Riordan, Marcia Recent advances in genetic technology may mean that the brave new world really is almost here. Non-invasive prenatal genetic diagnosis (NIPD) could finally allow hundreds of thousands of genetic traits to be determined with just one maternal blood test. This could bring genetic screening of the unborn child to a whole new level and mean that as a society we face a new set of challenges in areas such as disability rights, abortion and informed consent.
Riordan, Marcia Abortion providers and advocates want Australian women who face an unexpected pregnancy to have the option of choosing a chemical RU-486 abortion, instead of a surgical abortion. This article looks at this proposal, and discusses its possible repercussions. There is considerable controversy over this method of abortion, with promoters saying that it is safer, easier and private, whereas opponents call it DIY abortion or home-alone abortion and question its safety.
Riordan, Marcia This report on the Victorian Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008 particularly considers the fact that it has denied health care professionals any right of conscientious objection. It sees this as part of an international attempt to deny conscientious objection against abortion, and to enforce abortion as an international human right.
Riordan, Marcia This article argues against the Victorian Medical Treatment (Physician Assisted Dying) Bill and the Federal Rights of the Terminally Ill (Euthanasia Laws Repeal) Bill. True compassion leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill them.
Corporate image is a function of organizational signals which determine the perceptions of various stakeholders regarding the actions of an organization. Because of its relationship to the actions of an organization, image has been studied as an indicator of the social performance of the organization. Recent research has determined that social performance has direct effects on the behaviors and attitudes of the organization's employees. To better understand these effects, this study develops and empirically tests a model which links corporate leaders' (...) actions, employees' perceptions of corporate image, and the employees' level of association with the organization. The effects of managing the social environment of an organization on its employees' perceptions of image, attitudes, and intended behaviors are discussed. (shrink)
Interest in the notion of the possible financial sacrifice suffered by socially responsible investment (SRI) fund investors for considering ethical, social and environmental issues in their investment decisions has spawned considerable academic interest in the performance of SRI funds. Both the Australian and international research literature have yielded largely mixed results. However, several of these studies are hampered by methodological problems which can obscure the significance of reported results, such as the use of small sample sizes, inconsistencies in the time (...) frames selected to analyse performance and different modelling frameworks used to estimate investment returns. This study attempts to redress some of these issues by investigating the returns performance of 89 ethical funds in Australia over the period 1986–2005. Using a multi-factor CAPM model [Fama, E. F., and K. R. French (1996) J. Finance 51(1), 55] (which controls for factors such as size, book-to-market value and momentum) we find that ethical funds significantly under-perform the market in Australia, particularly in the most recent 5 years of our sample period (2000–2005). Risk adjusted returns (using Jensen’s alpha) indicate that average annual underperformance is around 1.52% in the 2000–2005 period for our sample and .88% over the whole sample period. Our results contrast with many previous studies (both Australian and international), which have not found statistically significant differences in the performance of ethical funds relative to market benchmarks and/or a matched sample of conventional funds. (shrink)
The term “moral heuristic” as used by Sunstein seeks to bring together various traditions. However, there are significant differences between uses of the term “heuristic” in the cognitive and the social psychological research, and these differences are accompanied by very distinct evidential criteria. We suggest the term “moral heuristic” should refer to processes, which means that further evidence is required.
There is a growing body of literature on ethical or socially responsible investment across a range of disciplines. This paper highlights the key themes in the field and identifies some of the major theoretical and practical challenges facing both scholars and practitioners. One of these challenges is understanding better the complexity of the relationship between such investment practices and corporate behaviour. Noting that ethical investment is seldom characterised by agreement about what it actully constitutes, and that much of the extant (...) research focuses on a narrow set of issues, the paper argues that there are benefits associated with examining ethical investment as a process. (shrink)
Abstract Since their inception, distributional models of semantics have been criticized as inadequate cognitive theories of human semantic learning and representation. A principal challenge is that the representations derived by distributional models are purely symbolic and are not grounded in perception and action; this challenge has led many to favor feature-based models of semantic representation. We argue that the amount of perceptual and other semantic information that can be learned from purely distributional statistics has been underappreciated. We compare the representations (...) of three feature-based and nine distributional models using a semantic clustering task. Several distributional models demonstrated semantic clustering comparable with clustering-based on feature-based representations. Furthermore, when trained on child-directed speech, the same distributional models perform as well as sensorimotor-based feature representations of children’s lexical semantic knowledge. These results suggest that, to a large extent, information relevant for extracting semantic categories is redundantly coded in perceptual and linguistic experience. Detailed analyses of the semantic clusters of the feature-based and distributional models also reveal that the models make use of complementary cues to semantic organization from the two data streams. Rather than conceptualizing feature-based and distributional models as competing theories, we argue that future focus should be on understanding the cognitive mechanisms humans use to integrate the two sources. (shrink)
