Carter’s anthropic principle reminds us that intelligent life can find itself only in life-permitting times, places or universes. The principle concerns a possible observational selection effect, not a designing deity. It has no special concern with humans, nor does it say that intelligent life is inevitable and common. Barrow and Tipler, who discuss all this, are not biologically ignorant. As argued in "Universes" (Leslie, 1989) they may well be right in thinking that "fine tuning" of force strengths and particle (...) masses, without which life would be impossible, proves the reality of God or else of multiple universes plus observational selection. (shrink)
The cosmos exists just because of the ethical need for it We, and all the intricate structures of our universe, exist as thoughts in a divine mind that knows everything worth knowing. There could also be infinitely many other universes in this mind....It may be hard to believe that the universe is as Leslie says it is--but it is also hard to resist his compelling ideas and arguments.
NOTES: Based on the book Socrates on trial written by Andrew Irvine and published by the University of Toronto Press. Performed at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, May 31-June 7, 2008. CONTENTS: Trailer, Who was Socrates?, Selected scenes, The production, Credits. UBC Library Catalogue Permanent URL: http://resolve.library.ubc.ca/cgi-bin/catsearch?bid=3956307.
An Odyssey With Animals: A Veterinarian’s Reflections on the Animal Rights and Welfare Debate Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 379-381 DOI 10.1007/s11673-011-9327-x Authors Rob Irvine, Sydney Bioethics Program, Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, Medical Foundation Building, University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Sydney, Australia Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 8 Journal Issue Volume 8, Number 4.
A married person falls deeply in love with someone else. A man of average income feels he cannot be truly happy unless he owns an expensive luxury car. A dieter has an irresistible craving for ice cream. Desires often come to us unbidden and unwanted, and they can have a dramatic impact, sometimes changing the course of our lives. In On Desire, William B. Irvine takes us on a wide-ranging tour of our impulses, wants, and needs, showing us where (...) these feelings come from and how we can try to rein them in. Spicing his account with engaging observations by writers like Seneca, Tolstoy, and Freud, Irvine considers the teachings of Buddhists, Hindus, the Amish, Shakers, and Catholic saints, as well as those of ancient Greek and Roman and modern European philosophers. Irvine also looks at what modern science can tell us about desire--such as what happens in the brain when we desire something and how animals evolved particular desires--and he advances a new theory about how desire itself evolved. Irvine also suggests that at the same time that we gained the ability to desire, we were "programmed" to find some things more desirable than others. Irvine concludes that the best way to attain lasting happiness is not to change the world around us or our place in it, but to change ourselves. If we can convince ourselves to want what we already have, we can dramatically enhance our happiness. Brimming with wisdom and practical advice, On Desire offers a thoughtful approach to controlling unwanted passions and attaining a more meaningful life. (shrink)
Although conditioned suppression has face validity as a technique for assessing resistance to change of operant behaviour, it is not discussed by Nevin & Grace. However, application of their approach to the results of a conditioned suppression study that varied food deprivation and reinforcement magnitude (Leslie 1977) produces paradoxical results.
Ducks lay eggs' is a true sentence, and `ducks are female' is a false one. Similarly, `mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus' is obviously true, whereas `mosquitoes don't carry the West Nile virus' is patently false. This is so despite the egg-laying ducks' being a subset of the female ones and despite the number of mosquitoes that don't carry the virus being ninety-nine times the number that do. Puzzling facts such as these have made generic sentences defy adequate semantic treatment. (...) However complex the truth conditions of generics appear to be, though, young children grasp generics more quickly and readily than seemingly simpler quantifiers such as `all' and `some'. I present an account of generics that not only illuminates the strange truth conditions of generics, but also explains how young children find them so comparatively easy to acquire. I then argue that generics give voice to our most cognitively primitive generalizations and that this hypothesis accounts for a variety of facts ranging from acquisition patterns to cross-linguistic data concerning the phonological articulation of operators. I go on to develop an account of the nature of these cognitively fundamental generalizations and argue that this account explains the strange truth-conditional behavior of generics. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers have recently been exploring whether the mechanisms which underlie the acquisition of ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) are best charac- terized as cognitive modules or as developing theories. In this paper, we attempt to clarify what a modular account of ToM entails, and why it is an attractive type of explanation. Intuitions and arguments in this debate often turn on the role of develop- ment: traditional research on ToM focuses on various developmental sequences, whereas cognitive modules are thought (...) to be static and ‘anti-developmental’. We suggest that this mistaken view relies on an overly limited notion of modularity, and we explore how ToM might be grounded in a cognitive module and yet still afford development. Modules must ‘come on-line’, and even fully developed modules may still develop internally, based on their constrained input. We make these points con- crete by focusing on a recent proposal to capture the development of ToM in a module via parameterization. (shrink)
