Prematurely born children who have underdeveloped lungs may suffer a potentially fatal condition called respiratory distress syndrome. A U.S. company developed a drug, called Surfaxin, to treat such poorly functioning lungs. A placebo-controlled study was planned in four Latin American countries. At the time, in 2001, four treatments were already on the market, although not available to the research populations used in the study. This case is usually discussed as part of the standard of care debate or offered as an (...) example of exploitation. However, what concerns us in this case is rather the choice given to the parents of a prematurely born child under these circumstances: “You can give consent for your child's participation in this study. Half of the babies enrolled will receive sham air and are as likely to die as if they had not enrolled. The other half will receive an active treatment and are more likely to survive.” The parents can vastly increase their baby's chances of survival by participating in the study. Can the consent be voluntary? Do the parents have any meaningful choice? (shrink)
Reproductive autonomy has been challenged by the availability of genetic information, disability and the ethics of selective reproduction. Utilitarian and rights-based approaches, as well as procreative beneficence fail to provide compelling reasons for infringing RA, and may even be likened to dangerous eugenics. Parents are not morally obliged to prevent the birth of a disabled child. Society should rather adopt inclusivity, recognising and providing persons with disabilities opportunities for capability and worthwhile lives.
In this article, the main complexities of understanding and curbing the HIV/AIDS pandemic in (South) Africa, are discussed. These are: 1. Poverty as niche or social context of the pandemic, 2. Denial, lack of leadership and the politicization of the public discourse on AIDS, 3. Problems related to accomplishing behavior changes under conditions of deprivation and illiteracy, 4. Women's vulnerability, and 5. The disenchantment of intimacy brought about by the pandemic. In each case, some solutions are suggested, although the notion (...) of complexity does not allow for definitive solutions. Concluding remarks deal with the possible philosophical and moral sense that we might make of the pandemic. (shrink)
In this introductory article to the volume of the South African Journal of Philosophy in tribute of Hans- Georg Gadamer, the author, first, makes a few remarks about the nature of hermeneutics and Gadamer's views on the universality of the hermeneutical experience. This universality is, in particular, explained from the perspective of the “linguistic turn” in Gadamer's thought. Secondly, there is a brief discussion of certain particular aspects of Gadamer's contribution. Aspects of that contribution that are emphasized are: Gadamer's reevaluation (...) of prejudice, authority and tradition, his idea of “Wirkungs -geschichte”, his idea of meaning as a process rather than a given entity, his analogy between game- playing and the interpretation of art, and his dialogical conception of interpretation. The author concludes by developing his own estimate of the main thrust of Gadamer's contribution. This contribution consists of the way in which Gadamer's thought, on the one hand, represents a demonstration and embodiment of the kind of historical consciousness so typical of our times, but, on the other hand, also accomplishes this exemplification of historical consciousness while imaginatively avoiding the kind of relativistic historicism so typical of many other manifestations of the same trend. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(4) 2002: 228-241. (shrink)
Military metaphors are pervasive in biomedicine, including HIV research. Rooted in the mind set that regards pathogens as enemies to be defeated, terms such as “shock and kill” have become widely accepted idioms within HIV cure research. Such language and symbolism must be critically examined as they may be especially problematic when used to express scientific ideas within emerging health-related fields. In this article, philosophical analysis and an interdisciplinary literature review utilizing key texts from sociology, anthropology, history, and Chinese and (...) African studies were conducted to investigate the current proliferation of military metaphors. We found the use of these metaphors to be ironic, unfortunate, and unnecessary. To overcome military metaphors we propose to give them less aggressive meanings, and/or replace them with more peaceful metaphors. Building on previous authors' work, we argue for the increased use of “journey” metaphors as meaningful, cross-culturally app... (shrink)
The aim of this article is to establish whether there is anything intrinsically immoral about surrogacy arrangements from the perspective of the surrogate mother herself. Specific attention is paid to the claim that surrogacy is similar to prostitution in that it reduces women's reproductive labour to a form of alienated and/or dehumanized labour.
