The eschatological myth in the tenth book of the Laws contains a paragraph which purports to explain why, in the next world, efficient treatmentof souls according to their deserts is ‘marvellously easy’.
The recent debates concerning divine action in the context of quantum mechanics are examined with particular reference to the work of William Pollard, Robert J. Russell, Thomas Tracy, Nancey Murphy, and Keith Ward. The concept of a quantum mechanical “event” is elucidated and shown to be at the center of this debate. An attempt is made to clarify the claims made by the protagonists of quantum mechanical divine action by considering the measurement process of quantum mechanics in detail. Four possibilities (...) for divine influence on quantum mechanics are identified and the theological and scientific implications of each discussed. The conclusion reached is that quantum mechanics is not easily reconciled with the doctrine of divine action. (shrink)
Can the issue of how important it is whether or not there is a God be decided prior to deciding whether or not there is a God? In this paper, I explore some difficulties that stand in the way of answering this question in the affirmative and some of the implications of these difficulties for that part of the Philosophy of Religion which concerns itself with assessing arguments for and against the existence of God, the implications for how its importance (...) may best be defended within secular academe. (shrink)
One can feel guilty without thinking that one actually is guilty of moral wrongdoing. For example, one can feel guilty about eating an ice cream or skipping aerobics, even if one doesn't take a moralistic view of self-indulgence. And one can feel guilty about things that aren't one's doing at all, as in the case of survivor's guilt about being spared some catastrophe suffered by others. Guilt without perceived wrongdoing may of course be irrational, but I think it is sometimes (...) rational, and I want to explore how it can be. (shrink)
Monotheism and the Meaning of Life explores the role of God, and the relationship to the question 'What is the meaning of life?' for adherents of the main monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Exploring the various senses of 'meaning' and 'life', Mawson argues that there are various questions implicit in the notion of the meaning of life and that the God of monotheistic religion is central to the correct answers to all of them.
Recent advances in synthetic biology have made it possible to revive extinct species of animals, a process known as ‘de-extinction’. This paper examines two reasons for supporting de-extinction: the potential for de-extinct species to play useful roles in ecosystems; and human valuing of certain de-extinct species. I focus on the particular case of passenger pigeons to argue that the most critical challenge for de-extinction is that it entails significant suffering for sentient individual animals. I also provide reasons to take existence (...) value, or valuing the mere the fact that a species exists, into consideration in debates over de-extinction. (shrink)
This major addition to Ideas in Context examines the development of natural law theories in the early stages of the Enlightenment in Germany and France. T. J. Hochstrasser investigates the influence exercised by theories of natural law from Grotius to Kant, with a comparative analysis of the important intellectual innovations in ethics and political philosophy of the time. Hochstrasser includes the writings of Samuel Pufendorf and his followers who evolved a natural law theory based on human sociability and reason, fostering (...) a new methodology in German philosophy. This book assesses the first histories of political thought since ancient times, giving insights into the nature and influence of debate within eighteenth-century natural jurisprudence. Ambitious in range and conceptually sophisticated, Natural Law Theories in the Early Enlightenment will be of great interest to scholars in history, political thought, law and philosophy. Natural Law Theories in the Early Enlightenment has been selected as the winner of the annual Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history published in 2000. (shrink)
Amongst other countries, the Netherlands currently allows euthanasia, provided the physician performing the procedure adheres to a strict set of requirements. In 2016, Second Chamber member Pia Dijkstra submitted a law proposal which would also allow euthanasia without the reason necessarily having any medical foundation; euthanasia on the basis of a completed life. The debate on this topic has been ongoing for over two decades, but this law proposal has made the discussion much more immediate and concrete. This paper considers (...) the moral permissibility of Pia Dijkstra’s law proposal, focusing on the ethics of the implementation Dijkstra describes in her proposal. I argue that, at present, Dijkstra’s law proposal is unsuitable for implementation, due to a number of as of yet unaddressed problems, including the possible development of an ageist stigma and undue pressure on the profession of end-of-life coordinator. Perhaps adequate responses can be conceived to address these issues. However, the existence of a radically different, yet currently equally unacceptable position regarding the implementation of euthanasia for a completed life as proposed by fellow party member Paul Schnabel suggests it may be difficult to formulate an ethically acceptable implementation for this, in principle, ethically acceptable concept. (shrink)
How do we think about animals? How do we decide what they deserve and how we ought to treat them? Subhuman takes an interdisciplinary approach to these questions, drawing from research in philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, law, history, sociology, economics, and anthropology. Subhuman argues that our attitudes to nonhuman animals, both positive and negative, largely arise from our need to compare ourselves to them.
