This essay explores the profoundly gendered nature of the split between the disciplines of economics and sociology which took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, emphasizing implications for the relatively new field of economic sociology. Drawing on historical documents and feminist studies of science, it investigates the gendered processes underlying the divergence of the disciplines in definition, method, and degree of engagement with social problems. Economic sociology has the potential to heal this disciplinary split, but only if (...) the field is broadened, deepened, and made wiser and more self-reflective through the use of feminist analysis. (shrink)
A number of recent discussions about ethical issues in climate change, as engaged in by economists, have focused on the value of the parameter representing the rate of time preference within models of optimal growth. This essay examines many economists' antipathy to serious discussion of ethical matters, and suggests that the avoidance of questions of intergenerational equity is related to another set of value judgments concerning the quality and objectivity of economic practice. Using insights from feminist philosophy of science and (...) research on high reliability organizations, this essay argues that a more ethically transparent, real-world-oriented, and flexible economic practice would lead to more strongly objective, reliable, and useful knowledge. (shrink)
We extend the concept that life is an informational phenomenon, at every level of organisation, from molecules to the global ecological system. According to this thesis: (a) living is information processing, in which memory is maintained by both molecular states and ecological states as well as the more obvious nucleic acid coding; (b) this information processing has one overall function—to perpetuate itself; and (c) the processing method is filtration (cognition) of, and synthesis of, information at lower levels to appear at (...) higher levels in complex systems (emergence). We show how information patterns, are united by the creation of mutual context, generating persistent consequences, to result in ‘functional information’. This constructive process forms arbitrarily large complexes of information, the combined effects of which include the functions of life. Molecules and simple organisms have already been measured in terms of functional information content; we show how quantification may be extended to each level of organisation up to the ecological. In terms of a computer analogy, life is both the data and the program and its biochemical structure is the way the information is embodied. This idea supports the seamless integration of life at all scales with the physical universe. The innovation reported here is essentially to integrate these ideas, basing information on the ‘general definition’ of information, rather than simply the statistics of information, thereby explaining how functional information operates throughout life. (shrink)
This paper is based on the findings from a study in which social workers in healthcare settings were asked for their perspectives on cultural and racial difference as these apply to their practice with racialized clients. In examining the varied practice philosophies and approaches they employ, we find that older practice models based on problematized knowledge about racialized Others are being, alternately, reinstated and contested. In grappling with how to practise, participants describe approaches that, in many cases, effectively individualize clients (...) and ignore hierarchies and systems of domination. Following Sarah Ahmed's work on ethical encounters (Strange Encounters, Routledge, London, 2000), we argue for a socially and historically informed consideration of power relations as they shape professional practice. (shrink)
During 2006, a total of 130,527 Americans spent time on organ waiting lists; 7,191 of them died waiting. According to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, 104,778 people are awaiting organs as this is being written (www.optn.org/data/; accessed November 4, 2009); every ninety minutes or so, one of them will die.In Spain, however, waiting list time is much shorter, and accordingly, very few die for the want of an organ; roughly thirty-five people per million provide organs in Spain upon (...) their deaths, a rate that dwarfs participation in the United States (usually cited at roughly twenty-two people per million)—and close to everywhere else as well. Among the benefits reaped by the Spanish: during .. (shrink)
A certain pupil with the vaguely Kafkaesque name B has mastered the series of natural numbers. B's new task is to learn how to write down other series of cardinal numbers and right now, we're working on the series "+2." After a bit, B seems to catch on, but we are unusually thorough teachers and keep him at it. Things are going just fine until he reaches 1000. Then, quite confounding us, he writes 1004, 1008, 1012."We say to him: 'Look (...) what you've done!'—He doesn't understand. We say: 'You were meant to add two: look how you began the series!'—He answers: 'Yes, isn't it right? I thought that was how I was meant to do it.'"1B may be an "abnormal learner," but he's not unique among learners in literature. Another .. (shrink)
