Unfit for the Future argues that the future of our species depends on our urgently finding ways to bring about radical enhancement of the moral aspects of our own human nature. We have rewritten our own moral agenda by the drastic changes we have made to the conditions of life on earth. Advances in technology enable us to exercise an influence that extends all over the world and far into the future. But our moral psychology lags behind and leaves us (...) ill equipped to deal with the challenges we now face. We need to change human moral motivation so that we pay more heed not merely to the global community, but to the interests of future generations. It is unlikely that traditional methods such as moral education or social reform alone can bring this about swiftly enough to avert looming disaster, which would undermine the conditions for worthwhile life on earth forever. Persson and Savulescu maintain that it is likely that we need to explore the use of new technologies of biomedicine to change the bases of human moral motivation. They argue that there are in principle no philosophical or moral objections to such moral bioenhancement. Unfit for the Future? challenges us to rethink our attitudes to our own human nature, before it is too late. (shrink)
The Retreat of Reason brings back to philosophy the ambition of offering a broad vision of the human condition. One of the main original aims of philosophy was to give people guidance about how to live their lives. Ingmar Persson resumes this practical project, which has been largely neglected in contemporary philosophy, but his conclusions are very different from those of the ancient Greeks. They typically argued that a life led in accordance with reason, a rational life, would also (...) be the happiest or most fulfilling. By exploring the irrationality of our attitudes to time, identity, and responsibility, Persson shows that the aim of living rationally conflicts not only with the aim of leading the most fulfilling life, but also with the moral aim of promoting the maximization and just distribution of fulfilment for all. The Retreat of Reason challenges some of our most fundamental ideas about ourselves. (shrink)
This paper rejects Hume's famous claim that we never perceive our selves, by arguing that, under conditions specified, our perception of our bodies is perception of our selves. It takes as its point of departure Quassim Cassam's defence of a position to a similar effect but puts a different interpretation on the distinction between perceiving the body as an object, having spatial attributes, and perceiving it as a self or subject of experiences.
After satisfying their quantitative and qualitative needs as regards nutrition, consumers in developed countries are becoming more involved in the ethical aspects of food production, especially when it relates to animal products. Social demands for respecting animal welfare in housing systems are increasing rapidly, as is social awareness of human responsibility towards farm animals. Many studies have been conducted on animal welfare measurement in different production systems, but the available information for small ruminants remains insufficient. In this study, a 75 (...) criteria-evaluation tool has been set up on the basis of the five freedoms concept. Animal welfare considerations have been analyzed in 25 documents, including labeling schemes, regulations, and recommendations from different European countries. The results show many differences between regular and organic small ruminant farming standards. Emergency measures are generally lacking. A weak representation of psychological aspects of animal welfare, especially by the current European legislation, is highlighted. (shrink)
abstract As history shows, some human beings are capable of acting very immorally. 1 Technological advance and consequent exponential growth in cognitive power means that even rare evil individuals can act with catastrophic effect. The advance of science makes biological, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction easier and easier to fabricate and, thus, increases the probability that they will come into the hands of small terrorist groups and deranged individuals. Cognitive enhancement by means of drugs, implants and biological (including (...) genetic) interventions could thus accelerate the advance of science, or its application, and so increase the risk of the development or misuse of weapons of mass destruction. We argue that this is a reason which speaks against the desirability of cognitive enhancement, and the consequent speedier growth of knowledge, if it is not accompanied by an extensive moral enhancement of humankind. We review the possibilities for moral enhancement by biomedical and genetic means and conclude that, though it should be possible in principle, it is in practice probably distant. There is thus a reason not to support cognitive enhancement in the foreseeable future. However, we grant that there are also reasons in its favour, but we do not attempt to settle the balance between these reasons for and against. Rather, we conclude that if research into cognitive enhancement continues, as it is likely to, it must be accompanied by research into moral enhancement. (shrink)
