In this article we develop and defend what we call the “Trust View” of promissory obligation, according to which making a promise involves inviting another individual to trust one to do something. In inviting her trust, and having the invitation accepted (or at least not rejected), one incurs an obligation to her not to betray the trust that one has invited. The distinctive wrong involved in breaking a promise is a matter of violating this obligation. We begin by explicating the (...) core notion of “inviting someone to trust one to do something”, suggesting that it involves signaling to the other individual one's recognition of the importance the relevant action has for her, and one’s willingness to license her to have faith or optimism in one's character with regard to the performance of that action. We then turn to a defense of the Trust View, arguing that it has considerable appeal in its own right, that it is distinct from and superior to three similar accounts (T.M. Scanlon's Assurance View, Judith Jarvis Thomson's Reliance View and David Owens' Authority View), and that several objections to it can be answered. (shrink)
Breaking a promise is generally taken to involve committing a certain kind of moral wrong, but what (if anything) explains this wrong? According to one influential theory that has been championed most recently by T.M. Scanlon, the wrong involved in breaking a promise is a matter of violating an obligation that one incurs to a promisee in virtue of giving her assurance that one will perform or refrain from performing certain acts. In this paper, we argue that the “Assurance View”, (...) as we call it, is susceptible to two kinds of counterexamples. The first show that giving assurance is not sufficient for incurring the kind of obligation of fulfillment that one violates in breaking a promise. The second show that giving assurance is not necessary. Having shown that the Assurance View fails in these ways, we then very briefly sketch the outline of what we take to be a better view—a view that we claim is not only attractive in its own right and that avoids the earlier counterexamples, but that also affords us a deeper explanation of why the Assurance View seems initially plausible, yet nonetheless turns out to be ultimately inadequate. (shrink)
If promises are binding there must be a reason to do as one promised. The paper is motivated by belief that there is a difficulty in explaining what that reason is. It arises because the reasons that promising creates are content-independent. Similar difficulties arise regarding other content-independent reasons, though their solution need not be the same. -/- Section One introduces an approach to promises, and outlines an account of them that I have presented before. It forms the backdrop (...) for the ensuing discussion. The problems discussed in the paper arise, albeit in slightly modified ways, for various other accounts as well. It is, however, helpful to use a specific account as a springboard leading to one explanation of promissory reasons, namely of the reasons that valid promises constitute for performing the promised act (Section Two). We can call it the bare reasons account. Sections Three and Four will raise difficulties with that account, leading to its abandonment in favour of an alternative in Sections Five and Six. (shrink)
The duty to keep promises has many aspects associated with deontological moral theories. The duty to keep promises is non-welfarist, in that the obligation to keep a promise need not be conditional on there being a net benefit from keeping the promise—indeed need not be conditional on there being at least someone who would benefit from its being kept. The duty to keep promises is more closely connected to autonomy than directly to welfare: agents have moral powers (...) to give themselves certain obligations to others. And these moral powers, which enable promisors to create agent- relative obligations to promisees, correlate with rights the promisees acquire in the process, such as rights to waive the duty or insist on its performance. As a result of promises, promisees acquire (not only rights but also) a special status: the promisees are the ones wronged when promises to them that they have not waived are not kept. One more aspect of the duty to keep promises that is associated with deontological moral theories is that what actions the duty requires is at least partly backward-looking: what actions the duty requires depends on facts about the past, namely facts about what promises were made and then waived or not. This paper surveys these aspects of the duty to keep promises and then explores whether rule-consequentialism can be reconciled with them. (shrink)
Promising is clearly a social practice or convention. By uttering the formula, “I hereby promise to do X,” we can raise in others the expectation that we will in fact do X. But this succeeds only because there is a social practice that consists (inter alia) in a disposition on the part of promisers to do what they promise, and an expectation on the part of promisees that promisers will so behave. It is equally clear that, barring special circumstances of (...) some kind, it is morally wrong for promisers to fail to do what they have promised to do. What is perhaps less clear is how the moral wrongness that is involved when promises are broken is related to the social practice that makes promising possible in the ﬁrst place. (shrink)
