Waiting time is widely used in health and social policy to make resource allocation decisions, yet no general account of the moral significance of waiting time exists. We provide such an account. We argue that waiting time is not intrinsically morally significant, and that the first person in a queue for a resource does not ipso facto have a right to receive that resource first. However, waiting time can and sometimes should play a role in justifying allocation decisions. First, there (...) is a duty of fairness prohibiting line-cutting where a sufficiently just queue exists. Second, waiting time has several morally attractive features that can justify its incorporation into allocation schemes. Where candidates are in relevantly similar circumstances, allocating by waiting time is relatively efficient, maximizes distribution equality relative to other Pareto efficient distributions, and treats candidates fairly. The claim that allocation using waiting time is fair is controversial. Some have claimed that formal lotteries are a fairer way to select among equal beneficiaries. We argue that lotteries are no fairer than allocation based on waiting time when it is equiprobable how a prospective queue will be ordered. In practice, lotteries share many of the disadvantages of queues; which is fairer will depend on contingent features of the allocation scenario. The upshot is that first-come, first-served is in fact a just way to allocate resources in many of the cases where it seems pre-theoretically compelling, and waiting time has unique normative properties which frequently justify its incorporation into resource allocation schemes. (shrink)
One widely used method for allocating health care resources involves the use of cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) to rank treatments in terms of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained. CEA has been criticized for discriminating against people with disabilities by valuing their lives less than those of non-disabled people. Avoiding discrimination seems to lead to the ’QALY trap’: we cannot value saving lives equally and still value raising quality of life. This paper reviews existing responses to the QALY trap and argues that all (...) are problematic. Instead, we argue that adopting a moderate form of prioritarianism avoids the QALY trap and disability discrimination. (shrink)
We begin with a puzzle: why do some know-how attributions entail ability attributions while others do not? After rejecting the tempting response that know-how attributions are ambiguous, we argue that a satisfactory answer to the puzzle must acknowledge the connection between know-how and concept possession (specifically, reasonable conceptual mastery, or understanding). This connection appears at first to be grounded solely in the cognitive nature of certain activities. However, we show that, contra anti-intellectualists, the connection between know-how and concept possession can (...) be generalized via reflection on the cognitive nature of intentional action and the potential of certain misunderstandings to undermine know-how even when the corresponding abilities and associated propositional knowledge are in place. Such considerations make explicit the intimate relation between know-how and understanding, motivating a general intellectualist analysis of the former in terms of the latter. (shrink)
Rape and sexual assault are major problems. In the majority of sexual assault cases consent is the central issue. Consent is, to borrow a phrase, the ‘moral magic’ that converts an impermissible act into a permissible one. In recent years, a handful of companies have tried to launch consent apps which aim to educate young people about the nature of sexual consent and allow them to record signals of consent for future verification. Although ostensibly aimed at addressing the problems of (...) rape and sexual assault on university campuses, these apps have attracted a number of critics. In this paper, I subject the phenomenon of consent apps to philosophical scrutiny. I argue that the consent apps that have been launched to date are unhelpful because they fail to address the landscape of ethical and epistemic problems that arise in the typical rape or sexual assault case: they produce distorted and decontextualised records of consent which may in turn exacerbate the other problems associated with rape and sexual assault. Furthermore, because of the tradeoffs involved, it is unlikely that app-based technologies could ever be created that would significantly address the problems of rape and sexual assault. (shrink)
Beyond reasonable doubt, the influence of Western culture and civilizations has enervated traditional African family systems, and their functions as providers of social welfare. Hitherto, traditional African family and clan by extension served as the plausible medium by which Africans proffered solutions to those social, economic and other existential problems found within their communities. However, measuring and evaluating the successes of the various social welfare programs organized by the family and clan was a difficult task to achieve. It seems the (...) services rendered merely controlled the social problems but did not improve the standard of living of the victims. This paper seeks to critically analyse the traditional African family system and its role as a provider of social welfare and argues that it can complement the Western models towards holistic social integration. Thus this work adopts the theory of change as a tool for understanding how Western models of social welfare should be integrated with traditional African approaches to care for the ‘weak’ in the society. Advocating for a paradigm shift from the modern models of providing social welfare to the traditional African family and clan model is consequent upon the claim that the latter is more embracing in approach. (shrink)
