I want to explore four different exercises of interpretation: (1) the interpretation of texts (or hermeneutics), (2) the interpretation of people (otherwise known as "attribution" psychology, or cognitive or intentional psychology), (3) the interpretation of other artifacts (which I shall call artifact hermeneutics), (4) the interpretation of organism design in evolutionary biology--the controversial interpretive activity known as adaptationism.
This is the fourth chapter of my dissertation, Hedonic Value (Director: Jonathan Bennett), Syracuse University, August, 1998. It is an unpublished revision of my "Is It Good to Make Happy People?" Bioethics 12 (April 1998), pp. 93-110. I systematically lay out and assess all the main arguments on each side and conclude that, Yes, it is good to add individuals to the population who would have lives worth living.
In formulating procreative principles, it makes sense to begin by thinking about whose interests ought to matter to us. Obviously, we care about those who exist. Less obviously, but still uncontroversially, we care about those who will exist. Ought we to care about those who might possibly, but will not actually, exist? Recently, unusual positions have been taken regarding merely possible people and the non-identity problem. David Velleman argues that what might have happened to you – an existent person (...) – often doesn't merit moral consideration since the alternative person one would have been had what might have happened actually happened is a merely possible person about whom one has no reason to care. He argues that his way of thinking can eliminate the non-identity problem. Caspar Hare argues that merely possible people have interests and are morally relevant. He argues that we can solve the non-identity problem by rejecting the view that merely possible people are morally irrelevant. Both Hare and Velleman argue that focusing on one's de dicto rather than on one's de re children can help us avoid the non-identity problem. I analyze the role that merely possible, nonexistent hypothetical entities ought to play in our moral reasoning, especially with regard to procreation. I refute both Velleman's and Hare's views and demonstrate the difficulties we encounter when we try to apply their views to common non-identity cases. I conclude with the common-sense view regarding who matters, morally: only those who do, did, or will exist. (shrink)
Most people are skeptical of the claim that the expectation that a person would have a life that would be well worth living provides a reason to cause that person to exist. In this essay I argue that to cause such a person to exist would be to confer a benefit of a noncomparative kind and that there is a moral reason to bestow benefits of this kind. But this conclusion raises many problems, among which is that it must (...) be determined how the benefits conferred on people by causing them to exist weigh against comparable benefits conferred on existing people. In particular, might the reason to cause people to exist ever outweigh the reason to save the lives of existing people? (shrink)
This essay explores the process and issues related to community collaborative research that involves Native Americans generally, and specifically examines the Navajo Nation’s efforts to regulate research within its jurisdiction. Researchers need to account for both the experience of Native Americans and their own preconceptions about Native Americans when conducting research about Native Americans. The Navajo Nation institutionalized an approach to protecting members of the nation when it took over Institutional Review Board (IRB) responsibilities from the US Indian Health Service (...) (IHS) in 1996. While written regulations for the Navajo Nation IRB are not dissimilar, and in some ways are less detailed than those of the IHS IRB, in practice the Navajo Nation allows less flexibility. Primary examples of this include not allowing expedited review and requiring prepublication review of all manuscripts. Because of its broad mandate, the Navajo Nation IRB may also require review of some projects that would not normally be subject to IRB approval, including investigative journalism and secondary research about Navajo People that does not involve direct data collection from human subjects. (shrink)
Health care organizations are constantly seeking ways to improve quality of care and one of the often-posed solutions to deliver ‘good care’ is reflexivity. Several authors stress that enhancing the organizations’ and caregivers’ reflexivity allows for more situated, and therefore better care. Within quality improvement initiatives, devices that guarantee quality are also seen as key to the delivery of good care. These devices do not solely aim at standardizing work practices, but are also of importance in facilitating reflexivity. In this (...) article, we study how quality improvement devices position the relationship between situated reflection and standardization of work processes. By exploring the work of Michel Callon, Michael Lynch, and Lucy Suchman on reflexivity in work practices, we study the development and introduction of the Care Living Plan. This device aimed to transform care organizations of older people from their orientation towards the system of care into organizations that take a client-centred approach. Our analysis of the construction of specific forms of reflexivity in quality devices indicates that the question of reflexivity does not need to be opposed to standardization and needs to be addressed not only at the level of where reflexivity is organizationally situated and who gets to do the reflecting, but also on the content of reflexivity, such as what are the issues that care workers can and cannot reflect upon. In this paper we point out the theoretical importance of a more detailed empirical study of the framing of reflexivity in care practices. (shrink)