Observing that René Descartes's dualistic philosophy haunts our conceptualization of matter, this essay argues that Thomas Hobbes develops a non-Cartesian materialism, which is to say that he articulates a materialism in which matter is not construed as essentially unthinking. Tracing his accounts of sense, perception, and thinking, this essay reconstructs Hobbes's account of self-consciousness and proposes that in a subject conceived as wholly embodied, self-knowledge or self-awareness takes the form of memory. The essay elaborates how Hobbes 's account of self-consciousness (...) as memory transforms our understanding both of the form taken by the subject's self-mastery and of the relationship between the individual and the collective. It concludes by speculating about the implications of this account for our understanding of Hobbes's theories of ethics and politics. (shrink)
The two-component spinor theory of van der Waerden is put into a convenient matrix notation. The mathematical relations among various types of matrices and the rule for forming covariant expressions are developed. Relativistic equations of classical mechanics and electricity and magnetism are expressed in this notation. In this formulation the distinction between time and space coordinates in the four-dimensional space-time continuum falls out naturally from the assumption that a four-vector is represented by a Hermitian matrix. The indefinite metric of tensor (...) analysis is a derived result rather than an arbitrary ad hoc assumption. The relation to four-component spinor theory is also discussed. (shrink)
The mineral resources sector is critical to Australia''s economic and social well-being. Minerals and energy have a value of $30 billion in export revenues, providing 50 percent of Australia''s merchandise exports. The industry is characterized by substantial capital investment and very long lead times for project developments and a very competitive international market. The future direction and location of the industry is inextricably linked to long term exploration activities. The industry is faced with a far more complex set of environments (...) than most. The paper identifies the range of complex issues and the wide variety of players using a stakeholder analysis. By monitoring such interactions, and knowing the objective set of the parties, a guide could be established to define moral and ethical frameworks for each interaction. (shrink)
The matrix notation of paper I is extended to include first-rank spinors expressed as two-component spin-vectors. Well-known two-component and four-component spinor equations are expressed in this notation. In addition, it is shown how other covariant wave equations can easily be invented. A certain nonlinear equation is found to have only positive-energy solutions for particles and antiparticles.
Advances in the neurosciences have many implications for a collective understanding of what it means to be human, in particular, notions of the self, the concept of volition or agency, questions of individual responsibility, and the phenomenology of consciousness. As the ability to peer directly into the brain is scientifically honed, and conscious states can be correlated with patterns of neural processing, an easy—but premature—leap is to postulate a one-way, brain-based determinism. That leap is problematic, however, and emerging findings in (...) neuroscience can even be seen as compatible with some of the basic tenets of existentialism. Given the compelling authority of modern “science,” it is especially important to question how the findings of neuroscience are framed, and how the articulation of research results challenge or change individuals’ perceptions of themselves. Context plays an essential role in the emergence of human identity and in the sculpting of the human brain; for example, even a lack of stimuli (“nothing”) can lead to substantial consequences for brain, behavior, and experience. Conversely, advances in understanding the brain might contribute to more precise definitions of what it means to be human, including definitions of appropriate social and moral behavior. Put another way, the issue is not simply the ethics involved in framing neurotechnology, but also the incorporation of neuroscientific findings into a richer understanding of human ethical (and existential) functioning. (shrink)
Polygyny does not necessarily entail sexual selection of men. All factors that affect the operational sex ratio must be considered. Data from contemporary hunter-gatherers indicate higher mortality rates in men than in women, and lost female reproductive time. If sexual selection did occur in ancestral hunter-gatherers, it was probably men selecting women and not women selecting men.
Contemplating Suicide: The Language and Ethnics of Self Harm By Gavin J. Fairbairn Routledge, 1995. Pp. xxx. ISBN 415?10606. £12.95(pbk). Religious Transformation in Western Society. The End of Happiness By Harvie Ferguson, Routledge, 1992. Pp. xvi + 269. ISBN 0?415?02574?5. £XX.xx. Feminism and the Self: The Web of Identity By Morwenna Griffiths Routledge, 1995. Pp. 191. ISBN 0?415?09821?1. £12.99 (pbk). Faith, Scepticism and Personal Identity. A Festschrift for Terence Penelhum Edited by J.J. Macintosh and H. A. Meynell University of Calgary (...) Press, 1994. Pp. vii + 304. CAN$27.95. The Shape of Space (second edition) By Graham Nerlich Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN 0?521?45645?2. Logical Learning Theory: A Human Teleology and its Empirical Support By Joseph F. Rychlak University of Nebraska Press, 1994. Pp. 387. ISBN 0?8032?3904?1. £32.95 Philosophical Idealism and Christian Belief By Alan P.F. Sell University of Wales Press, 1995. Pp. x + 338. (shrink)