Following the Texas standoff in 1993 between Federal agents and the Branch Davidians, the Society of Professional Journalists appointed a Task Force, chaired by Bob Steele and Jay Black to examine media conduct during that period and to draw lessons for such situations in the future. The following is the final section of a 27-page report that the Task Force submitted to the Society. It addressed a dozen issues arising from the event and contains reflections and guidelines from the (...) Task Force. (shrink)
Steele, Peter I do not know anybody who believes that human beings are made, literally, of air, fire, earth and water. But that, say, either poets or theologians should frame their understanding of Christ by invoking these or similar terms is not necessarily due either to nostalgia or to sloth. When, for example, Aquinas speaks of the Incarnation as the Word's arriving among us 'like an aqueduct from Paradise', this is not because he was having a slow day among (...) the scribes. Rather, in a vein familiar to many of the Fathers, he was conceiving of certain human elements as being great enablers of insight into divine mysteries. It was as if those elements had borrowed an expression from later, unhappier circumstances, and each was saying, 'Here I stand: I can do no other.'. (shrink)
On the face of it, ethics and decision theory give quite different advice about what the best course of action is in a given situation. In this paper we examine this alleged conflict in the realm of environmental decision-making. We focus on a couple of places where ethics and decision theory might be thought to be offering conflicting advice: environmental triage and carbon trading. We argue that the conflict can be seen as conflicts about other things (like appropriate temporal scales (...) for value assignments, idealisations of the decision situation, whether the conservation budget really is fixed and the like). The good news is that there is no conflict between decision theory and environmental ethics. The bad news is that a great deal of environmental decision modelling may be rather simple minded, in that it does not fully incorporate some of these broader issues about temporal scales and the dynamics of many of the decision situations. (shrink)
I focus my discussion on the well-known Ellsberg paradox. I find good normative reasons for incorporating non-precise belief, as represented by sets of probabilities, in an Ellsberg decision model. This amounts to forgoing the completeness axiom of expected utility theory. Provided that probability sets are interpreted as genuinely indeterminate belief (as opposed to “imprecise” belief), such a model can moreover make the “Ellsberg choices” rationally permissible. Without some further element to the story, however, the model does not explain how an (...) agent may come to have unique preferences for each of the Ellsberg options. Levi (1986, Hard choices: Decision making under unresolved conflict. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press) holds that the extra element amounts to innocuous secondary “risk” or security considerations that are used to break ties when more than one option is rationally permissible. While I think a lexical choice rule of this kind is very plausible, I argue that it involves a greater break with xpected utility theory than mere violation of the ordering axiom. (shrink)
Invited media scholars and journalists examine the general issue of nuclear waste, risk and the sicentific promises that were made, but not kept, about safe disposal. The mass media uncovered and reported on nuclear waste problems at Rocky Flats in Colorado and Hanford in Washington. Two environmental journalists review efforts to expose problems at these sites, how secrecy hampered reporting, and the effects of media coverage on nearby residents. An environmental communications scholar evaluates media coverage, the role of the U.S. (...) Department of Energy, and the impact of secrecy on public risk perceptions and attitudes toward government nuclear waste policies. (shrink)
This paper considers a special case of belief updating—when an agent learns testimonial data, or in other words, the beliefs of others on some issue. The interest in this case is twofold: (1) the linear averaging method for updating on testimony is somewhat popular in epistemology circles, and it is important to assess its normative acceptability, and (2) this facilitates a more general investigation of what it means/requires for an updating method to have a suitable Bayesian representation (taken here as (...) the normative standard). The paper initially defends linear averaging against Bayesian-compatibility concerns raised by Bradley (Soc Choice Welf 29:609-632, 2007), as well as problems associated with multiple testimony updates. The resolution of these issues, however, requires an extremely nuanced interpretation of the parameters of the linear averaging model—the so-called weights of respect. We go on to propose a role that the parameters of any 'shortcut' updating function should play, by way of minimal interpretation of these parameters. The class of updating functions that is consistent with this role, however, excludes linear averaging, at least in its standard form. (shrink)
Group decisions raise a number of substantial philosophical and methodological issues. We focus on the goal of the group decision exercise itself. We ask: What should be counted as a good group decision-making result? The right decision might not be accessible to, or please, any of the group members. Conversely, a popular decision can fail to be the correct decision. In this paper we discuss what it means for a decision to be "right" and what components are required in a (...) decision process to produce happy decision-makers. Importantly, we discuss how "right" decisions can produce happy decision-makers, or rather, the conditions under which happy decision-makers and right decisions coincide. In a large range of contexts, we argue for the adoption of formal consensus models to assist in the group decision-making process. In particular, we advocate the formal consensus convergence model of Lehrer and Wagner (1981), because a strong case can be made as to why the underlying algorithm produces a result that should make each of the experts in a group happy. Arguably, this model facilitates true consensus, where the group choice is effectively each person's individual choice. We analyse Lehrer and Wagner's algorithm for reaching consensus on group probabilities/utilities in the context of complex decision-making for conservation biology. While many conservation decisions are driven by a search for objective utility/probability distributions (regarding extinction risks of species and the like), other components of conservation management primarily concern the interests of stakeholders. We conclude with cautionary notes on mandating consensus in decision scenarios for which no fact of the matter exists. For such decision settings alternative types of social choice methods are more appropriate. (shrink)
