Applied ethics as singular or plural? Disciplinary Pluralism and the Centrality of Science in the new Horizons of Bioethics The accelerated scientific and technological advancements of the 20th and 21st centuries have, on the one hand, created a gap between Sapiens’ technical abilities and its moral psychology. On the other, it has offered our species unprecedented possibilities for hybridisation with the world outside. The need for a well-structured reflection on the ethical-philosophical aspects of the new scenarios was the driving force (...) behind the transformation of Ethics. Toulmin, in a 1982 paper How medicine saved the life of Ethics, emphasised the key role that medicine played in giving new life to ethics and stimulating the birth of Bioethics, a kind of Applied Ethics at the center of a vast debate. In fact, to take up Toulmin’s expression and, in some ways, revive it, not only medicine, but the sciences of the biosciences as a whole, engineering in its various forms, information technology right up to the leading sectors of artificial intelligence and synthetic biology have fostered the emergence of new areas of reflection and the multiplication of applied ethics. Each area of applied ethics somehow claims its own autonomy, in terms of the elaboration of specific analytical tools, distinctive problems and specific skills that a scholar within that area should exhibit. Nonetheless, it is also clear that the common denominator between the various fields and the connecting elements that emerge in the differences and beyond them should not be overlooked. Faced with these scenarios, there are two main themes that the present Issue intends to focus on.1) To try to answer the question of whether disciplinary autonomy and pluralism in relation to Applied Ethics are the regulatory ideal to which we should adhere or rather (at least in some cases) an obstacle that prevents us from finding a more general framework for sectors of ethical reflection that often present points of contact and interconnected problems that it would be more effective to address by overcoming the hyper-specialisation that today seems to be the ultimate destiny (even) of the philosophical disciplines; 2) starting from the observation that in applied ethics the object of enquiry cannot be a mere Gegenstand (something that is in front of) but an active part of the process of reflection, a further question to be examined will be: what space in an ethics of science must scientific knowledge of reference occupy, in order to avoid making it the mere object of an external reflection? (shrink)
Ethical Reflections from the bioethical Implications of the Ongoing technological Revolution Bioethics, as applied ethics that reason about the interconnections between the biological and technical dimensions of the human, cannot but evolve extremely rapidly. The constant innovations coming, for example, from the field of artificial intelligence or from the manipulation of the genome, cannot but constantly question the human form of life. In this interview, Rossella Bonito Oliva, a moral philosopher, discusses the complex issues of the unthought and artificial intelligence, (...) genome manipulation and the very latest innovation concerning the “production” of a “synthetic human embryon”, highlighting what she calls “the increasingly widespread disinterest in the 'human' form of life”. (shrink)
Applied Ethics as “the New Ethics”. Toward a new Transformation of the Role of moral Philosopher as a “Moral Expert” This paper argues that applied ethics represents the new ethics. The first part reconstructs the origin of this new way of doing ethics, examining the theses of Parfit and Toulmin. Parfit argues that ethics is a recent discipline, distinct from religion, while Toulmin asserts that concrete problems have prompted philosophers to take up applied ethics. Subsequently, three levels of applied ethics (...) are identified: philosophical, political, and case ethics. However, it is emphasized that applied case ethics has yet to overcome certain prejudices. It is argued that philosophers should participate in case discussions due to their formal expertise. In the secularised and technologically advanced context, philosophy can offer practical solutions to contemporary problems, entering public debates and people’s lives. The philosopher is the ideal interlocutor to discuss contemporary values, adopting a secular and pluralist approach. (shrink)
Epistemology and Metaphysic in Darwin’s Theory of sexual Selection The theory of evolution by natural selection appeared for the first time in 1859 and, despite the initial opposition of some scientists and Churches, in a few years it established itself throughout Europe. Darwin's recognized prestige did not prevent him from criticism and open aversion when in 1871 he published The Descent of Man, a book in which he expounded the theory of sexual selection, which was contested and forgotten for over (...) a century. Its rediscovery occurred when there was a change in epistemological paradigms, also under the influence of different social situations. (shrink)
Artificial Intelligence, democracy and humanistic values The article examines various aspects of the technological turn brought about by artificial intelligence from the perspective of the goals that inspire humanistic and democratic ideals. The new technologies directly effect the humanistic ideal that represents individuals as progressive beings whose self realization requires mutual education (J.S. Mill). Cognitive technologies offer extraordinary tools that advance research and intervention capabilities, but the way in which they are spreading also shows their potential for levelling and the (...) tendency towards passivity. Education is a crucial key notion that needs to be introduced into the discussion. (shrink)
