‘Any reason for living is an excellent reason for not dying’ (Steven Luper-Foy, 'Annihilation'). Some claims seem so clearly right that we don’t think to question them. Steven Luper-Foy’s remark is like that. It borders on the ‘trivially true’ (i.e. so obviously true as to be uninteresting). If I have a reason to live, surely I likewise have a reason not to die. It may then be surprising to learn that so many philosophers disagree with this claim—either directly or (...) by implication. I will look at some of the things people say that stand in opposition to Luper-Foy’s claim. I will also consider what is needed in order to agree with it. The views canvassed cover broad issues concerning life and death, and what matters to us with respect to both. (shrink)
As Kant claimed in the Groundwork , and as the idea has been developed (in markedly different ways) by Korsgaard 1997, Bratman 1987, and Broome 2002. This formulation is agnostic on whether reasons for ends derive from our desiring those ends, or from the relation of those ends to things of independent value. However, desire-based theorists may deny, against Hubin 1999, that their theory is a combination of a principle of instrumental transmission and the principle that reasons for (...) ends are provided by desires. Instead, they may say, there is just one principle, a principle of, if you will, instrumental transmutation: if one desires the end, then one has reason to take the means. See the discussion of General Production, in section 8, for a doubt about this. (shrink)
Reason's capacity to take us where we did not expect to go could also lead to a curious diversion from what one might expect to be the straight line of evolution. We have evolved a capacity to reason because it helps us to survive and reproduce. But if reason is an escalator, then although the first part of the journey may help us to survive and reproduce, we may go further than we needed to go for this purpose alone. We (...) may even end up somewhere that creates tension with other aspects of our nature. In this respect, there may after all be some validity in Kant's picture of tension between our capacity to reason, and what it may lead us to see as the right thing to do, and our more basic desires. We can live with the contradictions only up to a point. (shrink)
In a much cited phrase in the famous English ‘Child B’ case, Mr Justice Laws intimated that in life and death cases of scarce resources it is not sufficient for health care decision-makers to ‘toll the bell of tight resources’: they must also explain the system of priorities they are using. Although overturned in the Court of Appeal, the important question remains of the extent to which health-care decision-makers have a duty to give reasons for their decisions. In this (...) paper, I examine the philosophical foundations of the legal obligation to give reasons in English law. Why are judges sometimes supportive of the imposition of a duty to give reasons and sometimes not? What is it about the context of life and death health care allocation problems that makes it unsuitable in their view for such a duty; and is this stance justified? What is it to give a reason for a decision? I examine Frederick Schauer’s account of reason-giving in terms of generalisation and commitment and I suggest that it provides an overstated account of what giving a reason commits one to. I go on to examine an idea of judicial creation: that where value judgements are “inexpressible” there is a strong reason not to impose a duty to give reasons on to public bodies. The strongest case for a duty to give reasons is in terms of the value of respect for citizens. I argue that there is nothing in the very nature of reason-giving that ought to preclude the imposition of such a duty in this context, but concede that there is a serious danger of legalism that could result in a hamstringing of health care decision-making. It is up to judges and lawyers to seek to avoid this danger. (shrink)
In this paper I grant the Humean premise that some reasons for action are grounded in the desires of the agents whose reasons they are. I then consider the question of the relation between the reasons and the desires that ground them. According to promotionalism , a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as A’s φing helps promote p . According to motivationalism a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as it (...) explains why, in certain circumstances, A would be motivated to φ. I then give an argument favouring motivationalism, namely that promotionalism entails that agents have reasons to perform physically impossible actions, whereas motivationalism entails that there are no such reasons. Although this is a version of the ‘Too Many Reasons’ objection to promotionalism, I show that existing responses to that problem do not transfer to the case of reasons to perform physically impossible actions. In the penultimate section I consider and reject some objections to motivationalism made by promotionalists. The conclusion is that Humeans about reasons for action should prefer motivationalism. (shrink)
