Proposals to lower the age of voting, to 15 for example, are regularly met with worries that people that age are not sufficiently ‘competent’. Notice however that we allow people that age to sign binding legal contracts, provided that those contracts are co-signed by their parents. Notice, further, that in a democracy voters are collectively ‘joint authors’ of the laws that they enact. Enfranchising some less competent voters is no worry, the Condorcet Jury Theorem assures us, so long as the (...) electorate's competence averaging across all voters remains better-than-random. (shrink)
of (from British Columbia Philosophy Graduate Conference) In moral reasoning, we sometimes encounter situations where what our ethical principles tell us to do and what we actually do conflict. In legal ethics, such anomalies arise for lawyers in defending a client who commits perjury. Wallace argues that such lawyers have not mastered the practice of truth-telling, and thus suffer from some sort of moral deficiency. However, due to the complexities of legal practice, particularly the value of truth and evidence, lawyers (...) must learn to accommodate cases of perjury into their moral taxonomies, and this is not a simple feat. In addition, I examine the ethics of lying in everyday life, such as in cases of protecting reputation or feelings. As such, I posit that Wallace is oversimplifying the situation and individuals in “perjured client” cases actually have a better and more realistic grasp on the exercise of practical ethics than he claims. (shrink)
We discuss cases where subjects seem to enjoy conscious experience when the relevant first-order perceptual representations are either missing or too weak to account for the experience. Though these cases are originally considered to be theoretical possibilities that may be problematical for the higher-order view of consciousness, careful considerations of actual empirical examples suggest that this strategy may backfire; these cases may cause more trouble for first-order theories instead. Specifically, these cases suggest that (I) recurrent feedback loops to V1 are (...) most likely not the neural correlate of first-order representations for conscious experience, (II) first-order views seem to have a problem accounting for the phenomenology in these cases, and either (III) a version of the ambitious higher-order approach is superior in that it is the simplest theory that can account for all results at face value, or (IV) a view where phenomenology is jointly determined by both first-order and higher-order states. In our view (III) and (IV) are both live options and the decision between them may ultimately be an empirical question that cannot yet be decided. (shrink)
People have intuitively assumed that many acts of volition are not influenced by unconscious information. However, the available evidence suggests that under suitable conditions, unconscious information can influence behavior and the underlying neural mechanisms. One possibility is that stimuli that are consciously perceived tend to yield strong signals in the brain, and this makes us think that consciousness has the function of sending such strong signals. However, if we could create conditions where the stimuli could produce strong signals but not (...) the conscious experience of perception, perhaps we would find that such stimuli are just as effective in influencing volitional behavior. (shrink)
Nussbaum’s theory of the emotions draws heavily on the Stoic account. In her theory, emotions are a kind of value judgment or thought. This is in stark contrast to the well-known proposal from William James, who took emotions to be bodily feelings. There are various motivations for taking emotions as judgments. One main reason is that emotions are intentional mental states. They are always about something, directed at particular objects or state of affairs. For example, fear seems to involve the (...) anticipation of danger. To grief for the passing of a loved one involves the thought that someone dear to us is now gone. In Upheavals of Thought and also in her Hochelaga Lecture, Nussbaum analyzed compassion as a set of judgments, including for example the judgment that someone is experiencing serious suffering, and that the person in question does not deserve the suffering. (shrink)
It is usually taken as given that consciousness involves superior or more elaborate forms of information processing. Contemporary models equate consciousness with global processing, system complexity, or depth or stability of computation. This is in stark contrast with the powerful philosophical intuition that being conscious is more than just having the ability to compute. I argue that it is also incompatible with current empirical findings. I present a model that is free from the strong assumption that consciousness predicts superior performance. (...) The model is based on Bayesian decision theory, of which signal detection theory is a special case. It reflects the fact that the capacity for perceptual decisions is fundamentally limited by the presence and amount of noise in the system. To optimize performance, one therefore needs to set decision criteria that are based on the behaviour, i.e. the probability distributions, of the internal signals. One important realization is that the knowledge of how our internal signals behave statistically has to be learned over time. Essentially, we are doing statistics on our own brain. This ‘higherorder’ learning, however, may err, and this impairs our ability to set and maintain optimal criteria for perceptual decisions, which I argue is central to perception consciousness. I outline three possibilities of how conscious perception might be affected by failures of ‘higher-order’ representation. These all imply that one can have a dissociation between consciousness and performance. This model readily explains blindsight and hallucinations in formal terms, and is beginning to receive direct empirical support. I end by discussing some philosophical implications of the model. (shrink)
It has been over a decade and half since Christof Koch and the late Francis Crick first advocated the now popular NCC project (Crick and Koch, 1990), in which one tries to find the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) for perceptual processes. In his chapter in this book Chris Frith provides a splendid review of how neuroimaging has contributed greatly to this project. For the sake of contrast, this chapter takes a more critical stance on what we have actually learned. (...) Many authors have written on whether looking for the neural correlates would eventually lead to an explanatory theory of consciousness, while the proponents defend that focusing on correlates is a strategically sensible first step, given the complexity of the problem (Crick and Koch, 1998;Crick and Koch, 2003). My point here is not to argue whether studying the NCC is useful, but rather, to question whether we are really studying the NCC at all. I argue that in hoping to sidestep the difficult conceptual issues, we have sometimes also missed the phenomenon of perceptual consciousness itself. (shrink)
This paper is about possible worlds semantics for propositional attitude sentences. In particular I shall focus on belief reports in English such as "Lusina believes that tofu is nutritious." It is well-known that possible worlds semantics for such reports suffers from the so-called _problem of equivalence_ . In this paper I shall examine some attempts to deal with this problem and argue that they are unsatisfactory.
