This paper provides an informal guide to young researchers in science and engineering as they progress for their first 10 or so years from the time that they first started thinking about doing a PhD. This advice is drawn, with examples and anecdotes, from my own research career which started at the Cambridge Engineering Department in 1958, and progressed through 48 years at University College London to a part-time chair that I now hold in Aberdeen. I hope it may encourage (...) and help tomorrow's scientists on whom the Earth's future very much depends. (shrink)
Theorists have oversold the usefulness of predicate logic and generative grammar to the study of language origins. They have searched for models that correspond to semantic properties, such as truth, when what is needed is an empirically testable model of evolution. Such a model is required if we are to explain the origins of linguistic properties by appealing to general properties of linguistic engendering, rather than to the advent of genotypes with the propensity to produce certain brain mechanisms. While the (...) latter sort of explanation has a place, no theory can be considered an `evolutionary' theory without the former. We introduce a general notion of engendering, whose primary virtue is its freedom from assumptions regarding the nature of colloquial change. We use it to frame a conjecture about the evolution of centre embedded clauses; one which makes the fewest possible assumptions about the neural requirements upon individual brains. Keywords: biology of language; epigenesis; engendering; evolution; mutation; population; recursion. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper, I examine the plausibility of Embodied Accounts of Social Cognition by finding fault with the most detailed and convincing version of such an account, as articulated by Daniel Hutto ( 2008 ). I argue that this account fails to offer a plausible ontogeny for folk psychological abilities due to its inability to address recent evidence from implicit false belief tasks that suggest a radically different timeline for the development of these abilities. Content Type Journal Article Pages (...) 1-18 DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9213-3 Authors J. Robert Thompson, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Mississippi State University, P.O. Box JS, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online ISSN 1572-8676 Print ISSN 1568-7759. (shrink)
Focusing on contemporary social issues-- the environmental crisis, population growth and demographic change, and the question of whether reparations are owed to indigenous peoples--this study presents a theory of intergenerational justice that gives citizens duties to past and future generations, and explains what relationships between contemporary generations count as fair.
We explore psychological contracts as mechanisms by which individuals gain influence in organizations. Using two distinct research settings and longitudinal analysis, we demonstrate that ideological contracts endow individuals with increased centrality in the organization’s influence network. More generally, we propose that an important outcome of different psychological contract types may be how they affect the nature of influence in organizations.
In this paper, I lend novel support to H. P. Grice’s account of speaker meaning (GASM) by blunting the force of a significant objection. Stephen Schiffer has argued that in order to make GASM sufficient, one must add restrictions that are psychologically impossible to fulfill, thereby making GASM untenable. In what follows, I explain the elements of GASM that require it to invoke these psychologically unrealizable restrictions. I then accept Schiffer’s criticism, but modify its significance to GASM. I argue that (...) the problem that Schiffer notes is not a reason to reject GASM, but a reason to embrace it. GASM shows that meaning is best understood as an absolute concept—an unrealizable ideal limit. Taking some inspiration from contextualist theories of knowledge attribution, I argue that my version of GASM offers a useful contextualist account of meaning attribution. Hence, pragmatic theories of meaning and communication should not wholly exclude GASM from their theorizing, at least not for the reasons that are commonly given. (shrink)
Although business ethicists have theorized frequently about the virtues and vices of employee loyalty, the concept of loyalty remainsloosely defined. In this article, we argue that viewing loyalty as a cognitive phenomenon—an attitude that resides in the mind of theindividual—helps to clarify definitional inconsistencies, provides a finer-grained analysis of the concept, and sheds additional light on theethical implications of loyalty in organizations. Specifically, we adopt the psychological contract perspective to analyze loyalty’s cognitivedimensions, and treat loyalty as an individual-level construction of (...) perceived reciprocal obligations. Based upon this perspective, we present a three-tiered framework of loyalty that provides a psychologically informed definition of the concept, specifies the variety of obligation types that loyalty can imply, and anticipates the potential for asymmetrical loyalty configurations between employers and employees. We use the framework to articulate moral issues associated with both symmetrical and asymmetrical loyalty configurations and discuss the implications of the framework for theory and practice. (shrink)
Loyalty, whether moral duty or dangerous attachment, is a cognitive phenomenon — an attitude that resides in the mind of the individual. In this article, weconsider loyalty from a psychological contract perspective – that is, as an individual-level construction of perceived reciprocal obligations. Viewing loyalty in this way helps clarify definitional inconsistencies, provides a finer-grained analysis of the concept, and sheds additional light on the ethical implications of loyalty in organizations. We present a threetiered framework for conceptualizing loyalty which also (...) helps explain apparently intractable paradoxes of loyalty. (shrink)
Social contract theory has been criticized as a “theory in search of application.” We argue that incorporating the nano, or individual, level of analysis into social contract inquiry will yield more descriptive theory. We draw upon the psychological contract perspective to address two critiques of social contract theory: its rigid macro-orientation and inattention to the process of contract formation. We demonstrate how a psychological contract approach offers practical insight into the impact of social contracting on day-to-day human interaction. We then (...) articulate several potentially testable propositions that emerge from this nano-level perspective. (shrink)
