The Internet and Internet applications such as cloud computing continue to grow at an extraordinary rate, enabled by the Internet's open architecture and the vibrant lightly regulated Internet service provider (ISP) market. Proposals to hold ISPs responsible for content and software shared by their customers would dramatically constrain the openness and innovation that has been the hallmark of the Internet to date. Rather than taking the kind of approach favored by Raphael Cohen-Almagor, government should enlist the assistance of other (...) intermediaries such as credit card companies in targeted actions against illegal activities online. In addition, they should foster improved online authentication, which could support “zones of trust” on the Internet. (shrink)
We examine a crucial question for the World Wide Web: What does a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) mean? Crucial for the next-generation Semantic Web, can it refer to things outside web-pages? The Web is a universal information space for naming and accessing information via URIs. However, the classical philosophical problems of meaning and reference that have been the source of debate within the philosophy of language return when the Web is given as the foundation for a knowledge representation with the (...) Semantic Web. Debates on the Semantic Web about the meaning and referential status of a URI are explored as analogues to debates about the meaning and reference of names in the philosophy of language. Three main positions are inspected: the logical position, as exemplified by the descriptivist theory of reference, the direct reference position, as exemplified by Putnam and Kripke’s causal theory of reference, and a Wittgensteinian position that views URIs as a public language, as exemplified by Web search engines. These positions show that debates within the philosophy of language are alive and well on the Web, and so in the philosophy of computer science. (shrink)
The problem with “Europeans want Peace” is that they do not oppose genocidal war. They have not learned the lesson of the 1930s (that timely intervention—with American support that was sadly lacking but would end up coming anyway—could have stopped Hitler and saved millions of lives in Europe), or the lesson of Auschwitz (that genocidal crimes may warrant such intervention). Nor do they see that the“European sovereign state” they refer to, i.e., Yugoslavia, was actually a disintegrating communist federation, whose constituent (...) units have the right to choose whether to re-federate or go off on their own (like Slovenia), or that…. (shrink)
The advent of the Web is one of the defining technological events of the twentieth century, yet its impact on the fundamental questions of philosophy has not yet been explored, much less systematized. The Web, as today implemented on the foundations of the Internet, is broadly construed as the space of all items of interest identified by URIs. Originally a space of linked hypertext documents, today the Web is rapidly evolving as a universal platform for data and computation. Even swifter (...) is the Web-driven transformation of many previously unquestioned philosophical concepts of privacy, belief, intelligence, cognition, and even embodiment in surprising ways. The ensuing essays in this collection hope to explore the philosophical foundation of the World Wide Web and open the debate on whether or not the changes caused by the Web to technology and society warrant the creation of a philosophy of the Web. (shrink)
The Web initially emerged as an “antidote” to accumulated scientific knowledge, since it enables global representation and communication at a minimum cost. Its gigantic scale and interdependence allow us our ability to find relevant information and develop trustworthy contexts. It is time for science to compensate by providing an epistemological “antidote” to Web issues. Philosophy should be in the front line by forming the salient questions and analysis. We need a theory about Web being that will bridge philosophical thinking and (...) engineering. This article analyzes existence and spatiotemporality in the Web and how it transforms the traditional actualities. The resulting issues concern the self-determination of a being and the way in which the Web could be a free and open platform for innovation and participation. (shrink)
Moral philosophers are, among other things, in the business of constructing moral theories. And moral theories are, among other things, supposed to explain moral phenomena. Consequently, one’s views about the nature of moral explanation will influence the kinds of moral theories one is willing to countenance. Many moral philosophers are (explicitly or implicitly) committed to a deductive model of explanation. As I see it, this commitment lies at the heart of the current debate between moral particularists and moral generalists. In (...) this paper I argue that we have good reasons to give up this commitment. In fact, I show that an examination of the literature on scientific explanation reveals that we are used to, and comfortable with, non-deductive explanations in almost all areas of inquiry. As a result, I argue that we have reason to believe that moral explanations need not be grounded in exceptionless moral principles. (shrink)
In this essay I offer a new particularist reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. I argue that the interpretation I present not only helps us to resolve some puzzles about Aristotle’s goals and methods, but it also gives rise to a novel account of morality—an account that is both interesting and plausible in its own right. The goal of this paper is, in part, exegetical—that is, to figure out how to best understand the text of the Nicomachean Ethics. But this paper (...) also aims to contribute to the current exciting and controversial debate over particularism. By taking the first steps towards a comprehensive particularist reading of Aristotle’s Ethics I hope to demonstrate that some of the mistrust of particularism is misplaces and that what is, perhaps, the most influential moral theory in the history of philosophy is, arguably, a particularist moral theory. (shrink)
