Bayesian paradigm has been widely acknowledged as a coherent approach to learning putative probability model structures from a finite class of candidate models. Bayesian learning is based on measuring the predictive ability of a model in terms of the corresponding marginal data distribution, which equals the expectation of the likelihood with respect to a prior distribution for model parameters. The main controversy related to this learning method stems from the necessity of specifying proper prior distributions for all unknown parameters of (...) a model, which ensures a complete determination of the marginal data distribution. Even for commonly used models, subjective priors may be difficult to specify precisely, and therefore, several automated learning procedures have been suggested in the literature. Here we introduce a novel Bayesian learning method based on the predictive entropy of a probability model, that can combine both subjective and objective probabilistic assessment of uncertain quantities in putative models. It is shown that our approach can avoid some of the limitations of the earlier suggested objective Bayesian methods. (shrink)
Abstract In a recent issue of Neuroethics , I considered whether the notion of human dignity could help us in solving the moral problems the advent of the diagnostic category of minimally conscious state (MCS) has brought forth. I argued that there is no adequate account of what justifies bestowing all MCS patients with the special worth referred to as human dignity. Therefore, I concluded, unless that difficulty can be solved we should resort to other values than human dignity in (...) addressing the moral problems MCS poses. In his new book Christopher Kaczor criticizes the argument I put forward. Below, I respond to Kaczor’s criticism. I maintain that the considerations he presents do not undermine my argument nor succeed in providing adequate justification for the view that all MCS patients possess the worth referred to as human dignity. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-11 DOI 10.1007/s12152-011-9147-z Authors Jukka Varelius, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, University of Turku, Turku, 20014 Finland Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490. (shrink)
Whistle-blowing would appear to involve a conflict between employee loyalty and protection of public interest. Several business ethicists have, however, argued that this conflict is indeed merely apparent. According to the central argument to that effect, when the nature of employee loyalty is understood correctly, it becomes clear that whistle-blowing does not threaten employees' loyalty to their employer. This is because blowing the whistle about one's employer's wrongdoing and being loyal to them serves the same goal, the moral good of (...) the employer. In this article, I assess this philosophical argument for the conclusion that the moral problem of whistle-blowing is not real. I argue that the way of defending the view that whistle-blowing is not morally problematic is implausible. (shrink)
It is plausible that what possible courses of action patients may legitimately expect their physicians to take is ultimately determined by what medicine as a profession is supposed to do and, consequently, that we can determine the moral acceptability of voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide on the basis of identifying the proper goals of medicine. This article examines the main ways of defining the proper goals of medicine found in the recent bioethics literature and argues that they cannot provide a (...) clear answer to the question of whether or not voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are morally acceptable. It is suggested that to find a plausible answer to this question and to complete the task of defining the proper goals of medicine, we must determine what is the best philosophical theory about the nature of prudential value. (shrink)
Appeals to the actual author's intention in order to legitimate an interpretation of a work of literary narrative fiction have generally been considered extraneous in Anglo-American philosophy of literature since Wimsatt and Beardsley's well-known manifesto from the 1940s. For over sixty years now so-called anti-intentionalists have argued that the author's intentions – plans, aims, and purposes considering her work – are highly irrelevant to interpretation. In this paper, I shall argue that the relevance of the actual author's intentions varies in (...) different approaches to fiction, and suggest that fictions are legitimately interpreted intentionally as conversations in a certain kind of reading. My aim is to show that the so-called conversational approach is valid when emphasizing the cognitive content of a fiction and truths it seem to convey, for example, in a philosophical approach to fictions which contain philosophical purport using Sartre's fictional works as paradigmatic, and that anti-intentionalists' arguments against intentionalism do not threaten such an approach. (shrink)
In this article, I consider whether the advance directive of a person in minimally conscious state ought to be adhered to when its prescriptions conflict with her current wishes. I argue that an advance directive can have moral significance after its issuer has succumbed to minimally conscious state. I also defend the view that the patient can still have a significant degree of autonomy. Consequently, I conclude that her advance directive ought not to be applied. Then I briefly assess whether (...) considerations pertaining to respecting the patient's autonomy could still require obedience to the desire expressed in her advance directive and arrive at a negative answer. (shrink)