I imagine that people will complain that the account of normative concepts defended in Gibbard’s new book makes the metaethical waters even muddier because it blurs the line between cognitivism and noncognitivism and between realism and antirealism. However, these labels are philosophic tools, and in the wake of Gibbard’s new book, one might rightly conclude that there are new and better philosophical tools emerging on the metaethical scene. The uptake of views about practical reasoning—as exhibited by planning—into debates about the (...) (...) meaning of normative claims is a fruitful line of research. And, as Apt Feelings, Wise Choices made an initial bold step into novel and fruitful lines of research into the connection between psychology and morality, Thinking How to Live has also made an initial bold step into novel and fruitful lines of research into the connection between practical reasoning and normative semantics. (shrink)
Prospective parents centainly ought to avoid creating a child whose life would be so terrible that no one should have to live it. However, those who sought to avoid it would risk making a serious moral error, if their reasoning did follow a certain pattern.The error would be failure to respect autonomy, which includes a claim to judge for oneself whether one's life is worth living. I explain how this applies to a decision about whether someone is to exist (...) at all, and what difference it would make if prospective parents paid autonomy the respect it merits. (shrink)
This paper examines the self-interested reasons that businesses can have for ethical behaviour. It distinguishes between economic and non-economic reasons and, among the latter, notes those connected with the self-esteem of managers. It offers a detailed typology of prudential reasons for ethical behaviour, laying particular stress on those to do with avoiding punishment by society for wrongdoing and, more particularly still, stresses the role of campaigning pressure groups within that particular category of reasons. It goes on (...) to suggest that because of their occupation of the moral high ground, campaigning groups are well placed to damage the self-esteem of managers and that this is why those groups seem able to exert an influence that goes beyond their somewhat limited capacity to inflict economic damage upon businesses. The paper concludes with the suggestion that we may be witnessing a virtuous spiral whereby rising public expectations of morality in business lead to ever increasing moral commitments by business that then cause those expectations to rise still further. (shrink)
The plurality of definitions of life is often perceived as an unsatisfying situation stemming from still incomplete knowledge about ‘what it is to live’ as well as from the existence of a variety of methods for reaching a definition. For many, such plurality is to be remedied and the search for a unique and fully satisfactory definition of life pursued. In this contribution on the contrary, it is argued that the existence of such a variety of definitions of life (...) undermines the very feasibility of ever reaching a unique unambiguous definition. It is argued that focusing on the definitions of specific types of ‘living systems’ – somehow in the same way that one can define specific types of ‘flying systems’ – could be more fruitful from a heuristic point of view than looking for ‘the’ right definition of life, and probably more accurate in terms of carving Nature at its joints. (shrink)
A state-based reason for one to intend to perform an action F is a reason for one to intend to F which is not a reason for one to F. Are there any state-based reasons to intend? According to the Explanatory Argument, the answer is no, because state-based reasons do not satisfy a certain explanatory constraint. I argue that whether or not the constraint is correct, the Explanatory Argument is unsound, because state-based reasons do satisfy the constraint. (...) The considerations that undermine the Explanatory Argument also generate a strong, positive case for the existence of state-based reasons to intend. (shrink)
Death is a bad thing by virtue of its ability to frustrate the subjectively valuable projects that shape our identities and render our lives meaningful. While the presumption that immortality would necessarily result in boredom worse than death proves unwarranted, if the constraint of mortality is a necessary element for virtues, relationships, and motivation to pursue our life-projects, then death might nevertheless be a necessary evil. Mortal or immortal, it’s clear that the value of one’s life depends on its subjectively (...) determined quality, rather than its quantity. Thus, it is imperative to live forever in the present, with flourishing always in mind. (shrink)
Part One of this essay considered familiar ways of characterizing deontology, which focus on the notions of the good and the right. Here we will take up alternative approaches, which stress the type of reasons for actions that are generated by deontological theories. Although some of these alternative conceptualizations of deontology also employ a distinction between the good and the right, all mark the basic contrast between deontology and teleology in terms of reasons to act.
This paper defends a 'fitting attitudes' view of value on which what it is for something to be good is for there to be reasons to favour that thing. The first section of the paper defends a 'linking principle' connecting reasons and value. The second and third sections argue that this principle is better explained by a fitting-attitudes view than by 'value-first' views on which reasons are explained in terms of value.
