Twenty psychologists were interviewed about an ethical dilemma that they had found to be particularly difficult to resolve. In just under half of the cases the dilemma involved a perceived conflict of ethical principles (e.g., the welfare of the consumer vs. the right to privacy). In the other cases, the psychologists were prevented from following an ethically prescribed course of action by some nonethical consideration such as contractural obligation, legal requirement, or the demands of an employer. We discuss the implications (...) of these two sorts of dilemmas for psychological practice and make some suggestions for proactive approaches to ethical problem solving. (shrink)
In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle appears to use an elegant short argument to attack Plato’s doctrine of the good, which argument equally appears to attack Aristotle’s own doctrine of the good. I consider these two questions: First: Why does Aristotle reverse the judgment of Socrates/Plato on the issue: Which is better – things that are (only) good in themselves, or things that are both good in themselves and good for their consequences? Second: Why does Aristotle attack Plato’s doctrine that the (...) Form of the Good is the chief good, with an argument that appears to threaten his own view that eudaimonia is the chief good? I think the answers to these two questions are related. The elegant short argument in question I call “Aristotle’s Fast Argument.”After apologizing for criticizing views held by friends of his, Aristotle deploys the Fast Argument as a clincher to cap off his refutation of Plato’s view that the Form of the Good is the chief good: “And one might ask the question, what in the world they mean by ‘a thing itself’, if in man himself and in a particular man the account of man is one and the same. For in so far as they are men, they will in no respect differ; and if this is so, neither will there be a difference in so far as they are good. But again it will not be good any the more for being eternal, since that which lasts long is no whiter than that which perishes in a day.” (Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, 1096 a34–b4). I explore this sketchily presented Fast Argument. I consider why Aristotle may think it is valid and why he does not seem to realize that, on readings that make it effective against Plato’s view, his Fast Argument also seems to apply to his own view that eudaimonia is the chief good. This is what I will call “Aristotle’s Dilemma.” If the Fast Argument is interpreted too narrowly, its point about the whiteness of a white thing being independent of its duration will not apply to the goodness of the Form of the Good. If it is interpreted broadly enough to undermine the claim of the Form of the Good to be the chief good, it will equally undermine that claim for eudaimonia. Finally, I discuss some of the things Plato and Aristotle say about the chief good, and comparable things Immanuel Kant says about the good will. I draw some speculative conclusions that focus on the importance for Aristotle of the goodness of the chief good not being at risk. (shrink)
Reasons for the limited uptake of the clinician–scientist role within nursing are examined, specifically: the lack of consensus about the nature of nursing science; the varying approaches to epistemology; and the influence of post-modern thought on knowledge development in nursing. It is suggested that under-development of this role may be remedied by achieving agreement that science is a necessary, worthy pursuit for nursing, and that rigorous science conducted from a clinical perspective serves nursing well. Straddling practice and research is a (...) powerful strategy for ensuring relevant research while forging strong links with practice. The clinician–scientist role, typically requiring a 75:25 ratio between research and clinical activities, is well established in medicine. Nursing, however, has been slow to institute the role; it is rare within North America, Australia, and western European countries, and almost non-existent outside those areas. Beyond structural obstacles, philosophical issues may explain nursing's reluctance to implement the role. Following a survey of clinician–scientist roles throughout the world, the nature of nursing science and epistemology, and the influence of post-modern thought on nursing attitudes to research are examined with respect to their influence on this role. The nurse clinician–scientist role holds promise for making strides in clinically relevant research, and for accelerating the knowledge cycle from clinical problem to research question to change in clinical practice. (shrink)
The problem of standard of care in clinical research concerns the level of treatment that investigators must provide to subjects in clinical trials. Commentators often formulate answers to this problem by appealing to two distinct types of obligations: professional obligations and natural duties. In this article, I investigate whether investigators also possess institutional obligations that are directly relevant to the problem of standard of care, that is, those obligations a person has because she occupies a particular institutional role. I examine (...) two types of institutional contexts: (1) public research agencies – agencies or departments of states that fund or conduct clinical research in the public interest; and (2) private-for-profit corporations. I argue that investigators who are employed or have their research sponsored by the former have a distinctive institutional obligation to conduct their research in a way that is consistent with the state's duty of distributive justice to provide its citizens with access to basic health care, and its duty to aid citizens of lower income countries. By contrast, I argue that investigators who are employed or have their research sponsored by private-for-profit corporations do not possess this obligation nor any other institutional obligation that is directly relevant to the ethics of RCTs. My account of the institutional obligations of investigators aims to contribute to the development of a reasonable, distributive justice-based account of standard of care. (shrink)
A person of average height would assert a truth by the conditional ‘if I were seven feet tall, I would be taller than I am,’ in which an indicative clause ‘I am’ is embedded in a subjunctive conditional. By contrast, no one would assert a truth by ‘if I were seven feet tall, I would be taller than I would be’ or ‘if I am seven feet tall, I am taller than I am’. These examples exemplify the fact that whether (...) a sentence's evaluation remains at the actual world in the scope of a modal or conditional depends on the combination of mood in the embedded and matrix clauses rather than, as is commonly thought, just on the presence of an operator ‘actually’. This essay argues that this phenomenon provides evidence that mood admits of bound and free readings along the lines of tenses and pronouns. It therefore favors the hypothesis that natural language contains variables and quantifiers for possible worlds in the object language. This, in turn, requires that the truth of a semantic value of a sentence (or whatever structure is embedded in a modal) be relativized to a sequence of worlds rather than to an individual world, and thus be distinguished from a proposition in the traditional sense. The essay also compares the framework defended with an alternative account of similar phenomena by Kai Wehmeier. (shrink)
In this paper I prove a theorem which is similar to Arrow's famous impossibility theorem. I show that no social welfare function can be both minimally majoritarian and also independent of irrelevant alternatives. My condition of minimal majoritarianism is substantially weaker than simple majority rule.
