This paper presents a critical comparative reading of Ulrich Beck and Herbert Marcuse. Beck's thesis on 'selfcritical society' and the concept of 'sub-politics' are evaluated within the framework of Marcusian critical theory. We argue for the continued relevance of Marcuse for the project of emancipatory politics. We recognise that a focus upon the imminent and spontaneous possibilities for radical social change within the 'sub-political' is a useful provocation to the high abstractionism of much critical theory, but suggest that such possibilities (...) are better captured in a Marcusian theoretical frame than they are in Beck's account. (shrink)
Written with the beginner in mind, Robert Wilkinson carefully introduces the reader to the fundamental components of the philosophy of mind. Each chapter is then helpfully linked to a reading from key thinkers in the field such as Descartes and John R. Searle.
Transplantation is a medically successful and cost-effective way to treat people whose organs have failed--but not enough organs are available to meet demand. Ethics and the Acquisition of Organs is concerned with the major ethical problems raised by policies for acquiring organs. The main topics are the rights of the dead, the role of the family, opt in and opt out systems, the conscription of organs, living organ donation from adults and children, directed donation and priority for donors, and the (...) sale of organs. In this ground-breaking work, T. M. Wilkinson uses concepts from moral and political theory such as autonomy, rights, posthumous interests, justice, and well-being, in a context informed by the clinical, legal, and policy aspects of transplantation. The result is a rigorous philosophical exploration of real problems and options. He argues that the ethics of acquiring organs for transplantation is not only of great intellectual interest, but also of practical importance. As such, this book will be of profit not only to students and academics who work in applied ethics and bioethics, but also to the lawyers, policy-makers, clinicians, and lobby groups interested in transplantation. (shrink)
To what extent should parents be allowed to use reproductive technologies to determine the characteristics of their future children? And is there something morally wrong with parents who wish to do this? Choosing Tomorrow's Children provides answers to these (and related) questions. In particular, the book looks at issues raised by selective reproduction, the practice of choosing between different possible future persons by selecting or deselecting (for example) embryos, eggs, and sperm. -/- Wilkinson offers answers to questions including the (...) following. Do children have a 'right to an open future' and, if they do, what moral constraints does this place upon selective reproduction? Should parents be allowed to choose their future children's sex? Should we 'screen out' as much disease and disability as possible before birth, or would that be an objectionable form of eugenics? Is it acceptable to create or select a future person in order to provide lifesaving tissue for an existing relative? Is there a moral difference between selecting to avoid disease and selecting to produce an 'enhanced' child? Should we allow deaf parents to use reproductive technologies to ensure that they have a deaf child? (shrink)
Wilkinson (1991a) developed arguments that the distributions of primitive character states may delimit clades, and proposed a method that exploited the evidence of primitive character state distributions for inferring clades. Whiting and Kelly (1995) presented a critique of these ideas, arguing that they are logically incoherent and that the method does not succeed in its aims. This critique severely misrepresents the original arguments and the method, and amounts to no more than an attack on a straw man.
It is argued that there are good reasons for believing that commercial surrogacy is often exploitative. However, even if we accept this, the exploitation argument for prohibiting (or otherwise legislatively discouraging) commercial surrogacy remains quite weak. One reason for this is that prohibition may well 'backfire' and lead to potential surrogates having to do other things that are more exploitative and/or more harmful than paid surrogacy. It is concluded, therefore, that those who oppose exploitation should concentrate on: (a) improving the (...) conditions under which paid surrogates 'work'; and (b) changing the background conditions (in particular, the unequal distribution of power and wealth) which generate exploitative relationships. (edited). (shrink)
There are not enough solid organs available to meet the needs of patients with organ failure. Thousands of patients every year die on the waiting lists for transplantation. Yet there is one currently available, underutilized, potential source of organs. Many patients die in intensive care following withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment whose organs could be used to save the lives of others. At present the majority of these organs go to waste.In this paper we consider and evaluate a range of ways (...) to improve the number and quality of organs available from this group of patients. Changes to consent arrangements (for example conscription of organs after death) or changes to organ donation practice could dramatically increase the numbers of organs available, though they would conflict with currently accepted norms governing transplantation.We argue that one alternative, Organ Donation Euthanasia, would be a rational improvement over current practice regarding withdrawal of life support. It would give individuals the greatest chance of being able to help others with their organs after death. It would increase patient autonomy. It would reduce the chance of suffering during the dying process. We argue that patients should be given the choice of whether and how they would like to donate their organs in the event of withdrawal of life support in intensive care.Continuing current transplantation practice comes at the cost of death and prolonged organ failure. We should seriously consider all of the alternatives. (shrink)
