When facing a choice between saving one person and saving many, some people have argued that fairness requires us to decide without aggregating numbers; rather we should decide by coin toss or some form of lottery, or alternatively we should straightforwardly save the greater number but justify this in a non-aggregating contractualist way. This paper expands the debate beyond well-known number cases to previously under-considered probability cases, in which not (only) the numbers of people, but (also) the probabilities of success (...) for saving people vary. It is shown that, in these latter cases, both the coin toss and the lottery lead to what is called an awkward conclusion, which makes probabilities count in a problematic way. Attempts to avoid this conclusion are shown to lead into difficulties as well. Finally, it is shown that while the greater number method cannot be justified on contractualist grounds for probability cases, it may be replaced by another decision method which is so justified. This decision method is extensionally equivalent to maximising expected value and seems to be the least problematic way of dealing with probability cases in a non-aggregating manner. (shrink)
Book notice Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9588-3 Authors Nicolas Rasmussen, School of History and Philosophy, University of NSW, Sydney, 2052 Australia Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
GREGORY R. JOHNSON and DAVID RASMUSSEN argue that Rand's defense of abortion on demand is inconsistent with her own fundamental metaphysical, epistemological, and moral principles, namely that everything that exists has a determinate identity, that the concept of man refers to all of man's characteristics, not just his essential characteristics, and that there is no gap between what an organism truly is and what it ought to be.
Gregory R. Johnson and David Rasmussen defend their critique of Ayn Rand's views on abortion, arguing that their critics miss its main points. Tibor Machan and Alexander Tabarrok actually depart from Rand's own position under the guise of defending it; they introduce a non-Randian distinction between being a human organism and being a moral person.
This is the first systematic assessment of the work of Jürgen Habermas - the key theorist of the later Frankfurt School, whose writing has had a major impact on social theory and sociology. These four volumes comprise the key secondary literature on Habermas. Edited by David Rasmussen and James Swindal, leading commentators on Habermas's work, this will be the standard reference work on one of the canonical theorists of the 20th century. VOLUME ONE: THE FOUNDATIONS OF HABERMAS'S PROJECT Habermas (...) as a Critical Theorist \ Habermas, Hermeneutics and Critical Theory \ The Modernity/Postmodernity Debate VOLUME TWO:LAW AND POLITICS Law and Democratic Theory \ The Public Sphere \ Culture and Society VOLUME THREE: ETHICS Discourse Ethics \ Rethinking Discourse Ethics \ Autonomy and Authenticity VOLUME FOUR: COMMUNICATIVE RATIONALITY, FORMAL PRAGMATICS, SPEECH ACT THEORY AND TRUTH Communicative Rationality \ Formal Pragmatics and Speech Act Theory \ Nature, History and the Logic of Development \ Truth. (shrink)
Douglas B. Rasmussen examines, in this revised and extended version of his 1990 address to the Ayn Rand Society, whether Rand's ethics are best interpreted as dependent on a "pre-moral" choice. He argues that such an interpretation undercuts Rand's claim to provide a rational foundation for ethics. He suggests an alternative, neo-Aristotelian interpretation of Rand's ethics, which treats "man's survival qua man" as the telos of human choice and takes the obligation to achieve this ultimate end as the result (...) of its being the good for human beings. (shrink)
In response to Robert Hartford's criticisms of his Spring 2006 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies essay, "Regarding Choice and the Foundations of Morality," Rasmussen argues against "the official" interpretation of Rand's ethics as resting on a basic "choice to live." Drawing from his work with Douglas Den Uyl, Rasmussen argues that Rand's metaethics is best understood in "biocentric," neo-Aristotelian terms: that human choice does not set the context in which it operates and that "man's life qua man" is (...) the natural end of human life. (shrink)