Recent work in experimental philosophy shows that folk intuitions about moral responsibility are sensitive to a surprising variety of factors. Whether people take agents to be responsible for their actions in deterministic scenarios depends on whether the deterministic laws are couched in neurological or psychological terms (Nahmias et. al. 2007), on whether actions are described abstractly or concretely, and on how serious moral transgression they seem to represent (Nichols & Knobe 2007). Finally, people are more inclined to hold an agent (...) responsible for bringing about bad than for bringing about good side effects that the agent is indifferent about (Knobe 2003). Elsewhere, we have presented an analysis of the everyday concept of moral responsibility that provides a unified explanation of paradigmatic cases of moral responsibility, and accounts for the force of both typical excuses and the most influential skeptical arguments against moral responsibility or for incompatibilism. In this article, we suggest that it also explains the divergent and apparently incoherent set of intuitions revealed by these new studies. If our hypothesis is correct, the surprising variety of judgments stems from a unified concept of moral responsibility. -Knobe, J. (2003) Intentional Action and Side Effects in Ordinary Language. Analysis 63, pp.190–93. -Nahmias, E.; Coates, J.; Kvaran. T. (2007) Free will, moral responsibility, and mechanism: experiments on folk intuitions. Midwest studies in Philosophy XXXI -Nichols, S.; Knobe, J. (2007) Moral responsibility and determinism: the cognitive science of folk intuitions, Noûs 41:4, 663-685. (shrink)
Derek Parfit has argued that, in contrast to prioritarianism, egalitarianism is exposed to the levelling down objection, i.e., the objection that it is absurd that a change which consists merely in the betteroff losing some of their well-being should be in one way for the better. In reply, this paper contends that (1) there is a plausible form of egalitarianism which is equivalent to another form of prioritarianism than the Parfitian one, a relational rather than an absolute form of prioritarianism, (...) and that (2), although this relational or egalitarian form of prioritarianism is hit by the levelling down objection, the Parfitian form is also hit by it, or worse objections, if it is fully worked out. (shrink)
New technologies and practices, such as drug testing, genetic testing, and electronic surveillance infringe upon the privacy of workers on workplaces. We argue that employees have a prima facie right to privacy, but this right can be overridden by competing moral principles that follow, explicitly or implicitly, from the contract of employment. We propose a set of criteria for when intrusions into an employee''s privacy are justified. Three types of justification are specified, namely those that refer to the employer''s interests, (...) to the interests of the employee her- or himself, and to the interests of third parties such as customers and fellow workers. For each of these three types, sub-criteria are proposed that can be used to determine whether a particular infringement into an employee''s privacy is morally justified or not. (shrink)
Derek Parfit has argued that (Teleological) Egalitarianism is objectionable by breaking a person-affecting claim to the effect that an outcome cannot be better in any respect - such as that of equality - if it is better for nobody. So, he presents the Priorty View, i.e., the policy of giving priority to benefiting the worse-off, which avoids this objection. But it is here argued, first, that there is another person-affecting claim that this view violates. Secondly, Egalitarianism can be construed as (...) person-affecting in a weaker sense. Thirdly, it is possible to construct a Relational version of the Priority View which incorporates the Egalitarian value of just equality in this sense. Two reasons are given for why this Relational View and Egalitarianism are superior to the Parfitian Absolute Priority View. However, no attempt is made to abjudicate between the first two views, the main point being that they both accept the value of just equality in the same sense. (shrink)
The hypothesis that human reasoning and decision-making can be roughly modeled by Expected Utility Theory has been at the core of decision science. Accumulating evidence has led researchers to modify the hypothesis. One of the latest additions to the field is Dual Process theory, which attempts to explain variance between participants and tasks when it comes to deviations from Expected Utility Theory. It is argued that Dual Process theories at this point cannot replace previous theories, since they, among other things, (...) lack a firm conceptual framework, and have no means of producing independent evidence for their case. (shrink)
I shall here raise and attempt to answer -- given the constraints of space, rather dogmatically -- some fundamental questions as regards the fertile and far-reaching doctrine Ted Honderich has in the past called Consciousness as Existence.
