John Danaher University College, Galway
About me
I am a lecturer in the School of Law at NUI Galway. I am interested in the philosophy of responsibility, ethical issues of all varieties, human enhancement and transhumanism, scientific evidence and the law, and the philosophy of religion.
My works
22 found

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  1.  92
    An Evaluative Conservative Case for Biomedical Enhancement.John Danaher - forthcoming - Journal of Medical Ethics:medethics-2015-103307.
    It is widely believed that a conservative moral outlook is opposed to biomedical forms of human enhancement. In this paper, I argue that this widespread belief is incorrect. Using Cohen’s evaluative conservatism as my starting point, I argue that there are strong conservative reasons to prioritise the development of biomedical enhancements. In particular, I suggest that biomedical enhancement may be essential if we are to maintain our current evaluative equilibrium (i.e. the set of values that undergird and permeate our current (...)
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  2. Responsible Innovation in Social Epistemic Systems: The P300 Memory Detection Test and the Legal Trial.John Danaher - forthcoming - In Van den Hoven (ed.), Responsible Innovation Volume II: Concepts, Approaches, Applications. Springer.
    Memory Detection Tests (MDTs) are a general class of psychophysiological tests that can be used to determine whether someone remembers a particular fact or datum. The P300 MDT is a type of MDT that relies on a presumed correlation between the presence of a detectable neural signal (the P300 “brainwave”) in a test subject, and the recognition of those facts in the subject’s mind. As such, the P300 MDT belongs to a class of brain-based forensic technologies which have proved popular (...)
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  3. Robots, Law and the Retribution Gap.John Danaher - forthcoming - Ethics and Information Technology.
    We are living through an era of increased robotisation. Some authors have already begun to explore the impact of this robotisation on legal rules and practice. In doing so, many highlight potential liability gaps that might arise through robot misbehaviour. Although these gaps are interesting and socially significant, they do not exhaust the possible gaps that might be created by increased robotisation. In this article, I make the case for one of those alternative gaps: the retribution gap. This gap arises (...)
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  4. Why Internal Moral Enhancement Might Be Politically Better Than External Moral Enhancement.John Danaher - forthcoming - Neuroethics:1-16.
    Technology could be used to improve morality but it could do so in different ways. Some technologies could augment and enhance moral behaviour externally by using external cues and signals to push and pull us towards morally appropriate behaviours. Other technologies could enhance moral behaviour internally by directly altering the way in which the brain captures and processes morally salient information or initiates moral action. The question is whether there is any reason to prefer one method over the other? In (...)
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  5. Sex Robots.John Danaher & Neil McArthur (eds.) - forthcoming - MIT Press.
     
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  6. Robotic Rape and Robotic Child Sexual Abuse: Should They Be Criminalised?John Danaher - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (1):71-95.
    Soon there will be sex robots. The creation of such devices raises a host of social, legal and ethical questions. In this article, I focus in on one of them. What if these sex robots are deliberately designed and used to replicate acts of rape and child sexual abuse? Should the creation and use of such robots be criminalised, even if no person is harmed by the acts performed? I offer an argument for thinking that they should be. The argument (...)
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  7. Will Life Be Worth Living in a World Without Work? Technological Unemployment and the Meaning of Life.John Danaher - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (1):41-64.
    Suppose we are about to enter an era of increasing technological unemployment. What implications does this have for society? Two distinct ethical/social issues would seem to arise. The first is one of distributive justice: how will the efficiency gains from automated labour be distributed through society? The second is one of personal fulfillment and meaning: if people no longer have to work, what will they do with their lives? In this article, I set aside the first issue and focus on (...)
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  8. Human Enhancement, Social Solidarity and the Distribution of Responsibility.John Danaher - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2):359-378.
    This paper tries to clarify, strengthen and respond to two prominent objections to the development and use of human enhancement technologies. Both objections express concerns about the link between enhancement and the drive for hyperagency. The first derives from the work of Sandel and Hauskeller—and is concerned with the negative impact of hyperagency on social solidarity. In responding to their objection, I argue that although social solidarity is valuable, there is a danger in overestimating its value and in neglecting some (...)
