The most serious threat currently facing people all over the world is that of a global nuclear war, in which hundreds of millions of people would be killed by the immediate effects of nuclear explosions, and over a billion others would later die of cold and starvation in the ensuing nuclear winter. Physicians and other health professionals have an ethical responsibility to educate themselves, their patients, and the public to the need for major political changes to achieve multilateral disarmament and (...) thus prevent nuclear war. Scientists ought to oppose all research and government expenditures preparing for war, and should participate only in work designed to improve health and living standards for all the world's inhabitants. (shrink)
Introduction to Philosophy, Fourth Edition, is the most comprehensive topically organized collection of classical and contemporary philosophy available. Building on the exceptionally successful tradition of previous editions, this edition for the first time incorporates the insights of a new coeditor, John Martin Fischer, and has been updated and revised to make it more accessible. Ideal for introductory philosophy courses, the text includes sections on the meaning of life, God and evil, knowledge and reality, the philosophy of science, the mind/body problem, (...) freedom of will, consciousness, ethics, and philosophical puzzles and paradoxes. It presents seventy substantial--and in some cases complete--selections from the best and most influential works in philosophy, offering a unique balance between classical and contemporary material. An extensive glossary of philosophical terms is also included. The fourth edition features fifteen new readings, including work by Albert Camus, Roderick M. Chisholm, Daniel Dennett, Harry G. Frankfurt, William Paley, Derek Parfit, John Perry, Richard Taylor, Peter Van Inwagen, Bernard Williams, and Susan Wolf. Part III, Knowledge and Reality, has been restructured and now includes Plato's Thaetetus, selections by Edmund L. Gettier and Robert Nozick, and an essay by Christopher Grau that explores the philosophical concepts presented in the popular film The Matrix. Two new ethics puzzles--"The Trolley Problem" and "Ducking Harm and Sacrificing Others"--are also included. This edition incorporates Study Questions after each reading and is accompanied by an Instructor's CD and a Student Companion Website, both containing helpful resources. (shrink)
A caveat: The topic of abortion is both highly controversial and extremely complex, and I certainly cannot hope to address all of its important ethical aspects in the brief notes that follow. Readers are urged to consult a good annotated bibliography such as the one compiled by James DeHullu for references to more extensive scholarly treatments of abortion.
The sources and methods of espionage, the goals and tactics of covert action, and the professional conduct of intelligence officers are matters typically hidden from public scrutiny, yet clearly worthy of public debate and philosophical attention. Recent academic studies of intelligence that have had any intentional bearing on ethics or political philosophy have largely focused on procedural questions surrounding the proper degree of oversight of intelligence agencies. But what is often missed in such examinations is substantive ethical analysis of intelligence (...) operations themselves. (shrink)
Most of us assume that we have a basic right not to be killed. We might not consider that to be an absolute right—since that would entail strict pacifism—but rather what philosophers call a prima facie right.2 For example, we might be said to forfeit our right not to be killed if we commit a particularly heinous crime like aggravated murder. Or we might waive that right if we suffer from a terminal illness and can’t end our own life without (...) assistance from others. And any right that can be forfeited or waived cannot be absolute. But we’re certainly on solid ground in believing that we have to have very serious moral reasons to justify killing people. In the Western just-war tradition, war is thought to be morally acceptable if it can satisfy certain ethical and procedural criteria. But that tradition also regards war as potentially causing so much suffering, death and destruction that leaders must carefully weigh those harms against the goals they hope to achieve through war. Even if one’s country has been seriously harmed, one’s soldiers or other citizens unjustly killed by foreign powers or terrorists, leaders still face significant moral constraints under just-war criteria on what they may do in response. Having just cause to go to war, for example, does not permit one to wage total war. (shrink)
The ability to keep someone alive by replacing one or more of their major organs is an astounding achievement of 20th-century medicine. Unfortunately, the current supply of transplant organs is much lower than the need or demand for them, which means that thousands of people die every year in the U.S. alone for lack of a replacement organ.
An introduction to ethical reasoning -- Comparative religious perspectives on war -- Just and unjust war in Shakespeare's Henry V -- Anticipating and preventing atrocities in war -- The CIA's original "social contract" -- The KGB: CIA's traditional adversary -- Espionage -- Covert action -- Interrogation -- Concluding reflections.
Kasher and Yadlin make significant contributions to the literature on counter-terrorism, (1) in their fine-tuned distinctions among degrees of individual involvement in terrorist activities, and (2) in weighing (a) obligations to minimize harm to one's own noncombatants and combatants against (b) the duty to limit harm to non-citizen noncombatants. But the authors? analysis is hampered by some ambiguous definitions, some unwieldy terms, and some questionable moral assumptions and arguments.