Summary 1. Ecologists and conservation biologists consider many issues when designing a field study, such as the expected value of the data, the interests of the study species, the welfare of individual organisms and the cost of the project. These different issues or values often conflict; however, neither animal ethics nor environmental ethics provides practical guidance on how to assess trade-offs between them. -/- 2. We developed a decision framework for considering trade-offs between values in ecological research, drawing on the (...) field of ecological ethics. We used a case study of the population genetics of three frog species, in which a researcher must choose between four methods of sampling DNA from the study animals. We measured species welfare as the reduction in population growth rate following sampling, and assessed individual welfare using two different definitions: (i) the level of suffering experienced by an animal, and (ii) the level of suffering combined with loss of future life. -/- 3. Tipping the tails of tadpoles ranked as the best sampling method for species welfare, while collecting whole tadpoles and buccal swabbing of adult frogs ranked best for the first and second definitions of individual welfare, respectively. Toe clipping of adult frogs ranked as the worst sampling method for species welfare and the first definition of individual welfare, and equal worst for the second definition of individual welfare. -/- 4. When considering species and individual welfare simultaneously, toe clipping was clearly inferior to the other sampling methods, but no single sampling method was clearly superior to the other three. Buccal swabbing, collecting tadpoles and tail tipping were all preferred options, depending on the definition of individual welfare and the level of precision with which we assessed species welfare. -/- 5.Synthesis and applications. The decision framework we present can be used by ecologists to assess ethical and other trade-offs when planning field studies. A formal decision analysis makes transparent how a researcher might negotiate competing ethical, financial and practical objectives. Defining the components of the decision in this way can help avoid errors associated with human judgement and linguistic uncertainty. (shrink)
We argue that concerns about double-counting—using the same evidence both to calibrate or tune climate models and also to confirm or verify that the models are adequate—deserve more careful scrutiny in climate modelling circles. It is widely held that double-counting is bad and that separate data must be used for calibration and confirmation. We show that this is far from obviously true, and that climate scientists may be confusing their targets. Our analysis turns on a Bayesian/relative-likelihood approach to incremental confirmation. (...) According to this approach, double-counting is entirely proper. We go on to discuss plausible difficulties with calibrating climate models, and we distinguish more and less ambitious notions of confirmation. Strong claims of confirmation may not, in many cases, be warranted, but it would be a mistake to regard double-counting as the culprit. 1 Introduction2 Remarks about Models and Adequacy-for-Purpose3 Evidence for Calibration Can Also Yield Comparative Confirmation3.1 Double-counting I3.2 Double-counting II4 Climate Science Examples: Comparative Confirmation in Practice4.1 Confirmation due to better and worse best fits4.2 Confirmation due to more and less plausible forcings values5 Old Evidence6 Doubts about the Relevance of Past Data7 Non-comparative Confirmation and Catch-Alls8 Climate Science Example: Non-comparative Confirmation and Catch-Alls in Practice9 Concluding Remarks. (shrink)
This paper considers a key point of contention between classical and Bayesian statistics that is brought to the fore when examining so-called ‘persistent experimenters’—the issue of stopping rules, or more accurately, outcome spaces, and their influence on statistical analysis. First, a working definition of classical and Bayesian statistical tests is given, which makes clear that (1) once an experimental outcome is recorded, other possible outcomes matter only for classical inference, and (2) full outcome spaces are nevertheless relevant to both the (...) classical and Bayesian approaches, when it comes to planning/choosing a test. The latter point is shown to have important repercussions. Here we argue that it undermines what Bayesians may admit to be a compelling argument against their approach—the Bayesian indifference to persistent experimenters and their optional stopping rules. We acknowledge the prima facie appeal of the pro-classical ‘optional stopping intuition’, even for those who ordinarily have Bayesian sympathies. The final section of the paper, however, provides three error theories that may assist a Bayesian in explaining away the apparent anomaly in their reasoning. (shrink)
The “new” theory of Carpendale & Lewis (C&L) needs be compared with existing elaborated and tested models concerning the social origins underpinning the sense of being a person with thoughts and feelings in relation to others. Illustrations are provided from contemporary attachment theory and research in the context of questioning the potential legacy of Piaget as a theorist of social relationships.
