Patrick Toner has recently criticized accounts of substance provided by Kit Fine, E. J. Lowe, and the author, accounts which say (to a first approximation) that substances cannot depend on things other than their own parts. On Toner’s analysis, the inclusion of this parts exception results in a disjunctive definition of substance rather than a unified account. In this paper (speaking only for myself, but in a way that would, I believe, support the other authors that Toner discusses), I first (...) make clear what Toner’s criticism is, and then I respond to it. Including the parts exception is not the adding of a second condition but instead the creation of a new single condition. Since it is not the adding of a condition, the result is not disjunctive. Therefore, the objection fails. (shrink)
The author describes his efforts to become a participant observer while he was a Program Director at the NSF. He describes his plans for keeping track of his reflections and his goals before he arrived at NSF, then includes sections from his reflective diary and comments after he had completed his two-year rotation. The influx of rotators means the NSF has to be an adaptive, learning organization but there are bureaucratic obstacles in the way.
The lives of persons are valuable, but are all humans persons? Some humans—the immature, the damaged, and the defective—are not capable, here and now, of engaging in the rational activities characteristic of persons, and for this reason, one might call their personhood into question. A standard way of defendingit is by appeal to potentiality: we know they are persons because we know they have the potentiality to engage in rational activities. In this paper I develop acomplementary strategy based on normativity. (...) We know that the humans in question are persons because we know that lacking the here-and-now ability to engage in rational activities is—for them, unlike for tulips or kittens—a falling-short of some norm. Their personhood, in other words, is established on the basis of their being subject to the norm of having those here-and-now capacities. (shrink)
The societal and ethical impacts of emerging technological and business systems cannot entirely be foreseen; therefore, management of these innovations will require at least some ethicists to work closely with researchers. This is particularly critical in the development of new systems because the maximum degrees of freedom for changing technological direction occurs at or just after the point of breakthrough; that is also the point where the long-term implications are hardest to visualize. Recent work on shared expertise in Science & (...) Technology Studies (STS) can help create productive collaborations among scientists, engineers, ethicists and other stakeholders as these new systems are designed and implemented. But collaboration across these disciplines will be successful only if scientists, engineers, and ethicists can communicate meaningfully with each other. The establishment of a trading zone coupled with moral imagination present one method for such collaborative communication. (shrink)
As computating technologies become ubiquitous and at least partly autonomous, they will have increasing impact on societies, both in the developed and developing worlds. This article outlines a framework for guiding emerging technologies in directions that promise social as well as technical progress. Multiple stakeholders will have to be engaged in dialogues over new technological directions, forming trading zones in which knowledge and resources are exchanged. Such discussions will have to incorporate cultural and individual values.
The paper takes up a traditional view that has also been a part of some recent analytic metaphysics, namely, the view that substance is to be understood in terms of independence. Taking as my point of departure some recent remarks by Kit Fine, I propose reviving the Aristotelian-scholastic idea that the sense in which substances are independent is that they are non-inherent, and I do so by developing a broad notion of inherence that is more usable in the context of (...) contemporary analytic metaphysics than the traditional notion is. I end by showing how non-inherence, while necessary for being a substance, cannot be taken as sufficient without some qualifying remarks. (shrink)
Although the idea of intellectual property (IP) rights—proprietary rights to what one invents, writes, paints, composes or creates—is firmlyembedded in Western thinking, these rights are now being challenged across the globe in a number of areas. This paper will focus on one of these challenges: government-sanctioned copying of patented drugs without permission or license of the patent owner in the name of national security, in health emergencies, or life-threatening epidemics. After discussing standard rights-based and utilitarian arguments defending intellectual property we (...) will present another model. IP is almost always a result of a long history of scientific or technological development and numbers of networks of creativity, not the act of a single person or a group of people at one moment in time. Thus thinking about and evaluating IP requires thinking about IP as shared rights. A network approach to IP challenges a traditional model of IP. It follows that the owner of those rights has some obligations to share that information or its outcomes. If that conclusion is applied to the distribution of antiretroviral drugs, what pharmaceutical companies are ethically required to do to increase access to these medicines in the developing world will have to be reanalyzed from a more systemic perspective. (shrink)
In his recent "Thomas vs. Thomas: A New Approach to Nagel's Bat Argument", Yujin Nagasawa interprets Thomas Nagel as making a certain argument against physicalism and objects that this argument transgresses a principle, laid down by Thomas Aquinas, according to which inability to perform a pseudo-task does not count against an omnipotence claim. Taking Nagasawa's interpretation of Nagel for granted, I distinguish different kinds of omnipotence claims and different kinds of pseudo-tasks, and on that basis show that Nagasawa's criticism of (...) Nagel is unsuccessful. I also show how his reflections do nonetheless point to a limitation of the approach he means to criticize. (shrink)
Successful application of heuristics depends on how a problem is represented, mentally. Moral imagination is a good technique for reflecting on, and sharing, mental representations of ethical dilemmas, including those involving emerging technologies. Future research on moral heuristics should use more ecologically valid problems and combine quantitative and qualitative methods.
Subjectivism about normativity (SN) is the view that norms are never intrinsic to things but are instead always imposed from without. After clarifying what SN is, I argue against it on the basis of its implications concerning intentionality. Intentional states with the mind-to-world direction of fit are essentially norm-subservient, i.e., essentially subject to norms such as truth, coherence, and the like. SN implies that nothing is intrinsically an intentional state of the mind-to-world sort: its being such a state is only (...) a status relative to the imposition of a norm. If one rejects this view of mind-to-world states, then one has grounds for rejecting SN itself. If one accepts it, an infinite regress arises that makes it impossible for norms to be imposed, which means that SN has undermined itself. (shrink)
Au cœur de la philosophic de John Searle se trouve une compréhension biologique de l'esprit. Mais il y a une tension dans saposition. D'un côté, la biologiemoderne, telle quit la comprend, requiert une certaine conception de la normativité. D'un autre côte, la façon dont Searle lui-même comprend I'intentionnalité requiert une conception très différente de la normativité. Pour résoudre la difficulté, Searle devrait à la fois modifier sa compréhension de la biologie et nuancer son idée que l'esprit est un phénomène biologique (...) comme n'importe quel autre. (shrink)
This review of Gigerenzer, Todd, and the ABC Research Group's Simple heuristics that make us smart focuses on the role of heuristics in discovery, invention, and hypothesis-testing and concludes with a comment on the role of heuristics in population growth.
Dienes & Perner's theoretical framework should be applicable to two related areas: technological innovation and the psychology of scientific reasoning. For the former, this commentary focuses on the example of nuclear weapon design, and on the decision to launch the space shuttle Challenger. For the latter, this commentary focuses on Klayman and Ha's positive test heuristic and the invention of the telephone.