Recent progress in neurosciences has improved our understanding of chronic disorders of consciousness. One example of this advancement is the emergence of the new diagnostic category of minimally conscious state (MCS). The central characteristic of MCS is impaired consciousness. Though the phenomenon now referred to as MCS pre-existed its inclusion in diagnostic classifications, the current medical ethical concepts mainly apply to patients with normal consciousness and to non-conscious patients. Accordingly, how we morally should stand with persons in minimally conscious state (...) remains unclear. In this paper, I examine whether the notion of human dignity could provide us with guidance with the moral difficulties MCS gives rise to. More precisely, I focus on the question of whether we are justified in holding that persons in minimally conscious state possess human dignity. (shrink)
According to realist structuralism, mathematical objects are places in abstract structures. We argue that in spite of its many attractions, realist structuralism must be rejected. For, first, mathematical structures typically contain intra-structurally indiscernible places. Second, any account of place-identity available to the realist structuralist entails that intra-structurally indiscernible places are identical. Since for her mathematical singular terms denote places in structures, she would have to say, for example, that 1 = –1 in the group (Z, +). We call this the (...) identity problem and conclude that nominalism is presently the safest route for the structuralist. (shrink)
The moral status of business bluffing is a controversial issue. On the one hand, bluffing would seem to be relevantly similar to lying and deception. Because of this, business bluffing can be taken to be an activity that is at least prima facie morally condemnable. On the other hand, it has often been claimed that in business bluffing is part of the game and that therefore there is nothing morally questionable in business bluffing. In a recent issue of this journal, (...) Fritz Allhoff puts forward a novel defence of business bluffing. In this article, I will examine Allhoff’s arguments for the moral acceptability of business bluffing and argue that they are implausible. (shrink)
During the last decades, there has been a debate on the question whether literary works are utterances, or have utterance meaning, and whether it is reasonable to approach them as such. Proponents of the utterance model in literary interpretation, whom I will refer to as ‘utterance theorists,’ such as Noël Carroll and especially Robert Stecker, suggest that because of their nature as linguistic products of intentional human action, literary works are utterances similar to those used in everyday discourse. Conversely, those (...) whom I will refer to as ‘appreciation theorists,’ such as Stein Haugom Olsen and Peter Lamarque, argue that literary works are by no means comparable to conversational utterances, and treating them in terms of utterances mistakenly dismisses their literary features. -/- The aim of this essay is twofold: to defend a central aspect of the utterance theory and to reconcile the two main positions about central issues in the debate on the meaning of literary works. On the one hand, I shall argue that it is both legitimate and reasonable to discuss the utterance meaning of a literary work on the basis of an interpretative approach interested in the author’s “message.” My aim is to show that literary works should be considered utterances in a conversational approach which aims at examining the illocutionary actions conveyed through the work. On the other hand, I attempt to show both that there are various legitimate interpretative approaches which are governed by the interpreter’s purposes and to suggest that the debate between utterance theorists and appreciation theorists is actually about merely different emphases. (shrink)
In this article I develop tools for analyzing the identities that emerge in qualitative material. I approach identities as historically, socially and culturally produced subject positions, as processes that are in a constant state of becoming and that receive their temporary stability and meaning in concrete contexts and circumstances. I suggest that the identities and subject positions that materialize in qualitative material can be analyzed from four different perspectives. They can be approached by focusing on (1) classifications that define the (...) boundary lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’, as (2) participant roles that refer to the temporal aspect of subject positions and outline their meaning for action, as (3) structures of viewpoint and focalization that frame meaning and order to opinions and experiences of the world, and as (4) interactive positions that articulate the roles and identities taken by the participants of communication. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall sketch a preliminary ground for a cognitivist theory of fiction and argue that theories which align fiction-making with (aesthetically valuable) story-telling consider the act of fiction-making too narrowly. As a paradigmatic example of such anti-cognitivist theories, I shall examine Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen’s influential theory of fiction, which suggests that recognizing the author’s fictive and literary intentions manifested in the text would lead to dismissing her aims to make genuine claims and suggestions. I (...) shall illustrate my argument concerning the act of fiction-making by showing that there are sub-genres of fiction, for instance, so-called philosophical fiction, in which the author’s intention to advance genuine points and to invite the reader to entertain the beliefs expressed can reasonably be argued to be as important for understanding the work as is her aim to create an aesthetically valuable and/or entertaining fictional narrative. Leaning on Noël Carroll’s theory of literary thought experiments, I shall suggest that philosophical fictions convey assertions or suggestions in a way similar to philosophers’ fictional thought experiments and are aimed to be understood as such. (shrink)