: Hume's account of the virtue of fidelity to promises contains two surprising claims: 1) Any analysis of fidelity that treats it as a natural (nonconventional) virtue is incorrect because it entails that in promising we perform a "peculiar act of the mind," an act of creating obligation by willing oneself to be obligated. No such act is possible. 2) Though the obligation of promises depends upon social convention, not on such a mental act, we nonetheless "feign" that (...) whenever someone promises he performs such an act. This paper explains both in light of the philosophical questions about promising that lie behind Hume's investigation, his virtue theory, and the general difficulties he believes we face trying to understand virtues that are in fact artificial in terms of our common-sense, natural conception of virtue. It extracts a lesson for contemporary virtue ethics about the motive of duty. (shrink)
This paper challenges the common assumption that an agreement is an exchange of promises. Proposing that the performance obligations of some typical agreements are simultaneous, interdependent, and unconditional, it argues that no promise-exchange has this structure of obligations. In addition to offering general considerations in support of this claim, it examines various types of promise-exchange, showing that none satisfy the criteria noted. Two forms of conditional promise are distinguished and both forms are discussed. A positive account of agreements as (...) joint decisions founded in a joint commitment is sketched. It is argued that the example agreements represent especially clearly the normative structure of social union. (shrink)
Neuroscience has been proposed for use in the legal system for purposes of mind reading, assessment of responsibility, and prediction of misconduct. Each of these uses has both promises and perils, and each raises issues regarding the admissibility of neuroscientific evidence.
This essay explores philosophical questions about practical identity that emerge in David Cronenberg's films, "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises." I distinguish the metaphysical problems of personal identity from the practical problems and contend that the latter are of central importance to the topic of authenticity. Central scenes from both films are examined with an eye to their engagement with the issues of authenticity and self-creation.
I offer a reading of the first clause of T. M. Scanlon's principle of fidelity to assurances. A circularity problem is created by his way of differentiating promises from other assurances which comply with this principle. When the clause is read in the way here proposed, all assurances complying with the principle are promises, and so this problem no longer arises.
The proposed dynamic systems model of emotion generation indeed appears considerably more plausible and descriptively adequate than traditional linear models. It also comes much closer to the complex interactions observed in neurobiological research. The proposals regarding self-organization in emerging appraisal-emotion interactions are thought-provoking and attractive. Yet, at this point they are more in the nature of promises than findings, and are clearly in need of corroborating psychological evidence or demonstrated theoretical desirability.
Conditional promises and threats are speech acts that are used to manipulate other people's behaviour. Studies on human reasoning typically use propositional logic to analyse what people infer from such inducements. While this approach is sufficient to uncover conceptual features of inducements, it fails to explain them. To overcome this limitation, we propose a multilevel analysis integrating motivational, linguistic, deontic, behavioural, and emotional aspects. Commonalities and differences between conditional promises and threats on various levels were examined in two (...) experiments. The first shows that both types of inducements are understood as being complementary on the linguistic level, but not reversible, due to the specific temporal order of their actions. In addition, it gives a first assessment of emotional reactions. The second experiment investigated the novel question of whether complementary promises and threats, despite semantic differences, both imply an obligation to cooperate on the deontic level. The data corroborate this hypothesis, and they support various appraisal-theoretical assumptions on the elicitation of emotions. They also reveal that content affects not only the attribution of emotions, but also the deontic interpretation. (shrink)
The insurance industry’s practice of producing comprehensive insurance policies can have unforeseen and negative ethical consequences. Insurance policies express promises from the insurer to the insured, to the effect that the insurer should be trusted to appropriately assist the insured in case of accident. The relation is seriously undermined when the content of the promise is blurred, containing clauses and condition which are ambiguous or hidden in fine print. This paper contains an investigation of (1) the sources of the (...) fine print policy practice, (2) its immediate effects on the degree to which the policies are understandable to the insured, (3) the ethical consequences that can follow from blurring the true content of the insurer’s promise to the insured and (4) the measures insurers can take in order to develop a more constructive ethical relationship with its customers. (shrink)
