In their comment on Sandberg, Timmermans, Overgaard, and Cleeremans (2010), Dienes and Seth argue that increased sensitivity of the Perceptual Awareness Scale (PAS) is a consequence of the scale being less exclusive rather than more exhaustive. According to Dienes and Seth, this is because PAS may measure some conscious content, though not necessarily relevant conscious content, ‘‘If one saw a square but was only aware of seeing a flash of something, then one has not consciously seen a square.” In (...) this reply, we claim that there is a difference between conscious visual experience, which may be partial, and the resulting conscious content, which is conceptual. Whereas PAS measures the first, confidence judgments and post-decision wagering measure the second. (shrink)
Dienes and Seth (2010) conclude that confidence ratings and post-decision wagering are two comparable and recommendable measures of conscious experience. In a recently submitted paper, we have however found that both methods are problematic and seem less suited to measure consciousness than a direct introspective measure. Here, we discuss the methodology and conclusions put forward by Dienes and Seth, and why we think the two experiments end up with so different recommendations.
Where Weber et al. give us an account of what ESG does to your finances, Joakim Sandberg does the opposite. Sandberg is skeptical regarding the potential of responsible investment when it comes to actually having an impact. He discusses what interaction on the stock market can do for your ESG concerns. Sandberg argues that if we are out to make a change, as individual investors we cannot make much of a difference by refraining from investing in certain (...) kinds of companies. (shrink)
“Since the actions I perform as an individual only have an inconsequential effect on the threat of climate change,” a common argument goes, “it cannot be morally wrong for me to take my car to work everyday or refuse to recycle.” This argument has received a lot of scorn from philosophers over the years, but has actually been defended in some recent articles. A more systematic treatment of a central set of related issues (moral mathematics, collective action, side effects, green (...) virtues) shows how maneuvering around these issues is no easy philosophical task. In the end, it appears, the argument from inconsequentialism indeed is correct in typical cases, but there are also important qualificatory considerations. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Peter Singer suggests that some interesting new findings in experimental moral psychology support what he has contended all along—namely that intuitions should play little or no role in adequate justifications of normative ethical positions. Not only this but, according to Singer, these findings point to a central flaw in the method (or epistemological theory) of reflective equilibrium used by many contemporary moral philosophers. In this paper, we try to defend reflective equilibrium from Singer’s attack and, in (...) part, we do this by discussing Singer’s own favoured moral methodology as outlined in his Practical Ethics . Although basing ethics solely on (certain kinds of) intuitions certainly is problematic, we argue, basing it solely on ‘reason’ gives rise to similar problems. The best solution would arguably be one which could strike a balance between the two—but, we suggest, this is precisely what reflective equilibrium is all about. (shrink)
We argue that the fragility of contemporary marriages—and the corresponding high rates of divorce—can be explained (in large part) by a three-part mismatch: between our relationship values, our evolved psychobiological natures, and our modern social, physical, and technological environment. “Love drugs” could help address this mismatch by boosting our psychobiologies while keeping our values and our environment intact. While individual couples should be free to use pharmacological interventions to sustain and improve their romantic connection, we suggest that they may have (...) an obligation to do so as well, in certain cases. Specifically, we argue that couples with offspring may have a special responsibility to enhance their relationships for the sake of their children. We outline an evolutionarily informed research program for identifying promising biomedical enhancements of love and commitment. (shrink)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) represents adaptation to defective neurotransmission – an adaptation seldom with benefit. The resulting behavioural style not only increases vulnerability to adverse experiences, but also creates a context in which encountering adversity is more likely. Furthermore, the fact that ADHD is a highly heritable condition increases the probability of a child with a compromised neurobiological disposition being raised by caregivers with suboptimal resources.
This paper reviews the evolutionary history and biology of love and marriage. It examines the current and imminent possibilities of biological manipulation of lust, attraction and attachment, so called neuroenhancement of love. We examine the arguments for and against these biological interventions to influence love. We argue that biological interventions offer an important adjunct to psychosocial interventions, especially given the biological limitations inherent in human love.
