The Doomsday Argument is alive and kicking, and since its formulation in the beginning of the Eighties by the astrophysicist Brandon Carter it has gained wide attention, been strongly criticized and has been described in many different, and sometimes non-interchangeable analogies. I will briefly present the argument here, and departing from Nick Bostrom's interpretation, I will defend that doom may be sooner than we think if we start building conscious machines soon in the future.
This paper tries to show that ontology is one of the important tendencies in the future philosophy. The author thinks that ontology as the basic spirit makes philosophy be different from other subjects. Ontology originates from people’s examination to essence of the world. However, ancient long-term argument couldn’t get any clear conclusion. So philosophers gradually understand that ontology is connected with epistemology. If we want to make a good explanation to ontology, we must return to check ourselves cognition. And (...) the epistemology turns into the main stream of the philosophy Since Descartes. But this doesn’t mean ontology being disappeared. It only tends from the stage to background. In fact, the discussion of the linguistic philosophy still belongs to epistemology. As a whole, we can say philosophy really goes though one negative development. According to dialectic, negation of negation is a universal law. The philosophy has to undergo another inevasible reform and return to ontology again. Many contemporary philosophers have regarded this and begin to do it effectively. (shrink)
The second chapter of book three of the De anima marks the end of Aristotle's discussion of sense-perception. The chapter is a long one and apparently rambling in subject matter. It begins with a passage that is usually taken as a discussion of some sort of self-awareness, particularly awareness that one is perceiving, although such an interpretation raises some difficulties. This paper reconsiders the problems raised by supposing that the question discussed in the first paragraph is ‘how do we (...) perceive that we perceive?’, and suggests an alternative interpretation which would solve many of the difficulties and have the additional merit of restoring unity to the sequence of notes which go to make up the whole chapter. (shrink)
The duty to help our fellows is not the same,and not stringent in the same way as thefamiliar duties to refrain from violence toothers, and to be honest. In general, beinghelpful to others is commendable, and to beheld up as a virtue. Only in cases wherereciprocity is possible and likely may we speakof anything stronger along this line. Moreover,the case of AIDS in Africa is furthercomplicated by the fact that it is easilypreventable by readily understandable behavioralterations. However, there are certainpossible (...) spin-offs, especially from mutation,which can happen when, as with AIDS, there aremillions of cases. So we in the west have somefurther, reason for concern and action thansheer good will. What can be done is especiallydifficult because of cultural factors of majororder. Serious investigation of how,nevertheless, to get the message across isclearly in order. Otherwise, we cannot and, asa nation, should not, try to do much more. (shrink)
One of the main targets of Barry Stroud’s criticism in his recent book ‚The Quest for Reality. Subjectivism and the Metaphysics of Colour’ are eliminativist theories of colour which he regards as a version of the metaphysical project of the unmasking of colours (Stroud, 2000). According to this view, no physical objects have any of the colours we see them or believe them to have. However, although this error theory describes all our colour perceptions as illusory, and all (...) our colour beliefs as false, it cannot deny that we actually perceive colours and that we do believe that physical objects are coloured. Therefore, it has to account for these psychological facts without relying on any assumptions about the colours of things. Thus, the central question for the unmasking project is whether it is possible to acknowledge someone’s perceiving a certain colour or having beliefs about the colours of things without holding that anything anywhere has any colour at all. Contrary to Stroud, this paper defends the view that we can acknowledge that people believe in colours without having ourselves to accept their existence. (shrink)
How should we define the “feasible set”? What does it mean to assert that a policy is the “best feasible option”? Feasibility is most plausibly a matter of degree rather than of kind. We therefore must think about how to do normative economics with a fuzzy social budget constraint. I consider a number of ways of proceeding, including a twodimensional social welfare function, weighting both desirability and feasibility. Focusing on the difficulties in the feasibility concept may help us resolve some (...) outstanding policy disagreements. (shrink)
The evolution of societies and food systems across the grand transitions is traced to show how nature and culture have been transformed along with the basic structures of power, politics, and governance. A central, but neglected, element has been the synergy between the creation of industrial institutions and the exponential, but unsustainable growth of the built environment. The values, goals, and strategies needed to transform and diversify these structures – generally and in terms of food and agriculture – are (...) discussed in terms of: 1) the need to diversify and decentralize the built environment as we move towards a post-fossil fuel society; and 2) the need to transform industrial institutions. To help develop more sustainable and regenerative institutions it is argued we will need to re-embed culture and society in nature; re-embed science, technology, and economics in society and nature; and re-embed governance and politics in society, something that requires a rethinking of representative democracy. Also, since the reforms needed to democratize society and to democratize food systems are parallel and reinforcing, it is crucial that each of us thinks through the linkages and the potential synergies and acts constructively in each realm. (shrink)