In trying to distinguish the right kinds of reasons from the wrong, epistemologists often appeal to the connection to truth to explain why practical considerations cannot constitute reasons. The view they typically opt for is one on which only evidence can constitute a reason to believe. Talbot has shown that these approaches don’t exclude the possibility that there are non-evidential reasons for belief that can justify a belief without being evidence for that belief. He thinksthat there are (...) indeed such reasons and that they are theright kind of reasons to justify belief. The existence of such truth promoting non-epistemic reasons is said tofollow from the fact that we have an epistemic end that involves the attainment of true belief. I shall argue thatthere are no such reasons precisely because there is anepistemic end that has normative authority. (shrink)
The false belief task has often been used as a test of theory of mind. We present two reasons to abandon this practice. First, passing the false belief task requires abilities other than theory of mind. Second, theory of mind need not entail the ability to reason about false beliefs. We conclude with an alternative conception of the role of the false belief task. q 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Allan Gibbard’s strategy in his new book is to begin by describing a psychology of thinking and planning that certain agents might instantiate, then to argue that this psychology involves an ‘expressivism’ about thought that bears on what to do, and, finally, to try to show that ascribing that same psychology to human beings would explain the way we deploy various concepts in practical and normative deliberation. The idea is to construct an imaginary normative psychology, purportedly conforming to expressivist specifications, (...) and then to campaign for the hypothesis that that psychology is ours and that we ourselves conform to those specifications. The upshot is an original and intriguing argument for the claim that ‘expressivism’, as Gibbard understands it, is sound. There is more in the book than that bare argument. Filling out the strategy pursued, for example, the volume contains useful discussions of a number of current debates (chs 2, 12), an enlightening argument that the strategy survives the introduction of the notion that a concept can have a character distinct from its content (ch. 6), and an extended set of reflections on how far the point of view defended leaves room for the idea of gaining normative knowledge (pt. 4). But I shall ignore those aspects of the book in this commentary; the focus is on its central argument. My approach will be to reconstuct the main stages in the Aufbau of our normative psychology that Gibbard provides, emphasizing some crucial points that are passed over rather quickly, and then to suggest on the basis of this reconstruction that the more natural lesson to derive is not an expressivist one. Although I break with Gibbard in that way, however, I have great admiration for the book. Thinking How to Live is a sharp, fresh and invigorating treatment of the main issues of metaethics. (shrink)
Written as a last, long posthumous letter to Jacques Derrida, the essay turns to the philosopher's last and, for the living, most important lesson – on ‘learning to live.’ In particular, it addresses – as constitutive of his unique ‘heterodidactics’ – two discrete communications on the subject. The first, in Spectres de Marx (1993), declares the lesson to be at once impossible and necessary, that is, ‘ethics itself’; in the second, the last interview ‘Je suis en guerre contre moi-même’ (...) published just before his death in 2004, Derrida confesses to ‘have remained uneducable’ on the subject. The essay reflects on the performative significance of this contradiction in the context of Derrida's intimacy with death, his taste for mourning, and his practice of writing as an experience of dying and resurrection. (shrink)
In the ninth fragment of his posthumous work Living Up to Death , Paul Ricoeur reflects on Jacques Derrida’s final interview given to the French newspaper Le Monde just months prior to his death. Although he confesses to a genuine distanciation from Derrida regarding salient aspects of their individual memento mori , he does so within the context of significant concessions of agreement. I argue in this article that their differing positions de facto agree at a critical structural level with (...) reference to the possibility of positing something akin to a textual immortality. Both contend that traces of the author remain in the corpus of a work, a remainder that allows for a form of resurrection through reading. By analogizing their perspectives with Rudolf Bultmann’s kerygmatic resurrection of Christ in the proclaimed word, I conclude that Ricoeur and Derrida contend that one truly learns to live up to death ‘ finally ’, that is, enfin — ‘at last’, ‘after all’, or one might say, ‘ in a word ’. (shrink)
