In discussions of moral responsibility for collectively produced effects, it is not uncommon to assume that we have to abandon the view that causal involvement is a necessary condition for individual co-responsibility. In general, considerations of cases where there is "a mismatch between the wrong a group commits and the apparent causal contributions for which we can hold individuals responsible" motivate this move. According to Brian Lawson, "solving this problem requires an approach that deemphasizes the importance of causal contributions". Christopher (...) Kutz's theory of complicitious accountability in Complicity from 2000 is probably the most wellknown approach of that kind. Standard examples are supposed to illustrate mismatches of three different kinds: an agent may be morally co-responsible for an event to a high degree even if her causal contribution to that event is a) very small, b) imperceptible, or c) non-existent. From such examples, Kutz and others conclude that principles of complicitious accountability cannot include a condition of causal involvement. In the present paper, I defend the causal involvement condition for co-responsibility. These are my lines of argument: First, overdetermination cases can be accommodated within a theory of coresponsibility without giving up the causality condition. Kutz and others oversimplify the relation between counterfactual dependence and causation, and they overlook the possibility that causal relations other than marginal contribution could be morally relevant. Second, harmful effects are sometimes overdetermined by non-collective sets of acts. Over-farming, or the greenhouse effect, might be cases of that kind. In such cases, there need not be any formal organization, any unifying intentions, or any other noncausal criterion of membership available. If we give up the causal condition for coresponsibility it will be impossible to delimit the morally relevant set of acts related to those harms. Since we sometimes find it fair to blame people for such harms, we must question the argument from overdetermination. Third, although problems about imperceptible effects or aggregation of very small effects are morally important, e.g. when we consider degrees of blameworthiness or epistemic limitations in reasoning about how to assign responsibility for specific harms, they are irrelevant to the issue of whether causal involvement is necessary for complicity. Fourth, the costs of rejecting the causality condition for complicity are high. Causation is an explicit and essential element in most doctrines of legal liability and it is central in common sense views of moral responsibility. Giving up this condition could have radical and unwanted consequences for legal security and predictability. However, it is not only for pragmatic reasons and because it is a default position that we should require stronger arguments before giving up the causality condition. An essential element in holding someone to account for an event is the assumption that her actions and intentions are part of the explanation of why that event occurred. If we give up that element, it is difficult to see which important function responsibility assignments could have. (shrink)
OBJECTIVES: To study whether linguistic analysis and changes in information leaflets can improve readability and understanding. DESIGN: Randomised, controlled study. Two information leaflets concerned with trials of drugs for conditions/diseases which are commonly known were modified, and the original was tested against the revised version. SETTING: Denmark. PARTICIPANTS: 235 persons in the relevant age groups. MAIN MEASURES: Readability and understanding of contents. RESULTS: Both readability and understanding of contents was improved: readability with regard to both information leaflets and understanding with (...) regard to one of the leaflets. CONCLUSION: The results show that both readability and understanding can be improved by increased attention to the linguistic features of the information. (shrink)
The concept of information has well-known difficulties. Among the many issues that have been discussed is the alethic nature of a semantic conception of information. Floridi :197–222, 2004; Philos Phenomenol Res 70:351–370, 2005; EUJAP 3:31–41, 2007; The philosophy of information, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011) argued that semantic information must be truthful. In this article, arguments will be presented in favor of an alethically neutral conception of semantic information and it will be shown that such a conception can withstand Floridi’s (...) criticism. In particular, it is argued that an alethically neutral conception of semantic information can manage the so-called Bar-Hillel Carnap paradox, according to which contradictions have maximum informational content. This issue, as well as some of Floridi’s other arguments, is resolved by disentangling the property of being information from the property of being informative. The essay’s final conclusion is that although semantic information is alethically neutral, a veridical conception of semantic information can, and should, be retained as a subconcept of semantic information, as it is essential for the analysis of informativity, which, unlike the property of being information, depends on truth. (shrink)
This article proposes a new definition of information security, the ‘Appropriate Access’ definition. Apart from providing the basic criteria for a definition—correct demarcation and meaning concerning the state of security—it also aims at being a definition suitable for any information security perspective. As such, it bridges the conceptual divide between so-called ‘soft issues’ of information security and more technical issues. Because of this it is also suitable for various analytical purposes, such as analysing possible security breaches, or for studying conflicting (...) attitudes on security in an organization. The need for a new definition is demonstrated by pointing to a number of problems for the standard definition type of information security—the so-called CIA definition. Besides being too broad as well as too narrow, it cannot properly handle the soft issues of information security, nor recognize the contextual and normative nature of security. (shrink)
Boyer & Lienard's (B&L's) biological model of ritual achieves a rather straightforward account of features shared by ritual pathology and the idiosyncratic rituals of children; but complexities accrue in extending it to human ritual culture generally. My commentary suggests that the ritual cultural traditions of animals such as songbirds share structural features, handicap-based origin, as well as the enabling neural mechanism of vocal learning with human ritual culture. (Published Online February 8 2007).