Many have thought that there is a problem with causal commerce between immaterial souls and material bodies. In Physicalism or Something Near Enough, Jaegwon Kim attempts to spell out that problem. Rather than merely posing a question or raising a mystery for defenders of substance dualism to answer or address, he offers a compelling argument for the conclusion that immaterial souls cannot causally interact with material bodies. We offer a reconstruction of that argument that hinges on two premises: Kim’s Dictum (...) and the Nowhere Man principle. Kim’s Dictum says that causation requires a spatial relation. Nowhere Man says that souls can’t be in space. By our lights, both premises can be called into question. We’ll begin our evaluation of the argument by pointing out some consequences of Kim’s Dictum. For some, these will be costs. We will then present two defeaters for Kim’s Dictum and a critical analysis of Kim’s case for Nowhere Man. The upshot is that Kim’s argument against substance dualism fails. (shrink)
Dennis Whitcomb argues that there is no God on the grounds that (i) God is supposed to be omniscient, yet (ii) nothing could be omniscient due to the nature of grounding. We give a formally identical argument that concludes that one of the present co-authors does not exist. Since he does exist, Whitcomb’s argument is unsound. But why is it unsound? That is a difficult question. We venture two answers. First, one of the grounding principles that the argument relies on (...) is false. Second, the argument equivocates between two kinds of grounding: instance-grounding and quasi-mereological grounding. Happily, the equivocation can be avoided; unhappily, avoidance comes at the price of a false premise. (shrink)
I develop new paths to the existence of a concrete necessary being. These paths assume a metaphysical framework in which there are abstract states of affairs that can obtain or fail to obtain. One path begins with the following causal principle: necessarily, any contingent concrete object possibly has a cause. I mark out steps from that principle to a more complex causal principle and from there to the existence of a concrete necessary being. I offer a couple alternative causal principles (...) and paths, too. The paths marked out rely on relatively modest causal principles and avoid many obstacles that traditional cosmological arguments face. (shrink)
Abstract Energy typically is discussed in terms of science, technology, economics, and politics. Little attention has been given to fundamental religious and ethical questions surrounding the upcoming transition to renewable energy. The essays in this thematic section seek to redress that deficiency. This introductory essay raises some key questions and summarizes various presentations on energy and religion, as these were held at the 2010 conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS). Some presentations described the energy (...) landscape and provided data and perspectives needed for sound policy. Others raised ethical and religious considerations for energy decisions as the transition from nonrenewable to renewable sources is faced. Some posed the challenges of the energy transition to religion itself. Yet others offered examples of sustainable energy use and/or promising sources for meeting future needs sustainably. At the conclusion of the conference, presenters crafted a common “Statement on Energy and Climate Change” that includes a “Call to Action.” The “Energy Statement” follows as an appendix. (shrink)
I present a new argument for the thesis that there is a necessarily existing, causally powerful entity?a necessary being. The outline of the argument is this: (i) necessarily, every beginning of a certain sort S (which I'll specify) can have a cause; (ii) a beginning to the existence of all non-necessarily existing things would be of sort S; (iii) such a beginning can obtain; (iv) such a beginning cannot be caused unless there is a necessary being; therefore, (v) there is (...) a necessary being. The argument uses a causal principle that is more modest than causal principles previously used in arguments for a necessary being. (shrink)
Not a lot of work on theistic arguments has been devoted to drawing connections between a necessary being and theistic properties. In this paper, I identify novel paths from a necessary being to certain theistic properties: volition, infinite power, infinite knowledge, and infinite goodness. The steps in those paths are an outline for future work on what William Rowe (The Cosmological Argument, 1975, p. 6) has called “stage II” of the cosmological argument.