Human beings are a marvel of evolved complexity. Such systems can be difficult to enhance. When we manipulate complex evolved systems which are poorly understood, our interventions often fail or backfire. It can appear as if there is a “wisdom of nature” which we ignore at our peril. Sometimes the belief in nature’s wisdom – and corresponding doubts about the prudence of tampering with nature, especially human nature – manifest as diffusely moral objections against enhancement. Such objections may be expressed (...) as intuitions about the superiority of the natural or the troublesomeness of hubris, or as an evaluative bias in favor of the status quo. This paper explores the extent to which such prudence‐derived anti‐enhancement sentiments are justified. We develop a heuristic, inspired by the field of evolutionary medicine, for identifying promising human enhancement interventions. The heuristic incorporates the grains of truth contained in “nature knows best” attitudes while providing criteria for the special cases where we have reason to believe that it is feasible for us to improve on nature. (shrink)
Some risks have extremely high stakes. For example, a worldwide pandemic or asteroid impact could potentially kill more than a billion people. Comfortingly, scientific calculations often put very low probabilities on the occurrence of such catastrophes. In this paper, we argue that there are important new methodological problems which arise when assessing global catastrophic risks and we focus on a problem regarding probability estimation. When an expert provides a calculation of the probability of an outcome, they are really providing the (...) probability of the outcome occurring, given that their argument is watertight. However, their argument may fail for a number of reasons such as a flaw in the underlying theory, a flaw in the modeling of the problem, or a mistake in the calculations. If the probability estimate given by an argument is dwarfed by the chance that the argument itself is flawed, then the estimate is suspect. We develop this idea formally, explaining how it differs from the related distinctions of model and parameter uncertainty. Using the risk estimates from the Large Hadron Collider as a test case, we show how serious the problem can be when it comes to catastrophic risks and how best to address it. (shrink)
Many writers in the field of business ethics seem to have accepted R. Edward Freeman’s argument to the effect that what he calls “the separation thesis,” or the idea that business and morality can be separated in certain ways, should be rejected. In this paper, I discuss how this argument should be understood more exactly, and what position “the separation thesis” refers to. I suggest that there are actually many interpretations (or versions) of the separation thesis going around, ranging from (...) semantic, empirical and reformative to some which are straightforwardly normative. While it is generally agreed that the separation thesis should be rejected, then, there is not as much agreement on what this thesis actually says. I suggest that whether or not we should<br>reject the separation thesis, however, ultimately must depend on how we understand it more exactly—on certain interpretations, the thesis comes out as more or less trivially false, but we should demand more evidence or argument to reject it on certain other interpretations. This result presents a challenge for all those writers who are committed to the rejection of the separation thesis. (shrink)
In my article "Understanding the Separation Thesis" I noted that most scholars in the business ethics field seemed to have accepted R. Edward Freeman's argument to the effect that what he calls "the separation thesis" should be rejected. I argue, however, that they seemed to understand this thesis (and its rejection) in quite different ways. This volume contains three responses to my article which, interestingly enough, can be taken to corroborate my original argument. I here make some brief comments on (...) these responses. (shrink)
The concepts of 'ethical' and 'socially responsible' investment (SRI) have become increasingly popular in recent years and funds which offer this kind of investment have attracted many individual inve... merstors. The present book addresses the issue of 'How ought one to invest?' by critically engaging with the ideas of the proponents of this movement about what makes 'ethical' investing ethical. The standard suggestion that ethical investing simply consists in refraining from investing in certain 'morally unacceptable companies' is criticised for being (...) both too rigid (often resting on absolute moral rules which lead to an austere conclusion) and too ineffective for individual investors (investors who after all control only a small part of the investment universe). Furthermore, the idea that ethical investing could consist in engaging more actively with the companies one invests in, in order to make them change their ways and become more socially responsible, is criticised for being just as ineffective for individual investors. Some more radical alternatives are elaborated on and defended - for instance, the suggestion that investors should make as much money from their investments as possible and then donate the proceeds to socially worthwhile charities. From similar suggestions, the common idea that there is no conflict between morality and profitability, or that genuinely ethical investing can be just as profitable as mainstream investing, is criticised for being too naïve. Making a difference may indeed require personal sacrifice of investors, but it is argued that the needs of the possible recipients of philanthropy are morally more important than the luxury of investment returns. (shrink)
