In this stimulating work of political philosophy, acclaimed philosopher G. A. Cohen sets out to rescue the egalitarian thesis that in a society in which distributive justice prevails, peopleâes material prospects are roughly equal. Arguing against the Rawlsian version of a just society, Cohen demonstrates that distributive justice does not tolerate deep inequality. In the course of providing a deep and sophisticated critique of Rawlsâes theory of justice, Cohen demonstrates that questions of distributive justice arise not only for the state (...) but also for people in their daily lives. The right rules for the macro scale of public institutions and policies also apply, with suitable adjustments, to the micro level of individual decision-making. Cohen also charges Rawlsâes constructivism with systematically conflating the concept of justice with other concepts. Within the Rawlsian architectonic, justice is not distinguished either from other values or from optimal rules of social regulation. The elimination of those conflations brings justice closer to equality. (shrink)
The prefrontal cortex has long been suspected to play an important role in cognitive control, in the ability to orchestrate thought and action in accordance with internal goals. Its neural basis, however, has remained a mystery. Here, we propose that cognitive control stems from the active maintenance of patterns of activity in the prefrontal cortex that represent goals and the means to achieve them. They provide bias signals to other brain structures whose net effect is to guide the flow of (...) activity along neural pathways that establish the proper mappings between inputs, internal states, and outputs needed to perform a given task. We review neurophysiological, neurobiological, neuroimaging, and computational studies that support this theory and discuss its implications as well as further issues to be addressed. (shrink)
The dominant response to this problem of the criterion focuses on the alleged requirement that we need to know a belief source is reliable in order for us to acquire knowledge by that source. Let us call this requirement, “The KR principle”.
Here, we argue that any neurobiological theory based on an experience/function division cannot be empirically confirmed or falsified and is thus outside the scope of science. A ‘perfect experiment’ illustrates this point, highlighting the unbreachable boundaries of the scientific study of consciousness. We describe a more nuanced notion of cognitive access that captures personal experience without positing the existence of inaccessible conscious states. Finally, we discuss the criteria necessary for forming and testing a falsifiable theory of consciousness.
Color provides an instance of a general puzzle about how to reconcile the picture of the world given to us by our ordinary experience with the picture of the world given to us by our best theoretical accounts. The Red and the Real offers a new approach to such longstanding philosophical puzzles about what colors are and how they fit into nature. It is responsive to a broad range of constraints --- both the ordinary constraints of color experience and the (...) more theoretical constraints of color science, psychology, semantics, and ontology. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen was one of the most gifted, influential, and progressive voices in contemporary political philosophy. At the time of his death in 2009, he had plans to bring together a number of his most significant papers. This is the first of three volumes to realize those plans. Drawing on three decades of work, it contains previously uncollected articles that have shaped many of the central debates in political philosophy, as well as papers published here for the first time. (...) In these pieces, Cohen asks what egalitarians have most reason to equalize, he considers the relationship between freedom and property, and he reflects upon ideal theory and political practice. Included here are classic essays such as "Equality of What?" and "Capitalism, Freedom, and the Proletariat," along with more recent contributions such as "Fairness and Legitimacy in Justice," "Freedom and Money," and the previously unpublished "How to Do Political Philosophy." On ample display throughout are the clarity, rigor, conviction, and wit for which Cohen was renowned. Together, these essays demonstrate how his work provides a powerful account of liberty and equality to the left of Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, and Isaiah Berlin. (shrink)
One hypothesis concerning the human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is that it functions, in part, to signal the occurrence of conflicts in information processing, thereby triggering compensatory adjustments in cognitive control. Since this idea was first proposed, a great deal of relevant empirical evidence has accrued. This evidence has largely corroborated the conflict-monitoring hypothesis, and some very recent work has provided striking new support for the theory. At the same time, other findings have posed specific challenges, especially concerning the (...) way the theory addresses the processing of errors. Recent research has also begun to shed light on the larger function of the ACC, suggesting some new possibilities concerning how conflict monitoring might fit into the cingulate's overall role in cognition and action. (shrink)