In my field of consciousness research, scientists frequently mock philosophers for their apparent uselessness. There are many issues about which philosophers have debated for centuries, and yet there are no satisfying resolutions. However, sometimes one thinks: what really is philosophy but careful thinking? Certainly that cannot be completely useless? It is therefore particularly refreshing to read Machado and Silva's article in this issue, which emphasizes the role of conceptual analysis in psychological research.
New Zealand is one of two OECD countries in the world where direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicine (DTCA-PM) is permitted. Increase in such activity in recent years has resulted in a disproportionate increase in dispensary volume of heavily advertised medicines. Concern for the potential harm to healthcare consumers and the public healthcare system has prompted the medical profession to call for a ban on DTCA-PM as the best way of protecting the public interest. Such blanket prohibition however also interferes with (...) the public’s right of access to information. This paper will examine if banning DTCA-PM would constitute a justified form of paternalism in the context of today’s New Zealand. (shrink)
This cross-cultural study of the moral judgements of Mainland Han-Chinese, Chinese-Canadian, and Euro-Canadian children aged seven to 11 examined the evaluations of narrative protagonists? modest lies and self-promoting truthful statements in situations where they had done a good deed. The story characters had thus either lied or told the truth about a prosocial act that they had committed. Chinese children judged modest lies more positively and boastful truths less positively than Euro-Canadian children. Chinese and Chinese-Canadian children rated immodest statements more (...) negatively than did Euro-Canadian children. The cultural differences were greatest with the oldest children. Chinese children rated modest lies significantly more positively than either Canadian group who did not differ from each other but an interaction between age and culture revealed the three groups to be significantly different at age 11 with Chinese children most positive, followed by Chinese-Canadian children, and with Euro-Canadian children evaluating modest lies least positively. Cultural strictures and acculturation factors respecting modesty and self-enhancement are reflected in these differences. (shrink)
Ethics education matters! Contrary to some common beliefs that ethical behavior is inborn, this study suggests that education does matter. This paper examines ethics education and its relationship with students’ ethical awareness and moral reasoning. Attitudes Towards Business Ethics Questionnaire and 10 vignettes were deployed as the major measurement instruments. It is hypothesized that students with ethics education will have both a greater ethical awareness and ability to make more ethical decisions. Hypotheses were tested in two undergraduate business courses at (...) a major research university where 707 students were sampled. Results suggest that ethics education improved students’ ethical awareness and moral reasoning. Interestingly, results also seem to show that students’ readiness moderated their learning outcomes. (shrink)
One major obstacle in providing a compositional semantics for natural languages is that it is not clear how we should deal with propositional attitude contexts. In this paper I will discuss the Interpreted Logical Form proposal , focusing on the case of belief. This proposal has been developed in different ways by authors such as Harman (1972), Higginbotham (1986,1991), Segal (1989) and Larson and Ludlow (1993). On this approach, the that-clause of a belief report is treated as a singular term, (...) referring to the interpreted logical form (ILF) of its embedded sentence. The ILF of a sentence is made up of two parts : a syntactic representation of the sentence at the level of logical form, and an assignment of semantic values to parts of the representation. Thus, given a belief report such as. (shrink)
Cognitive science aims to provide scientific explanations of various mental phenomena. Attempts to study the mind, however, go back thousands of years, and what is distinctive about cognitive science is not its aim but the use of computations and representations in psychological explanations. We shall discuss whether the computational approach comes under challenge from dynamics, and look at some of the main themes in recent developments in cognitive science. In the final part of this paper we shall look at two (...) areas where cognitive science might provide significant benefits to the contemporary world. (shrink)
In everyday life, we typically explain what people do by attributing mental states such as beliefs and desires. Such mental states belong to a class of mental states that are _intentional_, mental states that have content. Hoping that Johnny will win, and believing that Johnny will win are of course rather different mental states that can lead to very different behaviour. But they are similar in that they both have the same content : what is being hoped for and believed (...) is the very same thing. According to the thesis of externalism that has been defended most notably by Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge, not all of the contents of our mental states are determined by our intrinsic properties. Instead, the contents of our beliefs and desires are often determined in part by our relations to the environment. They are, so to speak, "wide" contents that are "not in our heads." Although externalism is accepted by most philosophers, many have argued that mental states with wide contents must also have a kind of content wholly determined by the intrinsic properties of the individuals who are in those states. This kind of content is called "narrow content". The aim of this paper is to distinguish between three rather different motivations for postulating narrow content. I argue that, given a certain conception of narrow content that I shall explain below, none of these three motivations succeed in establishing the existence of narrow content. (shrink)