There are two ways in which the act-omission doctrine, which implies that it may be permissible to let people die or be killed when it is wrong to kill them, gives rise to a paradox. First, it may be that when you let a victim be killed, you let yourself kill this victim. On the assumption that, if it would be wrong of you to act in a certain fashion, it would be wrong of you let yourself act in this (...) fashion, this yields the paradox that it is both permissible and impermissible to let yourself act in this fashion. Second, you may let yourself kill somebody by letting an action you have already initiated cause death, e.g., by not lending a helping hand to somebody you have pushed. This, too, yields the paradox that it is both permissible and impermissible to let yourself kill if you are in a situation in which killing is impermissible but letting be killed permissible. (shrink)
The possibility of apparently negative causation has been discussed in a number of recent works on causation, but the discussion has suffered from beingscattered. In this paper, the problem of apparently negative causation and its attemptedsolutions are examined in more detail. I discuss and discard three attempts that have beensuggested in the literature. My conclusion is negative: Negative causation shows that thetraditional cause & effect view is inadequate. A more unified causal perspective is needed.
Recently David S. Oderberg has tried to refute three arguments that have been advanced in favour of the view that a human being does not begin to exist at fertilization. These arguments turn on the absence of differentiation between the embryoblast and trophoblast, the possibility of monozygotic twinning, and the totipotency of the cells during the first days after fertilization. It is here contended that Oderberg fails to rebut these arguments, though it is conceded that the first two arguments are (...) not conclusive. They do, however, make it at least as reasonable to deny this early origination as to affirm it. It should be noticed that this is all that is needed by those who have used these arguments to dispute that something with a special moral status exists right from fertilization. Nonetheless, it will be seen that the third argument could be developed to the point of giving a conclusive reason to believe that a human being does not begin to exist at fertilization. (shrink)
We find that the nature and origin of the proposed “dialogical cognitive representations” in the target article is not sufficiently clear. Our proposal is that (triadic) bodily mimesis and in particular mimetic schemas – prelinguistic representational, intersubjective structures, emerging through imitation but subsequently interiorized – can provide the necessary link between private sensory-motor experience and public language. In particular, we argue that shared intentionality requires triadic mimesis.
Polygenic effects have more than one cause. They testify to the fact that several causal contributors are sometimes simultaneously involved in causation. The importance of polygenic causation was noticed early on by Mill (1893). It has since been shown to be a problem for causal-law approaches to causation and accounts of causation cast in terms of capacities. However, polygenic causation needs to be examined more thoroughly in the emerging literature on causal mechanisms. In this paper I examine whether an influential (...) theory of mechanisms proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver can accommodate polygenic effects and other forms of causal interaction. This theory is problematic, I will argue, because it ascribes a central role to activities. In it, activities are needed not only to constitute mechanisms but also to perform the causal role of mechanisms. Any such mechanism-as-activity will be incompatible with causal situations where either no or merely another kind of activity occurs. But, as I will try to illustrate in this paper, both kinds of situation may be frequent. If I am right, the view that Machamer and colleagues suggest leads to an impoverished conception of mechanism. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to further our understanding of mechanisms conceived of as ontologically separable from laws. What opportunities are there for a mechanistic perspective to be independent of, or even more fundamental than, a law perspective? Advocates of the mechanistic view often play with the possibility of internal and external reliability, or with the paralleling possibilities of enforcing, counteracting, redirecting, etc., the mechanisms’ power to produce To further this discussion I adopt a trope ontology. It is independent of (...) the notion of law, and can easily be adapted to account for such characteristics of mechanisms. The idea of tropes as mechanisms is worked out in some detail. According to the resulting picture, there is still an opportunity to link mechanisms and laws. But while the predominant law view conceives of mechanistic approaches as special kinds of law accounts, this study indicates that the converse may be true. Law accounts are special cases of mechanistic accounts, and they work only in those worlds where the mechanisms are of the right kind. (shrink)