The concept of acting intentionally is an important nexus where ‘theory of mind’ and moral judgment meet. Preschool children’s judgments of intentional action show a valence-driven asymmetry. Children say that a foreseen but disavowed side-effect is brought about 'on purpose' when the side-effect itself is morally bad but not when it is morally good. This is the first demonstration in preschoolers that moral judgment influences judgments of ‘on-purpose’ (as opposed to purpose influencing moral judgment). Judgments of intentional action are usually (...) assumed to be purely factual. That these judgments are sometimes partly normative — even in preschoolers — challenges current understanding. Young children’s judgments regarding foreseen side-effects depend upon whether the children process the idea that the character does not care about the side-effect. As soon as preschoolers effectively process the ‘theory of mind’ concept, NOT CARE THAT P, children show the side-effect effect.idea.. (shrink)
Might we be parts of a divine mind? Could anything like an afterlife make sense? Starting with a Platonic answer to why the world exists, Immortality Defended suggests we could well be immortal in all of three separate ways. Tackles the fundamental questions posed by our very existence, among them ‘why does the cosmos exist?’, ‘is there a divine mind or God?’ and ‘in what sense might we have afterlives?’ Defends a belief in immortality, without the need for a religious (...) affiliation or rejection of modern science Explores the ideas of ‘Einsteinian immortality’, the divine afterlife, and the theory of an infinite and divine mind Draws from the work of a wide-range of philosophers, from ancient Greece to the present day, and incorporates up-to-date scientific findings Written in a thought-provoking and engaging manner, accessible to anyone intrigued by the wonder of our being. (shrink)
One of the first books to address what has come to be known as the philosophy of cosmology, Universes asks, "Why does the universe exist?", arguing that the universe is "fine tuned for producing life." For example, if the universe's early expansion speed had been smaller by one part in a million, then it would have recollapsed rapidly; with an equivalently tiny speed increase, no galaxies would have formed. Either way, this universe would have been lifeless.
Psychologists and philosophers have recently been exploring whether the mechanisms which underlie the acquisition of ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) are best charac- terized as cognitive modules or as developing theories. In this paper, we attempt to clarify what a modular account of ToM entails, and why it is an attractive type of explanation. Intuitions and arguments in this debate often turn on the role of _develop-_ _ment_: traditional research on ToM focuses on various developmental sequences, whereas cognitive modules are thought (...) to be static and ‘anti-developmental’. We suggest that this mistaken view relies on an overly limited notion of modularity, and we explore how ToM might be grounded in a cognitive module and yet still afford development. Modules must ‘come on-line’, and even fully developed modules may still develop _internally_, based on their constrained input. We make these points con- crete by focusing on a recent proposal to capture the development of ToM in a module via _parameterization_. (shrink)
Introspective and phenomenological methods are once again being used to support the use of subjective reports, rather than objective behavioural measures, to investigate and measure consciousness. Objective measures are often seen as useful ways of investigating the range of capacities subjects have in responding to phenomena, but are fraught with the interpretive problems of how to link behavioural capacities with consciousness. Instead, gathering subjective reports is seen as a more direct way of assessing the contents of consciousness. This article explores (...) three different ways of gathering subjective reports that have been discussed in recent literature on consciousness, including immediate retrospection (Schwitzgebel ) and two types of introspective training (Overgaard et al. ; Schwitzgebel ). Although not an exhaustive survey of the range of introspective methods now used, the discussion below highlights a range of general methodological problems with introspective methods, many identified up to a century ago. It is argued that none of the methodological problems established in earlier criticisms of the use of subjective reports have been dealt with, yet are still valid criticisms. Given that this is not the first time proponents of introspective, subjective measures of conscious have failed to answer these criticisms, this raises the question of whether the goal of providing a measure of consciousness is a methodological muddle worth pursuing. (shrink)
Higginbotham (1986) argues that conditionals embedded under quantifiers (as in ‘no student will succeed if they goof off’) constitute a counterexample to the thesis that natural language is semantically compositional. More recently, Higginbotham (2003) and von Fintel and Iatridou (2002) have suggested that compositionality can be upheld, but only if we assume the validity of the principle of Conditional Excluded Middle. I argue that these authors’ proposals (...) deliver unsatisfactory results for conditionals that, at least intuitively, do not appear to obey Conditional Excluded Middle. Further, there is no natural way to extend their accounts to conditionals containing ‘unless’. I propose instead an account that takes both ‘if’ and ‘unless’ statements to restrict the quantifiers in whose scope they occur, while also contributing a covert modal element to the semantics. In providing this account, I also offer a semantics for unquantified statements containing ‘unless’. (shrink)
In the Grundlagen , Frege offers eight main arguments, together with a series of more minor supporting arguments, against Mill’s view that numbers are “properties of external things”. This paper reviews all eight of these arguments, arguing that none are conclusive.
