In Ethics, Economics, and Politics Ian Little returns to offer a new defence of a rule-based utilitarianism as a basis for assessing the role of the State. Lucidly and elegantly he explains how the three disiplines of philosophy, economics and politics can be integrated to provide guidance on issues of public policy.
David Luban (ed.), The Good Lawyer: Lawyers? Roles and Lawyers? Ethics. Maryland Studies in Public Philosophy. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Allanheld, 1984, 368 pp. Jennifer Radden, Madness and Reason: Studies in Applied Philosophy, Allen & Unwin, 1985, 174 pp.
Peer review of manuscripts for biomedical journals has become a subject of intense ethical debate. One of the most contentious issues is whether or not peer review should be anonymous. This study aimed to generate a rich, empirically-grounded understanding of the values held by journal editors and peer reviewers with a view to informing journal policy. Qualitative methods were used to carry out an inductive analysis of biomedical reviewers’ and editors’ values. Data was derived from in-depth, open-ended interviews with journal (...) editors and peer reviewers. Data was “read for” themes relevant to reviewer anonymisation and interactions among editors, reviewers, and authors. Editors and peer reviewers provided three arguments that would support a more open and interactive peer-review process. First, a number of participants emphasised the importance of not only ensuring the scientific quality of published research but also nurturing their colleagues and supporting their communities. Second, many spoke about the ongoing moral responsibilities that reviewers and editors felt toward authors. Finally, participants spoke at length about their enjoyment of social interactions and of the value of collective, rather than isolated, reasoning processes. Whether or not journal editors decide to allow anonymous review , the values of editors and reviewers need to be seriously addressed in codes of publication ethics, in the management of biomedical journals, and in the establishment of journal policies. (shrink)
Wikipedia is a goldmine of information; not just for its many readers, but also for the growing community of researchers who recognize it as a resource of exceptional scale and utility. It represents a vast investment of manual effort and judgment: a huge, constantly evolving tapestry of concepts and relations that is being applied to a host of tasks. This article provides a comprehensive description of this work. It focuses on research that extracts and makes use of the concepts, relations, (...) facts and descriptions found in Wikipedia, and organizes the work into four broad categories: applying Wikipedia to natural language processing; using it to facilitate information retrieval and information extraction; and as a resource for ontology building. The article addresses how Wikipedia is being used as is, how it is being improved and adapted, and how it is being combined with other structures to create entirely new resources. We identify the research groups and individuals involved, and how their work has developed in the last few years. We provide a comprehensive list of the open-source software they have produced. (shrink)
In reviewing five edited collections and one monograph from the 1990s, the article summarizes the present status of the "human rights revolution" that was signaled by the adoption in 1948 of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". It goes on to elaborate and evaluate some of the attempts contained in these books to deal with theoretical and practical controversies surrounding the subject of human rights, particularly the discussion of what to make of "cultural relativism" as far as human rights are (...) concerned. Finally, the article summarizes some recent thinking and research on a neglected area, namely compliance with human rights standards protecting "freedom of religion or belief.". (shrink)
Over the past decade, stem cell science has generated considerable public and political debate. These debates tend to focus on issues concerning the protection of nascent human life and the need to generate medical and therapeutic treatments for the sick and vulnerable. The framing of the public debate around these issues not only dichotomises and oversimplifies the issues at stake, but tends to marginalise certain types of voices, such as the women who donate their eggs and/or embryos to stem cell (...) research and the patients who might benefit from its potential clinical outcomes. This paper draws on empirical research conducted on a recent stem cell policy episode in Australia. From the qualitative examination of 109 newspaper opinion editorials and twenty-three in-depth interviews, it is argued that these voices are marginalised because they are based on discourses that have less epistemological status in public debate. Our results suggest that the personal experiences of women and patients are marginalised by the alliances that form between more powerful discourse communities that use science as a source of authority and legitimation. It is argued that members of these communities establish legitimacy and assert authority in public debate by discursively deploying science in claims that marginalise other epistemologies. Implications are discussed along with suggestions for a more enriched and inclusive public debate. (shrink)
Philosophy has long been concerned with ‘moral status’. Discussions about the moral status of children, however, seem often to promote confusion rather than clarity. Using the creation of ‘savior siblings’ as an example, this paper provides a philosophical critique of the moral status of children and the moral relevance of parenting and the role that formative experience, regret and relational autonomy play in parental decisions. We suggest that parents make moral decisions that are guided by the moral significance they attach (...) to children, to sick children and most importantly, to a specific sick child (theirs). This moral valorization is rarely made explicit and has generally been ignored by both philosophers and clinicians in previous critiques. Recognizing this, however, may transform not only the focus of bioethical discourse but also the policies and practices surrounding the care of children requiring bone marrow or cord blood transplantation by better understanding the values at stake behind parental decision making. (shrink)
Though responses to Stout's book, "Democracy and Tradition," have touched on his discussion of rights, none has comprehensively examined his position on the subject. Having endorsed several objections Stout raises against some influential views on democracy and rights, this article proceeds to criticize Stout's description and theoretical account of the natural and human rights traditions. The central argument is that Stout cannot successfully both affirm the traditions and adhere to his account.