In this paper, the nature of the contract of employment is explored from an ethical point of view. It is argued that certain normative arguments should be taken into account in order to justify such a contract. Furthermore, an argument is developed against the claim that (a) the individual’s freedom of decision and (b) the practice of institutional arrangements are sufficient to justify a contract of employment. The dimensional analysis offered shows that further conditions are needed: (a) must be elaborated (...) and interpreted to the extent that this condition is not sufficient – rather sub-criteria regarding the agent’s state of knowledge must be met; and (b) should be supplemented by a demand for fairness. A tentative analysis of existing work contracts is the starting point for the ethical analysis. The aim is to show what a legitimate, or reasonable, contract of employment will require. Finally, some important normative implications and consequences regarding the contract’s normative status are discussed. (shrink)
Philosophers of science have often favoured reductive approaches to how-possibly explanation. This article identifies three alternative conceptions making how-possibly explanation an interesting phenomenon in its own right. The first variety approaches “how possibly X?” by showing that X is not epistemically impossible. This can sometimes be achieved by removing misunderstandings concerning the implications of one’s current belief system but involves characteristically a modification of this belief system so that acceptance of X does not result in contradiction. The second variety offers (...) a potential how-explanation of X. It is usually followed by a range of further potential how-explanations of the same phenomenon. In recent literature the factual claims implied by the second variety have been downplayed whereas the heuristic role of mapping the space of conceptual possibilities has been emphasized. I will focus especially on this truth-bracketing sense of potentiality when looking closer at the second variety in the paper. The third variety has attracted less interest. It presents a partial how-explanation of X. Typically it aims to establish the existence of a mechanism by which X could be and was generated. The third conception stands out as the natural alternative for the advocate of ontic how-possibly explanations. This article transfers Salmon’s (1984) view that explanation-concepts can be broadly divided into epistemic, modal, and ontic to the context of how-possibly explanations. Moreover, it is argued that each of the three above-mentioned varieties of how-possibly explanation occurs in science. To recognize this may be especially relevant for philosophers. We are often misled by the promises of various why-explanation accounts, and seem to have forgotten nearly everything about the diversity of how-possibly explanations. (shrink)
Semmelweis’s work predates the discovery of the power of randomization in medicine by almost a century. Although Semmelweis would not have consciously used a randomized controlled trial (RCT), some features of his material—the allocation of patients to the first and second clinics—did involve what was in fact a randomization, though this was not realised at the time. This article begins by explaining why Semmelweis’s methodology, nevertheless, did not amount to the use of a RCT. It then shows why it is (...) descriptively and normatively interesting to compare what he did with the modern approach using RCTs. The argumentation centres on causal inferences and the contrast between Semmelweis’s causal concept and that deployed by many advocates of RCTs. It is argued that Semmelweis’s approach has implications for matters of explanation and medical practice. (shrink)
Sometimes instances of perceived causation turn out to lack causal relata. The reasons may vary. Causation may display itself as prevention, or as omission, and in some cases causation occurs within such complex environments that few of the things we associate with causes and effects are true of them, etc. But even then, there may be causal explanations to be had. This suggests that the explanatory power of causal reports have other sources than the relation between cause and effect. In (...) this paper it is argued that the causal mechanisms we allude to in explanations have relevant determinables other than the traditionally acknowledged ones. The traditional but in this aspect mistaken view of causation is to be blamed. Discernability, complexity of manifestation, originality, and even stability have often been overlooked. We know, that, in fact, heat is a constant attendant of flame; but what is the connexion between them, we have no room so much as to conjecture or imagine. (Hume 1777, VII. 2, 64). (shrink)