Many older people in western countries express a desire to live independently and stay in control of their lives for as long as possible in spite of the afflictions that may accompany old age. Consequently, older people require care at home and additional support. In some care situations, tension and ambiguity may arise between professionals and clients whose views on risk prevention or health promotion may differ. Following Antonovsky’s salutogenic framework, different perspectives between professionals and clients on the (...) pathways that lead to health promotion might lead to mechanisms that explain the origin of these tensions and how they may ultimately lead to reduced responsiveness of older clients to engage in care. This is illustrated with a case study of an older woman living in the community, Mrs Jansen, and her health and social care professionals. The study shows that despite good intentions, engagement, clear division of tasks and tailored care, the responsiveness to receive care can indeed not always be taken for granted. We conclude that to harmonize differences in perspectives between professionals and older people, attention should be given to the way older people endow meaning to the demanding circumstances they encounter (comprehensibility), their perceived feelings of control (manageability), as well as their motivation to comprehend and manage events (meaningfulness). Therefore, it is important that both clients and professionals have an open mind and attempt to understand each others’ perspective, and have a dialogue with each other, taking the life narrative of clients into account. (shrink)
Millions of people undergo displacement in the world. Internally displaced people (IDP) are especially vulnerable as they are not protected by special legislation in contrast to other migrants. Research conducted among IDPs must be correspondingly sensitive in dealing with ethical issues that may arise. Muslim IDPs in Puttalam district in the North-Western province of Sri Lanka were initially displaced from Northern Sri Lanka due to the conflict in 1991. In the backdrop of a study exploring the prevalence of (...) common mental disorders among the IDPs, researchers encountered various ethical challenges. These included inter-related issues of autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, confidentiality and informed consent, and how these were tailored in a culture-specific way to a population that has increased vulnerability. This paper analyses how these ethical issues were perceived, detected and managed by the researchers, and the role of ethics review committees in mental health research concerning IDPs. The relevance of guidelines and methodologies in the context of an atypical study population and the benefit versus risk potential of research for IDPs are also discussed. The limitations that were encountered while dealing with ethical challenges during the study are discussed. The concept of post-research ethical conduct audit is suggested to be considered as a potential step to minimize the exploitation of vulnerable populations such as IDPs in mental health research. (shrink)
Environmental degradation and extractive industry are inextricably linked, and the industry’s adverse impact on air, water, and ground resources has been exacerbated with increased demand for raw materials and their location in some of the more environmentally fragile areas of the world. Historically, companies have managed to control calls for regulation and improved, i.e., more expensive, mining technologies by (a) their importance in economic growth and job creation or (b) through adroit use of their economic power and bargaining leverage against (...) weak national governments, regional and international regulatory bodies. More recently, the industry has had to contend with another set of challenges that involved treatment of indigenous people and their traditional land rights, fair treatment of workers, human rights abuses, and bribery and corruption involving local officials and political leaders. These challenges currently fall outside the traditional areas of regulation and control. Nevertheless, they pose serious threat to the industry’s business practices because of their global scope, threat to company’s reputation, and long-term risks of political instability leading to increasing cost of capital. Industry has responded to these challenges by creating voluntary codes of conduct that would signify their intent to comply with higher standards of conduct, and assuage public opinion that no further action is called for. These codes, however, lack any monitoring mechanism and reporting integrity to assure the public that the industry members are indeed meeting their commitments. Consequently, pressure on the industry continues unabated and with ever increasing calls for mandatory regulation and oversight. This article examines the activities of one mining company, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc., which has taken a radically different approach in responding to these challenges at its mining operations in West Papua, Indonesia. While cooperating with industry-based efforts of voluntary codes of conduct, Freeport also