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Profile: Guy Kahane (Oxford University)
  1. Jacob Gipson, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2014). Attitudes of Lay People to Withdrawal of Treatment in Brain Damaged Patients. Neuroethics 7 (1):1-9.
    BackgroundWhether patients in the vegetative state (VS), minimally conscious state (MCS) or the clinically related locked-in syndrome (LIS) should be kept alive is a matter of intense controversy. This study aimed to examine the moral attitudes of lay people to these questions, and the values and other factors that underlie these attitudes.MethodOne hundred ninety-nine US residents completed a survey using the online platform Mechanical Turk, comprising demographic questions, agreement with treatment withdrawal from each of the conditions, agreement with a series (...)
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  2. Guy Kahane (2014). Evolution and Impartiality. Ethics 124 (2):327-341.
    Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer argue that evolutionary considerations can resolve Sidgwick’s dualism of practical reason because such considerations debunk moral views that give weight to self-interested or partial considerations but cannot threaten the principle of universal benevolence. I argue that even if we grant these claims, this appeal to evolution is ultimately self-defeating. De Lazari-Radek and Singer face a dilemma. Either their evolutionary argument against partial morality succeeds, but then we need to also give up our conviction that (...)
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  3. G. Owen Schaefer, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2014). Autonomy and Enhancement. Neuroethics 7 (2):123-136.
    Some have objected to human enhancement on the grounds that it violates the autonomy of the enhanced. These objections, however, overlook the interesting possibility that autonomy itself could be enhanced. How, exactly, to enhance autonomy is a difficult problem due to the numerous and diverse accounts of autonomy in the literature. Existing accounts of autonomy enhancement rely on narrow and controversial conceptions of autonomy. However, we identify one feature of autonomy common to many mainstream accounts: reasoning ability. Autonomy can then (...)
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  4. Guy Kahane (2013). Must Metaethical Realism Make a Semantic Claim? Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (2):148-178.
    Mackie drew attention to the distinct semantic and metaphysical claims made by metaethical realists, arguing that although our evaluative discourse is cognitive and objective, there are no objective evaluative facts. This distinction, however, also opens up a reverse possibility: that our evaluative discourse is antirealist, yet objective values do exist. I suggest that this seemingly farfetched possibility merits serious attention; realism seems committed to its intelligibility, and, despite appearances, it isn‘t incoherent, ineffable, inherently implausible or impossible to defend. I argue (...)
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  5. Guy Kahane (2013). Our Cosmic Insignificance. Noûs 47 (2).
    The universe that surrounds us is vast, and we are so very small. When we reflect on the vastness of the universe, our humdrum cosmic location, and the inevitable future demise of humanity, our lives can seem utterly insignificant. Many philosophers assume that such worries about our significance reflect a banal metaethical confusion. They dismiss the very idea of cosmic significance. This, I argue, is a mistake. Worries about cosmic insignificance do not express metaethical worries about objectivity or nihilism, and (...)
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  6. Guy Kahane (2013). The Armchair and the Trolley: An Argument for Experimental Ethics. Philosophical Studies 162 (2):421-445.
    Ethical theory often starts with our intuitions about particular cases and tries to uncover the principles that are implicit in them; work on the ‘trolley problem’ is a paradigmatic example of this approach. But ethicists are no longer the only ones chasing trolleys. In recent years, psychologists and neuroscientists have also turned to study our moral intuitions and what underlies them. The relation between these two inquiries, which investigate similar examples and intuitions, and sometimes produce parallel results, is puzzling. Does (...)
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  7. Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2013). Normal Human Variation: Refocussing the Enhancement Debate. Bioethics 28 (9).
    This article draws attention to several common mistakes in thinking about biomedical enhancement, mistakes that are made even by some supporters of enhancement. We illustrate these mistakes by examining objections that John Harris has recently raised against the use of pharmacological interventions to directly modulate moral decision-making. We then apply these lessons to other influential figures in the debate about enhancement. One upshot of our argument is that many considerations presented as powerful objections to enhancement are really strong considerations in (...)
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  8. Jonathan Pugh, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2013). Cohen's Conservatism and Human Enhancement. Journal of Ethics 17 (4):331-354.
