We argue that non-epistemic values, including moral ones, play an important role in the construction and choice of models in science and engineering. Our main claim is that non-epistemic values are not only “secondary values” that become important just in case epistemic values leave some issues open. Our point is, on the contrary, that non-epistemic values are as important as epistemic ones when engineers seek to develop the best model of a process or problem. The upshot is that models are (...) neither value-free, nor depend exclusively on epistemic values or use non-epistemic values as tie-breakers. (shrink)
Consequentialism, one of the major theories of normative ethics, maintains that the moral rightness of an act is determined solely by the act's consequences and its alternatives. The traditional form of consequentialism is one-dimensional, in that the rightness of an act is a function of a single moral aspect, such as the sum total of wellbeing it produces. In this book Martin Peterson introduces a new type of consequentialist theory: multidimensional consequentialism. According to this theory, an act's moral rightness depends (...) on several separate dimensions, including individual wellbeing, equality and risk. Peterson's novel approach shows that moral views about equality and risk that were previously thought to be mutually incompatible can be rendered compatible, and his precise theoretical discussion helps the reader to understand better the distinction between consequentialist and non-consequentialist theories. His book will interest a wide range of readers in ethics. (shrink)
We discuss ethical aspects of risk-taking with special focus on principlism and mid-level moral principles. A new distinction between the strength of an obligation and the degree to which it is valid is proposed. We then use this distinction for arguing that, in cases where mid-level moral principles come into conflict, the moral status of the act under consideration may be indeterminate, in a sense rendered precise in the paper. We apply this thought to issues related to pandemic influenza vaccines. (...) The main conclusion of the paper is that on a principlist approach some acts may be neither right nor wrong (or neither permissible nor impermissible), and we claim that this has important implications for how we ought to make decisions under risk. (shrink)
Based on a modern reading of Aristotle’s theory of friendship, we argue that virtual friendship does not qualify as genuine friendship. By ‘virtual friendship’ we mean the type of friendship that exists on the internet, and seldom or never is combined with real life interaction. A ‘traditional friendship’ is, in contrast, the type of friendship that involves substantial real life interaction, and we claim that only this type can merit the label ‘genuine friendship’ and thus qualify as morally valuable. The (...) upshot of our discussion is that virtual friendship is what Aristotle might have described as a lower and less valuable form of social exchange. (shrink)
In this paper we shed new light on the Argument from Disagreement by putting it to test in a computer simulation. According to this argument widespread and persistent disagreement on ethical issues indicates that our moral opinions are not influenced by any moral facts, either because no such facts exist or because they are epistemically inaccessible or inefficacious for some other reason. Our simulation shows that if our moral opinions were influenced at least a little bit by moral facts, we (...) would quickly have reached consensus, even if our moral opinions were affected by factors such as false authorities, external political shifts, and random processes. Therefore, since no such consensus has been reached, the simulation gives us increased reason to take seriously the Argument from Disagreement. Our conclusion is however not conclusive; the simulation also indicates what assumptions one has to make in order to reject the Argument from Disagreement. The simulation algorithm we use builds on the work of Hegselmann and Krause (J Artif Soc Social Simul 5(3); 2002, J Artif Soc Social Simul 9(3), 2006). (shrink)
Cost-benefit analysis is commonly understood to be intimately connected with utilitarianism and incompatible with other moral theories, particularly those that focus on deontological concepts such as rights. We reject this claim and argue that cost-benefit analysis can take moral rights as well as other non-utilitarian moral considerations into account in a systematic manner. We discuss three ways of doing this, and claim that two of them (output filters and input filters) can account for a wide range of rights-based moral theories, (...) including the absolute notions of moral rights proposed by Hayek, Mayo, Nozick, and Shue. We also discuss whether the use of output filters and input filters can be generalized to cover other non-utilitarian theories, such as Kantian duty ethics and virtue ethics. (shrink)
