In Search of Immortality: The Political Economy of Anti-aging Medicine Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 267-279 DOI 10.1007/s12376-009-0020-x Authors AlanPetersen, Monash University Sociology Program, School of Political and Social Inquiry Clayton VIC 3800 Australia Kate Seear, Monash University Sociology Program, School of Political and Social Inquiry Clayton VIC 3800 Australia Journal Medicine Studies Online ISSN 1876-4541 Print ISSN 1876-4533 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 3.
The aim of this paper is to discuss the plausibility of a certain position in the philosophical literature within which the Repugnant Conclusion is treated, not as repugnant, but as an acceptable implication of the total welfare principle. I will confine myself to focus primarily on Törbjörn Tännsjö’s presentation. First, I reconstruct Tännsjö’s view concerning the repugnance of the RC in two arguments. The first argument is criticized for (a) addressing the wrong comparison, (b) relying on the controversial claim that (...) the privileged people in our actual world only have lives barely worth living and (c) that Tännsjö’s identification between Z-lives and privileged lives is restricted to certain versions of the notion ‘barely worth living’ – a restriction that weakens the force of the argument. The second argument is criticized because some of it premises entailed (b) and (d) for its implausible claim that non-imaginable outcomes cannot be compared. (shrink)
Most philosophers discuss the Repugnant Conclusion as an objection to total utilitarianism. But this focus on total utilitarianism seems to be one-sided. It conceals the important fact that other competing moral theories are also subject to the Repugnant Conclusion. The primary aim of this paper is to demonstrate that versions of egalitarianism are subject to the Repugnant Conclusion and other repugnant conclusions.
Assume we could someday create artificial creatures with intelligence comparable to our own. Could it be ethical use them as unpaid labor? There is very little philosophical literature on this topic, but the consensus so far has been that such robot servitude would merely be a new form of slavery. Against this consensus I defend the permissibility of robot servitude, and in particular the controversial case of designing robots so that they want to serve (more or less particular) human ends. (...) A typical objection to this case draws an analogy to the genetic engineering of humans: if designing eager robot servants is permissible, it should also be permissible to design eager human servants. Few ethical views can easily explain even the wrongness of such human engineering, however, and those few explanations that are available break the analogy with engineering robots. The case turns out to be illustrative of profound problems in the field of population ethics. (shrink)
Standard epistemology takes it for granted that there is a special kind of value: epistemic value. This claim does not seem to sit well with act utilitarianism, however, since it holds that only welfare is of real value. I first develop a particularly utilitarian sense of “epistemic value”, according to which it is closely analogous to the nature of financial value. I then demonstrate the promise this approach has for two current puzzles in the intersection of epistemology and value theory: (...) first, the problem of why knowledge is better than mere true belief, and second, the relation between epistemic justification and responsibility. (shrink)
In an effort to construct a plausible theory of experience-based welfare, Wayne Sumner imposes two requirements on the relevant kind of experience: the information requirement and the autonomy requirement. I argue that both requirements are problematic.First, I argue (very briefly) that a well-know case like ‘the deceived businessman’ need not support the information requirement as Sumner believes. Second, I introduce a case designed to cast further doubt on the information requirement. Third, I attend to a shortcoming in Sumner’s theory of (...) welfare, namely that it is unclear which of later and informed assessments are to be treated as authoritative when it comes to the evaluation of a person’s welfare. Finally, I suggest that, in combination with ‘welfarism’ (to which Sumner subscribes, and which has it that welfare is all that matters from a moral viewpoint), the information requirement entail morally troublesome conclusions: e.g. the conclusion that, from a moral point of view, we should, other things being equal, only to be concerned with the alternative that makes one person slightly better off in respect of welfare instead of also being morally concerned with the alternative that makes one person very happy. (shrink)
Next SectionFive arguments are presented in favour of the proposal that people who opt in as organ donors should receive a tax break. These arguments appeal to welfare, autonomy, fairness, distributive justice and self-ownership, respectively. Eight worries about the proposal are considered in this paper. These objections focus upon no-effect and counter-productiveness, the Titmuss concern about social meaning, exploitation of the poor, commodification, inequality and unequal status, the notion that there are better alternatives, unacceptable expense, and concerns about the veto (...) of relatives. The paper argues that none of the objections to the proposal is very telling. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to critically discuss the plausibility of legal moralism with an emphasis on some central and recent versions. First, this paper puts forward and defends the thesis that recently developed varieties of legal moralism promoted by Robert P. George, John Kekes and Michael Moore are more plausible than Lord Devlin's traditional account. The main argument for this thesis is that in its more modern versions legal moralism is immune to some of the forceful challenges made (...) to Devlin by Hart, Dworkin and Feinberg among others. Second, however, the paper challenges the new generation of legal moralists and suggests some areas for further development. Although Devlin's position has been scrutinized thoroughly in the literature on the philosophy of law, there has, to my knowledge, been no comparable, systematic critique of these different proponents of legal moralism. (shrink)
In Naming and Necessity, Saul Kripke employs a handy philosophical trick: he invents the term ‘schmidentity’ to argue indirectly for his favored account of identity. Kripke says in a footnote that he wishes someday “to elaborate on the utility of this device”. In this paper, I ﬁrst take up a general elaboration on his behalf. I then apply the trick to support an attractive but somewhat unorthodox picture of conceptual analysis—one according to which it is a process of forming intentions (...) for word use. This picture can recover a naturalistically respectable notion of the philosopher’s task, and can help resolve current debates that turn on the place of conceptual analysis. (shrink)
Methodological naturalism states (roughly speaking) that only science can be a route to knowledge. This purported piece of knowledge looks self-condemning, however; after all, it was formulated in the armchair, and not in the laboratory. I argue that on a popular (if largely unarticulated) construal of naturalism as inference to the best explanation, methodological naturalism escapes this charge of internal incoherence, and in fact is self-endorsing rather than self-condemning.