"The terrain of the self is vast," notes renowned psychiatrist Arnold Ludwig, "parts known, parts impenetrable, and parts unexplored." How do we construct a sense of ourselves? How can a self reflect upon itself or deceive itself? Is all personal identity plagiarized? Is a "true" or "authentic" self even possible? Is it possible to really "know" someone else or ourselves for that matter? To answer these and many other intriguing questions, Ludwig takes a unique approach, examining the art of biography (...) for the insights it can give us into the construction of the self. In The Biography of the Self, he takes readers on an intriguing tour of the biographer's art, revealing how much this can tell us about ourselves. Drawing on in-depth interviews with twenty-one of our most esteemed biographers--writers such as David McCullough (the biographer of Truman and Theodore Roosevelt), Wallace Stegner (John Wesley Powell), Gloria Steinem (Marilyn Monroe), Leon Edel (Henry James), Peter Gay (Freud), Diane Middlebrook (Anne Sexton), and many others--and interweaving fascinating observations of his own practice, Ludwig takes us through the labyrinthine hall of mirrors we term the self and shows us how malleable, elusive, and paradoxical it can be. In chapters such as "The 'Real' Marilyn," "Psychoanalyzing Freud," "How Did Hitler Live With Himself?" and "What Madness Reveals," we sit in as biographers talk not only about their work, but about their subjects (Allan Bullock on Hitler and Stalin, for instance, or Arnold Rampersad on Langston Hughes) and how their subjects saw themselves. Ludwig describes how biographers must impose a narrative structure on their subjects' lives to create order out of a mass of often contradictory views, baffling behavior, and inconsistent self-representations, much in the same way that psychotherapists try to foster self-awareness and understanding in their patients. In his concluding chapter, Ludwig introduces a new concept--biographical freedom--which brilliantly reconciles free will and determinism. We can, he asserts, become biographers of ourselves. Like the biographer, we are constrained to consider all the available facts of our lives--the personal experiences, cultural forces, and predetermined scripts that shape us--but we remain free to interpret, emphasize, and fashion these givens into a cohesive and meaningful narrative of our own choosing. This thought-provoking volume offers not only a wide-ranging and informative commentary on the biographer's art, but also a highly original theory of the self. Readers interested in biography and in the lives of others will come away with a new sense of what it means to be a "person" and, in particular, who they are. (shrink)
A (would-be) sophisticated answer to the question of the title might be, ‘The question is senseless. We should not conceive of time at all. We should just get on with our ordinary lives, asking and answering the usual questions, such as “What Time is it?”, “How long will it take?”, and so on, which we understand perfectly well. St. Augustine understood such questions, phrased in Latin, as well as we do. He should have been content with that, instead (...) of bothering his head with the misbegotten metaphysical question, “What is time?”’. (shrink)
This paper studies long-term norms concerning actions. In Meyer's Propositional Deontic Logic (PDₑL), only immediate duties can be expressed, however, often one has duties of longer durations such as: "Never do that", or "Do this someday". In this paper, we will investigate how to amend (PDₑL) so that such long-term duties can be expressed. This leads to the interesting and suprising consequence that the long-term prohibition and obligation are not interdefinable in our semantics, while there is a (...) duality between these two notions. As a consequence, we have provided a new analysis of the long-term obligation by introducing a new atomic proposition I (indebtedness) to represent the condition that an agent has some unfulfilled obligation. (shrink)
Time is a fundamental dimension of consciousness. Many studies of the “sense of agency” have investigated whether we attribute actions to ourselves based on a conscious experience of intention occurring prior to action, or based on a reconstruction after the action itself has occurred. Here, we ask the same question about a lower level aspect of action experience, namely awareness of the detailed spatial form of a simple movement. Subjects reached for a target, which unpredictably jumped to the side (...) on some trials. Participants (1) expressed their expectancy of a target shift during the upcoming movement, (2) pointed at the target as quickly and accurately as possible before returning to the start posiment to the target shift if required and (3) reproduced the spatial path of the movement they had just made, as accurately as possible, to give an indication of their awareness of the pointing movement. We analysed the spatial disparity between the initial and the reproduced movements on those with a target shift. A negative disparity value, or undershoot, suggests that motor awareness merely reflects a sluggish record of coordinated motor performance, while a positive value, or overshoot, suggests that participants’ intention to point to the shifting target