In the course of their disciplinary consolidation during the 19th and 20th centuries, the social sciences came increasingly to be less historically orientated. Analogously, global history became increasingly a marginal concern for professional historical scholarship. At the present juncture, however, there is a coincidence of a rethinking of the formation of modernity in cultural terms and the need to locate European modernity in a global context. Social theory must be able to provide an account of global historical developments that is (...) less constrained and biased than modernization theory, even in the new garb of globalization studies, but significantly more elaborate in conceptual terms than current contributions to global history. A rethinking of the formation of modernity has already contributed to a greater appreciation of processes of cultural and ideational transformations. It has also suggested new ways of studying institutional change. It must, however, also be able to locate the specific European trajectory in a global context. The core element in such a research programme is the analysis of three major periods of global cultural crystallization, namely the Axial Age, the ecumenical renaissance, and the formation of modernity. The rationale and the contours of this research programme are outlined. (shrink)
In the first millennium CE trade and kinship networks linked Western Europe and Central Asia via Scandinavia and the Russian rivers. These networks broke down when the early states began to emerge in Scandinavia during the 11th and 12th centuries, concurrent with the Christianization of the far North. Two cultural fault-lines mark Nordic history – between Western and Eastern Christendom and between feudal and non-feudal societies – and make this region distinct from Russia and Germany. The Swedish state, with Finland (...) as an integral part of the realm until the 19th century, was neither a composite monarchy, nor a feudal or despotic state. Sweden was one of the largest but also least populated countries in Europe. Its relative lack of resources led to unusual but efficient techniques of state-making demonstrated in two periods when Sweden was prominent in an all-European perspective: first as a Great Power (1620–1720) when it developed characteristics that did not appear elsewhere in Europe until the 20th century, and then during the rapid modernization that began around 1870. In this latter period there were five key junctures in the transition from the constitutional limbo and social democratic breakthroughs of the interwar period to the antinomies of present-day Sweden. (shrink)
This book is an introduction to and interpretation of the philosophy of language devised by Donald Davidson over the past 25 years. The guiding intuition is that Davidson's work is best understood as an ongoing attempt to purge semantics of theoretical reifications. Seen in this light the recent attack on the notion of language itself emerges as a natural development of his Quinian scepticism towards "meanings" and his rejections of reference-based semantic theories. Linguistic understanding is, for Davidson, essentially dynamic, arising (...) only through a continuous process of theory construction and reconstruction. The result is a conception of semantics in which the notion of interpretation and not the notion of knowing a language is fundamental. In the course of his book Bjorn Ramberg provides a critical discussion of reference-based semantic theories, challenging the standard accounts of the principle of charity and elucidating the notion of radical interpretation. The final chapter on incommensurability ties in with the discussions of Kuhn's work in the philosophy of science and suggests certain links between Davidson's analytic semantics and hermeneutic theory. (shrink)