We cannot conceive of a more impartial and truthful witness than the sun, as its light stamps and seals the similitude of the wound on the photograph put before the jury; it would be more accurate than the memory of witnesses, and as the object of all evidence is to show truth, why should not this dumb witness show it?
This paper shows that Kant’s account of cognition can be used to defend epistemic responsibility against the double threat of either being committed to implausible versions of doxastic voluntarism, or failing to account for a sufficiently robust connection between the will and belief. Whilst we have no direct control over our beliefs, we have two forms of indirect doxastic control that are sufficient to ground epistemic responsibility. It is because we have direct control over our capacity to judge as well (...) as the epistemic principles that govern belief acquisition that we have indirect control over the beliefs we thereby acquire. (shrink)
Many social scientists think of exchange in terms far broader than philosophers. I defend the broader use of the term as well as the claim that meaningful human relationships are usefully understood as constituted by exchanges. I argue, though, that we must recognize that a great number of non-monetary and non-material goods are part of our daily lives and exchanges. Particularly important are emotional goods. I defend my view against the important objection that it demeans intimate relationships. As an addendum, (...) I also defend it against claims that economics cannot study such exchanges. (shrink)
This study sought to identify content on the federal budget, national debt, and budget deficit in the 12 most commonly used high school and college-leveleconomics textbooks. Our systematic review of these sources leads to two key findings: (1) Textbooks are similar in how they represent fiscal policy yet treatthe federal budget, deficit, and debt differently across the sample, and (2) Textbooks treat the federal budget, budget deficit, and national debt as theoretical, without an examination of values and systemic electoral and (...) budgetary politics. These findings lead us to argue that curriculum is needed that will permit a careful examination of how everyday citizens can gain knowledge, acknowledge values, and work towards a reasoned and realitybased view of what is at stake with regard to these issues in the 21st Century. (shrink)
Current evolutionary and cognitive theories of religion posit that supernatural agent concepts emerge from cognitive systems such as theory of mind and social cognition. Some argue that these concepts evolved to maintain social order by minimizing antisocial behavior. If these theories are correct, then people should process information about supernatural agents’ socially strategic knowledge more quickly than non-strategic knowledge. Furthermore, agents’ knowledge of immoral and uncooperative social behaviors should be especially accessible to people. To examine these hypotheses, we measured response-times (...) to questions about the knowledge attributed to four different agents—God, Santa Claus, a fictional surveillance government, and omniscient but non-interfering aliens—that vary in their omniscience, moral concern, ability to punish, and how supernatural they are. As anticipated, participants respond more quickly to questions about agents’ socially strategic knowledge than non-strategic knowledge, but only when agents are able to punish. (shrink)
Until the publication of the Dialectic of Enlightenment it was possible to place the controversy regarding myth in the framework of the general rivalry between enlightenment and rationalism on the one hand and Romanticism on the other. However, Horkheimer and Adorno's joint work rendered this controversy irrelevant and anachronistic. This essay presents this theoretical shift by analyzing the conceptual problems it raises. The basic question addressed is whether in our poststrucuralist and postmodernist age the distinction between critical and mythical thought (...) is still possible and appropriate. I believe that our answer to this question has fundamental significance for our personal and public life, and as such also determines the role and meaning of our current philosophical discourse. (shrink)
Historians of medicine generally credit the hospital standardization movement of the early 20th century with establishing the record as a sign of hospital and staff quality. The medical record's role had already been the subject of intense interest at the New York Hospital several decades before, however. In the 1880s malpractice and insurance concerns caused the administration to attempt to supervise record creation, quality, and access, over the objections of physicians. Contemporary concerns about the uses of the medical record were (...) in play well before 1910. (shrink)
In this paper, I first argue that waste is best understood as (a) any process wherein something useful becomes less useful and that produces less benefit than is lost—where benefit and usefulness are understood with reference to the same metric—or (b) the result of such a process. I next argue for the immorality of waste. My concluding suggestions are that (W1) if one person needs something for her preservation and a second person has it, is avoidably wasting it, and refuses (...) to allow the first to make some greater use of it, the second may be morally wrong and that (W2) if one person needs something for her preservation understood according to her metric and a second person has it, is avoidably wasting it according to his own metric, and refuses to allow the first to make some greater use of it, the second is morally wrong. (shrink)
Objectives To evaluate whether the requirement of “minimal risk and burden” for paediatric research without direct benefit to the subjects compromises the ability to obtain data necessary for improving paediatric care. To provide evidence-based reflections on the EU recommendation that allows for a higher level of risk. Design and setting Systematic analysis of the approval/rejection decisions made by the Dutch Central Committee on Research involving Human Subjects (CCMO). Review methods The analysis included 165 proposals for paediatric research without direct benefit (...) that were reviewed by the CCMO between January, 2000, and July, 2007. A separate, in-depth analysis of all drug studies included 18 early phase drug studies and nine other drug studies without direct benefit. Results 11 out of 165 studies were definitively rejected because the CCMO did not regard the risk and/or burden to be minimal. In three of these 11 cases (including two early phase drug studies) the requirement of minimal risk and burden was cited as the only reason for rejection. Four other early phase drug studies also involved risks and/or burdens that were not regarded to be minimal but were nevertheless approved. Conclusions The requirement of minimal risk and burden, aiming to protect research subjects, occasionally leads to rejection of protocols. Early phase drug studies relatively often do not comply with the requirement. Committees may find ways to approve important studies that formally should be rejected, but that is not a desirable solution. The regulatory framework should be revised to make such occasional exceptions to the requirement legitimate and transparent. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Freedom and the Human Sciences * The Model of Biological Science and its Implications for the Human Sciences * The Answer to the Question What Is Man? * Pragmatic Anthropology * Philosophical History * Conclusion * Bibliography Freedom and the Human Sciences * The Model of Biological Science and its Implications for the Human Sciences * The Answer to the Question What Is Man? * Pragmatic Anthropology * Philosophical History * Conclusion * Bibliography.