    In an intriguing essay, G. A. Cohen has defended a conservative bias in favour of existing value. In this paper, we consider whether Cohen’s conservatism raises a new challenge to the use of human enhancement technologies. We develop some of Cohen’s suggestive remarks into a new line of argument against human enhancement that, we believe, is in several ways superior to existing objections. However, we shall argue that on closer inspection, Cohen’s conservatism fails to offer grounds for a strong sweeping (...)
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  9. Sylvia Terbeck, Guy Kahane, Sarah McTavish, Julian Savulescu, Neil Levy, Miles Hewstone & Philip Cowen (2013). Beta Adrenergic Blockade Reduces Utilitarian Judgement. Biological Psychology 92 (2):323-328.
    Noradrenergic pathways are involved in mediating the central and peripheral effects of physiological arousal. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of noradrenergic transmission in moral decision-making. We studied the effects in healthy volunteers of propranolol (a noradrenergic beta-adrenoceptor antagonist) on moral judgement in a set of moral dilemmas pitting utilitarian outcomes (e.g., saving five lives) against highly aversive harmful actions (e.g., killing an innocent person) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group design. Propranolol (40 mg orally) (...)
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  10. Katja Wiech, Guy Kahane, Nicholas Shackel, Miguel Farias, Julian Savulescu & Irene Tracey (2013). Cold or Calculating? Reduced Activity in the Subgenual Cingulate Cortex Reflects Decreased Emotional Aversion to Harming in Counterintuitive Utilitarian Judgment. Cognition 126 (3):364-372.
    Recent research on moral decision-making has suggested that many common moral judgments are based on immediate intuitions. However, some individuals arrive at highly counterintuitive utilitarian conclusions about when it is permissible to harm other individuals. Such utilitarian judgments have been attributed to effortful reasoning that has overcome our natural emotional aversion to harming others. Recent studies, however, suggest that such utilitarian judgments might also result from a decreased aversion to harming others, due to a deficit in empathic concern and social (...)
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  11. Guy Kahane (2012). On the Wrong Track: Process and Content in Moral Psychology. Mind and Language 27 (5):519-545.
    According to Joshua Greene’s influential dual process model of moral judgment, different modes of processing are associated with distinct moral outputs: automatic processing with deontological judgment, and controlled processing with utilitarian judgment. This paper aims to clarify and assess Greene’s model. I argue that the proposed tie between process and content is based on a misinterpretation of the evidence, and that the supposed evidence for controlled processing in utilitarian judgment is actually likely to reflect generic deliberation which, ironically, is incompatible (...)
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  12. Guy Kahane (2012). The Value Question in Metaphysics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):27-55.
    Much seems to be at stake in metaphysical questions about, for example, God, free will or morality. One thing that could be at stake is the value of the universe we inhabit—how good or bad it is. We can think of competing philosophical positions as describing possibilities, ways the world might turn out to be, and to which value can be assigned. When, for example, people hope that God exists, or fear that we do not possess free will, they express (...)
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  13. Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2012). The Concept of Harm and the Significance of Normality. Journal of Applied Philosophy 29 (3):318.
    Many believe that severe intellectual impairment, blindness or dying young amount to serious harm and disadvantage. It is also increasingly denied that it matters, from a moral point of view, whether something is biologically normal to humans. We show that these two claims are in serious tension. It is hard explain how, if we do not ascribe some deep moral significance to human nature or biological normality, we could distinguish severe intellectual impairment or blindness from the vast list of seemingly (...)
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  14. Guy Kahane, Katja Wiech, Nicholas Shackel, Miguel Farias, Julian Savulescu & Irene Tracey (2012). The Neural Basis of Intuitive and Counterintuitive Moral Judgement. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 7 (4):393-402.
    Neuroimaging studies on moral decision-making have thus far largely focused on differences between moral judgments with opposing utilitarian (well-being maximizing) and deontological (duty-based) content. However, these studies have investigated moral dilemmas involving extreme situations, and did not control for two distinct dimensions of moral judgment: whether or not it is intuitive (immediately compelling to most people) and whether it is utilitarian or deontological in content. By contrasting dilemmas where utilitarian judgments are counterintuitive with dilemmas in which they are intuitive, we (...)
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  15. Russell Powell, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2012). Evolution, Genetic Engineering, and Human Enhancement. Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):439-458.