The Next Prison Cell: Five Figures Of The Time To Come This contribution takes the famous Prisoner's Dilemma as its starting point in order to think about generational responsibility to futures not yet present. The cell next door, a figure of otherness, is brought back to a temporal figure, defined as the unthought par excellence of the market economy. The movement to move from a thought of spatiality to a reflection on time, thus on duration and sustainability, is articulated in (...) five moments (Marinetti's Manifesto, the Deleuzian reading of Nietzsche, Bergsonian indications of method, Musil's doubts, the action of Pussy Riot), whose role is to guide through the three syntheses of time. In order to move from the total war promoted by futurism to the need to build social horizons capable of duration (cfr. Braidotti, 2017), it is indeed necessary to move from the capitalist paradigm of accumulation to ethical thought, whose field of pertinence does not lay on a spatial perimeter, but is actually time. Only within this field in fact will the concept of vulnerability no longer lead to the paralysis of action, but rather to a thought of sustainability. (shrink)
Aristotle's Material Reductionist Account of History of Philosophy In his account of the flux of ideas, Aristotle searches the models of his predecessors to find an alternative cause for this; and he finds none. Indeed, no answer is given either by himself or by them as to why nature conforms to order or to no order at all. For this reason Aristotle’s bewildering multi‐variety of causes‐essences is not realisable unless this variety refers to an ideal of unity beyond it. The (...) order, however, that accounts for this unity is beyond understanding in Aristotle. All that man can do is to dedicate himself to the futile pursuit of an ideal of unity. The pre‐Aristotelian philosophers and Aristotle himself resort to the language of myth to make an uneasy compromise between what we can do and what we cannot do regarding this realisation. This attribute of non‐realism is best ascribed to him by Thomas Aquinas; whereas Demetrius Cydones’ (1324‐1398) hellenised output of Aquinas’ Summa Theologica stresses a material reductionist strain as due to Aristotle’s limited understanding of this flux. To this end the functions of ratios and causal principles, once defined by his predecessors and by himself as well, are real because they are the only possible ones. However, any general statement about reality of the form “all is x” – where x is the pre‐Aristotelian idea of water, air, intelligence, love and strife, etc. – has been the result of confusion. We enmesh Truth with the above‐mentioned principles. However exclusive, necessary and sufficient these principles may be, they cannot give us irrefutable propositions regarding the idea of Truth about Reality. (shrink)
Creative Ethics. From the Dissent of Science to Anthropo_Ethical Pluralism The techno-scientific accelerations have forced moral philosophy out of a certain self-referentiality and to face concrete problems concerning the life of men. Some factual questions of a bioethical nature (think of the redefinition of life or death) have required as many concrete solutions as possible. These solutions, of course, had to be guided and guided by general principles. And the general principles, in turn, had to be applied in various situations. (...) On the one hand, the general ethics with its principles and on the other, the applied ethics called to face the dilemmas emerging from the technological advance. Beyond the methodological criticalities deriving from the application of the general principles in specific situations and fields, the "general" ethics remains the sub-stale (the substance) of the applied variants, avoiding that the latter is increasingly directed at endorsing the prevailing model of liberalism, which in practice moves along the line of authorisation of all that is chosen autonomously and consciously, with the only limitation dictated by the possibility of insult and fraud. (shrink)
Death in the Light of Vital Tension. Narratives And Responsibility Death narratives are always within our thoughts, even if this is not always highlighted. Whichever way you look at it, death remains an unsolved question, and the main objective of this work is to reflect on the importance of caring, through the tool of narrative captured in a balanced way. Death will always remain a mystery, but our approach to its idea pursues the goal of respectful adaptation to the irregular (...) and jagged edges of its profound essence. This brief survey consists of two parts: in the first, more substantial part, we will attempt to expose the way in which the question of death is thought of in certain cultural contexts; in the second, on the other hand, as a brief systematic conclusion, we would like to briefly highlight the vital tension present in the different narratives of death, with the perspective of an ethical approach in order to indicate the principle of responsibility as the privileged way to fully live the time of choices. Responsibility cannot be interpreted as a hermetic stopper over the black hole of non-sense, but rather as the way towards the production of a concrete reason, not as a projection of illusions, but as a reflection on each person’s history. (shrink)
Bioethics at the Time of Artificial Intelligence Against the backdrop of the bioethical question and artificial intelligence, this paper aims to reconstruct the question starting from the ethical-political and social issues that span the twentieth century to reach our days in a way that, in the eye of the philosopher, can only be even more critical and problematic.
