Coleman's rational choice theory introduces the idea of a "social optimum" into sociological theory. This idea of conceiving best outcomes is central to the project of reasoned progress and is an important tonic against the postmodern doubt. The utility maximization approach is inadequate, however, because it is locked into an analysis of social structures. As a result it cannot conceptualize common standards, which are essential to best outcomes. These are treated adequately only within a cultural analysis. Welfare economics has dealt (...) with this problem of best outcomes for a long time. Its history with the problem verifies the insuperable difficulties in a conception of action as utility maximization. When Coleman generalizes that approach, he manages only to reduce standards to power. This is inadequate. Some implications of conceiving common standards as culture are discussed. (shrink)
This article describes a model of DNA banking that incorporates appropriate consumer influence on the design and use of DNA data banks. This model values input of consumer stakeholders in key decisions, including contracts between donors, researchers and the bank.
No consensus yet exists on how to handle incidental fnd-ings in human subjects research. Yet empirical studies document IFs in a wide range of research studies, where IFs are fndings beyond the aims of the study that are of potential health or reproductive importance to the individual research participant. This paper reports recommendations of a two-year project group funded by NIH to study how to manage IFs in genetic and genomic research, as well as imaging research. We conclude that researchers (...) have an obligation to address the possibility of discovering IFs in their protocol and communications with the IRB, and in their consent forms and communications with research participants. Researchers should establish a pathway for handling IFs and communicate that to the IRB and research participants. We recommend a pathway and categorize IFs into those that must be disclosed to research participants, those that may be disclosed, and those that should not be disclosed. (shrink)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer earned critical acclaim for its use of metaphor to explore the conflicts of growth, power, and transgression. Its groundbreaking stylistic and thematic devices, boldness and wit earned it an intensely devoted fan base—and as it approached its zenith, attention from media watchdog groups and the Federal Communications Commission. The grim and provocative evolution of the show over its final two seasons polarized its audience, while also breaking new ground for critical and philosophical analysis. The thirteen essays (...) in this collection, divided into the perspectives of feminist, cultural, auteur and fan studies, explore the popular series’ conclusion, providing a multifaceted examination of Buffy’s most controversial two seasons. Lynne Y. Edwards is associate professor of media and communication studies at Ursinus College. Elizabeth L. Rambo is associate professor of English at Campbell University. James B. South is associate professor of English at Campbell University. James B. South is associate professor and chair of the philosophy department at Marquette University. (shrink)
Aim: Patients with advanced cancer need information about end-of-life treatment options in order to make informed decisions. Clinicians vary in the frequency with which they initiate these discussions.Patients and methods: As part of a long-term longitudinal study, patients with an expected 2-year survival of less than 50% who had advanced gastrointestinal or lung cancer or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were interviewed. Each patient’s medical record was reviewed at enrollment and at 3 months for evidence of the discussion of patient wishes concerning (...) ventilator support, artificial nutrition and hydration , resuscitation and hospice care. A Kaplan–Meier analysis was also performed and 2-year survival calculated.Results: 60 cancer and 32 ALS patients were enrolled. ALS patients were more likely than cancer patients to have evidence of discussion about their wishes for ventilator support , ANH , DNR and hospice care . At 6 months, 91% of ALS patients were alive compared with 62% of cancer patients; at 2 years, 63% of ALS patients were alive compared with 23% of cancer patients .Conclusions: Cancer patients were less likely than ALS patients to have had documented advanced care planning discussions despite worse survival. This may reflect perceptions that ALS has a more predictable course, that advanced cancer has a greater number of treatment options, or differing views about hope. Nevertheless, cancer patients may be less adequately prepared for end-of-life decision-making. (shrink)
In his review of my book, Terry Godlove raises some robust objections to the exegesis of Kant that I present in my recent book, Kant and the Creation of Freedom: a Theological Problem (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). I respond to these criticisms in this article. Properly to locate Godlove’s exegetical objections, I dedicate the first section to setting out the arc of the argument I trace. I then set out and treat in turn Godlove’s main objections to (...) my exegesis: that it depends upon an interpretation of transcendental idealism which makes the doctrine ‘flatly inconsistent and probably just silly’; that I neglect the most plausible account interpretation of Kant’s various statements about transcendental idealism; and that I ‘pick and choose’ supporting texts too narrowly, leading to an unbalanced presentation, which is too convenient to my thesis. I conclude with some general methodological reflections—stimulated by Godlove, but not aimed at him—about how historical philosophical texts are often treated. I express some anxieties about the principle of charity that underlies much current exegesis, and ‘rational reconstruction’ of historical texts, and I propose a case for what might be called ‘creative decomposition’ (not of the text, but of the self). (shrink)
Some major leftist thinkers, including Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Terry Eagleton, have lately offered readings that claim the relevance of alternative interpretations of the Christian tradition in the face both of the conservative turn in the Catholic Church and of the contemporary secular oblivion of anything that has to do with religion. Furthermore, post-colonial studies have tended to blame the West en bloc for the disasters of past and present colonization, and have attacked the western endeavour to extend (...) universal truths as an ethnocentric device to facilitate and justify exploitation. In Holy Terror, Terry Eagleton both condemns western politics and questions its appeal to universals; but he also hears in this tradition a demand for a relationship with the other which offers an alternative to that established by current politics and capitalist exploitation. The other is the excluded, the oppressed, the exploited; the true material, rather than ideal, universal produced by global capitalist exploitation. As a consequence, anything that happens in any part of the planet belongs in our world and indicts us, though we tend to build barriers around an ideally safe and stable identity that ignores part of its own reality and that is therefore haunted by it. Texts like the Bacchae or the New Testament open the gates of the city and of the heart to the excluded. Terrorists — saints for their own communities and satanic for the rest — offer an example of the other that is impossible to comprehend within our conventional ways of life. Nevertheless, only if we hear in their violence a demand for justice can an exit be found from the vicious circle of violence and revenge. (shrink)