Phenomenology holds much potential to make meaningful contributions to research on sport. In this paper, I argue that concepts such as equipment, habit and readiness-at-hand will help to uncover heretofore unexamined strands of athletic embodiment. Through an examination of the work of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Hubert Dreyfus I take some initial steps towards outlining not only the promises of phenomenology for the study of sport, but also what such an undertaking might entail. In conclusion I (...) highlight the consequences for sport research that flow from phenomenology and offer suggestions for how sport scholarship might benefit from its incisive manner of discerning skilled coping. (shrink)
Recent work done at the intersection of classical American pragmatism and bioethics promises much: a clarified self-understanding for bioethics, a modus vivendi for progress, and liberation from misguided and misguiding theories and principles. The revival of pragmatism outside bioethics in the past twenty years, however, has been of a distinctly anti-realist orientation. Richard Rorty, for example, has urged that there is no objective truth or good for philosophy to be concerned with. I ask whether the work in Pragmatic Bioethics (...) follows this perilous Rortyan trend. It will move towards anti-realism if its account of the good abandons any notion of truth or objectivity, and if, in its discussion of specific problems, it divides these problems into public and the private, urging consensus as the goal of the one, and an unconstrained notion of happiness as the goal of the other. In a final section, I suggest that bioethics done in the spirit of Royce's Philosophy of Loyalty might have much to offer to those dissatisfied with anti-realism. (shrink)
An introductory message from Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor, delivered at Privacy by Design: The Definitive Workshop. This presentation looks back at the origins of Privacy by Design, notably the publication of the first report on “Privacy Enhancing Technologies” by a joint team of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada and the Dutch Data Protection Authority in 1995. It looks ahead and adresses the question of how the promises of these concepts could be delivered in practice.
Understanding human behaviour involves "why"'s as well as "how"'s. Rational people have good reasons for acting, but it can be hard to find out what these were and how they worked. In this Note, we discuss a few ways in which actions, preferences, and expectations are intermingled. This mixture is especially clear with the well-known solution procedure for extensive games called 'Backward Induction'. In particular, we discuss three scenarios for analyzing behaviour in a game. One can rationalize given moves as (...) revealing agents' preferences, one can also rationalize them as revealing agents' beliefs about others, but one can also change a predicted pattern of behaviour by making promises. All three scenarios transform given games to new ones, and we prove some results about their scope. A more general view of relevant game transformations would involve dynamic and epistemic game logics. Finally, our analysis describes and disentangles matters: but it will not tell you what to do! (shrink)
: Fins, Bacchetta, and Miller's clinical pragmatism has several appealing features: an emphasis on dialogue, a commitment to consensus, a focus on particular individuals rather than persons in general, and a strong interest in the process as well as the product of moral decision making. Nevertheless, for all its protests to the contrary, clinical pragmatism has a tendency to privilege medical facts over nonmedical values, to conflate appropriate medical decisions with right moral decisions, and to conceive problems at the bedside (...) in terms of "getting" patients and families to "go along" with the treatment plans of clinicians. In sum, there is within clinical pragmatism the potential for physicians to take back some of the power they ceded to patients during the height of the patients' rights and autonomy movement. Provided that clinicians guard against the temptation to use clinical pragmatism manipulatively, however, the method promises, more than most other methods of moral problem solving, to help increasingly diverse individuals make good moral decisions about patients' care under conditions of enormous uncertainty. (shrink)
We will study game trees as representations of rational choice and as representations of player preferences, and promises as public announcements of genuine intentions. Promises in a game change what players know about the preferences of other players. They can be modelled as operations that change a given game into a different game where players know more about the effects of their strategies.