Bioethics and the Ethics of Extinction This article explores the idea of rethinking bioethics in terms of an Ethics of extinction. After showing the centrality to contemporary ethical debates of extinction, the article shows how bioethics was the first broad disciplinary reflection on the ethical consequences of human actions potentially bringing about extinction. In particular, it will focus on a widely debated issue in bioethics related to our inability as individuals and as a collectivity to deal with current existential risks.
An Evolving Theory: The Work of Erasmus Darwin Between Lamarckism and Darwinism The work of the English physician, botanist and poet Erasmus Darwin has repeatedly described as anticipating both Lamarckism and Darwinism. The present analysis is aimed to the analysis of the true contribution of E. Darwin, in order to appreciate its value independently of what has been included in subsequent theories.
The Future of Bioethics between current Scenarios and new Horizons Bioethics is a complex discipline whose contributions have marked a fundamental part of the philosophical and moral debate of the second half of the 20th century and early 2000s. Adriano Pessina, one of the protagonists of this debate, offers his analysis to shed light on some of these aspects and to reflect on the transformations taking place. The contribution examines issues such as the role of ethics committees, the relationship between (...) bioethics understood as biomedical ethics and global bioethics, and whether it is possible to develop a universalist ethical model. (shrink)
Simulation loves to hide. Virtual reality between Jean Baudrillard and David Chalmers This essay faces the question of simulation from two different perspectives. The first one is linked to the concept of Hyper-reality conceived by Jean Baudrillard, the second one is elaborated through the concept of Reality+ proposed by David Chalmers. This two concepts can be used to investigate the existenzial phase shift generated by Virtual Reality. The latter, as a risult of the ontological refondation between anthropos and the world, (...) echoes the fondative issue of Western civilitation, materialized in the seamless circuit between artificium and reality. Nowadays, this circuit repeats the ancestral question of anthropos in a new way: how can Homo Sapiens reshapes its narrations within the Virtual Reality? (shrink)
This article explores the potential of Bernard Lonergan’s philosophy of subjectivity as objectivity as a grounding for value sensitive design (VSD) and the design turn in applied ethics. The rapid pace of scientific and technological advancement has created a gap between technical abilities and our moral assessments of those abilities, calling for a reflection on the philosophical tools we have for applying ethics. In particular, applied ethics often presents interconnected problems that require a more general framework for ethical reflection. Lonergan’s (...) philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of selfunderstanding and self‐transcendence in achieving objectivity, can provide a valuable perspective on VSD and the design turn in applied ethics. The article examines how Lonergan’s philosophy can be applied to VSD and the design turn, and how scientific knowledge can be integrated into an ethics of science without reducing it to an external reflection. By adopting Lonergan’s perspective, we can address the ethical challenges arising from scientific and technological advancements while promoting a more holistic approach to applied ethics. (shrink)