There are two possible ways to understand form and substance in legal reasoning. The first refers to the distinction between concepts and their applications, whereas the second concentrates on the difference between authoritative and non-authoritative reasons. These approaches refer to the formalistic and positivistic conceptions of the law, the latter being the author's point of departure. Nevertheless, they are both helpful means of analysis in legal interpretation. Interpretation is divided into formal and substantive justification. They have certain functions and they (...) are utilized in interaction. Authoritative reasons and formal reasoning constitute the necessary point of departure. However, substantive reasons are also necessary in order to justify choices included in interpretation. In addition to formal and substantive reasoning, the role of legal concepts is analysed. (shrink)
This paper deals with the problems involved in the concept of knowledge in the sphere of law. Traditionally, the idea of knowledge has dealt with the presumption of given objects of information. According to this approach, knowing means finding these objects. This is the natural and understandable foundation of metaphysical or philosophical realism. Cognition and cognitive interest are directed outside the sentences by which they are described. This is the point of departure of legal positivism as well. However, it is (...) not possible to see valid law as totally independent of language and concepts. This makes the idea of legal facts as institutional facts vague. From a practical viewpoint, the sentences of judges and legal scholars, when they present valid law, justify rather than describe. Their crucial function is interpretation. Hence, the objectivity of these sentences cannot be based on the presumption of separate objects either. Instead, it has to be based on the principles of acceptable reasoning. Moreover, the author claims that this kind of approach, united with the utilization of human rights and substantial legal principles, leads one to acknowledge objective values. (shrink)
The realities of human agency and decision making pose serious challenges for research ethics. This article explores six major challenges that require more attention in the ethics education of students and scientists and in the research on ethical conduct in science. The first of them is the routinization of action, which makes the detection of ethical issues difficult. The social governance of action creates ethical problems related to power. The heuristic nature of human decision making implies the risk of ethical (...) bias. The moral disengagement mechanisms represent a human tendency to evade personal responsibility. The greatest challenge of all might be the situational variation in people’s ethical behaviour. Even minor situational factors have a surprisingly strong influence on our actions. Furthermore, finally, the nature of ethics itself also causes problems: instead of clear answers, we receive a multitude of theories and intuitions that may sometimes be contradictory. All these features of action and ethics represent significant risks for ethical conduct in science. I claim that they have to be managed within the everyday practices of science and addressed explicitly in research ethics education. I analyse them and suggest some ways in which their risks can be alleviated. (shrink)
The concepts we use to value and prescribe are historically contingent, and we could have found ourselves with others. But what does it mean to say that some concepts are better than others for purposes of action-guiding and deliberation? What is it to choose between different normative conceptual frameworks?
People’s causal judgments are susceptible to the action effect, whereby they judge actions to be more causal than inactions. We offer a new explanation for this effect, the counterfactual explanation: people judge actions to be more causal than inactions because they are more inclined to consider the counterfactual alternatives to actions than to consider counterfactual alternatives to inactions. Experiment 1a conceptually replicates the original action effect for causal judgments. Experiment 1b confirms a novel prediction of the new explanation, the reverse (...) action effect, in which people judge inactions to be more causal than actions in overdetermination cases. Experiment 2 directly compares the two effects in joint-causation and overdetermination scenarios and conceptually replicates them with new scenarios. Taken together, these studies provide support for the new counterfactual explanation for the action effect in causal judgment. (shrink)
The main thesis of this paper is that we sometimes are disposed to accept false and even jointly inconsistent claims by virtue of our semantic competence, and that this comes to light in the sorites and liar paradoxes. Among the subsidiary theses are that this is an important source of indeterminacy in truth conditions, that we must revise basic assumptions about semantic competence, and that classical logic and bivalence can be upheld in the face of the sorites paradox.
The problem, or cluster of problems, of the unity of the proposition, along with the cluster of problems that tend to go under the name of Bradley’s regress, has recently again become a going concern for philosophers, after having for some time been regarded as primarily of historical interest. In this paper, I distinguish between the different problems that tend to be brought up under the heading of the unity of the proposition, and between different related regress arguments. I present (...) my favored solutions to these problems. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Seven ways of making people better; 2. Rational approaches to the genetic challenge; 3. The best babies and parental responsibility; 4. Deaf embryos, morality, and the law; 5. Saviour siblings and treating people as a means; 6. Reproductive cloning and designing human beings; 7. Embryonic stem cells, vulnerability, and sanctity; 8. Gene therapies, hopes, and fears; 9. Considerable life extension and the meaning of life; 10. Taking the genetic challenge rationally.