This article summarizes a variety of current as well as previous research in support of a new theory of consciousness. Evidence has been steadily accumulating that information about a stimulus complex is distributed to many neuronal populations dispersed throughout the brain and is represented by the departure from randomness of the temporal pattern of neural discharges within these large ensembles. Zero phase lag synchronization occurs between discharges of neurons in different brain regions and is enhanced by presentation of stimuli. This (...) evidence further suggests that spatiotemporal patterns of coherence, which have been identified by spatial principal component analysis, may encode a multidimensional representation of a present or past event. How such distributed information is integrated into a holistic percept constitutes the binding problem. How a percept defined by a spatial distribution of nonrandomness can be subjectively experienced constitutes the problem of consciousness. Explanations based on a discrete connectionistic network cannot be reconciled with the relevant facts. Evidence is presented herein of invariant features of brain electrical activity found to change reversibly with loss and return of consciousness in a study of 176 patients anesthetized during surgical procedures. A review of relevant research areas, as well as the anesthesia data, leads to a postulation that consciousness is a property of quantumlike processes, within a brain field resonating within a core of structures, which may be the neural substrate of consciousness. This core includes regions of the prefrontal cortex, the frontal cortex, the pre- and paracentral cortex, thalamus, limbic system, and basal ganglia. (shrink)
We have synthesized a 582,970-base pair Mycoplasma genitalium genome. This synthetic genome, named M. genitalium JCVI-1.0, contains all the genes of wild-type M. genitalium G37 except MG408, which was disrupted by an antibiotic marker to block pathogenicity and to allow for selection. To identify the genome as synthetic, we inserted "watermarks" at intergenic sites known to tolerate transposon insertions. Overlapping "cassettes" of 5 to 7 kilobases (kb), assembled from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, were joined by in vitro recombination to produce intermediate (...) assemblies of approximately 24 kb, 72 kb ("1/8 genome"), and 144 kb ("1/4 genome"), which were all cloned as bacterial artificial chromosomes in Escherichia coli. Most of these intermediate clones were sequenced, and clones of all four 1/4 genomes with the correct sequence were identified. The complete synthetic genome was assembled by transformation-associated recombination cloning in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, then isolated and sequenced. A clone with the correct sequence was identified. The methods described here will be generally useful for constructing large DNA molecules from chemically synthesized pieces and also from combinations of natural and synthetic DNA segments. 10.1126/science.1151721. (shrink)
In recent years, the argument from inductive risk against value free science has enjoyed a revival. This paper investigates and clarifies this argument through means of a case-study: neonicitinoid research. Sect. 1 argues that the argument from inductive risk is best conceptualised as a claim about scientists’ communicative obligations. Sect. 2 then shows why this argument is inapplicable to “public communication”. Sect. 3 outlines non-epistemic reasons why non-epistemic values should not play a role in public communicative contexts. Sect. 4 analyses (...) the implications of these arguments both for the specific case of neonicitinoid research and for understanding the limits of the argument from inductive risk. Sect. 5 sketches the broader implications of my claims for understanding the “Value Free Ideal” for science. (shrink)
This paper engages with two compelling challenges to physicalism, each designed to show that the nature of experience is elusive from the standpoint of physical science. It is argued that the physicalist is ultimately well placed to meet both challenges.
In this brief, we argue that there is a diversity of ways in which humans (Homo sapiens) are ‘persons’ and there are no non-arbitrary conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can include all humans and exclude all nonhuman animals. To do so we describe and assess the four most prominent conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can be found in the rulings concerning Kiko and Tommy, with particular focus on the most recent decision, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc v Lavery.
This paper defends “Animal Universalism,” the thesis that all sentient non-human animals will be brought into Heaven and remain there for eternity. It assumes that God exists and is all-powerful, perfectly loving, and perfectly just. From these background theses, the authors argue that Animal Universalism follows. If God is perfectly loving, then God is concerned about the well-being of non-human animals, and God chooses to maximize the well-being of each individual animal when doing so does not harm other individual creatures (...) or violate creaturely freedom. If God is perfectly just, then God does not arbitrarily discriminate against non-human animals by offering humans an opportunity to enter Heaven but not offering the same to each animal. Each of these conclusions implies Animal Universalism. (shrink)
Using the controversy over the MMR vaccine, I consider the reasons why non-experts should defer to experts, and I sketch a model for understanding cases where they fail to defer. I first suggest that an intuitively plausible model of the expert/non-expert relationship is complicated by shifting epistemic standards. One possible moderate response to this challenge, based on a more complex notion of non-experts' relationship with experts, seems unappealing as an account of the MMR controversy. A more radical suggestion is that (...) non-experts might have a political reason to defer to experts, when not doing so will involve ‘epistemological free-riding’. I investigate the implications. (shrink)
David Lewis has recently deployed a contextualist strategy for defending ordinary claims to know.1 In this paper, I wish to extend that strategy to ordinary claims about freedom.2 The result is a species of compatibilism that, while foreign to current debates, has a good deal going for it.