    There are many ways that biological theory can inform ethical discussions of genetic engineering and biomedical enhancement. In this essay, we highlight some of these potential contributions, and along the way provide a synthetic overview of the papers that comprise this special issue. We begin by comparing and contrasting genetic engineering with programs of selective breeding that led to the domestication of plants and animals, and we consider how genetic engineering differs from other contemporary biotechnologies such as embryo selection. We (...)
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  16. Enhancing Human Capacities, Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen & Guy Kahane (2011). A Legitimate Goal of Medicine? In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities.
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  17. Enhancing Human Capacities, Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen & Guy Kahane (2011). Bennett Foddy. In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities.
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  18. Enhancing Human Capacities, Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen & Guy Kahane (2011). Gaia Barazzetti and Massimo Reichlin. In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities.
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  19. Enhancing Human Capacities, Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen & Guy Kahane (2011). Hidde J. Haisma. In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities.
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  20. Enhancing Human Capacities, Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen & Guy Kahane (2011). Thomas Douglas. In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities.
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  21. Timothy Chan & Guy Kahane (2011). The Trouble with Being Sincere. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (2):215-234.
    Questions about sincerity play a central role in our lives. But what makes an assertion insincere? In this paper we argue that the answer to this question is not as straightforward as it has sometimes been taken to be. Until recently the dominant answer has been that a speaker makes an insincere assertion if and only if he does not believe the proposition asserted. There are, however, persuasive counterexamples to this simple account. It has been proposed instead that an insincere (...)
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  22. Guy Kahane (2011). Evolutionary Debunking Arguments. Noûs 45 (1):103-125.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments (EDAs) are arguments that appeal to the evolutionary origins of evaluative beliefs to undermine their justification. This paper aims to clarify the premises and presuppositions of EDAs—a form of argument that is increasingly put to use in normative ethics. I argue that such arguments face serious obstacles. It is often overlooked, for example, that they presuppose the truth of metaethical objectivism. More importantly, even if objectivism is assumed, the use of EDAs in normative ethics is incompatible with (...)
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  23. Guy Kahane (2011). Mastery Without Mystery: Why There is No Promethean Sin in Enhancement. Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (4):355-368.
    Several authors have suggested that we cannot fully grapple with the ethics of human enhancement unless we address neglected questions about our place in the world, questions that verge on theology but can be pursued independently of religion. A prominent example is Michael Sandel, who argues that the deepest objection to enhancement is that it expresses a Promethean drive to mastery which deprives us of openness to the unbidden and leaves us with nothing to affirm outside our own wills. Sandel's (...)
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  24. Guy Kahane (2011). Reasons to Feel, Reasons to Take Pills. In J. Savulescu, R. ter Meulen & G. Kahane (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities. Wiley-Blackwell.
  25. Guy Kahane (2011). Should We Want God to Exist? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (3):674-696.
    Whether God exists is a metaphysical question. But there is also a neglected evaluative question about God’s existence: Should we want God to exist? Very many, including many atheists and agnostics, appear to think we should. Theists claim that if God didn’t exist things would be far worse, and many atheists agree; they regret God’s inexistence. Some remarks by Thomas Nagel suggest an opposing view: that we should want God not to exist. I call this view anti-theism. I explain how (...)
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  26. Guy Kahane (2011). To Take Pills. In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities. 166.
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  27. Anders Sandberg, Julian Savulescu & Guy Kahane (2011). The Social and Economic Impacts of Cognitive Enhancements. In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities. Blackwell. 93--112.
     
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  28. Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Muelen & Guy Kahane (eds.) (2011). Enhancing Human Capabilities. Wiley-Blackwell.
    In general, to enhance something is to raise that thing in degree, intensity, magnitude, or in some sense improve upon it.2 In this context, we are concerned with enhancements, ie amplifications or extensions, of human capabilities, ...
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  29. Guy Kahane (2010). Feeling Pain for the Very First Time: The Normative Knowledge Argument. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1):20-49.
    In this paper I present a new argument against internalist theories of practical reason. My argument is inpired by Frank Jackson's celebrated Knowledge Argument. I ask what will happen when an agent experiences pain for the first time. Such an agent, I argue, will gain new normative knowledge that internalism cannot explain. This argument presents a similar difficulty for other subjectivist and constructivist theories of practical reason and value. I end by suggesting that some debates in meta-ethics and in the (...)