contributes more to their awareness of action than their actual pointing movement. Undershoot and overshoot thus measure the reconstructive (motoric) and the preconstuctive (intentional) aspects of action awareness, respectively. We found that trials on which subjects strongly expected a target shift showed greater overshoot and less undershoot than trials with lower expectancy. Conscious expectancy therefore strongly influences the experience of the detailed motor parameters of our actions. Further, a delay inserted either between the expectancy judgement and the pointing movement, or between the pointing movement and the reproduction of the movement, had no effect on visuomotor adjustment but strongly influenced action awareness. Delays during either interval boosted undershoots, suggesting increased reliance on a time-limited sensory memory for action. The experience of action is thus strongly influenced by prior thoughts and expectations, but only over a short time period. Thus, awareness of our actions is a dynamic and relatively flexible mixture of what we intend to do, and what our motor system actually does. (shrink)
Liberal nationalists have been trying to argue that a suitably sanitized version of nationalism - namely, one that respects and embodies liberal values - is not only morally defensible, but also of great moral value, especially on grounds liberals should find very appealing. Although there are plausible aspects to the idea and some compelling arguments are offered in defense of this position, one area still proves to be a point of considerable vulnerability for this project and that is the (...) issue of what, according to the liberal nationalists, we owe both members of our nation, our co-nationals, and what we owe those who are not members of our nation. It is here that we see the project still has some distance to go if a version of liberal nationalism is, indeed, to be morally defensible. In this paper I examine leading liberal nationalist accounts of our obligations to co-nationals and non-nationals. I argue that liberal nationalists have not yet given us an adequate account of our obligations to non-nationals for a number of reasons. For instance, on the issue of the priority we may give co-nationals' interests over non-nationals', the theorists' view show significant tension, they seem to be confused about what their positions entail, the views are unhelpful, ad hoc, or the positions are quite unclear. Liberal nationalists also have a misleading impression that their positions better capture the relation between personal identity and duty, but this turns out to be false. Other defects with their specific projects are highlighted. I go on to offer a more promising method for determining our obligations to non-nationals. Rather than this alternative precluding any scope for nationalism, it actually makes clearer to us how there might be some defensible space for nationalism once our obligations to put in place appropriate institutions and sets of rules have been fulfilled. (shrink)
Mistakes about one's own psychological states generally, and about one's reasons for acting specifically, can sometimes be considered self-deceptive. In the present paper, I address the question of how someone can come to be deceived about his own motives. I propose that false beliefs about our own reasons for acting are often formed in much the same way that we acquire false beliefs about the motives of others. In particular, I argue that non-motivated biases resulting from the way we understand (...) ourselves lead us to draw mistaken inferences about our own motives. People typically are influenced by various stereotypes in the way they view the actions of others. Similarly, our preconceptions about ourselves influence our interpretations of our own actions. Therefore, self-deception, according to the present thesis, is not necessarily motivated. The self-deceived does not necessarily have the belief about herself that she does because of a desire for that belief to be true, rather her belief is influenced by what she expects to believe. (shrink)
This article has three aims. The first is to give a partial explication of the concept of unification. My explication will be partial because I confine myself to unification of particular events, because I do not consider events of a quantitative nature, and discuss only deductive cases. The second aim is to analyze how unification can be reached. My third aim is to show that unification is an intellectual benefit. Instead of being an intellectual benefit unification could be an intellectual (...) harm, i.e., a state of mind we should try to avoid by all means. By calling unification an intellectual benefit, we claim that this form of understanding has an intrinsic value for us. I argue that unification really has this alleged intrinsic value. (shrink)
Communicate. We humans do it all the time, and most of the time we do it as a matter of course, without thinking about it. We talk, we listen, we write, we read - as you are doing now - or we draw, we mimic, we nod, we point, we shrug, and, somehow, we manage to make our thoughts known to one another. Of course, there are times when we view communication as something difficult or even impossible to achieve. Yet, (...) compared to other living kinds, we are amazingly good at it. Other species, if they communicate at all, have a narrow repertoire of signals that they use to convey again.. (shrink)