An organization's management control system can play an important role in influencing ethical behavior among employees. In this paper a theoretical framework of control is developed by linking various ethics related control mechanisms reported in the literature to the primary components of a management control system. In addition, the findings of a survey of the Financial Post's Top 1 000 Canadian industrial and service companies are reported. The survey investigated organizations' use of ethical codes of conduct, whistleblowing systems, ethics committees, (...) judiciary boards, employee training in ethics, and ethics focused corporate governance and reward systems. The findings indicate that ethics related control mechanisms, particularly codes of conduct, are being used by a good number of organizations. However, closer analysis of the data suggests that many companies may only be paying lip service to the importance of promoting ethical behavior. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine various popular notions concerning the ethics of investing. I first consider and reject the absolutist view that it is always wrong to invest in evil companies and the view that what makes investments in evil companies morally objectionable is the fact that by making such investments, investors are taking steps to benefit from the wrongdoing of others. I then defend the view that what makes certain investments morally objectionable is the fact that by making such (...) investments, investors enable others to do wrong. According to this view, when weighing the purchase of a certain company's stock, investors should ask themselves the following question: Would this sort of investment, if made by many people, enable others to do wrong? If the answer to this question is yes, and if an investor nevertheless makes the investment in question, he can justifiably be accused of moral wrongdoing. (shrink)
Enrique Dussel has developed a sweeping philosophical critique of the eurocentricity of Western habits of thought and action, with the aim of articulating an ‘ethics of liberation’ that takes the part distinctively of ‘the victims’ of the world system. The heart of Dussel’s effort is an ostensibly new method, ‘analectic’ or ‘anadialectic,’ which comes about through the ‘revelation’ of the other, and goes beyond the self-enclosure that, Dussel asserts, typifies dialectic in Western ontology. Thus, he takes his position to have (...) gone beyond ontology: it is a trans-ontology, a genuine meta-physics. I question whether analectic does go beyond Western thinking of being, and propose an ontological critique that is classically Western or, as I would prefer to say, historically Western yet (along with its analogues in other philosophical traditions) classically relevant even in our ‘age of globalization and exclusion.’. (shrink)
The debate over off-line simulation has largely focussed on the capacity to predict behavior, but the basic idea of off-line simulation can be cast in a much broader framework. The central claim of the off-line account of behavior prediction is that the practical reasoning mechanism is taken off-line and used for predicting behavior. However, there's no reason to suppose that the idea of off-line simulation can't be extended to mechanisms other than the practical reasoning system. In principle, any cognitive component (...) can be taken off-line and used to perform some other function. On this view of off-line simulation, such accounts differ radically from traditional information-based accounts of cognitive capacities. And cognitive penetrability provides a wedge for empirically determining whether a capacity requires an information-based account or an off-line simulation account. Stich and Nichols (1992) argued that the simulation theory of behavior prediction was inadequate because behavior prediction seemed to be cognitively penetrable. We present empirical evidence that supports the claim that the behavior prediction is cognitively penetrable. As a result, the simulation account of behavior prediction still seems unpromising. However, off-line simulation might provide accounts of other cognitive capacities. Indeed, off- line simulation accounts have recently been offered for a strikingly diverse set of capacities including counterfactual reasoning, empathy and mental imagery. Goldman, for instance, maintains that counterfactual reasoning and empathy clearly demand off-line simulation accounts. We argue that there are alternative information-based explanations of these phenomena. Nonetheless, the off-line accounts of these phenomena are interesting and clearly worthy of further exploration. (shrink)
Abstract Newcomb's problem is regularly described as a problem arising from equally defensible yet contradictory models of rationality. Braess? paradox is regularly described as nothing more than the existence of non?intuitive (but ultimately non?contradictory) equilibrium points within physical networks of various kinds. Yet it can be shown that Newcomb's problem is structurally identical to Braess? paradox. Both are instances of a well?known result in game theory, namely that equilibria of non?cooperative games are generally Pareto?inefficient. Newcomb's problem is simply a limiting (...) case in which the number of players equals one. Braess? paradox is another limiting case in which the ?players? need not be assumed to be discrete individuals. The result is that Newcomb's problem is no more difficult to solve than (the easy to solve) Braess? paradox. (shrink)
The growing interest in ethics and ethical behavior has not manifested itself in an ethical analysis of television programming beyond a journalism context. This study examines one social/ethical issue - lying in prime time network television situation comedies. Results show sitcom characters who lie are motivated primarily by self-interest. This egoistic approach raises questions of ethical maturity and provides a model of behavior that may have negative implications for society.