It has recently been argued by Miller and Truog (2008) that, while procuring vital organs from transplant donors is typically the cause of their deaths, this violation of the requirement that donors be dead prior to the removal of their organs is not a cause for moral concern. In general terms, I endorse this heterodox conclusion, but for different and, as I think, more powerful reasons. I end by arguing that, even if it is agreed that retrieval of vital organs (...) causes the deaths of those who provide them, that does not pose any new substantive difficulties for efforts to justify “opt-out” organ procurement systems. (shrink)
The assumption that contracts are largely impersonal, rational, voluntary agreements drawn up between self-interested individual agents is a convenient fiction, necessary for analysis using conventional economic methods. Papers prepared for a recent conference on ethics and international debt were shaped by just such an assumption. The adequacy of this approach is, however, challenged by evidence about who is affected by international debt, how contracts are actually made and followed, the behavior of actors in financial markets, and the motivations of scholars (...) themselves. This essay uses insights from feminist and relational scholarship from several disciplines to analyze the reasons for this sort of habitual neglect of certain kinds of evidence within economics, and to point towards more adequate alternatives. (shrink)
: The President's Council on Bioethics has tried to make a distinctive contribution to the methodology of such public bodies in developing what it has styled a "richer bioethics." The Council's procedure contrasts with more modest methods of public bioethical deliberation employed by the United Kingdom's Warnock Committee. The practices of both bodies are held up against a backdrop of concerns about moral and political alienation, prompted by the limitations of moral reasoning and by moral dissent from state policy under (...) even the most democratic of governments. Although the President's Council's rhetoric is often scrupulously conciliatory, recurring features of its argumentative practice are regrettably divisive. They order these things better in Britain. (shrink)
This essay discusses the origins, biases, and effects on contemporary discussions of economics and ethics of the unexamined use of the metaphor an economy is a machine. Both neoliberal economics and many critiques of capitalist systems take this metaphor as their starting point. The belief that economies run according to universal laws of motion, however, is shown to be based on a variety of rationalist thinking that – while widely held – is inadequate for explaining lived human experience. Feminist scholarship (...) in the philosophy of science and economics has brought to light some of the biases that have supported the mechanistic worldview. Possible alternatives to the an economy is a machine include an economy is a creative process and an economy is an organism. Such metaphors are intellectually defensible as guides to scientific inquiry and provide a richer ground for moral imagination. (shrink)
: Can work be done for pay, and still be loving? While many feminists believe that marketization inevitably leads to a degradation of social connections, we suggest that markets are themselves forms of social organization, and that even relationships of unequal power can sometimes include mutual respect. We call for increased attention to specific causes of suffering, such as greed, poverty, and subordination. We conclude with a summary of contributions to this Special Issue.
The probabilistic analysis of functional questions is maturing into a rigorous and coherent research paradigm that may unify the cognitive sciences, from the study of single neurons in the brain to the study of high level cognitive processes and distributed cognition. Endless debates about undecidable structural issues (modularity vs. interactivity, serial vs. parallel processing, iconic vs. propositional representations, symbolic vs. connectionist models) may be put aside in favor of a rigorous understanding of the problems solved by organisms in their natural (...) environments. [Shepard; Tenenbaum & Griffiths]. (shrink)
Disputes about theory in bioethics almost invariablyrevolve around different understandings of morality or practicalreasoning; I here suggest that the field would do well to becomemore explicitly contentious about knowledge, and start the taskof putting together a clinical epistemology. By way of providingsome motivation for such a discussion, I consider two cases ofresistance to shifts in clinical practice that are, by and large,not ethically controversial, highlighting how differentconceptions of epistemic authority may contribute to clinicians'unwillingness to adopt these changes, and sketching out (...) someinitial suggestions for epistemic analysis of clinical practice. (shrink)
It is obvious that technology is rapidly changing the world around us. Nowhere is that change more evident than in the revolution occurring for those with physical and mental limitations-their portrayal in the media, their use of the media to achieve group aims and their use of the new on-line media to communicate with others who have limitations and the non-disabled world. In a very real way the growing sense of community among those with disabilities has been linked to the (...) media. (shrink)