In this essay I describe how contractarianism might approach interspecies welfare conflicts. I start by discussing a contractarian account of the moral status of nonhuman animals. I argue that contractors can agree to norms that would acknowledge the of some animals. I then discuss how the norms emerging from contractarian agreement might constrain any comparison of welfare between humans and animals. Contractarian agreement is likely to express some partiality to humans in a way that discounts the welfare of some or (...) all animals. While the norms emerging from the contract might be silent or inconsistent in some tragic or catastrophic cases, in most ordinary conflicts of welfare, contractors will agree to norms that produce some determinate resolution. What the agreement says can evolve depending upon how the contractors or the circumstances change. I close with some remarks on contractarian indeterminacy. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features entailing important methodological (...) characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
This essay explores whether dependent relationships might justify extending direct moral consideration to nonhuman animals. After setting out a formal conception of moral standing as relational, scalar, and unilateral, I consider whether and how an appeal to dependencies might be the basis for an animal’s moral standing. If dependencies generate reasons for extending direct moral consideration, such reasons will admit of significant variations in scope and stringency.
I defend a neo-Kantian view wherein we are capable of being completely autonomous and impartial and argue that this ability can ground normativity. As this view includes an existentialist conception of the self, I defend radical choice, a primary component of that conception, against arguments many take to be definitive. I call the ability to use radical choice “existentialist voluntarism” and bring it into a current debate in normative philosophy, arguing that it allows that we can be distanced from all (...) ends at once so as to be completely impartial. Finally, I indicate how this can be the source of normativity as it provides a purely impartial reason for being rational. (shrink)
Most solutions to the sorites reject its major premise, i.e. the quantified conditional . This rejection appears to imply a discrimination between two elements that are supposed to be indiscriminable. Thus, the puzzle of the sorites involves in a fundamental way the notion of indiscriminability. This paper analyzes this relation and formalizes it, in a way that makes the rejection of the major premise more palatable. The intuitive idea is that we consider two elements indiscriminable by default, i.e. unless we (...) know some information that discriminates between them. Specifically, following Rough Set Theory, two elements are defined to be indiscernible if they agree on the vague property in question. Then, a is defined to be indiscriminable from b if a is indiscernible by default from b . That is to say, a is indiscriminable from b if it is consistent to assume that a and b agree on the relevant vague property. (shrink)
Rooth's (1985, 1992) theory of focus requires, in addition to the ordinary semantic value of an expression, the focus semantic value, which is a set of alternatives generated by focus. Rooth claims that the union (disjunction) of the focus semantic value is accommodated into the restrictor of an adverbial quantifier. More recently, however, some researchers (Krifka 2001; Geurts & van der Sandt 2004) have argued convincingly that what is accommodated is, in fact, the existential presupposition induced by focus. It would (...) appear, then, that there is no need for assuming the focus semantic value. However, in this paper, I argue that, although the primary effect of focus is, indeed, presuppositional, the focus semantic value cannot be dispensed with. Not only is the focus semantic value necessary but, in fact, additional semantic values are required too. Unlike focus, the analyses of these other semantic values cannot be reduced simply to existential presupposition. I will concentrate on a special reading of some quantificational sentences, the relative reading, whose adequate account, I propose, requires the use of semantic values triggered by alternatives to various elements: the focus, background marking and the world of evaluation.‘Only if there are alternatives can one hope to get insight into what is truly at stake.’ Peter F. Drucker, The Effective Executive (p. 147). (shrink)
We motivate and formalize the idea of sameness by default: two objects are considered the same if they cannot be proved to be different. This idea turns out to be useful for a number of widely different applications, including natural language processing, reasoning with incomplete information, and even philosophical paradoxes. We consider two formalizations of this notion, both of which are based on Reiter’s Default Logic. The first formalization is a new relation of indistinguishability that is introduced by default. We (...) prove that the corresponding default theory has a unique extension, in which every two objects are indistinguishable if and only if their non-equality cannot be proved from the known facts. We show that the indistinguishability relation has some desirable properties: it is reflexive, symmetric, and, while not transitive, it has a transitive “flavor.” The second formalization is an extension (modification) of the ordinary language equality by a similar default: two objects are equal if and only if their non-equality cannot be proved from the known facts. It appears to be less elegant from a formal point of view. In particular, it gives rise to multiple extensions. However, this extended equality is better suited for most of the applications discussed in this paper. (shrink)