In a recent paper, Gregor Betz has defended the value-free ideal: “the justification of scientific findings should not be based on non-epistemic values”against the methodological critique, by reference to the work of the International Panel on Climate Change . This paper argues that Betz’s defence is unsuccessful. First, Betz’s argument is sketched, and it is shown that the IPCC does not avoid the need to “translate” claims. In Section 2, it is argued that Betz mischaracterises the force of the methodological (...) critique. Section 3 shows why the methodological critique still applies to the work of the IPCC even on a refined version of Betz’s argument. Section 4 then considers an alternative way of defending the work of the IPCC which is in-line with, but does not clearly vindicate, the value-free ideal. (shrink)
Geoffrey Rose’s prevention paradox points to a tension between two prima facie plausible moral principles: that we should save the greater number and that weshould save the most at risk. This paper argues that a novel moral theory, ex-ante contractualism, captures our intuitions in many prevention paradox cases, regardless of our interpretation of probability claims. However, it goes on to show that it might be impossible to square ex-ante contractualism with all of our moral intuitions. It concludes that even if (...) ex-ante contractualism cannot furnish an entire ethics of risk, it does identify important considerations for any such theory. (shrink)
Continuous recordings of brain electrical activity were obtained from a group of 176 patients throughout surgical procedures using general anesthesia. Artifact-free data from the 19 electrodes of the International 10/20 System were subjected to quantitative analysis of the electroencephalogram (QEEG). Induction was variously accomplished with etomidate, propofol or thiopental. Anesthesia was maintained throughout the procedures by isoflurane, desflurane or sevoflurane (N = 68), total intravenous anesthesia using propofol (N = 49), or nitrous oxide plus narcotics (N = 59). A set (...) of QEEG measures were found which reversibly displayed high heterogeneity of variance between four states as follows: (1) during induction; (2) just after loss of consciousness (LOC); (3) just before return of consciousness (ROC); (4) just after ROC. Homogeneity of variance across all agents within states was found. Topographic statistical probability images were compared between states. At LOC, power increased in all frequency bands in the power spectrum with the exception of a decrease in gamma activity, and there was a marked anteriorization of power. Additionally, a significant change occurred in hemispheric relationships, with prefrontal and frontal regions of each hemisphere becoming more closely coupled, and anterior and posterior regions on each hemisphere, as well as homologous regions between the two hemispheres, uncoupling. All of these changes reversed upon ROC. Variable resolution electromagnetic tomography (VARETA) was performed to localize salient features of power anteriorization in three dimensions. A common set of neuroanatomical regions appeared to be the locus of the most probable generators of the observed EEG changes. (shrink)
In the first part of the paper, three objections to the precautionary principle are outlined: the principle requires some account of how to balance risks of significant harms; the principle focuses on action and ignores the costs of inaction; and the principle threatens epistemic anarchy. I argue that these objections may overlook two distinctive features of precautionary thought: a suspicion of the value of “full scientific certainty”; and a desire to distinguish environmental doings from allowings. In Section 2, I argue (...) that any simple distinction between environmental doings and allowings is untenable. However, I argue that the appeal of such a distinction can be captured within a relational account of environmental equity. In Section 3 I show how the proposed account of environmental justice can generate a justification for distinctively “precautionary” policy-making. (shrink)
In three experiments we studied lay observers’ attributions of responsibility for an antisocial act (homicide). We systematically varied both the degree to which the action was coerced by external circumstances and the degree to which the actor endorsed and accepted ownership of the act, a psychological state that philosophers have termed ‘identiﬁcation’. Our ﬁndings with respect to identiﬁcation were highly consistent. The more an actor was identiﬁed with an action, the more likely observers were to assign responsibility to the actor, (...) even when the action was performed under constraints so powerful that no other behavioral option was available. Our ﬁndings indicate that social cognition involving assignment of responsibility for an action is a more complex process than previous research has indicated. It would appear that laypersons’ judgments of moral responsibility may, in some circumstances, accord with philosophical views in which freedom and determinism are regarded to be compatible. (shrink)