: A fascinating criticism of abortion occasioned by prenatal diagnosis of potentially disabling traits is that the complex of test-and-abortion sends a morally disparaging message to people living with disabilities. I have argued that available versions of this "expressivist" argument are inadequate on two grounds. The most fundamental is that, considered as a practice, abortions prompted by prenatal testing are not semantically well-behaved enough to send any particular message; they do not function as signs in a rule-governed symbol system. Further, (...) even granting, for the sake of argument, the expressive power of testing and aborting, it would not be possible, contra the argument's proponents, to distinguish between abortions undertaken because of beliefs about the disabling conditions the fetus might face as a child and abortions undertaken for many other possible reasons--e.g., because of the poverty the fetus would face or the increase in family size that the birth of a new child would occasion. Here, I respond to criticisms of those arguments, and propose and defend another: the expressivist argument cannot, in general, distinguish successfully between abortion and therapy as modalities for responding to disabilities. (shrink)
Three different models are described of the relationship of bioethics to the press. The first two are familiar: bioethicists often are interviewed by journalists seeking background and short quotes to insert in a story; alternately, bioethicists sometimes themselves act as journalists of a sort, writing op-eds, articles or even longer works designed for wide readership. These models share the notion that bioethicists can provide information and ideas that increase the quality of people's thinking on moral matters. They share also a (...) common difficulty: do the constraints the media impose on bioethical discourse keep bioethicists from deepening public reflection, and if not, how can those constraints be most effectively kept from distorting what bioethicists wish to say? The third model reverses - in part - the presupposition that bioethics bestows moral sophistication on a public naive about ethical issues, holding rather that matters run both ways; bioethicists stand to learn a great deal from their interactions with various publics and the media that serve them. On this view, the constraints imposed by media conventions constitute opportunities for new and potentially important forms of bioethical writing. Various concerns generated by the first two models are surveyed. It is concluded that while none of the difficulties constitute knock-down arguments against these forms of collaborating with the press, the worries are problematic enough to provide some support for considering the less familiar third approach. Further reason for taking the third model seriously draws on moral theoretic considerations. (shrink)
Most available resources for teachers and students in biomedical ethics are based on a notion of medicine and of how to understand and illuminate its ethical problems that is at least two decades old. Meaning and Medicine dramatically expands the repertoire of resources for teachers and students of bioethics. In addition to providing fresh perspectives on both traditional and emerging questions in bioethics, this Reader focuses on questions in social philosophy, epistemology, and metaphysics as they are raised by developments in (...) contemporary health care. A chief aim of this resource is to rekindle interest in seeing health care not solely as a set of practices so problematic as to require ethical analysis by philosophers and other scholars, but as a field whose scrutiny is richly rewarding for the traditional concerns of philosophy. (shrink)
: Prenatal and preconceptual testing and screening programs provide information on the basis of which people can choose to avoid the birth of children likely to face disabilities. Some disabilities advocates have objected to such programs and to the decisions made within them, on the grounds that measures taken to avoid the birth of children with disabilities have an "expressive force" that conveys messages disrespectful to people with disabilities. Assessing such a claim requires careful attention to general considerations relating meaning, (...) intention, and social practices; it has only begun to receive such attention. Building on work by Allen Buchanan, who has challenged this claim, I further consider the disabilities advocates' objection, ultimately concluding that it is misplaced; neither individual actions nor general practices of this type necessarily express disrespectful messages. (shrink)
Marketing research interviewers often feel that they must compromise their own moral principles while executing work-related activities. This finding is based on analysis of data obtained from three focus group interviews and a mail survey of 173 telephone survey interviewers. Data from the mail survey were used to construct scales measuring interviewers' perceived necessity of moral compromise, moral character, and job satisfaction. The three scales then were used in a hierarchical regression analysis to predict incidences of interviewers' self-reported proscribed behaviors (...) on the job, the latter being an index of behaviors known by interviewers to be wrong. Results support all hypothesized relationships. (shrink)
: Bioethical discussion of justice in health care has been much enlivened in recent years by new developments in the theory of rationing and by the emergence of a strong communitarian voice. Unfortunately, these developments have not enjoyed much in the way of close engagement with feminist-inspired reflections on power, privilege, and justice. I hope here to promote interchange between "mainstream" treatments of justice in health care and feminist thought.