In this paper, my aim is to show that in Anglo-American analytic aesthetics, the conception of narrative fiction is in general realistic and that it derives from philosophical theories of fiction-making, the act of producing works of literary narrative fiction. I shall firstly broadly show the origins of the problem and illustrate how the so-called realistic fallacy – the view which maintains that fictions consist of propositions which represent the fictional world “as it is” – is committed through the history (...) of philosophical approaches to literature in the analytic tradition. Secondly, I shall show how the fallacy that derives from the 20th Century philosophy of language manifests itself in contemporary analytic aesthetics, using Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen’s influential and well-known Gricean make-believe theory of fiction as an example. Finally, I shall sketch how the prevailing Gricean make-believe theories should be modified in order to reach the literary-fictive use of language and to cover fictions broader than Doyle’s stories and works alike. (shrink)
In contemporary Western biomedical ethics, informed consent practices are commonly justified in terms of the intrinsic value of patient autonomy. James Stacey Taylor maintains that this conception of the moral grounding of medical informed consent is mistaken. On the basis of his reasoning to that effect, Taylor argues that medical informed consent is justified by the instrumental value of personal autonomy. In this article, I examine whether Taylor's justification of medical informed consent is plausible.
This article discusses ethical dilemmas in early childhood education as identified by kindergarten and elementary school teachers (N = 26). Ethical dilemmas are investigated in the theoretical framework of moral relevance and moral conflict (Wallace 1988). Professional ethics challenges teachers to collaborate with colleagues and parents. The empirical findings present conflicts between teachers and parents, collegial conflicts between teachers, and cultural conflicts in the community. The method used in the study is a relational reading of teachers' narratives. Interpretative accounts are (...) created to give room to different voices in teachers' written reports. The analysis of the data reveals that the ethical dilemmas in early childhood education are relational and deal with competing interpretations of "the best interest of the child". Relevance and conflict problems arise when people have to co-ordinate their actions with others. Most of the time, discussions have not produced the desired results. Ethical conflicts in teaching invite teachers to consider the moral relevance of each dilemma by taking the perspective of each party involved. (shrink)
In the analytic philosophy of literature, a common objection to the cognitive value of literary narrative fiction has been that literary works do not argue for the genuine truths they may contain. The argument maintains that although literary works could make or imply humanly interesting truth-claims, the works do not reason or justify the claims and thus they do not make significant contributions to knowledge. In this paper, I shall argue that literary works have distinct cognitive significance in changing their (...) readers’ beliefs. In particular, I shall discuss so-called philosophical fictions and truth-claims (thematic statements considered as authorial assertions) they may imply. Leaning broadly on Aristotle’s view of the enthymeme, I shall argue that a work of literary fiction persuades readers of its truths by its dramatic structure, by illustrating or implying the suppressed conclusion (or other parts missing in the argument). Further, I shall suggest that it is exactly this ‘literary persuasion’ which distinguishes literary works from merely didactic works prone to overt “argumentation” and instruction. (shrink)
Services of ethics consultants are nowadays commonly used in such various spheres of life as engineering, public administration, business, law, health care, journalism, and scientific research. It has however been maintained that use of ethics consultants is incompatible with personal autonomy; in moral matters individuals should be allowed to make their own decisions. The problem this criticism refers to can be conceived of as a conflict between the professional autonomy of ethics experts and the autonomy of the persons they serve. (...) This paper addresses this conflict and maintains that when the nature of both ethics consultation and individual autonomy is properly understood, the professional autonomy of ethics experts is compatible with the autonomy of the persons they assist. (shrink)
An adaptation of Pascal’s Wager argument has been considered useful in deciding about the provision of life-sustaining treatment for patients in persistent vegetative state. In this article, I assess whether people making such decisions should resort to the application of Pascal’s idea. I argue that there is no sufficient reason to give it an important role in making the decisions.