As one of the more progressive facets of the socially responsible investment (SRI) movement, shareholder activism is generally recommended or justified on the grounds that it can create social change. But how effective are different kinds of activist campaigns likely to be in this regard? This article outlines the full range of different ways in which shareholder activism could make a difference by carefully going through, first, all the more specific lines of action typically included under the shareholder activism umbrella (...) and, second, all of the different ways in which it has been suggested that these could influence the activities of commercial companies. It is argued that – although much more empirical research is needed in the area – there are at least theoretical reasons for thinking that it will be difficult to influence companies through the standard actions of filing or voting on shareholder resolutions. However, some alternative strategies open to activists may allow them to increase their efficacy. It is specifically argued that even individual investors could be able to push for corporate change through devising a radically selfsacrificial campaign that manages to get the attention of powerful forces outside the corporate sphere. (shrink)
A critical issue for the future growth and impact of socially responsible investment (SRI) is whether institutional investors are legally permitted to engage in it – in particular whether it is compatible with the fiduciary duties of trustees. An ambitious report from the United Nations Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), commonly referred to as the ‘Freshfields report’, has recently given rise to considerable optimism on this issue among proponents of SRI. The present article puts the arguments of the Freshfields (...) report into some further both empirical and critical perspective, however, and suggests that its findings do not call for very much optimism. The general argument is that while the understanding of fiduciary duty outlined by the Freshfields report seems to allow institutional investors to at least sometimes take some social or environmental considerations into account, the support it gives for SRI is notably contingent and, furthermore, it rules out exactly the kind of SRI which proponents of social responsibility and environmental sustainability should hold in highest regard – proactive cases and socially effective investment strategies. If SRI is to become an important force for corporate social responsibility through its adoption by institutional investors, then, it is suggested that legal reform is needed. (shrink)
Anthropogenic climate change is arguably one of the biggest problems that confront us today. There is ample evidence that climate change is likely to affect adversely many aspects of life for all people around the world, and that existing solutions such as geoengineering might be too risky and ordinary behavioural and market solutions might not be sufficient to mitigate climate change. In this paper, we consider a new kind of solution to climate change, what we call human engineering, which involves (...) biomedical modifications of humans so that they can mitigate and/or adapt to climate change. We argue that human engineering is potentially less risky than geoengineering and that it could help behavioural and market solutions succeed in mitigating climate change. We also consider some possible ethical concerns regarding human engineering such as its safety, the implications of human engineering for our children and society, and we argue that these concerns can be addressed. Our upshot is that human engineering deserves further consideration in the debate about climate change. (shrink)
Many writers have commented on the heterogeneity of the socially responsible investment (SRI) movement. However, few have actually tried to understand and explain it, and even fewer have discussed whether the opposite – standardisation – is possible and desirable. In this article, we take a broader perspective on the issue of the heterogeneity of SRI. We distinguish between four levels on which heterogeneity can be found: the terminological, definitional, strategic and practical. Whilst there is much talk about the definitional ambiguities (...) of SRI, we suggest that there is actually some agreement on the definitional level. There are at least three explanations which we suggest can account for the heterogeneity on the other levels: cultural and ideological differences between different regions, differences in values, norms and ideology between various SRI stakeholders, and the market setting of SRI. Discussing the implications of the three explanations for the SRI market, we suggest that there is reason to be sceptical about the possibilities of standardisation if not standardisation is imposed top-down. Whether this kind of standardisation is desirable or not, we argue, depends on what the motives for it would be. To the extent that standardisation may facilitate the mainstreaming of SRI, it could be a good thing – but we entertain doubts about whether mainstreaming really requires standardisation. (shrink)
There is no strong reason to believe that human-level intelligence represents an upper limit of the capacity of artificial intelligence, should it be realized. This poses serious safety issues, since a superintelligent system would have great power to direct the future according to its possibly flawed motivation system. Solving this issue in general has proven to be considerably harder than expected. This paper looks at one particular approach, Oracle AI. An Oracle AI is an AI that does not act in (...) the world except by answering questions. Even this narrow approach presents considerable challenges. In this paper, we analyse and critique various methods of controlling the AI. In general an Oracle AI might be safer than unrestricted AI, but still remains potentially dangerous. (shrink)
Socially responsible investment (SRI) – sometimes termed “ethical investment” – refers to the practice of integrating social, environmental, or ethical criteria into financial investment decisions. Whereas conventional investment focuses upon financial risk and return from stocks and bonds, SRI includes other goals or constraints. It is the nature of the source, and not just the size, of the financial return that is of concern in SRI. This article introduces the principal investment strategies generally pursued under SRI, and then focuses specifically (...) on the ethical dimension – that is, whether current SRI practices constitute an ethically justified, perhaps even ethically superior, way of investing. (shrink)