Much has been written on the relative merits of different readings of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The recent renewal of the debate has almost exclusively been concerned with variants of the ineffabilist (metaphysical) reading of TL-P - notable such readings have been advanced by Elizabeth Anscombe, P. M. S. Hacker and H. O. Mounce - and the recently advanced variants of therapeutic (resolute) readings - notable advocates of which are James Conant, Cora Diamond, Juliet Floyd and Michael Kremer. During this debate, (...) there have been a number of writers who have tried to develop a third way, incorporating what they see as insights and avoiding what they see as flaws in both the ineffabilist and resolute readings. The most prominent advocates of these elucidatory readings of TL-P are Dan Hutto (2003) and Marie McGinn (1999). In this paper we subject Hutto's and McGinn's readings of TL-P to critical scrutiny. We find that in seeking to occupy the middle ground they ultimately find themselves committed to (and in the process commit Wittgenstein to) the very ineffabilism they (and Wittgenstein) are seeking to overcome. (shrink)
Analytic philosophers are often accused of ignoring the large questions that philosophy should be about and of concentrating instead on small technical questions that no one else is interested in. This accusation is not entirely unfounded. However, in order to answer large philosophical questions, we often need to answer many smaller and more technical ones first, whether or not anyone is interested in the answers to them. In his excellent new book The Retreat of Reason: A Dilemma in the Philosophy (...) of Life, the Swedish philosopher Ingmar Persson does exactly that. The large philosophical question Persson tries to answer is: how should we lead our lives? His answer emerges slowly, via a large number of smaller and more technical questions. But Persson always does his best to explain how his answers to the smaller questions contribute to his answer to the large one, and anyone who makes the effort to read this book is likely to be rewarded with many new insights. (shrink)
I rejoinder to Ingmar Persson’s reply to my paper ‘The Metaphysical Status of the Embryo: Some Arguments Revisited’. I argue that Persson, having conceded a large part of my case, has still misunderstood or not fully appreciated the force of that case when he claims the arguments I criticize still make it reasonable to think that a human being does not come into existence at fertilization. In addition, his appeal to the totipotency argument as remaining unscathed by my critique does (...) not succeed. (shrink)
Jacques Arènes | : Marie de la Trinité est une mystique contemporaine dont Jacques Lacan fut l’analyste. Cette trajectoire est paradigmatique de la manière dont une mystique rencontre la souffrance psychique dans le paysage culturel du milieu du xxe siècle. La pensée de Jacques Lacan concernant la mystique, ainsi que des considérations psychanalytiques plus générales à propos de la paternité, sont mises en relation avec la logique apophatique de cette spirituelle. Cette mystique « antinaturelle » se déploie en une (...) sécheresse vertigineuse, à la lisière du Symbolique, et dans une fascination vis-à-vis de l’attraction du Père, impérieuse et contrariée. L’article analyse en particulier, à travers la figure de Marie de la Trinité, la manière dont la mystique contemporaine se confronte, dans le champ chrétien, à la question de la mort de Dieu, et du déclin du Père. | : Marie de la Trinité was a contemporary mystic who was analyzed by Jacques Lacan. The trajectory of her life is a paradigmatic example of the way in which a mystic encountered psychic suffering in the cultural landscape of the mid-20th century. Jacques Lacan’s thinking about mysticism, as well as broader psychoanalytical considerations about fatherhood, are associated here with the apophatic path of Marie. As her counter-natural mysticism unfolds she draws ever closer to the symbolic, fascinated by the dual nature of the attraction, at once imperious and impeded, exerted by the Father. This article uses the figure of Marie de la Trinité as the specific vantage point to examine how contemporary Christian mysticism is faced with the question of the death of God and the decline of the Father. (shrink)