Among the different approaches to questions of biomedical ethics, there is a view that stresses the importance of a patient’s right to make her own decisions in evaluative questions concerning her own well-being. This approach, the autonomy-based approach to biomedical ethics, has usually led to the adoption of a subjective theory of well-being on the basis of its commitment to the value of autonomy and to the view that well-being is always relative to a subject. In this article, it is (...) argued that these two commitments need not lead to subjectivism concerning the nature of well-being. (shrink)
It has been argued that voluntary euthanasia (VE) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) are morally wrong. Yet, a gravely suffering patient might insist that he has a moral right to the procedures even if they were morally wrong. There are also philosophers who maintain that an agent can have a moral right to do something that is morally wrong. In this article, I assess the view that a suffering patient can have a moral right to VE and PAS despite the moral (...) wrongness of the procedures in light of the main argument for a moral right to do wrong found in recent philosophical literature. I maintain that the argument does not provide adequate support for such a right to VE and PAS. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall examine two types of assertions in literary narrative fiction: direct assertions and those I call literary assertions. Direct assertions put forward propositions on a literal level and function as the author’s assertions even if detached from their original context and applied in so-called ordinary discourse. Literary assertions, in turn, intertwine with the fictional discourse: they may be, for instance, uttered by a fictional character or refer to fictitious objects and yet convey the author’s genuine assertions. (...) The structure of the paper is twofold. The first, descriptive part is a question–answer type of discussion in which I shall introduce general philosophical arguments against assertions in fiction and present counter-arguments to them, paving the road to my account of literary assertions. In the second, argumentative part, in turn, I shall examine the nature of literary assertions, such as their semantic and ‘aspectival’ characteristics and their peculiar illocutionary force as well as the reader’s stance toward them. (shrink)
In literary aesthetics, the debate on whether literary fictions provide propositional knowledge generally centres around the question whether there are authors’ explicit or implicit truth-claims in literary works and whether the reader’s act of looking for and assessing such claims as true or false is an appropriate stance toward the works as literary works. Nevertheless, in reading literary fiction, readers cannot always be sure whether the author is actually asserting or suggesting a view she expresses or presents because of the (...) artistic and imaginative nature of the work. In this essay, I shall argue that in addition to asserting and suggesting, authors make use of a third way of conveying knowledge by their works: they invite the reader to genuinely or extra-fictionally contemplate unasserted thoughts or viewpoints to a given issue, or they offer hypotheses or provide the reader fictional material for constructing a hypothesis. The aim of this essay is to examine this rather unanalyzed but extremely wide grey zone: the author’s act of ‘contemplating’ and the cognitive value of its products which I shall call ‘literary hypotheses.’. (shrink)
It has been suggested that, in addition to individual level decision-making, informed consent procedures could be used in collective decision-making too. One of the main criticisms directed at this suggestion concerns decision-making power. It is maintained that consent is a veto power concept and that, as such, it is not appropriate for collective decision-making. This paper examines this objection to collective informed consent. It argues that veto power informed consent can have some uses in the collective level and that when (...) it is not appropriate the decision power a concerned party ought to have in connection with an arrangement should be made relative to the interest she has at stake in it. It concludes that the objection examined does not undermine collective informed consent. (shrink)
In analytic aesthetics, a popular ‘cognitivist’ line of thought maintains that literary works of fictional kind may ‘imply’ or ‘suggest’ truths. Nevertheless, so-called anti-cognitivists have considered the concepts of implication and suggestion both problematic. For instance, cognitivists’s use of the word ‘implication’ seems to differ from all philosophical conceptions of implication, and ‘suggestion’ is generally left unanalysed in their theories. This paper discusses the role, kinds and conception of implication or suggestion in literature, issues which have received little attention in (...) contemporary literary aesthetics. In the first part, the author shall examine classic views on implication in literature and introduce objections to the views. In the latter part, in turn, the author shall propose a definition of the ‘literary suggestion’ and discuss issues related to its interpretation. (shrink)
