Orthodox decision theory gives no advice to agents who hold two goods to be incomparable in value, because such agents will have negatively intransitive preferences. According to standard treatments, such agents are irrational, despite widespread evidence of incomparable goods in ordinary life. Prospectism is a recent proposal, due to Caspar Hare, to extend standard decision theory so as to cope with incomparability in general, and negatively intransitive preferences in particular. In this paper, we argue that prospectism is inadequate, on three (...) grounds. First, prospectism conflates decision scenarios that, intuitively, rational agents may permissibly treat as different. Second, prospectism leads to violations of a principle of rationality closely related to dominance. Finally, we suggest that what little intuitive appeal prospectism has can be diagnosed as arising from a psychological heuristic that has no normative status. (shrink)
In this paper we present an account of practical rationality and weakness of will in terms of rational capacities. We show how our account rectifies various shortcomings in Michael Smith’s related theory. In particular, our account is capable of accommodating cases of weak-willed behaviour that are not ‘akratic’, or otherwise contrary to the agent’s better judgement. Our account differs from Smith’s primarily by incorporating resolve: a third rational capacity for resolute maintenance of one’s intentions. We discuss further two ways to (...) explain the importance of resolve to practical rationality: one based on Richard Holton’s recent work, and an alternative, non-consequentialist account. (shrink)
It is sometimes argued that if God were to exist, then the actual world would be the best possible world. However, given that the actual world is clearly not the best possible world, then God doesn’t exist. In response, some have argued that the world could always be improved with the creation of new people and that there is thus no best possible world. I argue that this reasoning gives rise to an instance of Parfit’s mere addition paradox and should (...) thus be rejected. Others (Robert Adams, in particular) have argued that the actual world may, in fact, be the best possible world, at least for all actual people. I argue that this reasoning gives rise to Parfit’s non-identity problem and should thus be rejected. (shrink)
abstract Intuitively, all killings are equally wrong, no matter how old one's victim. In this paper we defend this claim — The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis — against a challenge presented by Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen. Lippert-Rasmussen shows The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis to be incompatible with two further theses: The Unequal Wrongness of Renderings Unconscious Thesis and The Equivalence Thesis. Lippert-Rasmussen argues that, of the three, The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis is the least defensible. He suggests that the (...) most convincing considerations apparently in favour of the Equal Wrongness thesis may be satisfied just as well if we adopt an alternative principle, a 'Prioritarian View' about the wrongness of killing. We argue that The Prioritarian View does not resolve the trilemma: it too is inconsistent with the other two theses. Instead, we argue, the most plausible resolution of the trilemma involves a rejection, rather, of The Unequal Wrongness of Renderings Unconscious Thesis. In its place, we offer an attractive principle that is compatible with both The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis as well as The Equivalence Thesis. (shrink)
Michael Smith has resisted Harry Frankfurt's claim that moral responsibility does not require the ability to have done otherwise. He does this by claiming that, in Frankfurt cases, the ability to do otherwise is indeed present, but is a disposition that has been `finked' or masked by other factors. We suggest that, while Smith's account appears to work for some classic Frankfurt cases, it does not work for all. In particular, Smith cannot explain cases, such as the Willing Addict, where (...) the Frankfurt devise - e.g. the addiction - is intrinsic to the agent. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a novel argument for scepticism about moral responsibility. Unlike traditional arguments, this argument doesn’t depend on contingent empirical claims about the truth or falsity of causal determinism. Rather, it is argued that the conceptual conditions of responsibility are jointly incompatible. In short, when an agent is responsible for an action, it must be true both that the action was non-accidental, and that it was open to the agent not to perform that action. However, as I (...) argue, an action is only non-accidental in those cases where it isn’t open to the agent not to perform it. (shrink)
Cotard's syndrome is a psychotic condition that includes delusion of a supernatural nature. Based on insights from recovered patients who were convinced of being immortal, we can (1) distinguish biographical experiences from cultural and evolutionary backgrounds; (2) show that cultural significance dominates biographical experiences; and (3) support Bering's view of a cognitive system dedicated to forming illusory representations of immortality.
Review: Agency and Responsibility: A Common-Sense Moral Psychology. Agency and Responsibility: A Common-Sense Moral Psychology Jeanette Kennett New York Oxford University Press 2001 viii + 229 Hardback US$45 By Jeanette Kennett. Oxford University Press. New York. Pp. viii + 229. Hardback:US$45.
Pylyshyn is willing to assume that attention can influence feature integration. We argue that he concedes too much. Feature integration occurs preattentively, except in the case of certain “perverse” displays, such as those used in feature-conjunction searches.
