Moral intuitions, while ubiquitous in moral reasoning, have been the cause of considerable controversy in philosophy. My purpose here is to describe the most reasonable role for intuitions in moral theory, in order to look at some problems that arise, particularly for theories of justice, when intuitions are presumed to have this role.
An important element in the criticism of liberalism by some communitarians and feminists is the notion of our embeddedness in relationships of dependence. The criticism in general is that liberal theory is deficient in that it generally attaches no special meaning to such relations, thus justifying a social structure that weakens them. However, the questions of precisely what sort of moral significance these relationships have, why they are morally significant, and what types of dependence relationships possess this significance, have largely (...) gone unasked. This article attempts to explore these questions. I will begin by considering duties that may arise from being depended on by others. (shrink)
Despite their crucial role in the translation of pre-clinical research into new clinical applications, phase 1 trials involving patients continue to prompt ethical debate. At the heart of the controversy is the question of whether risks of administering experimental drugs are therapeutically justified. We suggest that prior attempts to address this question have been muddled, in part because it cannot be answered adequately without first attending to the way labor is divided in managing risk in clinical trials. In what follows, (...) we approach the question of therapeutic justification for phase 1 trials from the viewpoint of five different stakeholders: the drug regulatory authority, the IRB, the clinical investigator, the referring physician, and the patient. Our analysis shows that the question of therapeutic justification actually raises multiple questions corresponding to the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders involved. By attending to these contextual differences, we provide more coherent guidance for the ethical negotiation of risk in phase 1 trials involving patients. We close by discussing the implications of our argument for various perennial controversies in phase 1 trial practice. (shrink)
In this paper we offer a new argument for the existence of God. We contend that the laws of logic are metaphysically dependent on the existence of God, understood as a necessarily existent, personal, spiritual being; thus anyone who grants that there are laws of logic should also accept that there is a God. We argue that if our most natural intuitions about them are correct, and if they are to play the role in our intellectual activities that we take (...) them to play, then the laws of logic are best construed as necessarily existent thoughts -- more specifically, as divine thoughts about divine thoughts. We conclude by highlighting some implications for both theistic arguments and antitheistic arguments. (shrink)
Since its introduction in 1987, Benjamin Freedman’s principle of clinical equipoise has enjoyed widespread uptake in bioethics discourse. Recent years, however, have witnessed a growing consensus that the principle is fundamentally flawed. One of the most vocal critics has undoubtedly been Franklin Miller. In a 2008 paper, Steven Joffe and Miller build on this critical work, offering a new conception of clinical research ethics based on science, taking what they call a “scientific orientation” toward the ethics of clinical research. Though (...) there is much to recommend Joffe and Miller’s scientifically oriented conception of clinical research ethics, I believe that both the critical and constructive projects suffer from the same basic mistake: inattention to context. The internal norms of science cannot be fully specified, let alone satisfied, independently of contextual (external) factors that only come into view when we are attentive to the particular context of that form of inquiry. (shrink)
The principle of clinical equipoise requires that, aside from certain exceptional cases, second generation treatments ought to be tested against standard therapy. In violation of this principle, placebo-controlled trials (PCTs) continue to be used extensively in the development and licensure of second-generation treatments. This practice is typically justified by appeal to methodological arguments that purport to demonstrate that active-controlled trials (ACTs) are methodologically flawed. Foremost among these arguments is the so called assay sensitivity argument. In this paper, I take a (...) closer look at this argument. Following Duhem, I argue that all trials, placebo-controlled or not, rely on external information for their meaningful interpretation. Pending non-circular empirical evidence that we can trust the findings of PCTs to a greater degree than the findings of ACTs, I conclude that the assay sensitivity argument fails to demonstrate that placebo-controlled trials are preferable, methodologically or otherwise, to active-controlled trials. Contrary to the intentions of its authors, the fundamental lesson taught by the assay sensitivity argument is Duhemian: the validity of all clinical trials depends on external information. (shrink)
In a recent article, Dale Tuggy argues that the two most favoured approaches to explicating the doctrine of the Trinity, Social Trinitarianism and Latin Trinitarianism, are unsatisfactory on either logical or biblical grounds. Moreover, he contends that appealing to ‘mystery’ in the face of apparent contradiction is rationally and theologically unacceptable. I raise some critical questions about Tuggy's assessment of the most relevant biblical data, before defending against his objections the rationality of an appeal to mystery in the face of (...) theological paradox. (shrink)
