The Clinical Ethics Credentialing Project (CECP) was intiated in 2007 in response to the lack of uniform standards for both the training of clinical ethics consultants, and for evaluating their work as consultants. CECP participants, all practicing clinical ethics consultants, met monthly to apply a standard evaluation instrument, the “QI tool”, to their consultation notes. This paper describes, from a qualitative perspective, how participants grappled with applying standards to their work. Although the process was marked by resistance and disagreement, it (...) was also noteworthy for the sustained engagement by participants over the year of the project, and a high level of acceptance by its conclusion. (shrink)
But nathelees, syn I knowe youre delit, / I shal fulfille youre worldly appetit.1 Chaucer’s Wife of Bath centers on a wonderfully fruitful paradox: she claims for women and for herself the right to “maistrie” and “sovereynetee” in marriage, but she does so by articulating the discourse imparted to her by the “auctoritee” of anti-feminism.2 Indeed, this paradoxical challenge to and reiteration of anti-feminist ideas has left Chaucer’s readers debating for decades which way the irony cuts: is the Wife (...) to be understood as a proto-feminist, or is she merely “a delightful buffoon inadvertently lampooning herself for the ironic pleasure of a knowing, male audience”?3 How we choose to answer this question .. (shrink)
This article discusses section 156 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which prohibits the use of eggs from aborted female foetuses for the purposes of reproduction. I argue that the pre-legislative debates focus only on the biological relationship between the aborted foetus and any ensuing child and foreclose the possibility of useful discussion about the potential merits of such technology. Kristeva's theory of abjection has been used in order to elucidate the strength of feeling about the use (...) of eggs from the expelled foetus. I suggest that the ‘yuk’ factor stems from the potential for the blurring of the boundaries between life and death. In addition, I suggest that the stress placed on the biological link means that the foetus is ascribed special properties not given to live donors. Woman's very crucial role in reproductive technologies is therefore erased. The article argues that there are very good reasons why the debate on the subject should remain open. At present women donors have to undergo highly intrusive procedures in order to give eggs and the process is not without its health risks. The use of eggs from aborted foetuses certainly raises important consent issues but these could be addressed by placing women at the centre of the decision making process, starting with the recognition that it is women and not foetuses who have the remit and responsibility for giving consent for the use of their genetic material. Moreover, there should be an acknowledgement that women are perfectly capable of making informed decisions about donation and of considering the potential implications of participating in egg donation. (shrink)
No crucial experiment demonstrates that four hue categories are needed to describe color appearance. Instead, converging lines of evidence suggest that the terms red, yellow, green, and blue are sufficient and precise enough for deriving color discrimination functions and for a useful model constraining relations between color appearance and neuronal responses. Such a model need not be based on linguistic universals. Until something better is available, this holds.
Amongst those who feel the pull of the truthmaker principle (that truths require for their truth a truthmaker to exist), there is disagreement as to whether it applies to all truths or merely to some distinguished subset. Those in the latter camp, the non-maximalists, argue that there are no ducks in my bath is true not because of something’s existence, but because of the lack of ducks in my bath. Maximalists, by contrast, insist that truths are made true (...) by something’s existence, and so appear to be committed to strange ‘negative’ entities in their ontology. As a consequence, non-maximalists appear to have a more common-sense ontology than maximalists. But things are not so straightforward. I will argue that if maximalism is committed to strange entities then so is non-maximalism; and if non-maximalism can do without strange entities, then so can maximalism. Either way, the non-maximalist has no ontological advantage over the maximalist. (shrink)
We present a brief history of decoherence, from its roots in the foundations of classical statistical mechanics, to the current spin bath models in condensed matter physics. We analyze the philosophical import of the subject matter in three different foundational problems, and find that, contrary to the received view, decoherence is less instrumental to their solutions than it is commonly believed. What makes decoherence more philosophically interesting, we argue, are the methodological issues it draws attention to, and the question (...) of the universality of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