Steven Pinker's How the mind works (HTMW) marks in my opinion an historic point in the history of humankind's attempt to understand itself. Socrates delivered his "know thyself" imperative rather long ago, and now, finally, in this behemoth of a book, published at the dawn of a new millennium, Pinker steps up to have psychology tell us what we are: computers crafted by evolution - end of story; mystery solved; and the poor philosophers, having never managed to obey (...) Socrates' command, are left alone to wander in the labyrinth of their benighted speculation forever. Unfortunately, though HTMW is to this point the crowning attempt of psychology to make systematic sense of persons by integrating everything relevant science knows, the book fails - and it fails so fundamentally and irremediably that we would do well to wonder anew whether we should supplant the basic view it promotes with what I call the super-mind hypothesis: the view that though mere animals are evolved computers, persons are more. (shrink)
Because work looms so large in our lives I believe that most of us don't reflect on its importance and significance. For most of us, work is well – work, something we have to do to maintain our lives and pay the bills. I believe, however, that work is not just a part of our existence that can be easily separated from the rest of our lives. Work is not simply about the trading of labor for dollars. Perhaps because (...) we live in a society that markets and hawks the fruits of our labor and not the labor itself, we have forgotten or never really appreciated the fact that the business of work is not simply to produce goods, but also to help produce people. We need work, and as adults we find identity and are identified by the work we do. If this is true then we must be very careful about what we choose to do for a living, for what we do is what we'll become. (shrink)
In discussions in cognitive science, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and linguistics, it is often taken for granted that we (as well as some machines) have certain abilities, such as the ability to do multiplications or the ability to identify grammatical sentences. Such abilities are regarded as in some sense infinitary, and they are identified with, or taken to be based upon, knowledge of the relevant rules (the rule of multiplication, or the rules of grammar). In what follows, (...) I argue that whatever such abilities we do possess are not infinitary in any plausible sense. Therefore, the (alleged) infinitary nature of our (or a machine's) knowledge of such rules cannot be accounted for by bringing it back to infinitary abilities. (shrink)
In this article I argue that the contested concept of Bildung, with its roots in the late 18th century, remains of interest in the postmodern era, even if there is also certainly a debate about it having had its day. In the specific discussion about Bildung and democracy, I suggest that Dewey's reconstructed concept of experience has several points in common with a more recent understanding of Bildung, at the same time as it can provide insight into how democracy can (...) be understood within the field of Bildung. In brief, in this article I suggest that if we wish to discuss democracy and Bildung, Dewey's notion of experience might offer a bridge between the two concepts, as well as an understanding of subjectivity, learning, and communication as a whole. Finally, I argue that communication is a necessary part of both democracy and Bildung—not because of certain human similarities, but because of the similarities in some of the problems which we humans encounter, and which we think are worth reflecting upon. (shrink)
The objections against the transmitted ending of OT (1424-1530) raised by scholars since the eighteenth century and most recently by R.D. Dawe deserve to be taken seriously, but only the last 63 lines (1468-1530, called B below) are open to truly serious objections, both verbal and dramaturgical. By contrast, objections against 1424-67 (called A below) are mostly slight, and in addition they are protected by an earlier passage in the play that seems to prepare the audience for Creon's demand that (...) Oedipus re-enter the palace. A is genuine and gives us the end of the playas Sophocles wrote it: probably we have lost only a brief reply by Creon to Oedipus' requests and some choral anapaests. A postscript discusses the meaning of 1451-57. 1 argue that these look to the future (infinitive "pérsai" plus "hán" standing for optative plus "hán"), and that "épí toi deinoi kakoi" means that Oedipus is being saved 'for some dreadful mischief', i.e. to cause such mischief to others, an allusion to the cursing of his sons and its result, the war of the Seven against Thebes. (shrink)
I believe that the data is both fascinating and instructive, but in this paper I will resist the conclusion that we must give up Invariantism, or, as I prefer to call it, Uniﬁcationism. In the process of examining the challenging data and responding to it, I will try to draw some larger lessons about how to use the kind of data being collected. First, I will provide a brief description of some inﬂuential theories of responsibility, and then explain the threat (...) to them from the experimental results. Finally, I will set out my general approach to the data, as well as some speciﬁc suggestions about how to think about each set of experiments. I will conclude that philosophers searching for a uniﬁed theory need not give up, but that at the same time they can learn a great deal from the new data. (shrink)
Researchers from the 1940's through the present have found that normal, sighted people can echolocate - that is, detect properties of silent objects by attending to sound reflected from them. We argue that echolocation is a normal part of our conscious, perceptual experience. Despite this, we argue that people are often grossly mistaken about their experience of echolocation. If so, echolocation provides a counterexample to the view that we cannot be seriously mistaken about our own current conscious experience.