The article investigates the extent to which recent developments in both the medical and the philosophical world have impacted on the nature and scope of medical ethics. A central question of the article has to do with the extent to which medical ethics itself is being transformed by that which it investigates. The author comes to the conclusion that these developments precipitate an ethics of responsibility. Such an ethics has the following characteristics: 1. It is a model according to which (...) people accept responsibility for all their actions, rather than hide behind heteronomous rules and regulations. 2. People are morally accountable in terms of the universal moral claim or appeal on us (in the Levinasian sense of the word). 3. Moral responsibility is also a responsibility toward future generations. 4. An ethics of responsibility must come to terms with the moral ambivalence of phenomena and developments. 5. It is an ethics that requires imaginative steps to empower people for the acceptance of their responsibilities, particularly in the higher education sector. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(1) 2002: 35-43. (shrink)
Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and in this issue of the Journal, seven authors discuss the moral, social and medical implications of having 70% of those stricken living in this area. Anton A. van Niekerk considers complexities of plague in this region (poverty, denial, poor leadership, illiteracy, women's vulnerability, and disenchantment of intimacy) and the importance of finding responses that empower its people. Solomon Benatar reinforces these issues, but also discusses the role of global (...) politics in sub-Saharan Africa, especially discrimination, imperialism and its exploitation by first world countries. Given the public health crisis, Udo Schüklenk and Richard E. Ashcroft defend compulsory licensing of essential HIV/AIDS medications on consequentialist grounds. Keymanthri Moodley discusses the importance of conducting research and the need to understand a moderate form of communitarianism, also referred to as "ubuntu" or "communalism", to help some Africans understand research as an altruistic endeavour. Godfrey B. Tangwa also defends traditional African values of empathy and ubuntu, discussing how they should be enlisted to fight this pandemic. Loretta M. Kopelman criticizes the tendency among those outside Africa to dismiss the HIV/AIDS pandemic, attributing one source to the ubiquitous and misguided punishment theory of disease. The authors conclude that good solutions must be cooperative ventures among countries within and outside of sub-Saharan Africa with far more support from wealthy countries. (shrink)
Three things occur in this introductory article to a volume of the South African Journal of Philosophy in tribute of Hans- Georg Gadamer who died on March 14, 2002, at the age of 102. First, some historical details of Gadamer's life are provided. Second, the nine articles in the volume are briefly introduced. The authors are Denis Schmidt (the only non- South African), Anton van Niekerk, Bert Olivier, Andrea Hurst, Leon Fouché, Danie Strauss, Pieter Duvenage, Nirmala Pillay and (...) Gerald Pillay. Finally, short remarks are made about the relevance of Gadamer's work, and particularly his contribution to “understanding the nature of understanding”, for the South African situation. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(4) 2002: 219-222. (shrink)
This article deals with the question of whether an increased teaching of business ethics can/will have a positive effect on the fight against corruption in companies. It is written from a (South) African perspective. Statistics about the alarming state of corruption in South African businesses are provided in the beginning. A Hegelian approach to the problem, in terms of which theory can and does influence practice, is compared to a Marxist approach, in terms of which theory is only a reflection (...) of practice. The author chooses a position that mediates between these two extremes. In the end, he develops a model that relies heavily on the idea of an ethics of responsibility that draws on Aristotle's idea of phronesis (practical wisdom based on deliberation). The practical implications of these ideas for the utilization of business ethics teaching in companies are consequently spelt out. While more teaching of this discipline cannot guarantee better morals in a company, it can better equip all involved to deal with the ever-increasing moral problems that business people have to deal with. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.22(2) 2003: 128–138. (shrink)
This response to Thaddeus Metz's “Toward an African Moral Theory” engages with his discussion of an autocentric, or “self-development” account of ubuntu as a morally normative theory. It is argued that an autocentric ubuntu, sharing certain strategies available to eudaimonist ethics, is both more plausible and more attractive than Metz suggests, particularly in that it engages directly with the immoralist. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 26 2007: pp. 364-368.