Perhaps the most significant contemporary theory of lawhood is the Best System (/MRL) view on which laws are true generalizations that best systematize knowledge. Our question in this paper will be how best to formulate a theory of this kind. We’ll argue that an acceptable MRL should (i) avoid inter-system comparisons of simplicity, strength, and balance, (ii) make lawhood epistemically accessible, and (iii) allow for laws in the special sciences. Attention to these problems will bring into focus a useful menu (...) of novel MRL theories, some of which solve problems the original MRL theory could not. Hence we conceive of the paper as moving toward a better Best System theory of laws. (shrink)
Is socialism desirable? Is it even possible? In this concise book, one of the world's leading political philosophers presents with clarity and wit a compelling moral case for socialism and argues that the obstacles in its way are exaggerated. There are times, G. A. Cohen notes, when we all behave like socialists. On a camping trip, for example, campers wouldn't dream of charging each other to use a soccer ball or for fish that they happened to catch. Campers do not (...) give merely to get, but relate to each other in a spirit of equality and community. Would such socialist norms be desirable across society as a whole? Why not? Whole societies may differ from camping trips, but it is still attractive when people treat each other with the equal regard that such trips exhibit. But, however desirable it may be, many claim that socialism is impossible. Cohen writes that the biggest obstacle to socialism isn't, as often argued, intractable human selfishness--it's rather the lack of obvious means to harness the human generosity that is there. Lacking those means, we rely on the market. But there are many ways of confining the sway of the market: there are desirable changes that can move us toward a socialist society in which, to quote Albert Einstein, humanity has "overcome and advanced beyond the predatory stage of human development.". (shrink)
Many people, including many egalitarian political philosophers, professa belief in equality while enjoying high incomes of which they devotevery little to egalitarian purposes. The article critically examinesways of resolving the putative inconsistency in the stance of thesepeople, in particular, that favouring an egalitarian society has noimplications for behaviour in an unequal one; that what''s bad aboutinequality is a social division that philanthropy cannot reduce; thatprivate action cannot ensure that others have good lives; that privateaction can only achieve a ``drop in (...) the ocean''''; that private effortis not called for, since justice is a matter for the state to enforce;that private effort cannot remove the fundamental injustice, whichis inequality of power; and that private effort involves an unreasonablylarge psychological burden. (shrink)
Libertarian paternalism's notion of ?nudging? refers to steering individual decision making so as to make choosers better off without breaching their free choice. If successful, this may offer an ideal synthesis between the duty to respect patient autonomy and that of beneficence, which at times favors paternalistic influence. A growing body of literature attempts to assess the merits of nudging in health care. However, this literature deals almost exclusively with health policy, while the question of the potential benefit of nudging (...) for the practice of informed consent has escaped systematic analysis. This article focuses on this question. While it concedes that nudging could amount to improper exploitation of cognitive weaknesses, it defends the practice of nudging in a wide range of other conditions. The conclusion is that, when ethically legitimate, nudging offers an important new paradigm for informed consent, with a special potential to overcome the classical dilemma between paternalistic beneficence and respect for autonomy. (shrink)
Digital medicine is a medical treatment that combines technology with drug delivery. The promises of this combination are continuous and remote monitoring, better disease management, self-tracking, self-management of diseases, and improved treatment adherence. These devices pose ethical challenges for patients, providers, and the social practice of medicine. For patients, having both informed consent and a user agreement raises questions of understanding for autonomy and informed consent, therapeutic misconception, external influences on decision making, confidentiality and privacy, and device dependability. For providers, (...) digital medicine changes the relationship where trust can be verified, clinicians can be monitored, expectations must be managed, and new liability risks may be assumed. Other ethical questions include direct third-party monitoring of health treatment, affordability, and planning for adverse events in the case of device malfunction. This article seeks to lay out the ethical landscape for the implementation of such devices in patient care. (shrink)