The simplicity of a theory seems closely related to how well the theory summarizes individual data points. Think, for example, of classic curve-fitting. It is easy to get perfect data-fit with a ‘‘theory’’ that simply lists each point of data, but such a theory is maximally unsimple (for the data-fit). The simple theory suggests instead that there is one underlying curve that summarizes this data, and we usually prefer such a theory even at some expense in data-fit. In general, it (...) seems, theorizing involves looking for regularities or patterns in our experience, and such regularities are interesting to us because they summarize how our experience goes. We could list all the ravens we’ve encountered, and their colors, or we could summarize.. (shrink)
Arthur Falk has proposed a new construal of faith according to which it is not a mere species of belief, but has essential components in action. This twist on faith promises to resurrect Pascal’s Wager, making faith compatible with reason by believing as the scientist but acting as the theist. I argue that Falk’s proposal leaves religious faith in no better shape; in particular, it merely reframes the question in terms of rational desires rather than rational beliefs.
The paper critically discusses a role-model argument (RMA) in favour of banning performance-enhancing drugs in sport. The argument concludes that athletes should be banned from using performance-enhancing drugs because if they are allowed to use such drugs they will encourage, or cause, youngsters who look up to them to use drugs in a way that would be harmful. In Section 2 the structure of the argument and some versions of it are presented. In Section 3 a critical discussion of RMA (...) is presented. It is argued that we should be reluctant to accept the argument as it stands for at least three reasons: (i) it rests on an unsupported empirical claim; (ii) it also makes a false empirical claim; and (iii) the normative premise of the argument is too demanding morally. Further objections to the RMA are also discussed, but argued to be beside the point. (shrink)
This article presents the results of a study that analysed whether social responsibility had any bearing on the decision making of institutional investors. Being that institutional investors prefer socially aligned organizations, this study explored to what extent the corporate actions and/or social/environmental investments influenced their decisions. Our results suggest that there are specific variables that affect the perceived value of the organization, leading to decisions to not only invest, but whether to hold or sell the shares, and therefore having a (...) consequential impact on the capital market’s valuation. (shrink)
A national opt-out system of post-mortem donation of scarce organs is preferable to an opt-in system. Unfortunately, the former system is not always feasible, and so in a recent JME article we canvassed the possibility of offering people a tax break for opting-in as a way of increasing the number of organs available for donation under an opt-in regime. Muireann Quigley and James Stacey Taylor criticize our proposal. Roughly, Quigley argues that our proposal is costly and, hence, is unlikely to (...) be implemented, while Taylor contests our response to a Titmuss-style objection to our scheme. In response to Quigley, we note that our proposal’s main attraction lies in gains not reflected in the figures presented by Quigley and that the mere fact that it is costly does not imply that it is unfeasible. In response to Taylor, we offer some textual evidence in support of our interpretation of Taylor and responds to his favoured interpretation of the Titmuss-style objection that many people seem to want to donate to charities even if they can deduct their donations from their income tax. Finally, we show why our views do not commit us to endorsing a free organ-market. (shrink)
given at the 2007 Formal Epistemology Workshop at Carnegie Mellon June 2nd. Good compression must track higher vs lower probability of inputs, and this is one way to approach how simplicity tracks truth.