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  30. Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2010). The Value of Sex in Procreative Reasons. American Journal of Bioethics 10 (7):22-24.
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  31. Guy Kahane & Nicholas Shackel (2010). Methodological Issues in the Neuroscience of Moral Judgement. Mind and Language 25 (5):561-582.
    Neuroscience and psychology have recently turned their attention to the study of the subpersonal underpinnings of moral judgment. In this article we critically examine an influential strand of research originating in Greene's neuroimaging studies of ‘utilitarian’ and ‘non-utilitarian’ moral judgement. We argue that given that the explananda of this research are specific personal-level states—moral judgments with certain propositional contents—its methodology has to be sensitive to criteria for ascribing states with such contents to subjects. We argue that current research has often (...)
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  32. Guy Kahane (2009). Non-Identity, Self-Defeat, and Attitudes to Future Children. Philosophical Studies 145 (2):193 - 214.
    Although most people believe that it is morally wrong to intentionally create children who have an impairment, it is widely held that we cannot criticize such procreative choices unless we find a solution to Parfit’s non-identity problem. I argue that we can. Jonathan Glover has recently argued that, in certain circumstances, such choices would be self-defeating even if morally permissible. I argue that although the scope of Glover’s argument is too limited, it nevertheless directs attention to a moral defect in (...)
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  33. Guy Kahane (2009). Pain, Dislike and Experience. Utilitas 21 (3):327-336.
    It is widely held that it is only contingent that the sensation of pain is disliked, and that when pain is not disliked, it is not intrinsically bad. This conjunction of claims has often been taken to support a subjectivist view of pain’s badness on which pain is bad simply because it is the object of a negative attitude and not because of what it feels like. In this paper, I argue that accepting this conjunction of claims does not commit (...)
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  34. Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2009). Brain-Damaged Patients and the Moral Significance of Consciousness. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (1):6-26.
    Neuroimaging studies of brain-damaged patients diagnosed as in the vegetative state suggest that the patients might be conscious. This might seem to raise no new ethical questions given that in related disputes both sides agree that evidence for consciousness gives strong reason to preserve life. We question this assumption. We clarify the widely held but obscure principle that consciousness is morally significant. It is hard to apply this principle to difficult cases given that philosophers of mind distinguish between a range (...)
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  35. Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2009). The Welfarist Account of Disability. In K. Brownlee & A. Cureton (eds.), Disability and Disadvantage. OUP. 14--53.
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  36. Julian Savulescu & Guy Kahane (2009). The Moral Obligation to Create Children with the Best Chance of the Best Life. Bioethics 23 (5):274-290.
    According to what we call the Principle of Procreative Beneficence (PB), couples who decide to have a child have a significant moral reason to select the child who, given his or her genetic endowment, can be expected to enjoy the most well-being. In the first part of this paper, we introduce PB, explain its content, grounds, and implications, and defend it against various objections. In the second part, we argue that PB is superior to competing principles of procreative selection such (...)
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  37. Nicholas Shackel & Guy Kahane (2008). Do Abnormal Responses Show Utilitarian Bias? Nature 452:E5.
  38. Dominic Wilkinson, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2008). “Neglected Personhood” and Neglected Questions: Remarks on the Moral Significance of Consciousness. American Journal of Bioethics 8 (9):31 – 33.
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  39. Guy Kahane, Edward Kanterian & Oskari Kuusela (eds.) (2007). Wittgenstein and His Interpreters: Essays in Memory of Gordon Baker. Blackwell Pub..
    Addressing a broad range of topics, this collection of essays provides thorough survey of Wittgenstein scholarship, surveying the history of the field and shedding a new light on contemporary debates. The first collection of its kind, this volume presents a range of perspectives on the different approaches to the philosophy of Wittgenstein Written by leading experts from America, Britain, and Europe Provides a much needed overview of the complex landscape of Wittgenstein exegesis and Wittgensteinian approaches to philosophy Assesses the current (...)
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  40. Julian Savulescu, Anders Sandberg & Guy Kahane (2001). Well-Being and Enhancement. In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities. Blackwell. 3--18.
     
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