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 Drawing on historical documents and feminist studies of science, it investigates the gendered processes underlying the divergence of the disciplines in definition, method, and degree of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)
Solar power represents a vast resource which could, in principle, meet the world's needs for clean power generation. Recent growth in the use of photovoltaic (PV) technology has demonstrated the potential of solar power to deliver on a large scale. Whilst the dominant PV technology is based on crystalline silicon, a wide variety of alternative PV materials and device concepts have been explored in an attempt to decrease the cost of the photovoltaic electricity. This article explores the potential for such (...) emerging technologies to deliver cost reductions, scalability of manufacture, rapid carbon mitigation and new science in order to accelerate the uptake of solar power technologies. (shrink)
Midway in Martha Holstein’s article, these words occur: “[P]eople [should] get the help they need, when they need it, in the way that they would like to receive it, without exploiting family members or imperiling their dignity or self-respect” (24). In an essay that brims over with worrisome news, that this seemingly anodyne sentence appears in the section devoted to utopian thinking is perhaps the most dispiriting thought it conveys. Not that there isn’t keen competition for the role. Holstein reminds (...) her readers that the roots of the present and building crisis in long-term care sink deeply into an ideology especially entrenched in the United States; she suggests, as well, that the pernicious norms .. (shrink)
Some 14 years ago, I published an article in which I identified a prime site for bioethicists to ply their trade: medical responses to requests for hormonal and surgical interventions aimed at facilitating transgendered people’s transition to their desired genders. Deep issues about the impact of biotechnologies and health care practices on central aspects of our conceptual system, I argued, were raised by how doctors understood and responded to people seeking medical assistance in changing their gender, and there were obviously (...) significant issues of regulation involved as well. Yet mainstream bioethics was conspicuous by its relative absence from the discussion. Here, I return to the matter and find that, while the conceptual issues are just as profound and their connection to health care practice and policy just as intimate, even as transgender issues have become much more socially visible, bioethical engagement with gender reassignment has increased only slightly. I set the little movement that has occurred against the backdrop of the situation as I saw it in 1998 and conclude, once again, by trying to make the bait for bioethicists inviting. (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)
Most people accept that if they can save someone from death at very little cost to themselves, they must do so; call this the ‘duty of easy rescue.’ At least for many such people, an instance of this duty is to allow their vital organs to be used for transplantation. Accordingly, ‘opt-out’ organ procurement policies, based on a powerfully motivated responsibility to render costless or very low-cost lifesaving aid, would seem presumptively permissible. Counterarguments abound. Here I consider, in particular, objections (...) that assign a moral distinctiveness to the physical boundaries of our bodies and that concern autonomy and trust. These objections are singled out as they seem particularly pertinent to the stress I place on a distinctive benefit of the particular policy I defend. An opt-out system, resting not on the authority of ‘presumed consent’ but on the recognition of a duty to one another, has the prospect of prompting people to understand more richly the ways in which they are both physically embodied and communally embedded. (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)
Is human cognition best described by optimal models, or by adaptive but suboptimal heuristic strategies? It is frequently hard to identify which theoretical model is normatively best justified. In the context of information search, naoptimal” models.
An article by Luigino Bruni and Robert Sugden published in this journal argues that market relations contain elements of what they call . This Response demonstrates that my own views on interpersonal relations and markets are far closer to Bruni and Sugden's than they acknowledge in their article, and goes on to discuss additional important dimensions of sociality that they neglect.
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 Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is a federal-state partnership designed to provide fresh, locally grown produce to low-income participants at nutritional risk and expand consumer awareness and use of local produce sold at farmers markets. This paper describes the results of a collaboration initiative based on the typology of a “comprehensive, multisectorial collaboration” to support the FMNP. We report the outcomes of the partnerships that developed over three years, including increased outreach to FMNP participants and strategies to decrease barriers (...) to participation. Those partnerships that reached higher degrees of coordination or collaboration are now addressing market accessibility and market quality in new ways. Those partnerships that exhibited the highest degree of collaboration are contributing to community capacity building beyond FMNP issues per se and to larger issues affecting the agriculture community and the food security of residents. (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)