initiated a radically different response through its own voluntary code that would directly focus on issues of human rights, treatment of indigenous people on whose traditional land its mine was located; economic development and job creation and, improvements in health, education, and housing facilities, to name a few. Additionally, the company earmarked large sums of money and involved representatives of the indigenous people in their management and disbursement. The company took an even more radical action when it committed itself to independent external audits of the company’s compliance with the code, and that these findings and company’s responses would be made public without prior censorship by the company. We analyze the nature of corporate culture, vision and risk-taking propensities of its management that would impel the company to embark on a high risk strategy whose outcomes could not be predicted with any degree of certainty before the fact. The parent company also had to confront discontent among the management ranks at the mine site because of cultural differences and management styles of expatriates and local (Indonesian) managers. Finally, we discuss in some detail the extensive and intensive character of a two phase audit conducted by the outside monitors, their findings, and the process by which they were implemented and reported to general public. We also evaluate the strengths and challenges posed by such audits, their importance to the company’s future, and how such projects might be undertaken by other companies. (shrink)
This article gives a practice-based and theoretical overview of the transformation from a traditional hierarchical organization in the care and cure sector towards a so-called Community-driven organization providing human happiness to 6000 elderly people. The actual case study is intertwined with conceptual information for better understanding of the innovative transition which took place at Humanitas. The case description includes its initial situation, its new core values, mission and objectives and shows the sequence of emerging policies and interventions that resulted (...) in a stakeholder oriented business model for the care sector. The selected concepts are Graves'' Emerging Cyclical Level of Existence Theory (or Spiral Dynamics), Ken Wilber''s Four Quadrant Model, Roberts Simons'' Four Levers of Control and various elements from the European Corporate Sustainability Framework sponsored by the European Commission. The conclusion marks the match between theory and practice in transforming Humanitas Rotterdam into providing cure, care, housing and well-being to elderly people. (shrink)
Aos 50 anos do início do Concílio Vaticano II, o artigo pretende articular a chave eclesiológica de sua compreensão da Igreja como povo de Deus (cap II da Lumen Gentium), com o processo de sua recepção no pós-concílio. O Sínodo Extraordinário de 1985 - aos 20 anos do término do Concílio - privilegiou a categoria “comunhão” como chave da eclesiologia conciliar. O Sínodo de 1987 sobre a Vocação e Missão do Leigo na Igreja e no Mundo expressou o desejo de (...) uma aproximação entre povo de Deus e a categoria comunhão. Numa síntese mais abrangente, o autor quer valorizar tanto o Concílio quanto os esforços de sua recepção. Expressa a dupla virada eclesiológica do Concílio: de uma Igreja voltada sobre si para uma voltada para o mundo; da hierarquia para o povo de Deus, sujeito da comunhão eclesial. Reafirma, assim, a chave eclesiológica do Concílio no contexto de sua recepção. Palavras-chaves : Igreja. Povo de Deus. Sujeito Teológico. Comunhão. Concílio Vaticano II.In celebration of 50 years of Vatican II, this article aims to articulate the key of its comprehension of the Catholic Church as God´s People (ch. II Lumen Gentuim) with the process of reception of Vatican II in the post-council. The extraordinary Synod of 1985 – 20 years after the end of the Council was able to focus on the category of ´communion´ as the main key to conciliar ecclesiology. The 1987 Synod on the Vocation and Mission of the Laity in church and in the world as a whole expressed a strong desire for a rapprochement between God´s People and the category of communion´´. In a broader synthesis, the author wants to enhance both the council as well as the efforts of its receipt. Finally, this article seeks to express the double ecclesiologic turn or the Council. Firstly, the turn of a self-centered church to a world-centered church. Secondly, the turn of a church centered in its hierarchy to a church centered in God´s People which is now taken as the subject of ecclesial communion. In this way the ecclesiological key of the Council is reaffirmed within the context of its reception. Keywords : Church. God´s people. Subject. Communion. Vatican II. (shrink)
This paper attempts to examine how the concepts of power, transparency and control are perceived in the life of ordinary Hong Kong people, and how the latter have been adapting to their perceptions and evaluations. The 2008 global financial tsunami and its aftermath will likely have a serious impact on their values. Hong Kong people’s experiences may in some ways represent those of modern men, especially those in East Asia. Democracy is premised on the ideal that life is (...) meaningful through political participation. For most Hong Kong people, this is too demanding an ideal and they instead opt for economic power at the micro-level to secure an optimal measure of control over the socio-economic aspects of their own life. But even this objective has proven extremely difficult to fulfil because of the asymmetry in power between the individual on one hand, and authoritarian regimes, big businesses, organized interest groups, etc. on the other. Very often exit is not a viable option. There may be a tendency to seek satisfaction from religious pursuits, voluntary work, or other external agencies. (shrink)