Abstract The recent proliferation of economically informed writings favoring market socialism exhibits dissonances in this evolving theoretical orientation. The ethical presuppositions of classical socialism have often been inherited by those who now embrace markets under socialism. But precisely because it accepts markets, market socialism may prove incompatible with these sentiments.
Tests of models of reciprocal interactions of testosterone and behaviour patterns in honour subcultures, if based on adult samples measured at a single point in time, would be aided by measures of behaviour in such samples that indirectly index basal testosterone levels at earlier developmental ages, for example, hand preference and other measures of cerebral dominance. Such models raise questions about the social preconditions of honour subcultures, and their indirect effects on health.
Background: Abortion policy varies significantly between Northern Ireland and Norway. This is the first study to compare medical students’ attitudes towards abortion in two different countries. Objective: To assess medical students’ attitudes to abortion at the University of Oslo (UiO) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). Design: An anonymous questionnaire completed by 59 medical students at UiO and 86 medical students at QUB. Participants: Students who had completed their obstetrics and gynaecology placements during 2006/2007. Results: The students’ responses (UiO versus QUB) (...) were as follows: response rate, 95.2% vs 92.5%; stated no religious affiliation, 48.0% vs 4.7%; pro-abortion, 78.2% vs 14.3% (χ2 = 58.160, p<0.001); had seen an abortion while studying medicine, 74.6% vs 9.4% (χ2 = 73.183, p<0.001); in favour of abortion when there was a threat to the mother’s life, 100% vs 93.3% (χ2 = 6.143, p = 0.150); in favour of providing abortion on the mother’s request, 86.4% vs 9.3% (χ2 = 42.067, p<0.001); in agreement that women should have access to free abortion services (mean value on a 5-point Likert scale 1.69 out of 5), versus in disagreement (mean 3.76, p<0.001). Conclusion: There were significant differences in students’ attitudes to abortion, reflecting differences in religious, legal and educational experiences. (shrink)
Richard Rudner famously argues that the communication of scientific advice to policy makers involves ethical value judgments. His argument has, however, been rightly criticized. This article revives Rudner’s conclusion, by strengthening both his lines of argument: we generalize his initial assumption regarding the form in which scientists must communicate their results and complete his ‘backup’ argument by appealing to the difference between private and public decisions. Our conclusion that science advisors must, for deep-seated pragmatic reasons, make value judgments is further (...) bolstered by reflections on how the scientific contribution to policy is far less straightforward than the Rudner-style model suggests. (shrink)
Abstract As microeconomic calculus and macroeconomic estimation superseded earlier approaches to political economy, broad questions about how things are (ontology), how things might be known (epistemology), and how science should proceed (methodology) were neglected. As a corrective, Critical Realism (CR) has been proposed as an alternative to the orthodox deductive?nomological (ODN) tradition; i.e., to mathematical deduction and statistical induction. In their place, retroduction?the use of analogy, metaphor, intuition and ordinary language?is supposed to illuminate root causes by identifying the deep mechanisms (...) that govern events. CR offers guidelines for social science that are of a most general kind: from initial ?premises,? retroduction proceeds to hypotheses about deep structures and mechanisms. The initial premises are determined by a desire to understand events that surprise us. However, nothing is thereby excluded, including ODN. And since historical processes are revealed neither by assumption nor by the net effects of whatever initial conditions hold, it might be apposite to drop the search for (deep) socio?economic laws and to use whatever evidence is at hand to see whether, and the extent to which, ideal types apply to any given historical sequence. (shrink)
THE PRINCIPLES OF SOCIAL EVOLUTION by C. R. Hallpike New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. 426pp., $59.00 CULTURE AND THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS by Robert Boyd and Peter J. Richerson Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985. 339pp., $29.95.
