Great technological advances in such areas as computer science, artificial intelligence, and robotics have brought the advent of artificially intelligent robots within our reach within the next century. Against this background, the interdisciplinary field of machine ethics is concerned with the vital issue of making robots “ethical” and examining the moral status of autonomous robots that are capable of moral reasoning and decision-making. The existence of such robots will deeply reshape our socio-political life. This paper focuses on whether such highly (...) advanced yet artificially intelligent beings will deserve moral protection once they become capable of moral reasoning and decision-making. I argue that we are obligated to grant them moral rights once they have become full ethical agents, i.e., subjects of morality. I present four related arguments in support of this claim and thereafter examine four main objections to the idea of ascribing moral rights to artificial intelligent robots. (shrink)
Within contemporary philosophy of religion there are three main ways in which God is conceptualised in relation to personhood:God is a person and so personal. God is non-personal, and so is not a person. God is a personal non-person. The first two of these options will be familiar to many, with held by most contemporary monotheist philosophers of religion and mainly by those who are pantheists., however, is a view some may not have come across, despite its proponents claiming it (...) was the view of great philosophical theologians from the past. However, within recent times has become more popular. On the face of it, it might not be clear what the difference between and is, and whether debate had between the two positions is substantive. The goal of this paper is therefore to clarify the debate and assess whether the many claims advocates of make as to why God cannot be a person stand up to scrutiny or are persuasive. My suggestion will be that on the whole they do and are not. As such, defenders of will either need to defend these reasons in more detail or focus on the area I suggest the debate really rests on. (shrink)
Two of the most influential arguments in favour of the permissibility of abortion were put forward in the latter half of the twentieth century by Judith Jarvis Thomson and Mary Anne Warren. The implications of these arguments for unwilling putative fathers have largely not been considered. Some have argued that Thomson's defence of abortion might allow a man under certain circumstances to terminate his parental responsibilities and rights. To my knowledge, nobody has considered the implications of Warren's argument for men. (...) I will consider the implications of both arguments for men. I will argue that if they are successful defences of abortion then they are also successful in justifying a male counterpart to abortion which I label ‘elective abandonment’. I will not be defending or attacking these arguments as defences of abortion, but will defend the claim that they apply as well to elective abandonment as they do to abortion. (shrink)
It is commonly argued that a serious right to life is grounded only in actual, relatively advanced psychological capacities a being has acquired. The moral permissibility of abortion is frequently argued for on these grounds. Increasingly it is being argued that such accounts also entail the permissibility of infanticide, with several proponents of these theories accepting this consequence. We show, however, that these accounts imply the permissibility of even more unpalatable acts than infanticide performed on infants: organ harvesting, live experimentation, (...) sexual interference, and discriminatory killing. The stronger intuitions against the permissibility of these ‘pre-personal acts’ allow us to re-establish a comprehensive and persuasive reductio against psychological accounts of persons. (shrink)
This essay serves as an introduction to this issue of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. The five articles in this issue address a range of topics from the human embryo and substantial change to conceptions of disability. They engage claims of moral status, defense of our humanity, and argue for an accurate and just classification of persons of different communities within a healthcare system. I argue in this essay that though their concerns are diverse, the authors in this issue (...) help to answer a common question: “Who counts as one of us?” Reading these articles through the lens of membership and the themes of dignity illustrates this commonality and bears fruit for further reflection on many of the challenging issues addressed in the subsequent papers. (shrink)
In “Abortion and Ownership” John Martin Fischer argues that in Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist case you have a moral obligation not to unplug yourself from the violinist. Fischer comes to this conclusion by comparing the case with Joel Feinberg’s cabin case, in which he contends a stranger is justified in using your cabin to stay alive. I argue that the relevant difference between these cases is that while the stranger’s right to life trumps your right to property in the cabin (...) case, the violinist’s right to life does not trump your right to liberty in the violinist case. (shrink)
Susan Moller Okin's critique of libertarianism in Justice, Gender, and the Family has received only slight attention in the libertarian literature. I find this neglect of Okin's argument surprising: The argument is straightforward and, if sound, it establishes a devastating conflict between the core libertarian notions of self-ownership and the acquisition of property through labour. In this paper, I first present a reconstruction of Okin's argument. In brief, she points out that mothers make children through their labour; thus it would (...) seem that mothers own their children; but this implies that the children are not self-owners. I then examine the two most common objections to this argument in the literature: mothers do not make children, and acquisition by labour includes an exception for persons. I give several replies to each objection, including an extension of Okin's argument that I call Okin's dilemma. This dilemma argues that the libertarian can avoid Okin's conclusion only by requiring an.. (shrink)
Versions of internalism have played important roles in metaethics, for example, in defending irrealist options such as emotivism. However, internalism is itself as controversial as the views it is used to defend. Standard approaches to testing the view, such as thought experiments about amoralists, have failed to gain consensus. Michael Huemer offers a defense of internalism of a different kind which he calls the “argument from interpretation.” He presents the argument as one Humeans could embrace, but versions could be accepted (...) by others, including Huemer himself. The argument begins from the assumption that a certain principle of charity is true and knowable a priori. But it can only be known a priori if internalism is true. Hence internalism is true. In this paper I argue that this important argument fails. My main objection makes use of recent work in empirical psychology. Huemer needs the principle of charity to be known a priori. I argue that rather than being an a priori issue, it is an empirical one and that the empirical evidence is strong enough to undermine his argument for internalism. (shrink)
By emphasizing the parallels between both racial vilification and the vilification that takes place when we discuss abortion in our society, I hope to provide a new perspective on the way the United States converses about this divisive issue. This perspective, in turn, can help us see how we can move forward from the stagnate polemics that have permeated the abortion debate in the United States for the past 40 years.
