In a wide-ranging inquiry Richard W. Miller provides new resources for coping with the most troubling types of moral conflict: disagreements in moral conviction, conflicting interests, and the tension between conscience and desires. Drawing on most fields in philosophy and the social sciences, including his previous work in the philosophy of science, he presents an account of our access to moral truth, and, within this framework, develops a theory of justice and an assessment of the role of morality in (...) rational choice. In Miller's view, we are often in a position to claim that our moral judgments are true descriptions of moral facts. But others, relying on contrary ways of moral learning, would reject truths that we are in a position to assert, in dissent that does not depend on irrationality or ignorance of relevant evidence or arguments. With this mixed verdict on moral realism, Miller challenges many received views of rationality, scientific method, and the relation between moral belief and moral choice. In his discussion of justice, Miller defends the adequacy, for modern political choices, of a widely shared demand that institutions be freely and rationally acceptable to all. Drawing on social research and economic theories, he argues that this demand has dramatically egalitarian consequences, even though it is a premise of liberals and conservatives alike. In the final chapters, Miller investigates the role and limits of morality in the choice of conduct, arguing for new perspectives on reason and impartiality. (shrink)
The propensity interpretation of probability, bred by Popper in 1957(K. R. Popper, in Observation and Interpretation in the Philosophy of Physics,S. Körner, ed. (Butterworth, London, 1957, and Dover, New York, 1962), p. 65; reprinted in Popper Selections,D. W. Miller, ed. (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1985), p. 199) from pure frequency stock, is the only extant objectivist account that provides any proper understanding of single-case probabilities as well as of probabilities in ensembles and in the long run. In Sec. 1 (...) of this paper I recall salient points of the frequency interpretations of von Mises and of Popper himself, and in Sec. 2 I filter out from Popper's numerous expositions of the propensity interpretation its most interesting and fertile strain. I then go on to assess it. First I defend it, in Sec. 3, against recent criticisms(P. Humphreys, Philos. Rev.94,557 (1985); P. Milne, Erkenntnis25,129 (1986)) to the effect that conditional [or relative] probabilities, unlike absolute probabilities, can only rarely be made sense of as propensities. I then challenge its predominance, in Sec. 4, by outlining a rival theory: an irreproachably objectivist theory of probability, fully applicable to the single case, that interprets physical probabilities asinstantaneous frequencies. (shrink)
The self-communication of being and the human person’s intellectual vocation to draw it gradually into logos are important themes in the writing of W. Norris Clarke. This paper addresses two related obstacles to understanding the person’s individual essence: (1) the limited intellectual reach of the potential knower, who has no access to another’s subjectivity, (2) the person’s inability to reveal her individual essence in any one act and the need for it to be gradually unfolded. These obstacles can be partially (...) surmounted through motivational narrative, as developed by Arthur Miller, wherein persons describe those actions to which they are uniquely inclined and that bring profound fulfillment. The privileged recipient has rich access into the narrator’s subjectivity and opportunity to see in the story an ontologically stable pattern of motivated behavior that expresses her individual essence. (shrink)
Atom probe tomography is used to observe the solute distribution in electrodeposited nanocrystalline Ni?W alloys with three different grain sizes (3, 10 and 20?nm) and the results are compared with atomistic computer simulations. The presence of grain boundary segregation is confirmed by detailed analysis of composition fluctuations in both experimental and simulated structures, and its extent quantified by a frequency distribution analysis. In contrast to other nanocrystalline alloys previously examined by atom probe tomography, such as Ni?P, the present nanocrystalline Ni?W (...) alloys exhibit only a subtle amount of solute segregation to the intergranular regions. (shrink)
What makes an act of killing morally wrong is not that the act causes loss of life or consciousness but rather that the act causes loss of all remaining abilities. This account implies that it is not even pro tanto morally wrong to kill patients who are universally and irreversibly disabled, because they have no abilities to lose. Applied to vital organ transplantation, this account undermines the dead donor rule and shows how current practices are compatible with morality.