Philosophers of time say that if presentism is true (i.e. if reality is comprised solely of presently existing things), then a complete description of reality must contain tensed terms, such as ‘was’, ‘presently is’ and ‘will be’. I counter this viewpoint by explaining how the presentist may de-tense our talk about times. I argue, furthermore, that, since the A-theory of time denies the success of any such de-tensing strategy, presentism is not a version of the A-theory – contrary to the (...) popular opinion. (shrink)
In this essay, I consider whether the alleged demise of metaphysical realism does actually provide a better way for defending the cognitive status of ethical judgments. I argue that the rejection of a realist ontology and epistemology does not help to establish the claim that ethical knowledge is possible. More specifically, I argue that Hilary Putnam's argument does not succeed in making a case for ethical knowledge. In fact, his account of the procedures by which our valuations are warrantedultimately begs (...) the question in a number of crucial ways. Moreover, it prejudices the moral and political discussion in certain ideological respects. Finally, though Putnam has apparently modified to some extent his approach to the issue of realism in recent years, I will point out that these modifications are not fundamental and do not help to advance the case for ethical knowledge. I note also that Martha C. Nussbaum's appeal to Putnam’s argument actually works against her attempt to make a case for an Aristotelian conception of human flourishing. Ultimately, I conclude that metaphysical realism is vital for ethical knowledge. (shrink)
It has become commonplace in introductions to Indian philosophy to construe Plato’s discussion of forms (εἶδος/ἰδέα) and the treatment in Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika of universals ( sāmānya/jāti ) as addressing the same philosophical issue, albeit in somewhat different ways. While such a comparison of the similarities and differences has interest and value as an initial reconnaissance of what each says about common properties, an examination of the roles that universals play in the rest of their philosophical enquiries vitiates this commonplace. (...) This paper draws upon the primary texts to identify the following metaphysical, epistemological, semantic and soteriological roles that universals play in the philosophy of Plato and of Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika: Metaphysical: causal of the existence of x Metaphysical: constitutive of the identity/essence of x Epistemological: cognitively causal (i.e. of the cognition of one over many) Epistemological: epistemically causal (i.e. of knowledge of x) Semantic: necessary condition of speech and reason Epistemological: vindicatory of induction (Nyāya only) Metaphysical: explanatory of causation (Nyāya only) Soteriological: cathartic contemplation (Plato only) These roles provide us with motivations or reasons to believe that universals exist. As we examine these motivations, we find pressures mounting against our assimilating Platonic forms and the universals of Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika in the discourse about common properties. It is especially when we appreciate the utterly different contribution that universals make in securing our highest welfare that we realize how Plato and the two sister schools are not so much talking somewhat differently about the same thing, but talking somewhat similarly about different things. This better understanding of this difference in these philosophies opens a route for our better understanding of their unique contributions in the ongoing dialogue of philosophy. (shrink)
Inductive reasoning is a fundamental and complex aspect of human intelligence. In particular, how do subjects, given a set of particular examples, generate general descriptions of the rules governing that set? We present a biologically plausible method for accomplishing this task and implement it in a spiking neuron model. We demonstrate the success of this model by applying it to the problem domain of Raven's Progressive Matrices, a widely used tool in the field of intelligence testing. The model is able (...) to generate the rules necessary to correctly solve Raven's items, as well as recreate many of the experimental effects observed in human subjects. (shrink)
An important question raised in the Molinist debate is, ‘Given God's access to counterfactual knowledge, could God create a world in which free creatures always refrain from evil?’ An affirmative answer suggests that God cannot possess counterfactual knowledge since such knowledge would allow God to create seemingly more desirable worlds than the actual world. However, Alvin Plantinga has argued that it is at least possible that every possible person is transworld depraved – meaning that each person would perform some wrong (...) actions if any world in which that person is morally free were actualized. I argue that, given an infinite number of possible persons, the probability that everyone is transworld depraved is exceedingly low. In addition, I investigate whether there are enough possible persons vis-à-vis the number of moral choices per person so that God could create worlds like the actual world, except lacking in moral evil. (shrink)