The commercial trading of human organs, along withvarious related activities (for example, advertising)was criminalised throughout Great Britain under theHuman Organ Transplants Act 1989.This paper critically assesses one type of argumentfor this, and similar, legal prohibitions:commodification arguments.Firstly, the term `commodification' is analysed. Thiscan be used to refer to either social practices or toattitudes. Commodification arguments rely on thesecond sense and are based on the idea that having acommodifying attitude to certain classes of thing(e.g. bodies or persons) is wrong. The commodifyingattitude consists (...) of three main elements: denial ofsubjectivity, instrumentality, and fungibility.Secondly, in the light of this analysis, the claimthat organ sale involves commodifying the human bodyis examined. This claim is found to be plausible butinsufficient to ground an argument against organ sale,because the very same commodifying attitude is likelyto be present in cases of (unpaid) organ donation. Itis also argued that commodifying bodies per semay not be wrong.Thirdly, the view that organ sale involvescommodifying persons is examined. Although this andthe claim that it is wrong to commodify persons areprobably true, there is â it is argued â littlereason to regard organ sale as worse in this respectthan other widely accepted practices, such as thebuying and selling of labour.The conclusion is that although commodification is auseful ethical concept and although commodificationarguments may sometimes be successful, thecommodification argument against organ sale is notpersuasive. This is not to say, though, that thereare no arguments for prohibition â simply that thisparticular justificatory strategy is flawed. (shrink)
This article provides a critical assessment of some aspects of Ann Kerr and Tom Shakespeare's Genetic Politics: from eugenics to genome. In particular, I evaluate their claims: (a) that bioethics is too ‘top down’, involving normative prescriptions, whereas it should instead be ‘bottom up’ and grounded in social science; and (b) that contemporary bioethics has not dealt particularly well with people's moral concerns about eugenics. I conclude that several of Kerr and Shakespeare's criticisms are well-founded and serve as valuable reminders (...) to the bioethics community. These include the claims: that bioethics ought not to consist entirely of applying moral theory to cases; that bioethics must take account of relevant empirical evidence; and that bioethicists should be on the look out for those subtle social forces which can undermine the voluntariness of people's choices and consents. However, we should reject some of Kerr and Shakespeare's other criticisms and I conclude (amongst other things) that even ‘mainstream’ bioethics is better able to deal with difficult issues like eugenics than Kerr and Shakespeare suggest. (shrink)
This paper develops a normative evaluation of the minimum wage in the light of recent evidence and theory about its effects. It argues that the minimum wage should be evaluated using a consequentialist criterion that gives priority to the jobs and incomes of the worst off. This criterion would be accepted by many different types of consequentialism, especially given the two major views about what the minimum wage does. One is that the minimum wage harms the jobs and incomes of (...) the worst off and the other is that it does neither much harm nor much good. The paper then argues at length that there are no important considerations besides jobs and incomes relevant to the assessment of the minimum wage. It criticizes exploitation arguments for the minimum wage. It is not clear that the minimum wage would reduce exploitation and the paper doubts that, if it did, it would do so in a morally significant way. The paper then criticizes freedom arguments against the minimum wage by rejecting appeals to self-ownership and freedom of contract and by arguing that no freedom of significance is lost by the minimum wage that is not already taken account of in the main consequentialist criterion. The conclusion is that, at worst, the minimum wage is a mistake and, at best, something to be half-hearted about. Footnotes1 My thanks to Paul Brown and Jerry Cohen for their written and verbal help, Andrew Williams for long discussions of this paper, two anonymous referees and the editors, and audiences at the Universities of Auckland, Newcastle, and Reading. (shrink)
Existing arguments against paid organ donation are examined and found to be unconvincing. It is argued that the real reason why organ sale is generally thought to be wrong is that (a) bodily integrity is highly valued and (b) the removal of healthy organs constitutes a violation of this integrity. Both sale and (free) donation involve a violation of bodily integrity. In the case of the latter, though, the disvalue of the violation is typically outweighed by the presence of other (...) goods: chiefly, the extreme altruism involved in the giving. There is usually no such outweighing feature in the case of the former. Given this, the idea that we value bodily integrity can help to account for the perceived moral difference between sale and free donation. (shrink)