(1) It is not clear from Gold and Stoljar’s definition of biological neuroscience whether it includes computational and representational concepts. If so, then their evaluation of Kandel’s theory is problematic. If not, then a more direct refutation of the radical neuron doctrine is available. (2) Objections to the psychological sciences might derive not just from the conflation of the radical and the trivial neuron doctrine. There might also be the implicit belief that for many mental phenomena, adequate theories must invoke (...) neurophysiological concepts and cannot be purely psychological. (shrink)
We propose that culture affects people through their perceptions of what is consensually believed. Whereas past research has examined whether cultural differences in social judgment are mediated by differences in individuals’ personal values and beliefs, we investigate whether they are mediated by differences in individuals’ perceptions of the views of people around them. We propose that individuals who perceive that traditional views are culturally consensual (e.g., Chinese participants who believe that most of their fellows hold collectivistic values) will themselves behave (...) and think in culturally typical ways. Four studies of previously well-established cultural differences found that cultural differences were mediated by participants’ perceived consensus as much as by participants’ personal views. This held true for cultural differences in the bases of compliance (Study 1), attributional foci (Study 2), and counterfactual thinking styles (Study 3). To tease apart the effect of consensus perception from other possibly associated individual differences, Study 4 experimentally manipulated which of two cultures was salient to bicultural participants and found that judgments were guided by their perception of the consensual view of the salient culture. (shrink)
From virtue ethics and interactionist perspectives, we hypothesized that personal justice norms (distributive and procedural justice norms) were shaped directly and multiplicatively by ethical dispositions (equity sensitivity and need for structure) and ethical climates (egoistic, benevolent, and principle climates). We collected multisource data from 123 companies in Hong Kong, with personal factors assessed by participants’ self-reports and contextual factors by aggregations of their peers. In general, LISREL analyses with latent product variables supported the direct and multiplicative relationships. Our findings could (...) lay the groundwork for justice research from a morality perspective in future. (shrink)
This paper analyzes and compares the doctrines of categories of Aristotle, Kant and Hegel, each of which is first discussed separately. The paper explains the essential double perspective of the problem, showing how a logico-linguistic analysis of the form of rational discourse serves for them as an important clue to ontological problems. Although Aristotle and Kant’s doctrines differ significantly, they both endorse a kind of isomorphism between language/thought and reality. By contrast, Hegel, who takes a critical attitude toward the capability (...) of human language and discursive thinking, rejects the possibility of deriving the structure of reality from the forms of predication or judgment. Nevertheless, the forms of judgment do play an equally crucial role in Hegel’s doctrine, though in a very different way from his predecessors. It is the structural “deficiency” of the judgmental form that turns out to be the driving force for the dialectical movement of the Concept. By shifting the primary concern from the categories themselves to the transitions between them, Hegel opens up the possibility of a dynamic system of categories. (shrink)
In the United States, disease screening is offered to the public as a consumer service. It has been proposed that the act of “consumption” is a manifestation of agency and that the decision to consume is an exercise of autonomy. The enthusiasm of the American public for disease screening and the expansion in the demand for all sorts of disease screening in recent years can be viewed as an expression of such autonomy. Here, we argue that the enthusiasm for disease (...) screening witnessed in the American public today may be more a reflection of the constraint on autonomy than its facilitation. It is our opinion that the articulation of socio-historical processes has contributed to a moral imperative which is reflected in the decision making of individuals around disease screening. We suggest medical and health professionals have a responsibility to facilitate the exercise of individual autonomy in health care decision making as an integral component of professional obligation. These professionals need to problematise healthcare activities that constrain individual autonomy. (shrink)
aFunctional Imaging Laboratory, Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, University College London, 12 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK bDepartment of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, UK cOxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, UK dDepartment of Psychiatry and Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research, University of Oxford, UK..