Expert probability forecasts can be useful for decision making (Sect. 1). But levels of uncertainty escalate: however the forecaster expresses the uncertainty that attaches to a forecast, there are good reasons for her to express a further level of uncertainty, in the shape of either imprecision or higher order uncertainty (Sect. 2). Bayesian epistemology provides the means to halt this escalator, by tying expressions of uncertainty to the propositions expressible in an agent’s language (Sect. 3). But Bayesian epistemology comes in (...) three main varieties. Strictly subjective Bayesianism and empirically-based subjective Bayesianism have difficulty in justifying the use of a forecaster’s probabilities for decision making (Sect. 4). On the other hand, objective Bayesianism can justify the use of these probabilities, at least when the probabilities are consistent with the agent’s evidence (Sect. 5). Hence objective Bayesianism offers the most promise overall for explaining how testimony of uncertainty can be useful for decision making. Interestingly, the objective Bayesian analysis provided in Sect. 5 can also be used to justify a version of the Principle of Reflection (Sect. 6). (shrink)
Most contributions to the current debate about the consideration and application of empirical information in ethics scholarship deal with epistemological issues such as the role and the meaning of empirical research in ethical reasoning. Despite the increased publication of empirical data in ethics literature we still lack systematic analyses and conceptual frameworks that would help us to understand the rarely discussed methodological and practical problems in appraising empirical research. This paper demonstrates the need for critical appraisal and its crucial methodological (...) role in the application of empirical information in ethical reasoning. Furthermore, it systematically examines the criteria and the appropriate appraisal of empirical research and the associated challenges by highlighting current problems in empirical ethics literature. These problems reveal the following challenges for a critical and responsible consideration of empirical information in ethical reasoning: (i) training in the basic skills of locating and communicating empirical data from the relevant studies; (ii) training in basic knowledge of how to critically appraise empirical (qualitative and quantitative) research and its results; (iii) determination of quality standards for empirical ethics research; (iv) adequate reporting of the methodology and results of empirical ethics research in scientific journals. (shrink)
In Theory Z-style management everybody participates in corporate decision making. This more open process should give us fewer Pintos, Love Canals, and massive international payoffs as executives are forced to expose their reasoning to the moral sensibilities of the whole corporation. So far everything looks good. But we are a long way from showing that only corporations so managed can be fully moral. Yet Dwiggins seems to believe this, putting his faith in the basic goodness of the many while (...) virtually dismissing the managers as mere technicians. This is too slick; even if it describes our average corporation today, there are plenty of less radical changes which can also produce the desired moral corporation. Good leadership which acts on their commitment to improve the company is surely one historically respectable alternative; cynicism about the present crop of leaders should not distract us from investigating this route. Finally, I wonder if Dwiggins can consistently urge us to embrace a full-scale Theory Z organizational structure, given his position on the place of ethics and profitability. (shrink)
I raise some doubts about the plausibility of Stanley and Williamson's view that all knowledge-how is just a species of propositional knowledge. By tackling the question of what is involved in entertaining a proposition, I try to show that Stanley and Williamson's position leads to an uncomfortable dilemma. Depending on how we understand the notion of contemplating a proposition, either intuitively central cases of knowing-how cannot be thus classified or we lose our grip on the very idea of propositional knowledge, (...) which then fails to demarcate any clear class of cases. I conclude with a brief discussion of the nature and role of knowledge-how, and its relation to the important, but less explored, notion of expertise. (shrink)
Discourse containing the verb ‘feel’, almost without exception, purports to describe inner experience. Though this much is evident, the question remains what exactly is conveyed when we talk about what and how we feel? Does discourse containing the word ‘feel’ actually succeed in describing the content and phenomenology of inner experience? If so, how does it reflect the phenomenology and content of the experience it describes? Here I offer a linguistic analysis of ‘feels’ reports and argue that a subset of (...) ‘feels’ reports, when accurate, reflect the representational content of emotions, tactile experiences and bodily sensations. Because ‘feels’ reports may reflect the representational content of bodily experience, these types of report may be able to give us some insight into the structure of bodily experience. I argue that our descriptions of bodily experience, on the assumption that they are sometimes accurate, indicate that emotions and tactile experiences are experiences of bodily reactions to objects, whereas bodily sensations are partial descriptions of emotions and tactile experiences or other events of the body. At the end I address the concern that an adequate account of inner experience cannot be given in terms of an analysis of ordinary language. (shrink)