In this paper1 I shall present not just the conscience of Huckleberry Finn but two others as well. One of them is the conscience of Heinrich Himmler. He became a Nazi in 1923; he served drably and quietly, but well, and was rewarded with increasing responsibility and power. At the peak of his career he held many offices and commands, of which the most powerful was that of leader of the S.S. - the principal police force of the Nazi regime. (...) In this capacity, Himmler commanded the whole concentration-camp system, and was responsible for the execution of the so-called ‘final solution of the Jewish problem’. It is important for my purposes that this piece of social engineering should be thought of not abstractly but in concrete terms of Jewish families being marched to what they think are bath-houses, to the accompaniment of loud-speaker renditions of extracts from The Merry Widow and Tales of Hoffman, there to be choked to death by poisonous gases. Altogether, Himmler succeeded in murdering about four and a half million of them, as well as several million gentiles, mainly Poles and Russians. The other conscience to be discussed is that of the Calvinist theologian and philosopher Jonathan Edwards. He lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, and has a good claim to be considered America’s first serious and considerable philosophical thinker. He was for many years a widely-renowned preacher and Congregationalist minister in New England; in 1748 a dispute with his congregation led him to resign (he couldn’t accept their view that unbelievers should be admitted to the Lord’s Supper in the hope that it would convert them); for some years after that he worked as a missionary, preaching to Indians through an interpreter;, then in 1758 he accepted the presidency of what is now Princeton University, and within two months died from a smallpox inoculation. Along the way he wrote some first-rate philosophy: his book attacking the notion of free will is still sometimes read.. (shrink)
Moral judgments, we expect, ought not to depend on luck. A person should be blamed only for actions and outcomes that were under the person’s control. Yet often, moral judgments appear to be influenced by luck. A father who leaves his child by the bath, after telling his child to stay put and believing that he will stay put, is judged to be morally blameworthy if the child drowns (an unlucky outcome), but not if his child stays put and (...) doesn’t drown. Previous theories of moral luck suggest that this asymmetry reflects primarily the influence of unlucky outcomes on moral judgments. In the current study, we use behavioral methods and fMRI to test an alternative: these moral judgments largely reflect participants’ judgments of the agent’s beliefs. In “moral luck” scenarios, the unlucky agent also holds a false belief. Here, we show that moral luck depends more on false beliefs than bad outcomes. We also show that participants with false beliefs are judged as having less justified beliefs and are therefore judged as more morally blameworthy. The current study lends support to a rationalist account of moral luck: moral luck asymmetries are driven not by outcome bias primarily, but by mental state assessments we endorse as morally relevant, i.e. whether agents are justified in thinking that they won’t cause harm. (shrink)
For thousands of years, people have used nature to justify their political, moral, and social judgments. Such appeals to the moral authority of nature are still very much with us today, as heated debates over genetically modified organisms and human cloning testify. The Moral Authority of Nature offers a wide-ranging account of how people have used nature to think about what counts as good, beautiful, just, or valuable. The eighteen essays cover a diverse array of topics, including the connection of (...) cosmic and human orders in ancient Greece, medieval notions of sexual disorder, early modern contexts for categorizing individuals and judging acts as "against nature," race and the origin of humans, ecological economics, and radical feminism. The essays also range widely in time and place, from archaic Greece to early twentieth-century China, medieval Europe to contemporary America. Scholars from a wide variety of fields will welcome The Moral Authority of Nature , which provides the first sustained historical survey of its topic. Contributors: Danielle Allen, Joan Cadden, Lorraine Daston, Fa-ti Fan, Eckhardt Fuchs, Valentin Groebner, Abigail J. Lustig, Gregg Mitman, Michelle Murphy, Katharine Park, Matt Price, Robert N. Proctor, Helmut Puff, Robert J. Richards, Londa Schiebinger, Laura Slatkin, Julia Adeney Thomas, Fernando Vidal. (shrink)
We study the performance of holonomic quantum gates, driven by lasers, under the eﬀect of a dissipative environment modeled as a thermal bath of oscillators. We show how to enhance the performance of the gates by suitable choice of the loop in the manifold of the controllable parameters of the laser. For a simpliﬁed, albeit realistic model, we ﬁnd the surprising result that for a long time evolution the performance of the gate (properly estimated in terms of average ﬁdelity) (...) increases. On the basis of this result, we compare holonomic gates with the so-called Stimulated Raman adiabatic passage (STIRAP) gates. (shrink)
Wind-mills were widely used for grinding corn in the last century in Hungary. The use of solar energy for water heating, taking a bath, shower, and drying crops has had a tradition for a long time. This article presents in what proportion the two types of energy are disposable in the course of the year, how this difference between the simultaneous disposability of the two types of sources of energy changes depending on seasons, and by what a diffusion and (...) variance in a month, a part of a day, or an hour the examined parameters can be characterized. (shrink)
This piece is reflection in preparation for lectures in the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Sussex, and Bath. It conveys the sequence and general content of an argument for a different answer to the question of what it is to be conscious. The piece is new, but not what is still to come, a completed articulation in a book. That will include second and no doubt third thoughts, not to mention more scholarship.