‘The Meaning of Life’ and ‘The Philosophy of Religion’ have meant different things to different people, and so I do well to alert my reader to what these phrases mean to me and thus to the subject area of this review of recent work on their intersection. First, ‘The Meaning of Life’: within the analytic tradition, an idea has gained widespread assent; whatever the vague and enigmatic nature of the phrase ‘the meaning of life’, we may sensibly speak of meaningfulness (...) in a life as a particular, positive, normative feature that some individuals’ lives may well have, and this feature is to be distinguished from, though closely related to, other positive features – satisfaction, wellbeing, virtue and so forth. There has been much work done on these assumptions in recent years. An excellent summary of this work up to its date of publication is given by Thaddeus Metz (in his 2007 a). Many – though by no means all – philosophers retain an instinctive scepticism toward the phrase ‘the meaning of life’ and a reluctance to engage with it, for it seems to connote vague and/or impossible-to-fulfil cosmic expectations. (See Thomson , chapter 11 and Seachris 2009 for attempts to engage with it nonetheless.) But philosophers are not generally now so sceptical about talk of meaningfulness in life and thus not so sceptical about the phrase ‘the meaning of life’ if it is taken to be referring merely to this. And that is how I shall be taking it. Secondly, ‘The Philosophy of Religion’: in the analytic tradition, this has usually been taken to be philosophical reflection on the rational acceptability or otherwise of classical theism and on what God's existence, should He exist, entails ontologically, metaphysically, metaethically and so forth. Therefore, I shall be talking about recent reflection in the analytic tradition on the relationship between the God of classical theism's existence (or lack of it) and meaningfulness (or lack of it) in human lives. (shrink)
Questions about knowledge, and about the relation between logic and language, are at the heart of philosophy. Eleven distinguished philosophers from Britain and America contribute papers on such questions. All the contributions are examples of recent philosophy at its best. The first half of the book constitutes a running debate about knowledge, evidence and doubt. The second half tackles questions about logic and its relation to language.
Recent highly publicized privacy breaches in health care and genomics research have led many to question whether current standards of data protection are adequate. Improvements in de-identification techniques, combined with pervasive data sharing, have increased the likelihood that external parties can track individuals across multiple databases. This paper focuses on the communication of identifiability risks in the process of obtaining consent for donation and research. Most ethical discussions of identifiability risks have focused on the severity of the risk and how (...) it might be mitigated, and what precisely is at stake in pervasive data sharing. However, there has been little discussion of whether and how to communicate the risk to potential donors. We review the ethical arguments behind favoring different types of risk communication in the consent process, and outline how identifiability concerns can be incorporated into either a detailed or simplified method of communicating risks during the consent process. (shrink)
In this journal Steve Maitzen has recently advanced an argument for atheism premised on theodical individualism, the thesis that God would not permit people to suffer evils that were underserved, involuntary, and gratuitous for them. In this paper I advance reasons to think this premise mistaken.
It is not intended as some sort of revelation on my part that Greenberg's cultural theory was originally Marxist in its stresses and, indeed in its attitude to what constituted explanation in such matters. I point out the Marxist and historical mode of proceeding as emphatically as I do partly because it may make my own procedure later in this paper seem a little less arbitrary. For I shall fall to arguing in the end with these essay's Marxism and their (...) history, and I want it understood that I think that to do so is to take issue with their strengths and their main drift.But I have to admit there are difficulties here. The essays in question ["Avant-Garde and Kitsch" and "Towards a Newer Lacoön"] are quite brief. They are, I think, extremely well written: it was not for nothing the Partisan Review described Clement Greenberg, when he first contributed to the journal early in 1939, as "a young writer who works in the New York customs house"—fine, redolent avant-garde pedigree, that! The language of these articles is forceful and easy, always straightforward, blessedly free from Marxist conundrums. Yet the price paid for such lucidity, here as so often, is a degree of inexplicitness—certain amount of elegant skirting round the difficult issues, where one might otherwise be obliged to call out the ponderous armory of Marx's concepts and somewhat spoil the low of the prose from one firm statement to another. The Marxism, in other words, is quite largely implicit; it is stated on occasion, with brittle and pugnacious finality, as the essay's frame of reference, but it remains to the reader to determine just how it works in the history and theory presented—what that history and theory depend on, in the way of Marxist assumptions about class and capital or even abase and superstructure. That is what I intend to do in this paper: to interpret and extrapolate from the texts, even at the risk of making their Marxism declare itself more stridently than the "young writer" seems to have wished. And I should admit straight away that there are several point in what follows where I am genuinely uncertain as to whether I am diverging from Greenberg's argument or explaining it more fully. This does not worry me overmuch, as long as we are alerted to the special danger in this case, dealing with such transparent yet guarded prose, and as long as we can agree that the project in general—pressing home a Marxist reading of texts which situate themselves within the Marxist tradition—is a reasonable one.22. This carelessness distinguishes the present paper from two recent studies of Greenberg's early writings, Serge Guilbaut's "The New Adventures of the Avant-Garde in America," October 15 , and Fred Orton and Griselda Pollock's "Avant-Gardes and Partisans Reviewed," Art History 3 I am indebted to both these essays and am sure that their strictures on the superficiality—not to say the opportunism–of Greenberg's Marxism are largely right. But I am nonetheless interested in the challenge offered to most Marxist, and non-Marxist, accounts of modern history by what I take to be a justified though extreme, pessimism as t the nature of established culture since 1870. That pessimism is characteristic, I suppose, of what Marxists call an ultraleftist point of view. I believe, as I say, that a version of some such view is correct and would therefore with to treat Greenberg's theory as if it were a decently elaborated Marxism of an ultraleftist kind, on which issues in certain mistaken views but which need not so issue and which might still provide, cleansed of those errors, a good vantage for a history of our culture.T. J. Clark, professor of fine arts at Harvard University, is the author of The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France, 1848-1851 and Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution. His book on impressionist painting and Paris is forthcoming. (shrink)
The standard approach to protecting privacy in healthcare aims to control access to personal information. We cannot regain control of information after it has been shared, so we must restrict access from the start. This ‘control’ conception of privacy conflicts with data-intensive initiatives like precision medicine and learning health systems, as they require patients to give up significant control of their information. Without adequate alternatives to the control-based approach, such data-intensive programmes appear to require a loss of privacy. This paper (...) argues that the control view of privacy is shortsighted and overlooks important ways to protect health information even when widely shared. To prepare for a world where we no longer control our data, we must pursue three alternative strategies: obfuscate health data, penalise the misuse of health data and improve transparency around who shares our data and for what purposes. Prioritising these strategies is necessary when health data are widely shared both within and outside of the health system. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that atheists who think that the issue of God's existence or non-existence is an important one; assign a greater than negligible probability to God's existence; and are not in possession of a plausible argument for scepticism about the truth-directedness of uttering such prayers in their own cases, are under a prima facie epistemic obligation to pray to God that He stop them being atheists.