The debate about whether misoprostol should be distributed to low resource communities to prevent post-partum haemorrhage (PPH), recognised as a major cause of maternal mortality, is deeply polarised. This is in spite of stakeholders having access to the same evidence about the risks and benefits of misoprostol. To understand the disagreement, we conducted a qualitative analysis of the values underpinning debates surrounding community distribution of misoprostol. We found that different moral priorities, epistemic values, and attitudes towards uncertainty were the main (...) factors sustaining the debate. With this understanding, we present a model for ethical discourse that might overcome the current impasse. (shrink)
While doctors generally enjoy considerable status, some believe that this is increasingly threatened by consumerism, managerialism, and competition from other health professions. Research into doctors’ perceptions of the changes occurring in medicine has provided some insights into how they perceive and respond to these changes but has generally failed to distinguish clearly between concerns about “status,” related to the entitlements associated with one’s position in a social hierarchy, and concerns about “respect,” related to being held in high regard for one’s (...) moral qualities. In this article we explore doctors’ perceptions of the degree to which they are respected and their explanations for, and responses to, instances of perceived lack of respect. We conclude that doctors’ concerns about loss of respect need to be clearly distinguished from concerns about loss of status and that medical students need to be prepared for a changing social field in which others’ respect cannot be taken for granted. (shrink)
A survey of developments over the last forty years suggests that little progress has been made in the development of comparative religious ethics as a discipline. While authors working in this field have produced a number of interesting works, the field lacks structure, including an agreement on the basic purpose, terms, and approaches by which contributions may be evaluated as better or worse. I provide an account of this history, suggesting that a way forward will involve marrying ethicists' interest (...) in arguments with close attention to the more and less formal structures by which groups of people organize the giving and taking of reasons. (shrink)
MalcolmDavid Eckel takes us on a contemporary quest to discover the essential meaning behind the Buddha's many representations. Eckel's bold thesis proposes that the proper understanding of Buddhist philosophy must be thoroughly religious--an understanding revealed in Eckel's new translation of the philospher Bhavaviveka's major work, The Flame of Reason. Eckel shows that the dimensions of early Indian Buddhism--popular art, conventional piety, and critical philosophy--all work together to express the same religious yearning for the fullness of emptiness that (...) Buddha conveys. (shrink)
This paper responds to DavidLittle's recent discussion of the author's "holistic" criticisms of "Comparative Religious Ethics" (Little and Twiss, 1978). In two crucial areas, Little seems to have moved beyond his original position: first, in granting that the relation among the levels of the structure of practical justification is interactive; and second, in making explicit his conception of the point of pursuing comparative studies. Both developments are welcome, but they raise doubts about (...) whether much of the original position survives. The author articulates these doubts, and also reflects on what difference holism makes in ethics. (shrink)
The most important theories in fundamental physics, quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics, posit objective probabilities or chances. As important as chance is there is little agreement about what it is. The usual “interpretations of probability” give very different accounts of chance and there is disagreement concerning which, if any, is capable of accounting for its role in physics. David Lewis has contributed enormously to improving this situation. In his classic paper “A Subjectivist's Guide to Objective Chance” he described (...) a framework for representing single case objective chances, showed how they are connected to subjective credences, and sketched a novel account what they are within his Humean account of scientific laws. Here I will describe these contributions and add a little to them. (shrink)