The limited objectives of this paper are to show that A), what seem to be merely superficial incoherencies in Rorty’s preferred pragmatism [according to which, “the only constraints on inquiry are conversational ones”] really are not but B), along with every assertion of Rorty’s defining his system and its consequences, belie an intrinsic incoherency resulting from that system’s intended conflation of “correspondence truth” and “pragmatic truth.” Then C), I shall argue that should we ask of a philosophy that denies to (...) its own statements of purported fact correspondence truth what use it is, the answer has to be, “Worse than no use at all”---at least, if like Rorty’s preferred pragmatism it demonstrably concludes in the conceptual annihilation of all inquiry. (shrink)
The "grassroots turn" in bioethical discussions about justice in allocation of health care resources has attracted a great deal of support; in the absence of a convincing theory of justice in rationing, democratic decisionmaking concerning priority setting emerges with a kind of inevitability. Yet there remain suspicions about this approach – most importantly, worries about the socially corrosive impact of explicit, public decisionmaking that in effect sets a price on the lives of persons. These worries have been quieted, particularly by (...) the work of Leonard Fleck, but not altogether stilled. I explore more sympathetically the ideals to which concerns about public rationing somewhat dimly respond, and suggest constraints on priority setting discussions which might accommodate those ideals rather better. Keywords: "grassroots" decisionmaking, publicity principle, pricing life, rationing health care CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Consequentialist reasoning and neoclassical assumptions about perfectly competitive markets encourage business school faculty and students to overlook the role of ethics in a market system. In a perfectly competitive economy, self-interest suffices to bring about a desirable outcome. However, discrepancies between an economist''s assumptions and the realities of a market economy establish a need for business ethics. This essay, written as a lecture for MBA students, first reviews Pareto optimality as an argument in favor of market allocations. It then uses (...) the discrepancies between actual and hypothetical markets to derive a Rawlsian duty of civility. This neoclassical case for business ethics requires individuals to avoid exploiting the defects that are inevitable in any social structure. (shrink)
Patricia Elliot distorts my work, in summarizing my position as one of advocating a revaluing of feminine qualities. After clarifying my position, I flesh out in greater detail my argument that complete gender neutrality is neither necessary nor sufficient for a non-sexist society. The argument focuses on gender as a cognitive category and on the crucial question of "how do we get there from here.".
We consider Helen Longino's proposal that "ontological heterogeneity", "complexity of relationship", and "the non-disappearance of gender" are criteria for good science and cannot be separated into cognitive and social virtues. Using a research program in neuroendocrinology investigating a hormonal basis for sex-differentiated lateralization as a case study, the authors disagree concerning whether the first two criteria can be construed as criteria for good science. Concerning the non-disappearance of gender criterion, we argue that its appropriateness is context specific, and that its (...) cognitive and social formulations are separable and should be construed as such. (shrink)
Mary Anne Warren's claim that there is room for only one person with full and equal rights inside a single human skin (, p. 63) calls attention to the vast range of moral conflict engendered by assigning full basic moral rights to fetuses. Thereby, it serves as a goad to thinking about conflicts between pregnant women and their fetuses in a way that emphasizes relationships rather than rights. I sketch out what a care orientation might suggest about resolving gestational conflicts. (...) I also argue that the care orientation, with its commitment to the significance of the partial and the particular, cannot be absorbed within standard, impartialist moral theory. (shrink)
Brief cases written as multiple choice questions can provide the basis for a classroom game based on business ethics. This teaching note describes the organization of such a game and provides five sample cases.
I present a way of thinking about gender that I have found helpful in evaluating various proposed feminist projects. By considering gender and value as independent dimensions, relationships of "difference" can be more clearly perceived as involving relationships of lack, of complementarity, or of perversion. I illustrate the use of my gender/value "compass" with applications to questions of self-identity, rationality, and knowledge. This way of thinking about gender allows a conceptualization of feminism that neither erases nor emphasizes gender distinctions.