Theories that propose a modular basis for developing a “theory of mind” have no problem accommodating social interaction or social environment factors into either the learning process, or into the genotypes underlying the growth of the neurocognitive modules. Instead, they can offer models which constrain and hence explain the mechanisms through which variations in social interaction affect development. Cognitive models of both competence and performance are critical to evaluating the basis of correlations between variations in social interaction and performance on (...) mental state reasoning tasks. (shrink)
The key event at the start of the Sanskrit Ramayana attributed to Valmiki is the death of a bird at the hands of a hunter. In Sanskrit, that bird is termed krauñca. Various identifications have been offered in the past but uncertainty persists. Focusing on the text of the critical edition and drawing on ornithological data regarding the birds commonly suggested, this article establishes beyond doubt that Valmiki's krauñca bird is the Indian Sarus Crane. It then considers a key verse (...) in the southern recension, omitted by the editors of the critical edition, which supports this identification. Finally, the article explores the significance of the Indian Sarus Crane for the epic scene. (shrink)
Abstract As there are food gluttons, so there are energy gluttons. One difference is that energy gluttons are typically oblivious to how much energy they consume and the source of that energy. Their energy gluttony is a side effect of insatiable desire for material goods, which themselves are often associated with social status. Nonetheless, steps taken to deal with energy gluttony parallel those taken with food gluttony. Typically these fall into three categories: educational, political, and technological. I will examine a (...) fourth, however, best characterized as philosophical. I will show how, by following the advice of the ancient Stoics and training ourselves to care less what others think of us, we can help overcome our desire for social status, resulting in a reduction in our desire for material things and a significant reduction in our personal energy bill. The pessimistic conclusion, however, is that most people are probably unwilling to undergo the self-analysis and self-transformation that this philosophical approach requires. (shrink)
The paper develops a Platonic and Spinozistic metaphysics. With an unprovable yet absolute necessity, the cosmos exists just because of the ethical need for it. We, and all the intricate structures of our universe, exist as intricately structured thoughts in a divine mind. This mind could contain infinitely many other universes as well, and minds of the same kind could exist in infinite number. Evidence for this is supplied by the finely tuned orderliness of our universe, and by the sheer (...) fact that any universe exists. (shrink)
Cosmologists using the Anthropic Principle claim that if our universe had been much different then nobody would exist to observe it. This may become explanatory when one accepts the actual existence of multiple "universes": gigantic, largely or entirely separate systems having very varied properties. Ian Hacking has urged, though, that an Inverse Gambler's Fallacy is committed during many attempts to formulate anthropic explanations. Besides disagreeing with him, the paper makes several further points in support of such explanations, in particular against (...) the background of the Inflationary Universe. (shrink)
Suppose various observers are divided randomly into two groups, a large and a small. Not knowing into which group anyone has been sent, each can have strong grounds for believing in being in the large group, although recognizing that every observer in the other group has equally powerful reasons for thinking of this other group as the large one. Justified belief can therefore be observer-relative in a rather paradoxical way. Appreciating this allows one to reject an intriguing new objection against (...) Brandon Carter's 'doomsday argument'. Carter encourages us to doubt that we are among only the first hundredth, say, or first millionth, of all humans who will ever have existed. He thereby reinforces whatever reasons we may have for suspecting that, unless we take great care, the human race will not survive long. Admittedly his argument is weakened if our world is indeterministic, so that there is no suitably guaranteed 'fact of the matter' of how many humans will ever have existed. But even then, it can caution us against believing that a lengthy future for humankind 'is as good as determined'. Of all the objections the argument has yet faced, the new one is the most interesting. (shrink)
In the last few years, off-line simulation has become an increasingly important alternative to standard explanations in cognitive science. The contemporary debate began with Gordon (1986) and Goldman's (1989) off-line simulation account of our capacity to predict behavior. On their view, in predicting people's behavior we take our own decision making system `off line' and supply it with the `pretend' beliefs and desires of the person whose behavior we are trying to predict; we then let the decision maker reach a (...) decision on the basis of these pretend inputs. Figure 1 offers a `boxological' version of the off-line simulation theory of behavior prediction.(1). (shrink)
