Desire satisfaction has not received detailed philosophical examination. Yet intuitive judgments about the satisfaction of desires have been used as data points guiding theories of desire, desire content, and the semantics of ‘desire’. This paper examines desire satisfaction and the standard propositional view of desire. Firstly, I argue that there are several distinct concepts of satisfaction. Secondly, I argue that separating them defuses a difficulty for the standard view in accommodating desires that Derek Parfit described as ‘implicitly conditional on their (...) own persistence’, a problem posed by Shieva Kleinschmidt, Kris McDaniel, and Ben Bradley. The solution undercuts a key motivation for rejecting the standard view in favour of more radical accounts proposed in the literature. (shrink)
Many philosophers have suggested that claims of need play a special normative role in ethical thought and talk. But what do such claims mean? What does this special role amount to? Progress on these questions can be made by attending to a puzzle concerning some linguistic differences between two types of 'need' sentence: one where 'need' occurs as a verb, and where it occurs as a noun. I argue that the resources developed to solve the puzzle advance our understanding of (...) the metaphysics of need, the meaning of 'need' sentences, and the function of claims of need in ethical discourse. (shrink)
This paper evaluates the claim that some desires provide reasons in virtue of their connection with conscious affective experiences like feelings of attraction or aversion. I clarify the nature of affective desires and several distinct ways in which affective desires might provide reasons. Against accounts proposed by Ruth Chang, Declan Smithies and Jeremy Weiss, I motivate doubts that it is the phenomenology of affective experiences that explains their normative or rational significance. I outline an alternative approach that centralises the function (...) of such experiences. (shrink)
It is often taken for granted that our desires can contribute to what it is rational for us to do. This paper examines an account of desire—the ‘guise of the good’— that promises an explanation of this datum. I argue that extant guise-of-the-good accounts fail to provide an adequate explanation of how a class of desires—basic desires—contributes to practical rationality. I develop an alternative guise-of-the-good account on which basic desires attune us to our reasons for action in virtue of their (...) biological function. This account emphasises the role of desire as part of our competence to recognise and respond to normative reasons. (shrink)
Slurring expressions display puzzling behaviour when embedded, such as under negation and in attitude and speech reports. They frequently appear to retain their characteristic qualities, like offensiveness and propensity to derogate. Yet it is sometimes possible to understand them as lacking these qualities. A theory of slurring expressions should explain this variability. We develop an explanation that deploys the linguistic notion of focus. Our proposal is that a speaker can conversationally implicate metalinguistic claims about the aptness of a focused slurring (...) expression. This explanation of variability relies on independently motivated mechanisms and is compatible with any theory of slurring expressions. (shrink)
In a footnote to the first edition of Political Liberalism, John Rawls introduced an example of how public reason could deal with controversial issues. He intended this example to show that his system of political liberalism could deal with such problems by considering only political values, without the introduction of comprehensive moral doctrines. Unfortunately, Rawls chose “the troubled question of abortion” as the issue that would illustrate this. In the case of abortion, Rawls argued, “the equality of women as equal (...) citizens” overrides both “the ordered reproduction of political society over time” and also “the due respect for human life.” It seems fair to say that this was not the best choice of example and also that Rawls did not argue for his example particularly well: a whole subset of the Rawlsian literature concerns this question alone. (shrink)
Ashley J. Bohrer argues that it is only by considering race, gender, sexuality, and ability within the structures of capitalism and imperialism that we can understand power relations. Bohrer explains how the purported incompatibilities between Marxism and intersectionality arise more from miscommunication than a fundamental conceptual antagonism.
According to the powerful qualities view, properties are both powerful and qualitative. Indeed, on this view the powerfulness of a property is identical to its qualitativity. Proponents claim that this view provides an attractive alternative to both the view that properties are pure powers and the view that they are pure qualities. It remains unclear, however, whether the claimed identity between powerfulness and qualitativity can be made coherent in a way that allows the powerful qualities view to constitute this sort (...) of alternative. I argue here that this can be done, given a particular conception of both the qualitativity and powerfulness of properties. On this conception, a property is qualitative just in the sense that its essence is fixed independently of any distinct properties, and it is powerful just if its essence grounds its dispositional role. (shrink)
The ‘Ashley treatment’ has raised much ethical controversy. This article starts from the observation that this debate suffers from a lack of careful philosophical analysis which is essential for an ethical assessment. I focus on two central arguments in the debate, namely an argument defending the treatment based on quality of life and an argument against the treatment based on dignity and rights. My analysis raises doubts as to whether these arguments, as they stand in the debate, are philosophically (...) robust. I reconstruct what form good arguments for and against the treatment should take and which assumptions are needed to defend the according positions. Concerning quality of life, I argue that to make a discussion about quality of life possible, it needs to be clear which particular conception of the good life is employed. This has not been sufficiently clear in the debate. I fill this lacuna. Regarding rights and dignity, I show that there is a remarkable absence of references to general philosophical theories of rights and dignity in the debate about the Ashley treatment. Consequently, this argument against the treatment is not sufficiently developed. I clarify how such an argument should proceed. Such a detailed analysis of arguments is necessary to clear up some confusions and ambiguities in the debate and to shed light on the dilemma that caretakers of severely disabled children face. (shrink)
The story of Ashley, a nine-year-old from Seattle, has caused a good deal of controversy since it appeared in the Los Angeles Times on January 3, 2007.1 Ashley was born with a condition called static encephalopathy, a severe brain impairment that leaves her unable to walk, talk, eat, sit up, or roll over. According to her doctors, Ashley has reached, and will remain at, the developmental level of a three-month-old.