Jan Albert van Laar and Erik Krabbe’s paper “Splitting a difference of opinion” studies an important type of dialogue shift, namely that from a deliberation dialogue over action or policy options where critical and persuasive argumentation is exchanged about the rational acceptability of the policy options proposed by various parties, to a negotiation dialogue where agreement is reached by a series of compromises, or trade-offs, on the part of each side in the disagreement.
A substantial amount of recent work in natural language generation has focused on the generation of ‘‘one-shot’’ referring expressions whose only aim is to identify a target referent. Dale and Reiter's Incremental Algorithm (IA) is often thought to be the best algorithm for maximizing the similarity to referring expressions produced by people. We test this hypothesis by eliciting referring expressions from human subjects and computing the similarity between the expressions elicited and the ones generated by algorithms. It turns out that (...) the success of the IA depends substantially on the ‘‘preference order’’ (PO) employed by the IA, particularly in complex domains. While some POs cause the IA to produce referring expressions that are very similar to expressions produced by human subjects, others cause the IA to perform worse than its main competitors; moreover, it turns out to be difficult to predict the success of a PO on the basis of existing psycholinguistic findings or frequencies in corpora. We also examine the computational complexity of the algorithms in question and argue that there are no compelling reasons for preferring the IA over some of its main competitors on these grounds. We conclude that future research on the generation of referring expressions should explore alternatives to the IA, focusing on algorithms, inspired by the Greedy Algorithm, which do not work with a fixed PO. (shrink)
The moral status of gossip is generally defined negatively from a Western perspective and, I argue, is or should be accorded a more positive role in African accounts of ethics. In a broadly communitarian vein, I argue that a characteristically Western approach to gossip is problematic – in that it casts a fundamental aspect of human life as moral wrongdoing, does not provide an adequate fit between wrongness and censure, and excludes significant morally positive values realised through gossip – and (...) argue for a more nuanced account. Examining and responding to five arguments for the viciousness of gossip, and proposing four candidate virtues, I develop an account that distinguishes vicious from virtuous forms of gossip. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 27 (4) 2008: pp. 400-412. (shrink)
Opposed to Norman's proposal, processing of affordance is likely to occur not solely in the dorsal stream but also in the ventral stream. Moreover, the dorsal stream might do more than just serve an important role in motor actions. It supports egocentric location coding as well. As such, it would possess a form of representational memory, contrary to Norman's proposal.
The arguments of Van Niekerk and Van Zyl that, on the grounds that it involves an inappropriate commodification and alienation of women's labour, commercial surrogate motherhood (CSM) is morally suspect are discussed and considered to be defective. In addition, doubt is cast on the notion that CSM should be illegal.