The precautionary principle (PP) is fundamentally a claim that acting to avoid and/or mitigate threats of serious harm should be accorded high priority in public policy. Over the last three decades, governments and international bodies have endorsed it in principle, and some of them have incorporated it into some areas of policy practice. Yet, PP is controversial in policy circles, public discussion and scholarly discourse. Here the PP literature is reviewed from the perspective of economics, where the tendency (...) is to see theory and methods for rational decision-making under risk and uncertainty as well-established and risk management tools as well developed, and to view the PP with some circumspection. Following a brief introduction to PP concepts, history, applications, and controversies, I review and critique the standard economic approach to decision-making and risk management (here labeled ordinary risk management, ORM), identifying areas of incompleteness especially in the treatment of disproportionate and asymmetric threats. After reviewing some of the more prominent PP controversies in the scholarly literature, I suggest a conceptual framework for a PP that may withstand the major criticisms levied against the PP and make a unique and valid contribution to a decision and risk management arsenal that includes ORM. The framework relates the nature of the threat, the evidence, and the remedy indicated; and each of these elements is discussed in some detail. The scope of this PP is identified in general terms and distinguished from the quantity restrictions and regulatory safety margins that often serve as practical heuristics when ORM-based policies are implemented. Because the PP is clearly identified as a principle, I discuss the role of principles in policy design and implementation, and conclude with some suggestions as to how this PP could guide policy and management. (shrink)
In this paper I develop a theory of the acquisition of parental rights that can help us make these judgments. According to this investment theory, parental rights are generated by the performance of parental work. Thus, those who successfully parent a child have the right to continue to do so, and to exclude others from so doing. The account derives from a more general principle of desert that applies outside the domain of parenthood. It also has some interesting implications (...) for the attribution of moral parenthood. In particular, it implies that genetic relationships per se are irrelevant to parental rights and that it is possible to have more than two moral parents. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that parents have special duties toward their children—weightier duties than they owe other children. How these duties are acquired, however, is not well understood. This is problematic when claims about parental responsibilities are challenged; for example, when people deny that they are morally responsible for their biological offspring. In this paper I present a theory of the origins of parental responsibilities that can resolve such cases of disputed moral parenthood.
Many candidates have been tried out as proximate causes of actions: belief-desire pairs, volitions, motives, intentions, and other kinds of pro-attitudes. None of these mental states or events, however, seems to be able to do the trick, that is, to get things going. Each of them may occur without an appropriate action ensuing. After reviewing several attempts at closing the alleged “causal gap”, it is argued that on a correct analysis, there is no missing link waiting to be discovered. (...) On the counterfactual account of singular causation, the onset of belief or desire may perfectly well cause an action, although no kind of mental antecedent is ever a causally sufficient condition for a specific kind of action to occur. (shrink)
Healthcare counts as a morally relevant good whose distribution should neither be left to the free market nor be simply imposed by governmental decisions without further justification. This problem is particularly prevalent in the current boom of anti-ageing medicine. While the public demand for medical interventions which promise a longer, healthier and more active and attractive life has been increasing, public healthcare systems usually do not cover these products and services, thus leaving their allocation to the mechanisms of supply and (...) demand on the free market. This situation raises the question on which basis the underlying preferences for and claims to a longer, healthier life should be evaluated. What makes anti-ageing medicine eligible for public funding? In this article, we discuss the role of anti-ageing medicine with regard to the scope and limits of public healthcare. We will first briefly sketch the basic problem of justifying a particular healthcare scheme within the framework of a modern liberal democracy, focusing on the challenge anti-ageing interventions pose in this regard. In the next section, we will present and discuss three possible solutions to the problem, essentialistic, transcendental, and procedural strategies of defining the scope of public healthcare. We will suggest a procedural solution adopting essentialistic and transcendental elements and discuss its theoretical and practical implications with regard to anti-ageing medicine. (shrink)
Pessoa et al. provide a valuable taxonomy of perceptual completion phenomena, but it is not yet clear whether these phenomena are mediated by one kind of neural mechanism or more. We suggest three possible neural mechanisms of long-range interaction to stimulate further perceptual and neurophysiological investigation of perceptual completion and filling-in.