Abstract An argument originated by Brandon Carter presents humankind's imminent extinction as likelier than we should otherwise have judged. We ought to be reluctant to think ourselves among the earliest 0.01 %, for instance, of all humans who will ever have lived; yet we should be in that tiny group if the human race survived long, even at just its present size. While such reasoning attracts many criticisms, perhaps the only grave one is that indeterminism means there is not yet (...) any firm, theoretically predictable fact of how long the human race will survive. This, though, might not save Everett's many?worlds theory from a variant on Carter's point. Everett seemingly pictures observers as splitting into ever more versions, which explains away all apparent indeterminism; but then, absurdly, all except a vanishingly tiny proportion of one's versions would come into existence near one's death, outweighing all apparent evidence that death was not imminent. The need to avoid such a result severely constrains Everett?type theories. We need theories in which observer?versions diverge without increasing their numbers in any straightforward way. (shrink)
Human social intelligence comprises a wide range of complex cognitive and affective processes that appear to be selectively impaired in autistic spectrum disorders. The study of these neuro- developmental disorders and the study of canonical social intelligence have advanced rapidly over the last twenty years by investigating the two together. Specifically, studies of autism have provided important insights into the nature of ‘theory of mind’ abilities, their normal development and underlying neural systems. At the same time, the idea of impaired (...) development of the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying ‘theory of mind’ has shed new light on the nature of autistic disorders. This general approach is not restricted to the study of impairments but extends to mapping areas of social intelligence that are spared in autism. Here we investigate basic moral judgment and find that it appears to be substantially intact in children with autism who are severely impaired in ‘theory of mind’. At the same time, we extend studies of moral reasoning in normal development by way of a new control task, the ‘cry baby’ task. Cry baby scenarios, in which the distress of the victim is ‘unreasonable’ or ‘unjustified,’ do not elicit moral condemnation from normally developing preschoolers or from children with autism. Judgments of moral transgressions in which the victim displays distress are therefore not likely the result of a simple automatic reaction to the distress and more likely involve moral reasoning. Mapping the cognitive co-morbidity patterns of disordered development should encompass both impairments and sparings because both will be needed to make sense of the neural and genetic levels. (shrink)
Concerns about the risks of unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions are growing. At the same time, confidence that international policy agreements will succeed in considerably lowering anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is declining. Perhaps as a result, various geoengineering solutions are gaining attention and credibility as a way to manage climate change. Serious consideration is currently being given to proposals to cool the planet through solar-radiation management. Here we analyze how the unique and nontrivial risks of geoengineering strategies pose fundamental questions at (...) the interface between science and ethics. To illustrate the importance of integrated ethical and scientific analysis, we define key open questions and outline a coupled scientific-ethical research agenda to analyze solar-radiation management geoengineering proposals. We identify nine key fields of coupled research including whether solar-radiation management can be tested, how quickly learning could occur, normative decisions embedded in how different climate trajectories are valued, and justice issues regarding distribution of the harms and benefits of geoengineering. To ensure that ethical analyses are coupled with scientific analyses of this form of geoengineering, we advocate that funding agencies recognize the essential nature of this coupled research by establishing an Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications program for solar-radiation management. (shrink)
The tautological implications of “innate talents” are outlined. Analogies are drawn between the present review and the nature–nurture controversies of 40 years ago. Ferguson's (1954; 1956) theoretical positions are proposed as a context in which to consider present and future attempts to resolve this long-standing issue.
This article reviews recent developments in health care law, focusing on the engagement of law as a partner in health care innovation. The article addresses: the history and contents of recent United States federal law restricting the use of genetic information by insurers and employers; the recent federal policy recommending routine HIV testing; the recent revision of federal policy regarding the funding of human embryonic stem cell research; the history, current status, and need for future attention to advance directives; the (...) recent emergence of medical–legal partnerships and their benefits for patients; the obesity epidemic and its implications for the child’s right to health under international conventions. (shrink)
This set reprints key critical writings on Russell's work on logic, mathematics, language, knowledge, the world, history of philosophy, ethics, education, religion and politics, and on his life and influence.