This article introduces and explores a distinction between multi-dimensional and one-dimensional consequentialist moral theories. One-dimensional consequentialists believe that an act's deontic status depends on just one aspect of the act, such as the sum total of wellbeing it produces, or the sum total of priority- or equality-adjusted wellbeing. Multi-dimensional consequentialists believe that an act's deontic status depends on more than one aspect. They may, for instance, believe that the sum total of wellbeing produced by an act and the degree to (...) which the wellbeing is equally distributed in the population affect the act's deontic status independently of each other. These two aspects cannot be reduced into any single (composite) aspect. Wellbeing and equality are two separate considerations that cannot be merged into some novel entity that accurately reflects both intuitions. On the multi-dimensional view I defend, such clashes between separate aspects are irresolvable and are best accounted for by claiming that moral rightness and wrongness are non-binary concepts. Some acts are, literally speaking, a little bit right (because they maximise wellbeing) and a little bit wrong (because they do not maximise equality).1. (shrink)
This article seeks to contribute to the discussion on the nature of choice in virtue theory. If several different actions are available to the virtuous agent, they are also likely to vary in their degree of virtue, at least in some situations. Yet, it is widely agreed that once an action is recognised as virtuous there is no higher level of virtue. In this paper we discuss how the virtue theorist could accommodate both these seemingly conflicting ideas. We discuss this (...) issue from a modern Aristotelian perspective, as opposed to a purely exegetic one. We propose a way of resolving what seems to be a major clash between two central features of virtue ethics. Our proposal is based on the notion of parity, a concept which recently has received considerable attention in the literature on axiology. Briefly put, two alternatives are on a par (or are ‘roughly equal’) if they are comparable, although it is not the case that one is better than the other, nor that they are equally good. The advantages of applying the concept of parity to our problem are twofold. Firstly, it sheds new light on the account of choice in virtue theory. Secondly, some of the criticisms that have been mounted against the possibility of parity can be countered by considering the notion of choice from a virtue theory perspective. (shrink)
Erratum to: Book Symposium on Peter Paul Verbeek’s Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011 Content Type Journal Article Category Erratum Pages 1-27 DOI 10.1007/s13347-011-0058-z Authors Evan Selinger, Dept. Philosophy, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, USA Don Ihde, Dept. Philosophy, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA Ibo van de Poel, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands Martin Peterson, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, the Netherlands Peter-Paul Verbeek, Dept. Philosophy, (...) Twente University, Enschede, the Netherlands Journal Philosophy & Technology Online ISSN 2210-5441 Print ISSN 2210-5433. (shrink)
Pure time preference is a preference for something to come at one point in time rather than another merely because of when it occurs in time. In opposition to Sidgwick, Ramsey, Rawls, and Parfit we argue that it is not always irrational to be guided by pure time preferences. We argue that even if the mere difference of location in time is not a rational ground for a preference, time may nevertheless be a normatively neutral ground for a preference, and (...) this makes it plausible to claim that the preference is rationally permitted. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss the hypothesis that, ‘moral agency is distributed over both humans and technological artefacts’, recently proposed by Peter-Paul Verbeek. We present some arguments for thinking that Verbeek is mistaken. We argue that artefacts such as bridges, word processors, or bombs can never be (part of) moral agents. After having discussed some possible responses, as well as a moderate view proposed by Illies and Meijers, we conclude that technological artefacts are neutral tools that are at most bearers (...) of instrumental value. (shrink)
We argue that some algorithms are value-laden, and that two or more persons who accept different value-judgments may have a rational reason to design such algorithms differently. We exemplify our claim by discussing a set of algorithms used in medical image analysis: In these algorithms it is often necessary to set certain thresholds for whether e.g. a cell should count as diseased or not, and the chosen threshold will partly depend on the software designer’s preference between avoiding false positives and (...) false negatives. This preference ultimately depends on a number of value-judgments. In the last section of the paper we discuss some general principles for dealing with ethical issues in algorithm-design. (shrink)