Guidelines advise that x-rays do not contribute to the clinical management of simple nasal fractures. However, in cases of simple nasal fracture secondary to assault, a facial x-ray may provide additional legal evidence should the victim wish to press charges, though there is no published guidance. We examine the ethical and medico-legal issues surrounding this controversial area.
The problem of knowledge has been centred around the study of the content of our consciousness, seeing the world through internal representation, without any satisfactory account of the operations of nature that would be a pre-condition for our own performances in terms of concept efficiency in organizing action externally. If we want to better understand where and how meaning fits in nature, we have to find the proper way to decipher its organization, and account for the fact that we (...)have found codes and replicators operating at a deep levels of analysis. Informational analysis deals with units of organizational stability but it takes them for granted and leaves open the question of their origin. Patterns are used when we recognize the same configurations at different places and try to explain through their recurrence, yet to make sense of the presence of signals and counter-balancing mechanisms disseminated in nature, a hypothesis is offered to the effect that feedback signals would have a role to play in the coming about of a world that is open to new configurations and submitted to a form of stability that is more attuned to system laws than overarching unrevisable ones. (shrink)
There is no agreement on how nanoethics should proceed. In this article I focus on approaches for discerning ethical issues in nanotechnology, which is as of yet one of the most difficult and urging tasks for nanoethics. I discuss and criticize two existing approaches for discerning ethical issues in nanotechnology and propose a network approach as alternative. I discuss debates in nanoethics about the desirable role of ethics in nanotechnological development and about the newness of ethical issues in nanotechnology. On (...) basis of a critical analysis of both debates, I formulate a number of desiderata for a method for discerning ethical issues in nanotechnology and argue that the network approach that my colleagues and I have developed for ethical issues in research and development networks is also appropriate in nanotechnology. (shrink)
As neuroscience uncovers these and other mechanisms regulating choices and social behaviour, we cannot help but wonder whether anyone truly chooses anything (though see "Is the universe deterministic?"). As a result, profound questions about responsibility are inescapable, not just regarding criminal justice, but in the day-to-day business of life. Given that, I suggest that free will, as traditionally understood, needs modification. Because of its importance in society, any description of free will updated to fit what we know about the nervous (...) system must also reflect our social need for a working concept of responsibility. (shrink)
In this paper I consider some issues concerning cognitive enhancements and the ethics of enhancing in reproduction and parenting. I argue that there are moral reasons to enhance the cognitive capacities of the children one has, or of the children one is going to have, and that these enhancements should not be seen as an alternative to pursuing important changes in society that might also improve one’s own and one’s children’s life. It has been argued that an emphasis on (...) enhancing cognitive capacities might encourage the commodification of children. But this objection seems misplaced. The reasons why one decides to reproduce can be subject to moral approbation or condemnation, as such rea-sons might be indicators of the quality of one’s parenting and the happiness of the future persons one is committed to bringing to life. However, once the decision to reproduce is made, no further harm comes from taking as few risks as possible on behalf of the persons to whom one is giving life with their health, character and cognitive capacities. (shrink)
In this paper, a critique will be developed and an alternative proposed to Luciano Floridi’s approach to Information Ethics (IE). IE is a macroethical theory that is to both serve as a foundation for computer ethics and to guide our overall moral attitude towards the world. The central claims of IE are that everything that exists can be described as an information object, and that all information objects, qua information objects, have intrinsic value and are therefore deserving of moral (...) respect. In my critique of IE, I will argue that Floridi has presented no convincing arguments that everything that exists has some minimal amount of intrinsic value. I will argue, however, that his theory could be salvaged in large part if it were modified from a value-based into a respect-based theory, according to which many (but not all) inanimate things in the world deserve moral respect, not because of intrinsic value, but because of their (potential) extrinsic, instrumental or emotional value for persons. (shrink)
M any philosophers who otherwise have disparate views on the mind share a fundamental assumption. The assumption is that mental processes, or at least those that explain behavior, are wholly determined by properties of the individual whose processes they are.' As elaborated by..