The Theory Theory (TT) versus Simulation Theory (ST) debate is primarily concerned with how we understand others’ mental states. Theory theorists claim we do this using rules that are akin to theoretical laws, whereas simulation theorists claim we use our own minds to imagine ourselves in another’s position. Theorists from both camps suggest a consideration of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can help resolve the TT/ST debate (e.g., Baron-Cohen 1995; Carruthers 1996a; Goldman 2006). We present a three-part argument that (...) such research has so far been inconclusive and that the prospects for studies of ASD to resolve the debate in the near future remain uncertain. First, we discuss evidence indicating that some individuals with ASD can perform effectively on tests of mental state understanding, which questions what ASD can tell us regarding theorising or simulation. Second, we claim that there is compelling evidence that domain-general mechanisms are implicated in mental state reasoning, which undermines how ASD might inform the TT/ST debate given that both theories appeal to domain-specific mindreading mechanisms. Third, we suggest that neuroscientific evidence for an assumed role of the mirror neuron system in autism also fails to arbitrate between TT and ST. We suggest that while the study of ASD may eventually provide a resolution to the TT/ST debate, it is also vital for researchers to examine the issues through other avenues, for example, by examining people’s everyday counterfactual reasoning with mental state scenarios. (shrink)
This paper gives a self-defence account of the scope and limits of the justified use of compulsion to control contagious disease. It applies an individualistic model of self-defence for state action and uses it to illuminate the constraints on public health compulsion of proportionality and using the least restrictive alternative. It next shows how a self-defence account should not be rejected on the basis of past abuses. The paper then considers two possible limits to a self-defence justification: compulsion of the (...) non-culpable and over-inclusive compulsion. The paper claims that objections to compelling the non-culpable do not greatly restrict the scope of the self-defence justification. The over-included are, however, innocent bystanders, and methods such as compulsory quarantine, vaccination, and screening are not justified in self-defence. (shrink)
. This paper explores the relationship between gift giving, guanxi and corruption through a study of the relationships between UK manufacturing companies in China and their local component suppliers. The analysis is based on interviews in the China-based operations of 49 UK companies. Interviews were carried out both with senior (often expatriate) staff and with local line managers who were responsible for everyday purchasing decisions and for managing relationships with suppliers. The results suggest that gift giving is perceived to be (...) a significant problem in UK-owned companies in China. However the relationship between these payments and established understanding of gift giving within guanxi-networks appears to be weak. Gift giving appears to be associated with illicit payments, corruption and the pursuit of self-interest. Firms seek to reduce the incidence of illicit transactions by changing staff roles, instituting joint responsibilities, which include the separation of different aspects of sourcing/purchasing, ineasing the involvement of senior staff in the process and through the education of employee and suppliers. (shrink)
When is it permissible to allow a newborn infant to die on the basis of their future quality of life? The prevailing official view is that treatment may be withdrawn only if the burdens in an infant's future life outweigh the benefits. In this paper I outline and defend an alternative view. On the Threshold View, treatment may be withdrawn from infants if their future well-being is below a threshold that is close to, but above the zero-point of well-being. I (...) present four arguments in favor of the Threshold View, and identify and respond to several counterarguments. I conclude that it is justifiable in some circumstances for parents and doctors to decide to allow an infant to die even though the infant's life would be worth living. The Threshold View provides a justification for treatment decisions that is more consistent, more robust, and potentially more practical than the standard view. (shrink)
If ‘community’ is the answer, what is the problem? While questions undoubtedly arise in allocating resources to public health, such as ‘how much?’ and ‘to whom?’, we already have answers based on (i) the observation that disease and illness are bad, (ii) views of justice and fairness and (iii) an appreciation of market failure. What does the concept of community add to the existing answers? Not nothing, I shall argue, but not much either. In some cases, health providers should take (...) advantage of ties of community to deliver services more effectively. The desire to preserve communities may have some minor implications for devolved health care funding. The value of community may set some limits to inequalities in access to health care. That’s about it. I do consider some other claims of behalf of the concept, e.g. that people would not support justice in health care without a sense of community; but I don’t find these claims very plausible. Finally, I point out some ways in which communities can be damaged by the promotion of public health understood as population health. (shrink)
This is an essay in comparative aesthetics. The history of the reception of Indian aesthetics in the UK is a history of non-reception. This essay argues that the reasons for this neglect go beyond cultural arrogance, and can be traced to deep differences in the philosophical presuppositions of Indian and Western aesthetics respectively, especially those rooted in non-Western goal of nirvana.