Despite the importance of extrapair copulation (EPC) in human evolution, almost nothing is known about the design features of EPC detection mechanisms. We tested for sex differences in EPC inference-making mechanisms in a sample of 203 young couples. Men made more accurate inferences (φmen = 0.66, φwomen = 0.46), and the ratio of positive errors to negative errors was higher for men than for women (1.22 vs. 0.18). Since some may have been reluctant to admit EPC behavior, we modeled how (...) underreporting could have influenced these results. These analyses indicated that it would take highly sex-differentiated levels of underreporting by subjects with trusting partners for there to be no real sex difference. Further analyses indicated that men may be less willing to harbor unresolved suspicions about their partners’ EPC behavior, which may explain the sex difference in accuracy. Finally, we estimated that women underreported their own EPC behavior (10%) more than men (0%). (shrink)
Conventional medical ethics and the law draw a bright line distinguishing the permitted practice of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment from the forbidden practice of active euthanasia by means of a lethal injection. When clinicians justifiably withdraw life-sustaining treatment, they allow patients to die but do not cause, intend, or have moral responsibility for, the patient's death. In contrast, physicians unjustifiably kill patients whenever they intentionally administer a lethal dose of medication. We argue that the differential moral assessment of these two practices (...) is based on a series of moral fictions – motivated false beliefs that erroneously characterize withdrawing life-sustaining treatment in order to bring accepted end-of-life practices in line with the prevailing moral norm that doctors must never kill patients. When these moral fictions are exposed, it becomes apparent that conventional medical ethics relating to end-of-life decisions is radically mistaken. (shrink)
United States will question a prospective loan early in the preparation process, And during final deliberation of a loan proposal by the Bank's executive board, it will make comments designed to draw attention to general matters of ...
According to Peter Singer, virtually all of us would be forced by adequate reflection on our own convictions to embrace a radical conclusion about giving. The following principle, he says, is “surely undeniable” -- at least once we reflect on secure convictions concerning rescue, as in his famous case of the drowning toddler.
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Political choices favoring one''s country or one''s nationality are wrong if they conflict with a principle of universal free acceptability, prohibiting choices that violate every set of rules to which any willing cooperator would want all to conform. Despite its universalism, this principle requires patriotic favoritism in political choices and permits individuals to assert nationalist interests in claims for state aid. But it deprives patriotism and nationalism of any distinctive role in establishing the legitimacy of wars and uprisings. These restrictions (...) are appropriate even if stronger forms of patriotism and nationalism are psychologically indispensable for achieving social goals required for universal free acceptability. (shrink)
In their important paper “Autonomous Agents”, Floridi and Sanders use “levels of abstraction” to argue that computers are or may soon be moral agents. In this paper we use the same levels of abstraction to illuminate differences between human moral agents and computers. In their paper, Floridi and Sanders contributed definitions of autonomy, moral accountability and responsibility, but they have not explored deeply some essential questions that need to be answered by computer scientists who design artificial agents. One such question (...) is, “Can an artificial agent that changes its own programming become so autonomous that the original designer is no longer responsible for the behavior of the artificial agent?” To explore this question, we distinguish between LoA1 (the user view) and LoA2 (the designer view) by exploring the concepts of unmodifiable, modifiable and fully modifiable tables that control artificial agents. We demonstrate that an agent with an unmodifiable table, when viewed at LoA2, distinguishes an artificial agent from a human one. This distinction supports our first counter-claim to Floridi and Sanders, namely, that such an agent is not a moral agent, and the designer bears full responsibility for its behavior. We also demonstrate that even if there is an artificial agent with a fully modifiable table capable of learning* and intentionality* that meets the conditions set by Floridi and Sanders for ascribing moral agency to an artificial agent, the designer retains strong moral responsibility. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen incisively argued that our judgments of social justice should fit our convictions about how to interact with others in our personal lives. Ironically, the ordinary morality of cooperation invoked in his last book undermines his favored principle of equality, and supports John Rawls' reliance on a relevantly impartial choice promoting appropriate fundamental interests as a basis for distributive standards. His further objections to Rawls' account of distributive justice neglect the role of social relations in establishing the proper (...) scope of that impartiality and the moral force of Rawls' taxonomy of non-ideal societies. In contrast, the powerful evocation of goods of community at the end of Cohen's last book points to a genuine inadequacy. Conscientious fellow-citizens must take account of the impact of their political choices on options for sharing and caring. In finding a proper balance between these goods and competing individualist concerns, the original position is of too little use to sustain Rawls' assessment of his conception of justice as complete. In the face of our strong moral convictions about how to live together, both Cohen's luck egalitarianism and Rawls' barriers between aspirations to community and political choice must give way. (shrink)
Science and technology (S&T) policy studies has explored the relationship between the structure of scientific research and the attainment of desired outcomes. Due to the difficulty of measuring them directly, S&T policy scholars have traditionally equated “outcomes” with several proxies for evaluation, including economic impact, and academic output such as papers published and citations received. More recently, scholars have evaluated science policies through the lens of Public Value Mapping, which assesses scientific programs against societal values. Missing from these approaches is (...) an examination of the social activities within the scientific enterprise that affect research outputs and outcomes. We contend that activities that significantly affect research trajectories take place at the levels of individual researchers and their communities, and that S&T policy scholars must take heed of this activity in their work in order to better inform policy. Based on primary research of two scientific communities—ecologists and sustainability scientists—we demonstrate that research agendas are actively shaped by parochial epistemic and normative concerns of the scientists and their disciplines. S&T policy scholarship that explores how scientists balance these concerns, alongside more formal science policies and incentive structures, will enhance understanding of why certain science policies fail or succeed and how to more effectively link science to beneficial social outcomes. (shrink)
Floridi and Sanders, seminal work, “On the morality of artificial agents” has catalyzed attention around the moral status of computer systems that perform tasks for humans, effectively acting as “artificial agents.” Floridi and Sanders argue that the class of entities considered moral agents can be expanded to include computers if we adopt the appropriate level of abstraction. In this paper we argue that the move to distinguish levels of abstraction is far from decisive on this issue. We also argue that (...) adopting certain levels of abstraction out of context can be dangerous when the level of abstraction obscures the humans who constitute computer systems. We arrive at this critique of Floridi and Sanders by examining the debate over the moral status of computer systems using the notion of interpretive flexibility. We frame the debate as a struggle over the meaning and significance of computer systems that behave independently, and not as a debate about the ‘true’ status of autonomous systems. Our analysis leads to the conclusion that while levels of abstraction are useful for particular purposes, when it comes to agency and responsibility, computer systems should be conceptualized and identified in ways that keep them tethered to the humans who create and deploy them. (shrink)
Transplantation of vital organs has been premised ethically and legally on "the dead donor rule" (DDR)—the requirement that donors are determined to be dead before these organs are procured. Nevertheless, scholars have argued cogently that donors of vital organs, including those diagnosed as "brain dead" and those declared dead according to cardiopulmonary criteria, are not in fact dead at the time that vital organs are being procured. In this article, we challenge the normative rationale for the DDR by rejecting the (...) underlying premise that it is necessarily wrong for physicians to cause the death of patients and the claim that abandoning this rule would exploit vulnerable patients. We contend that it is ethical to procure vital organs from living patients sustained on life support prior to treatment withdrawal, provided that there is valid consent for both withdrawing treatment and organ donation. However, the conservatism of medical ethics and practical concerns make it doubtful that the DDR will be abandoned in the near future. This leaves the current practice of organ transplantation based on the "moral fiction" that donors are dead when vital organs are procured. (shrink)