Allan Gibbard’s strategy in his new book is to begin by describing a psychology of thinking and planning that certain agents might instantiate, then to argue that this psychology involves an ‘expressivism’ about thought that bears on what to do, and, ﬁnally, to try to show that ascribing that same psychology to human beings would explain the way we deploy various concepts in practical and normative deliberation. The idea is to construct an imaginary normative psychology, purportedly conforming to expressivist speciﬁcations, (...) and then to campaign for the hypothesis that that psychology is ours and that we ourselves conform to those speciﬁcations. The upshot is an original and intriguing argument for the claim that ‘expressivism’, as Gibbard understands it, is sound. There is more in the book than that bare argument. Filling out the strategy pursued, for example, the volume contains useful discussions of a number of current debates (chs 2, 12), an enlightening argument that the strategy survives the introduction of the notion that a concept can have a character distinct from its content (ch. 6), and an extended set of reﬂections on how far the point of view defended leaves room for the idea of gaining normative knowledge (pt. 4). But I shall ignore those aspects of the book in this commentary; the focus is on its central argument. My approach will be to reconstuct the main stages in the Aufbau of our normative psychology that Gibbard provides, emphasizing some crucial points that are passed over rather quickly, and then to suggest on the basis of this reconstruction that the more natural lesson to derive is not an expressivist one. Although I break with Gibbard in that way, however, I have great admiration for the book. Thinking How to Live is a sharp, fresh and invigorating treatment of the main issues of metaethics. (shrink)
I consider if and how far it is possible to live an educational philosophical life, in the fast-changing, globalised world of Higher Education. I begin with Socrates’ account of a philosophical life in the Apology. I examine some tensions within different conceptions of what it is to do philosophy. I then go on to focus more closely on what it might be to live a philosophical, educational life in which educational processes and outcomes are influenced by philosophy, using (...) examples taken from published sources and from conversational interviews with philosophers carried out by myself with Kenneth Wain, Bas Levering and Richard Pring. I then outline the directions of current European policy for Higher Education. Finally I discuss how far current policies and trends leave room for doing philosophy of education, concluding that it is possible, but only for individuals who are very much in sympathy with current policy trends or who are creative in constructing smoke screens. (shrink)
Recent theoretical analyses of domestic violence have posited the complicity of medical communities in erasing and obfuscating the cause of injuries. Although medical cultures have engaged in progressive initiatives to address and treat domestic violence, these medical and clinical models can render domestic violence invisible by framing the battered woman as evidentiary object. By analyzing this invisibility of domestic violence through the concept of public secrecy, in this article I consider Kiki Smith's 1982 installation piece Life Wants to Live. (...) Using medical technologies, Smith's installation offers the viewer a vision of domestic violence that recognizes its inherently problematic invisibility and emphasizes the importance of lived, bodily experience. (shrink)
Unveiling the Past—Preparing the Conditions for Human Beings to Live in the Midst of One Another Again? A Response From Living in Northern Ireland Content Type Journal Article Category Symposium Pages 333-335 DOI 10.1007/s11673-011-9334-y Authors Derick Wilson, University of Ulster, School of Education, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, BT52 1SA UK Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 8 Journal Issue Volume 8, Number 4.
Early on in Specters of Marx, the first sentence in Exordium reads: ‘Someone, you or me, comes forward and says: I would like to learn to live finally’. In the last paragraph of the last chapter, Derrida gives the injunction: ‘If he loves justice at least, the “scholar” of the future, the “intellectual” of tomorrow should learn it and from the ghost’. The ghost is the gift Derrida leaves us, yet, what can ghosts teach us about justice and how (...) may we (dare we) learn from them? Derrida invokes Levinas's name for the only time in Specters of Marx, with the line ‘The relation to others – that is to say, justice, writes Levinas’. From ‘Violence and Metaphysics’ to ‘At This Very Moment in This Work Here I Am’, the spectral relation between Derrida and Levinas already performs spectral justice. How do we say ‘J'accepte’ to spectral justice – justice that we cannot rightly possess? The figure and logic of the ghost serve not merely rhetorical purposes but, in its non-presence and presence, the ghost becomes the trace of the justice that we can neither own nor disown, but need to learn to live with, even if, in politics and in life, the fear of ghosts remains. (shrink)