The prospect of using memory modifying technologies raises interesting and important normative concerns. We first point out that those developing desirable memory modifying technologies should keep in mind certain technical and user-limitation issues. We next discuss certain normative issues that the use of these technologies can raise such as truthfulness, appropriate moral reaction, self-knowledge, agency, and moral obligations. Finally, we propose that as long as individuals using these technologies do not harm others and themselves in certain ways, and as long (...) as there is no prima facie duty to retain particular memories, it is up to individuals to determine the permissibility of particular uses of these technologies. (shrink)
Reputation management refers to all the practices employed by corporations aimed at improving the public perception of the corporation. This article outlines the main features of some of the most common points of discussion pertaining to the ethics of reputation management. It introduces the debate on classical forms of corporate communication, or ‘spin-doctoring,’ but also some issues related to more contemporary forms of ‘corporate social responsibility’ management. Finally, it introduces the involvement by stakeholder activists in the battle over corporate reputations (...) and some of the discussion this has given rise to. (shrink)
Microcredit is often hailed as an effective way of alleviating poverty. In recent years, however, microfinance institutions have been the target of much criticism due to their comparatively high interest rates (which may be as high as 70–100% per annum). This paper discusses whether it can be morally justified to charge very high rates of interest when lending money to the poor. Arguments are drawn from contemporary as well as historical debates on usury, exploitation, egalitarianism and consequentialism. It is conceded (...) that it would be preferable if interest rates could be reduced, but it is argued that typical microlenders today do nothing wrong in setting their rates at the current levels. Instead the responsibility rests on governments, commercial banks and overseas investors to facilitate an environment where rates could be reduced. (shrink)
In response to recent scandals in the business world, many corporations have adopted various kinds of ethics programs for their employees: ethical codes, ethical training courses, compliance officers, ethical committees, and social audits. This article outlines some of the most common points of discussion pertaining to corporate ethics programs in particular and ethics in the workplace in general: whether corporations should adopt ethics programs in the first place, how such programs should be designed more exactly, and what specific values of (...) workplace ethics such programs should include. (shrink)
In this article I discuss the idea that investors have moral reasons to avoid investing in certain business areas based on their own moral views towards these areas. Some has referred to this as ”conscience investing”, and it is a central part of the conception of ethical investing within the socially responsible investment (SRI) movement. I present what I take to be the main arguments for this kind of investing as they are given by those who have defended it, and (...) discuss the plausibility of these arguments from the point of view of moral philosophy. In the end, I argue that focusing on the moral views of individual investors is not very fruitful – we have strong reasons to think that investors do not have moral reasons to invest ”with their consciences”, or, to the extent that we may allow such reasons, that they are very weak compared to other sorts of moral reasons pertaining to ethical investing. (shrink)
Usury originally and simply meant the practice of charging interest on loans. This practice was forcefully condemned and generally banned in both Ancient and Medieval times. Indeed, prohibitions against interest can be found in the traditions of all the major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity – compare, for instance, the commandments of the Hindu lawmaker Vasishtha, and the biblical story of how Jesus cast the moneylenders out of the temple (Matthew 21:12). As interest started to become socially acceptable, (...) however, usury came to mean the charging of (legally or morally) excessive or exorbitant rates of interest, and this is also how it is commonly used today. Thus, although many people now may regard as usurious so-called payday loans – which sometimes come with up to 1,000 percent interest – we do not generally regard as usurious the normal bank practice of charging for loans at regulated interest rates. Modern Islam still contains a general prohibition against interest, however, and many countries still have at least partial usury laws – most often setting an upper limit on acceptable interest rates. (shrink)
?Love hurts??as the saying goes?and a certain amount of pain and difficulty in intimate relationships is unavoidable. Sometimes it may even be beneficial, since adversity can lead to personal growth, self-discovery, and a range of other components of a life well-lived. But other times, love can be downright dangerous. It may bind a spouse to her domestic abuser, draw an unscrupulous adult toward sexual involvement with a child, put someone under the insidious spell of a cult leader, and even inspire (...) jealousy-fueled homicide. How might these perilous devotions be diminished? The ancients thought that treatments such as phlebotomy, exercise, or bloodletting could ?cure? an individual of love. But modern neuroscience and emerging developments in psychopharmacology open up a range of possible interventions that might actually work. These developments raise profound moral questions about the potential uses?and misuses?of such anti-love biotechnology. In this article, we describe a number of prospective love-diminishing interventions, and offer a preliminary ethical framework for dealing with them responsibly should they arise. (shrink)