In this incisive new book one of Britain's most eminent philosophers explores the often overlooked tension between voluntariness and involuntariness in human cognition. He seeks to counter the widespread tendency for analytic epistemology to be dominated by the concept of belief. Is scientific knowledge properly conceived as being embodied, at its best, in a passive feeling of belief or in an active policy of acceptance? Should a jury's verdict declare what its members involuntarily believe or what they voluntarily accept? And (...) should statements and assertions be presumed to express what their authors believe or what they accept? Does such a distinction between belief and acceptance help to resolve the paradoxes of self-deception and akrasia? Must people be taken to believe everything entailed by what they believe, or merely to accept everything entailed by what they accept? Through a systematic examination of these problems, the author sheds new light on issues of crucial importance in contemporary epistemology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science. (shrink)
The concept of acting intentionally is an important nexus where ‘theory of mind’ and moral judgment meet. Preschool children’s judgments of intentional action show a valence-driven asymmetry. Children say that a foreseen but disavowed side-effect is brought about 'on purpose' when the side-effect itself is morally bad but not when it is morally good. This is the first demonstration in preschoolers that moral judgment influences judgments of ‘on-purpose’ (as opposed to purpose influencing moral judgment). Judgments of intentional action are usually (...) assumed to be purely factual. That these judgments are sometimes partly normative — even in preschoolers — challenges current understanding. Young children’s judgments regarding foreseen side-effects depend upon whether the children process the idea that the character does not care about the side-effect. As soon as preschoolers effectively process the ‘theory of mind’ concept, NOT CARE THAT P, children show the side-effect effect.idea.. (shrink)
Are colors relational or non-relational properties of their bearers? Is red a property that is instantiated by all and only the objects with a certain intrinsic (/non-relational) nature? Or does an object with a particular intrinsic (/non-relational) nature count as red only in virtue of standing in certain relations - for example, only when it looks a certain way to a certain perceiver, or only in certain circumstances of observation? In this paper I shall argue for the view that color (...) properties are relational (henceforth, relationalism), and against the view that colors are not relational (henceforth, anti- or non-relationalism). (shrink)
The book was planned and written as a single, sustained argument. But earlier versions of a few parts of it have appeared separately. The object of this book is both to establish the existence of the paradoxes, and also to describe a non-Pascalian concept of probability in terms of which one can analyse the structure of forensic proof without giving rise to such typical signs of theoretical misfit. Neither the complementational principle for negation nor the multiplicative principle for conjunction applies (...) to the central core of any forensic proof in the Anglo-American legal system. There are four parts included in this book. Accordingly, these parts have been written in such a way that they may be read in different orders by different kinds of reader. (shrink)
Although ethics consultation is offered as a clinical service in most hospitals in the United States, few valid and practical tools are available to evaluate, ensure, and improve ethics consultation quality. The quality of ethics consultation is important because poor quality ethics consultation can result in ethically inappropriate outcomes for patients, other stakeholders, or the health care system. To promote accountability for the quality of ethics consultation, we developed the Ethics Consultation Quality Assessment Tool. ECQAT enables raters to assess the (...) quality of ethics consultations based on the written record. Through rigorous development and preliminary testing, we identified key elements of a quality ethics consultation, established scoring criteria, developed training guidelines, and designed a holistic assessment process. This article describes the development of the ECQAT,.. (shrink)
The present study aimed to develop effective moral educational interventions based on social psychology by using stories of moral exemplars. We tested whether motivation to engage in voluntary service as a form of moral behavior was better promoted by attainable and relevant exemplars or by unattainable and irrelevant exemplars. First, experiment 1, conducted in a lab, showed that stories of attainable exemplars more effectively promoted voluntary service activity engagement among undergraduate students compared with stories of unattainable exemplars and non-moral stories. (...) Second, experiment 2, a middle school classroom-level experiment with a quasi-experimental design, demonstrated that peer exemplars, who are perceived to be attainable and relevant to students, better promoted service engagement compared with historic figures in moral education classes. (shrink)