Strict pacifists say that killing is always wrong. Jewish and Christian pacifists often appeal to the claim in Genesis that all people are made in the image of God, suggesting that killing them represents a kind of sacrilege as well as a violation of human dignity. Christian pacifists also refer to sayings of Jesus in the Gospels to love one's enemies and not retaliate against force with force. Hindu and Buddhist pacifists would cite their basic obligation of ahimsa, avoiding harm (...) to any sentient creature. And nonreligious pacifists often say that violence only begets more violence. (See my "Ethics and War in Comparative Religious Perspective."). (shrink)
The word "ethics" is often used as a synonym for morality or values or ideals. But ethics is also sometimes defined as critical reflection on moral claims and moral beliefs, which themselves pertain to ideas about right and wrong conduct, good and bad motives and intentions, and so on. The scope of ethics is therefore enormous, and the problems and dilemmas theoretically subject to ethical scrutiny are endlessly varied and fascinating. This is no less the case in medicine; it often (...) seems that a new ethical issue arises every time there is a breakthrough in medical technology that gives us powers we didn't have before. (shrink)
In this essay I intend to highlight a wide range of ethical views on killing and war in the world's major religious traditions. I've found that one can learn a lot about a tradition by paying attention to how it answers the question, Is it ever right to kill? What we find when we survey world religions are teachings that are at least paradoxical, and in some cases downright contradictory. Every major religious tradition regards life and especially human life as (...) sacred in some sense, and affirms mercy and compassion as basic human obligations. But influential religious authorities have also taught that it's sometimes right to kill other human beings. Some have gone so far as to rationalize wars of annihilation against heretics and infidels. (shrink)
When dealing with pairwise comparisons of stimuli in two fixed observation areas (e.g., one stimulus on the left, one on the right), we say that the stimulus space is regular well-matched if (1) every stimulus is matched by some stimulus in another observation area, and this matching stimulus is determined uniquely up to matching equivalence (two stimuli being equivalent if they always match or do not match any stimulus together); and (2) if a stimulus is matched by another stimulus then (...) it matches it. The regular well-matchedness property has non-trivial consequences for several issues, ranging from the ancient “sorites” paradox to “probabilitydistance hypothesis” to modeling of discrimination probabilities by means of Thurstoniantype models. We have tested the regular well-matchedness hypothesis for locations of two dots within two side-by-side circles, and for two side-by-side “flower-like” shapes obtained by superposition of two cosine waves with fixed frequencies in polar coordinates. In the location experiment the two coordinates of the dot in one circle were adjusted to match the location of the dot in another circle. In the shape experiment the two cosine amplitudes of one shape were adjusted to match the other shape. The adjustments on the left and on the right alternated in long series according to the “ping-pong” matching scheme developed in Dzhafarov (2006). The results have been found to be in a good agreement with the regular well-matchedness hypothesis. (shrink)
One of the hottest topics in business today is competitive intelligence, the effort by a company to obtain enough information about its competitors to give it a strategic edge over them in the marketplace. During the past decade, a number of books have been written in this country advising business managers on how to mine various sources of public information for this purpose: trade shows, public speeches by company executives, articles in obscure journals, and government agencies like the Food (...) and Drug Administration (1). Some large companies have even hired former FBI and CIA personnel to help them develop more effective in-house intelligence-gathering capabilities (2). (shrink)
Though we agree with their argument that language is shaped by domain-general learning processes, Christiansen & Chater (C&C) neglect to detail how the development of these processes shapes language change. We discuss a number of examples that show how developmental processes at multiple levels and timescales are critical to understanding the origin of domain-general mechanisms that shape language evolution.
These lines — also attributed to H. L. Mencken and Carl Jung — although perhaps politically incorrect, are surely correct in reminding us that more is involved in what one communicates than what one literally says; more is involved in what one means than the standard, conventional meaning of the words one uses. The words ‘yes,’ ‘perhaps,’ and ‘no’ each has a perfectly identifiable meaning, known by every speaker of English (including not very competent ones). However, as those lines illustrate, (...) it is possible for different speakers in different circumstances to mean different things using those words. How is this possible? What's the relationship among the meaning of words, what speakers mean when uttering those words, the particular circumstances of their utterance, their intentions, their actions, and what they manage to communicate? These are some of the questions that pragmatics tries to answer; the sort of questions that, roughly speaking, serve.. (shrink)
Review Jopling's discussion is carried on with remarkable clarity. His presentation of the diverse philosophical positions is balanced and fair. . . . Self-Knowledge and the Self is a work of excellent, sound scholarship, a most significant contribution. Hazel Barnes, author of Sartre and Flaubert Jopling's book is the most sustained and serious contemporary philosophical reflection on the Delphic injunction Know thyself of which I am aware. Drawing on literature and psychotherapy as well as solid argumentation, it gently but persuasively (...) exposes inadequacies in the individualistic theories of Hampshire, Sartre, and Rorty and sketches the advantages of a more dialogic approach. Ideally, readers should come away not only knowing what it means to know oneself, but also, in some respects, actually knowing themselves better!. William L. McBride, author of Social and Political Philosophy In this impressive survey, Jopling not only provides incisive critiques of the major contemporary theories of self-knowledge but also introduces a significant alternative approach, one that stresses the role of dialogue and communication. Ulric Neisser, editor of the Author David A. Jopling is Associate Professor of Philosophy at York University in Toronto. (shrink)