The recent republication of David Bloor's Knowledge and Social Imagery in a second edition provides an occasion to reappraise the celebrated work which launched the so-called Strong Programme in the sociology of scientific knowledge. This work embodies the general outlook and foundational principles in a way that is still characteristic of its descendents. Above all, the recent republication of Bloor's original book is evidence of the continuing interest and importance of the work, but it also provides the clearest evidence (...) of the shortcomings of the enterprise. The arguments presented in the bulk of the book have received relatively little attention by comparison with the principal tenets enunciated in the first few pages. Accordingly, a detailed examination is made of these original arguments which were so influential in establishing the sociology of scientific knowledge. A close analysis reveals their seemingly unnoticed vacuity, as well as a vast discrepancy between the radical tenets of the Strong Programme and the theses that are actually defended in the body of Bloor's text. In this sense, this article serves to complement and reinforce Mario Bunge's recent masterful survey of the field, which he describes as "a grotesque cartoon of scientific research.". (shrink)
Monetary policy is a modern idea of which David Hume is generally considered a precursor. Moreover, thanks to Milton Friedman and Robert Lucas, he is often presented as one of the first and most illustrious endorser of monetarism. This paper argues against this view, and in agreement with Joseph Schumpeter, that Hume's contribution to economics, while not insignificant, cannot claim any real novelties. It offers an interpretation of Hume as a descendant of a pre-modern understanding of money rather than (...) a forerunner of modern monetary ideas, and as a scholar exposing common ideas of his time rather than a prophet of economic theories developed centuries later, and argues that there is little in Hume that resembles today's monetary policy prescriptions. (shrink)
David K. Chan wants to save the DDE from the considerable criticism levelled against it, by making the moral distinction it refers to rest on a difference in desire instead of in intention. I argue that the revised version, too, is counter-intuitive and confuses the blameworthiness of an actor with the wrongness of the act. It also invites abuse instead of preventing it. Besides, Chan's DDE omits three of the four criteria of the traditional DDE, and it is couched (...) in terms of lesser objectionability, while the traditional DDE is couched in terms of permission. Therefore, Chan's DDE has so little in common with the traditional DDE that it should not even count as a revised version of it. (shrink)
David K. Chan wants to save the DDE from the considerable criticism levelled against it, by making the moral distinction it refers to rest on a difference in desire instead of in intention. I argue that the revised version, too, is counter-intuitive and confuses the blameworthiness of an actor with the wrongness of the act. It also invites abuse instead of preventing it. Besides, Chan's DDE omits three of the four criteria of the traditional DDE, and it is (...) couched in terms of lesser objectionability, while the traditional DDE is couched in terms of permission. Therefore, Chan's DDE has so little in common with the traditional DDE that it should not even count as a revised version of it. (shrink)
For a little more than twenty years, the terminology used in the economics of science has changed significantly with the development of expressions such as ?new economics of science? (NES) and ?economics of scientific knowledge? (ESK). This article seeks to shed light on the use of these different terminologies by studying the work of the economist of science Paul David. We aim to use his work as a case study in order to argue for a difference between NES (...) and ESK and to show, in a concrete way, the sociological ambiguities now going on in the economics of science. (shrink)
Perhaps one reason why political scientists and historians generally overlook the moral and political ideas of the little tradition is that both, unlike the anthropologist, tend to concentrate on the written record-the product, par excellence, of the great tradition. The little tradition achieves historical visibility only at those moments when it becomes mobilized into dissident movements which pose a direct threat to ruling elites. It is for this reason that I have had to rely so heavily on evidence (...) from millenial revolts in constructing my argument. Yet it seems to me that there is a “shadow history” which remains to be written for almost every mass movement in the Third World.Consider, for example, the case of nationalism. There is evidence that the meaning of independence at the base of many nationalistic movements diverged markedly from its meaning to the intelligentsia who nominally led them. David Marr concludes that in Vietnam “salvation from the foreigner was taken by the peasantry to include salvation from hunger, tenancy, and taxes” (emphasis added). David Marr, Vietnamese Anti-Colonialism 1885–1925 (Berkeley, 1971) p. 277. For the Filipino peasantry, Sturtevant claims that “... independence took on miraculous connotations.” “Some barrio dwellers began to look forward to the anticipated condition as a panacea for