Without doctors being able to explain medical decisions to patients, I argue their use of black box AIs would erode the effective and respectful care they provide patients. In addition, I argue that physicians should use AI black boxes only for patients in dire straits, or when physicians use AI as a “co-pilot” (analogous to a spellchecker) but can independently confirm its accuracy. I respond to A.J. London’s objection that physicians already prescribe some drugs without knowing why they work.
Set aside fanciful doomsday speculations about AI. Even lower-level AIs, while otherwise friendly and providing us a universal basic income, would be able to do all our jobs. Also, we would over-rely upon AI assistants even in our personal lives. Thus, John Danaher argues that a human crisis of moral passivity would result However, I argue firstly that if AIs are posited to lack the potential to become unfriendly, they may not be intelligent enough to replace us in all our (...) jobs. If instead they are intelligent enough to replace us, the risk they become unfriendly increases, given that they would not need us and humans would just compete for valuable resources. Their hostility will not promote our moral passivity. Secondly, the use of AI assistants in our personal lives will become a problem only if we rely on them for almost all our decision-making and motivation. But such a (maximally) pervasive level of dependence raises the question of whether humans would accept it, and consequently whether the crisis of passivity will arise. (shrink)
Aristotelian theory, as found in Michael Thompson and Philippa Foot, claims that to be good is to be good as a member of that kind. Moreover, Foot argues in effect that goodness admits of only the kind-based sort, obtaining solely in virtue of something’s satisfying kind-based standards. However, I contend that something can satisfy kind-relative standards but nonetheless be bad—I propose a hypothetical Ebola-like microbe that meets its kind-standards of being destructive for its own sake, but it would plausibly be (...) bad for doing so. In defending my counterexample, I respond to the Aristotelian contention that evaluations should only be made from “within” the standpoint of a particular lifeform conception, rather than an “external” one from which that kind itself can be judged to be bad. (shrink)
Robert Adams defends a platonic account of goodness, understood as excellence, claiming that there exists a platonic good that all other good things must resemble, identifying the Good with God. Mark Murphy agrees, but argues that this platonic account is in need of Aristotelian supplementation, as resemblance must take into account a thing’s kind-membership. While this article will accept something like Murphy’s account of goodness, it will further develop its details and support. Without relying on theistic premises, I show that (...) the metaphysical status of an individual’s goodness consists in resemblance with the platonic good. As for the distinct question of what that goodness holds in virtue of, I conclude it holds in virtue of exactly: the thing’s own properties, those properties being such as to satisfy its kind-based standards, and those K-standards resembling the platonic good. I then develop an account of how K-standards resemble the platonic good: The K-standards resemble it firstly with respect to requiring activities, as the platonic good will be posited to be active, and must resemble it secondly also at the level of what teleology those activities are directed towards. I also motivate the need for a third respect of resemblance, to be developed in future work. The article ends with a discussion of the nature of the platonic good. (shrink)
Could Christians and Muslims be referring to the same God? For an account of the reference of divine names, I follow Bogardus and Urban (2017) in advocating in favour of using Gareth Evans’s causal theory of reference, on which a name refers to the dominant source of information in the name’s “dossier”. However, I argue further that information about experiences, in which God is simply the object of acquaintance, can dominate the dossier. Thus, this demonstrative use of names offers a (...) promising alternative avenue by which users of the divine names can refer to the same referent despite having different conceptions of God. I also respond to Burling’s (2019) worship-worthiness view. (shrink)
In Aristotle’s writings regarding the biology of embryology, especially in the Generation of Animals, he contends that the mother’s menstrual fluids provide the material for the generation of the offspring, and the father’s form determines its formation as a member of that species (e.g. human). The katamenia (menstrual fluids) of the mother are said to be potentially all the body parts of the offspring, though actually none of them. So, the fluids are potentially the offspring. But are they a first (...) potentiality or second potentiality (first actuality) of a human, in the terminology of De Anima II? In this paper I will argue that katamenia are a first potentiality of a human. My first argument is that katamenia do not have the potential for human activities such as thinking, but rather the potential of becoming something having the potential for those activities. I answer the objection that katamenia are not even a first potentiality, by appealing to an important text contending that for any x whose source of becoming is external, x is potentially y if nothing in x with respect to matter needs to be changed in order for an external principle to make x into y. (shrink)
The 16th and 17th centuries witnessed a philosophical shift that would help pave the way for modern science, a shift from metaphysical theories of material objects to other views embracing only the empirically-accessible parts of material things. One much-debated topic in the course of this shift was regarding prime matter. The late scholastic Jacobus Zabarella (1533-1589) arrived upon his views about prime matter via his version of the regressus method, a program for a sort of scientific reasoning. In his De (...) rebus naturalibus, Zabarella defends the position that prime matter is extended. However, it is less clear how he accounts for its extension. There is an important text where he apparently suggests that prime matter is extended in and of itself. However, there are two other texts apparently stating that matter is extended in virtue of a distinct accident in the category of quantity. I argue that a decisive reading based solely upon any particular texts is not available. Nevertheless, examining Zabarella’s writing on the topic as a whole, the trajectory of his overall argument is remarkably sympathetic to Averroes, who famously took the accidentally quantified position. Thus, from this systematic feature, the accidentally quantified reading is more reasonable. (shrink)
In a recent article, Marilyn Baffoe-Bonnie offers three arguments for conducting CRISPR/Cas9 biotechnology research to cure sickle-cell disease (SCD) based on addressing historical and current injustices in SCD research and care. I show that her second and third arguments suffer from roughly the same defect, which is that they really argue for something else rather than for conducting CRISPR/Cas9 research in particular. For instance, the second argument argues that conducting this gene therapy research would improve the relationship between SCD sufferers (...) (who are mostly of African descent) and health care providers. But really what is essential in improving this relationship is for those providers to genuinely care and be concerned, and this could be lacking even with the CRISPR research being done. Indeed, this relationship could be improved even without that research being done, as long as there is genuine concern. Thus, this argument actually argues for the need for genuine concern. As for the third argument, one (of two) problems arises because it claims that CRISPR research for SCD should be pursued because the benefits would be shared by even non-research-participants, as non-participants would be encouraged. However, this argues for any research for SCD, not for CRISPR research in particular. I conclude that a better justice-based argument will use only Baffoe-Bonnie’s first argument, which is based on historic neglect of an actual cure for SCD (going beyond merely management or transplant therapies). (shrink)