The case of Dr. Nancy Olivieri, the Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto, and Apotex Inc. vividly illustrates many of the issues central to contemporary health research and the safety of research participants. First, it exemplifies the financial and health stakes in such research. Second, it shows deficits in the ways in which research is governed. Finally, it was and remains relevant not only in Toronto but in communities across Canada and well beyond its borders because, absent appropriate (...) policies, what happened in Toronto could have happened (and could well still happen) elsewhere. In Part One of this paper, we review the facts of the Olivieri case relevant to the issues we wish to highlight: first, the right of participants in a clinical trial to be informed of a risk that an investigator had identified during the course of the trial and the obligation of the investigator to inform participants (both her own and those of other investigators); and second, the obligation of institutions to protect and promote the well-being of research participants as well as academic freedom and research integrity, the obligations of research sponsors to inform participants, research regulators, and others about unforeseen risks, and the obligations of research regulators to ensure that participants are informed of unforeseen risks and to otherwise protect and promote research integrity. In Part Two, we relate these facts and issues to New Zealand and Australia. We also make detailed recommendations for changes to the various instruments used for the governance of research involving humans in Australasia. (shrink)
. This paper reports the preliminary results from a semester-long ethics project at an AACSB accredited, regional comprehensive undergraduate school. This project culminated in an Ethics Awareness Week, which highlight a case study (Part B of this Journal) of the controversial EverQuest® multi-player online game. Issues of project planning and design are outlined, the dynamics of a business program-wide approach to ethics are social responsibility are presented, student survey results are (...) presented and analyzed, and issues related to ongoing research are discussed. Nonparametric survey results indicate that the greatest effect in student’s self reported enhanced understanding and interest in issues of business ethics is present when multiple pedagogical methods, e.g., case studies, lectures, assignments, and an Oxford-style debate, are applied by a number of faculty members over an extended (semester) time period. The paper concludes with a discussion of future research issues as well as a series of prescriptions for planning, organizing, and implementing such an extended activity. (shrink)
Social contract theory has been criticized as a “theory in search of application.” We argue that incorporating the nano- or individual level of analysis into social contract inquiry will yield more descriptive theory. We draw upon the psychological contract perspective to address two critiques of social contract theory: its rigid macro orientation and inattention to the process of contract formation. We demonstrate how a psychological contract approach offers practical insight into the impact of social contracting on day-today human interaction.
In light of growing concerns in the public and recent mandates from business program accrediting bodies and curricular task forces, the importance of teaching ethical topics in information systems programs is discussed. Innovative strategies used for teaching the application of ethical criteria to common situations are reviewed. Results of a survey of information systems faculty members in the US are presented and are compared to previous studies that related primarily to computer science and software engineering programs. Insight is provided into (...) the topics, techniques, degree of coverage, and assessment techniques currently used when teaching ethics in computing-related programs. Key concerns and future work is also outlined. (shrink)
Any discussion of Wittgenstein's philosophical thought would be incomplete without taking notice of the method he employs. Often criticized for his style and organization, many feel that they are indicative of his state of mind; that such a lack of rigid argumentation betrays an inadequacy within the arguments themselves. However, criticism of Wittgenstein along these lines only serves to demonstrate a superficial reading of his texts. Not simply content (or even able) to just present us with the results of his (...) investigations, Wittgenstein coaxes the reader into taking up an investigation of his own by means of an open dialogue. As a dialogue, we are not confronted with a traditional argumentative structure, i.e. the stating of theses and their subsequent defense. Rather, Wittgenstein attempts to draw the reader away from the obvious by means of an indirect method of discourse. (shrink)
Teachers White and Thompson allowed students to explore the primary-source readings from several philosophers in a 5th grade course called Apogee. The essay is written with a focus on Patience and other virtues.
Arguments for the preservation of natural objects and environments sometimes appeal to the value of those objects as cultural heritage. Can something be valuable because of its relation to the historical past? I examine and assess arguments for preservation based upon heritage value and defend the thesis that we have an obligation to appreciate what our predecessors valued and to value those thingsthat have played an important role in our history. I show how this conception of our obligations can be (...) used to defend the preservation of natural objects and environments including wilderness areas. (shrink)
We disagree about issues like abortion, euthanasia, the meaning of justice and the treatment of animals, and our debates often fail to reach a consensus. Discourse and Knowledge claimes that there is a correct solution to ethical controversies but that ethical decisions have to be made collectively. Janna Thompson argues that discourse is required for the very process of reaching correct conclusions about ethical matters.
