Rebecca Bennett, in a recent paper dismissing Julian Savulescu's principle of procreative beneficence, advances both a negative and a positive thesis. The negative thesis holds that the principle's theoretical foundation – the notion of impersonal harm or non-person-affecting wrong – is indefensible. Therefore, there can be no obligations of the sort that the principle asserts. The positive thesis, on the other hand, attempts to plug an explanatory gap that arises once the principle has been rejected. That is, it holds (...) that the intuitions of those who adhere to the principle are not genuine moral intuitions, but instead simply give voice to mere (non-moral) preferences. This paper, while agreeing that Savulescu's principle does not express a genuine moral obligation, takes issue with both of Bennett's theses. It is suggested that the argument for the negative thesis is either weak or question-begging, while there is insufficient reason to suppose the positive thesis true. (shrink)
ExcerptThe Summer 2010 issue of Telos contained an article by Rebecca E. Karl in which she alleged that, as President of the Association for Asian Studies, I argued in an “inaugural AAS speech’” that “the current appeal to a Confucian-inspired harmonious society (hexie shehui) provides evidence for the fact that the old Confucian lack of rights-thinking is the cultural basis for the CCP's lack of rights thinking.”1 No citation or footnote was offered for this allegation. First, let me clarify (...) that I never delivered an “inaugural AAS speech.” My official speech as president of the Association for Asian Studies was…. (shrink)
In the last ten years, there have been a number of attempts to refute Julian Savulescu's Principle of Procreative Beneficence; a principle which claims that parents have a moral obligation to have the best child that they can possibly have. So far, no arguments against this principle have succeeded at refuting it. This paper tries to explain the shortcomings of some of the more notable arguments against this principle. I attempt to break down the argument for the principle and in (...) doing so, I explain what is needed to properly refute it. This helps me show how and why the arguments of Rebecca Bennett, Sarah Stoller and others fail to refute the principle. Afterwards, I offer a new challenge to the principle. I attack what I understand to be a fundamental premise of the argument, a premise which has been overlooked in the literature written about this principle. I argue that there is no reason to suppose, as Savulescu does, that morality requires us to do what we have most reason to do. If we reject this premise, as I believe we have reason to do, the argument for Procreative Beneficence fails. (shrink)
In his Meditations Descartes tells us that he initially thought error might be avoided if he withheld assent “no less carefully from what is not plainly certain and indubitable than from what is obviously false.” For example, he thinks it plainly certain and indubitable that he is “sitting by the fire, wearing a winter cloak, holding this paper in my hands, and so on.” And yet even what is “plainly certain and indubitable” can be doubted. “I will suppose, then, not (...) that there is a supremely good God, the source of truth; but that there is an evil spirit, who is supremely powerful and intelligent, and does his utmost to deceive me.” Such a deceiver can spin illusions that appear indubitably real and true—of hands, fire, cloak, paper—and not only when there are none present in any particular case but even where there are none at all in any case. “I will suppose that sky, air, earth, colors, shapes, sounds and all external objects are mere delusive dreams, by means of which he lays snares for my credulity.”2 The deceiver hypothesis is the most difficult skeptical doubt Descartes must surmount in the remaining Meditations. I say the deceiver hypothesis, and for Descartes the deceiver is a mere possibility, raised so as to motivate the reconstitution of knowledge that follows. That there might be a powerful deceiver is itself a threat to knowledge for Descartes. Indeed even the possibility of an evil deceiver is so powerful a threat that Descartes must do nothing less than prove God’s existence to reestablish certainty. It is only at the end of his Meditations that Descartes can say, as if looking back on a hysterical moment, that the evil deceiver idea was “exaggerated” and “ridiculous.”3.. (shrink)
As Dobzhansky wrote, nothing in biology makes sense outside the context of the evolutionary theory, and this truth has not been sufficiently explored yet by medicine. We comment on Shanks and Pyles' recently published paper, Evolution and medicine: the long reach of.