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Profile: John K. Davis (California State University, Fullerton)
  1. John K. Davis (2015). Faultless Disagreement, Cognitive Command, and Epistemic Peers. Synthese 192 (1):1-24.
    Relativism and contextualism are the most popular accounts of faultless disagreement, but Crispin Wright once argued for an account I call divergentism. According to divergentism, parties who possess all relevant information and use the same standards of assessment in the same context of utterance can disagree about the same proposition without either party being in epistemic fault, yet only one of them is right. This view is an alternative to relativism, indexical contextualism, and nonindexical contextualism, and has advantages over those (...)
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  2. John K. Davis (2012). Applying Principles to Cases and the Problem of Judgment. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (4):563 - 577.
    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 (...)
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  3. John K. Davis (2010). An Alternative to Relativism. Philosophical Topics 38 (2):17-37.
    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 (...)
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  4. John K. Davis (2009). Subjectivity, Judgment, and the Basing Relationship. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (1):21-40.
    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 (...)
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  5. John K. Davis (2008). Futility, Conscientious Refusal, and Who Gets to Decide. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 33 (4):356-373.
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  6. John K. Davis (2008). How to Justify Enforcing a Ulysses Contract When Ulysses is Competent to Refuse. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 18 (1):pp. 87-106.
    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 (...)
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  7. John K. Davis (2007). Intuition and the Junctures of Judgment in Decision Procedures for Clinical Ethics. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 28 (1):1-30.
    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 (...)
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  8. John K. Davis (2006). Surviving Interests and Living Wills. Public Affairs Quarterly 20 (1):17-30.
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  9. John K. Davis (2005). Life-Extension and the Malthusian Objection. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (1):27 – 44.
    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 (...)
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  10. John K. Davis (2004). Conscientious Refusal and a Doctors's Right to Quit. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (1):75 – 91.
    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 (...)
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  11. John K. Davis (2004). Precedent Autonomy and Subsequent Consent. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (3):267-291.
    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, (...)
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  12. John K. Davis (2004). The Prolongevists Speak Up: The Life-Extension Ethics Session at the 10th Annual Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology. American Journal of Bioethics 4 (4):W6-W8.
    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.
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  13. John K. Davis (1999). Commentary. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 8 (4):435-439.
    Judith Thomson argues that a fetus may have a right to life yet lack the right to use its mother's body to stay alive. According to Kenneth Einar Himma, Thomson's argument applies only to cases where the parties meet two conditions. First, they must and, second, they must be Himma devises a case involving conjoined twins to show why the mother–fetus case does not meet these conditions.
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  14. John K. Davis (1991). Professions, Trades, and the Obligation to Inform. Journal of Applied Philosophy 8 (2):167-176.
    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..
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