In a recent article, Seana Valentine Shiffrin offers a distinctive egalitarian critique of the types of incentive inequalities that are permitted by John Rawls's difference principle. She argues that citizens of a well-ordered society, who publicly accept Rawls's two principles of justice and their justifications, may not demand incentives to employ their talents in productive ways since such demands are inconsistent with a major justification for the difference principle: the moral arbitrariness of talent. I argue that there is no such (...) inconsistency. Citizens can publicly accept the claim that talent is morally arbitrary and accept incentives to employ their talents productively without inconsistency. In the standard case that Rawls envisions, citizens who do so take their preferences to be a reason for a higher salary, not their talents. (shrink)
This study considers the ethical implications of quoting children with particular emphasis on privacy and accuracy. A content analysis is used to examine how newspaper reporters quote children and teenagers. The study found that youths most likely are named when they are quoted in the newspaper. Teens who are 17 are the most likely to be quoted. Youths most frequently appear in feature stories, and they most frequently are treated as experts who provide the reporter with factual information. The researcher (...) argues that journalists should consider the vulnerabilities of youths before quoting them. (shrink)
During the 1940s and 1950s, the Australian microbiologist F. Macfarlane Burnet sought a biologically plausible explanation of antibody production. In this essay, we seek to recover the conceptual pathways that Burnet followed in his immunological theorizing. In so doing, we emphasize the influence of speculations on individuality, especially those of philosopher Alfred North Whitehead; the impact of cybernetics and information theory; and the contributions of clinical research into autoimmune disease that took place in Melbourne. We point to the influence of (...) local experimental and intellectual currents on Burnet’s work. Accordingly, this essay describes an arc distinct from most other tracings of Burnet’s conceptual development, which focus on his early bacteriophage research, his fascination with the work of Julian Huxley and other biologists in the 1920s, and his interest in North Atlantic experimental investigations in the life sciences. No doubt these too were potent influences, but they seem insufficient to explain, for example, Burnet’s sudden enthusiasm in the 1940s for immunological definitions of self and not-self. We want to demonstrate here how Burnet’s deep involvement in philosophical biology – along with attention to local clinical research – provided him with additional theoretic tools and conceptual equipment, with which to explain immune function. (shrink)
The concept of projection from one space to another, with a consequent loss of information, can be seen in the relationships of gene to protein and language description to real situation. Such a transformation can only be reversed if extra external information is re-supplied. The genetic algorithm embodying this idea is now used in applied mathematics for exploring a configuration space. Such a dialectic – transformation back and forth between two kinds of description – extends the traditional Hegelian concept used (...) by Engels and others of change as resulting from a resolution of the conflict of two opposing tendencies and provides for evolution of the joint system. (shrink)
If the conceptions of belief, desire, and action resemble phlogiston in their scientific standing, how is it that so many true, singular, causal claims about human behavior are made using these concepts? Alexander Rosenberg appeals to the distinction between attributive and referential uses of language to handle this objection. It is argued that this does not work, and that the truth of our singular, causal explanations of human behavior is little short of miraculous given his account of the nomological situation.
It would seem possible in principle … to reconstruct the ordinary sentential calculus in terms of phrastics only, and then apply it to indicatives and imperatives alike simply by adding the appropriate neustics.… It might be asked how we are to know, given two premisses in different moods, in what mood the conclusion is to be. The problem of the effect upon inferences of the moods of premisses and conclusion has been ignored by logicians who have not looked beyond the (...) indicative mood, … But if, as I do, we regard the entailment-relations of ordinary logic as relations between the phrastics of sentences, the problem becomes pressing. (R. M. Hare, The Language of Morals, pp. 26–28.). (shrink)
Taking the UK as a case study, this paper describes current energy use and a range of sustainable energy options for the future, including solar power and other renewables. I focus on the area involved in collecting, converting and delivering sustainable energy, looking in particular detail at the potential role of solar power. Britain consumes energy at a rate of about 5000 watts per person, and its population density is about 250 people per square kilometre. If we multiply the per (...) capita energy consumption by the population density, then we obtain the average primary energy consumption per unit area, which for the UK is 1.25 watts per square metre. This areal power density is uncomfortably similar to the average power density that could be supplied by many renewables: the gravitational potential energy of rainfall in the Scottish highlands has a raw power per unit area of roughly 0.24 watts per square metre; energy crops in Europe deliver about 0.5 watts per square metre; wind farms deliver roughly 2.5 watts per square metre; solar photovoltaic farms in Bavaria, Germany, and Vermont, USA, deliver 4 watts per square metre; in sunnier locations, solar photovoltaic farms can deliver 10 watts per square metre; concentrating solar power stations in deserts might deliver 20 watts per square metre. In a decarbonized world that is renewable-powered, the land area required to maintain today's British energy consumption would have to be similar to the area of Britain. Several other high-density, high-consuming countries are in the same boat as Britain, and many other countries are rushing to join us. Decarbonizing such countries will only be possible through some combination of the following options: the embracing of country-sized renewable power-generation facilities; large-scale energy imports from country-sized renewable facilities in other countries; population reduction; radical efficiency improvements and lifestyle changes; and the growth of non-renewable low-carbon sources, namely ‘clean’ coal, ‘clean’ gas and nuclear power. If solar is to play a large role in the future energy system, then we need new methods for energy storage; very-large-scale solar either would need to be combined with electricity stores or it would need to serve a large flexible demand for energy that effectively stores useful energy in the form of chemicals, heat, or cold. (shrink)