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  9.  54
    Should We Use Commitment Contracts to Regulate Student Use of Cognitive Enhancing Drugs?John Danaher - 2016 - Bioethics 30 (7):568-578.
    Are universities justified in trying to regulate student use of cognitive enhancing drugs? In this article I argue that they can be, but that the most appropriate kind of regulatory intervention is likely to be voluntary in nature. To be precise, I argue that universities could justifiably adopt a commitment contract system of regulation wherein students are encouraged to voluntarily commit to not using cognitive enhancing drugs. If they are found to breach that commitment, they should be penalized by, for (...)
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  10. The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation.John Danaher - 2016 - Philosophy and Technology 29 (3):245-268.
    One of the most noticeable trends in recent years has been the increasing reliance of public decision-making processes on algorithms, i.e. computer-programmed step-by-step instructions for taking a given set of inputs and producing an output. The question raised by this article is whether the rise of such algorithmic governance creates problems for the moral or political legitimacy of our public decision-making processes. Ignoring common concerns with data protection and privacy, it is argued that algorithmic governance does pose a significant threat (...)
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  11. Common Knowledge, Pragmatic Enrichment and Thin Originalism.John Danaher - 2015 - Jurisprudence 7 (2):267-296.
    The meaning of an utterance is often enriched by the pragmatic context in which it is uttered. This is because in ordinary conversations we routinely and uncontroversially compress what we say, safe in the knowledge that those interpreting us will ‘add in’ the content we intend to communicate. Does the same thing hold true in the case of legal utterances like ‘This constitution protects the personal rights of the citizen’ or ‘the parliament shall have the power to lay and collect (...)
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  12. The Comparative Advantages of Brain-Based Lie Detection: The P300 Concealed Information Test and Pre-Trial Bargaining.John Danaher - 2015 - International Journal of Evidence and Proof 19 (1).
    The lie detector test has long been treated with suspicion by the law. Recently, several authors have called this suspicion into question. They argue that the lie detector test may have considerable forensic benefits, particularly if we move past the classic, false-positive prone, autonomic nervous system-based (ANS-based) control question test, to the more reliable, brain-based, concealed information test. These authors typically rely on a “comparative advantage” argument to make their case. According to this argument, we should not be so suspicious (...)
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  13. Why AI Doomsayers Are Like Sceptical Theists and Why It Matters.John Danaher - 2015 - Minds and Machines 25 (3):231-246.
    An advanced artificial intelligence could pose a significant existential risk to humanity. Several research institutes have been set-up to address those risks. And there is an increasing number of academic publications analysing and evaluating their seriousness. Nick Bostrom’s superintelligence: paths, dangers, strategies represents the apotheosis of this trend. In this article, I argue that in defending the credibility of AI risk, Bostrom makes an epistemic move that is analogous to one made by so-called sceptical theists in the debate about the (...)
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  14. The Normativity of Linguistic Originalism: A Speech Act Analysis.John Danaher - 2015 - Law and Philosophy 34 (4):397-431.
    The debate over the merits of originalism has advanced considerably in recent years, both in terms of its intellectual sophistication and its practical significance. In the process, some prominent originalists—Lawrence Solum and Jeffrey Goldsworthy being the two discussed here—have been at pains to separate out the linguistic and normative components of the theory. For these authors, while it is true that judges and other legal decision-makers ought to be originalists, it is also true that the communicated content of the constitution (...)
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  15. Hyperagency and the Good Life – Does Extreme Enhancement Threaten Meaning?John Danaher - 2014 - Neuroethics 7 (2):227-242.
    According to several authors, the enhancement project incorporates a quest for hyperagency - i.e. a state of affairs in which virtually every constitutive aspect of agency (beliefs, desires, moods, dispositions and so forth) is subject to our control and manipulation. This quest, it is claimed, undermines the conditions for a meaningful and worthwhile life. Thus, the enhancement project ought to be forestalled or rejected. How credible is this objection? In this article, I argue: “not very”. I do so by evaluating (...)
