This paper offers an account of how individuals act as agents when we employ a narrative approach to explaining their personal identities. It applies Korsgaard's idea of a "reflective structure of consciousness" to provide foundations for a richer account of the individual economic agent, and uses this to explain and distinguish the concepts of personal identity, individual identity, and social identity. The paper argues that individuals' personal identities may be in conflict with their socially constructed individual identities. Individuals' social identities (...) are represented as a link between personal identity and individual identity. The overall framework is proposed as an alternative to the atomistic individual conception and a contribution to the socially embedded individual conception. (shrink)
Some moral disagreements are so persistent that we suspect they are deep: we would disagree even when we have all relevant information and no one makes any mistakes (this is also known as faultless disagreement). The possibility of deep disagreement is thought to drive cognitivists toward relativism, but most cognitivists reject relativism. There is an alternative. According to divergentism, cognitivists can reject relativism while allowing for deep disagreement. This view has rarely been defended at length, but many philosophers have implicitly (...) endorsed its elements. I will defend it. (shrink)
Abstract We sometimes decide what to do by applying moral principles to cases, but this is harder than it looks. Principles are more general than cases, and sometimes it is hard to tell whether and how a principle applies to a given case. Sometimes two conflicting principles seem to apply to the same case. To handle these problems, we use a kind of judgment to ascertain whether and how a principle applies to a given case, or which principle to follow (...) when two principles seem to conflict. But what do we discern when we make such judgments—that is, what makes such judgments correct? The obvious answer is that they are made correct by whatever makes other moral judgments correct. However, that cannot be right, for a principle can be inconsistent with morality yet still apply in a particular way to a given case. If the principle is inconsistent with morality, then morality cannot be what we discern when we judge whether and how that principle applies to a given case. I offer an alternative account of what makes such judgments correct. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-15 DOI 10.1007/s10677-011-9311-x Authors John K. Davis, Department of Philosophy, California State University, Fullerton, P.O. Box 6868, Fullerton, CA 92834-6868, USA Journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice Online ISSN 1572-8447 Print ISSN 1386-2820. (shrink)
(2013). Introduction: Methodology, systemic risk, and the economics profession. Journal of Economic Methodology: Vol. 20, Methodology, Systemic Risk, and the Economics Profession, pp. 1-5. doi: 10.1080/1350178X.2013.774842.
We reply to the Ioannidis's paper "Effectiveness of antidepressants; an evidence based myth constructed from a thousand controlled trials." We disagree that antidepressants have no greater efficacy than placebo. We present the efficacy from hundreds of trials in terms of the percentage of patients with a substantial clinical response (a 50% improvement or more symptomatic reduction). This meta-analysis finds that 42-70% of depressed patients improve with drug and 21%-39% improve with placebo. The response benefit of antidepressant treatment is 33%-11% greater (...) than placebo. Ioannidis argues that it would be vanishingly smaller because systematic biasing in these clinical trials would reduce the drug-placebo difference to zero. Ioannidis' argument that antidepressants have no benefit is eroded by his failures of logic because he does not present any evidence that there are a large number of studies where placebo is substantially more effective than drug. (To reduce to zero, one would also have to show that some of the unpublished studies find placebo better than drug and have substantial systematic or methodological bias). We also present the empirical evidence showing that these methodological concerns generally have the opposite effect of what Ioannidis argues, supporting our contention that the measured efficacy of antidepressants likely underestimates true efficacy.Our most important criticism is Ioannidis’ basic underlying argument about antidepressants that if the existing evidence is imperfect and methods can be criticized, then this proves that antidepressant are not efficacious. He presents no credible evidence that antidepressants have zero effect size. Valid arguments can point out difficulties with the data but do not prove that a given drug had no efficacy. Indeed better evidence might prove it was more efficacious that originally found.We find no empirical or ethical reason why psychiatrists should not try to help depressed patients with drugs and/or with psychotherapeutic/behavioral treatments given evidence of efficacy even though our treatment knowledge has limitations. The immense suffering of patients with major depression leads to ethical, moral, professional and legal obligations to treat patients with the best available tools at our disposal, while diligently and actively monitoring for adverse effects and actively revising treatment components as necessary. (shrink)
Moral and legal judgments sometimes depend on personal traits in this sense: the subject offers good reasons for her judgment, but if she had a different social or ideological background, her judgment would be different. If you would judge the constitutionality of restrictions on abortion differently if you were not a secular liberal, is your judgment really based on the arguments you find convincing, or do you find them so only because you are a secular liberal? I argue that a (...) judgment can be based on the considerations the subject claims as justification even when it depends on personal traits. (shrink)