The three research questions of this study have been: what exactly is active ambiguity?; how should we assess active ambiguities in an argumentative discussion?; what does an adequate dialectical account of active ambiguity look like? These three questions have been answered by giving a definition of active ambiguity, and by elaborating on the properties of active ambiguity. Based on the survey of possible consequences of active ambiguities, and based on the basic division of labour in a persuasion dialogue, we arrived (...) at a set of requirements that a normative, procedural account of active ambiguity should satisfy. The model for ambiguity dialectic both provides a detailed account of evaluating active ambiguities, as well as a dialectical account of dealing with alleged active ambiguity. The distinction between constitutive and regulative rules for discussion has made it possible to provide a discussion model in which discussants can raise the issue of active ambiguity, and in which they can argue about the correctness of such points of order. This immanent dialectical approach has lead to a fourfold classification of fallacies: by using an actively ambiguous expression a party either violates a regulative, or a constitutive rule for persuasion dialogue, and if this party violates a rule, he or she either commits a fallacy of ambiguity, and possibly also the more complex fallacy of equivocation. This model for ambiguity dialectic has been shown to be useful for the analysis and evaluation of complex debates and discussions. The present study can be extended in various ways: A model for critical discussion can be enriched so that it accommodates other regulative rules, such as the rule that requires arguments to be valid. By doing so, other points of order and other fallacy criticisms can be studied from the perspective of a critical metadiscussion. The results concerning active ambiguity can be applied to other modes of reasoning, such as visual argumentation. The results can be applied to ambiguity at the level of larger stretches of argumentative discourse. That could lead to a fruitful contribution to the theory of argument structures. There still is a need for dialectical models that concern the use of usage declaratives different from providing a disambiguation, such as the use of definitions, clarifications of unfamiliar expressions, amplifications, etc., and the question would have to be answered how the rules with respect to active ambiguity would relate to those models. The model can be enriched by inserting a specific ‘linguistic utterance meaning testing machine’. That would be a major step towards implementing the model in a computer program. The use of descriptive profiles of dialogue could be improved further. In order to analyse the way parties respond to dialectically complex contributions, we are in need of a dialectical theory that provides the parties with specific rights and obligations for putting forward complex contributions and for responding to complex contributions. (shrink)
Traffic officers are faced with many stressful situations, yet each traffic officer might cope differently with these stressors. Spirituality is regarded as an essential defence in stressful situations. Therefore, this article provides a basic framework guiding traffic officers and practitioners, on how spirituality can be used as a coping mechanism when faced with various work-related stressors. An interpretative, qualitative study was conducted utilising purposive sampling in which 10 traffic officers participated in in-depth interviews. In line with the interpretive paradigm, data (...) were analysed using content analysis. The research findings indicate when utilising spirituality to various degrees in their workplace, traffic officers displayed adaptive coping capabilities. Traffic officers associated less spirituality or a lack thereof with weaker coping capability. Furthermore, spirituality in traffic officers is informed by their spiritual or religious foundation, their purpose in work and life, their connection to a spiritual source, and the fruits of spirituality. The coping ability of traffic officers is influenced by their upbringing and background, by stressors in their work environment and by their coping mechanisms. The role of spirituality in the coping of traffic officers culminated in their ability to interpret the meaning of spirituality, and then implementing spirituality as a coping mechanism. (shrink)
There has been increasing interest in the attributes of successful entrepreneurs. Increasingly, too, research on entrepreneurship has focused on the identification of personality traits conducive to entrepreneurial success. The present study moves away from predicting entrepreneurial success and instead focuses on exploring and describing the personality traits of a successful entrepreneur, namely Steve Jobs. A psychobiographical case study design and qualitative approach were employed to explore the extent to which Steve Jobs displayed the personality traits identified by Rauch and Frese. (...) Data collection and analysis were guided by three linked sub-processes proposed by Miles and Huberman, which include data reduction, data display and conclusion drawing and verification. The findings of this study show that, over the course of the subject’s life, the personality traits identified by Rauch and Frese as conducive to successful engagement in entrepreneurial activities were displayed, namely need for achievement, risk-taking, innovativeness, autonomy, internal locus of control, and self-efficacy. In so far as it can be argued that these personality traits inherently predisposed Steve Jobs to achieve the success he displayed as an entrepreneur, the findings of this study affirm the relevance of the personality trait perspective in describing and understanding the life course of successful entrepreneurs. (shrink)
This article introduces the topic ‘‘Production of Referring Expressions: Bridging the Gap between Computational and Empirical Approaches to Reference’’ of the journal Topics in Cognitive Science. We argue that computational and psycholinguistic approaches to reference production can benefit from closer interaction, and that this is likely to result in the construction of algorithms that differ markedly from the ones currently known in the computational literature. We focus particularly on determinism, the feature of existing algorithms that is perhaps most clearly at (...) odds with psycholinguistic results, discussing how future algorithms might include non-determinism, and how new psycholinguistic experiments could inform the development of such algorithms. (shrink)
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