Most writers now recognize that mental health policy and the mental health system are extremely resistant to real changes that reflect genuine biopsychosocial paradigms of mental disorder. Writers bemoaning the intransigence of the mental health system tend to focus on a small analytical level, only to find themselves mired in the rationalities of the existing system. Problems are acknowledged to be system-wide, yet few writers have used a method of analysis appropriate for systemic problems. Drawing upon the General System Theory (...) (GST) analytical perspective, this article advances a systematic approach to understand the mental health system and to facilitate the development of reform strategies that recognize the system's complexity and changing nature. The article first discusses the failure of major reform efforts in the mental health system and the limitations of mainstream analysis of mental health politics and policies with respect to the objectives of analysis and reform. This article describes how systems thinking has thus far influenced the study of the mental health policy and politics system, and argues that a systemic perspective is profitable for reconceiving the mental health system, enabling a fresh basis for the development of reform strategies. The mental health system should be seen as a social system influenced by larger political and economic dimensions, not just as a 'delivery system' scientifically constructed by neutral experts. Furthermore, the policy planning process should be viewed as part and parcel of a mental health system modeled as complex and dynamic. The systemic perspective outlined here should help both to clarify the value-based objectives that we hold for the system and, consequently, to plan for the strategic reforms that have so far eluded us. (shrink)
Culture and social structure may affect the testosterone–behavior link by shaping the way we construe events; by muting, channelling, or amplifying the drives that testosterone produces; and by affecting the distribution and level of testosterone in various parts of the population. Research on testosterone, culture, and social class has produced suggestive results, opening broad areas for research.
In this essay we shall examine the contemporary jurisprudential thinking and legal precedents surrounding the issue of the sanctionability of pornography. We shall catalogue them by their logical presumptions, such as whether they view pornography as speech or act, whether they view pornography as obscenity, political hate-speech or anomalous other, whether they would scrutinize legislation governing pornography by a balancing of the harm of repression against the harm of permission, and who exactly they view as the victims.We shall take a (...) special interest in the most recent, but unsuccessful, attempt by a subgroup of feminists to proscribe pornography by treating it as neither political speech nor sexual speech but speech which causes harm which is both political and sexual. They would like it to be considered as a special kind of odious propaganda undeserving of protection because it promulgates a mental state conducive to criminal activity, and hence is criminal in and of itself. However, the repression of propaganda, even odious propaganda, is not so easily accomplished in this country. (shrink)
This paper examines how unethical behavior in the workplace occurs when management places inordinately strong emphasis on goalattainment without a corresponding emphasis on following legitimate procedures. Robert Merton's theory of sodal structure and anomie provides a foundation to discuss this argument. Key factors affecting ethical climates in work organizations are also addressed. Based on this analysis, the paper proposes strategies for developing and changing aspects of organizational culture to reduce anomie, thereby creating work climates which discourage unethical practices and provide (...) employees with mechanisms to resolve ethical conflicts in a constructive way. (shrink)
In many coevolutionary systems members of one party select members of a second party based on quality differences existing among members of the latter (e.g., predators and prey, pollinators and flowers, etc.). We examined the fate of characters that increase (amplifiers) or decrease (attenuators) the perceived amplitude of differences in the quality upon which choice of the selecting party is based. We found that the evolution of such characters depends on (i) the relationship between the cost of the character and (...) the relative benefit it gives to the high quality individuals (if an amplifier) or low quality individuals (if an attenuator), and (ii) the frequency, among members of the selected party, of the quality sought by the selecting party. (shrink)
Who blows the whistle — a loner or a well-liked team player? Which of them is more likely to lead a successful opposition to perceived organizational wrongdoing? The potential influence of co-worker pressures to conform on whistle-blowing activity or the likely effects of whistle-blowing on the group have not been addressed. This paper presents a preliminary model of whistle-blowing as an act of nonconformity. One implication is that the success of an opposition will depend on the characteristics of the whistle-blower (...) and how the complaint is pursued. Specific hypotheses and general suggestions for future research and practice are offered. (shrink)
The business community has failed to act on a fundamental given: a healthy political system is essential to a healthy economic system. A competitive economic system requires a competitive political system. Good citizens — motivated and informed — make effective leadership possible.Its ingredients require ending the escalating arms race among PACs in congressional races by reducing the amoung legislators may accept from PACs; by making small individual contributions count by matching them with the voluntary tax check off; disclosing direct and (...) indirect lobbying expenses; and systematically reviewing our subsidy system by review spending, regulatory and tax preferences. (shrink)