In a series of recent works, Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson insist that, given the ease by which irreversible destruction is achievable by a morally wicked minority, (i) strictly cognitive bio-enhancement is currently too risky, while (ii) moral bio-enhancement is plausibly morally mandatory (and urgently so). This paper aims to show that the proposal Savulescu & Persson advance relies on several problematic assumptions about the separability of cognitive and moral enhancement as distinct aims. Specifically, we propose that the underpinnings of (...) Savulescu’s & Persson’s normative argument unravel once it is suitably clear how aiming to cognitively enhance an individual will in part require that one aim to bring about certain moral goods we show to be essential to cognitive flourishing; conversely, aiming to bring about moral enhancement in an individual must involve aiming to improve certain cognitive capacities we show to be essential to moral flourishing. After developing these points in some detail, and their implication for Savulescu’s & Persson’s proposal, we conclude by outlining some positive suggestions. (shrink)
Epistemic relativists often appeal to an epistemic incommensurability thesis. One notable example is the position advanced by Wittgenstein in On certainty (1969). However, Ian Hacking’s radical denial of the possibility of objective epistemic reasons for belief poses, we suggest, an even more forceful challenge to mainstream meta-epistemology. Our central objective will be to develop a novel strategy for defusing Hacking’s line of argument. Specifically, we show that the epistemic incommensurability thesis can be resisted even if we grant the very insights (...) that lead Hacking to claim that epistemic reasons are always relative to a style of reasoning. Surprisingly, the key to defusing the argument is to be found in recent mainstream work on the epistemic state of objectual understanding. (shrink)
Duncan Pritchard (2008, 2009, 2010, forthcoming) has argued for an elegant solution to what have been called the value problems for knowledge at the forefront of recent literature on epistemic value. As Pritchard sees it, these problems dissolve once it is recognized that that it is understanding-why, not knowledge, that bears the distinctive epistemic value often (mistakenly) attributed to knowledge. A key element of Pritchard’s revisionist argument is the claim that understanding-why always involves what he calls strong cognitive achievement—viz., cognitive (...) achievement that consists always in either (i) the overcoming of a significant obstacle or (ii) the exercise of a significant level of cognitive ability. After outlining Pritchard’s argument, we show (contra Pritchard) that understanding-why does not essentially involve strong cognitive achievement. Interestingly, in the cases in which understanding-why is distinctively valuable, it is (we argue) only because there is sufficiently rich objectual understanding in the background. If that’s right, then a plausible revisionist solution to the value problems must be sensitive to different kinds of understanding and what makes them valuable, respectively. (shrink)
If Savulescu's (2001, 2009) controversial principle of Procreative Beneficence (PB) is correct, then an important implication is that couples should employ genetic tests for non-disease traits in selecting which child to bring into existence. Both defenders as well as some critics of this normative entailment of PB have typically accepted the comparatively less controversial claim about non-disease traits: that there are non-disease traits such that testing and selecting for them would in fact contribute to bringing about the child who is (...) expected to have the best life. We challenge this less controversial claim, not by arguing deductively for its falsity, but by showing that Savulescu's central argument for this presumably less controversial claim fails. Savulescu offers intelligence as the paradigm example of a testable non-disease trait such that testing and selecting for it would increase the likelihood that the child selected would be the one who is expected to have the best life (or at least as good a life as the others). We provide a series of arguments aimed at demonstrating that Savulescu's argument from intelligence fails. If our arguments are successful, the upshot is not that PB is false, but more modestly, that the burden of proof remains squarely with Savulescu. (shrink)
Aims. Currently, methylphenidate (MPH, trade name Ritalin) is the most widely prescribed medication for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We examined the ability of repeated MPH administration to produce a sensitized appetitive eagerness type response in laboratory rats, as indexed by 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (50-kHz USVs). We also examined the ability of MPH to reduce play behavior in rats which may be partially implicated in the clinical efficacy of MPH in ADHD. Design. 56 adolescent rats received injections of either 5.0 mg/kg (...) MPH, or vehicle each day for 8 consecutive days, and a week later received a challenge injection of either MPH or vehicle. Measurements. Both play behavior (pins) and 50-kHz USVs were recorded after each drug or vehicle administration. Results. MPH challenge produced a substantial 73% reduction in play behavior during the initial treatment phase, and during the last test (1 week post drug), 50-kHz USVs were elevated approximately threefold only in animals with previous MPH experience. Conclusions. These data suggest that MPH treatment may lead to psychostimulant sensitization in young animals, perhaps by increasing future drug-seeking tendencies due to an elevated eagerness for positive incentives. Further, we hypothesize that MPH may be reducing ADHD symptoms, in part, by blocking playful tendencies, whose neuro-maturational and psychological functions remain to be adequately characterized. (shrink)