Non-invasive brain stimulation promises innovative experimental possibilities for psychology and neurosci- ence as well as new therapeutic and palliative measures in medicine. Because of its good risk–benefit ratio, non-invasiveness and reversibility as well as its low effort and cost it has good chances of becoming a wide- spread tool in science, medicine and even in lay use. While most issues in medical and research ethics such as informed consent, safety, and potential for misuse can be handled with manageable effort, (...) the real promise of brain stimulation does raise one prominent moral worry: it may lay the foundation of reliable, precise and stable manipulations of the mind. This article addresses this worry and concludes that it is not the possibility of manipulation, but the shift in our understanding of our mind which stands in need of careful consideration. (shrink)
Expectations in the form of promises and concerns contribute to the sense-making and valuation of emerging nanotechnologies. They add up to what we call ‘de facto assessments’ of novel socio-technical options. We explore how de facto assessments of nanotechnologies differ in the application domains of water and food by examining promises and concerns, and their relations in scientific discourse. We suggest that domain characteristics such as prior experiences with emerging technologies, specific discursive repertoires and user-producer relationships, play a (...) key role in framing expectations of nanotechnology-enabled options. The article concludes by suggesting that domain-specific discourses may lead to undesirable lock-ins into specific de facto assessments pre-structuring anticipatory strategies of actors. (shrink)
Libertarians hold that free action and moral responsibility are incompatible with determinism and that some human beings occasionally act freely and are morally responsible for some of what they do. Can libertarians who know both that they are right and that they are free make sincere promises? Peter van Inwagen, a libertarian, contends that they cannot—at least when they assume that should they do what they promise to do, they would do it freely. Probably, this strikes many readers as (...) a surprising thesis for a libertarian to hold. In light of van Inwagen's holding it, the title of his essay—‘Free Will Remains a Mystery’—may seem unsurprising. (shrink)
Alexander Nehamas calls beauty a ‘promise of happiness’ and claims that it is an object of love. While this approach appealingly places beauty at the center of both artistic passion and everyday life, it also renders it riskily personal. This discussion raises two main questions to Nehamas. The first question regards the role of happiness in the concept of beauty, for many beautiful artworks seem to acknowledge the inevitability of sorrow rather than its opposite. The second question concerns how beauty (...) may be both personal and grounded in factors sufficiently outside the self to safeguard it against the instability of individual preferences. To explore the latter issue, Nehamas's ideas are compared to those of another Platonist, Iris Murdoch. (shrink)
The paper argues that promise rights presuppose independently existing (if not pre-existing) claims. The argument relies on the Bifurcation Thesis, according to which all claims, and all rights, can be exhaustively divided into two categories: capacity based and exercise based.