A key distinction in ethics is between members and nonmembers of the moral community. Over time, our notion of this community has expanded as we have moved from a rationality criterion to a sentience criterion for membership. I argue that a sentience criterion is insufficient to accommodate all members of the moral community; the true underlying criterion can be understood in terms of whether a being has interests. This may be extended to conscious, self-aware machines, as well as to any (...) autonomous intelligent machines. Such machines exhibit an ability to formulate desires for the course of their own existence; this gives them basic moral standing. While not all machines display autonomy, those which do must be treated as moral patients; to ignore their claims to moral recognition is to repeat past errors. I thus urge moral generosity with respect to the ethical claims of intelligent machines. (shrink)
Animalism is the doctrine that we human beings are – are identical with – animals. Hylemorphism is a form of animalism. In this paper, I defend hylemorphism by showing that while other forms of animalism fall prey to the problem of ‘Remnant Persons,’ hylemorphism does not. But hylemorphism's account of personhood seems to have some very implausible implications. I address one of those implications, and argue that it isn't nearly as objectionable as it might at first appear.
Some have challenged Thomson’s case of the famous unconscious violinist (UV) by arguing that in cases of consensual sex a woman is partially morally responsible for the existence of a needy fetus; since she is partially responsible she ought to assist the fetus, and so abortion is morally wrong. Call this the Responsibility Objection (RO) to UV. In this paper, I briefly criticize one of the most widely discussed objections to RO and then suggest a new way to challenge RO. (...) In so doing, I investigate the plausibility of the moral principle that appears to be driving RO: If a woman is partially morally responsible for the existence of a needy fetus, she has a moral obligation to assist the fetus. I argue that this principle is false. I suggest modified versions of this principle but argue that, even on the most plausible version, RO does not persuade. (shrink)
In the US, stem cell research is at a moral impasse—many see this research as ethically mandated due to its potential for ameliorating major diseases, while others see this research as ethically impermissible because it typically involves the destruction of embryos and use of ova from women. Because their creation does not require embryos or ova, induced pluripotent stem cells offer the most promising path for addressing the main ethical objections to stem cell research; however, this technology is still in (...) development. In order for scientists to advance induced pluripotent stem cell research to a point of translational readiness, they must continue to use ova and embryos in the interim. How then are we to ethically move forward with stem cell research? We argue that there is personal integrity and value in adopting a ‘moral compromise’ as a means for moving past the moral impasse in stem cell research. In a moral compromise, each party concedes part of their desired outcome in order to engage in a process that respects the values and desires of all parties equitably. Whereas some contend that moral compromise in stem cell research necessarily involves self-contradiction or loss of personal integrity, we argue that in the US context, stem cell research satisfies many of the key pre-conditions of an effective moral compromise. To illustrate our point, we offer a model solution wherein eggs and embryos are temporarily used until non-egg and non-embryonic sources of pluripotent stem cells are developed to a state of translational readiness. (shrink)
Abstract I argue that embryonic stem cell research is fair to the embryo, even on the assumption that the embryo has attained full personhood and an attendant right to life at conception. This is because the only feasible alternatives open to the embryo are to exist briefly in an unconscious state and be killed or to not exist at all. Hence, one is neither depriving the embryo of an enduring life it would otherwise have had nor is one causing the (...) embryo pain. I also argue that a rational agent in a situation relevantly similar to that of the embryo would consent to such research, and I use this insight to ground two justice-based arguments in favor of this research. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Research Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11673-012-9364-0 Authors Aaron Rizzieri, The Humanities Department (E-202), LaGuardia Community College, 31-10 Thompson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, USA Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529. (shrink)
This paper explores the debate between personists, who argue that the concept of a person if of central importance for moral thought, and personists, who argue that the concept of a human being is of greater moral significance. On the one hand, it argues that normative naturalism, the most ambitious defense of the humanist position, fails to identify moral standards with standards of human behavior and thereby fails to undermine the moral significance of personhood. At the same time, it contends (...) that a more focused attention on the morally relevant features of human life may indeed play a crucial role in enhancing our moral understanding. (shrink)