In this paper I assess the viability of a particularist explanation of moral knowledge. First, I consider two arguments by Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge that purport to show that a generalist, principle-based explanation of practical wisdom—understood as the ability to acquire moral knowledge in a wide range of situations—is superior to a particularist, non-principle-based account. I contend that both arguments are unsuccessful. Then, I propose a particularist-friendly explanation of knowledge of particular moral facts. I argue that when we are (...) careful to keep separate the various explanatory tasks at hand we can see that a particularist-friendly explanation of the fact that (e.g.,) Jane knows that A is morally right might not be so difficult to come by. Moreover, I suggest that a particularist approach to explaining knowledge of particular moral facts may go some way towards discharging the challenge of moral scepticism. (shrink)
What makes some acts morally right and others morally wrong? Traditionally, philosophers have thought that in order to answer this question we must find and formulate exceptionless moral principles—principles that capture all and only morally right actions. Utilitarianism and Kantianism are paradigmatic examples of such attempts. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in a novel approach—Particularism—although its precise content is still a matter of controversy. In this paper I develop and motivate a new formulation of particularism (...) as a research program and I show that my formulation is not vulnerable to the most common objections to particularism. Moreover, I argue that the particularist research program shows enough promise to warrant further exploration. (shrink)
Monists, pluralists, and particularists disagree about the structure of the best explanation of the rightness (wrongness) of actions. In this paper I argue that the availability of good moral advice gives us reason to prefer particularist theories and pluralist theories to monist theories. First, I identify two distinct roles of moral theorizing—explaining the rightness (wrongness) of actions, and providing moral advice—and I explain how these two roles are related. Next, I explain what monists, pluralists, and particularists disagree about. Finally, I (...) argue that particularists and pluralists are better situated than monists to explain why it is a good idea to think before we act, and that this gives us reason to favor particularism and pluralism over monism. (shrink)
Theorizing in ecology and evolution often proceeds via the construction of multiple idealized models. To determine whether a theoretical result actually depends on core features of the models and is not an artifact of simplifying assumptions, theorists have developed the technique of robustness analysis, the examination of multiple models looking for common predictions. A striking example of robustness analysis in ecology is the discovery of the Volterra Principle, which describes the effect of general biocides in predator-prey systems. This paper details (...) the discovery of the Volterra Principle and the demonstration of its robustness. It considers the classical ecology literature on robustness and introduces two individual-based models of predation, which are used to further analyze the Volterra Principle. The paper also introduces a distinction between parameter robustness, structural robustness, and representational robustness, and demonstrates that the Volterra Principle exhibits all three kinds of robustness. *Received September 2006; revised May 2007. ‡Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Australasian Association of Philosophy, the London School of Economics, and the University of Bristol. The authors wish to thank those audiences as well as Patrick Forber, Ken Waters, Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Uri Wilensky, and Bill Wimsatt for many helpful comments. Special thanks to Giacomo Sillari for his assistance in translating Volterra's original paper and his insightful thoughts about Volterra's aims and methods. Some of the research in this paper was supported by NSF grant SES-0620887 to MW. †To contact the authors, please write to: Michael Weisberg, Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania, 433 Logan Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Kenneth Reisman, Pluribo, Inc., 100 Park Avenue, Suite 1600, New York, NY 10017; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Biological phenomena can be investigated at multiple levels, from the molecular to the cellular to the organismic to the ecological. In typical biology instruction, these levels have been segregated. Yet, it is by examining the connections between such levels that many phenomena in biology, and complex systems in general, are best explained. We describe a computation-based approach that enables students to investigate the connections between different biological levels. Using agent-based, embodied modeling tools, students model the microrules underlying a biological phenomenon (...) and observe the resultant aggregate dynamics. We describe 2 cases in which this approach was used. In both cases, students framed hypotheses, constructed multiagent models that incorporate these hypotheses, and tested these by running their models and observing the outcomes. Contrasting these cases against traditionally used, classical equation-based approaches, we argue that the embodied modeling approach connects more directly to students’ experience, enables extended investigations as well as deeper understanding, and enables “advanced” topics to be productively introduced into the high school curriculum. (shrink)
The article discusses the way people wish to die, analyzing the legal situation in countries that permit either euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. While criticizing the Dutch, Belgian and Swiss models, I argue that the Oregon model is the one with apparently little abuse. Building on the experiences of Oregon, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Northern Territory of Australia, the article ends with a set of guidelines to improve the conduct of PAS.