Our response to Sara Fry's paper focuses on the difficulty of understanding her insistence on the fundamental character of caring in a theory of nursing ethics. We discuss a number of problems her text throws in the way of making sense of this idea, and outline our own proposal for how caring's role may be reasonably understood: not as an alternative object of value, competing with autonomy or patient good, but rather as an alternative way of responding toward that (...) which is of value. (shrink)
Surrogate motherhood-at least if carefully structured to protect the interests of the women involved-seems defensible along standard liberal lines which place great stress on free agreements as moral bedrocks. But feminist theories have tended to be suspicious about the importance assigned to this notion by mainstream ethics, and in this paper, we develop implications of those suspicions for surrogacy. We argue that the practice is inconsistent with duties parents owe to children and that it compromises the freedom of surrogates to (...) perform their share of those duties. Standard liberal perspectives tend to be insensitive to such considerations; we propose a view which takes more seriously the moral importance of the causal relationship between parents and children, and which therefore illuminates rather than obscures the stake that women and children have in surrogacy. (shrink)
There are human beings whose psychological capacities are rivalled or exceeded by many non-human animals; such humans are often referred to as 'marginal cases'. R G Frey has argued that there is no secure, non-arbitrary way of morally distinguishing between marginal humans and non-human animals. Hence, if the benefits of vivisection justify such painful and lethal procedures being performed on animals, so is the vivisection of marginal humans justified. This is a conclusion Frey is driven to with 'great reluctance', but (...) which he can see no way to avoid. This paper points out a feature of the condition of marginal humans unnoticed by Frey and his critics: such humans have suffered a tragic harm. It points towards an analysis of this harm, in terms of counterfactuals holding for marginal humans but not for psychologically equivalent animals. Finally, it discusses the moral implications of the harm that such humans have suffered, and argues that it serves as the basis of a defence for preferring humans to non-humans in cases of morally inescapable conflict. (shrink)
In this essay I try, first, to show that Lockean passages in Book I can be given a Berkeleian interpretation. I take two passages that have, in particular, been cited as allowing only a Lockean interpretation and show how they can be more coherently construed as Berkeleian in their intended meaning. In the process of this demonstration I show that only a Berkeleian interpretation is tenable for Book I. Second, I defend the Berkeleian interpretation against several charges; for instance, a (...) charge of textual inconsistency. I do, however, acknowledge in the process that in the Enquiry and subsequently Hume abandons Berkeley for Locke. I then offer an explanation of why he did and lastly I try to show that though Hume is thereby committed to an inconsistency he provides a way for justifying his (and our) conversational commitment to that inconsistency. (shrink)
I TRY TO EXPLAIN WHY THE "ESSAY OF MIRACLES" DID NOT APPEAR IN THE "TREATISE" BUT DID IN THE "ENQUIRY". I ARGUE THAT THE ESSAY WAS ORIGINALLY DIRECTED AGAINST REVEALED KNOWLEDGE; SO DIRECTED, IT FITTED INTO THE TIGHTLY ORGANIZED PROGRAM OF THE "TREATISE", BUT HAD TO BE SUPPRESSED FOR PRUDENTIAL REASONS. RECONSTRUCTED AS AN ESSAY DIRECTED MERELY AGAINST NON-SCRIPTURAL MIRACLES ITS APPEARANCE IN THE "ENQUIRY" PRESENTED NO PHILOSOPHICAL OR PRUDENTIAL DIFFICULTIES.
In this paper I attempt to show, first, that doxastic theories of seeing must be rejected on at least two counts: paradoxically, they commit us on the one hand to pyrrhonic skepticism and on the other they fail to account for cases of defeasibility that a theory of perceiving ought to account for. So much for the “why”. As for the “how” I attempt to show that a non-doxastic conception of seeing can be formulated, with the aid of theoretic interpretations (...) of the perceiving of brute animals, which succeeds in overcoming the above two failings of doxastic theories. (shrink)