Musical collaboration emerges from the complex interaction of environmental and informational constraints, including those of the instruments and the performance context. Music improvisation in particular is more like everyday interaction in that dynamics emerge spontaneously without a rehearsed score or script. We examined how the structure of the musical context affords and shapes interactions between improvising musicians. Six pairs of professional piano players improvised with two different backing tracks while we recorded both the music produced and the movements of their (...) heads, left arms, and right arms. The backing tracks varied in rhythmic and harmonic information, from a chord progression to a continuous drone. Differences in movement coordination and playing behavior were evaluated using the mathematical tools of complex dynamical systems, with the aim of uncovering the multiscale dynamics that characterize musical collaboration. Collectively, the findings indicated that each backing track afforded the emergence of different patterns of coordination with respect to how the musicians played together, how they moved together, as well as their experience collaborating with each other. Additionally, listeners’ experiences of the music when rating audio recordings of the improvised performances were related to the way the musicians coordinated both their playing behavior and their bodily movements. Accordingly, the study revealed how complex dynamical systems methods can capture the turn-taking dynamics that characterized both the social exchange of the music improvisation and the sounds of collaboration more generally. The study also demonstrated how musical improvisation provides a way of understanding how social interaction emerges from the structure of the behavioral task context. (shrink)
According to a well-known argument against dispositional essentialism, the nature of unmanifested token powers leaves dispositional essentialists with an objectionable commitment to the reality of non-existent entities. The idea is that, because unmanifested token powers are directed at their non-existent token manifestations, they require the reality of those manifestations. Arguably the most promising response to this argument works by claiming that, if properties are universals, dispositional directedness need only entail the reality of actually existing manifestation types. I argue that this (...) response fails, because no version of the response can adequately accommodate dispositions of the sort that follow from Coulomb’s law. This result both defeats an important argument that dispositional essentialists ought to be realists about universals and appears to leave dispositional essentialists with a problematic commitment to either non-relational connections or a Meinongian ontology. (shrink)
According to a well-known argument, originally due to David Armstrong, powers theory is objectionable, as it leads to a ‘Meinongian’ ontology on which some entities are real but do not actually exist. I argue here that the right conclusion to draw from this argument has thus far not been identified and that doing so has significant implications for powers theory. Specifically, I argue that the key consequence of the argument is that it provides substantial grounds for trope powers theorists, but (...) not other powers theorists, to accept one version of the view that properties are powerful qualities. In particular, they have grounds to favour the view that powerful properties are properties with exclusively qualitative natures that ground modal facts. (shrink)
Discussions about the nature of essence and about the inference problem for non-Humean theories of nomic modality have largely proceeded independently of each other. In this article I argue that the right conclusions to draw about the inference problem actually depend significantly on how best to understand the nature of essence. In particular, I argue that this conclusion holds for the version of the inference problem developed and defended by Alexander Bird. I argue that Bird’s own argument that this problem (...) is fatal for David Armstrong’s influential theory of the laws of nature but not for dispositional essentialism is seriously flawed. In place of this argument, I develop an argument that whether Bird’s inference problem raises serious difficulties for Armstrong’s theory depends on the answers to substantial questions about how best to understand essence. The key consequence is that considerations about the nature of essence have significant, underappreciated implications for Armstrong’s theory. (shrink)
The use of nonhuman animals as models in research and drug testing is a key route through which contemporary scientific knowledge is certified. Given ethical concerns, regulation of animal research promotes the use of less “sentient” animals. This paper draws on a documentary analysis of legal documents and qualitative interviews with Named Veterinary Surgeons and others at a commercial laboratory in the UK. Its key claim is that the concept of animal sentience is entangled with a particular imaginary of how (...) the general public or wider society views animals. We call this imaginary societal sentience. Against a backdrop of increasing ethnographic work on care encounters in the laboratory, this concept helps to stress the wider context within which such encounters take place. We conclude that societal sentience has potential purchase beyond the animal research field, in helping to highlight the affective dimension of public imaginaries and their ethical consequences. Researching and critiquing societal sentience, we argue, may ultimately have more impact on the fate of humans and nonhumans in the laboratory than focusing wholly on ethics as situated practice. (shrink)
The idea that animals make things has entered into popular news and public understanding, but inclusion of animal artifacts within engineering and technology studies lags. This volume works to unite animal construction literature with concepts from epistemology of technology.