This paper examines the UN 2000 Trafficking Protocol in the context of international responses to the issue of people trafficking. Attention is drawn to the conceptual flaws in this new instrument regarding the failure to address domestic trafficking, not incorporating the purchasing and selling of people as defining characteristics of trafficking, and the lack of clarity around issues of prostitution. Framing the discussion within feminist theory, the essay concludes that women’s campaigning will continue to be crucial to putting (...) issues such as human trafficking on the international political agenda. This is extended to affirm that people’s struggle against oppressive circumstances will lead the tackling of the underlying causes of trafficking. (shrink)
Normal 0 21 false false false PT-BR X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Este artigo discute as mudanças e permanências que caracterizam o universo simbólico da morte, especialmente no tocante aos rituais fúnebres. O intuito principal é perceber como esses rituais foram se modificando significativamente na sociedade brasileira das últimas décadas do século XX, principalmente nos centros urbanos. Para tanto, investigamos memórias de idosos com sessenta e cinco anos ou mais, socializados no catolicismo e residentes em Curitiba/PR, colhidas por meio da história oral. (...) Sobreviventes, os velhos pesquisados testemunharam muitas mortes e participaram de inúmeros rituais ao longo de sua existência e, por isso mesmo, podem lembra-los e transmiti-los com propriedade. Por meio de suas vozes, abre-se a possibilidade de entender uma época na qual a morte representava verdadeiro acontecimento social que promovia interação e reforçava os laços de solidariedade. Época que contrasta com a atual, caracterizada pela crescente dessocialização da morte e pela aceleração e simplificação das práticas rituais. Palavras-chave: Morte. Rituais fúnebres. Memórias de velhos.This article aims to discuss the changes and continuities that characterize the symbolic universe of death, particularly with regard to funeral rites. This research also aims to comprehend how these rituals have been modified significantly in Brazilian society over the last decades of the twentieth century, especially in urban centers. In this sense, this paper investigates the memories of people older than 65 years of age, who were socialized in Catholicism and resides in Curitiba – Paraná –Brazil. These memories were collected through oral history. The surveyed people witnessed many deaths and participated in various rituals throughout its existence and, for this reason they can recall these rituals and transmit them properly. Through these elderly people, it is possible to understand a period in which death represented true event that promoted social interaction and strengthened the bonds of solidarity. The period analyzed in this research is opposed to the current time, which is characterized by the increase of the de-socialization of death as well as an acceleration and simplification of ritual practices. Keywords : D eath. Funeral rituals. Od people memories. (shrink)
The article shows how merit has been used to highlight pensioners as a special population in the claims-making activities of the senior rights movement in Sweden, as well as in debates about issues concerning old age. Simply put, merit refers to the claim that pensioners have built the society and they are entitled to special treatment – for instance welfare, reverence – for this reason. Merit is concluded to be a rhetorical tool with the potential of countering images of older (...)people as a burden to the young. It portrays seniors as a population worthy of welfare and reverence. Social movements that emphasize merit among seniors will however risk isolation, since such claims to some extent have become associated with populist attacks on immigrants, politicians and other groups labeled as non-merited. (shrink)
With an eye ultimately to answering the question of how business can alleviate poverty completely, the paper examines existing arguments about the approach of business to poverty reduction with the case of people with disabilities living in poverty in Vietnam. The paper suggests that business should take the knowledge and potential of poor people into consideration in its interfaces with different types of poor people: consumers, workers, property owners, etc. Furthermore, investigating how business can help reduce poverty (...) while still earning a profit and ensuring customer satisfaction limits research on business approach to poverty, since it assumes that business will have some “not-for-profit” purposes. The findings point out that businesses with “not-for-profit” purposes serve as a promising area for further exploration and research of business approach to poverty alleviation. (shrink)
