This article examines Leon Kass's contention that a choice for physician-assisted suicide is “undignified.” Although Kass is Jewish rather than Christian, he argues for positions that most Christians share, and he argues for these positions without presupposing the truth of specific religious claims. I argue that although Kass has some important intuitions, he too readily assumes that these intuitions will be shared by his audience, and that this assumption diminishes the force of his argument. An examination of the limitations of (...) Kass's argument is helpful insofar as it illustrates the real challenge faced by religious believers who wish to defend their beliefs in the “public forum.” For it illustrates that what needs to be made “accessible” is the Judeo-Christian understanding of man and his place in the world. While I do not wish to claim that this task is impossible, I do think that it is far more difficult than most realize. Like all important tasks, however, unless we wrestle with the difficulties it raises, our arguments will strike many as unconvincing. (shrink)
Plural predication is a pervasive part of ordinary language. We can say that some people are fifty in number, are surrounding a building, come from many countries, and are classmates. These predicates can be true of some people without being true of any one of them; they are non-distributive predications. However, the apparatus of modern logic does not allow a place for them. Thomas McKay here explores the enrichment of logic with non-distributive plural predication and quantification. His book will (...) be of great interest to philosophers of language, linguists, metaphysicians, and logicians. (shrink)
This paper mentions several different sorts of "essentialism," and examines various senses in which quantified modal logic is "committed to" the most troublesome kind of essentialism. It is argued that essentialism is neither provable, Nor entailed by any contingently true non-Modal sentence. But quantified modal logic is committed to the meaningfulness of essentialism. This sort of commitment may be made innocuous by requiring that essentialism simply be made logically false; some of the consequences of taking this line are explored.
This paper examines ethical concerns of the utilitarian paradigm, the greatest good for the greatest number, advocated by many proponents and consultants in siting landfills. The implications of the consequentialist utilitarian approach are considered through the examination of a landfill-site-search case study in Ontario, Canada. Limitations to such an approach, in terms of differing values, equal consideration, equitable participation, distributive justice and the emphasis on non-quantifiable factors are discussed. Recommendations to improve the process are made based on the ethical analysis (...) of the case study. (shrink)
This paper argues against evidential decision-theory, by showing that the newest responses to its biggest current problem – the medical Newcomb problems – don’t work. The latest approach is described, and the arguments of two main proponents of it – Huw Price and CR Hitchcock – clearly distinguished and examined. It is argued that since neither new defence is successful, causation remains essential to understanding means-end agency.
Mesoudi et al. overlook an illuminating parallel between cultural and biological evolution, namely, the existence in each realm of a continuum from intelligent, mindful evolution through to oblivious, mindless evolution. In addition, they underplay the independence of cultural fitness from biological fitness. The assumption that successful cultural traits enhance genetic fitness must be sidelined, as must the assumption that such traits will at least be considered worth having. (Published Online November 9 2006).
Does the formation of delusions involve abnormal reasoning? According to the prominent ‘two-factor’ theory of delusions (e.g. Coltheart, 2007), the answer is yes. The second factor in this theory is supposed to affect a deluded individual's ability to evaluate candidates for belief. However, most published accounts of the two-factor theory have not said much about the nature of this second factor. In an effort to remedy this shortcoming, Coltheart, Menzies and Sutton (2010) recently put forward a Bayesian account of inference (...) in delusions. I outline some criticisms of this important account, and sketch an alternative account of delusional inference that, I argue, avoids these criticisms. Specifically, I argue that the second factor in delusion formation involves a systematic deviation from Bayesian updating, a deviation that may be characterized as a bias towards ‘explanatory adequacy’. I present a numerical model of this idea and show that my alternative account is broadly consistent with prominent prediction error models of delusion formation (e.g. Corlett, Murray et al., 2007). (shrink)
I argue that contemporary philosophy of language in the analytic tradition rests on two fundamentally wrong assumptions: empiricism and externalism. After I show why these two assumptions are incorrect, I turn my attention to biological rationalism. Biological rationalism—a research program inspired by the work of Noam Chomsky—is committed to nativism and internalism. I believe biological rationalism provides the best framework to achieve a genuine understanding of language. I try to show this by considering the biological rationalist answers to major problems (...) in philosophy of language. (shrink)
Astrobiologists are aware that extraterrestrial life might differ from known life, and considerable thought has been given to possible signatures associated with weird forms of life on other planets. So far, however, very little attention has been paid to the possibility that our own planet might also host communities of weird life. If life arises readily in Earth-like conditions, as many astrobiologists contend, then it may well have formed many times on Earth itself, which raises the question whether one or (...) more shadow biospheres have existed in the past or still exist today. In this paper, we discuss possible signatures of weird life and outline some simple strategies for seeking evidence of a shadow biosphere. Key Words: Weird life—Multiple origins of life—Biogenesis—Biomarkers—Extremophiles—Alternative biochemistry. Astrobiology 9, 241–249. (shrink)
Abstract Because norms related to sexuality are an important determinant of the nature of society, sexuality education in schools is the subject of passionate debate. This discourse reflects a struggle between Restrictive and Permissive sexual ideologies. These ideologies compete for influence in shaping sexuality education. As a result, some sexuality education programmes constitute ideological indoctrination. Many other programmes, because of the ideological conflict surrounding sexuality, omit important sexual health information. The objective of this paper is to articulate the basic parameters (...) of a democratic philosophy of sexuality education. The aim of this philosophy is to accommodate ideological pluralism related to sexuality while simultaneously ensuring that educational programmes provide the necessary information and skills to facilitate the human right to sexual health. Based on Rawls? (1993) theory of political liberalism, this philosophy proposes that sexuality education ought to be centred upon the overlapping consensus within a democracy on the right to freedom of belief. In contrast to many prevailing forms of sexuality education, it is contended that a democratic educational approach must facilitate the ability to deliberate critically between competing ideological perspectives on sexuality. The Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education are offered as an example of a democratic philosophy of sexuality education. In conclusion, evidence is provided to suggest that parents support a democratic approach to sexuality education. (shrink)
The paper offers an analysis of how to operationalize the development goal of promoting well?being, and provides an exemplar. It focuses on one element of a comprehensive methodology to operationalize empirical research into the social and cultural construction of well?being in developing countries. This research uses a definition of well?being that combines objective and subjective dimensions and locates these in the social and cultural relationships of particular societies. We focus here on the Resources and Needs Questionnaire (RANQ), a research instrument (...) specifically developed for this work. This explores the relationships between the resources that households command and the levels of needs satisfaction which household members experience. Preliminary analysis of data for Bangladesh and Peru identifies a number of significant relationships between the distribution of resources that households command and the levels of needs satisfaction they achieve. These outcome results then represent a foundation for further analysis using complementary qualitative and process?oriented data. JEL Classifications: A12, I32, Z1. (shrink)
(1) Arnie, Bob and Carlos are shipmates.1 This is something true of the three of them together. We cannot say Arnie is a shipmate except perhaps as elliptical for something that connects Arnie to others. (Arnie is a..