Abstract Popular film has become a significant venue for meaning?making in modern society. Like religion, film provides models for understanding and behaving within the social world. Like religion, film reinforces this content through emotional resonance. Myths slip under a viewer's intellectual defenses in the non?threatening guise of entertainment. In a mainstream culture skeptical of religion, film presents an alternative mechanism for the transmission and processing of ?religious? ideas and ideals.
Neo-Fregeanism in the philosophy of mathematics consists of two main parts: the logicist thesis, that mathematics (or at least branches thereof, like arithmetic) all but reduce to logic, and the platonist thesis, that there are abstract, mathematical objects. I will here focus on the ontological thesis, platonism. Neo-Fregeanism has been widely discussed in recent years. Mostly the discussion has focused on issues specific to mathematics. I will here single out for special attention the view on ontology which underlies the neo-Fregeans’ (...) claims about mathematical objects, and discuss this view in a broader setting. (shrink)
(1) Abstract objects. The nominalist (as the label is used today) denies that there exist abstract objects. The platonist holds that there are abstract objects. One example is numbers. The nominalist denies that there are numbers; the platonist typically affirms it.
My focus here will be Rudolf Carnap’s views on ontology, as these are presented in the seminal “Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology” (1950). I will first describe how I think Carnap’s distinction between external and internal questions is best understood. Then I will turn to broader issues regarding Carnap’s views on ontology. With certain reservations, I will ascribe to Carnap an ontological pluralist position roughly similar to the positions of Eli Hirsch and the later Hilary Putnam. Then I turn to some (...) interrelated arguments against the pluralist view. The arguments are not demonstrative. Some possible escape routes for the pluralist are outlined. But I think the arguments constitute a formidable challenge. There should be serious doubt as to whether the pluralist view, as it emerges after discussion of these arguments, will be worth defending. Moreover, there is an alternative ontological view which equally well subserves the motivations underlying ontological pluralism. (shrink)
The main question of the paper is that ofwhat vagueness consists in. This question must be distinguished from other questions about vagueness discussed in the literature. It is argued that familiar accounts of vagueness for general reasons failto answer the question ofwhat vagueness consists in. A positive view is defended, according to which, roughly, the vagueness of an expression consists in it being part ofsemantic competence to accept a tolerance principle for the expression. Since tolerance principles are inconsistent, this is (...) an inconsistency view on vagueness. (shrink)
Moral and political philosophers no longer condemn harm inflicted on nonhuman animals as self-evidently as they did when animal welfare and animal rights advocacy was at the forefront in the 1980s, and sentience, suffering, species-typical behavior, and personhood were the basic concepts of the discussion. The article shows this by comparing the determination with which societies seek responsibility for human harm to the relative indifference with which law and morality react to nonhuman harm. When harm is inflicted on humans, policies (...) concerning negligence and duty of care and principles such as the ‘but for’ rule and the doctrine of double effect are easily introduced. When harm is inflicted on nonhumans, this does not happen, at least not any more. As an explanation for the changed situation, the article offers a shift in discussion and its basic terminology. Simple ethical considerations supported the case for nonhuman animals, but many philosophers moved on to debate different views on political justice instead. This allowed the creation of many conflicting views that are justifiable on their own presuppositions. In the absence of a shared foundation, this fragments the discussion, focuses it on humans, and ignores or marginalizes nonhuman animals. (shrink)
Many theorists hold that there is, among value concepts, a fundamental distinction between thin ones and thick ones. Among thin ones are concepts like good and right. Among concepts that have been regarded as thick are discretion, caution, enterprise, industry, assiduity, frugality, economy, good sense, prudence, discernment, treachery, promise, brutality, courage, coward, lie, gratitude, lewd, perverted, rude, glorious, graceful, exploited, and, of course, many others. Roughly speaking, thick concepts are value concepts with significant descriptive content. I will discuss a number (...) of problems having to do with how best to understand the notion of a thick concept. Thick concepts have been widely discussed in the .. (shrink)
According to a certain pluralist view in philosophy of mathematics, there are as many mathematical objects as there can coherently be. Recently, Justin Clarke-Doane has explored what consequences the analogous view on normative properties would have. What if there is a normative pluriverse? Here I address this same question. The challenge is best seen as a challenge to an important form of normative realism. I criticize the way Clarke-Doane presents the challenge. An improved challenge is presented, and the role of (...) pluralism in this challenge is assessed. (shrink)