Feticide, the practice of terminating the life of an otherwise viable fetus in utero, has become an increasingly common practice in obstetric centres around the globe, a concomitant of antenatal screening technologies. This paper examines this expanding practice in light of the concept of human dignity. Although it is assumed from the outset that even viable human fetuses are not persons and as such do not enjoy full membership in the moral community, it is argued that the fact that these (...) are nevertheless human fetuses affords them prima facie moral status. Thus even those who accept a liberal position with regard to therapeutic abortion, should be concerned about these more recent developments. Indeed, how we treat viable human fetuses has implications for our prospective treatment of other human non-persons and could undermine the common human dignity we all share. (shrink)
Even for persons who hold to the ethical acceptance of abortion practices in general, questions of detail often arise. If you assume the distinction between the physical human organism alone and the person that is associated with that organism, then you must face the question of whether it is permissible to abort a fetus if the corresponding person has come into being. We take the position that the abortion of a fetus that has achieved this level of development should be (...) declared unethical except in special circumstances. Our purpose here is to identify the point in the development of the fetus that serves as the marker for this level. (shrink)
: A threat to women is obscured when we treat "abortion-as-evacuation" as equivalent to "abortion-as-killing." This holds only if evacuating a fetus kills it. As technology advances, the equivalence will fail. Any feminist account of abortion that relies on the equivalence leaves moral room for women to be required to give up their fetuses to others when it fails. So an account of the justification of abortion-as-killing is needed that does not depend on the equivalence.
Jon Shields's finding—that certain evangelical pro‐life activist groups are more interested in deliberative discussions about abortion than are pro‐choice activists—is wrong on methodological, normative, and philosophical grounds. He generalizes about pro‐life civility from a small, trained sample group, and ignores possibly important variables that would explain pro‐choicers' incivility. Further, politeness is not necessarily a requirement of democratic deliberation—which entails not forcing one's own beliefs on the public, as pro‐lifers manifestly are trying to do, despite their calm demeanor. Conversely, some pro‐choicers' (...) refusal to engage in debates is not a deliberative failure, as Shields suggests, as deliberation includes such things as campaigning and canvassing. Lastly, Shields, and the pro‐lifers he has observed, use the weakest of the pro‐choice arguments, instead of focusing on the best academic work in the field. (shrink)
Regarding the sinking lifeboat scenario involving several human beings and a dog, nearly everyone agrees that it is right to sacrifice the dog. I suggest that the best explanation for this considered judgment, an explanation that appears to time-relative interests, contains a key insight about prudential value. This insight, I argue, also provides perhaps the most promising reply to the future-like-ours argument, which is widely regarded as the strongest moral argument against abortion. Providing a solution to a longstanding puzzle in (...) value theory across species while illuminating the morality of abortion, the time-relative interest account proves worthy of sustained theoretical attention. (shrink)
The author argues that individuality does not require indivisibility and that twinning can be explained as the reprogramming of blastomeres that already have begun to differentiate in accordance with the needs of the unified organism that originates at conception.
Opponents of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research claim that such research is incompatible with the moral principle that it is always wrong intentionally to end a human life. In this essay, I discuss how that principle might be revised so that it is subject to as few difﬁculties as possible. I then argue that even the most defensible version of the principle is compatible with the moral permissibility of hESC research.
This article examines the assertion that human embryonic stem cells patents are immoral because they violate human dignity. After analyzing the concept of human dignity and its role in bioethics debates, this article argues that patents on human embryos or totipotent embryonic stem cells violate human dignity, but that patents on pluripotent or multipotent stem cells do not. Since patents on pluripotent or multipotent stem cells may still threaten human dignity by encouraging people to treat embryos as property, patent agencies (...) should carefully monitor and control these patents to ensure that patents are not inadvertently awarded on embryos or totipotent stem cells. (shrink)
Underlying President Bush's view regarding stemcell research and cloning are two assumptions: we originate at conception, and we have full moral status as soon as we originate. I will challenge both assumptions, argue that at least the second is mistaken, and conclude that the President's approach is unsustainable.