This article discusses the properties of a controllable, flexible, hybrid parallel computing architecture that potentially merges pattern recognition and arithmetic. Humans perform integer arithmetic in a fundamentally different way than logic-based computers. Even though the human approach to arithmetic is both slow and inaccurate it can have substantial advantages when useful approximations ( intuition ) are more valuable than high precision. Such a computational strategy may be particularly useful when computers based on nanocomponents become feasible because it offers a way (...) to make use of the potential power of these massively parallel systems. Because the system architecture is inspired by neuroscience and is applied to cognitive problems, occasional mention is made of experimental data from both fields when appropriate. (shrink)
The practice of paying research subjects for participating inclinical trials has yet to receive an adequate moral analysis.Dickert and Grady argue for a wage payment model in whichresearch subjects are paid an hourly wage based on that ofunskilled laborers. If we accept this approach, what follows?Norms for just working conditions emerge from workplacelegislation and political theory. All workers, includingpaid research subjects under Dickert and Grady''s analysis,have a right to at least minimum wage, a standard work week,extra pay for overtime hours, (...) a safe workplace, no faultcompensation for work-related injury, and union organization.If we accept that paid research subjects are wage earners likeany other, then the implications for changes to current practiceare substantial. (shrink)
As scientists target communities for research into the etiology, especially the genetic determinants of common diseases, there have been calls for the protection of communities. This paper identifies the distinct characteristics of aboriginal communities and their implications for research in these communities. It also contends that the framework in the Belmont Report is inadequate in this context and suggests a fourth principle of respect for communities. To explore how such a principle might be specified and operationalized, it reviews existing guidelines (...) for protecting aboriginal communities and points out problems with these guidelines and areas for further work. (shrink)
Heyes's literature review of deception, imitation, and self-recognition is inadequate, misleading, and erroneous. The anaesthetic artifact hypothesis of self-recognition is unsupported by the data she herself examines. Her proposed experiment is tantalizing, indicating that theory of mind is simply a Turing test.
A relatively new and exciting area of collaboration has begun between philosophy of mind and ethics. This paper attempts to explore aspects of this collaboration and how they bear upon traditional ethics. It is the author's contention that much of Western moral philosophy has been guided by largely unrecognized assumptions regarding reason, knowledge and conceptualization, and that when examined against empirical research in cognitive science, these assumptions turn out to be false -- or at the very least, unrealistic for creatures (...) with our cognitive structures. The fundamental tension between the Western idea of morality (as basically rule-following) and the way in which people actually confront and experience moral dilemmas is a result of our failure to take the insights of cognitive psychology seriously. This failure has had a dramatic impact on not only how we teach ethics, but how we attempt to live out lives. (shrink)
In his book, Earth and Other Ethics, Christopher Stone attempts to account for the moral dimension of our lives insofar as it extends to nonhuman animals, plants, species, ecosystems, and even inanimate objects. In his effort to do this, he introduces a technical notion, the moral plane. Moral planes are defined both by the ontological commitments they make and by the governance mIes (moral maxims) that pertain to the sorts of entities included in the plane. By introducing these planes, Stone (...) is left with a set of problems. (1) Do the planes provide anything more objective than a set of alternative ways of looking at moral problems? (2) How can one resolve apparent conflicts between the recommendations forthcoming from distinct planes? (3) Why do certain entities constitute moral planes; and how do we decide which planes to “buy into?” Stone’s answers to these questions endorse aseries of concessions to moral relativism. In this paper I outline an alternative to Stone’s moral planes which, while sympathetic to his ethical concerns, comes down squarelyon the side of moral realism. (shrink)
Voluntarism is the view that it is from our intimate awareness of the exercise of our wills in performing actions that we arrive at our concept of causality. This view has generally been thought to be indefensible since Hume attacked it in the Treatise and Enquiry. A variant of the position is stated and defended. The views of Castaiieda, and psychologists such as Maine de Biran, Michotte, and Piaget add clarity and enhance the plausibility of the view.
Jonathan Bennett's two interpretations of Kant's Third Paralogism are shown to be inadequate. The Third Paralogism attempts to show that rational psychology provides an inadequate basis for the application of the concepts of "personhood" and "substance". The criteria for the application of "personhood" and "substance" must be empirical, and in the case of "personhood" they are bodily criteria. These criteria are available to each of us but only upon pains of abandoning what Bennett calls the Cartesian basis, i.e. rational psychology.