and informed by a substantial body of experimental work. This has meant that while a priori arguments for and against the existence of altruism can be and have been developed, the issue has taken on a significantly more empirical flavour. A Scientific Search for Altruism is firmly si
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Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl
A Memoir
By Jeannie Vanasco
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Nov 26th 2019.
Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie VanascoJeannie Vanasco is a professor of English at Towson University. Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl is her second memoir. She reflects on the time in high school when her best male friend Mark sexually assaulted her. She also reflects on her other relationships, and another time she was assaulted. What makes this memoir especially notable is that Vanasco contacts Mark 14 years after that night, corresponds with him by email, talks to him on the phone, and then meets him several times, interviewing him about what happened, what led to it, what it meant to them both, and
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A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures
By Eric Schwitzgebel
Review by Bob Lane on Tue, Nov 26th 2019.
A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures by Eric SchwitzgebelLet me start by quoting Professor Schwitzgebel's preface: Preface "I enjoy writing short philosophical reflections for broad audiences. Evidently, I enjoy this immensely: Since 2006, I've written more than a thousand such pieces, published mostly on my blog The Splintered Mind, but also in the Los Angeles Times, Aeon, and elsewhere. This book contains fifty- eight of my favorites, revised and updated. The topics range widely -- from moral psychology and the ethics of the game of dreidel to multiverse theory, speculative philosophy of consciousness, and the apparent fooli
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Ways to be Blameworthy
Rightness, Wrongness, and Responsibility
By Elinor Mason
Review by Rich Holmes on Tue, Nov 19th 2019.
Ways to be Blameworthy by Elinor MasonFor Elinor Mason, a major puzzle for normative ethics concerns how the responsibility concepts of praiseworthiness and blameworthiness are related to the deontic concepts of right and wrong. In her view, it seems obvious that an agent can act wrongly without being blameworthy and rightly without being praiseworthy. But it seems equally obvious that there is some relationship between these concepts. In Ways to Be Blameworthy: Rightness, Wrongness and Responsibility, Mason attempts to explain this relationship with a pluralistic account of both sets of concepts. With respect to deontic con
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The Instrument of Science
Scientific Anti-Realism Revitalised
By Darrell P. Rowbottom
Review by Ed Brandon on Tue, Nov 19th 2019.
The Instrument of Science by Darrell P. RowbottomAlmost  60 years ago, Ernest Nagel concluded his meticulous discussion of the cognitive status of theories (The Structure of Science, 1961, ch. 6) by suggesting that when apparently opposing views (realism and instrumentalism) "are each stated with some circumspection, each can assimilate into its formulations not only the facts concerning the primary subject matter explored by experimental inquiry but also all the relevant facts concerning the logic and procedure of science.... the opposition between these views is a conflict over preferred modes of speech" (p. 152). Not, then, a debate
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Understanding the Pelvis
A Functional Approach to Yoga
By Eric Franklin and Alison Wesley
Review by Beth Cholette, Ph.D. on Tue, Nov 19th 2019.
Understanding the Pelvis by Eric Franklin and Alison WesleyUnderstanding the Pelvis is a short publication (<100 pp) that has the feel of a handbook.  Ultimately, that's exactly what it is, a guidebook for yoga practitioners in general and yoga teachers in particular.  At the title suggests, the book centers around the movement of the pelvis, applying knowledge of this area to the practice and cueing of various yoga asanas (postures).  The book is based on the Franklin Method, a mind-body method developed by author Eric Franklin and designed to teach embodied movement.  This method employs dynamic imagery, which is utilized
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The Rest of the Story
By Sarah Dessen
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Nov 19th 2019.
The Rest of the Story by Sarah DessenIt is 10 years since I last read a Sarah Dessen book, and it is good to find that she is still a powerful story teller. This is her 14th title in the YA market, and it is satisfying. As with any such work, the plot involves personal struggle, growth, romance, and drama. Our heroine is 17 and she has already gone through a lot. She has two first names, Emma Saylor. Her father calls her Emma but her mother would call her Saylor. Her mother was an addict and her parents divorced when Emma was young. After the divorce Emma stayed with her father while her mother's life became a series of stays in
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Ten Years a Nomad
A Traveler's Journey Home
By Matthew Kepnes
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Nov 19th 2019.
Ten Years a Nomad by Matthew KepnesMatt Kepnes tells the story of how he got into long term travel, going away for long periods of time, and never coming back for long. He has travelled for cheap in many places, mostly on his own. So he has plenty of experience to relate, about hostels, the locals he met, other travelers, his girlfriends, the times he got scammed, and the difficulties he experienced. But mostly it is about the psychological journey of becoming a nomad, and his rejection of conventional life, which came to seem dull and constrained. At the same time, it is very difficult to maintain the life of a nomad and maint
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Risk and Reasoning in Clinical Diagnosis
By Cym Anthony Ryle
Review by Douglas W. Heinrichs M.D. on Tue, Nov 12th 2019.
Risk and Reasoning in Clinical Diagnosis by Cym Anthony RyleDr. Ryle, a practicing primary care physician, has written a book directed at other practicing physicians and the general public. His goal is to explicate the process of diagnostic reasoning in medicine, particularly in primary care settings, in order to encourage clinicians to reflect on that process and reduce errors and biases as well as to help patients understand the inevitable uncertainties in the diagnostic process. He starts by stressing the central role of accurate diagnosis in effective medical care. He argues that the basic principles of effective diagnostic reasoning are an applica
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Psychology of Family Law
By Eve M. Brank
Review by Maura Pilotti, Ph.D. on Tue, Nov 12th 2019.
Psychology of Family Law by Eve M. BrankThe psychology of family law, written by Eve M. Brank, is an informative read for those who are interested in understanding the often obscure relationship between legal codes and the scientific facts, principles, and logical considerations upon which they rely. Under the category "facts", the author offers a thoughtful and thorough examination of the evidence that has been used to either justify existing codes or to make alterations after enactment. In her deliberate attempt to clarify the nature of existing codes, she considers not only contributing sources, but also neglected or discounted s
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