everything from hook worms to hacenderos.”Sturtevant, op.cit., p. 87. It is only when the nationalist legions elude the control of their erstwhile leaders that this shadow history and its participants move into the spotlight. Much the same may be said about communist and socialist movements which are apt to look radically different from the village than from the national headquarters.See my account of the 1930 communist-led revolt in Central Vietnam, known as the Nghe-Tinh Soviets, which highlights what elite-centered studies miss (Scott 1976, op.cit.,Ch. 5). If it is worth writing religious history and sociology with the beliefs and values of its mass adherents in mind, then it is worth writing the history and sociology of political movements in the same spirit. The enterprise is important not only because it uncovers the experienced history (what French historians would call mentalité populaire) of most actors but also because it is likely to reveal the whole substratum of ideas and values which represent a human potential that is only rarely tapped. In this analysis of the little tradition and popular religion in Europe and Southeast Asia, my point has been to demonstrate that, among the peasantry in most complex agrarian societies, one can find a pattern of profanations-symbolic reversals of the existing social order. The idiom in which they are expressed is, almost universally, religious. Much as the official religious doctrine is selected, reworked, and profaned in little tradition cults, so is the existing political order symbolically negated in popular millenial traditions.For the most part, as we have stressed, these symbolic reversals are an undertone, a counterpoint, to dominant religious and political ideas. When outside forces or natural disasters appear to overwhelm the peasantry and play havoc with the normal categories of experience, however, this alternative world may chart a new course of action and open up new possibilities. This alternative symbolic world is constructed, we must not forget, largely in reaction to what might be described as the historic process of modernization-the creation of a bureaucratic state, the penetration of a market economy, the replacement of custom by law-a process experienced by much of the world's peasantry. It is out of the turmoil and pain of this transformation that the need for a redemptive community grows. How else are we to comprehend a religious symbolism of liberation that displays so many similarities across time, space, culture, and religion?If this examination of peasant religion and politics has revealed anything, it is surely that there is no such thing as a perfect ideological hegemony which socializes subordinate classes to accept either their fate or the values which ordain that fate. In fact, it would appear that the growth of oppression dialectically produces its own negation in the symbolic and religious life of the oppressed. At the very least this negation generates a new resistance to socialization and moral instruction from above. At most, it represents the normative basis for rebellion and revolution. Ali Bhutto, the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1976, knew what he was about when he explained, “I don't allow speeches to be made to the extent where people may poison the already not very sophisticated minds of the peasantry.” (New York Times, 1/29/76) The problem for public order, however, is not that the peasants' minds may be “poisoned” but rather that they may discover, or even create, a leader who is symbolically aligned with their deepest aspirations. As Lucien Goldmann has pointed out, “human action ... can no longer be defined by its actual reality without reference to the potential reality which it seeks to bring into being.”Lucien Goldmann, “Reflections on History and Class Consciousness,” in István Mészáros, ed., Aspects of History and Class Consciousness (London, 1971), p. 76. We can do no better in closing than to quote Marx on religion, including a passage that is, alas, usually taken out of context: Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.Karl Marx, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right,” in K. Marx and F. Engels On Religion (Moscow, n.d.), p. 42. I want to thank Edward Friedman for bringing this to my attention and for teaching me so much about Marx and peasants. If the production of values is a political weapon in the class struggle, then the religious profanations of popular religion are no less a weapon than the doctrines of the high church. (shrink)
David Lewis's book 'On the Plurality of Worlds' mounts an extended defense of the thesis of modal realism, that the world we inhabit the entire cosmos of which we are a part is but one of a vast plurality of worlds, or cosmoi, all causally and spatiotemporally isolated from one another. The purpose of this article is to provide an accessible summary of the main positions and arguments in Lewis's book.