A history of injustices to diverse groups of human subjects in medical research has resulted in concerted efforts by U.S. policymakers in the second half of the twentieth century to provide greater protection for future subjects. However, in the context of patient populations demanding better therapies, potential medical advances, and greater attention to issues of social justice, Kahn, Mastroianni, and Sugarman set out to reconceptualize the principle of justice in human subjects research to address these urgent concerns. In BeyondConsent, Kahn (...) and colleagues advance a framework of justice in terms of access to participation in research, instead of protection. Their worthy cause, developed out of collaboration on the White House Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, aims to demonstrate how previously unaddressed notions of justice now require greater consideration in research. Specifically, they emphasize how fairness requires a greater distribution of risks and benefits, and that The volume does not report new research findings but rather draws on multidisciplinary approaches, including law, medicine, philosophy, history, and health policy, to argue that justice must go beyond informed consent. The editors posit that this challenge to protectionism is necessary given the heightened urgency for patients to benefit from investigational therapies although they incur increased risks. (shrink)
We describe a novel Internet-based method for building consensus and clarifying con icts in large stakeholder groups facing complex issues, and we use the method to survey and map the scienti c and organizational perspectives of the arti cial life community during the Seventh International Conference on Arti cial Life (summer 2000). The issues addressed in this survey included arti cial life’s main successes, main failures, main open scienti c questions, and main strategies for the future, as well as the (...) bene ts and pitfalls of creating a professional society for arti cial life. By illuminating the arti cial life community’s collective perspective on these issues, this survey illustrates the value of such methods of harnessing the collective intelligence of large stakeholder groups. (shrink)
Collection of original essays on the theory of desire by Robert Audi, Annette Baier, Wayne Davis, Ronald de Sousa, Robert Gordon, O.H. Green, Joel Marks, Dennis Stampe, Mitchell Staude, Michael Stocker, and C.C.W. Taylor.
This paper focuses on the claim by Schneider and Butcher (2000) that it makes little sense to criticise the use of performance-enhancing drugs as ?dehumanising? (as, for example, Hoberman does (1992)) because we are unable to give a satisfactory account of what it is to be human. Schneider and Butcher (2000, 196) put this as follows: ?The dehumanisation argument is interesting but incomplete. It is incomplete because we do not have an agreed-upon conception of what it is to be human. (...) Without this it is difficult to see why some practices should count as dehumanising.? The paper begins by considering J.L. Austin's (1962) treatment of the word ?real?. By transposing ideas from Austin to the terms ?dehumanise? and ?human? I argue that (a) In the pair ?dehumanise? and ?human?, the term ?dehumanise? is dominant; (b) We cannot understand ?dehumanise? and ?human? independently of either the context of their use or the contrast that is drawn in their use; (c) Either one of these is sufficient to understand the terms; (d) ?Dehumanise?, ?human? and their cognates are not univocal; we can have no recourse to exceptionless accounts of the meaning of such terms. The importance of context is developed further by consideration of an example from the work of Charles Travis (2005), and the issue of exceptionless accounts of the meaning of words is addressed through an application of Gordon Baker's (2004) characterisation of Wittgenstein's uses of the term ?metaphysical? to Miah's (2004) treatment of human-ness. I argue that Miah's conception of human-ness exhibits all the forms of metaphysical use of terms (in this case the term ?human?) outlined by Baker (2004). The article attempts to clarify some objections to the use of performance-enhancing drugs and the prospect of genetic modification of athletes by sketching an overview of possible concrete uses of ?dehumanise?. The focus of the paper, however, is on ?making sense of what we (are inclined to) say ? [rather than] making explicit what underlies what we say? (McFee, 1993/4, 115). (shrink)
The Varieties of British Political Thought 1500?1800 edited by J. G. A. Pocock with the assistance of Gordon J. Schochet and Lois G. Schwoerer, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, in association with the Folger Institute, Washington D.C., 1993, pp. 373 + x, ISBN 0 521 443776, £40.00 $59.95.
Plato: Symposium, translated by B. Jowett. Phaedo, translated by B. Jowett. Sophist, translated by B. Jowett.--Aristotle: De anima, translated by R. D. Hicks. Metaphysics (selections) translated by H. Tredennick. Nichomachean ethics (selections) translated by H. Rackham.--R. Descartes: Meditations, translated by E. S. Haldane and G. R. T. Ross.--G. Berkeley: Three dialogues between Hylas and Philonus.--D. Hume: Dialogues concerning natural religion.--I. Kant: Prolegomena to every future, translated by C. J. Friedrich. Metaphysical foundations of morals, translated by C. J. Friedrich.
In this paper we investigate a number of analytical solutions to the polynomial class of nonlinear Klein-Gordon equations in multidimensional spacetime. This is done in the context of classical φ4 and φ6 field theory, the former with and without the inclusion of an external force field conjugate to φ. Both massive (m≠0) and massless (m=0) cases are considered, as well as tachyonic solutions allowed (v>c). We first present a complete set of translationally invariant solutions for the φ4 model and (...) demonstrate the role of external force fields in altering the form of these solutions. Next, spherically symmetric solutions are discussed in both φ4 and φ6 cases since they provide the most realistic models of elementary particles. (shrink)