Is there any moral obligation to improve oneself, to foster and develop various capacities in oneself? From a broadly Kantian point of view, Self-Improvement defends the view that there is such an obligation and that it is an obligation that each person owes to him or herself. The defence addresses a range of arguments philosophers have mobilized against this idea, including the argument that it is impossible to owe anything to yourself, and the view that an obligation to improve onself (...) is overly 'moralistic'. Robert N. Johnson argues against Kantian universalization arguments for the duty of self-improvement, as well as arguments that bottom out in a supposed value humanity has. At the same time, he defends a position based on the notion that self- and other-respecting agents would, under the right circumstances, accept the principle of self-improvement and would leave it up to each to be the person to whom this duty is owed. (shrink)
The similarity of documents in a large database of published Fractals articles was examined for redundancy. Three different text matching techniques were used on published Abstracts to identify redundancy candidates, and predictions were verified by reading full text versions of the redundancy candidate articles. A small fraction of the total articles in the database was judged to be redundant. This was viewed as a lower limit, because it excluded cases where the concepts remained the same, but the text was altered (...) substantially. Far more pervasive than redundant publications were publications that did not violate the letter of redundancy but rather violated the spirit of redundancy. There appeared to be widespread publication maximization strategies. Studies that resulted in one comprehensive paper decades ago now result in multiple papers that focus on one major problem, but are differentiated by parameter ranges, or other stratifying variables. This ‘paper inflation’ is due in large part to the increasing use of metrics (publications, patents, citations, etc) to evaluate research performance, and the researchers’ motivation to maximize the metrics. (shrink)
The similarity of documents in a large database of published Fractals articles was examined for redundancy. Three different text matching techniques were used on publisheds to identify redundancy candidates, and predictions were verified by reading full text versions of the redundancy candidate articles. A small fraction of the total articles in the database was judged to be redundant. This was viewed as a lower limit, because it excluded cases where the concepts remained the same, but the text was altered substantially.Far (...) more pervasive than redundant publications were publications that did not violate the letter of redundancy but rather violated the spirit of redundancy. There appeared to be widespread publication maximization strategies. Studies that resulted in one comprehensive paper decades ago now result in multiple papers that focus on one major problem, but are differentiated by parameter ranges, or other stratifying variables. This ‘paper inflation’ is due in large part to the increasing use of metrics (publications, patents, citations, etc) to evaluate research performance, and the researchers’ motivation to maximize the metrics. (shrink)
If any action is to be morally good it is not enough that it should conform to the moral law-it must also be done for the sake of the moral law: where this is not so, the conformity is only too contingent and precarious, since the nonmoral ground at work will now and then produce actions which accord with the law, but very often actions which transgress it.
You might think a simple “No” would suffice as an answer. But there are features of Kant’s ethics that appear to be strikingly similar to virtue oriented views, so striking that some Kantians themselves have argued that Kant’s ethics in fact shares these features with virtue ethics. In what follows, I will argue against this view, though along the way I will acknowledge the features of Kant’s view that make it appear more like a kind of virtue ethics than it (...) really is. My plan is to first set out the distinctive features of what is nowadays called “virtue ethics”, those features that make it a genuine alternative to other normative theories. I then consider the features Kant’s view might share in common with virtue ethics and the case for saying that it is, therefore, fundamentally the same sort of theory. I follow these two sections with an argument against this position. I want to warn you at the outset, however, that my argument itself will be quite unsurprising, since it is an argument that has been central to the way in which most philosophers have understood Kant’s ethics. Any novelty I can claim here is in my account of what makes virtue ethics a genuine alternative to other normative theories, and my defense of this argument against those, in particular Barbara Herman, who have apparently found the argument unpersuasive. (shrink)
Assuming that we do not freely do what we unavoidably do, and that to wish for and seek something is to have it as an end of action, these two claims from the Doctrine of Virtue seem inconsistent.3 The inconsistency, if genuine, is not harmless. The first claim (hereafter, ‘E’), and equivalent statements elsewhere express the extent of Kant’s belief in free will, as well as feature in his arguments that there are ends that are duties, and that such duties (...) cannot be constrained by others but only self-constrained.4 The second claim (hereafter, ‘H’) and equivalent statements elsewhere feature in Kant’s arguments that we can have no direct duty to pursue our own happiness, that prudential rationality is distinct from mere skillfulness, and that, unlike the Categorical Imperative (CI), the problem of the ‘possibility’ of a hypothetical imperative needs no solution.5 This is, in other words, an inconsistency between basic premises of Kant’s moral philosophy. I am not confident that there is any way of squaring E and H, given the uses to which Kant puts them. I am confident that the most plausible ways that Kantians have tried to put.. (shrink)
In an earlier paper I identified two desiderata of a theory of practical reasons which favour internalism, and then argued that forms of this doctrine which are currently on offer lose either one or the other in trying to avoid the conditional fallacy. Michael Brady, Mark van Roojen and Josh Gert have separately attempted to respond to my argument. I set out reasons why all fail.