Is it really necessary to add something like the Health Impact Fund to the existing global patent system? We can divide this question into two parts. First, is there something seriously wrong with the status quo and, if so, what exactly is it? Second, how do we best go about solving the problem; that is, how does the design of the reform proposal address the flaws in the status quo? Jorn Sonderholm, in his critique of the Health Impact Fund, or (...) HIF, raises both of these issues. These criticisms afford us the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to ameliorating glaring problems with the current system for incentivizing R&D for essential medicines, and to clarify why we believe the HIF is exactly what the world needs. (shrink)
To consequentialise a moral theory means to account for moral phenomena usually described in nonconsequentialist terms, such as rights, duties, and virtues, in a consequentialist framework. This paper seeks to show that all moral theories can be consequentialised. The paper distinguishes between different interpretations of the consequentialiser’s thesis, and emphasises the need for a cardinal ranking of acts. The paper also offers a new answer as to why consequentialising moral theories is important: This yields crucial methodological insights about how to (...) pursue ethical inquires. (shrink)
It is widely believed that consequentialists are committed to the claim that persons are mere containers for well-being. In this article I challenge this view by proposing a new version of consequentialism, according to which the identities of persons matter. The new theory, two-dimensional prioritarianism, is a natural extension of traditional prioritarianism. Two-dimensional prioritarianism holds that wellbeing matters more for persons who are at a low absolute level than for persons who are at a higher level and that it is (...) worse to be deprived of a given number of units than it is good to gain the same number of units, even if the new distribution is a permutation of the original one. If a fixed amount of well-being is transferred from one person to another and then transferred back again, two-dimensional prioritarianism implies that it would have been better to preserve the status quo. (shrink)
This article addresses Taruek’s much discussed Number Problem from a non-consequentialist point of view. I argue that some versions of the Number Problem have no solution, meaning that no alternative is at least as choice-worthy as the others, and that the best way to behave in light of such moral indeterminacy is to let chance make the decision. I contrast my proposal with F M <span class='Hi'>Kamm</span>’s nonconsequentialist argument for saving the greatest number, the Argument for Best Outcomes, which I (...) argue does not follow from the premises it is based on. (shrink)
Commentators on Uwe Reinhardt's Tanner Lecture. The Tanner Lectures are a collection of educational and scientific discussions relating to human values. Conducted by leaders in their fields, the lectures are presented at prestigious educational facilities around the world.
This up-to-date introduction to decision theory offers comprehensive and accessible discussions of decision-making under ignorance and risk, the foundations of utility theory, the debate over subjective and objective probability, Bayesianism, causal decision theory, game theory, and social choice theory. No mathematical skills are assumed, and all concepts and results are explained in non-technical and intuitive as well as more formal ways. There are over 100 exercises with solutions, and a glossary of key terms and concepts. An emphasis on foundational aspects (...) of normative decision theory (rather than descriptive decision theory) makes the book particularly useful for philosophy students, but it will appeal to readers in a range of disciplines including economics, psychology, political science and computer science. • Has over 100 end of chapter review questions and exercises with solutions • Includes a chapter on how to draw a decision matrix • Explains the link between individual decision making, game theory and social choice theory Contents Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. The decision matrix; 3. Decisions under ignorance; 4. Decisions under risk; 5. Utility; 6. The mathematics of probability; 7. The philosophy of probability; 8. Why should we accept the preference axioms; 9. Causal vs. evidential decision theory; 10. Bayesian vs. non-Bayesian decision theory; 11. Game theory I: basic concepts and zero sum games; 12. Game theory II: nonzero sum and co-operative games; 13. Social choice theory; 14. Overview of descriptive decision theory; Appendix A. Glossary; Appendix B. Proof of the von Neumann-Morgenstern theorem; Further reading; Index. (shrink)
You must either save a group of m people or a group of n people. If there are no morally relevant diff erences among the people, which group should you save? is problem is known as the number problem. e recent discussion has focussed on three proposals: (i) Save the greatest number of people, (ii) Toss a fair coin, or (iii) Set up a weighted lottery, in which the probability of saving m people is m / m + n , (...) and the probability of saving n people is n / m + n . is contribution examines a fourth alternative, the mixed solution, according to which both fairness and the total number of people saved count. It is shown that the mixed solution can be defended without assuming the possibility of interpersonal comparisons of value. (shrink)