The aims of this essay are (A) to examine the extent to which Marx, Engels and Lenin believed in revolution by peaceful means and what was their attitude towards the phenomenon of war, and (B) to reflect on the different interpretations of their writings, discerning between three schools of thought. It is argued that Marx and Engels considered violence only as an instrument of secondary importance and desirable insofar as there is no other alternative to change the system. It is (...) further contended that while they, in the course of years, adopted a more moderate position regarding the use of violence, Lenin's viewpoint radicalized as the possibility of a revolution in Russia became real. As years went by Lenin affirmed not only the use of violence but also the resort to terrorist activities. Unlike Marx and Engels he became an ardent supporter of all types of terror. (shrink)
We investigate the form of mathematical structuralism that acknowledges the existence of structures and their distinctive structural elements. This form of structuralism has been subject to criticisms recently, and our view is that the problems raised are resolved by proper, mathematics-free theoretical foundations. Starting with an axiomatic theory of abstract objects, we identify a mathematical structure as an abstract object encoding the truths of a mathematical theory. From such foundations, we derive consequences that address the main questions and issues that (...) have arisen. Namely, elements of different structures are different. A structure and its elements ontologically depend on each other. There are no haecceities and each element of a structure must be discernible within the theory. These consequences are not developed piecemeal but rather follow from our definitions of basic structuralist concepts. (shrink)
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This paper examines two models of thinking relating to the issue of the right to die in dignity: one takes into consideration the rights and interests of the individual; the other supposes that human life is inherently valuable. I contend that preference should be given to the first model, and further assert that the second model may be justified in moral terms only as long as it does not resort to paternalism. The view that holds that certain patients are not (...) able to comprehend their own interests in a fully rational manner, and therefore ‘we’ know what is good for these patients better than ‘they’ do, is morally unjustifiable. I proceed by refuting the ‘quality of life’ argument, asserting that each person is entitled to decide for herself when it is worth living and when it is not. In this connection, a caveat will be made regarding the role of the family. (shrink)
This is an extensive critical review of Euthanasia in International and Comparative Perspective. My Review is divided into five parts. First, I outline the book's strengths. I proceed by speaking of the need for clear and cohesive terminology. I then discuss end-of-life decision-making in some of the countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, and the State of Oregon in the United States, all allow PAS. Belgium and The Netherlands also allow euthanasia. I also discuss Israel's Dying Patient Law,13 enacted by the Knesset (...) on December 5, 2005. Finally, I make some suggestions for improvement, including a detailed proposal for PAS which I conceive to be the best policy when balancing one against the other the autonomy of the patient, on the one hand, and the safeguards against abuse when life might be considered too lightly, on the other. Indeed, the main difference between euthanasia and PAS is that in euthanasia, it is the physician who makes the final act of taking patient's life, whereas in PAS it is the patient who takes his or her life. In euthanasia, the physician has control over the process. In PAS, the physician controls the procedure up until the last act. The patient has control over the very act of suicide. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill's concept of ethics was closely related to his firm belief in freedom. He was strictly a believer in each person bringing the greatest degree of happiness or good to the greatest number. This would be an individual act and in no way a forced action. One is free to act without coercion as long as no harm is brought to another person. Consequences must be considered carefully before acting and the act chosen must be the best of (...) possible choices designed to bring about the most good. Mill is definitely a prime example of teleological ethics - an ethics of considering consequences, one which is notably different from Kant's concept of following a priori maxims or principles, regardless of consequences. (shrink)
During the summer of 1999 and in April 2002 Iwent to the Netherlands in order to meet someof the leading authorities on the euthanasiapolicy. They were asked multiple questions.This study reports the main findings to thequestion: should doctors suggest euthanasia totheir patients? Some interviewees did notobserve any significant ethical concernsinvolved in suggesting euthanasia. For variousreasons they thought physicians should offereuthanasia as an option. Two intervieweesasserted that doctors don''t propose euthanasiato their patients. Five interviewees objectedto physician''s initiative.