Valérie Chevassus-Marchionni | : Le « cas » de Marie de la Trinité illustre d’une manière particulière la thématique « croyance et psychanalyse ». En effet, chez cette soeur dominicaine des campagnes, la foi religieuse et la croyance en sa vocation de dévotion interfèrent très étroitement avec l’expérience psychanalytique : d’une part, elle se prête pendant quatre années à une cure psychanalytique avec le docteur Jacques Lacan, d’autre part, elle exercera elle-même quelque temps la profession de psychothérapeute. Pour (...) class='Hi'>Marie de la Trinité, la psychanalyse arrive à un moment critique de son existence, alors que ce qu’elle nomme ses « obsessions » lui rendent la vie impossible et lui interdisent même de pratiquer sa foi ; elle se tourne alors vers des traitements divers, parfois brutaux et inhumains. Ce n’est pas la psychanalyse qui la guérira, mais c’est à partir de cette expérience qu’il lui sera donné de triompher de son mal et, en comprenant quelle en était l’origine, d’entreprendre « sa propre rééducation » et de connaître « la lumière et l’harmonie » dans sa vie de dévotion. | : The case of Mary of the Trinity illustrates in a particular way the thematic of “belief and psychoanalysis”. Indeed, in this Dominican sister, a missionary in the country, religious faith and belief in her vocation of devotion closely interfere with psychoanalytical experience : on the one hand she undergoes a four year psychoanalytical cure with Doctor Jacques Lacan ; on the other hand she works for a while as a psychotherapeutist. For Mary of the Trinity psychoanalysis appears at a critical moment in her life, just as what she calls her “obsessions” make her life unbearable and even prevent her from practising her faith ; then she tries many different treatments, sometimes brutal and inhuman. Psychoanalysis won’t cure her, but thanks to this experience, she will overcome her pain and by understanding its origin will undertake “her own reeducation” and know “light and harmony” in her life of devotion. (shrink)
Anne-Marie Weidler Kubanek: Nothing less than an adventure: Ellen Gleditsch and her life in science Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9119-8 Authors Marelene Rayner-Canham, Memorial University, Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook, NL, Canada Geoff Rayner-Canham, Memorial University, Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook, NL, Canada Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
A history of the Atomic Bomb from Marie Curie to Hiroshima. “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” — Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita after witnessing the successful demonstration of the atom bomb. The bomb, which killed an estimated 140,000 civilians in Hiroshima and destroyed the countryside for miles around, was one of the defining moments in world history. That mushroom cloud cast a terrifying shadow over the contemporary world and continues to do so today. But how could (...) this have happened? What led to the creation of such a weapon of mass destruction? From the moment scientists contemplated the destructive potential of splitting the atom, the role of science changed. Ethical and moral dilemmas faced all those who realized the implications of their research. Before the Fall-Out charts the chain of events from Marie Curie’s scientific breakthrough through the many colourful characters such as Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer and Lord Rutherford, whose discoveries contributed to the bomb. The story of the atomic bomb spans 50 years of prolific scientific innovation, turbulent politics, foreign affairs and world-changing history. Through personal stories of exile, indecision and soul-searching, to charges of collaboration, spying and deceit, Diana Preston presents the human side of an unstoppable programme with a lethal outcome. (shrink)
This paper discusses the argument for preference utilitarianism proposed by Richard Hare in Moral Thinking(Hare, 1981). G. F. Schueler (1984) and Ingmar Persson (1989) identified a serious gap in Hare’s reasoning, which might be called the No-Conflict Problem. The paper first tries to fill the gap. Then, however, starting with an idea of Zeno Vendler, the question is raised whether the gap is there to begin with. Unfortunately, this Vendlerian move does not save Hare from criticism. Paradoxically, it instead endangers (...) the whole argumentative enterprise. (shrink)
L. M. de Rijk, born at Hilversum (Nederland) November, 6 1924, is Professor Emeritus of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at the University of Leiden, and Honorary Professor at the University of Maastricht. A complete bibliography of his writings up to 1999 is available in: Maria Kardaun and Joke Spruyt (eds.) - The winged chariot. Collected essays on Plato and Platonism in honour of L. M. de Rijk - Leiden, Brill, 2000. pp. XV-XXVI. I made some corrections, updated the bibliography and (...) omitted the publications in Dutch. (shrink)
: This introduction highlights two of Mondzain's contributions in the chapter reproduced here, "Iconic Space and the Rule of Lands." The first is her discussion of a link between images and power, which stresses the formal characteristics of paintings rather than their narratives. The second is her examination of the specific task which representation is called on to perform in religious as opposed to secular contexts, where spiritual, otherworldly figures are given physical shape and form.