This article considers the ethics of photojournalism from a television news perspective. The author, on the basis of his participant?observation study conducted at two major?market television stations, suggests that while most of the television news photographers he observed and interviewed expressed strong ethical beliefs and values, those same individuals admitted they often acted in contradiction to many of their personal ethical beliefs. Their actions in carrying out their work and their revelations on the structure of their ethical beliefs indicate they (...) face a dilemma in balancing values. They must deal with the often contradictory values of competition, careerism, journalistic norms, peer pressure, technology, and management and organizational expectations. (shrink)
There are at least two plausible generalisations of subjective expected utility (SEU) theory: cumulative prospect theory (which relaxes the independence axiom) and Levi’s decision theory (which relaxes at least ordering). These theories call for a re-assessment of the minimal requirements of rational choice. Here, I consider how an analysis of sequential decision making contributes to this assessment. I criticise Hammond’s (Economica 44(176):337–350, 1977; Econ Philos 4:292–297, 1988a; Risk, decision and rationality, 1988b; Theory Decis 25:25–78, 1988c) ‘consequentialist’ argument for the SEU (...) preference axioms, but go on to formulate a related diachronic-Dutch-book-style’ argument that better achieves Hammond’s aims. Some deny the importance of Dutch-book sure losses, however, in which case, Seidenfeld’s (Econ Philos 4:267–290, 1988a) argument that distinguishes between theories that relax independence and those that relax ordering is relevant. I unravel Seidenfeld’s argument in light of the various criticisms of it and show that the crux of the argument is somewhat different and much more persuasive than what others have taken it to be; the critical issue is the modelling of future choices between ‘indifferent’ decision-tree branches in the sequential setting. Finally, I consider how Seidenfeld’s conclusions might nonetheless be resisted. (shrink)
Imprecise probabilism—which holds that rational belief/credence is permissibly represented by a set of probability functions—apparently suffers from a problem known as dilation. We explore whether this problem can be avoided or mitigated by one of the following strategies: (a) modifying the rule by which the credal state is updated, (b) restricting the domain of reasonable credal states to those that preclude dilation.
It has been argued that people in areas with high pathogen loads will be more likely to avoid outsiders, to be biased in favor of in-groups, and to hold collectivist and conformist values. Cross-national studies have supported these predictions. In this paper we provide new pathogen codes for the 186 cultures of the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample and use them, together with existing pathogen and ethnographic data, to try to replicate these cross-national findings. In support of the theory, we found that (...) cultures in high pathogen areas were more likely to socialize children toward collectivist values (obedience rather than self-reliance). There was some evidence that pathogens were associated with reduced adult dispersal. However, we found no evidence of an association between pathogens and our measures of group bias (in-group loyalty and xenophobia) or intergroup contact. (shrink)
Attentional difficulties, both at home and in the classroom, are reported across a number of neurodevelopmental disorders. However, exactly how attention influences early socio-cognitive learning remains unclear. We addressed this question both concurrently and longitudinally in a cross-syndrome design, with respect to the communicative domain of vocabulary and to the cognitive domain of early literacy, and then extended the analysis to social behavior. Participants were young children (aged 4 to 9 years at Time 1) with either Williams syndrome (WS, N=26) (...) or Down syndrome (DS, N=26) and typically developing controls (N=103). Children with WS displayed significantly greater attentional deficits (as indexed by teacher report of behavior typical of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD) than children with DS, but both groups had greater attentional problems than the controls. Despite their attention differences, children with DS and those with WS were equivalent in their cognitive abilities of reading single words, both at Time 1 and 12 months later, at Time 2, although they differed in their early communicative abilities in terms of vocabulary. Greater ADHD-like behaviors predicted poorer subsequent literacy for children with DS, but not for children with WS, pointing to syndrome-specific attentional constraints on specific aspects of early development. Overall, our findings highlight the need to investigate more precisely whether and, if so, how, syndrome-specific profiles of behavioral difficulties constrain learning and socio-cognitive outcomes across different domains. (shrink)