Adults without the capacity to make their own medical decisions have their rights protected under the Mental Capacity Act (2005) in the UK. The underlying principle of the court's decisions is the best interests test, and the evaluation of best interests is a welfare appraisal. Although the House of Lords in the well-known case of Bland held that the decision to withhold treatment for patients in a persistent vegetative state should not be based on their best interests, judges in recent (...) cases have still held that the best interests of persistently vegetative patients demand that the right to die with dignity prevails over society's interest to preserve life. The basis of suggesting that it is in the best interests for one who is alive (although vegetative) in peace to die in peace is weak. Even if it may not be in their best interests to live on, it may not be so to die either. The phrase ‘the right to dignity/to die with dignity’ has been misused as a trump card to justify the speculation that a vegetative patient would necessarily refuse to live on machines. Without disrespect to the court's decision, we argue that the use of the best interests test to authorise withdrawing/withholding treatment from persistently vegetative patients without an advance directive is problematic. We propose that the court could have reached the same decision by considering only the futility of treatment without working through the controversial best interests of the patient. (shrink)
We anticipate a further decline of patients who eventually will become brain dead. The intensive care unit (ICU) is considered a last resort for patients with severe and multiple organ dysfunction. Patients with primary central nervous system failure constitute the largest group of patients in which life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn. Almost all these patients are unconscious at the moment physicians decide to withhold and withdraw life-sustaining measures. Sometimes, however competent ICU patients state that they do not want to live (...) anymore because of the severity of their illness or the poor prognosis and ask for withdrawal of life-sustaining measures like mechanical ventilation. Do we consider the unconscious patient as potential organ donor before withdrawal of mechanical ventilation? This is paradoxically rare in the case of the conscious ICU patient. Is it practically possible and ethically feasible to obtain consent for organ donation from this group of patients? (shrink)
In his major new book A.C. Grayling examines the different ways to live a good life, as proposed from classical antiquity to the recent present. Grayling focuses on the two very different conceptions of what a good life should be: one is a broadly secular view rooted in attitudes about human nature and the human condition; the other is a broadly transcendental view which locates the source of moral value outside the human realm. In the modern world - the (...) world shaped by the rise of science in the seventeenth century - these two views have come increasingly into conflict, and the constantly accumulating tension between them is one of the greatest problems faced by the twenty-first century. Using his renowned clarity of thought and philosophical rigour, AC Grayling has produced an invaluable guide through mankind's ethical struggle to live decently. (shrink)
This essay raises a philosophical question concerning the language of Life Theory. It aims to prove the assumption that in contrast to Life Science, which today is connected to neuroscience and biotechnology, a theory that comprehends “life itself” must exceed the computerized mathematics of modern materialistic positivism. For this purpose, the conceptual possibility of such a theory is analysed from the perspective of 20th century philosophy of life. Beginning with Henri Bergson, who developed an immanent concept of life“from within itself” (...) in L’évolution créatrice (1907), the analysis turns to Alain Badiou, whose fundamental onto-phenomenology of being is summed up in Logiques des mondes (2006) by answering the question “what is it to live”. The comparison between the two philosophies exposes the conditions of a Life Theory that encompasses, beyond the results of the digitalizable language translated from the neurons of the human brain, the uncountable and unpredictable aspects of living and being alive. These conditions are: an ethics of universality, a differential philosophy of time, and a concept of independent novelty enforced by the (in)aesthetics of subjective creation. (shrink)
This paper describes an argumentative fallacy we call ‘Retroductive Analogy.’ It occurs when the ability of a favored hypothesis to explain some phenomena, together with the fact that hypotheses of a similar sort are well supported, is taken to be sufficient evidence to accept the hypothesis. This fallacy derives from the retroductive or abductive form of reasoning described by Charles Sanders Peirce. According to Peirce’s account, retroduction can provide good reasons to pursue a hypothesis but does not, by itself, (...) provide good reasons to believe the hypothesis. In successful applications of retroduction, pursuit leads to the accumulation of evidence. In retroductive analogy, comparison with other successful hypotheses is substituted for the genuine pursuit of evidence. We describe a case from ecological genetics in which retroduction plays a legitimate role as the initial phase of an ongoing research program that serves to accumulate genuine evidence for a hypothesis. We also examine two contexts in which the fallacy of retroductive analogy occurs: in defenses of Intelligent Design Theory and in defense of some hypotheses in Evolutionary Psychology. (shrink)
This paper argues that the recent metaethical turn to reasons as the fundamental units of normativity offers no special advantage in explaining a variety of other normative and evaluative phenomena, unless perhaps a form of reductionism about reasons is adopted which is rejected by many of those who advocate turning to reasons.