For two million years, members of Homo sapiens (and the species from which it emerged) have shaped to their purpose almost everything they found in nature. Yet we are still reproducing by sex. This is a poor method of conceiving human beings, because it surrenders many of the future child’s characteristics to luck. Both parents and children are better off the more parents control their children’s genotypes. The emerging technologies that enable this do not reduce free will and will not (...) eliminate human characteristics (such as certain forms of “mental illness”) that are worth preserving; rather, they will match types of children to parents who can appreciate them. Technological reproduction, not reproduction by sex, should be regarded as truly human. It is the application of the power of thought to human reproduction, and, like the application of that power to external objects and to memes, it will enhance our capacities. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show firstly why Kant believes we should hang on to teleology, and, secondly, that his views on the matter are still relevant to contemporary epistemology despite the fact that theories of evolution now allow purely mechanical explanations of organic processes. By considering Kant’s account in light of that of Daniel Dennett, I elucidate what I believe to be the strength of Kant’s theory, namely, the pragmatic role it assigns to reflective teleological principles. (edited).
Two normative principles of toleration are offered, one individual-regarding, the other group-regarding. The first is John Stuart Mill’s harm principle; the other is “Principle T,” meant to be the harm principle writ large. It is argued that the state should tolerate autonomous sacrifices of autonomy, including instances where an individual rationally chooses to be enslaved, lobotomized, or killed. Consistent with that, it is argued that the state should tolerate internal restrictions within minority groups even where these prevent autonomy promotion of (...) members of the group. Finally, it is argued that toleration excludes external protections of minority groups. (shrink)
Religious beliefs, including those about an afterlife and omniscient spiritual beings, vary across cultures. We theorize that such variations may be predictably linked to ecological variations, just as differences in mating strategies covary with resource distribution. Perhaps beliefs in a soul or afterlife are more common when resources are unpredictable, and life is brutal and short.
The concept of acting intentionally is an important nexus where ‘theory of mind’ and moral judgment meet. Preschool children’s judgments of intentional action show a valence-driven asymmetry. Children say that a foreseen but disavowed side-effect is brought about 'on purpose' when the side-effect itself is morally bad but not when it is morally good. This is the first demonstration in preschoolers that moral judgment influences judgments of ‘on-purpose’ (as opposed to purpose influencing moral judgment). Judgments of intentional action are usually (...) assumed to be purely factual. That these judgments are sometimes partly normative — even in preschoolers — challenges current understanding. Young children’s judgments regarding foreseen side-effects depend upon whether the children process the idea that the character does not care about the side-effect. As soon as preschoolers effectively process the ‘theory of mind’ concept, NOT CARE THAT P, children show the side-effect effect.idea.. (shrink)
Existential bare plurals (e.g. dogs) have the same semantics as explicit existentials (e.g. a dog or some dogs) but different pragmatics. In addition to entailing the existence of a set of individuals, existential bare plurals implicate that this set is suitable for some purpose. The suitability implicature is a form of what has been variously called informativeness-based or R-based implicature. Condoravdi (1992, 1994) and others have claimed that bare plurals have a third reading (in addition to the generic and the (...) existential), sometimes called quasi-universal. However, the suitability implicature is sufficient to account for the quasi-universal interpretation, without the need to stipulate a distinct reading of bare plurals. (shrink)
A tradition among certain Hume scholars, best known as the ‘New Humeans’, proposes a novel reading of Hume’s work, and in particular of his conception of causality.2 The purpose of this paper is to conduct a similar move regarding Hume’s historical method. It is similar for two reasons: firstly, it is intended to reintegrate Hume’s theory into present-day debates on the nature of history; and secondly, the reading I propose is directed against the standard interpretation of Hume’s history. This interpretation (...) claims that in spite of being a historian, Hume misunderstands the nature of both historical knowledge and the historical enterprise. In other words, the Humean methodology would be incompatible with a genuine historical practice. This censure is based upon three particular criticisms: (1) The criticism of ahistoricalism: Hume believes human nature is an unchangeable substratum, and thus cannot account for historical change. (2) The criticism of parochialism: Hume is trapped in his own historical province3, and thus understands other times in the light of his own. (3) The criticism of moral condescension: Hume presumes the same standard is applicable throughout history, and thus judges the past according to his own moral standard. I shall argue that these criticisms are the result of a misunderstanding of what Hume means to accomplish through his investigation of history and that moreover, he is aware of these pitfalls. (shrink)