Mark Johnston and Eric Olson have both pressed what Johnston has dubbed the personite problem. Personites, if they exist, are person-like entities whose lives extend over a continuous proper part of a person’s life. They are so person-like that they seem to have moral status if persons do. But this threatens to wreak havoc with ordinary moral thinking. For example, simple decisions to suffer some short-term hardship for long-term benefits become problematic. And ordinary punishment is always also punishment of the (...) innocent, since it punishes personites that didn’t exist when the crime was committed. An initially attractive way around the personite problem may be to simply deny that personites exist. But as I discuss in this talk, relating to contemporary discussions in metaontology, this response for principled reasons doesn’t work. The problems I discuss illustrate the significance of metaontological considerations for issues in ethics and metaethics, and generalize widely beyond the personite problem. (shrink)
Governmental reactions to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen as ethics communication. Governments can contain the disease and thereby mitigate the detrimental public health impact; allow the virus to spread to reach herd immunity; test, track, isolate, and treat; and suppress the disease regionally. An observation of Sweden and Finland showed a difference in feasible ways to communicate the chosen policy to the citizenry. Sweden assumed the herd immunity strategy and backed it up with health utilitarian arguments. This (...) was easy to communicate to the Swedish people, who appreciated the voluntary restrictions approach and trusted their decision makers. Finland chose the contain and mitigate strategy and was towards the end of the observation period apparently hesitating between suppression and the test, track, isolate, and treat approach. Both are difficult to communicate to the general public accurately, truthfully, and acceptably. Apart from health utilitarian argumentation, something like the republican political philosophy or selective truth telling are needed. The application of republicanism to the issue, however, is problematic, and hiding the truth seems to go against the basic tenets of liberal democracy. (shrink)
Since the birth of computing as an academic discipline, the disciplinary identity of computing has been debated fiercely. The most heated question has concerned the scientific status of computing. Some consider computing to be a natural science and some consider it to be an experimental science. Others argue that computing is bad science, whereas some say that computing is not a science at all. This survey article presents viewpoints for and against computing as a science. Those viewpoints are analyzed against (...) basic positions in the philosophy of science. The article aims at giving the reader an overview, background, and a historical and theoretical frame of reference for understanding and interpreting some central questions in the debates about the disciplinary identity of computer science. The article argues that much of the discussion about the scientific nature of computing is misguided due to a deep conceptual uncertainty about science in general as well as computing in particular. (shrink)
In this paper I outline an alternative to hermeneutic fictionalism, an alternative I call indifferentism, with the same advantages as hermeneutic fictionalism with respect to ontological issues but avoiding some of the problems that face fictionalism. The difference between indifferentism and fictionalism is this. The fictionalist about ordinary utterances of a sentence S holds, with more orthodox views, that the speaker in some sense commits herself to the truth of S. It is only that for the fictionalist this is truth (...) in the relevant fiction. According to the indifferentist, by contrast, we are simply non-committal – or indifferent – with respect to some aspects of what is literally said in our assertive utterances. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the defence of metaphysical indeterminacy by Elizabeth Barnes and Robert Williams and discusses a classical and bivalent theory of such indeterminacy. Even if metaphysical indeterminacy arguably is intelligible, Barnes and Williams argue in favour of it being so and this faces important problems. As for classical logic and bivalence, the chapter problematizes what exactly is at issue in this debate. Can reality not be adequately described using different languages, some classical and some not? Moreover, it is argued (...) that the classical and bivalent theory of Barnes and Williams does not avoid the problems that arise for rival theories. (shrink)
The role of bioethicists amidst crises like the COVID-19 pandemic is not well defined. As professionals in the field, they should respond, but how? The observation of the early days of pandemic confinement in Finland showed that moral philosophers with limited experience in bioethics tended to apply their favorite theories to public decisions, with varying results. Medical ethicists were more likely to lend support to the public authorities by soothing or descriptive accounts of the solutions assumed. These are approaches that (...) Tuija Takala has called the firefighting and window dressing models of bioethics. Human rights lawyers drew attention to the flaws of the government’s regulative thinking. Critical bioethicists offered analyses of the arguments presented and the moral and political theories that could be used as the basis of good and acceptable decisions. (shrink)
This article analyzes the distribution of benefits from Fair Trade between producing and consuming countries. Fair Trade and conventional coffee production and trade were examined in Nicaragua in 2005-2006 and 2008. Consumption of the respective coffees was assessed in Finland in 2006-2009. The results indicate that consumers paid considerably more for Fair Trade-certified coffee than for the other alternatives available. Although Fair Trade provided price premiums to producer organizations, a larger share of the retail prices remained in the consuming country (...) relative to conventional coffee trade. Paradoxically, along with the certified farmers and cooperatives, Fair Trade empowers roasters and retailers. (shrink)
I discuss some problems faced by the meaning‐inconsistency view on the liar and sorites paradoxes which I have elsewhere defended. Most of the discussion is devoted to the question of what a defender of the meaning‐inconsistency view should say about semantic competence.