Creating agents that proficiently interact with people is critical for many applications. Towards creating these agents, models are needed that effectively predict people's decisions in a variety of problems. To date, two approaches have been suggested to generally describe people's decision behavior. One approach creates a-priori predictions about people's behavior, either based on theoretical rational behavior or based on psychological models, including bounded rationality. A second type of approach focuses on creating models based exclusively on observations (...) of people's behavior. At the forefront of these types of methods are various machine learning algorithms. This paper explores how these two approaches can be compared and combined in different types of domains. In relatively simple domains, both psychological models and machine learning yield clear prediction models with nearly identical results. In more complex domains, the exact action predicted by psychological models is not even clear, and machine learning models are even less accurate. Nonetheless, we present a novel approach of creating hybrid methods that incorporate features from psychological models in conjunction with machine learning in order to create significantly improved models for predicting people's decisions. To demonstrate these claims, we present an overview of previous and new results, taken from representative domains ranging from a relatively simple optimization problem and complex domains such as negotiation and coordination without communication. (shrink)
In this paper, we explore and discuss the use of the concept of being affected in biomedical decision making processes in Germany. The corresponding German term ‘Betroffenheit’ characterizes on the one hand a relation between a state of affairs and a person and on the other an emotional reaction that involves feelings like concern and empathy with the suffering of others. An example for the increasing relevance of being affected is the postulation of the participation of people with disabilities (...) and chronic or acute diseases in the discourse, as partly realized in the German National Ethics Council or the Federal Joint Committee. Nevertheless, not only on the political level, the resistance against the participation of affected people is still strong; the academic debate seems to be cross-grained, too. Against this background, we explore the meaning and argumentative role of the concept of being affected as it is used by affected and lay people themselves. Our analysis is based on four focus group discussions in which lay people, patients and relatives of patients discuss their attitudes towards biomedical interventions such as organ transplantation and genetic testing. This setting allows for a comparison of how affected and non-affected people are concerned and deliberate about medical opportunities, but also of how they position themselves as being affected or non-affected with respect to (scientific) knowledge and morality. On this basis, we discuss the normative relevance of being affected for the justification of political participation. (shrink)
Phenomenological healthcare research should include the lived experiences of a broad group of healthcare users. In this paper it is shown how shadowing can give a voice to people in vulnerable situations who are often excluded from interview studies. Shadowing is an observational method in which the researcher observes an individual during a relatively long time. Central aspects of the method are the focus on meaning expressed by the whole body, and an extended stay of the researcher in the (...) phenomenal event itself. Inherent in shadowing is a degree of ambivalence that both challenges the researcher and provides meaningful insights about the phenomenon. A case example of a phenomenological study on the experiences of elderly hospital patients is used to show what shadowing yields. (shrink)
Science and technology, including nanoscale science and technology, influences and is influenced by various discourses and areas of action. Ableism is one concept and ability expectation is one dynamic that impacts the direction, vision, and application of nanoscale science and technology and vice versa. At the same time, policy documents that involve or relate to disabled people exhibit ability expectations of disabled people. The authors present ability expectations exhibited within two science and technology direction documents from Asia, as (...) well as in two policy documents generated and influenced by disabled people from Asia. As well, the authors discuss the impact of the ability expectations exhibited in these four documents with respect to the relationship between science and technology and disabled people. (shrink)
This paper describes the results of a field experiment involving 400 employees from ten financial institutions operating within the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone of the Peoples Republic of China. It was found that, when faced with an agency-based problem, employees indicated they would be less inclined to advise management of the existence of unethical work practices. Younger employees without supervisory experience displayed significant risk aversion. Traditional Chinese values associated with Confucian work dynamism, were shown to be poor predictors of moral (...) choice response. A parsimonious regression model was developed that provides evidence that the universal trait Masculinity/Femininity (Human-heartedness) acted to offset the negative influence of the agency problem. On the other hand, an operatives level of education attainment exerted a negative influence on moral response scores. (shrink)
Here is the paper that was attacked by George Rea in his “How many minds…?” paper. Has this issue been resolved? Can there be entities such that there is no definite answer to the question “Are there 13 minds at work here, or 14?” -/- .