In her study Fiction and Imagination: The Anthropological Function of Literature (2000), Margit Sutrop criticizes Gregory Currie’s theory of fiction-making, as presented in The Nature of Fiction (1990), for using an inappropriate conception of the author’s ‘fictive intention.’ As Sutrop sees it, Currie is mistaken in reducing the author’s fictive intention to that of achieving a certain response in the audience. In this paper, I shall discuss Sutrop’s theory of fiction-making and argue that although her view is insightful in distinguishing (...) the illocutionary effect and the perlocutionary effect in the author’s fictive intention, there aren flaws in it. My aim is to show that, first, Sutrop’s critique of Currie’s view is misguided and, second, her own definition of fiction as an expression of the author’s imagination is problematic in not distinguishing literary fiction-making from other discursive functions and in dismissing the literary practice which regulates the production of literary fictions. (shrink)
This bibliography aims to gather together studies in the philosophy of literature by Finnish researchers. It consists of articles and monographs which treat i) philosophical literary theory, ii) philosophical literature, or iii) literary philosophy and philosophers’ use of literary devices. The bibliography, collected by requests of publication data and from several Finnish publication databases, is not intended inclusive. Nevertheless, it is being throughout updated, and all kinds of suggestions, updates and corrections are most welcome.
Opponents of voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide often maintain that the procedures ought not to be accepted because ending an innocent human life would both be morally wrong in itself and have unfortunate consequences. A gravely suffering patient can grant that ending his life would involve such harm but still insist that he would have reason to continue living only if there were something to him in his abstaining from ending his life. Though relatively rarely, the notion of meaning of (...) life has figured in recent medical ethical debate on voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. And in current philosophical discussion on meaning of life outside the medical ethical debate on voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide several authors have argued that being moral and having a meaningful existence are connected to each other. In this article, I assess whether his intentionally refraining from causing the harm related to voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide would involve something to such a patient in the sense that it would promote the meaningfulness of his life. (shrink)
The concept of dignity figures prominently in legal and moral discussion on such topics as human rights, euthanasia, abortion, and criminal punishment. Yet the notion has been criticized for being indeterminate and either insufficient or redundant (or both) in justifying the kinds of legal and moral rights and views its proponents use it to vindicate. The criticisms have inspired some novel conceptions of dignity. One of them is Tarunabh Khaitan’s proposal that dignity should be understood as an expressive norm. In (...) this article, I assess Khaitan’s suggestion. I maintain that it faces two challenges that its advocates should be able to solve for the proposal to be plausible. (shrink)
The digital world provides various ethical frames for individuals to become ethical subjects. In this paper I examine – in a Foucauldian and Luhmannian way – the differences between three systems of communication: the proprietary, the open/free and the cracker system. It is argued that all three systems provide a different set of ethical codes which one can be subjected to. The language of each system is restricted and they cannot understand each other, they merely consider each other as the (...) environment. The systems generate a diversity of ethical codes as they give different shapes to digital objects. To proprietary software companies digital objects are an instrument of financial profit. The free software/open source movement emphasises transparency; the end user must be able to view and alter the source code. The cracker scene sees digital objects in a different way. For this particular system, only copy-protected digital objects are appealing. Copy protection binds its target to the world of matter. Breaking the protection is the ultimate challenge and a way to gain honour and status inside the cracker scene. A copy-protected digital object is simultaneously an utmost example of the hidden source code (the open/free system), a perfect artefact that can be owned and sold (the proprietary system) and a challenge to be cracked (the cracker system). (shrink)
