Adam Smith raised a series of obstacles to effective large-scale social planning. In this paper, I draw these Smithian obstacles together to construct what I call the “Great Mind Fallacy,” or the belief that there exists some person or persons who can overcome the obstacles Smith raises. The putative scope of the Great Mind Fallacy is larger than one might initially suppose, which I demonstrate by reviewing several contemporary thinkers who would seem to commit it. I then address two ways (...) the fallacy might be overcome, finding both wanting. I close the paper by suggesting that Smith's Great Mind Fallacy sheds interesting light on his “impartial spectator” standard of morality, including with respect to the specific issues of property and ownership. (shrink)
Every year in this country, some 10,000 college and university courses are taught in applied ethics. And many professional organizations now have their own codes of ethics. Yet social science has had little impact upon applied ethics. This book promises to change that trend by illustrating how social science can make a contribution to applied ethics. The text reports psychological studies relevant to applied ethics for many professionals, including accountants, college students and teachers, counselors, dentists, doctors, journalists, nurses, school teachers, (...) athletes, and veterinarians. Each chapter begins with the research base of the cognitive-developmental approach--especially linked to Kohlberg and Rest's Defining Issues Test. Finally, the book summarizes recent research on the following issues: * moral judgment scores within and between professions, * pre- and post-test evaluations of ethics education programs, * moral judgment and moral behavior, * models of professional ethicseducation, and * models for developing new assessment tools. Researchers in different professional fields investigate different questions, develop different research strategies, and report different findings. Typically researchers of one professional field are not aware of research in other fields. An important aim of the present book is to bring this diverse research together so that cross-fertilization can occur and ideas from one field can transfer to another. (shrink)
Kohlberg's work in moral judgement has been criticised by many philosophers and psychologists. Building on Kohlberg's core assumptions, we propose a model of moral judgement (hereafter the neo-Kohlbergian approach) that addresses these concerns. Using 25 years of data gathered with the Defining Issues Test (DIT), we present an overview of Minnesota's neo-Kohlbergian approach, using Kohlberg's basic starting points, ideas from Cognitive Science (especially schema theory), and developments in moral philosophy.
The results of four experiments provide evidence for controlled processing in the absence of awareness. Participants identified the colour of a neutral distracter word. Each of four words was presented in one of the four colours 75% of the time or 50% of the time . Colour identification was faster when the words appeared in the colour they were most often presented in relative to when they appeared in another colour, even for participants who were subjectively unaware of any contingencies (...) between the words and the colours. An analysis of sequence effects showed that participants who were unaware of the relation between distracter words and colours nonetheless controlled the impact of the word on performance depending on the nature of the previous trial. A block analysis of contingency-unaware participants revealed that contingencies were learned rapidly in the first block of trials. Experiment 3 showed that the contingency effect does not depend on the level of awareness, thus ruling out explicit strategy accounts. Finally, Experiment 4 showed that the contingency effect results from behavioural control and not from semantic association or stimulus familiarity. These results thus provide evidence for implicit control. (shrink)
This book explores aspects of science from an economic point of view. The author begins with economic models of misconduct in science, moving on to discuss other important issues, including market failure and the market place of ideas.
Mystics have always claimed that a very significant kind of self-perception is possible, at the end of certain spiritual disciplines. The self that is then supposed to be known is a unity, identical from one experience to the next, and not to be identified with any particular experiences, such as impressions or ideas, which the self has. In short, mystical testimony supports something like a theory of the essential self as simple and unchanging.