These are questions to which oriental thinkers have given a wide range of philosophical answers that are intellectually and imaginatively stimulating. Thirty-Five Oriental Philosophers is a succinctly informative introduction to the thought of thirty-five important figures in the Chinese, Indian, Arab, Japanese and Tibetan philosophical traditions. Thinkers covered include founders such as Zoroaster, Confucius, Buddha and Muhammed, as well as influential modern figures such as Gandhi, Mao Tse-Tung, Suzuki and Nishida. The book is divided into sections, in which an introduction (...) to the tradition it covers precedes the essays on its individual philosophers. Notes, further reading lists, and cross-references provide the student with a clear route to further study. There is a glossary of key terms at the end of the book. (shrink)
The sentence Irving was closer to me than he was to most of the others contains a quantifier, most of the other, in the scope a comparative. The first part of this paper explains the challenges presented by such cases to existing approaches to the semantics of the comparative. The second part presents a new analysis of comparatives based on intervals rather than points on a scale. This innovation is analogized to the move from moments to intervals in tense semantics. (...) The remainder of the paper is concerned with an interval-based semantics of degree in relation to issues other than the comparative proper. The paper begins with a discussion of the role negative polarity has played in studies on the semantics of comparatives. (shrink)
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis and some prenatal screening programmes have been criticized for being 'eugenic'. This paper aims to analyse this criticism and to evaluate one of the main ethical arguments lying behind it. It starts with a discussion of the meaning of the term 'eugenics' and of some relevant distinctions: for example, that between objections to eugenic ends and objections to certain means of achieving them. Next, a particular argument against using preimplantation genetic diagnosis to 'screen out' disability is considered, (...) one based on the Equal Value Principle, which says that we should value disability and non-disability equally. It is argued that present practice and policy probably do violate the Equal Value Principle, but that this principle is itself unsound. (shrink)
Ethical analyses, professional guidelines and legal decisions support the equivalence thesis for life-sustaining treatment: if it is ethical to withhold treatment, it would be ethical to withdraw the same treatment. In this paper we explore reasons why the majority of medical professionals disagree with the conclusions of ethical analysis. Resource allocation is considered by clinicians to be a legitimate reason to withhold but not to withdraw intensive care treatment. We analyse five arguments in favour of non-equivalence, and find only relatively (...) weak reasons to restrict rationing to withholding treatment. On the contrary, resource allocation provides a strong argument in favour of equivalence: non-equivalence causes preventable death in critically ill patients. We outline two proposals for increasing equivalence in practice: (1) reduction of the mortality threshold for treatment withdrawal, (2) time-limited trials of intensive care. These strategies would help to move practice towards more rational treatment limitation decisions. (shrink)
Predictions of poor prognosis for critically ill patients may become self-fulfilling if life-sustaining treatment or resuscitation is subsequently withheld on the basis of that prediction. This paper outlines the epistemic and normative problems raised by self-fulfilling prophecies (SFPs) in intensive care. Where predictions affect outcome, it can be extremely difficult to ascertain the mortality rate for patients if all treatment were provided. SFPs may lead to an increase in mortality for cohorts of patients predicted to have poor prognosis, they may (...) lead doctors to feel causally responsible for the deaths of their patients, and they may compromise honest communication with patients and families about prognosis. However, I argue that the self-fulfilling prophecy is inevitable when life-sustaining treatment is withheld or withdrawn in the face of uncertainty. SFPs do not necessarily make treatment limitation decisions problematic. To minimize the effects of SFPs, it is essential to carefully collect and appraise evidence about prognosis. Doctors need to be honest with themselves and with patients and their families about uncertainty and the limits of knowledge. (shrink)
A recent debate in the literature on delusions centers on the question of whether delusions are beliefs or not. In this paper, an overlooked distinction between egocentric and encyclopedic doxastic states is introduced and brought to bear on this debate, in particular with regard to delusions of misidentification. The result is that a more accurate characterization of the delusional subject’s doxastic point of view is made available. The patient has a genuine egocentric belief (“This man is not my father”), but (...) fails to have the commonly attributed encyclopedic belief (“My father has been replaced by an impostor”). (shrink)