In recent years, there have been a number of moral panics in Western societies about the existence of religious courts and tribunals in general and Shariah law in particular. In England and Wales, these concerns came to the fore following the 2008 lecture by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, on ‘Civil Law and Religious Law in England’. In that lecture, Williams drew upon the work of the Canadian scholar Ayelet Shachar endorsing her concept of ‘transformative accommodation’. In (...) this article, we return to the work of Shachar in the light of our recent empirical study which examined the divorce jurisdiction of three religious tribunals in detail: a Jewish Beth Din; a matrimonial tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church; and a Muslim Shariah Council. We suggest that the focus upon Shachar’s concept of ‘transformative accommodation’ by Williams and subsequent commentators is unfortunate given that Shachar actually proposes ‘transformative accommodation’ as just one variant of what she refers to as ‘joint governance’ (albeit her preferred variant). We propose that the umbrella concept of ‘joint governance’ and its other variants can be developed in a way that could prove to be more useful than ‘transformative accommodation’. (shrink)
Ethical investment (also known as social investment, socially responsible investment [SRI], or sustainable investment) typically refers to the practice of integrating putatively ethical, social, or environmental considerations into a financial investment process – for instance, a pension fund's process of deciding what stocks or bonds to buy or sell. Whereas conventional or mainstream investment focuses solely upon financial risk and return, ethical investment thus also includes various nonfinancial goals or constraints in typical investment decisions. This type of investment has grown (...) to be a well-established feature of many stock markets in the past two decades or so. A recurring point of debate, however, is to what extent this phenomenon indeed constitutes a more ethical alternative to conventional types of financial behavior. (shrink)
The just price tradition has roots in Ancient philosophy but is most straightforwardly associated with a line of medieval philosophers and theologians, such as John Duns Scotus (see Duns Scotus), St. Thomas Aquinas (see Aquinas, Saint Thomas) and others. What generally characterizes the tradition is an interest in matters of ethics and justice concerning the pricing of goods and services on commercial markets. Medieval philosophers were often critical of commerce in general – and commerce with money in particular (see Usury) (...) – viewing it as an (at best) unfortunate practical necessity dominated by (at least strong tendencies towards) the sins of greed and deceit. The just price tradition can be seen as a part of this moral critique of commerce and profiteering in general (see Profit Motive). At the same time, however, perhaps it can also be seen as staking out a way for commercial agents to ethically redeem themselves. (shrink)
The profit motive refers to what is generally taken to be the underlying motivation of business and commercial activity: to collect revenues in excess of costs or, more simply, to make money. While both “profit” and “profit motive” may be given more technical definitions in economics, the latter's meaning is typically broader in philosophical discussions and so, for example, even managers of nonprofit organizations may be accused of sometimes acting from a profit motive. The profit motive is typically the object (...) of ambivalent moral attitudes in present-day society: on the one hand, the plethora of commodities and services made possible by the modern market economy, fuelled to a large extent by the profit motive, are easily recognizable. On the other hand, it is generally regarded as a serious moral criticism to say of a certain commercial agent that he or she is motivated by profit alone, and pecuniary motives are often associated with selfishness and greed (see Egoism). (Compare comments like: “While it perhaps was a good thing that company X supported this social venture, they are not to be trusted – they only did it for the money!”). (shrink)
A critical issue for the future growth of socially responsible investment (SRI) is to what extent institutional investors such as pension funds can be persuaded to engage in it. This paper considers attempts at justifying such engagement stemming from a range of (re-)interpretations of the fiduciary duties owed by pension funds to their beneficiaries, and thereby develops a hypothesis concerning the most effective political or legal remedy. Previous commentary suggests that fiduciary duty either already mandates SRI for pension funds, or (...) at least can be made to do so rather easily. In contrast with this, however, this paper finds that none of the considered interpretations is able to justify engagement on social and environmental issues across the board. Indeed, the problem to some extent seems rooted in the very concept of fiduciary duty. The paper is relevant to current attempts at justifying SRI through reinterpretations of fiduciary duty, provided mainly by legal scholars and practitioners. By addressing the more philosophical issue of how far the concept of fiduciary duty can be “stretched” to accommodate SRI (a project of conceptual rather than legal clarification), it provides an evaluation of the contemporary debate which is independent of squabbles about existing law. The paper shows that there are conceptual limits to attempts at redefining fiduciary duty. But this does not mean that pension funds' engagement in SRI is unjustified or unjustifiable more generally. A more promising way to legally mandate SRI may be through what is dubbed independent social and environmental obligations. (shrink)
The book Heisenberg and the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics—The Physicist as Philosopher, by Kristian Camilleri is critically reviewed. The work details Heisenberg’s philosophical development from an early positivist commitment towards a later philosophy of language. It is of interest to researchers and graduate students in the history and philosophy of quantum mechanics.