Social theory remains puzzled by the relation between practices and structures, or the link between micro and macro. Grand theorists including Giddens and Bourdieu have gained distinction for their writings on these questions, trying to marry insights and concerns of a micro sociological nature with traditional macro structural questions including inequality, power relations, and social reproduction. These theorists arguably fail, however, in their attempts to move social theory beyond traditional dualisms. Relevant but neglected contributions from ethnomethodology are introduced and compared (...) to the work of Giddens and Bourdieu in an attempt to identify and outline an approach to practices and structures that more reliably avoids problems of dualism and reification, and at the same time offers an understanding of structures and their relations to practices that can be much more closely grounded in empirical studies. Key Words: micro-macro link reification ethnomethodology Pierre Bourdieu Jeff Coulter. (shrink)
Jesse Prinz and Shaun Nichols have argued that within metaethics, sentimentalism is the theory that best accords with empirical facts about human moral psychology. Recent findings in experimental moral psychology, they argue, indicate that emotions are psychologically central to our moral concepts. One way of testing the empirical adequacy of sentimentalism is by looking at research on environmental values. A classic problem in environmental ethics is providing an account of the intrinsic value of nonhuman entities, which is often thought to (...) be inconsistent with sentimentalism. However, no supporters of sentimentalist accounts of environmental values have evaluated the empirical adequacy of their claims. The relevant evidence falls under two broad categories: responses to nature itself and moral evaluations of environmental behaviors. The evidence indicates that both valuing and disvaluing nature are ultimately grounded in emotions. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach emphasizes species-specific abilities in grounding our treatment of animals. Though this emphasis provides many action-guiding benefits, it also generates a number of complications. The criticism registered here is that Nussbaum unjustifiably restricts what is allowed into our concept of species norms, the most notable restrictions being placed on latent abilities and those that arise as a result of human intervention. These restrictions run the risk of producing inaccurate or misleading recommendations that fail to correspond to the (...) true needs of animals. Here and throughout the essay the argument draws from the lives of captive apes, especially those with extensive experience with humans. A further criticism is that the normative guidance the capabilities approach does provide is merely at the level of heuristics. Preference testing, it is argued, also uses species norms profitably as a heuristic, but it does so within a much larger and fecund system of assessing an animal’s well-being. (shrink)
Notes on Contributors • Timothy Smiley, Preface LECTURE I • James Higginbotham, On Higher-Order Logic and Natural Language Commentary • David Bostock, On Motivating Higher-Order Logic LECTURE II • R M Sainsbury, Indexicals and Reported Speech Commentary • J E J Altham, Reporting Indexicals LECTURE III • Timothy Williamson, Iterated Attitudes Commentary • Dorothy Edgington, Williamson on Iterated Attitudes.
This is the first volume to address directly the question of the speciation of modern Homo sapiens. The subject raises profound questions about the nature of the species, our defining characteristic, and the brain changes and their genetic basis that make us distinct. The British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences have brought together experts from palaeontology, archaeology, linguistics, psychology, genetics and evolutionary theory to present evidence and theories at the cutting edge of our understanding of these issues.Palaeontological and (...) genetic work suggests that the transition from a precursor hominid species to modern man took place between 100,000 and 150,000 years ago. Some contributors discuss what is most characteristic of the species, focussing on language and its possible basis in brain lateralization. This work is placed in the context of speciation theory, which has remained a subject of considerable debate since the evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics and Darwinian theory. The timing of specific transitions in hominid evolution is discussed, as also is the question of the neural basis of language. Other contributors address the possible genetic nature of the transition, with reference to changes on the X and Y chromosomes that may account for sex differences in lateralization and verbal ability. These differences are discussed in terms of the theory of sexual selection, and with reference to the mechanisms of speciation.These essays will be vital reading for anyone interested in the nature and origins of the species, and specifically human abilities. (shrink)