What is the status of belief in God? Must a rational case be made or can such belief be properly basic? Is it possible to reconcile the concept of a good God with evil and suffering? In light of great differences among religions, can only one religion be true? The most comprehensive work of its kind, Reason and Religious Belief, now in its third edition, explores these and other perennial questions in the philosophy of religion. Drawing from the best in (...) both classical and contemporary discussions, the authors examine religious experience, faith and reason, theistic arguments, the problem of evil, Reformed epistemology, miracles, and religious language. They also treat subjects not often included in competing texts, such as process theism, religious pluralism, religion and science, and the relationship between religion and morality. The third edition retains the engaging style and thorough coverage of previous editions and also takes into account the latest contributions in the field by such thinkers as Plantinga, Alston, Martin, Murphy, Dembski, M. Adams, and Swinburne. Integrating a variety of perspectives, it adds a chapter on the openness of God debate, several sections on feminist concerns, and frequent comparisons of how Eastern religions compare with Western theism. A sophisticated yet accessible introduction, Reason and Religious Belief, 3/e is ideally suited for use with the authors' companion anthology, Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, 2/e (OUP, 2000). (shrink)
This article discusses some ethical principles for distributing pandemic influenza vaccine and other indivisible goods. I argue that a number of principles for distributing pandemic influenza vaccine recently adopted by several national governments are morally unacceptable because they put too much emphasis on utilitarian considerations, such as the ability of the individual to contribute to society. Instead, it would be better to distribute vaccine by setting up a lottery. The argument for this view is based on a purely consequentialist account (...) of morality; i.e. an action is right if and only if its outcome is optimal. However, unlike utilitarians I do not believe that alternatives should be ranked strictly according to the amount of happiness or preference satisfaction they bring about. Even a mere chance to get some vaccine matters morally, even if it is never realized. (shrink)
What is the status of belief in God? Must a rational case be made or can such belief be properly basic? Is it possible to reconcile the concept of a good God with evil and suffering? In light of great differences among religions, can only one religion be true? The most comprehensive work of its kind, Reason and Religious Belief, now in its fourth edition, explores these and other perennial questions in the philosophy of religion. Drawing from the best in (...) both classical and contemporary discussions, the authors examine religious experience, faith and reason, the divine attributes, arguments for and against the existence of God, divine action (in various forms of theism), Reformed epistemology, religious language, religious diversity, religion and science, and much more. Retaining the engaging style and thorough coverage of previous editions, the fourth edition adds a critical new chapter on the ontological status of religion and the nature of religious claims. It also features revised treatments of omnipotence, miracles, and providence and updated suggestions for further reading. A sophisticated yet accessible introduction, Reason and Religious Belief, Fourth Edition, is ideally suited for use with the authors' companion anthology, Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, Third Edition (OUP, 2006). (shrink)
Some philosophers believe that two objects of value can be ‘roughly equal’, or ‘on a par’, or belong to the same ‘clump’ of value in a sense that is fundamentally different from that in which some objects are ‘better than’, ‘worse than’, or ‘equally as good as’ others. This article shows that if two objects are on a par, or belong to the same clump, then an agent accepting a few plausible premises can be exploited in a money-pump. The central (...) premise of the argument is that value is choice-guiding. If one object is more valuable than another, then it is not permitted to choose the less valuable object; and if two objects are equally valuable it is permitted to choose either of them; and if two objects are on a par or belong to the same clump it is also permitted to choose either of them. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that preferences are determinate; that is, that an agent who has a preference knows that she has the preference in question and is disposed to act upon it. This paper argues the dubiousness of that assumption. An account of indeterminate preferences in terms of self-predicting subjective probabilities is given, and a decision rule for choices involving indeterminate preferences is proposed. Wolfgang Spohn’s and Isaac <span class='Hi'>Levi</span>’s arguments against self-predicting probabilities are also considered, in light of Wlodek (...) Rabinowicz’s recent criticism. (shrink)
