GHarman.jpegGilbert Harman


American philosopher Gilbert Harman is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.[1] He was born in 1938 and has been teaching at Princeton since 1963.[2]

He is known for his work in epistemology, language, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, ethics and moral relativism. [3] Harman has written extensively on moral relativism and is one of its great defenders. Harmon views morality as grounded in an implicit actual contract. Some of his other interests lie in the rejection of a priori knowledge and logic as theory of implication not inference.
[4]

His spouse Lucy Harman, is a psychotherapist in Princeton, N.J., specializing in family therapy . His daughter
Elizabeth also teaches in the Princeton University's Department of Philosophy and at the Center for Human Values at Princeton. His daughter Olivia currently studies at the George Brown School of Social work at Washington University in Saint Louis.[5]

Background

Harman has many awards and honours to his credit including:
• Fellow, Association for Psychological Science 2011
• Behrman Award 2009
• American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2005
• Jean Nicod Prize 2005
• Fellow, Cognitive Science Society 2002[6]

He sits on the editorial boards of many prestigious journals including: Cambridge Studies in Philosophy; Cognitive Science Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology; Oxford Studies in Epistemology; Philosophy and Phenomenological Research; and Social Philosophy and Policy. [7]

Harman holds membership in a variety of professional associations including: American Philosophical Association; Philosophy of Science Association; Association for Psychological Science; and the Linguistic Society of America. [8]

Selected Works

His most recent book, An Elementary Introduction to Statistical Learning was co-authored with Sanjeev Kulkarni.[9] Others include: Explaining Value and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity, with Jarvis Thomson (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996) and The Nature of Morality: An Introduction to Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977). [10]

On Moral Relativism

Harman asserts that an individual’s moral right and wrong are always relative to the choice of moral framework in which the individual exists. He posits that there is no one true morality that is without bias. He argues that what is morallycorrect in relation to a given moral framework can be morally wrong relative to a different moral structure. [11]

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Harman is a metaethical moral relativist because his position is contrasted with moral objectivism. [12] Harmon argues that moral relativism provides the best explanation of internalism. Internalism holds that our inner judgments cannot be provided simply by being rational.[13]

In his 1975 paper Moral Relativism Defended (Duke University Press), Harman explains that the meaningfulness and appropriateness of some moral judgments occur only relative to a set of understandings the person shares with the person performing the act and others viewing the act. The internal understanding is what Harman characterizes as inner moral judgments. It is the relativity of inner moral judgments that are of Harman’s primary concern. [14]

For Harman, what a person ought to do (inner judgment) means that the person is motivated to do so and has reason to do so because he or she unreservedly enters into an agreement with others about what to do. The motivating reasons are not universal in his view, and arise from an agreement of some but not all persons. This helps to explain moral disagreement. His main argument is that inner judgments require individual intentions that a person may or may not have. [15]

Harman questions ethical realism, or the existence of moral facts. He asks, how do we get evidence for one or more moral fact? When we see someone doing something bad and we have a negative reaction, we see that person as doing something wrong. He asks, how can you actually see the wrongness this person is doing? We see this person doing something, but part of our reaction is emotional. Harman would say this is partly determined by our moral psychology.[16]

An hour-long interview with Harman about his general views on epistemology, language, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and ethics was recorded on April 5, 2012. It appears on the Princeton Philosophy Review site.
  1. ^



    About Gilbert Harman, Princeton University. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/.
  2. ^ Altman J.G. (October 23, 2006) Like father, like daughter: Family ties bind philosopher. Princeton Weekly Bulletin. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S16/18/71C28/
  3. ^



    Princeton Philosophy Review. Interview with Gilbert Harman on Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, and Ethics, April 5, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2012. From
    http://princetonphilosophyreview.org/2012/04/interview-with-gilbert-harman/
  4. ^



    About Gilbert Harman, Princeton University. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/.
  5. ^



    About Gilbert Harman, Family. Princeton University. Retrieved September 23, 2012. http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/Family/index.html
  6. ^
    Gilbert Harman
, CV. 
Princeton University. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/CV-GH.html
  7. ^
    Gilbert Harman
, CV. 
Princeton University. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/CV-GH.html
  8. ^
    Gilbert Harman
, CV. 
Princeton University. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/CV-GH.html
  9. ^



    About Gilbert Harman, Princeton University. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/
  10. ^ Gilbert Harman
, CV. 
Princeton University. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/CV-GH.html
  11. ^



    Harman, G., & Thomson, J. J. (1996). Moral relativism and moral objectivity. Cambridge: Blackwell publishers
  12. ^



    Moral Relativism. (Feb 19, 2004; rev.Dec 9, 2008) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From: http://www.science.uva.nl/~seop/entries/moral-relativism/
  13. ^ Moral Relativism. (Feb 19, 2004; rev.Dec 9, 2008) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From: http://www.science.uva.nl/~seop/entries/moral-relativism/
  14. ^



    Harmam, G., & Thomson, J. J. (1996). Moral relativism and moral objectivity. Cambridge: Blackwell publishers
  15. ^



    Moral Relativism. (Feb 19, 2004; rev.Dec 9, 2008) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved September 23, 2012. From: http://www.science.uva.nl/~seop/entries/moral-relativism/
  16. ^



    Princeton Philosophy Review. Interview with Gilbert Harman on Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, and Ethics, April 5, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2012. From
    http://princetonphilosophyreview.org/2012/04/interview-with-gilbert-harman/