Typically, philosophers interested in evil have typically been concerned with reconciling (or not) the apparent existence of gratuitous suffering with the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient and supremely loving and caring Deity. Undeniably, ‘evil’ functions as a mass noun: note the intelligibility of asking “Why is there so much evil in the world?” But ‘evil’ sometimes functions as an adjective and is used variously to describe persons, actions, desires, motives, and intentions; Joel Feinberg even speaks of “evil smells.” In (...) what follows, I shall consider the relationship between evil actions, evildoers—that is, persons disposed to perform evil actions—and evil people. Roughly, I defend the simple thesis that being an evil person just is being an evildoer. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are no people. If identity isn't what matters in survival, psychological connectedness isn't what matters either. Further, fissioning cases do not support the claim that connectedness is what matters. I consider Peter Unger's view that what matters is a continuous physical realization of a core psychology. I conclude that if identity isn't what matters in survival, nothing matters. This conclusion is deployed to argue that there are no people. Objections to Eliminativism are considered, (...) especially that morality cannot survive the loss of persons. (shrink)
I look for explanations for the phenomenon of widespread, strong, and persistent disagreements about political issues. The best explanation is provided by the hypothesis that most people are irrational about politics and not, for example, that political issues are particularly difficult or that we lack sufficient evidence for resolving them. I discuss how this irrationality works and why people are especially irrational about politics.
Open-minded people should endorse dogmatism because of its explanatory power. Dogmatism holds that, in the absence of defeaters, a seeming that P necessarily provides non-inferential justification for P. I show that dogmatism provides an intuitive explanation of four issues concerning non-inferential justification. It is particularly impressive that dogmatism can explain these issues because prominent epistemologists have argued that it can’t address at least two of them. Prominent epistemologists also object that dogmatism is absurdly permissive because it allows a seeming (...) to provide justification even if the seeming was caused in some apparently inappropriate way. I conclude by disarming this objection. (shrink)
How should we count people who have two cerebral hemispheres that cooperate to support one mental life at the level required for personhood even though each hemisphere can be disconnected from the other and support its "own" divergent mental life at that level? On the standard method of counting people, there is only one person sitting in your chair and thinking your thoughts even if you have two cerebral hemispheres of this kind. Is this method accurate? In this (...) paper, I argue that it is not, and I advocate an alternative I call the Multiple Person View. (shrink)
People’s concept of free will is often assumed to be incompatible with the deterministic, scientific model of the universe. Indeed, many scholars treat the folk concept of free will as assuming a special form of nondeterministic causation, possibly the notion of uncaused causes. However, little work to date has directly probed individuals’ beliefs about what it means to have free will. The present studies sought to reconstruct this folk concept of free will by asking people to define the (...) concept (Study 1) and by confronting them with a neuroscientific claim that free will is an illusion (Study 2), which invited them to either reconcile or contrast free will with determinism. The results suggest that the core of people’s concept of free will is a choice that fulfills one’s desires and is free from internal or external constraints. No evidence was found for metaphysical assumptions about dualism or indeterminism. (shrink)
: This article discusses recent feminist arguments for the possible existence of an interesting link between treating things as people (in the case of pornography) and treating people (especially women) as things. It argues, by way of a historical case study, that the connection is more complicated than these arguments have supposed. In addition, the essay suggests some possible general links between treatment of things and treatment of people.