For now, the best way to select a child's genes is to select a potential child who has those genes, using genetic testing and either selective abortion, sperm and egg donors, or selecting embryos for implantation. Some people even wish to select against genes that are only mildly undesirable, or to select for superior genes. I call this selection drift– the standard for acceptable children is creeping upwards. The President's Council on Bioethics and others have raised the parental love (...) objection: Just as we should love existing children unconditionally, so we should unconditionally accept whatever child we get in the natural course of things. If we set conditions on which child we get, we are setting conditions on our love for whatever child we get. Although this objection was prompted by selection drift, it also seems to cover selecting against genes for severe impairments. I argue that selection drift is not inconsistent with the ideal of unconditional parental love and, moreover, that the latter actually implies that we should practise selection drift – in other words, we should try to select potential children with the best genetic endowments. My endowment argument for the second claim works from an analogy between arranging an endowment prior to conception to fund a future child's education, and arranging a genetic endowment by selecting a potential child who already has it, where in both cases the child would not have existed without the endowment. I conclude with some programmatic remarks about the nonidentity problem. (shrink)
Sometimes the mentally ill have sufficient mental capacity to refuse treatment competently, and others have a moral duty to respect their refusal. However, those with episodic mental disorders may wish to precommit themselves to treatment, using Ulysses contracts known as “mental health advance directives.” How can health care providers justify enforcing such contracts over an agent’s current, competent refusal? I argue that providers respect an agent’s autonomy not retrospectively—by reference to his or her past wishes—and not merely synchronically—so that the (...) agent gets what he or she wants right now—but diachronically and prospectively, acting so that the agent can shape his or her circumstances as the agent wishes over time, for the agent will experience the consequences of providers’ actions over time. Mental health directives accomplish this, so they are a way of respecting the agent’s autonomy even when providers override the agent’s current competent refusal. (shrink)
Moral decision procedures such as principlism or casuistry require intuition at certain junctures, as when a principle seems indeterminate, or principles conflict, or we wonder which paradigm case is most relevantly similar to the instant case. However, intuitions are widely thought to lack epistemic justification, and many ethicists urge that such decision procedures dispense with intuition in favor of forms of reasoning that provide discursive justification. I argue that discursive justification does not eliminate or minimize the need for intuition, or (...) constrain our intuitions. However, this is not a problem, for intuitions can be justified in easy or obvious cases, and decision procedures should be understood as heuristic devices for reaching judgments about harder cases that approximate the justified intuitions we would have about cases under ideal conditions, where hard cases become easy. Similarly, the forms of reasoning which provide discursive justification help decision procedures perform this heuristic function not by avoiding intuition, but by making such heuristics more accurate. Nonetheless, it is possible to demand too much justification; many clinical ethicists lack the time and philosophical training to reach the more elaborate levels of discursive justification. We should keep moral decision procedures simple and user-friendly so that they will provide what justification can be achieved under clinical conditions, rather than trying to maximize our epistemic justification out of an overstated concern about intuition. (shrink)
This paper reviews three distinct strategies in recent economics for using the concept of social identity in the explanation of individual behavior: Akerlof and Kranton's neoclassical approach, Sen's commitment approach and Kirman et al.'s complexity approach. The primary focus is the multiple selves problem and the difficulties associated with failing to explain social identity and personal identity together. The argument of the paper is that too narrow a scope for reflexivity in individual decision?making renders the problem intractable, but that enlarging (...) this scope makes it possible to explain personal and social identity together in connection with an individual behavior termed comparative value?objective evaluation. The paper concludes with recommendations for treating the individual objective function as a production function. JEL classification: D01, D63, Z13. (shrink)
The worst possible way to resolve this issue is to leave it up to individual choice. There is no known social good coming from the conquest of death (Bailey, 1999). - Daniel Callahan Dramatically extending the human lifespan seems increasingly possible. Many bioethicists object that life-extension will have Malthusian consequences as new Methuselahs accumulate, generation by generation. I argue for a Life-Years Response to the Malthusian Objection. If even a minority of each generation chooses life-extension, denying it to them deprives (...) them of many years of extra life, and their total extra life-years are likely to exceed the total life-years of a majority who do not want life-extension. This is a greater harm to those who want extended life than the Malthusian harms to those who refuse extended life, both because losing an extra year of life is worse than enduring a year of Malthusian conditions, and because the would-be Methuselahs have more life-years at stake. Therefore, even if life-extension seems likely to cause severe overcrowding and resource shortages, that threat is not sufficient to justify society in restricting the development or availability of life-extension. (shrink)
Essays, drawings, and poems by children in kindergarten through eighth grade in the subject “War or Peace? Is world peacepossible, or does human nature make war inevitable?" plus essays by the high school finalists and winners.