This article argues that, contrary to the received view, prioritarianism and egalitarianism are not jointly incompatible theories in normative ethics. By introducing a distinction between weighing and aggregating, the authors show that the seemingly conflicting intuitions underlying prioritarianism and egalitarianism are consistent. The upshot is a combined position, equality-prioritarianism, which takes both prioritarian and egalitarian considerations into account in a technically precise manner. On this view, the moral value of a distribution of well-being is a product of two factors: the (...) sum of all individuals' priority-adjusted well-being, and a measure of the equality of the distribution in question. Some implications of equality-prioritarianism are considered. (shrink)
A transformative decision rule alters the representation of a decision problem, either by changing the set of alternative acts or the set of states of the world taken into consideration, or by modifying the probability or value assignments. A set of transformative decision rules is order-independent in case the order in which the rules are applied is irrelevant. The main result of this paper is an axiomatic characterization of order-independent transformative decision rules, based on a single axiom. It is shown (...) that the proposed axiomatization resolves a problem observed by Teddy Seidenfeld in a previous axiomatization by Peterson. (shrink)
Peter Singer has famously argued that people living in affluent western countries are morally obligated to donate money to famine relief. The central premise in his argument is that, If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do so. The present paper offers an argument to the effect that affluent people ought to support foreign aid projects based on a much weaker ethical premise. The (...) new premise states that, If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of moral importance, we ought, morally, to do so. This premise, supplemented with a notion of final value drawing on Amartya Sen''s concept of freedom as capabilities and functionings, is conceived as a special version of a weak, egalitarian Pareto principle. (shrink)
This paper presents an axiomatization of the principle of maximizing expected utility that does not rely on the independence axiom or sure-thing principle. Perhaps more importantly the new axiomatization is based on an ex ante approach, instead of the standard ex post approach. An ex post approach utilizes the decision maker's preferences among risky acts for generating a utility and a probability function, whereas in the ex ante approach a set of preferences among potential outcomes are on the input side (...) of the theory and the decision maker's preferences among risky acts on the output side. (shrink)
The concept of transformative decision rules provides auseful tool for analyzing what is often referred to as the`framing', or `problem specification', or `editing' phase ofdecision making. In the present study we analyze a fundamentalaspect of transformative decision rules, viz. permutability. A setof transformative decision rules is, roughly put, permutable justin case it does not matter in which order the rules are applied.It is argued that in order to be normatively reasonable, sets oftransformative decision rules have to satisfy a number ofstructural (...) conditions that together imply permutability. Thisformal result gives support to a non-sequential theory of framing,i.e., a theory which prescribes no uniform order in which differentsteps in the framing process have to be performed. (shrink)
Is evil evidence against belief in God? -- Does divine hiddenness justify atheism? -- Does science discredit religion? -- Is God's existence the best explanation of the universe? -- Does religious experience justify religious belief? -- Is it rational for Christians to believe in the Resurrection? -- Can only one religion be true? -- Does God take risks in governing the world? -- Does God respond to petitionary prayer? -- Is eternal damnation compatible with the Christian concept of God? -- (...) Is morality based on God's commands? -- Should a Christian be a mind-body dualist? (shrink)
A transformative decision rule transforms a given decision probleminto another by altering the structure of the initial problem,either by changing the framing or by modifying the probability orvalue assignments. Examples of decision rules belonging to thisclass are the principle of insufficient reason, Isaac Levi'scondition of E-admissibility, the de minimis rule, andthe precautionary principle. In this paper some foundationalissues concerning transformative decision rules are investigated,and a couple of formal properties of this class of rules areproved.