Attempts to determine or to select what kind of person or people to bring into existence are controversial. This is particularly true of “negative selection” or “selecting against” a certain type of person—that is, the attempt to prevent a person of a certain type, or people of that type, from existing. Virtually everyone agrees that some instances of negative selection are objectionable—for example, that selection against healthy people would be wrong, particularly if this were combined with positive (...) selection of people with serious diseases. But some people believe that all negative selection is objectionable and therefore that all “selection for existence,” whether positive or negative, is objectionable. For if negative selection is objectionable, it seems to follow that positive selection is as well, since the attempt to bring a person of a certain type into existence is simultaneously an attempt not to bring into existence a person who is not of that type. In short, positive selection is implicitly negative as well. (shrink)
Can people be relied upon to be nice to each other? Thomas Hobbes famously did not think so, but his view that rational cooperation does not require that people be nice has never been popular. The debate has continued to simmer since Joseph Butler took up the Hobbist gauntlet in 1725. This article defends the modern version of Hobbism derived largely from game theory against a new school of Butlerians who call themselves behavioral economists. It is agreed that (...) the experimental evidence supports the claim that most people will often make small sacrifices on behalf of others and that a few will sometimes make big sacrifices, but that the larger claims made by contemporary Butlerians lack genuine support. (shrink)
Jason Brennan argues that people are morally obligated not to vote badly, where voting badly is voting “without sufficient reason” for harmful or unjust policies or candidates. His argument is: (1) One has an obligation not to engage in collectively harmful activities when refraining from such activities does not impose significant personal costs. (2) Voting badly is to engage in a collectively harmful activity, while abstaining imposes low personal costs. (3) Therefore, one should not vote badly. This paper shows (...) that Brennan never adequately clarifies (1) and that, on every plausible clarification, (2) is false. (shrink)
This is about the rights and wrongs of bringing people into existence. In a nutshell: sometimes what matters is not what would have happened to you, but what would have happened to the person who would have been in your position, even if that person never actually exists.
A crucial question for egalitarians, and theorists of distributive justice in general, is whether people can be held responsible for disadvantages they bring upon themselves. One response to this question states that it would be inegalitarian to hold people responsible on the basis of their actions if their actions are not ultimately under their control and reflect instead the good or bad luck the agent had in being the type of person who happens to act in a given (...) way. I argue that even if we accept that there is something inegalitarian about holding people responsible on the basis of actions they did not ultimately control, the alternative (that is, not holding people responsible) is even more inegalitarian. Therefore, egalitarians, including so-called luck egalitarians, can and should hold people responsible on the basis of their actions, even if people lack free will and their actions are ultimately a matter of luck. Key Words: responsibility egalitarianism luck egalitarianism fairness distributive justice. (shrink)
Alan Millar examines our understanding of why people think and act as they do. His key theme is that normative considerations form an indispensable part of the explanatory framework in terms of which we seek to understand each other. Millar defends a conception according to which normativity is linked to reasons. On this basis he examines the structure of certain normative commitments incurred by having propositional attitudes. Controversially, he argues that ascriptions of beliefs and intentions in and of themselves (...) attribute normative commitments and that this has implications for the psychology of believing and intending. Indeed, all propositional attitudes of the sort we ascribe to people have a normative dimension, since possessing the concepts that the attitudes implicate is of its very nature commitment-incurring. The ramifications of these views for our understanding of people is explored. Millar offers illuminating discussions of reasons for belief and reasons for action; the explanation of beliefs and actions in terms of the subject's reasons; the idea that simulation has a key role in understanding people; and the limits of explanation in terms of propositional attitudes. He compares and contrasts the commitments incurred by propositional attitudes with those incurred by participating in practices, arguing that the former should not be assimilated to the latter. Understanding People will be of great interest to most philosophers of mind, as well as to those working on practical and theoretical reasoning. (shrink)
s political theory apparently leads us to choose between patriotism and cosmopolitism. The two major works published in 1762, On the Social Contract and Emile , would represent the two sides of the alternative. However, the opposition between patriotism and cosmopolitism is the ultimate development of an internal tension between two aspects of Rousseaus political concept of people: the intersubjectivity that permits the formation of the general will; and the individuals devotion to the state. On the one hand, the (...) political community appears as a distributive totality. On the other hand, it is viewed as a collective totality. When generalized, intersubjectivity leads to the formation of both the social concept of people and the moral concept of humanity, while patriotism requires the individuals loyalty to the nation. In order to maintain the coherence of the very political concept of people and to solve the main political problem - which is to reconcile security and liberty - it is necessary to overcome the dichotomy between cosmopolitism and patriotism. Emile and Rousseaus original plan for On the Social Contract are consistent on that point. Key Words: cosmopolitism general will intersubjectivity nation patriotism people. (shrink)
Knobe argues that people’s judgments of the moral status of a side-effect of action influence their assessment of whether the side-effect is intentional. We tested this hypothesis using vignettes akin to Knobe’s but involving economically or eudaimonistically (wellness-related) negative side-effects. Our results show that it is people’s sense of what agents deserve and not the moral status of side-effects that drives intuition.