Like many environmental philosophers, I find the idea that the beauty of wildernesses makes them valuable in their own right and gives us a moral duty to preserve and protect them to be attractive. However, this appeal to aesthetic value encounters a number of serious problems. I argue that these problems can best be met and overcome by recognizing that the appreciation of natural environments and the appreciation of great works of arts are activities more similar than many people have (...) supposed. (shrink)
The possible relationship between widespread unauthorized copying of microcomputer software (also known as software piracy) and level of moral judgment is examined through analysis of over 350 survey questionnaires that included the Defining Issues Test as a measure of moral development. It is hypothesized that the higher one''s level of moral judgment, the less likely that one will approve of or engage in unauthorized copying. Analysis of the data indicate a high level of tolerance toward unauthorized copying and limited support (...) for the hypothesis. The most plausible explanation for these findings is that software copying is perceived as an issue of low moral intensity. This study calls into question the software industry''s strategy of concentrating exclusively on institutional compliance with copyright rules, rather than working to raise the perceived moral intensity about software piracy at the individual level. As long as the issue remains low in moral intensity, the industry cannot expect significant shifts in copying behaviors. Individuals must become more aware of and concerned about the nature and magnitude of harm to society and to the rightful copyright owners from unauthorized copying before their attitudes and behaviors come to reflect higher levels of moral judgment. (shrink)
This study compares corporate social performance in terms of charitable contributions of minority-owned and nonminority-owned small businesses. In this sample, minority-owned small businesses are younger, have less full-time employees, and lower annual sales. Minority-owned small businesses donate more funds to religious organizations than nonminority-owned small businesses. When annual sales are accounted for, minority-owned businesses contribute more total dollars to all charitable organizations than nonminority-owned firms. Suggestions for future research in this area are delineated.
Thompson considers the concept of international justice as it has developed in political theory from Hobbes to the present day, and develops a theory designed to take account of both individual freedom and differences among communities. This title available in eBook format. Click here for more information . Visit our eBookstore at: www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk.
An environmental ethic holds that some entities in nature or in natural states of affairs are intrinsically valuable. I argue that proposals for an environmental ethic either fail to satisfy requirements which any ethical system must satisty to be an ethic or they fail to give us reason to suppose that the values they promote are intrinsic values. If my arguments are correct, then environmental ethics is not properly ethics at all.
This is a study in the philosophy of social science. It takes the form of a comparative critique of three contemporary approaches: ordinary language philosophy, hermeneutics and critical theory, represented here respectively by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Paul Ricoeur and Jürgen Habermas. Part I is devoted to an exposition of these authors' views and of the traditions to which they belong. Its unifying thread is their common concern with language, a concern which nonetheless reveals important differences of approach. For whereas ordinary language (...) philosophers tend to treat linguistic activity as the ultimate object of inquiry, both Ricoeur and Habermas regard it as a medium which betrays more fundamental dimensions of human experience and the social world. Part II complements the exposition with a critical analysis of its central themes: the conceptualisation of action, the methodology of interpretation, and the theory of reference and truth. The author defends many aspects of the work of Ricoeur and Habermas, such as the emphasis on power and ideology, the strategy of depth interpretation, and the link between consensus and truth; but he argues that there are serious deficiencies and obscurities in their work. He proposes solutions to these difficulties and concludes with a sketch of a critical and rationally justified theory for the interpretation of action - a critical hermeneutics. (shrink)
The world I grew up in believed that change and development in life are part of a continuous process of cause and effect, minutely and patiently sustained throughout the millenniums. With the exception of the initial act of creation ..., the evolution of life on earth was considered to be a slow, steady and ultimately demonstrable process. No sooner did I begin to read history, however, than I began to have my doubts. Human society and living beings, it seemed to (...) me, ought to be excluded from so calm and rational a view. The whole of human development, far from having been a product of steady evolution, seemed subject to only partially explicable and almost invariably violent mutations. Entire cultures and groups of individuals appeared imprisoned for centuries in a static shape which they endured with long-suffering indifference, and then suddenly, for no demonstrable cause, became susceptible to drastic changes and wild surges of development. It was as if the movement of life throughout the ages was not a Darwinian caterpillar but a startled kangaroo, going out towards the future in a series of unpredictable hops, stops, skips and bounds. Indeed, when I came to study physics I had a feeling that the modern concept of energy could perhaps throw more light on the process than any of the more conventional approaches to the subject. It seemed that species, society and individuals behaved more like thunder-clouds than scrubbed, neatly clothed and well-behaved children of reason. Throughout the ages life appeared to build up great invisible charges, like clouds and earth of electricity, until suddenly in a sultry hour the spirit moved, the wind rose, a drop of rain fell acid in the dust, fire flared in the nerve, and drums rolled to produce what we call thunder and lightening in the heavens and chance and change in human society and personality.LAURENS VAN DER POST, The Lost World of the Kalahari. (shrink)
A working theory can involve a compromise between pragmatic application and pure theory. This is illustrated by the development of Coombs's theory of data. The original version of the theory purported to guide investigators in the use of scaling techniques, but subsequent revisions including a logico-mathematical statement of the theory do not show whether the practical recommendations made earlier still apply. These practical recommendations, some of which Coombs has discarded to obtain a comprehensive theory, are important in spite of shortcomings (...) as they reveal differences between attitude and mental test data. The different forms of Coombs's theory point to the existence of a general problem, how to find a compromise between practice and pure theory. (shrink)