Physicians and families need to interact more meaningfully to clarify the values and preferences at stake in advance care planning. The current use of advance directives fails to respect patient autonomy. This paper proposes using the family covenant as a preventive ethics process designed to improve end-of-life planning by incorporating other family members—as agreed to by the patient and those family members—into the medical care dialogue. The family covenant formulates advance directives in conversation with family members and with the assistance (...) of a physician, thereby making advance directives more acceptable to the family, and more intelligible to other physicians. It adds the moral force of a promise to the obligation of respecting a patient’s preferences about end-of-life care. These negotiations between patient, family, and physician, from early planning phases through implementation, should greatly reduce the incidence of family disagreements on what the patient would have wanted. The family covenant ensures advance directive discussions within the family, promotes and respects the autonomy of other family members, and might even spur others in the family to complete advance directives through additional covenants. The family covenant holds the potential to transform moral quagmires into meaningful moral conversation. J Am Geriatr Soc 51:1155–1158, 2003. (shrink)
Although the residues of official segregation are widespread, affirmative action continues to meet resistance in both official and everyday life, even in such recent Supreme Court decisions as Grutter v Bollinger (539 U.S. 306). This is due in part to a governing ontology that draws the line between individual and collective. But there are other possibilities for conceiving the social, and I offer one here in a theory of affirmative action that is developed through close examination of sharing and promising (...) as elemental qualities of equitable communal life. The nature and value of these actions are demonstrated in narrative formulations of fairness as exemplified in triage and the situation at the end of slavery; of the difference between equality and equity and how justice depends on their conjunction; and finally of theorizing how these may come together in the permutable, opaque, yet resilient interdependence of person and community that represents most deeply the Greek idea of two in one, that is, of one two, not two ones. In these respects the paper is successful insofar as it discloses the kinds of reasoning that underlie both resistance and commitment to affirmative action. (shrink)
In the context of stem cell research, the promise of economic growth has become a common policy argument for adoption of permissive policies and increased government funding. However, declarations of economic and commercial benefit, which can be found in policy reports, the scientific literature, public funding policies, and the popular press, have arguably created a great deal of expectation. Can stem cell research deliver on the economic promise? And what are the implications of this economic ethos for the researchers who (...) must work under its shadow? (shrink)
Detection of deception and confirmation of truth telling with conventional polygraphy raised a host of technical and ethical issues. Recently, newer methods of recording electromagnetic signals from the brain show promise in permitting the detection of deception or truth telling. Some are even being promoted as more accurate than conventional polygraphy. While the new technologies raise issues of personal privacy, acceptable forensic application, and other social issues, the focus of this paper is the technical limitations of the developing technology. Those (...) limitations include the measurement validity of the new technologies, which remains largely unknown. Another set of questions pertains to the psychological paradigms used to model or constrain the target behavior. Finally, there is little standardization in the field, and the vulnerability of the techniques to countermeasures is unknown. Premature application of these technologies outside of research settings should be resisted, and the social conversation about the appropriate parameters of its civil, forensic, and security use should begin. (shrink)
For many students, success or failure hinges on their ability to locate logic within the context of everyday thought. One way of accomplishing this task is to emphasize the connections between natural and symbolic language. Many students, however, find that symbolic logic occasionally deviates from their expectations. In particular, they commonly have difficulty understanding the rationale behind the false antecedent conditional and the inclusive disjunction. In this article, I outline a teaching strategy that employs promise keeping as an analogy for (...) these standard interpretations of the propositional operators. (shrink)
Evidence-based policy is gaining support in many areas of government and in public affairs more generally. In this paper we outline what evidence—based policy is then discuss its strengths and weaknesses. In particular, we argue that it faces a serious challenge to provide a plausible account of evidence. This account needs to be at least in the spirit of the hierarchy of evidence subscribed to by evidence-based medicine (from which evidence—based policy derives its name and inspiration). Yet evidence-based policy’s hierarchy (...) needs to be tailored to the kinds of evidence relevant and available to the policy arena. The evidence required for policy decisions does not easily lend itself to randomised controlled trials (the "gold standard" in evidence-based medicine), nor, for that matter, being listed in a single all—purpose hierarchy. (shrink)