This paper critically discusses an argument that is sometimes pressed into service in the ethical debate about the use of assisted reproduction. The argument runs roughly as follows: we should prevent women from using assisted reproduction techniques, because women who want to use the technology have been socially coerced into desiring children - and indeed have thereby been harmed by the patriarchal society in which they live. I call this the argument from coercion. Having clarified this argument, I conclude that (...) although it addresses important issues, it is highly problematic for the following reasons. First, if women are being coerced to desire to use AR, we should eradicate the coercive elements in pro-natalist ideology, not access to AR. Second, the argument seems to have the absurd implication that we should prevent all woman, whether fertile or not, to try to have children. Third, it seems probable that women's welfare will be greater if we let well informed and decision-competent women decide for themselves whether they want to use AR. (shrink)
The attacks on commercial shipping vessels by Somali pirates have introduced a business dilemma for ship-owners. While maritime piracy has been outlawed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, ship-owners must determine whether to pay ransom demands to Somali pirates or not. There is no easy answer to solve this ethical dilemma for ship-owners and other interest groups, however, this article proposes a solution which takes into account all of the parties involved.
I propose a conceptual framework for emotions according to which they are best understood as the feedback mechanism a creature possesses in virtue of its function to learn. More specifically, emotions can be neatly modeled as a measure of harmony in a certain kind of constraint satisfaction problem. This measure can be used as error for weight adjustment (learning) in an unsupervised connectionist network.
On the one hand, the absence of contraction is a safeguard against the logical (property theoretic) paradoxes; but on the other hand, it also disables inductive and recursive definitions, in its most basic form the definition of the series of natural numbers, for instance. The reason for this is simply that the effectiveness of a recursion clause depends on its being available after application, something that is usually assured by contraction. This paper presents a way of overcoming this problem within (...) the framework of a logic based on inclusion and unrestricted abstraction, without any form of extensionality. (shrink)
Whether it is morally acceptable to offer rehabilitation by CNS-intervention to criminals as a condition for early release constitutes an important neuroethical question. Bomann-Larsen has recently suggested that such interventions are unacceptable if the offered treatment is not narrowly targeted at the behaviour for which the criminal is convicted. In this article it is argued that Bomann-Larsen’s analysis of the morality of offers does not provide a solid base for this conclusion and that, even if the analysis is assumed to (...) be correct, it still does not follow that voluntary rehabilitation schemes targeting behaviour beyond the act for which a criminal is convicted are inappropriate. (shrink)
New results in ergodic theory show that averages of repeated measurements will typically diverge with probability one if there are random errors in the measurement of time. Since mean-square convergence of the averages is not so susceptible to these anomalies, we are led again to compare the mean and pointwise ergodic theorems and to reconsider efforts to determine properties of a stochastic process from the study of a generic sample path. There are also implications for models of time and the (...) interaction between observer and observable. (shrink)
Bioethics as politics -- Bioethics and the politics of expectations -- Engendering consent : bioethics and biobanks -- Missing the big picture : bioethics and stem cell research -- Testing times : bioethics and "do-it-yourself" genetics -- Governing uncertainty : the politics of nanoethics -- Beyond bioethics.
Running head: Functional neuroimaging Abstract Several recently developed techniques enable the investigation of the neural basis of cognitive function in the human brain. Two of these, PET and fMRI, yield whole-brain images reflecting regional neural activity associated with the performance of specific tasks. This article explores the spatial and temporal capabilities and limitations of these techniques, and discusses technical, biological, and cognitive issues relevant to understanding the goals and methods of neuroimaging studies. The types of advances in understanding cognitive and (...) brain function made possible with these methods are illustrated with examples from the neuroimaging literature. (shrink)
Jeﬀrey conditioning allows updating in Bayesian style when the evidence is uncertain. A weighted average, essentially, over classically updating on the alternatives. Unlike classical Bayesian conditioning, this allows learning to be unlearned.
