Do we need a Darwinian theory of cultural evolution? In one sense, certainly. It is obvious that there are patterns of cultural change-evolution in the neutral sense-and any theory of cultural change worth more than a moment's consideration will have to be Darwinian in the minimal sense of being consistent with the theory of evolution by natural selection of Homo sapiens. Our species name is well chosen, and it is culture that makes us the knowing hominid, so a minimally Darwinian (...) theory of culture must hold that the phenotypic traits that make cumulative culture possible-mainly, language and the habits of sociality-evolved by natural selection, unaided by what I call skyhooks: saltations in Design Space that could not be the outcome of standard evolutionary mechanisms (Dennett, 1995). This minimal Darwinism is simply the denial of the.. (shrink)
Numerous reports have noted decreasing numbers of antibiotic approvals. To determine the context for this decline, we examined all new molecule entities (NMEs) and new biologic licenses (NBLs) approved by the FDA from 1980–2009, and compared approval rates of the 61 approved antibiotics to trends in other drug classes. We also tracked withdrawals of approved drugs and found more withdrawals for antibiotics than other drug classes. After adjusting for drugs subsequently withdrawn, the record for antibiotic innovation is less dire than (...) previously reported. We also report problems with the quality of the approved antibiotics studied. Future policies providing incentives for new antibiotic development should not be based on simple numerical targets and key provisions should ensure appropriate quality as well as quantity of antibiotic drug innovation. (shrink)
Can computer systems ever be considered moral agents? This paper considers two factors that are explored in the recent philosophical literature. First, there are the important domains in which computers are allowed to act, made possible by their greater functional capacities. Second, there is the claim that these functional capacities appear to embody relevant human abilities, such as autonomy and responsibility. I argue that neither the first (Doman-Function) factor nor the second (Simulacrum) factor gets at the central issue in the (...) case for computer moral agency: whether they can have the kinds of intentional states that cause their decisions and actions. I give an account that builds on traditional action theory and allows us to conceive of computers as genuine moral agents in virtue of their own causally efficacious intentional states. These states can cause harm or benefit to moral patients, but do not depend on computer consciousness or intelligence. (shrink)
In this article, we address the relevance of J.S. Mill’s political philosophy for a framework of public health ethics. In contrast to some readings of Mill, we reject the view that in the formulation of public policies liberties of all kinds enjoy an equal presumption in their favor. We argue that Mill also rejects this view and discuss the distinction that Mill makes between three kinds of liberty interests: interests that are immune from state interference; interests that enjoy a presumption (...) in favor of liberty; and interests that enjoy no such presumption. We argue that what is of focal importance for Mill in protecting liberty is captured by the essential role that the value of self-determination plays in human well-being. Finally, we make the case for the plausibility of a more complex and nuanced Millian framework for public health ethics that would modify how the balancing of some liberty and public health interests should proceed by taking the thumb off the liberty end of the scale. Mill’s arguments and the legacy of liberalism support certain forms of state interference with marketplace liberties for the sake of public health objectives without any presumption in favor of liberty. (shrink)
Drawing from a four-year study of US science institutions that support biological control of arthropods, this article examines the decline in biological control institutional capacity in California within the context of both declining public interest science and declining agricultural research activism. After explaining how debates over the public interest character of biological control science have shaped institutions in California, we use scientometric methods to assess the present status and trends in biological control programs within both the University of California Land (...) Grant System and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. We present available data on the number of scientific positions and the types of positions to discuss the impact on the amount of public interest research on biological control in California. We use sociograms to depict how biological control science networks have been reconfigured over time. Our quantitative and qualitative analyses indicate that the following factors contributed to the decline of biological control science in California over the 45-year period analyzed: (1) the institutional reconfiguration of university research priorities; (2) the fraying networks within and increasing specialization of biological control science; (3) the transformation of the social organization of the life science work, including privatization; and (4) the abandonment of this thematic area by civil society activist groups. This broad array of forces suggests that biological control, as a public interest science, will require a deliberate intervention, based on advocacy of clear public interest criteria. (shrink)
Thomas M. Powers (2009). Preface. In Jinfen Yan & David E. Schrader (eds.), Creating a Global Dialogue on Value Inquiry: Papers From the Xxii Congress of Philosophy (Rethinking Philosophy Today). Edwin Mellen Press.