The communicative relationship between science and society has metamorphosed with the dawn of the 21st century, as articulated by Michael Gibbons in 1999. In this new social contract, "socially robust" production is expected—the "reliable" knowledge produced under the previous social contract no longer suffices. Barriers between sectors have become more permeable than before, and "the sites at which problems are formulated and negotiated have moved from their previous institutional locations in government, industry, and universities into the 'agora'—the public space in (...) which both 'science meets the public' and the public 'speaks back' to science" (pp. C81-C84). With respect to stem cell research, factions of .. (shrink)
Academic-industry collaborations and the conflicts of interest (COI) arising out of them are not new. However, as industry funding for research in the life and health sciences has increased and scandals involving financial COI are brought to the public’s attention, demands for disclosure have grown. In a March 2008 American Council on Science and Health report by Ronald Bailey, he argues that the focus on COI—especially financial COI—is obsessive and likely to be more detrimental to scientific progress and public health (...) than COI themselves. In response, we argue that downplaying the potential negative impact of COI arising out of academic-industry relationships is no less harmful than overreacting to it. (shrink)
In his Experiments in Ethics , Appiah focuses mostly on the dimension of naturalism as a naturalism of deprivation - naturalism’s apparent robbing us of aspects of the world that we had held dear. The aim of this paper is to remind him of that naturalism has a dimension of plenitude as well - its capacity to enrich our conception of the world as well. With regard to character, we argue that scientific psychology can help provide a conception of character (...) as dynamic, in a way that may preserve many key aspects of eudaimonistic ethics from the situationists’ challenge. With regard to intuition, we address Appiah’s worry that naturalistic explanations of the sources of our intuitions may leave us feeling that those intuitions have been thereby debunked. We suggest that it may be that feeling of debunking that should itself be debunked. (shrink)
Research has shown that the strongest reactions to organizational injustice occur when an employee perceives both unfair outcomes (distributive injustice) and unfair and unethical procedures and treatment. Utilizing the Referent Cognitions Theory (RCT) framework, this study investigates how a form of distributive injustice, psychological contract breach, along with procedural and interactional injustice influences employees'' negative attitudes and behaviors. More specifically, the interactional effects of these forms of injustices should be notably greater than those exhibited when an employee of the organization, (...) following a contract breach, perceives both fair and ethical processes and treatment. Three hundred and twenty-two employees from a variety of organizational settings completed measures of contract breach, procedural injustice, interactional injustice, and negative affect toward the organization. Their respective supervisors completed a measure of deviant work behaviors. Results revealed a three-way interaction between contract breach, procedural injustice, and interactional injustice on negative affect and deviant work behavior. The nature of the interaction was further investigated through simple slope analyses. Consistent with the study''s propositions, deviant work behavior was higher following a contract breach when both procedural and interactional injustice were high. However, the association between negative affect and breach was high when both forms of injustices were high and when only interactional injustice was high. Study contributions and limitations as well as theoretical and ethical implications are discussed. (shrink)
: National bioethics commissions have struggled to develop ethically warranted methods for conducting their deliberations. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission in its report on stem cell research adopted an approach to public deliberation indebted to Rawls in that it sought common ground consistent with shared values and beliefs at the foundation of a well-ordered democracy. In contrast, although the research cloning and stem cell research reports of the President's Council on Bioethics reveal that it broached two different methods of public (...) deliberation—balancing goods and following an overarching moral principle—it adopted neither. Thereupon its prime mover, Leon Kass, influenced particularly by the approach of Leo Strauss, sought to develop a method of public deliberation guided by tradition and practical wisdom. When this failed, the Council fell back on a method that took account of shared fundamental values of a free democracy—a method remarkably akin to that employed by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. Respect for diverse reasonable conceptions of the good in a democratic polity requires national bioethics commissions to seek and incorporate that which is valuable in opposing positions. (shrink)
A recent literature review of commentaries and ‘state of the art’ articles from researchers in psychiatric genetics (PMG) offers a consensus about progress in the science of genetics, disappointments in the discovery of new and effective treatments, and a general optimism about the future of the field. I argue that optimism for the field of psychiatric molecular genetics (PMG) is overwrought, and consider progress in the field in reference to a sample estimate of US National Institute of Mental Health funding (...) for this paradigm for the years 2008 and 2009. I conclude that the amounts of financial investment in PMG is questionable from an ethical perspective, given other research and clinical needs in the USA. (shrink)