Kantian ethics can at times appear to defend the position that there is a unique sort of value that plays a foundational role in morality. For instance, Kant’s most well known work in ethics, the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, begins by trying to establish that a good will is good ‘without qualification’ and then ends with a first statement of the fundamental principle that divides right from wrong, the Categorical Imperative.1 This presentation can make it seems as if (...) Kant believes the authority carried by the Categorical Imperative is somehow supposed to be grounded in the value of a good will. Again, the humanity formulation of the Categorical Imperative, the formulation that tell us we must respect the humanity in ourselves and others by treating it as an end in itself, appears to allude to a special value possessed by some feature of persons, their humanity, and then explain the authority of moral obligation by way of that value.2 This extolling of the value of humanity and the dramatic refrain about the unique value of a good will both appear to portray Kant as telling us to notice the peculiar value that they possess and see that this value demands that we adjust our deliberation and actions. We appear to be told that the good will and humanity are bits of metaphysical glitter, jewels carrying their value around with them, and that this unique glitter is source of the authority of moral obligation. (shrink)
Almost any modern reader's first encounter with Darwin's writing is likely to be the "Historical Sketch," inserted by Darwin as a preface to an early edition of the Origin of Species, and having since then appeared as the preface to every edition after the second English edition. The Sketch was intended by him to serve as a short "history of opinion" on the species question before he presented his own theory in the Origin proper. But the provenance of the "Historical (...) Sketch" is somewhat obscure. Some things are known about its production, such as when it first appeared and what changes were made to it between its first appearance in 1860 and its final form, for the fourth English edition, in 1866. But how it evolved in Darwin's mind, why he wrote it at all, and what he thought he was accomplishing by prefacing it to the Origin remain questions that have not been carefully addressed in the scholarly literature on Darwin I attempt to show that Darwin's various statements about the "Historical Sketch," made primarily to several of his correspondents between 1856 and 1860, are somewhat in conflict with one another, thus making problematic a satisfactory interpretation of how, when, and why the Sketch came to be. I also suggest some probable resolutions to the several difficulties. (shrink)
Bering makes a good case for turning attention to an organized system that provides the self with transcendental meaning. In focusing on the evolutionary basis of this system, however, he overlooks the self-organizing properties of cognitive systems themselves. We propose that the illusory system Bering describes can be more generally and parsimoniously viewed as an emergent by-product of self-organization, with no need for specialized “illusion by design.”.
A multidisciplinary faculty committee designed a curriculum to shape biomedical graduate students into researchers with a high commitment to professionalism and social responsibility and to provide students with tools to navigate complex, rapidly evolving academic and societal environments with a strong ethical commitment. The curriculum used problem-based learning (PBL), because it is active and learner-centred and focuses on skill and process development. Two courses were developed: Scientific Professionalism: Scientific Integrity addressed discipline-specific and broad professional norms and obligations for the ethical (...) practice of science and responsible conduct of research (RCR). Scientific Professionalism: Bioethics and Social Responsibility focused on current ethical and bioethical issues within the scientific profession, and implications of research for society. Each small-group session examined case scenarios that included: (1) learning objectives for professional norms and obligations; (2) key ethical issues and philosophies within each topic area; (3) one or more of the RCR instructional areas; and (4) at least one type of moral reflection. Cases emphasised professional standards, obligations and underlying philosophies for the ethical practice of science, competing interests of stakeholders and oversight of science (internal and external). To our knowledge, this is the first use of a longitudinal, multi-semester PBL course to teach scientific integrity and professionalism. Both faculty and students endorsed the active learning approach for these topics, in contrast to a compliance-based approach that emphasises learning rules and regulations. (shrink)
Population-based research is enhanced by biological measures, but biological sampling raises complex ethical issues. The third British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) will estimate the population prevalence of five sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, human papillomavirus (HPV), HIV and Mycoplasma genitalium) in a probability sample aged 16–44 years. The present work describes the development of an ethical approach to urine testing for STIs, including the process of reaching consensus on whether to return results. The (...) following issues were considered: (1) testing for some STIs that are treatable and for which appropriate settings to obtain free testing and advice are widely available (Natsal-3 provides all respondents with STI and healthcare access information), (2) limits on test accuracy and timeliness imposed by survey conditions and sample type, (3) testing for some STIs with unknown clinical and public health implications, (4) how a uniform approach is easier to explain and understand, (5) practical difficulties in returning results and cost efficiency, such as enabling wider STI testing by not returning results. The agreed approach, to perform voluntary anonymous testing with specific consent for five STIs without returning results, was approved by stakeholders and a research ethics committee. Overall, this was acceptable to respondents in developmental piloting; 61% (68 of 111) of respondents agreed to provide a sample. The experiences reported here may inform the ethical decision making of researchers, research ethics committees and funders considering population-based biological sampling. (shrink)