By his critical reflections on the crisis of modern civilization, Jan Patočka, phenomenologist of the Other Europe, incarnates the critical consciousness of the phenomenological movement. He was in fact one of the first European philosophers to have emphasized the necessity of abandoning the hitherto Eurocentric propositions of solution to the crisis when he explicitly raised the problems of a “Post-European humanity”. In advocating an understanding of the history of European humanity different from those of Husserl and Heidegger, Patočka directs his (...) philosophical reflections back to sketch a more profound phenomenology of the natural world insufficiently thematized in Husserl and absent in Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit. By virtue of its emphasis on the structural characteristics of movement, of praxis, and of the disclosure of the abyssal nature of human existence and of the original nothingness as the (non-)foundation of the phenomenal world, Patočka’s phenomenology of the natural world constitutes an opening towards the reception of Others and other cultures, in particular that of Chinese Taoist philosophy. (shrink)
Increasingly, taxonomies are being developed and used by industry practitioners to facilitate information interoperability and retrieval. Within a single industrial domain, there exist many taxonomies that are intended for different applications. Industry specific taxonomies often represent the vocabularies that are commonly used by the practitioners. Their jobs are multi-faceted, which include checking for code and regulatory compliance. As such, it will be very desirable if industry practitioners are able to easily locate and browse regulations of interest. In practice, multiple sources (...) of government regulations exist and they are often organized and classified by the needs of the issuing agencies that enforce them rather than the needs of the communities that use them. One way to bridge these two distinct needs is to develop methods and tools that enable practitioners to browse and retrieve government regulations using their own terms and vocabularies, for example, via existing industry taxonomies. The mapping from a single taxonomy to a single regulation is a trivial keyword matching task. We examine a relatedness analysis approach for mapping a single taxonomy to multiple regulations. We then present an approach for mapping multiple taxonomies to a single regulation by measuring the relatedness of concepts. Cosine similarity, Jaccard coefficient and market basket analysis are used to measure the semantic relatedness between concepts from two different taxonomies. Preliminary evaluations of the three relatedness analysis measures are performed using examples from the civil engineering and building industry. These examples illustrate the potential benefits of regulatory usage from the mapping between various taxonomies and regulations. (shrink)
Michael Tye’s book is a powerful defense of the controversial theory that the phenomenal properties of our conscious mental states are representational in character. The theory is introduced and defended through discussing ten philosophical problems about consciousness. The book is clearly written and arguments are illustrated with interesting thought-experiments and empirical findings. It is one of those delightful occasions where a book is of interest both to professional philosophers and students.
We develop an extension of the familiar linear mixed logit model to allow for the direct estimation of parametric non-linear functions defined over structural parameters. Classic applications include the estimation of coefficients of utility functions to characterize risk attitudes and discounting functions to characterize impatience. There are several unexpected benefits of this extension, apart from the ability to directly estimate structural parameters of theoretical interest.
One of the methods used at Penn State to teach engineering students about ethics is a one-credit First-Year Seminar entitled “How Good Engineers Solve Tough Problems.” Students meet in class once a week to understand ethical frameworks, develop ethical problem-solving skills, and to better understand the professional responsibilities of engineers. Emphasis is on the ubiquity of ethical problems in professional engineering. A learning objective is the development of moral imagination, similar to the development of technical imagination in engineering design courses. (...) Making sound arguments is also addressed in the process of reasoning through cases, and critiquing other’s arguments. Over the course of the semester, students solve five engineering ethics cases. Each week, a student team of four people is responsible for reading the assigned section of the text, developing a summary, and leading the class discussion. (shrink)
We question the behavioral premise underlying Ainslie's claims about hyperbolic discounting theory. The alleged evidence for humans can be easily explained as an artefact of experimental procedures that do not control for the credibility of payment over different time horizons. In appropriately controlled and financially motivated settings, human behavior is consistent with conventional exponential preferences.