Patients sometimes request procedures their doctors find morally objectionable. Do doctors have a right of conscientious refusal? I argue that conscientious refusal is justified only if the doctor's refusal does not make the patient worse off than she would have been had she gone to another doctor in the first place. From this approach I derive conclusions about the duty to refer and facilitate transfer, whether doctors may provide 'moral counseling,' whether doctors are obligated to provide objectionable procedures when no (...) other doctor is available, why the moral consensus among doctors seems relevant even though it does not determine whether something is morally acceptable, and whether doctors should stay out of fields whose standard procedures they find morally unacceptable. (shrink)
Honoring a living will typically involves treating an incompetent patient in accord with preferences she once had, but whose objects she can no longer understand. How do we respect her precedent autonomy by giving her what she used to want? There is a similar problem with subsequent consent: How can we justify interfering with someone''s autonomy on the grounds that she will later consent to the interference, if she refuses now?Both problems arise on the assumption that, to respect someone''s autonomy, (...) any preferences we respect must be among that person''s current preferences. I argue that this is not always true. Just as we can celebrate an event long after it happens, so can we respect someone''s wishes long before or after she has that wish. In the contexts of precedent autonomy and subsequent consent, the wishes are often preferences about which of two other, conflicting preferences to satisfy. When someone has two conflicting preferences, and a third preference on how to resolve that conflict, to respect his autonomy we must respect that third preference. People with declining competence may have a resolution preference earlier, favoring the earlier conflicting preference (precedent autonomy), whereas those with rising competence may have it later, favoring the later conflicting preference (subsequent consent). To respect autonomy in such cases we must respect not a current, but a former or later preference. (shrink)
Life-extension was the focus for the 10th annual Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, held last September at Cambridge University. This scientific convention included a panel of several bioethicists, including Art Caplan, John Harris, and others. The presentations on the ethics of life-extension are reviewed here.
Reflexivity has been argued to be self?defeating and potentially devastating for the sociology of scientific knowledge. We first survey various meanings associated with the concept of reflexivity and then provide an interpretation of Velázquez's Las Meñinas to generate a three?part taxonomy of reflexivity, distinguishing between ?immanent?, ?epistemic? and ?transcendent? reflexivity. This provides the basis for engaging with reflexivity as a problem in the economic methodology literature, focusing on recent contributions to the topic by Hands, Sent, Mäki and Mirowski. Employment of (...) our taxonomy clarifies the similarities and differences between the various forms of reflexivity that can be identified or are addressed in these contributions. Our main argument is that a successful response to the malign aspects of reflexivity requires a simultaneous consideration of various levels of reflexivity and relies on social?historical perspectives. (shrink)
The concept of the individual and his/her motivations is a bedrock of philosophy. All strands of thought at heart contain to a particular theory of the individual. Economics, though, is guilty of taking this hugely important concept without questioning how we theorize it. This superb book remedies this oversight. The new approach put forward by Davies is to pay more attention to what moral philosophy may offer us in the study of personal identity, self consciousness and will. This crosses the (...) traditional boundaries of economics and will shed new light on the distinction between positive and normative analysis in economics. With both heterodox and orthodox economics receiving a thorough analysis from Davies, this book is at once inclusive and revealing. (shrink)
This paper examines the lack of health insurancecoverage in the US as a public policy issue. It first comparesthe problem of health insurance coverage to theproblem of unemployment to show that in terms of thenumbers of individuals affected lack of healthinsurance is a problem comparable in importance to theproblem of unemployment. Secondly, the paperdiscusses the methodology involved in measuring healthinsurance coverage, and argues that the current methodof estimation of the uninsured underestimates theextent that individuals go without health insurance. Third, the (...) paper briefly introduces Amartya Sen'sfunctionings and capabilities framework to suggest away of representing the extent to which individualsare uninsured. Fourth, the paper sketches a means ofoperationalizing the Sen representation of theuninsured in terms of the disability-adjusted lifeyear (DALY) measure. (shrink)
This paper investigates the topic of personal identity in standard neoclassical theory. It looks first at the traditional utility theory of maximizing consumers and then at the extension of that analysis in the time-allocation-household-production model to see how relatively settled ontological commitments in the neoclassical research program undergo modification with its development. David Hume's skeptical treatment of personal identity is employed to assess the traditional view. The time-allocation model is shown to escape some of Hume's problems, but encounters difficulties of (...) its own. Concluding remarks emphasize the importance of ontological analysis in economics, and suggest that identity issues underlie the investigation of causality in that analysis. (shrink)
In this compelling book, John B. Davis examines the change and development in Keynes's philosophical thinking, from his earliest work through to The General Theory, arguing that Keynes came to believe himself mistaken about a number of his early philosophical concepts. The author begins by looking at the unpublished 'Apostles' papers, written under the influence of the philosopher G. E. Moore. These display the tensions in Keynes's early philosophical views, and outline his philosophical concepts of the time, including the concept (...) of intuition. Davis then shows how Keynes's later philosophy is implicit in the economic argument of The General Theory. He argues that Keynes's philosophy had by this time changed radically, and that he had abandoned the concept of intuition for the concept of convention. The author sees this as being the central idea in The General Theory, and looks at the philosophical nature of this concept of convention in detail. (shrink)
On the face of things, the concept of 'profession' does not appear philosophically problematic: just survey the dozen or so occupations everyone calls professions and list their common attributes. Typically, it is said that law, medicine, teaching and other..