I will here present a number of problems concerning the idea that there is ontological vagueness, and the related claim that appeal to this idea can help solve some vagueness-related problems. A theme underlying the discussion will be the distinction between vagueness specifically and indeterminacy more generally (and, relatedly, the distinction between ontological vagueness and ontological indeterminacy). Even if the world is somehow ontologically indeterminate it by no means follows that it is, properly speaking, ontologically vague.1..
Messaging from U.S. authorities about COVID-19 has been widely divergent. This research aims to clarify popular perceptions of the COVID-19 threat and its effects on victims. In four studies with over 4,100 U.S. participants, we consistently found that people perceive the threat of COVID-19 to be substantially greater than that of several other causes of death to which it has recently been compared, including the seasonal flu and automobile accidents. Participants were less willing to help COVID-19 victims, who they considered (...) riskier to help, more contaminated, and more responsible for their condition. Additionally, politics and demographic factors predicted attitudes about victims of COVID-19 above and beyond moral values; whereas attitudes about the other kinds of victims were primarily predicted by moral values. The results indicate that people perceive COVID-19 as an exceptionally severe disease threat, and despite prosocial inclinations, do not feel safe offering assistance to COVID-19 sufferers. This research has urgent applied significance: the findings are relevant to public health efforts and related marketing campaigns working to address extended damage to society and the economy from the pandemic. In particular, efforts to educate the public about the health impacts of COVID-19, encourage compliance with testing protocols and contact tracing, and support safe, prosocial decision-making and risk assessment, will all benefit from awareness of these findings. The results also suggest approaches, such as engaging people's stable values rather than their politicized perspectives on COVID-19, that may reduce stigma and promote cooperation in response to pandemic threats. (shrink)
Are there distinctly European values in bioethics, and if there are, what are they? Some Continental philosophers have argued that the principles of dignity, precaution, and solidarity reflect the European ethos better than the liberal concepts of autonomy, harm, and justice. These principles, so the argument goes, elevate prudence over hedonism, communality over individualism, and moral sense over pragmatism. Contrary to what their proponents often believe, however, dignity, precaution, and solidarity can be interpreted in many ways, and it is not (...) clear which reading would, or should, be favored by popular opinion. It is therefore dangerous to think that any one understanding of ``European'', or any other, values could be legitimately imposed on those who have different ideas about morality in health care and related fields. Bioethical principles should be employed to promote discussion, not to suppress it. (shrink)
Utilitarianism could still be a viable moral and political theory, although an emphasis on justice as distributing burdens and benefits has hidden this from current conversations. The traditional counterexamples prove that we have good grounds for rejecting classical, aggregative forms of consequentialism. A nonaggregative, liberal form of utilitarianism is immune to this rejection. The cost is that it cannot adjudicate when the basic needs of individuals or groups are in conflict. Cases like this must be solved by other methods. This (...) is not a weakness in liberal utilitarianism, on the contrary. The theory clarifies what we should admit to begin with: that ethical doctrines do not have universally acceptable solutions to all difficult problems or hard cases. The theory also reminds us that not all problems are in this sense difficult or cases hard. We could alleviate the plight of nonhuman animals by reducing meat eating. We could mitigate climate change and its detrimental effects by choosing better ways of living. These would imply that most people’s desire satisfaction would be partly frustrated, but liberal utilitarianism holds that this would be justified by the satisfaction of the basic needs of other people and nonhuman animals. (shrink)
_Liberal Utilitarianism and Applied Ethics_ explores the foundations of early utilitarianism and, at the same time, the theoretical bases of social ethics and policy in modern Western welfare states. Matti Hayry sees the main reason for utilitarianism's growing disrepute among moral philosophers is that its principles cannot legitimately be extended to situations where the basic needs of the individuals involved are in conflict. He is able to formulate a solution to this fundamental problem by arguing convincingly that by combining (...) a limited version of liberal utilitarianism and the methods of applied ethics, we are able to define our moral duties and rights. _Liberal Utilitarianism and Applied Ethics_ will appeal to students and teachers of philosophy who are interested in the doctrine of utilitarianism or in ethical decison-making. (shrink)
Let the moral question of personal identity be the following: what is the nature of the entities we should focus our prudential concerns and ascriptions of responsibility around? (If indeed we should structure these things around any entities at all.) Let the semantic question of personal identity be the question of what is the nature of the entities that ‘person’ is true of. A naive (in the sense of simple and intuitive) view would have it that the two questions are (...) so intimately connected that the entities we should focus our concerns and ascriptions around are, pretty trivially, the persons. In part, my aim here is to evaluate this naive view. However, I will not actually attempt to give a definite verdict on it. Rather, I will identify the assumptions under which the naive view is true, and discuss how to go about evaluating those assumptions. (shrink)