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  16. Necessary Moral Truths and Theistic Metaethics.John Danaher - 2014 - Sophia 53 (3):309-330.
    Theistic metaethics usually places one key restriction on the explanation of moral facts, namely: every moral fact must ultimately be explained by some fact about God. But the widely held belief that moral truths are necessary truths seems to undermine this claim. If a moral truth is necessary, then it seems like it neither needs nor has an explanation. Or so the objection typically goes. Recently, two proponents of theistic metaethics — William Lane Craig and Mark Murphy — have argued (...)
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  17. Skeptical Theism and Divine Permission - A Reply to Anderson.John Danaher - 2014 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 75 (2):101-118.
    Skeptical theism (ST) may undercut the key inference in the evidential argument from evil, but it does so at a cost. If ST is true, then we lose our ability to assess the all things considered (ATC) value of natural events and states of affairs. And if we lose that ability, a whole slew of undesirable consequences follow. So goes a common consequential critique of ST. In a recent article, Anderson has argued that this consequential critique is flawed. Anderson claims (...)
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  18. Sex Work, Technological Unemployment and the Basic Income Guarantee.John Danaher - 2014 - Journal of Evolution and Technology 24 (1):113-130.
    Is sex work (specifically, prostitution) vulnerable to technological unemployment? Several authors have argued that it is. They claim that the advent of sophisticated sexual robots will lead to the displacement of human prostitutes, just as, say, the advent of sophisticated manufacturing robots have displaced many traditional forms of factory labour. But are they right? In this article, I critically assess the argument that has been made in favour of this displacement hypothesis. Although I grant the argument a degree of credibility, (...)
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  19. Kramer's Purgative Rationale for Capital Punishment: A Critique.John Danaher - 2013 - Criminal Law and Philosophy (2):1-20.
    Matthew Kramer has recently defended a novel justification for the death penalty, something he calls the purgative rationale. According to this rationale, the death penalty can be justifiably implemented if it is necessary in order to purge defilingly evil offenders from a moral community. Kramer claims that this rationale overcomes the problems associated with traditional rationales for the death penalty. Although Kramer is to be commended for carving out a novel niche in a well-worn dialectical space, I argue that his (...)
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  20.  83
    On the Need for Epistemic Enhancement.John Danaher - 2013 - Law, Innovation and Technology 5 (1):85-112.
    Klaming and Vedder (2010) have argued that enhancement technologies that improve the epistemic efficiency of the legal system (“epistemic enhancements”) would benefit the common good. But there are two flaws to Klaming and Vedder’s argument. First, they rely on an under-theorised and under-specified conception of the common good. When theory and specification are supplied, their CGJ for enhancing eyewitness memory and recall becomes significantly less persuasive. And second, although aware of such problems, they fail to give due weight and consideration (...)
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  21. The Vice of In-Principlism and the Harmfulness of Love.John Danaher - 2013 - American Journal of Bioethics 13 (11):19-21.
    This is a response to Earp and colleagues' target article "If I could just stop loving you: Anti-love biotechnology and the ethics of a chemical break-up". I argue that the authors may indulge in the vice of in-principlism when presenting their ethical framework for dealing with anti-love biotechnology, and that they mis-apply the concept of harm.
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  22. Stumbling on the Threshold: A Reply to Gwiazda on Threshold Obligations.John Danaher - 2012 - Religious Studies 48 (4):469-478.
    Bayne and Nagasawa have argued that the properties traditionally attributed to God provide an insufficient grounding for the obligation to worship God. They do so partly because the same properties, when possessed in lesser quantities by human beings, do not give rise to similar obligations. In a recent paper, Jeremy Gwiazda challenges this line of argument. He does so because it neglects the possible existence of a threshold obligation to worship, i.e. an obligation that only kicks in when the value (...)
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