Synthetic biology can be understood as expanding the abilities and aspirations of genetic engineering. Nonetheless, whereas genetic engineering has been subject to criticism due to its endangering biodiversity, synthetic biology may actually appear to prove advantageous for biodiversity. After all, one might claim, synthesizing novel forms of life increases the numbers of species present in nature and thus ought to be ethically recommended. Two perspectives on how to spell out the conception of intrinsic value of biodiversity are examined in order (...) to assess this line of thought. At the cost of introducing two separate capacities of human knowledge acquisition, the ‘admiration stance’ turns out to reject outright the assumption of a synthetic species' intrinsic value and of an imperative to create novel species. The ‘kinship stance’ by contrast does ascribe value to both synthetic and natural species and organisms. Nonetheless, while from this perspective creating novel species may become an ethical demand under certain conditions, it favours changing organisms by getting in contact with them rather than synthesizing them. It is concluded that neither the admiration nor the kinship stance warrants a supposed general moral obligation to create novel species to increase biodiversity. (shrink)
Mental competence, or ‘mental capacity’ as it is referred to in recent legislation in the UK, is a concept that is expanding rapidly as a common currency in health and social care services. Neelke Doorn’s “Anthropological Reflection on the Concept of Competence” makes for fascinating and highly relevant reading and the legal and ethical discussions she describes taking place in the Netherlands would appear to echo many of those that have occurred in the UK over the last 5 to (...) 10 years, but with some significant differences. However, Doorn’s new conceptualization of mental competence causes some concerns, particularly if it was to be applied in services currently provided to people where their mental capacity may be .. (shrink)
In a recent paper (in Argumentation, 2006) Robert Talisse and Scott Aikin suggest that we ought to recognize two distinct forms of the straw man fallacy. In addition to misrepresenting the strength of an opponent’s specific argument (= the representation form), one can also misrepresent the strength of one’s opposition in general, or the overall state of a debate, by selecting a (relatively) weak opponent for critical consideration (= the selection form). Here I consider whether we as philosophy professors could (...) be seen as sometimes committing the selection form of the straw man through the performance of our regular teaching duties. (shrink)
_This paper outlines the case for believing that we will have superhuman artificial intelligence_ _within the first third of the next century. It looks at different estimates of the processing power of_ _the human brain; how long it will take until computer hardware achieve a similar performance;_ _ways of creating the software through bottom-up approaches like the one used by biological_ _brains; how difficult it will be for neuroscience figure out enough about how brains work to_ _make this (...) approach work; and how fast we can expect superintelligence to be developed once_ _there is human-level artificial intelligence._. (shrink)
Do we do anything wrong to animals simply by ending their lives if it causes them no pain or suffering? According to some, we can do no wrong to animals by killing them because animals do not have an interest in continued life. An attempt to ground an interest in continued life in animals’ desires faces the challenge that animals are supposedly incapable of desiring to live or of having the kinds of long-range desires which could be thwarted (...) by death. Some philosophers argue that death harms animals not because it thwarts their desires, but rather because it forecloses their future opportunities for satisfaction. However, this argument is problematic because (1) it’s unclear that animals’ future opportunities belong to the same continuing selves and (2) it’s unclear why we should think that animals’ future opportunities have value for them. A more promising argument holds that many animals have an interest in continued life insofar as they possess certain enjoyments in life, where animals’ enjoyments are best understood not merely as fleeting experiences but rather as dispositional desires which animals continue to possess over time. (shrink)
If it is possible to think that human life is temporal as a whole, and we can make sense of Wittgenstein’s claim that the psychological phenomena called ‘dispositions’ do not have genuine temporal duration on the basis of a distinction between dispositions and other mental processes, we need a compelling account of how time applies to these dispositions. I undertake this here by examining the concept of expectation, a disposition with a clear nexus to time by the temporal point (...) at which the expectation is satisfied. However, it seems that we cannot always identify the beginning of an expectation, and in a few cases, its end. If so, the reduction of expectations to neural events or accompanying feelings which spread over time in the usual way seems a hard enterprise, because these processes, much as other physical processes, have a definite and largely measurable time span. Only at a higher level, that is, as part of human life, expectation can be said to be temporal. (shrink)