Some major leftist thinkers, including Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Terry Eagleton, have lately offered readings that claim the relevance of alternative interpretations of the Christian tradition in the face both of the conservative turn in the Catholic Church and of the contemporary secular oblivion of anything that has to do with religion. Furthermore, post-colonial studies have tended to blame the West en bloc for the disasters of past and present colonization, and have attacked the western endeavour to extend (...) universal truths as an ethnocentric device to facilitate and justify exploitation.In Holy Terror, Terry Eagleton both condemns western politics and questions its appeal to universals; but he also hears in this tradition a demand for a relationship with the other which offers an alternative to that established by current politics and capitalist exploitation. The other is the excluded, the oppressed, the exploited; the true material, rather than ideal, universal produced by global capitalist exploitation. As a consequence, anything that happens in any part of the planet belongs in our world and indicts us, though we tend to build barriers around an ideally safe and stable identity that ignores part of its own reality and that is therefore haunted by it. Texts like the Bacchae or the New Testament open the gates of the city and of the heart to the excluded. Terrorists — saints for their own communities and satanic for the rest — offer an example of the other that is impossible to comprehend within our conventional ways of life. Nevertheless, only if we hear in their violence a demand for justice can an exit be found from the vicious circle of violence and revenge. (shrink)
Terry Eagleton. The meaning of life: A very short introductionOxford: University Press, 2007, 109 pp.For a very short introduction to the meaning of life, this 109-page volume provokes much reflection upon many possible meanings of life. The topic of the book is examined from innumerable perspectives. While the author does not seem to hide his personal views, he does not manifest them as directly as the reader might wish. The meaning of life is well-written and witty; it has four (...) chapters, about three pages on “Further reading,” a brief Index and a dozen illustrations. Although only the first chapter is entitled “Questions and answers,” I am wondering whether all four chapters could bear that title appropriately. In any case, the first paragraph of the first page raises the question of meaninglessness: whether the question of the meaning of life is a meaningful question at all; whether it really is capable of carrying a meaningful answer. (shrink)
In his 1958 seminal paper “Saints and Heroes”, J. O. Urmson argued that the then dominant tripartite deontic scheme of classifying actions as being exclusively either obligatory, or optional in the sense of being morally indifferent, or wrong, ought to be expanded to include the category of the supererogatory. Colloquially, this category includes actions that are “beyond the call of duty” and hence actions that one has no duty or obligation to perform. But it is a controversial category. Some have (...) argued that the concept of supererogation is paradoxical because on one hand, supererogatory actions are supposed to be morally good, indeed morally best, actions. But then if they are morally best, why aren't they morally required, contrary to the assumption that they are morally optional? In short: how can an action that is morally best to perform fail to be what one is morally required to do? The source of this alleged paradox has been dubbed the ‘good-ought tie-up’. In our article, we address this alleged paradox by first making a phenomenological case for the reality of instances of genuine supererogatory actions, and then, by reflecting on the relevant phenomenology, explaining why there is no genuine paradox. Our explanation appeals to the idea that moral reasons can play what we call a merit conferring role. The basic idea is that moral reasons that favor supererogatory actions function to confer merit on the actions they favor—they play a merit conferring role—and can do without also requiring the actions in question. Hence, supererogatory actions can be both good and morally meritorious to perform yet still be morally optional. Recognition of a merit conferring role unties the good-ought tie up, and there are good reasons, independent of helping to resolve the alleged paradox, for recognizing this sort of role that moral reasons may play. (shrink)
In his work, Horgan argues for the compatibilism of agency, mental state-causation, and physical causal-closure. We generally assume a causally closed physical world that seems to exclude agency in the sense of mental state-causation in addition to physical causation. However, Horgan argues for an account of agency that satisfies the experience of our own as acting persons and that is compatible with physical causal-closure. Mental properties are causal properties but not identical with physical properties because there are different ontological levels. (...) In this commentary, I shall reconsider the essential issues of this compatibilism (1), focus on a problem for Horgan’s conception of agent causation that arises from the causal argument for ontological reductionism (2), and propose to embed Horgan’s conception of agency within a reductionist approach in order to vindicate the indispensable character of agency (3). (shrink)
Taking to heart Massaro's [(1988) Some criticisms of connectionist models of human performance, Journal of Memory and Language, 27, 213-234] criticism that multi-layer perceptrons are not appropriate for modeling human cognition because they are too powerful (i.e. they can simulate just about anything, which gives them little explanatory power), Regier develops the notion of constrained connectionism. The model that he discusses is a distributed network but with numerous constraints added that are (more or less) motivated by real psychophysical and neurophysical (...) constraints. His model learns static prepositions of spatial location such as in, above, to the left of, to the right of, under, etc., as well as dynamic prepositions such as through and the Russian iz-pod, meaning out from under. The network learns these prepositions by viewing a number of examples of them. Very importantly, this book tackles-and goes a long way towards resolving-the problem of the lack of negative exemplars (i.e. we are only very rarely told when something is not above something else), which should lead to overgeneralization, but does not. This book is a significant contribution to connectionist literature. (shrink)
Something about my book, Marxism and Human Nature,1 seems to have provoked Eagleton's hostility and clouded his mind, but it is difficult to figure out what. All that is evident from his review is that he has not read the book carefully or taken the trouble to understand it properly.