Identity, we're told, is the binary relation that every object bears to itself, and to itself only. But how can a relation be binary if it never relates two objects? This puzzled Russell and led Wittgenstein to declare that identity is not a relation between objects. The now standard view is that Wittgenstein's position is untenable, and that worries regarding the relational status of identity are the result of confusion. I argue that the rejection of identity as a binary relation (...) is perfectly tenable. To this end, I outline and defend a logical framework that is not committed to an objectual identity relation but is nevertheless expressively equivalent to first-order logic with identity. After it has thus been shown that there is no indispensability argument for objectual identity, I argue that we have good reasons for doubting the existence of such a relation, and rebut a number of attempts at discrediting these reasons. (shrink)
This paper examines and finds wanting the arguments against van Fraassen's voluntarism, the view that the only constraint of rationality is consistency. Foundationalists claim that if we have no grounds or rationale for a belief or rule, rationality demands that we suspend it. But that begs the question by assuming that there have to be grounds or a rationale. Instead of asking, why should we hold a basic belief or rule, the question has to be: why should not we be (...) committed as we are? Within a system we can sometimes find internal reasons. But, short of assuming foundationalism from the outset, when it comes to our evolving system as a whole there are no grounds for abandoning the commitments that we experience so strongly. Along the way the paper develops a systematic way of talking about terms that cause confusion because of variation in usage: foundationalism, relativism, basic beliefs and rules, voluntarism, etc. (shrink)
Valency switching can appear especially puzzling if we think of moral reasons as pushes and pullsconsiderations whose job it is to get us to act or to stop us acting. Talk of default valency doesn't remove the puzzle, it merely restates it. We need a different picture of reasonsperhaps as providing a map of the moral terrain which helps us to see which actions are appropriate to which situations, and who the appropriate agents are. The role of virtue (...) concepts in particular is more complex and varied than that of providing reasons for acting. A more holistic picture of reasons can make valency switching less mysterious. Key Words: default valency particularism reasons thick concepts valency switching virtues. (shrink)
It is frequently claimed that the human mind is organized in a modular fashion, a hypothesis linked historically, though not inevitably, to the claim that many aspects of the human mind are innately specified. A specific instance of this line of thought is the proposal of an innately specified geometric module for human reorientation. From a massive modularity position, the reorientation module would be one of a large number that organized the mind. From the core knowledge position, the reorientation module (...) is one of five innate and encapsulated modules that can later be supplemented by use of human language. In this paper, we marshall five lines of evidence that cast doubt on the geometric module hypothesis, unfolded in a series of reasons: (1) Language does not play a necessary role in the integration of feature and geometric cues, although it can be helpful. (2) A model of reorientation requires flexibility to explain variable phenomena. (3) Experience matters over short and long periods. (4) Features are used for true reorientation. (5) The nature of geometric information is not as yet clearly specified. In the final section, we review recent theoretical approaches to the known reorientation phenomena. (shrink)
This paper describes a live ethics case project that can be used to teach ethics in a broad variety of business classes. The live case differs from regular cases in that it involves a current situation. Students select an on-going or current event that involves ethical violations and write a case about it. They then present their case and run a debate about the challenges and issues outlined in the case and the actions that could have or should (...) have been taken. The dynamic project fulfills the key criteria for effective ethics education since it increases awareness of the complexity of ethical challenges, allows application of concepts, creates a personal emotional engagement in the case, is relevant, holds students accountable for their position, and creates a setting that encourages students to think critically about ethics. (shrink)
Environmental philosophers should look beyond stereotypes to consider American suburbs as an environment worthy of serious philosophical scrutiny for three reasons. First, for better or worse, the suburbs are the environment of primary concern to most Americans, and suburban patterns of development have caught on elsewhere in the industrialized world. Second, the suburbs are much more of a problem than many environmental theorists suppose, in part because suburban patterns of development are entrenched and difficult to change, and in part (...) because they pose an important challenge to the very idea of an environmental ethic. Third, the search for sound policies and practices for metropolitan growth involves two crucial tasks for which philosophers may be particularly well suited: grappling with the ethical complexity of the suburbs, and fostering a robust and nuanced normative debate about the future of the built environment. (shrink)
Â“Without good brain function, living to age 100 is not an attractive proposition,Â” said Nir Barzilai, director of the collegeÂ’s Institute for Ageing Research. Â“WeÂ’ve shown that the same gene variant that helps people live to exceptional ages has the added benefit of helping them think clearly.