Scenarios are flexible means to integrate disparate ideas, thoughts and feelings into holistic images, providing the context and meaning of possible futures. The application of narrative scenarios in engineering, development of socio-technical systems or communities provides an important link between general ideas and specification of technical system requirements. They focus on how people use systems through context-related storytelling rather than abstract descriptions of requirements. The quality of scenarios depends on relevant assumptions and authentic scenario stories. In this article, we will (...) explore how the narrative approach may enrich the scenario âskeletonâ with âflesh and bloodâ, that is, living, detailed and consistent storytelling. In addition, criteria are suggested for evaluation of the quality of scenario storytelling. (shrink)
In this essay I consider the normative implications of the notion of reasonability for the construction of an idea of public reason that is cosmopolitan in scope. First, I consider the argument for the distinction between reason and reasonability in the work of Sibley and Rawls. Second, I evaluate the normative implications of reasonability through a consideration of Korsgaard's recent work. Third, I argue for a notion of reasonability that moves us beyond a Kantian concept of autonomy through a consideration (...) of the relationship between reasonability and judgment vis-à-vis Arendt's work on Kant's Third Critique. Finally, I argue for a cosmopolitan appropriation of the notion of reasonability based on Kant's notion of the aesthetic idea. The latter argument relaxes the bonds of public reason, moving us beyond the domain of ethnocentricism. (shrink)
In a 1993 paper, I argued that empirical treatments of the epistemologyused by scientists in experimental work are too abstract in practice tocounter relativist efforts to explain the outcome of scientificcontroversies by reference to sociological forces. This was because, atthe rarefied level at which the methodology of scientists is treated byphilosophers, multiple mutually inconsistent instantiations of theprinciples described by philosophers are employed by contestingscientists. These multiple construals change within a scientificcommunity over short time frames, and these different versions ofscientific methodology (...) can determine the outcome of a controversy. Iillustrated with a comparatively detailed analysis of the methodologyused by biologists debating the existence of an entity called thebacterial mesosome between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s. This 1993piece has drawn several critiques in the philosophical literature. Inthis present piece I respond to these critiques and argue that they failto address the core argument of the original paper, and I reflectfurther on the methodologies of philosophers of science pursuingempirical or `naturalistic' epistemology. (shrink)
The recognition of conflict puts an end to the idea that cosmopolitanism may be legitimized by a comprehensive doctrine. The article argues that within the limits of a post-secular society, toleration must be conceived as a principle of justice, based on regard for the law, within a society in which not only others’ rights but also other cultures must be respected.
The essential premise of the human-centered technology paradigm was clearly formulated by Howard Rosenbrock in the 1970s: technology should enrich rather than impoverish people’s work and life conditions. The increasing influence of technology in modern societies has been seen by some as offering great promise for the future, but by others as creating the electronic surveillance and/or manipulation of human genes, minds and beliefs. This paper approaches technological worlds as cultural visions in order to discuss and reflect the paradoxical process (...) of viewing technology as part of a hope for a more sustainable and human-centered future as well as part of an apocalypse of surveillance, violence and catastrophes. (shrink)
The legitimacy of clinical ethics consultation is often implied to rest on the legitimacy of moral expertise. In turn, moral expertise seems subject to many serious critiques, the success of which implies that clinical ethics consultation is illegitimate. I explore a number of these critiques, and forward “ethics expertise,” as distinct from “moral expertise,” as a way of avoiding these critiques. I argue that “ethics expertise” succeeds in avoiding most of the critiques, captures what clinical ethics consultants might justifiably do, (...) and expresses a subject matter which can be taught and assessed. (shrink)
An important factor that leads governments to engage in public service contracts with nonprofit organizations is the belief that they share similar ethical and value orientations that will allow governments to reduce monitoring costs. However the notion of the existence of similarities in ethical climate has not been systematically examined. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the ethical climate in government and nonprofit sectors and to determine the extent to which similarities (and differences) exist in ethical climate dimensions. (...) Using survey data and structural equation modeling technique, the factor structure equivalence and measurement invariance of the ethical climate in the two sectors are tested. Results indicate that while there is a significant overlap in shared perception of ethical climate dimensions, there are also key differences between the two sectors. The outcome of this research provides important preliminary insights for public policy makers in government to better understand the implications of using the nonprofit sector for service delivery. (shrink)