Ethical evaluation of deep brain stimulation as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease is complicated by results that can be described as involving changes in the patient’s identity. The risk of becoming another person following surgery is alarming for patients, caregivers and clinicians alike. It is one of the most urgent conceptual and ethical problems facing deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease at this time. In our paper we take issue with this problem on two accounts. First, we elucidate what is (...) meant by “becoming another person” from a conceptual point of view. After critically discussing two broad approaches we concentrate on the notion of “individual identity” which centers on the idea of “core attitudes”. Subsequently we discuss several approaches to determine what distinguishes core attitudes from those that are more peripheral. We argue for a “foundational-function model” highlighting the importance of specific dependency relations between these attitudes. Our second aim is to comment on the possibility to empirically measure changes in individual identity and argue that many of the instruments now commonly used in selecting and monitoring DBS-patients are inappropriate for this purpose. Future research in this area is advised combining a conceptual and an empirical approach as a basis of sound ethical appraisal. (shrink)
The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is Kant's central contribution to moral philosophy, and has inspired controversy ever since it was first published in 1785. Kant champions the insights of 'common human understanding' against what he sees as the dangerous perversions of ethical theory. Morality is revealed to be a matter of human autonomy: Kant locates the source of the 'categorical imperative' within each and every human will. However, he also portrays everyday morality in a way that many readers (...) find difficult to accept. The Groundwork is a short book, but its argument is dense, intricate and at times treacherous. This commentary explains Kant's arguments paragraph by paragraph, and also contains an introduction, a synopsis of the argument, six short interpretative essays on key topics of the Groundwork, and a glossary of key terms. It will be an indispensable tool for anyone wishing to study the Groundwork in detail. (shrink)
In 1993, Richard Hare argued that, contrary to received opinion, Kant could have been a utilitarian. In this article, I argue that Hare was wrong. Kant's theory would not have been utilitarian or consequentialist even if his practical recommendations coincided with utilitarian commands: Kant's theory of value is essentially anti-utilitarian; there is no place for rational contradiction as the source of moral imperatives in utilitarianism; Kant would reject the move to separate levels of moral thinking: first-order moral judgement makes use (...) of the principle of morality; and, relatedly, he would resist the common utilitarian distinction between actions and their motives because any correct description of an action must refer to motivation. The article concludes with the thought that any consequentialist theory based on pre-given ends (teleology) lacks the philosophical resources to distinguish between willing something as a means and as an end, leaving means only, and destroying transparency. (shrink)
There seems to be a strong sentiment in pre-philosophical moral thought that actions can be morally valuable without at the same time being morally required. Yet Kant, who takes great pride in developing an ethical system .rmly grounded in common moral thought, makes no provision for any such extraordinary acts of virtue. Rather, he supports a classi.cation of actions as either obligatory, permissible or prohibited, which in the eyes of his critics makes it totally inadequate to the facts of morality. (...) The related idea of uncommonly grand and noble deeds is frequently dismissed by Kant as high-.own emotional nonsense. Such considerations give rise to the fear that actions intuitively classed as morally commendable but not required must be re-classi.ed as commands of duty by Kant, making his ethical theory as unbearably demanding as direct utilitarianism. The paper divides into three sections: (1) an examination of the nature of moral goodness from a meta-ethical angle that introduces some passages from Kant's writings presenting strong theoretical evidence against the case for supererogatory action; (2) a critique of Thomas Hill's suggestion that within the category of wide duty we can accommodate some of the main features of actions classi.ed as supererogatory in other ethical systems; concluding that, contra Hill, there are no actions of wide duty that can be so characterized in any signi.cant sense; and (3) a .nal discussion of the problem of how demanding the requirements of Kantian ethical theory really are. (shrink)
What is the proper task of Kantian ethical theory? This paper seeks to answer this question with reference to Kant's reply to Christian Garve in Section I of his 1793 essay on Theory and Practice . Kant reasserts the distinctness and natural authority of our consciousness of the moral law. Every mature human being is a moral professional—even philosophers like Garve, if only they forget about their ill-conceived ethical systems and listen to the voice of pure practical reason. Normative theory, (...) Kant argues, cannot be refuted with reference to alleged experience. It is the proper task of the moral philosopher to emphasize this fact. The paper also discusses Kant's attempts to clarify his moral psychology, philosophy of value and conception of the highest good in the course of replying to Garve's challenge. Key Words: Christian Garve ethical theory and practice Immanuel Kant moral psychology theory of value. (shrink)