B'Imagine that you could choose a book that everyone in the world would read. My choice would be this book.' Roger Crisp, Ethics -/- Many people have an uneasy feeling that they may be missing out on something basic that would give their lives a significance it currently lacks. But how should we live? What is there to stop us behaving selfishly? In a highly readable account which makes reference to a wide variety of sources and everyday issues, Peter (...) Singer suggests that the conventional pursuit of self-interest is individually and collectively self-defeating. Taking into consideration the beliefs of Jesus, Kant, Rousseau, and Adam Smith amongst others, he looks at a number of different cultures, including America, Japan, and the Aborigines to assess whether or not selfishness is in our genes and how we may find greater satisfaction in an ethical lifestyle. (shrink)
In this paper I propose a teleological account of epistemic reasons. In recent years, the main challenge for any such account has been to explicate a sense in which epistemic reasons depend on the value of epistemic properties. I argue that while epistemic reasons do not directly depend on the value of epistemic properties, they depend on a different class of reasons which are value based in a direct sense, namely reasons to form beliefs about (...) certain propositions or subject matters. In short, S has an epistemic reason to believe that p if and only if S is such that if S has reason to form a belief about p, then S ought to believe that p. I then propose a teleological explanation of this relationship. It is also shown how the proposal can avoid various subsidiary objections commonly thought to riddle the teleological account. (shrink)
What is the purpose of social science and management research? Do scholars/researchers have a responsibility to generate insights and knowledge that are of practical (implementable) value and validity? -/- We are told we live in turbulent and changing times, should this not provide an important opportunity for management researchers to provide understanding and guidance? Yet there is widespread concern about the efficacy of much research: -/- These are some of the puzzles/pressing problems that Chris Argyris addresses in this short (...) book. -/- Argyris is one of the best known management scholars in the world - a leading light whose work has consistently addressed fundamental organizational questions, and who has provided some of the key concepts and building blocks of our understanding of organizational learning - single and double learning, theory in use, and espoused theory etc. -/- In this book he questions many of the assumptions of organizational theory and research, and his investigation is not confined to academic analysis. He also scrutinizes that capacity for 'unproductive reasoning' (self-deception and rationalization) that is common amongst managers, consultants, and indeed more generally. As well as engaging with the work of leading organizational researchers (Sennett, Gabriel, Burgelman, Czarniawska, Grint, for example)he also ponders the work of the consultants, commentators, and accountants who endorsed Enron. -/- Throughout his purpose is to affirm the goal and values of useful knowledge. His style/enquiry is direct but fair, challenging, if at times uncompromising. Drawing on his own wealth of experience of researching and working with organizations, this book will be a reference point for all concerned to develop useful knowledge and confront the defences and deceptions that are only too commonplace in the business and academic worlds. (shrink)
In their paper 'After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?' Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue that because there are no significant differences between a fetus and a neonate, in that neither possess sufficiently robust mental traits to qualify as persons, a neonate may be justifiably killed for any reason that also justifies abortion. To further emphasise their view that a newly born infant is more on a par with a fetus rather than a more developed baby, Giubilini and (...) Minerva elect to call this 'after-birth abortion' rather than infanticide. In this paper, I argue that their thesis is incorrect, and that the moral permissibility of abortion does not entail the moral permissibility of 'after-birth' abortion. (shrink)
Alan Gewirth has propounded a moral theory which commits him to the view that prescriptions can appropriately be addressed to people who have neither any moral reasons nor any prudential reasons to follow the prescriptions. We highlight the strangeness of Gewirth's position and then show that it undermines his attempt to come up with a supreme moral principle.