Blackmail raises a pair of parallel legal and moral problems, sometimes referred to as the "paradox of blackmail". It is sometimes legal and morally permissible to ask someone for money, or to threaten to release harmful information about them, while it is illegal and morally impermissible to do these actions jointly. I address the moral version of this paradox by bringing instances of blackmail under a general account of wrongful coercion. According to this account, and contrary to the appearances which (...) give rise to the paradox, threatening the release of harmful information to constrain another's actions is almost never morally impermissible unless it is likewise impermissible to carry out one's threat. To defend this claim I identify a special wrong that arises in the paradoxical cases of threatened information release. The account also resolves a number of other puzzles about blackmail—for example, why profiting from a threat in blackmail can sometimes be impermissible, even though accepting identical payment from an independent offer to retain the same information can be permissible. (shrink)
I argue that on very weak assumptions about truth (in particular, that there are coherent norms governing the use of "true"), there is a proposition absolutely inexpressible with conventional language, or something very close. I argue for this claim "constructively": I use a variant of the Berry Paradox to reveal a particular thought for my readership to entertain that very strongly resists conventional expression. I gauge the severity of this expressive limitation within a taxonomy of expressive failures, and argue that (...) despite its strength there is nothing incoherent about admitting its existence. The argument forms part of a project of clarifying precisely what trade-offs are required to secure the kinds of expressive power truth theorists typically want, in the process showing that the admission of very strong expressive limitations may ultimately prove to be the lesser of two evils. (shrink)
Bringing about desirable collisions (making interceptions) and avoiding unwanted collisions are critically important sensorimotor skills, which appear to require us to estimate the time remaining before collision occurs (time-to-collision). Until recently the theoretical approach to understanding time-to-collision estimation has been dominated by the tau-hypothesis, which has its origins in J.J. Gibson’s ecological approach to perception. The hypothesis proposes that a quantity (tau), present in the visual stimulus, provides the necessary time-to-collision information. Empirical results and formal analyses have now accumulated to (...) demonstrate conclusively that the tau-hypothesis is false. This article describes an alternative approach that is based on recent data showing that the information used in judging time-to-collision is task- and situation-dependent, is of many different origins (of which tau is just one) and is influenced by the information-processing constraints of the nervous system. (shrink)
Abstract Evidence is reviewed showing that college attendance is associated with development in moral judgement. Six interpretations of why college has this effect are discussed: (1) simple age/maturation; (2) socialization; (3) learning specific knowledge or skill; (4) generalized understanding; (5) intellectual stimulation; (6) self?selection. Findings from longitudinal, experimental, correlational, educational and life experience studies are used to evaluate the plausibility of each interpretation. The last three interpretations are favoured over the first three.
The Sleeping Beauty puzzle has dramatized the divisive question of how de se beliefs should be integrated into formal theories of rational belief change. In this paper, I look ahead to a related question: how should de se beliefs be integrated into formal theories of rational choice? I argue that standard decision theoretic frameworks fail in special cases of de se uncertainty, like Sleeping Beauty. The nature of the failure reveals that sometimes rational choices are determined independently of one’s credences (...) in the kinds of ‘narrow’ de se propositions that Sleepy Beauty has set in relief. Consequently, in addition to pinpointing a failure of standard decision theoretic frameworks, this result casts doubt on a large class of strategies for determining principles for the rationally updating de se beliefs in cases like Sleeping Beauty, and also calls into question the importance of making such a determination at all. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that while Christians should share Engelhardt’s disappointment in how bioethics functions in the world, they should not share his exasperation. I begin by outlining the general argument in After God, its understanding of secularism, and of how such secularism has impacted bioethics. Next, I suggest that Englehardt appears to lean toward disengagement or at least an extremely suspicious sectarianism. Rather, I claim that it is possible for Christians to morally engage in a useful way with (...) others and still base their own moral activity on proper life telos. Such cooperation is not to serve a commonly-held ultimate purpose, but shared proximate ends. That said, the moral discourse with those outside the Church may be necessarily limited by shallow moral acquaintanceship. I argue that the concept of “middle axioms” can be used as a mechanism for engagement with others in this society. Importantly, this approach does not require abandoning distinctive Christian commitments and foundational assumptions. (shrink)
This paper compares the ethical decisions and attitudes of business students and practitioners. Recent unpublished data from a national study of over 1600 students are contrasted with information reported previously. Students are found consistently to make less ethical choices than practitioners, and there is some indication that students are making less ethical choices in the 1980s than in the 1960s. In addition, both students and practitioners agree that buyers should beware, view the role of business more narrowly, and find fewer (...) incentives to behave ethically over time. Codes of ethics appear to be less influential than the individual's strong personal value system and one's superiors behaving ethically; support for codes is declining. The paper concludes with observations about the limitations and possibilities for survey research in this area drawing on other studies that used the same instrument utilized for this paper. Some implications for future research are suggested. (shrink)
Knobe (2003a, 2003b, 2004b) and others have demonstrated the surprising fact that the valence of a side-effect action can affect intuitions about whether that action was performed intentionally. Here we report the results of an experiment that extends these findings by testing for an analogous effect regarding knowledge attributions. Our results suggest that subjects are less likely to find that an agent knows an action will bring about a side-effect when the effect is good than when it is bad. It (...) is further argued that these findings, while preliminary, have important implications for recent debates within epistemology about the relationship between knowledge and action. (shrink)