Section I of Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is meant to lead us from our everyday conception of morality to the supreme principle of all moral action, officially christened the ‘categorical imperative’ some twenty Academy pages further into the treatise. It is quite striking that in this first section Kant dispenses with the notorious technical language that pervades not just other parts of the Groundwork but also most of the remaining philosophical writings of the critical period. The mere (...) fact that Groundwork I is comparatively accessible does not, of course, make it straightforward or uncontroversial. Kant's readers are faced with, amongst other things, four unconvincing paragraphs on the natural purpose of practical reason (G IV 394–6), a crucial change of topic from good volition to acting from duty (G IV 397), an unstated ‘first proposition’ about moral value that has baffled generations of interpreters (presumably G IV 397–9), and a contentious shift from an allegedly unproblematic principle of practical universalizability to a substantive moral command (G IV 402). (shrink)
Kant’s concept of conscience has been largely neglected by scholars and contemporary moral philosophers alike, as has his concept of “indirect” duty. Admittedly, neither of them is foundational within his ethical theory, but a correct account of both in their own right and in combination can shed some new light on Kant’s moral philosophy as a whole. In this paper, I first examine a key passage in which Kant systematically discusses the role of conscience, then give a systematic account of (...) “indirect” duties and the function of hypothetical imperatives in the course of their generation. I then turn to the possibility of moral error and the part “indirect” duty can play in its prevention. In conclusion, I try to show how clarifying the concept of “indirect” duty can help us to shed light on the nature of Kantian ethics as a whole. (shrink)
One of the most attractive, but nevertheless highly controversial proposals to alleviate the negative effects of today’s international patent regime is the Health Impact Fund (HIF). Although the HIF has been drafted to facilitate access to medicines and boost pharmaceutical research, we have analysed the burdens for the global poor a similar proposal designed to promote the use and development of climate-friendly technologies would have. Drawing parallels from the access to medicines debate, we suspect that an analogous “Climate Impact Fund” (...) will increase the already very high scientific and technological supremacy of the developed world over the Global South. We advocate countering this dominance on the ground that countries with scarce research and development capacities will be in a difficult position to reject technologies and will not have a say on how such technologies should look like. Further, addressing global hazards should be an inclusive endeavour and not only a privilege reserved for the developed world. Incentivizing grassroots innovation would be a major step to promote scientific and technological inclusion. (shrink)
Public goods, as well as commercial commodities, are affected by exclusive arrangements secured by intellectual property (IP) rights. These rights serve as an incentive to invest human and material capital in research and development. Particularly in the life sciences, IP rights regulate objects such as food and medicines that are key to securing human rights, especially the right to adequate food and the right to health. Consequently, IP serves private (economic) and public interests. Part of this charge claims that the (...) current IP regime is privatizing the very building blocks of research and development – that used to be part of the commons. The public domain, in contrast to the private domain, may be the locus of much more diverse forms of creativity that at the same time ensures a wider plurality of productive traditions. An IP regime must support a sense of public morality because it is dependent upon civil support. This inevitably prompts questions of what are “good” exclusive rights and what are “bad” exclusive rights, and how shall such IP rights be developed. We argue that the democratization of the current IP regimes is an important first step to respond to these issues. (shrink)
The intellectual property regimes we have currently in place are heavily under attack. One of the points of criticism is the interaction between two elements of article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the widely discussed issue of being able to benefit from scientific progress and the less argued for position of having a right to take part in scientific enterprises. To shine light on the question if we should balance the two elements or prioritize one of them, (...) an exploration will be offered on how benefiting from scientific progress and the ability to participate in the advancement of science relate to securing human capabilities. A different perspective to the question will be gained by identifying the problem as an issue of misrecognition, especially the failure to recognize many willing collaboration partners in scientific research as peers. Lastly, I will argue that cooperative justice requires that if we have an innovation incentive system that disproportionally benefits one particular group, a certain duty to counterbalance this advantage exists when we are relying on mutual cooperation for the recognition of intellectual property rights. (shrink)
Any system for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has three main kinds of distributive effects. It will determine or influence: (a) the types of objects that will be developed and for which IPRs will be sought; (b) the differential access various people will have to these objects; and (c) the distribution of the IPRs themselves among various actors. What this means to the area of pharmaceutical research is that many urgently needed medicines will not be developed at all, (...) that the existing medicines will not be suitable for countries with a precarious health infrastructure or not target the disease variety that is prevalent in poorer regions. Such effects are commonly captured under the rubric of the “10/90 gap” in biomedical research. High prices will also restrict access to medicines as well endanger compliance to treatment schemes. IPRs are mainly held by multinational corporations situated in the developed world, which not only raises egalitarian concerns, but also severely limits the possibilities of companies in poorer countries to realize improvements on existing inventions, as they cannot financially afford to secure freedom to operate, which systematically shrinks the number of potential innovators. Those inequities lead to an enormous burden for the global poor and since no institution is willing to assume the responsibility to fulfil the right to health and the corresponding right of access to essential medicines, we have to analyse alternatives or additions to the actual intellectual property regimes in order to create new incentives to fill this gap. (shrink)