It has often been argued that if a clinician cannot decide which of two treatments to offer, a trial may be ethical, but it is unethical if she/he has a preference. Since individual clinicians usually have a preference, most trials could be judged unethical according to this line of argument. A recent important article in the New England Journal of Medicine argued that individual preferences are not as important as the collective uncertainty of informed clinicians. If clinicians are equally divided, (...) there is a state of collective equipoise and a trial is ethical. However, clinicians will seldom be exactly equally divided. We conducted an ethometric study to find out how much collective equipoise can be disturbed before the potential subjects in a trial think that it is unethical. Half of our subjects perceived a trial as unethical when equipoise was disturbed beyond 70:30. In other words, when 70 per cent of experts favour one treatment, 50 per cent of subjects would prefer that treatment to be administered rather than subjected to critical assessment. When equipoise is disturbed beyond 80:20, less than 3 per cent of subjects would consider human trials morally justifiable. (shrink)
A strong body of opinion contends that late terminations of pregnancy are better carried out by surgical methods. We show that the suggested advantages of greater safety and patient acceptance are based on out-of-date or inaccurate (biased) data. The advantages of medical methods are, however, equally unproven. However, we argue that the adverse emotional and symbolic effects of late surgical termination have moral force. We therefore contend that in the absence of strong patient preference, medical termination is the preferable method; (...) and will remain of that opinion unless clear demonstration of the greater safety of surgical methods can be made at some future date. (shrink)
Cases have been employed across multiple disciplines, including ethics education, as effective pedagogical tools. However, the benefit of case-based learning in the ethics domain varies across cases, suggesting that not all cases are equal in terms of pedagogical value. Indeed, case content appears to influence the extent to which cases promote learning and transfer. Consistent with this argument, the current study explored the influences of contextual and personal factors embedded in case content on ethical decision-making. Cases were manipulated to include (...) a clear description of the social context and the goals of the characters involved. Results indicated that social context, specifically the description of an autonomy-supportive environment, facilitated execution of sensemaking processes and resulted in greater decision ethicality. Implications for designing optimal cases and case-based training programs are discussed. (shrink)
Although case-based training is popular for ethics education, little is known about how specific case content influences training effectiveness. Therefore, the effects of (a) codes of ethical conduct and (b) forecasting content were investigated. Results revealed richer cases, including both codes and forecasting content, led to increased knowledge acquisition, greater sensemaking strategy use, and better decision ethicality. With richer cases, a specific pattern emerged. Specifically, content describing codes alone was more effective when combined with short-term forecasts, whereas content embedding codes (...) within context was more effective when combined with long-term forecasts, leading to greater knowledge acquisition and sensemaking strategy use. (shrink)
This study examined how ethical case study content and the process for working through case material influenced training effectiveness. Specifically, the effects of behavioral modeling content and the use of forecasting prompt questions on knowledge acquisition and transfer were tested. Graduate students participating in a case-based ethics training course read a case where the main actor demonstrated key behaviors effectively (mastery model), some behaviors effectively and some ineffectively (mixed model), or no behaviors (no model). The students then responded to forecasting (...) or summarizing prompts. Results revealed a main effect for modeling content. Explicitly modeling key behaviors within a case improved constraint analyses, sensemaking, and decision ethicality on a transfer task. The mastery model using effective behaviors was most beneficial. Forecasting prompts resulted in better transfer performance when the main actor used a mix of ineffective and effective behaviors. Implications for designing ethics training programs are discussed. (shrink)
This study examined how structuring case-based ethics training, either through (a) case presentation or (b) prompt questions, influences training outcomes. Results revealed an interaction between case presentation and prompt questions such that some form of structure improved effectiveness. Specifically, comparing cases led to greater sensemaking strategy use and decision-ethicality when trainees considered unstructured rather than structured prompts. When cases were presented sequentially, structuring prompts improved training effectiveness. Too much structure, however, decreased future ethical decision making, suggesting that there can be (...) too much of a good thing when structuring case-based ethics education. Implications for designing ethics training programs are discussed. (shrink)
The quantum dynamics of a hydrogen molecule encapsulated inside the cage of a C60 fullerene molecule is investigated using inelastic neutron scattering (INS). The emphasis is on the temperature dependence of the INS spectra which were recorded using time-of-flight spectrometers. The hydrogen endofullerene system is highly quantum mechanical, exhibiting both translational and rotational quantization. The profound influence of the Pauli exclusion principle is revealed through nuclear spin isomerism. INS is shown to be exceptionally able to drive transitions between ortho-hydrogen and (...) para-hydrogen which are spin-forbidden to photon spectroscopies. Spectra in the temperature range 1.6≤T≤280 K are presented, and examples are given which demonstrate how the temperature dependence of the INS peak amplitudes can provide an effective tool for assigning the transitions. It is also shown in a preliminary investigation how the temperature dependence may conceivably be used to probe crystal field effects and inter-fullerene interactions. (shrink)
The effectiveness of case-based learning in ethics education varies widely regarding how cases are presented. Case process instruction may impact case-based ethics education to promote sensemaking processes, ethical sensemaking strategy use, and ethical decision making (EDM) quality. This study examined two teaching techniques, notes and review, and participants completed note-taking and review activities examining a case-based scenario during an ethics education course. Results suggest that providing case notes in outline form improves sensemaking processes, strategy use, and EDM quality. In addition, (...) combining processes of provided notes and passive review results in incremental, additive performance via certain ethical sensemaking strategies and EDM quality. (shrink)