Truth-value gaps have received little attention from a foundational perspective, a fact which has rightfully opened up gap theories to charges of vacuousness. This paper develops an account of the foundations of gap-like behavior which has some hope of avoiding such charges. I begin by reviewing and sharpening a powerful argument of Dummett’s to constrain the options that gap theorists have to make sense of their views. I then show that within these strictures, we can give an account of gaps (...) by drawing on elements of a broadly Stalnakerian framework for assertion and using gaps to track an amalgamation of assertoric effects. The discussion reveals that we may need special resources in our theories of assertion to posit gaps, that gaps may be unusable in characterizing the structure of mental states, and that gaps may have heterogeneous linguistic sources that result in equally heterogeneous projective and inferential behavior. (shrink)
We report the results of two studies that examine folk metaethical judgments about the objectivity of morality. We found that participants attributed almost as much objectivity to ethical statements as they did to statements of physical fact and significantly more objectivity to ethical statements than to statements about preferences or tastes. In both studies, younger participants attributed less objectivity to ethical statements than older participants. Females were observed to attribute slightly less objectivity to ethical statements than males, and we found (...) important interactions between attributions of objectivity and other factors, such as how strong participants’ moral opinions were and how much disagreement about the issue they perceived to exist within society. We believe our results have significant implications for debates about the nature of folk morality and about the nature of morality in general. (shrink)
I argue for two theses about semantically anomalous utterances (more commonly called "category mistakes") like "sequestered slaps reel evergreen rights". First, semantic anomaly generates a unique form of semantically enforced quantifier domain restriction. Second, the best explanation for why anomaly interacts with quantifiers in this way is that anomalous utterances are truth-valueless. After arguing for these points, I trace out two consequences these theses have in semantics and logic. First, I argue they motivate a trivalent semantics on which truth-valueless material (...) has an unsual positive role to play in the compositional semantics of truth-evaluable utterances. Second, I argue that the interaction of anomaly with quantifiers generates a unique form of classical inference failure, and also provides special motivations for reconceptualizing our logical consequence relations. (shrink)
Since the late nineteenth century, studies of mysticism have presented us with two contrasting conclusions. The first is that mystics all over the world report basically the same experience, and the second is that there are great differences among the reports, and possibly among the experiences. On the positive side there are such works as Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy , with its claim that all mystics say that all beings are manifestations of a Divine Ground, that men learn of this (...) by direct intuition, that men have two natures, one phenomenal and one eternal, and that identification with his eternal nature is the purpose of man. Walter Stace supports this view, in a modified way, with his observation that, while each mystic seems to advance a peculiar explanation of his experience, their statements collectively exhibit strong similarities. Mystics commonly report a consciousness of unity, carrying with it feelings of objectivity, blessedness, and holiness. They describe their experience in paradoxical language, and say that ultimately it is ineffable. These twentieth-century observations are repetitions of those of William James, so that this basic point has become a cliché, and, as R. C. Zaehner says, ‘We have been told ad nauseum that mysticism is the highest expression of religion and that it appears in all ages and in all places in a more or less identical form, often in a religious milieu that would seem to be the reverse of propitious.’. (shrink)
All forms of beauty create appeal or enticement with moral significance. Sublime beauty draws one into a deep relationship that properly promotes the good and true. Parents tend to experience such beauty in their children, as eloquently described in works such as the 14th-century poem ‘The Pearl’, and they see this even when their children are desperately ill or dying. The experience of beauty in one’s child creates or reinforces the morality of caring. Unfortunately, at the end of modernity, the (...) framing of beauty as only instrumental and subjective generally works against any recognition of dignity or respect for the very small pediatric patient. Practitioners who believe in the intrinsic value and dignity of persons as general concepts should recognize parental drawing toward their children as a particularization of a transcendental value. (shrink)
Charles Sanders Peirce has authored an extraordinary ?Note on the Theory of the Economy of Research? (1879). The Note presents an economic model of research project selection in science. A case can be made that the Note was the first piece of modern scientific research in all of economics. This claim is based on the novelty of the method of argument, the graphical techniques, and the ratio of the marginal utilities found in the Note. The Note is also significant for (...) making economic factors a central part of a theory of scientific inference, something which contemporary economic methodologists and philosophers still have not done except for a few notable exceptions. And it has been used by philosopher Nicholas Rescher to interpret and criticize Karl Popper's notion of falsification. All of these contributions suggest that Peirce's Note may be of unusual interest to the economics profession. (shrink)
The ethical dilemma of large-scale multinational corporations is presented. The list of complaints and issues is summarized. A case is made for the concept of multinationals being inherently beneficial in today's world of high technology and dependence on international trade. The difficulty is extreme power wielded by some groups. It is concluded that a philosophical ideal is for control on size and power as well as international rules to prevent abuses of power. The concern is that today the worthiness of (...) being relatively small is slowly but surely being eroded. (shrink)
Business and especially marketing ethics have come to the forefront in recent years. While consumers have been surveyed regarding their perceptions of ethical business and marketing practices, research has been minimal with regard to their perceptions of ethical consumer practices. In addition, few studies have examined the ethical beliefs of elderly consumers even though they are an important and rapidly growing segment. This research investigates the relationship between Machiavellianism, ethical ideology and ethical beliefs for elderly consumers. The results indicate that (...) elderly consumers, while generally being more ethical than younger consumers, are diverse in their eithical beliefs. (shrink)