My research work title is “A Philosophical Study of the Concept of Mind (with special reference to Rene Descartes, David Hume and Gilbert Ryle).” In this study we have discussed three conceptions of mind presented by Rene Descartes, David Hume and Gilbert Ryle. All the three thinkers are related to different philosophical traditions known as Rationalism, Empiricism and Analytical Philosophy respectively. Each of these various approaches can be seen as at least partly successful, each provides answers to questions (...) regarded as especially pressing, each apparently solved certain problems. Notoriously, however, each leaves unanswered and unsolved a host of distinct problems as well. (shrink)
David Phillips’s Sidgwickian Ethics is a penetrating contribution to the scholarly and philosophical understanding of Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics. This note focuses on Phillips’s understanding of (aspects of) Sidgwick’s argument for utilitarianism and the moral epistemology to which he subscribes. In § I, I briefly outline the basic features of the argument that Sidgwick provides for utilitarianism, noting some disagreements with Phillips along the way. In § II, I raise some objections to Phillips’s account of the epistemology (...) underlying the argument. In § III, I reply to the claim that there is a puzzle at the heart of Sidgwick’s epistemology. In § IV, I respond to Phillips’s claim that Sidgwick is unfair in his argument against the (deontological) morality of common sense. (shrink)
The concept of the self is a highly contested topic. Traditionally it belonged to speculative metaphysics. Almost every philosopher, whether Western or Indian, has tried to explore the nature of self. Generally, the self is taken as a substance which has permanent existence, which is eternal and non-specio-temporal. In some traditions, like the Hindu tradition, it is believed to take rebirth as the body perishes. Many Western philosophers also think that it is immortal. The nature of the self also has (...) then ethical implications. The views of David Hume and Gautama Buddha on the self, which I have chosen to discuss here, are similar. Though both belong to different traditions, both are skeptical of any permanent existence of self. This is not to say that one has borrowed from the other. For the nature and purpose of denial of the self in both the philosophers is different. So a comprehensive and comparative study of their views is very interesting. It is the intention of this article to analyze and compare the philosophical positions of Gautama and Hume on the self—a problem which was of central concern to both and which has since exercised a continuing fascination for philosophers, both of the East and the West. (shrink)
A line of argument, presented by David Lewis, to show that the correspondence theory of truth is not a real alternative to deflationism is developed. It is shown that truthmakers, construed as concrete events or states of affairs, are unsatisfactory entities, since we do not know how to individuate them or how to identify their essential qualities. Furthermore, the real work is usually done by supervenience relations, which have little to do with truth. It is argued that the (...) Equivalence Schema is quite sufficient to yield a unitary property of being true, and that this generates a weak, but non-trivial, version of the correspondence theory of truth. (shrink)
David Lewis claims that his theory of modality successfully reduces modal items to nonmodal items. This essay will clarify this claim and argue that it is true. This is largely an exercise within ‘Ludovician Polycosmology’: I hope to show that a certain intuitive resistance to the reduction and a set of related objections misunderstand the nature of the Ludovician project. But these results are of broad interest since they show that would-be reductionists have more formidable argumentative resources than is (...) often thought. Lewis’s reduction depends on a set of methodological commitments each of which is fairly plausible or at least currently popular, and none of which is particular to modality. The choice of which of these commitments to reject I leave to the discerning antireductionist. The essay proceeds as follows: §1 discusses reduction generally and one or two relevant puzzles; §2 discusses Lewis’s reduction in particular; the longest section, §3 replies to four objections. (shrink)