In this paper I analyse who should be able to control the use of human embryonic stem cell lines. I distinguish between different kinds of control and analyse a set of arguments that purport to show that the donors of gametes and embryos should not be able to control the use of stem cell lines derived from their embryos. I show these arguments to be either deficient or of so general a scope that they apply not only to donors but (...) also to those who derived the stem cell lines. Since we normally think that stem cell derivers have the right to control the use of the cell lines they derived, we have no justification for denying donors similar rights of control. In the final section I briefly discuss why informed consent is not an appropriate vehicle for transferring or alienating control rights. (shrink)
Some opponents of reproductive human cloning have argued that, because of its experimental nature, any attempt to create a child by way of cloning would risk serious birth defects or genetic abnormalities and would therefore be immoral. Some versions of this argument appeal to the consent of the person to be conceived in this way. In particular, they assume that if an experimental reproductive technology has not yet been shown to be safe, then, before we use it, we are morally (...) obligated to get either the actual consent or the presumed consent of the person to be conceived. In this article, I attempt to explain the appeal of such consent-based arguments as deriving from a mistaken view of personal identity. I then argue that since this view is false, such arguments are unsound. Finally, I argue that even if reproductive cloning is unsafe, it may still be morally permissible in some circumstances. (shrink)
The doctrine that it is wrong to end the existence of something because it is a human life I call “the standard view.” I argue that attempts by proponents of abortion choice to avoid the implications of the standard view by suggesting that we don't know when life begins or by suggesting that fetuses are only potential lives fail. Nevertheless, opponents of abortion choice should not base their arguments on the standard view, for the standard view is false. I propose (...) a substitute for the standard view that avoids the difficulties with it, that explains why most people believe that the standard view is true and that also underwrites opposition to abortion choice. (shrink)
This essay briefly describes a few of the problems associated with using personhood language to defend the right to life of the pre‐implantation embryo. Arguing that an immaterial soul explains the personal identity of an embryo is problematic for many people because there is no apparent spiritual activity in the unborn. While some scholars argue that the embryo has the potential to act as an adult person and thus should be protected from harm, others contend that potentiality alone is insufficient (...) reason to ascribe special moral worth to the embryo in utero. For Thomas Aquinas, the soul is not only the life‐principle that organizes the human body, but it is also that by which the human being thinks and wills. By making suitable corrections to Aristotle's hylomorphic depiction of the soul–body relation, I suggest that a rational soul must be present from the moment of conception and that it is at the service of the person. What is of critical importance here is to accept that a human being is present from the moment of conception, something the vast majority of embryologists maintain, notwithstanding the inveiglement of those who state that the pre‐implantation blastocyst is simply a disorganized clump of cells. (shrink)
The morality of embryonic stem cell research depends on the moral status of human embryos. I defend the interest view against some of Don Marquis's objections, and show that on his own Valuable Futures account, ESCR is morally permissible.
Human beings with diminished decision-making capacities are usually thought to require greater protections from the potential harms of research than fully autonomous persons. Animal subjects of research receive lesser protections than any human beings regardless of decision-making capacity. Paradoxically, however, it is precisely animals’ lack of some characteristic human capacities that is commonly invoked to justify using them for human purposes. In other words, for humans lesser capacities correspond to greater protections but for animals the opposite is true. Without explicit (...) justification, it is not clear why or whether this should be the case. Ethics regulations guiding human subject research include principles such as respect for persons—and related duties—that are required as a matter of justice while regulations guiding animal subject research attend only to highly circumscribed considerations of welfare. Further, the regulations guiding research on animals discount any consideration of animal welfare relative to comparable human welfare. This paper explores two of the most promising justifications for these differences␣between the two sets of regulations. The first potential justification points to lesser moral status for animals on the basis of their lesser capacities. The second potential justification relies on a claim about the permissibility of moral partiality as␣found in common morality. While neither potential justification is sufficient to justify the regulatory difference as it stands, there is possible common ground between supporters of some regulatory difference and those rejecting the current difference. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This paper attempts to show that the acorn–oak tree argument against the slippery slope on the personhood of the fetus is valid and William Cooney's attack on this argument fails. I also argue that the slippery slope argument leads to on undesirable conclusion and should not be used as a valid tool in the debate on the personhood of the fetus.
On the face of it, the protracted public controversy over abortion in the United States and elsewhere might seem to rest on intractable normative questions inaccessible to economic analysis. But an influential early essay in the now sizable philosophical literature on the subject suggests otherwise. Judith Jarvis Thomson disarmingly inclined toward the view that “the fetus has already become a human person well before birth”,. presumably with all the rights pertaining thereto. She denied, however, that such rights necessarily include use (...) of the mother's womb until birth. To illustrate her point, she compared the mother's situation to that, for example, of an unwilling Good Samaritan with a uniquely suited blood type, who is forced to share a kidney for 9 months with a famous, ailing violinist who needed its use for that duration to recover. Even if the life of a human being was at stake, the assertion of rights for the violinist or the fetus, she argued, would be too degrading for either the Good Samaritan's or the mother's status as a person, where large unwanted sacrifices would be required. Reduced to its economic essentials, the argument is that the mother has property rights to her own body, including the right to expel a “trespasser”. who would die as a consequence. Thus, the antiabortion position is neatly undercut by granting its major premise while denying its conclusion. (shrink)