This excellent anthology in the philosophy of religion examines the basic classical and a host of contemporary issues in thirteen thematic sections. Assuming little or no familiarity with the religious concepts it addresses, it provides a well-balanced and accessible approach to the field. The articles cover the standard topics in the field, including religious experience, theistic arguments, the problem of evil, and miracles, as well as topics that have gained the attention of philosophers of religion in the last fifteen years, (...) such as reformed epistemology, the philosophical analysis of theological doctrine, and the kalam theological argument. The collection also includes topics often requested by instructors but seldom covered in competing texts, such as religion and science, religious pluralism, process theism, and religious ethics, offering greater flexibility in choosing exact topics for use in courses. The format of the book makes it an ideal teaching text, as each section begins with a brief introduction to the central topic or issue treated by the readings which follow. Each reading is preceded by a one paragraph summary, and a bibliography of suggested readings follow each section. Philosophy of Religion functions well as a stand-alone textbook for courses in the philosophy of religion, and is readily compatible for use as a primary source reader in conjunction with a secondary text. It is an ideal companion to Reason and Religious Belief, 2e (OUP, 1997). (shrink)
Although some types of cognition may not affect early vision, there is ample evidence that other types of cognition do. Evidence indicating that early vision is penetrable by direct manipulation of viewers' perceptual intentions and by knowledge of the structure of familiar objects is reviewed, and related to both the Pylyshyn target article and Fodor (1983).
This concise, well-structured survey examines the problem of evil in the context of the philosophy of religion. One of the core topics in that field, the problem of evil is an enduring challenge that Western philosophers have pondered for almost two thousand years. The main problem of evil consists in reconciling belief in a just and loving God with the evil and suffering in the world. Michael Peterson frames this issue by working through questions such as the following: What is (...) the relation of rational belief to religious faith? What different conceptual moves are possible on either side of the issue? What responses have important thinkers advanced and which seem most promising? Is it possible to maintain religious commitment in light of evil? Peterson relies on the helpful distinction between moral and natural evil to clarify our understanding of the different aspects of the problem as well as avenues for response.The overall format of the text rests on classifying various types of argument from evil: the logical, the probabilistic, the evidential, and the existential arguments. Each type of argument has its own strategy which both theists and nontheists must recognize and develop. Giving both theistic and nontheistic perspectives fair representation, the text works through the issues of whether evil shows theistic belief to be inconsistent, improbable, discredited by the evidence, or threatened by personal crisis.Peterson explains how defensive strategies are particularly geared for responding to the logical and probabilistic arguments from evil while theodicy is an appropriate response to the evidential argument. Theodicy has traditionally been understood as the attempt to justify belief in a God who is all-powerful and all-good in light of evil. The text discusses the theodicies of Augustine, Leibniz, Hick, and Whitehead as enlightening examples of theodicy. This discussion allows Peterson to identify and evaluate a rather dominant theme in most theodicies: that evil can be justified by designating a greater good. In the end, Peterson even explores how certain types of theodicy, based on specifically Christian renditions of theism, might provide a basis for addressing the existential problem of evil. The reader of this book gains not only an intellectual grasp of the debate over God and evil in professional philosophy but also the personal benefit of thinking through one of the most important issues in human life. (shrink)
This paper addresses the phenomenon of incomplete preferences in disaster risk management. If an agent finds two options to be incomparable and thus has an incomplete preference ordering, i.e., neither prefers one option over the other nor finds them equally as good, it is not possible for the agent to perform a value tradeoff, necessary for an informed decision, between these two options. In this paper we suggest a way to model incomplete preference orderings by means of probabilistic preferences, and (...) how to reveal an agent’s incomplete preference ordering within a behaviorist framework. (shrink)
In this paper I intend to discuss social decision-making involving extreme risks. By an extreme risk, I mean a potential outcome of an act for which the probability is low, but whose negative value is high. Extreme risks are often discussed when new technologies are introduced into society. Nuclear power and genetic engineering are two well-known examples.
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