Our objective is to understand how parents and children perceive their roles in decision making about research participation. Forty-five children (ages 4-15 years) with or without a chronic condition and 21 parents were the participants. A semistructured interview assessed perceptions of up to 4 hypothetical research scenarios with varying levels of risk, benefit, and complexity. Children were also administered the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Third Edition, to assess verbal ability, as a proxy for the child's cognitive development. The audiotaped interviews (...) were transcribed and analyzed for themes related to parent and child decision-making roles. Both parents and children varied in their perceptions of decision-making roles. Child perceptions of parental influence on decision making as knowledge-based increased with cognitive development, whereas perceptions of parental influence as power-based decreased. Both children and parents commented that they would collaborate with each other when making decisions. Collaborative decision making appeared to increase with cognitive development. These findings suggest that approaches to child assent and parent permission should consider the parent-child relationship and how children and families typically make decisions. Future research is necessary to explain variation in the process of research decision making across children and families, explore the role of collaboration on children's decision-making skills, and understand developmental trajectories and mechanisms related to research decision making. (shrink)
Past criticisms to the contrary, methodological individualism in the social sciences is neither trivial nor obviously false. In the style of Weber's sociology, it restricts the ultimate explanatory repertoire of social science to agents' reasons for action. Although this restriction is not obviously false, it ought not to be accepted, at present, as a regulative principle. It excludes, as too far-fetched to merit investigation, certain hypotheses concerning the influence of objective interests on large-scale social phenomena. And these hypotheses, in fact, (...) merit empirical consideration. The attractiveness of methodological individualism as a regulative principle depends on two independent confusions, the conflation of an agent's reasons for action with the beliefs, needs, desires, or goals which are the reasons why he acted as he did, and the identification of explaining a phenomenon and describing its causes. (shrink)
. Dzik  gives a direct proof of the axiom of choice from the generalized Lindenbaum extension theorem LET. The converse is part of every decent logical education. Inspection of Dzik’s proof shows that its premise let attributes a very special version of the Lindenbaum extension property to a very special class of deductive systems, here called Dzik systems. The problem therefore arises of giving a direct proof, not using the axiom of choice, of the conditional . A partial solution (...) is provided. (shrink)
We often legitimately ascribe reality both to social and to natural kinds. But the bases for these ascriptions are not entirely the same. In both cases, reality is typically determined by what characterizations of causal factors are indispensable to adequate explanation. Nonetheless, a psychological role as part of an identity that instances embrace is sometimes, distinctively, a condition for ascribing reality to a social kind. Although such assessments of reality can be construed as employing a standard of causal activity shared (...) with natural science, they reveal a distinctive moral dimension in the bases for ascribing reality to social kinds. (shrink)
To many who develop and use free software, the GNU General Public License represents an embodiment of the meaning of free software. In this paper we examine the definition and meaning of free software in the context of three events surrounding the GNU General Public License. We use a case involving the GPU software project to establish the importance of Freedom 0 in the meaning of free software. We analyze version 3 of the GNU General Public License and conclude that (...) although a credible case can be made that the added restrictions are consistent with the definition of free software, the case requires subtle arguments. Strong arguments against the added restrictions are less subtle, and may therefore be more convincing to many users and developers. We also analyze the Affero General Public License and conclude that it is inconsistent with the definition of free software. (shrink)
This paper analyzes individual probabilistic predictions of state outcomes in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Employing an original survey of more than 19,000 respondents, ours is the ﬁrst study of electoral forecasting to involve multiple subnational predictions and to incorporate the inﬂuence of respondents’ home states. We relate a range of demographic, political, and cognitive variables to individual accuracy and predictions, as well as to how accuracy improved over time. We ﬁnd strong support for wishful thinking bias in expectations, as (...) Republicans gave higher probabilities to McCain victories and were worse at overall prediction. In addition, we ﬁnd that respondents living in states with higher vote shares for Obama performed better at prediction and displayed less wishful thinking bias. We conclude by showing that suitable aggregations of our respondents’ predictions outperformed Intrade (a prediction market) and ﬁvethirtyeight.com (a poll-based forecast) at most points in time. (shrink)