In recent approaches to ethics, the personal involvement of health care providers and their empathy are perceived as important elements of an overall ethical ability. Experiential working methods are used in ethics education to foster, inter alia, empathy. In 2008, the care-ethics lab ‘sTimul’ was founded in Flanders, Belgium, to provide training that focuses on improving care providers' ethical abilities through experiential working simulations. The curriculum of sTimul focuses on empathy sessions, aimed at care providers' empathic skills. The present study (...) provides better insight into how experiential learning specifically targets the empathic abilities of care providers. Providing contrasting experiences that affect the care providers' self-reflection seems a crucial element in this study. Further research is needed to provide more insight into how empathy leads to long-term changes in behaviour. (shrink)
New translations tracing decades of Beauvoir's leftist political engagement during the turbulent era of decolonization, from articles exposing conditions in fascist Spain and Portugal in 1945 and hard hitting attacks on right-wing intellectuals in the 1950s, to a 1962 defense of an Algerian freedom fighter, Djamila Boupacha, and a 1975 article calling for the 'two state solution' in Israel. The texts range from a surprising 1952 defense of the misogynistic 18th c. pornographer, the Marquis de Sade, to the transcription of (...) a co-written 1974 documentary film on the aged in France. (shrink)
The essays in this volume, by international Kant scholars and moral philosophers, discuss Kant's philosophical development and his rejection of earlier moral theories, the role of happiness and inclination in the Groundwork, Kant's moral ...
In this thesis we have examined the complex interaction between intellectual property rights, life sciences and global justice. Science and the innovations developed in its wake have an enormous effect on our daily lives, providing countless opportunities but also raising numerous problems of justice. The complexity of a problem however does not liberate society as a whole from moral responsibilities. Our intellectual property regimes clash at various points with human rights law and commonly held notions of justice.
Taking into consideration the extremely harsh public health conditions faced by the majority of the world population, the Health Impact Fund (HIF) proposal seeks to make the intellectual property regimes more in line with human rights obligations. While prioritizing access to medicines and research on neglected diseases, the HIF makes many compromises in order to be conceived as politically feasible and to retain a compensation character that makes its implementation justified solely on basis of negative duties. Despite that current global (...) health realities make such steps reasonable, the paper looks up the negative effects on one overlooked human right: the right to participate in scientific advancement. (shrink)
Contents: "Analysis of Claude Bernard's Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine," "Two Unpublished Chapters from She Came to Stay," "Pyrrhus and Cineas," "A Review of The Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty," "Moral Idealism and Political Realism," "Existentialism and Popular Wisdom," "Jean-Paul Sartre," "An Eye for an Eye," "Literature and Metaphysics," "Introduction to an Ethics of Ambiguity," "An Existentialist Looks at Americans," and "What is Existentialism?".
So-called climate-ready GM crops can be of great help in adapting to a changing climate. Climate change, caused in great part by anthropogenic greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution by the developed world, is felt much stronger in the developing world, causing unexpected droughts and floods that will cause large harvest loss, leading to more hunger and malnutrition, rising death tolls and disease vulnerability. The current intellectual property regime (IPR) strikes an unfair balance between profit oriented (...) seed industry giants and low-acreage farmers. The biotechnology industry, mainly headquartered in the developed world, has started to patent new seed varieties, taking biomaterials from developing countries, with the claim, that they will be more tolerant to flood, drought, heat, and cold. Special sales contracts prohibit saving seeds from the harvest for the next season, thus forcing the farmers to buy them every season anew, which goes against traditional farming. Using a widely accepted concept of global justice, that tackles the fact that around 10% of the world's population profits from 90% of the earth's resources, and by taking into account the feasibility of a fair IPR, we will discuss three issues. First, an ethically acceptable IPR should prevent unjust and unfair assignments of property rights (e.g. patents) that completely ignore small-scale farmers inventiveness and efforts to save agrobiodiversity. As a second task, this regime should encourage globally a just distribution of the objects of innovation that are covered by patents. Third, such a regime should encourage innovations at a rate that is effective to cope with climate change. (shrink)
...there can be cases in which we reject pleasure because there is too much of it. Sometimes we decide that pleasure is bad, or not worth having, not because of an extrinsic factor like moral, aesthetic etc. constraints but rather because one is experiencing enough pleasure to the point that more would in itself be undesirable. (2005: 144).