It is widely accepted that embodiment is crucial for any self-aware agent. What is less obvious is whether the body has to be real, or whether a virtual body will do. In that case the notion of embodiment would be so attenuated as to be almost indistinguishable from disembodiment. In this article I concentrate on the notion of embodiment in human agents. Could we be disembodied, having no real body, as brains-in-a-vat with only a virtual body? Thought experiments alone will (...) not suffice to answer this Cartesian question. I will draw on both philosophical arguments and empirical data on phantom phenomena. My argument will proceed in three steps. Firstly I will show that phantom phenomena provide a prima facie argument that real embodiment is not necessary for a human being. Secondly I will give a philosophical argument that real movement must precede the intention to move and to act. Agents must at least have had real bodies once. Empirical data seems to bear this out. Finally, however, I will show that a small number of aplasic phantom phenomena undermines this last argument. Most people must have had a real body. But for some people a partly virtual, unreal, phantom body seems to suffice. Yet though there is thus no knockdown argument that we could not be brains-in-a-vat, we still have good reasons to suppose that embodiment must be real, and not virtual. (shrink)
Most people think computers will never be able to think. That is, really think. Not now or ever. To be sure, most people also agree that computers can do many things that a person would have to be thinking to do. Then how could a machine seem to think but not actually think? Well, setting aside the question of what thinking actually is, I think that most of us would answer that by saying that in these cases, what (...) the computer is doing is merely a superficial imitation of human intelligence. It has been designed to obey certain simple commands, and then it has been provided with programs composed of those commands. Because of this, the computer has to obey those commands, but without any idea of what's happening. (shrink)
One relatively straightforward way in which academics could have more impact on global poverty is by doing more to help people make wise decisions about issues relevant to such poverty. Academics could do this by conducting appropriate kinds of research on those issues and sharing what they have learned with the relevant decision makers in accessible ways. But aren’t academics already doing this? In the case of many of those issues, I think the appropriate answer would be that they (...) could do so much better. As an illustration, I examine the academic input into one decision about an issue concerning global poverty in some detail in this paper. I argue that that input has been seriously deficient, and suggest some ways in which it might be improved. Building on this discussion, I then formulate two questions that can be applied to any such decision, answers to which would indicate the quality of the input academics are currently providing. In cases where that input is deficient, and the decision in question an important one, I suggest that academics consider organising themselves in ways that will improve that input. I finish by briefly discussing how Academics Stand Against Poverty might help them do so. (shrink)
Preference utilitarianism is widely considered a significant advance on classical utilitarianism when it comes to explaining why it is wrong to kill people. This paper focuses attention on the nature of the preference utilitarian 'direct' objection to killing a person and on the related claim that a person's preferences are non-replaceable. I argue that the preference utilitarian case against killing people is overstated and overrated. My concluding remarks indicate the relevance of this discussion to deeper issues in normative (...) moral theory. (shrink)
Science tends to find a solution to the problem of the unreliability of human perception by understanding objectivity as the absence of subjectivity. However, from a phenomenological point of view, subjectivity is not so much a problem as an inevitable starting-point. That does not mean that the problem of the correctness of people’s accounts of their own perceptions is no problem at all—in fact the problem is so great that the authority of a person’s knowledge of his or her (...) own mind can be doubted. The problem of subjectivity can only be solved when it is related to the problem of interpretation. Analyses of narratives are interpretations of interpretations. The phenomenologist must make sure that the data he or she analyses are lived interpretations and not interpretations of interpretations. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that one of the functions of the perceptual system is to detect other people’s emotions when they are expressed in the face. I support this view by developing two separate but interdependent accounts. The first says that facial expressions of emotions carry information about the emotions that produced them, and about some of their properties. The second says that the visual system functions to extract the information that expressions carry about emotions.