: It has recently become known that, in Liverpool and elsewhere, parts of children's bodies were taken postmortem and used for research without the parents being told. But should parental consent be sought before using children's corpses for medical purposes? This paper presents the view that parental consent is overrated. Arguments are rejected for consent from dead children's interests, property rights, family autonomy, and religious freedom. The only direct reason to get parental consent is to avoid distressing the parents, which (...) carries implications for the consent process, secret harvesting of body parts, and the weight to be given to parental feelings. (shrink)
A common occurrence in television news is the showing of graphic scenes of human suffering. It was hypothesized that viewing such scenes could be harmful to a segment of the population. A controlled experiment examined the impact of images showing victim blood inserted into into television news stories about auto accidents. The amount of blood shown was manipulated, resulting in three video versions, roughly in terms of low, medium, and high. Participants were measured beforehand on the variable of "locus of (...) control" and randomly assigned to one of the three treatment groups. Dependent variables included emotional impact and mean world syndrome. The results suggested blood shown on screen makes a difference in the perceived emotional impact of the story. Locus of control was found to be linked to mean world syndrome. The findings suggest that the quest for hardhitting news and high ratings must be tempered with the knowledge that some viewers are adversely affected by these graphic scenes of human suffering. (shrink)
It is sometimes argued that practices such as organ-selling should be prohibited because they are demeaning to the individuals involved. In this article the plausibility of such an argument is questioned. I will examine what it means to demean or be demeaned, and suggest that the mere fact that an individual is demeaning themself does not provide sufficient justification for legal prohibition. On the contrary, such laws might be argued to be demeaning.
If a disabled newborn infant dies, her parents may be able to conceive another child without impairment. This is sometimes referred to as 'replacement'. Some philosophers have argued that replacement provides a strong reason for disabled newborns to be killed or allowed to die. In this paper I focus on the case for replacement as it relates to decisions about life support in newborn intensive care. I argue (following Jeff McMahan) that the impersonal reason to replace is weak and easily (...) outweighed. I assess and reject several possible ways in which the impersonal reason to replace could be defended. I then address an alternative justification for replacement - as an individual-affecting benefit. The strongest justification for replacement may be the interests of parents. In the latter part of the paper I look at a related question. What role should replacement play in decisions about the funding of newborn intensive care? (shrink)
An attempt is made in this paper to analyze the purely formal nature of information-theoretic concepts. The suggestion follows that such concepts, used to supplement the logical and mathematical structure of the language of science, represent an addition to this language of such a sort as to allow the use of a unitary language for the description of phenomena. (The alternative to this approach must be certain multi-linguistic and mutually untranslatable descriptions of related phenomena, as with the various versions of (...) Complementarity). This conception is tested for the specific case of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, in order to show that, with the assumption of a suitable and intuitively satisfactory definition of the quantity of information contained in a measurement, the Heisenberg Principle becomes an informational restriction arising from the formal properties of the symbols of a given language rather than as a "law" of nature. (shrink)
Much legislation dealing with the uses of genetic information could be criticised for exceptionalising genetic information over other types of information personal to the individual. This paper contends that genetic exceptionalism clouds the issues, and precludes any real debate about the appropriate uses of genetic information. An alternative to “genetically exceptionalist” legislation is to “legislate for fairness”. This paper explores the “legislating for fairness” approach, and concludes that it demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of both how legislation is drafted, and how (...) it is interpreted. The uncomfortable conclusion is this: policy-makers and legislators must tackle head-on the difficult policy questions concerning what should and should not be done with genetic information. Only by confronting this crucial issue will they achieve a workable legislative solution to the problems caused by genetic information. (shrink)
Ronald Dworkin argues on the basis of a theory of well-being that critical paternalism is self-defeating. People must endorse their lives if they are to benefit. This is the endorsement constraint and this paper rejects it. For certain kinds of important mistakes that people can make in their lives, the endorsement constraint is either incredible or too narrow to rule out as much paternalism as Dworkin wants. The endorsement constraint cannot be interpreted to give sensible judgements when people change their (...) minds about the value of their lives. And the main argument for the endorsement constraint, which is based on the value of integrity, does not support Dworkin's anti-paternalism. (shrink)