In this article I ask two questions prompted by the phenomenon of ‘politically patterned’ climate change denial. First, can an individual's political commitments provide her with good reasons not to defer to cognitive experts’ testimony? Building on work in philosophy of science on inductive risk, I argue they can. Second, can an individual's political commitments provide her with good reasons not to defer to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's testimony? I argue that they cannot, because of the high epistemic (...) standards which govern that body's assertions. The conclusion discusses the theoretical and practical implications of my arguments. (shrink)
In December 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in the New York State Supreme Court on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee living alone in a cage in a shed in rural New York (Barlow, 2017). Under animal welfare laws, Tommy’s owners, the Laverys, were doing nothing illegal by keeping him in those conditions. Nonetheless, the NhRP argued that given the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities of chimpanzees, Tommy’s confinement constituted (...) a profound wrong that demanded remedy by the courts. Soon thereafter, the NhRP filed habeas corpus petitions on behalf of Kiko, another chimpanzee housed alone in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees held in research facilities at Stony Brook University. Thus began the legal struggle to move these chimpanzees from captivity to a sanctuary, an effort that has led the NhRP to argue in multiple courts before multiple judges. The central point of contention has been whether Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo have legal rights. To date, no judge has been willing to issue a writ of habeas corpus on their behalf. Such a ruling would mean that these chimpanzees have rights that confinement might violate. Instead, the judges have argued that chimpanzees cannot be bearers of legal rights because they are not, and cannot be persons. In this book we argue that chimpanzees are persons because they are autonomous. (shrink)
Interoperability across data sets is a key challenge for quantitative histopathological imaging. There is a need for an ontology that can support effective merging of pathological image data with associated clinical and demographic data. To foster organized, cross-disciplinary, information-driven collaborations in the pathological imaging field, we propose to develop an ontology to represent imaging data and methods used in pathological imaging and analysis, and call it Quantitative Histopathological Imaging Ontology – QHIO. We apply QHIO to breast cancer hot-spot detection with (...) the goal of enhancing reliability of detection by promoting the sharing of data between image analysts. (shrink)
This paper reports on an ongoing ARC Discovery Project that is conducting design research into learning in collaborative virtual worlds (CVW).The paper will describe three design components of the project: (a) pedagogical design, (b)technical and graphics design, and (c) learning research design. The perspectives of each design team will be discussed and how the three teams worked together to produce the CVW. The development of productive failure learning activities for the CVW will be discussed and there will be an interactive (...) demonstration of the project's CVW. (shrink)
The backlash against the Olympic Games reflects the failure of the major global institutions in dealing with the social and ethical consequences of globalisation in areas such as the environment, poverty, terrorism and natural disasters. Disillusionment with the Olympic Games mirrors the disenchantment with the perceived values of globalisation, including winning at any price, commercial exploitation by MNCs, intense national rivalry, cronyism, cheating and corruption and the competitive advantage of advanced nations. How could the Olympic Movement reverse this perception? The (...) most important change would be in the area of leadership. Revitalising the Olympic spirit will require a revolution at the IOC. Character, credibility and communication will be the critical success factors. Before appointing the next President of the IOC, there is an exciting opportunity to reconceptualise the Games as a platform for building a framework of global values to counter-balance the naked economic priorities currently dictating the pattern of globalisation. In reinventing the Olympic Games, it is important to recognise that the modern Games are based upon an anachronism. The idea that amateur sport is both the key to individual moral development and world harmony is largely an invention of the British aristocracy, whereas the original Greek Games not only celebrated the classical ideal of `a sound mind in a sound body', but also involved professional athletes and commercial activity. In making the Olympic Charter relevant to the 21st century, and in making the Olympics more than just a speculator sporting event, there is a strong case for the Games to include a wider spectrum of activities, including arts programs and policy forums, which address the well-being of all humanity in a competitive global economy. (shrink)
This study examines the use of a video news release in a specific story. Press coverage and editorial criticism in the case showed that journalists do not articulate sufficiently how the news owners' sway, through institutional controls, can lead to a hegemony of expedient action in the newsroom. Critical self-reflection by news workers will better enable journalists to ethically deliberate news choices that balance their responsibilities to owners, peers, and the public.