COVID-19 has truly affected most of the world over the past many months, perhaps more than any other event in recent history. In the wake of this pandemic are patients, family members, and various types of care providers, all of whom share different levels of moral distress. Moral conflict occurs in disputes when individuals or groups have differences over, or are unable to translate to each other, deeply held beliefs, knowledge, and values. Such conflicts can seriously affect healthcare providers and (...) cause distress during disastrous situations such as pandemics when medical and human resources are stretched to the point of exhaustion. In the current pandemic, most hospitals and healthcare institutions in the United States have not allowed visitors to come to the hospitals to see their family or loved ones, even when the patient is dying. The moral conflict and moral distress among care providers when they see their patients dying alone can be unbearable and lead to ongoing grief and sadness. This paper will explore the concepts of moral distress and conflict among hospital staff and how a system-wide provider wellness programme can make a difference in healing and health. (shrink)
The rise of technology in controlling and performing legal processes has created a new digital legality, signalling a transformation of law from an analog paper-based interpretative activity to an autonomous system governed by the rigidity and speed of code. This emerging digital legality converts life and living to data to be processed and catalogued. This process is exemplified and normalised within video games making them important cultural artefacts through which to identify the features and anxieties of digital legality. While video (...) games have so far gone unrepresented in cultural legal theory, this article uses the iconic video game franchise of Super Mario to unlock the emerging features and anxieties of digital legality as involving rigidity, speed and the normalisation of self as data. (shrink)
This “current controversies” contribution describes the recent case of a severely disabled six year old girl who has been subjected to a range of medical interventions at the request of her parents and with the permission of a hospital clinical ethics committee. The interventions prescribed have become known as “the Ashley treatment” and involve the performance of invasive medical procedures (eg, hysterectomy) and oestrogen treatment. A central aim of the treatment is to restrict the growth of the child and (...) thus make it easier for her parents to care for her at home. The paper below discusses the main objections to the treatment. It concludes that the most serious concern raised by the case is that it may set a worrying precedent if the moral principle employed in justification of the treatment is applied again to endorse it in similar circumstances. Finally, it raises the possibility that that same moral principle may even be invoked to justify more radical interventions than those that were actually performed in the Ashley treatment. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that ethics and evidence are intricately intertwined within the clinical practice of differential diagnosis. Too often, when a disease is difficult to diagnose, a physician will dismiss it as being “not real” or “all in the patient’s head.” This is both an ethical and an evidential problem. In the paper my aim is two-fold. First, via the examination of two case studies (late-stage Lyme disease and Addison’s disease), I try to elucidate why this kind of (...) dismissal takes place. Then, I propose a potential solution to the problem. I argue that instead of dismissing a patient’s illness as “not real,” physicians ought to exercise a compassionate suspension of judgment when a diagnosis cannot be immediately made. I argue that suspending judgment has methodological, epistemic, and ethical virtues and therefore should always be preferred to patient dismissal in the clinical setting. (shrink)
The series of 'trolley' examples issue a challenge to moral principles based on intentions, since it seems that these give the wrong answers in two important cases: 'Fat Man', where they seem to say that it is permissible to push someone in front of a trolley to save others, and 'Loop', where they seem to say that it is wrong to divert a trolley towards a single person whose body will stop it and save others. I reply, first, that there (...) is a parallel between the wrongful intention to mutilate in 'Transplant', where one person's vital organs are removed to save others' lives, and the intention to assault in Fat Man. Secondly, I defend Frances Kamm's view that in Loop one can divert the trolley towards the one without an intention to kill or assault, since good potential side-effects can be taken into account in deciding what to do, without their becoming intentions. (shrink)
This article traces the centrality of capitalism in the work of three decolonial feminists: María Lugones, Sylvia Wynter, and Sayek Valencia. Elaborating on the role of capitalism in each of their work separately, I argue that each of these thinkers conceptualizes capitalism in a novel and urgent way, charting new directions for both theory and social movement practice. I thus argue that the decolonial feminist tradition holds crucial philosophical and historical resources for understanding the emergence of capitalism and its endurance.
Diagnostic testing can be used for many purposes, including testing to facilitate the clinical care of individual patients, testing as an inclusion criterion for clinical trial participation, and both passive and active surveillance testing of the general population in order to facilitate public health outcomes, such as the containment or mitigation of an infectious disease. As such, diagnostic testing presents us with ethical questions that are, in part, already addressed in the literature on clinical care as well as clinical research (...) (such as the rights of patients to refuse testing or treatment in the clinical setting or the rights of participants in randomized controlled trials to withdraw from the trial at any time). However, diagnostic testing, for the purpose of disease surveillance also raises ethical issues that we do not encounter in these settings, and thus have not been much discussed. In this paper we will be concerned with the similarities and differences between the ethical considerations in these three domains: clinical care, clinical research, and public health, as they relate to diagnostic testing specifically. Via an examination of the COVID-19 case we will show how an appeal to the concept of diagnostic justice helps us to make sense of the (at times competing) ethical considerations in these three domains. (shrink)