Foucault's work has had a profound impact on the medical humanities over the last decade or so. However, most work to date has focused on Foucault's earlier writings rather than his later contributions on the self and governmentality. This article assesses the significance of the concept of governmentality for critical scholarship in the medical humanities, particularly in creating ethical awareness in the field of health care. It examines the context for Foucault's later work, and contributions arising from scholarship building on (...) this work. The governmentality literature, it is argued, raises novel questions about the ways we have come to think about health care in late modern societies. However, there are some limitations with this body of work which have not been fully acknowledged by scholars. The article discusses some of these limitations and offers some suggestions for a fruitful way forward. (shrink)
Nanotechnologies are expected to have a substantial impact on our lives in the future. However, the nanotechnology field is characterised by many uncertainties and debates surrounding the characterisation of technologies, the nature of the applications, the potential benefits and the likely risks. Given the rapid development of nanotechnologies, it is timely to consider what, if any, novel ethical challenges are posed by developments and how best to address these given the attendant uncertainties. The three articles which comprise this symposium consider (...) the philosophical, regulatory and risk perception and communication questions that arise from this arena. (shrink)
An oft-quoted Hadith purports that it is incumbent upon every Muslim to seek knowledge, even if it is to be found as far away as China.1 However, the plethora of knowledge that was discovered there generally has yet to be unraveled by Western academics. If the intellectual tradition of Chinese Muslims may appear to be of minor consequence to the larger field of Islamic studies, this is in part because of our failure to assess their influence. The abundant resources for (...) understanding the Islamic sciences in China have barely been grazed and are awaiting our thorough analytical peregrination. This essay attempts to evaluate (1) the most recent work that explores this intellectual tradition, The Sage Learning of Liu .. (shrink)
This study examined the influence of two organizational context variables, codes of conduct and supervisor advice, on personnel decisions in an experimental simulation. Specifically, we studied personnel evaluations and decisions in a situation where codes of conduct conflict with supervisor advice. Past studies showed that supervisors’ advice to prefer ingroup over outgroup candidates leads to discriminatory personnel selection decisions. We extended this line of research by studying how codes of conduct and code enforcement may reduce this form of discrimination. Eighty (...) German managers evaluated and selected candidates from an applicant pool including Germans (ingroup members) and foreigners (outgroup members). Supervisor advice to prefer ingroup members lowered suitability ratings of outgroup members as well as their chances to be selected for an interview. Ethical codes of conduct referring to equal opportunities limited this form of discrimination, but only when codes were enforced by sanctions and integrated into organizational every-day practice. The implications of these findings for research and practice are discussed. (shrink)
In recent years, in the UK and elsewhere, scientists and science policymakers have grappled with the question of how to reap the benefits of nanotechnologies while minimising the risks. Having recognised the importance of public support for future innovations, they have placed increasing emphasis on ‘engaging’ ‘the public’ during the early phase of technology development. Meaningful engagement suggests some common ground between experts and lay publics in relation to the definition of nanotechnologies and of their benefits and risks. However, views (...) on nanotechnologies are likely to vary according to where actors stand in the technology production/consumption/assessment cycle. Drawing on data from a recent UK-based study, this article examines how scientists (‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’) and policymakers portray the benefits and risks of nanotechnologies, particularly as they relate to two major areas of predicted application, namely medicine/public health and environmental sustainability. The findings reveal that, in the main, scientists and science policymakers held a positive conception of nanotechnologies and see imminent applications, although they acknowledged particular risks, including adverse public reaction. While definitions of ‘benefit’ and ‘risk’ varied, most saw the benefits as outweighing the risks and believed that the risks could be adequately regulated once they were assessed. The difficulties of assessing risk, however, were acknowledged. The study raises a number of questions that will need to be addressed if regulations are to be developed that not only protect people’s heath and wellbeing and the environment but also engender public trust in nanotechnologies. (shrink)
Wrongful birth actions aim to compensate litigants who are negligently deprived by health professionals of their right to reproductive choice. Access to safe and legal abortion is integral to the action and wrongful birth claims in the United Kingdom have been facilitated by the Abortion Act 1967 (as amended). The recent Australian case CES v Superclinics (1995) 38 NSWLR 47 shows how judicial confusion about the legality of abortion can result in judges condoning medical negligence. The Superclinics case also suggests (...) that doctors are not required to provide pregnant women with the same standard of care as other patients. These developments show that law can become incoherent and health professionals can act negligently with impunity when reproductive choice does not have a secure legal foundation. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to present and evaluate a specific critical discussion of Peter Singer's view on philanthropy. This critique of Singer's position takes several forms, and here we focus on only two of these. First of all, it is claimed that philanthropy (based upon the giving up of luxury goods) should be avoided, because it harms the poor. As we shall see this is a view defended by Andrew Kuper. However, philanthropy is also accused of harming the (...) poor by being sub-optimal and standing in the way of the more effective and lasting poverty relief brought about by changes in the political and economic system. This second complaint is defended by, among others, Paul Gomberg, Anthony Langlois and David Schweickart, as well as Kuper. To our knowledge, little systematic work has been done on the presentation and evaluation of theses objections to philanthropy. In what follows, the objections are dealt with in connection with private donations made by individuals, as this is the focus, and target, of the philosophers/scientists we wish to discuss. (shrink)
In Pninis grammar of Sanskrit one finds the ivastras, a table which defines the natural classes of phonological segments in Sanskrit by intervals. We present a formal argument which shows that, using his representation method, Pninis way of ordering the phonological segments to represent the natural classes is optimal. The argument is based on a strictly set-theoretical point of view depending only on the set of natural classes and does not explicitly take into account the phonological features of the segments, (...) which are, however, implicitly given in the way a language clusters its phonological inventory. The key idea is to link the graph of the Hasse-diagram of the set of natural classes closed under intersection to ivastra-style representations of the classes. Moreover, the argument is so general that it allows one to decide for each set of sets whether it can be represented with Pninis method. Actually, Pnini had to modify the set of natural classes to define it by the ivastras (the segment h plays a special role). We show that this modification was necessary and, in fact, the best possible modification. We discuss how every set of classes can be modified in such a way that it can be defined in a ivastra-style representation.1. (shrink)