In the contemporary analytic philosophy of literature and especially literary theory, the paradigmatic way of understanding the beliefs and attitudes expressed in works of literary narrative fiction is to attribute them to an implied author, an entity which the literary critic Wayne C. Booth introduced in his influential study The Rhetoric of Fiction. Roughly put, the implied author is an entity between the actual author and the narrator whose beliefs and attitudes cannot be appropriately ascribed to the actual author. Over (...) the decades, this “the author’s second self,” a construct the actual author is seen to create in her act of writing, has gained an established place in literary theory. In the philosophy of literature, in turn, the implied author has evolved into multiple entities; it has been represented and developed as, for instance, “the postulated author” (Alexander Nehamas), “the fictional author” (Gregory Currie) and “the model author” (Umberto Eco). -/- The aim of this paper is to suggest that although the implied author, and its philosophical counterparts, sheds light on certain types of narratives, it is insufficient in approaches which emphasize the truth-claims conveyed by a work. In what follows, I try to show that, first, from an ontological point of view, actual assertions in literary fiction, if any, have to be attributed to the actual author and, second, that the question of truth-claiming in and by literary fiction is an epistemological matter concerning the actual intentions of the author. -/- . (shrink)
Within corporate social responsibility (CSR), the exploration of the political role of firms (political CSR) has recently experienced a revival. We review three key periods of political CSR literature—classic, instrumental, and new political CSR—and use the Rawlsian conceptualization of division of moral labor within political systems to describe each period’s background political theories. The three main arguments of the paper are as follows. First, classic CSR literature was more pluralistic in terms of background political theories than many later texts. Second, (...) instrumental CSR adopted classical liberalism and libertarian laissez-faire as its structural logic. Third, new political CSR, based on a strong globalist transition of responsibilities and tasks from governments to companies, lacks a conceptualization of division of moral labor that is needed to fully depart from a classical liberalist position. We end by providing a set of recommendations to develop pluralism in political CSR. (shrink)
In this article, I assess the position that voluntary euthanasia (VE) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) ought not to be accepted in the cases of persons who suffer existentially but who have no medical condition, because existential questions do not fall within the domain of physicians’ professional expertise. I maintain that VE and PAS based on suffering arising from medical conditions involves existential issues relevantly similar to those confronted in connection with existential suffering. On that basis I conclude that if VE (...) and PAS based on suffering arising from medical conditions is taken to fall within the domain of medical expertise, it is not consistent to use the view that physicians’ professional expertise does not extend to existential questions as a reason for denying requests for VE and PAS from persons who suffer existentially but have no medical condition. (shrink)
We argue that although E-Z Reader does a good job in simulating many basic facts related to readers' eye movements, two phenomena appear to pose a challenge to the model. The first has to do with word length mediating the way compound words are identified; the second concerns the effects of initial fixation position in a word on eye behavior.
Ruchkin et al.'s view of working memory as activated long-term memory is more compatible with language processing than models such as Baddeley's, but it raises questions about individual differences in working memory and the validity of domain-general capacity estimates. Does it make sense to refer to someone as having low working memory capacity if capacity depends on particular knowledge structures tapped by the task?
In the mid-1990s the recession is turning to a recovery. Around the world corporate bodies which fell victim to structural changes and high interest rates finally get buried. However, many feel that corporate funerals are not enough to clear away the litter of the past, crucifying people is required too.In the common law countries, where the treatment of bankrupts is tougher than in the U.S., and in continental Europe, where discharge of debts has been virtually unheard of until recently, the (...) failed entrepreneurs' heads are wanted on the platter. A high level of debt and an extravagant lifestyle combine to provoke most demands for reprisals. (shrink)