Many feminists (e.g. T. Bettcher and B. R. George) argue for a principle of first person authority (FPA) about gender, i.e. that we should (at least) not disavow people's gender self-categorisations. However, there is a feminist tradition resistant to FPA about gender, which I call "radical feminism”. Feminists in this tradition define gender-categories via biological sex, thus denying non-binary and trans self-identifications. Using a taxonomy by B. R. George, I begin to demystify the concept of gender. We are also able (...) to use the taxonomy to model various feminist approaches. It becomes easier to see how conceptualisations ofgender which allow for FPA often do not allow for understanding female subjugation as being rooted in reproductive biology. I put forward a conceptual scheme: radical FPA feminism. If we accept FPA, but also radical feminist concerns, radical FPA feminism is an attractive way of conceptualising gender. (shrink)
Prof. Cohen and I answer six questions: (1) Why do we lock people up? (2) How can involuntary civil commitment be reconciled with people's constitutional right to liberty? (3) Why don't we treat homicide as a public health threat? (4) What is the difference between legal and medical approaches to mental illness? (5) Why is mental illness required for involuntary commitment? (6) Where are we in our efforts to understand the causes of mental illness?
Molyneux asked whether a newly sighted person could distinguish a sphere from a cube by sight alone, given that she was antecedently able to do so by touch. This, we contend, is a question about general ideas. To answer it, we must ask (a) whether spatial locations identified by touch can be identified also by sight, and (b) whether the integration of spatial locations into an idea of shape persists through changes of modality. Posed this way, Molyneux’s Question goes substantially (...) beyond question (a), about spatial locations, alone; for a positive answer to (a) leaves open whether a perceiver might cross-identify locations, but not be able to identify the shapes that collections of locations comprise. We further emphasize that MQ targets general ideas so as to distinguish it from corresponding questions about experiences of shape and about the property of tangible (vs. visual) shape. After proposing a generalized formulation of MQ, we extend earlier work (“Many Molyneux Questions,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 2020) by showing that MQ does not admit a single answer across the board. Some integrative data-processes transfer across modalities; others do not. Seeing where and how such transfer succeeds and fails in individual cases has much to offer to our understanding of perception and its modalities. (shrink)
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We propose that scientific representation is a special case of a more general notion of representation, and that the relatively well worked-out and plausible theories of the latter are directly applicable to thc scientific special case. Construing scientific representation in this way makes the so-called “problem of scientific representation” look much less interesting than it has seerned to many, and suggests that some of the debates in the literature are concerned with non-issues.
This study investigates the differences in individuals'' ethical decision making between Canadian university business students and accounting professionals. We examine the differences in three measures known to be important in the ethical decision-making process: ethical awareness, ethical orientation, and intention to perform questionable acts. We tested for differences in these three measures in eight different questionable actions among three groups: students starting business studies, those in their final year of university, and professional accountants.The measures of awareness capture the extent to (...) which respondents felt that a particular action was unethical according to each of several ethical criteria. We found few differences between the two student groups on these measures, suggesting that their education had minimal effect on raising their awareness of the ethical issues in the vignettes. Indeed, overall, the graduating student''s scores were marginally lower than those of the entry-level students. However, the professionals viewed some actions as significantly less ethical than did the graduating students. (shrink)
Although our subjective impression is of a richly detailed visual world, numerous empirical results suggest that the amount of visual information observers can perceive and remember at any given moment is limited. How can our subjective impressions be reconciled with these objective observations? Here, we answer this question by arguing that, although we see more than the handful of objects, claimed by prominent models of visual attention and working memory, we still see far less than we think we do. Taken (...) together, we argue that these considerations resolve the apparent conflict between our subjective impressions and empirical data on visual capacity, while also illuminating the nature of the representations underlying perceptual experience. (shrink)