In recent decades, designers, architects, and landscape architects concerned with their contribution to today’s ecological problems started formulating a new way of designing and creating artifacts. Called “ecological design” and promoted as a corrective alternative to conventional practice, its basic tenet is to draw from nature a guidance for design, rather than imposing our design on nature. This newapproach signifies a welcome change, first by calling attention to the ecological implications of artifacts, a subject matter generally neglected in environmental ethics, (...) and, second, by providing useful, specific suggestions regarding the ecologically responsible way of designing artifacts. However, the conceptual basis and resultant implications of ecological design deserve and need critical analyses. I argue that the basic premise of ecological design—that nature should act as the authority—is problematic by examining analogous strategies from social, political, moral, and aesthetic realms, as well as by exploring its specific application in the promotion of “native” plants in gardens. I end with another issue often neglected in the practice of ecological design: our aesthetic response to the created objects. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that there are moral reasons to embrace the construction of self-designing and sex/gender-neutral cyborg athletes. In fact, with the prospect of advanced genetic and cyborg technology, we may face a future where sport (as we know it) occurs in its purest form; that is, where athletes get evaluated by athletic performance only and not by their gender, and where it becomes impossible to discriminate athletes based on their body constitution and gender identity. The gender constructions (...) within sports and sports culture are solid, however. Here, I argue that the rough distinctions we use to define people in terms of sex/gender tend to create and recreate old-fashioned and discriminatory sex/gender-boundaries. A morally reasonable way of meeting this issue, is to say that the problem is not the individuals who (for one reason or another) transcend certain gender categories, but the categories in themselves. (shrink)
The varieties of meaning in which we use the terms illness and health requires that we develope a conceptualization allowing us to maintain a unity between the differences. In fact, the experiences of health and illness are complex ones and they need to be understood in their different levels so that the need for help of patients and their desire for health is adequately faced. At its roots, the experience of illness is that of a threat posed to the unreflective (...) credit given to life in good health. This threat has not only a biopsychosocial dimension, but a moral and sybolic one as well, and it is mainly at this level that illness represents a moral challenge. Contemporary culture seems to be at pains in suggesting a shared set of meanings enabling the patient to give an intersubjectively valid sense of illness, since the only kind of answer offered is a technical one. The symbolic dimension of the notions of health and illness call for a deeper cultural enterprise of looking for a credible sense of illness for our times. (shrink)
This paper considers the legislative debates in Australia that led to the passage of the Research Involving Human Embryos Act (Cth 2002) and the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act (Cth 2002). In the first part of the paper, we discuss the debate surrounding the legislation with particular emphasis on the ways in which demands for public consultation, public debate and the education of Australians about the potential ethical and scientific impact of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) research were deployed, and (...) the explicit and implicit framing of the scope of public consultation. We then ask whether, given the calls for public consultations, debate and understanding, current work in democratic theory could be helpful in analysing the process of policy-making in these areas. In particular, we canvass the literature relating to aggregative and deliberative models of democracy for processes that support the legitimacy of policy. We identify features of the debate that reflect the appeal of deliberative approaches as well as some of the possible hurdles or limitations to developing deliberative democratic approaches to policy in ethically contentious areas. (shrink)
We discuss a recent approach to investigating cognitive control, which has the potential to deal with some of the challenges inherent in this endeavour. In a model-based approach, the researcher deﬁnes a formal, computational model that performs the task at hand and whose performance matches that of a research participant. The internal variables in such a model might then be taken as proxies for latent variables computed in the brain. We discuss the potential advantages of such an approach for the (...) study of the neural underpinnings of cognitive control and its pitfalls, and we make explicit the assumptions underlying the interpretation of data obtained using this approach. (shrink)
My review of Ike Kamphof’s “Webcams to Save Nature: Online Space as Affective and Ethical Space” focuses on the question how the engagement of the spectator of the described websites is temporally structured and how the discrepancy between the instantaneity of affective response and the duration of moral engagement is solved. I propose to draw on Alexander Nehamas’ philosophy of beauty as an in-between, bringing affect and ethics closer together.