In this issue, Pila (2009) has criticised the recommendations made by requirements engineers involved in the design of a grid technology for the support of distributed readings of mammograms made by Jirotka et al. (2005). The disagreement between them turns on the notion of “biographical familiarity” and whether it can be a sound basis for trust for the performances of professionals such as radiologists. In the first two sections, this paper gives an interpretation of the position of each side in (...) this disagreement and their recommendation for the design of technology for distributed reading, and in the third the underlying reasons for this disagreement are discussed. It is argued that Pila, in attempting to make room for mistrust as well as trust, brings to the fore the question of having and reflecting upon reasons for trust or mistrust. Pila holds that biographical familiarity is not a sound reason for trust/mistrust, as it seems to obliterate the possibility of mistrust. In response to her proposal, an analysis is proposed of the forms of trust involved in biographical familiarity. In particular, implicit trust is focused upon—as a form of trust in advance of reasons, and as a form of trust contained (in the logical sense) within other reasons. It is proposed that implicit trust has an important role in establishing an intersubjectively shared world in which what counts as a reason for the acceptability of performances such as readings of X-rays is established. Implicit trust, therefore, is necessary for professionals to enter into a “space of reasons”. To insist upon judgements made in the absence of the form of implicit trust at play in biographical familiarity is to demand that radiologists (and other relevantly similar professionals) make judgements regarding whether to trust or mistrust on the basis of reasons capable of being reflected upon, but at the same time leave them without reasons upon which to reflect. (shrink)
This article builds on Samantha Vice’s argument on the problem of whiteness in contemporary South Africa. I will explore the thesis of invisibility regarding whiteness and argue for its relevance to the rich per se. This thesis demonstrates how white privilege and affluence, despite being glaringly visible in a concrete sense, is rendered invisible together with the mostly black poverty by which it is contrasted. The invisibility of whiteness translates and flows into the so-called ‘invisibility of richness’, which involves anyone (...) who is economically affluent in this country and has the same effect of rendering poverty invisible. The massive and ever-growing divide between rich and poor means that both have fundamentally incommensurate experiences of life in this country, which is why post-apartheid South Africa is such a strange place to live in for all of its inhabitants. In the latter part of the article, a suggestion will be made about what the appropriate response to the injustices of this strange place might look like for whites. (shrink)
In a recent contribution to Grazer Philosophische Studien, Booth argues that for S to have an epistemic reason to ψ means that if S ψ's then he will have more true beliefs and less false beliefs than if he does not ψ. After strengthening this external account in response to the objection that one can improve one's epistemic state in other fashions, e.g. by having a gain in true beliefs which outweighs one's gain in false beliefs, I provide a challenge (...) to it. My main objection, which I advance with the aid of several examples, is that such epistemic reasons could not motivate any action whatsoever. I close by developing an alternative account, which avoids this problem by appeal to internal considerations. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that (non-presentist) endurantism is incompatible with the view that properties are universals. I do so by putting forward a very simple objection that forces the endurantist to embrace tropes, rather than universals. I do not claim that this is bad news for the endurantist—trope theory seems to me by all means more appealing than universals—rather, I would like to see this result as a further motivation to embrace tropes. I then also put forward a (more (...) controversial) reason to believe that at least some versions of perdurantism also require tropes rather than universals. (shrink)
In this article we explore the contribution from social anthropology to the medical ethical debates about the use of informed consent in research, based on blood samples and other forms of tissue. The article springs from a project exploring donors’ motivation for providing blood and healthcare data for genetic research to be executed by a Swedish start-up genomics company. This article is not confined to empirical findings, however, as we suggest that anthropology provides reason to reassess the theoretical understanding of (...) autonomy as generally defined by Beauchamp and Childress. Careful consideration of the trust expressed by donors through the act of donation, furthermore, suggests that there is reason to redirect the ethical scrutiny from informed consent to issues concerning institutional arrangements and social responsibility. In particular, we suggest that an anthropological approach could facilitate a reconsideration of the political implications of using informed consent as a regulatory practice in tissue-based research. (shrink)
Some philosophers think that rationality consists in responding correctly to reasons, or alternatively in responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. This paper considers various possible interpretations of ‘responding correctly to reasons’ and of ‘responding correctly to beliefs about reasons’, and concludes that rationality consists in neither, under any interpretation. It recognizes that, under some interpretations, rationality does entail responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. That is: necessarily, if you are rational you respond correctly to your (...) beliefs about reasons. (shrink)
Abstract: Many philosophers believe that people who are not capable of grasping the significance of moral considerations are not open to moral blame when they fail to respond appropriately to these considerations. I contend, however, that some morally blind, or 'psychopathic,' agents are proper targets for moral blame, at least on some occasions. I argue that moral blame is a response to the normative commitments and attitudes of a wrongdoer and that the actions of morally blind agents can express the (...) relevant blame-grounding attitudes insofar as these agents possess the capacity to make judgments about non-moral reasons. (shrink)
Are there any mechanisms in the natural world that respond to reasons – that are sensitive to considerations about what they should do? I think that the answer is that there are approximately 6.6 billion of them on this planet alone. This is not to say that there is nothing more to being a person than being a rational agent – a reasons-responder. My claim is just that to the extent that we are agents we are mechanisms that (...) respond to reasons. (shrink)