In bioethics, discussions of justice have tended to focus on questions of fairness in access to health care: is there a right to medical treatment, and how should priorities be set when medical resources are scarce. But health care is only one of many factors that determine the extent to which people live healthy lives, and fairness is not the only consideration in determining whether a health policy is just. In this pathbreaking book, senior bioethicists Powers and Faden confront foundational (...) issues about health and justice. How much inequality in health can a just society tolerate. The audience for the book is scholars and students of bioethics and moral and political philosophy, as well as anyone interested in public health and health policy. (shrink)
Of three types of evidence available to evolution theorists – comparative, continuity, and computational – the first is largely productive rather than predictive. Although comparison between extant species or languages is possible and can be suggestive of evolutionary processes, leading to theory development, comparison with extinct species and languages seems necessary for validation. Continuity and computational evidence provide the best opportunities for supporting predictions.
van der Velde & de Kamps (dvV&dK) present a response to Jackendoff's four challenges in terms of a computational model. This commentary supports the position that neural assemblies mediated by recurrence and delay indeed have sufficient theoretical power to deal with all four challenges. However, we question the specifics of the model proposed, in terms of both neurophysiological plausibility and computational complexity.
In this paper, we focus attention on the role of computer system complexity in ascribing responsibility. We begin by introducing the notion of technological moral action (TMA). TMA is carried out by the combination of a computer system user, a system designer (developers, programmers, and testers), and a computer system (hardware and software). We discuss three sometimes overlapping types of responsibility: causal responsibility, moral responsibility, and role responsibility. Our analysis is informed by the well-known accounts provided by Hart and Hart (...) and Honoré. While these accounts are helpful, they have misled philosophers and others by presupposing that responsibility can be ascribed in all cases of action simply by paying attention to the free and intended actions of human beings. Such accounts neglect the part played by technology in ascriptions of responsibility in cases of moral action with technology. For both moral and role responsibility, we argue that ascriptions of both causal and role responsibility depend on seeing action as complex in the sense described by TMA. We conclude by showing how our analysis enriches moral discourse about responsibility for TMA. (shrink)
: The increasing reliance upon, and perhaps the growing public and professional skepticism about, the special expertise of bioethicists suggests the need to consider the limits of moral expertise. For all the talk about method in bioethics, we, bioethicists, are still rather far off the mark in understanding what we are doing, even when we may be going about what we are doing fairly well. Quite often, what is most fundamentally at stake, but equally often insufficiently acknowledged, are inherently political, (...) essentially contested visions of the most compelling and attractive forms of life for individuals and social organization. The current situation in bioethics parallels similar debates in eighteenth-century jurisprudence, especially Jeremy Bentham's withering critique of the prevalent forms of judicial argument and his own, equally unsuccessful, attempt to develop a decision-making procedure in ethics that would operate on a plane above politics. The risk, both then and now, is that we will fail to appreciate the wide range of reasonable disagreement that will remain past the point of extended reflection and discussion. (shrink)
Beginning with the well-knowncyber-rape in LambdaMOO, I argue that it ispossible to have real moral wrongs in virtualcommunities. I then generalize the account toshow how it applies to interactions in gamingand discussion communities. My account issupported by a view of moral realism thatacknowledges entities like intentions andcausal properties of actions. Austin's speechact theory is used to show that real people canact in virtual communities in ways that bothestablish practices and moral expectations, andwarrant strong identifications betweenthemselves and their online identities. Rawls'conception (...) of a social practice is used toanalyze the nature of the wrong and thestage-setting aspect of engaging in a practice. (shrink)
This paper reports research on the influence of corporate and individual characteristics on managers'' social orientation in Germany. The results indicate that mid-level managers expressed a significantly lower social orientation than low-level managers, and that job activity did not impact social orientation. Female respondents expressed a higher social orientation than male respondents. No impact of the political system origin (former East Germany versus former West Germany) on social orientation was shown. Overall, corporate position had a significantly higher impact on social (...) orientation than did the characteristics of the individuals surveyed. (shrink)
The overall dorsalizing effect proposed by the authors may be consistent with behavioral evidence showing that the dorsal cortex of reptiles functions like the hippocampal formation of mammals. It is suggested that the dorsal cortex of reptiles expanded in this dorsalizing process to become both entorhinal/subicular cortex and sensory neocortex.
: The focus of questions of justice in health policy has shifted during the last 20 years, beginning with questions about rights to health care, and then, by the late 1980s, turning to issues of rationing. More recently, attention has focused on alternatives to cost-effectiveness analysis. In addition, health inequalities, and not just inequalities in access to health care, have become the subject of moral analysis. This article examines how such trends have transformed the philosophical landscape and encouraged some in (...) bioethics to seek guidance on normative questions from outside of the contours of traditional philosophical arguments about justice. (shrink)