Recently, the debate on human enhancement has shifted from familiar topics like cognitive enhancement and mood enhancement to a new and – to no one's surprise – controversial subject, namely moral enhancement. Some proponents from the transhumanist camp allude to the ‘urgent need’ of improving the moral conduct of humankind in the face of ever growing technological progress and the substantial dangers entailed in this enterprise. Other thinkers express more sceptical views about this proposal. As the debate has revealed so (...) far, there is no shared opinion among philosophers about the meaning, prospects, and ethical evaluation of moral enhancement. In this article I will address several conceptual and practical problems of this issue, in order to encourage discussion about the prospects of moral enhancement in the future. My assumption is that for the short term, there is little chance of arriving at an agreement on the proper understanding of morality and the appropriateness of one single ethical theory; apart from this, there are further philosophical puzzles loosely referred to in the debate which add to theoretical confusion; and even if these conceptual problems could be solved, there are still practical problems to be smoothed out if moral enhancement is ever to gain relevance apart from merely theoretical interest. My tentative conclusion, therefore, will be that moral enhancement is not very likely to be made sense of – let alone realized – in the medium-term future. (shrink)
The concept of “self-awareness” ( svasaṃvedana ) enters Buddhist epistemological discourse in the Pramāṇasamuccaya and - vṛtti by Dignāga (ca. 480–540), the founder of the Buddhist logico-epistemological tradition. Though some of the key passages have already been dealt with in various publications, no attempt has been made to comprehensively examine all of them as a whole. A close reading is here proposed to make up for this deficit. In connection with a particularly difficult passage (PS(V) 1.8cd-10) that presents the means (...) of valid cognition and its result ( pramāṇa/pramāṇaphala ), a new interpretation is suggested, inspired by the commentary of Jinendrabuddhi. This interpretation highlights an aspect of selfawareness that has hitherto not been claimed for Dignāga: self-awareness offers essentially subjective access to one’s own mental states and factors. (shrink)
This paper compares and contrasts two infinite regress arguments against higher-order theories of consciousness that were put forward by the Buddhist epistemologists Dignāga (ca. 480–540 CE) and Dharmakīrti (ca. 600–660). The two arguments differ considerably from each other, and they also differ from the infinite regress argument that scholars usually attribute to Dignāga or his followers. The analysis shows that the two philosophers, in these arguments, work with different assumptions for why an object-cognition must be cognised: for Dignāga it must (...) be cognised in order to enable subsequent memory of it, for Dharmakīrti it must be cognised if it is to cognise an object. (shrink)
Society’s relationship with modern animal farming is an ambivalent one: on the one hand there is rising criticism about modern animal farming; on the other hand people appreciate certain aspects of it, such as increased food safety and low food prices. This ambivalence reflects the two faces of modernity: the negative (exploitation of nature and loss of traditions) and the positive (progress, convenience, and efficiency). This article draws on a national survey carried out in the Netherlands that aimed at gaining (...) a deeper understanding about the acceptance of modern dairy farming in Dutch society. People take two dimensions into account when evaluating different aspects of modern dairy farming: (1) the way living beings are used for production and (2) the way a dairy farm functions as a business. In both these dimensions people appeared to adopt cautious opinions: most people preferred relatively traditional and natural farms and were concerned about the use of nature and treatment of animals in modern production—although this did not imply an outright rejection of modern animal farming. The study also looked for (and sought to explain) differences of opinion between social groups. Besides socio-demographic factors such as age and gender, farming experience and value-orientation (such as socially minded and professional) appeared to be important variables. The values and convictions within modern society can help to explain why some people are greatly concerned about animal welfare while some show less concern. This diversity also helps to explain why general information campaigns are quite ineffective in allaying concerns about modern animal farming. (shrink)
The present study investigated whether infants learn the effects of other persons' actions like they do for their own actions, and whether infants transfer observed action-effect relations to their own actions. Nine-, 12-, 15- and 18-month-olds explored an object that allowed two actions, and that produced a certain salient effect after each action. In a self-exploration group, infants explored the object directly, whereas in two observation groups, infants first watched an adult model acting on the object and obtaining a certain (...) effect with each action before exploring the objects by themselves. In one observation group, the infants' actions were followed by the same effects as the model's actions, but in the other group, the action-effect mapping for the infant was reversed to that of the model. The results showed that the observation of the model had an impact on the infants' exploration behavior from 12 months, but not earlier, and that the specific relations between observed actions and effects were acquired by 15 months. Thus, around their first birthday infants learn the effects of other persons' actions by observation, and they transfer the observed action-effect relations to their own actions in the second year of life. (shrink)
Still today, and especially today, the question about the relation between faith and knowledge provokes first and foremost religious associations. That this indicates an abridgement of the practice of belief is shown in the case of Jacobi, who definitively shaped the intellectual de-bates at the real beginning of the modern era. Against the still prevailing fideistic misunder-standings of his position, the provocation of a concept of belief is discussed which adheres neither to the belief in revelation nor to the model (...) of philosophical reflection but rather defines a new metaphysics of action. With belief understood as the acceptance of something as true without seeking reasons, day to day living whose reality Jacobi consistently emphasized from the perspective of the acting person rather than from the perspective of the observer, stands at the centre of interest. He thereby frees up the precondition for a new understanding of traditional religious and epistemic world views as visualization or rationalization of non-propositional belief convictions. (shrink)
Ever since Kant asked: “How am I to develop the sense of freedom in spite of the restraint?” in his lecture on education, the tension between necessary educational influence and unacceptable restriction of the child’s individual development and freedom has been considered an educational paradox. Many have suggested solutions to the paradox; however, this article endorses recent discussions in educational philosophy that pursue the need to fundamentally rethink our understanding of education and upbringing. In this article it is argued that (...) it is incomprehensible to describe an intervention of an educator as a constraint on a child’s actions and that such an intervention would be in need of justification; as Kant and many others after him have done. Educational intervention should not be understood as a restriction of a child’s endeavour to learn, because any educational intervention is educational. Furthermore, it is argued that the notion of restraint is based on the concept of human beings as radically separated which lead to the assumption that education is restrictive per se. In contrast, this article argues that indoctrination, manipulation, and coercion are rather phenomena within our educational forms of life. Recognizing the interrelations between human beings should play a constitutive part in the conceptualisation of individual freedom. A bond with others is the foundation upon which a child develops its own identity and an understanding of itself as an agent who can express its own will and takes responsibility for its words and actions. (shrink)
It has been argued that the use of the concept of ākāra—a mental “form,” “appearance” or “aspect”—in Buddhist epistemological analysis or pramāṇa exhibits continuities with earlier Buddhist thinking about mental processes, in particular in Abhidharma. A detailed inquiry into uses of the term ākāra in pertinent contexts in Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośabhāṣya brings to light different semantic nuances and functions of this term. The characteristic use of ākāra in Buddhist epistemological discourse turns out to be continuous with only some of the nuances (...) it has in Abhidharma. Moreover, ākāra becomes associated with novel explanatory functions in Buddhist pramāṇa. These discoveries underscore the need to pay closer attention to the reuse of terms and concepts, ideas and arguments in Buddhist philosophy, and to the often subtle adaptations and transformations that formed an integral part of its history. (shrink)
Ein Schwerpunkt liegt dabei auf der Problematisierung der Freiheit in den Kontroversen, die sich um den Anspruch auf Freiheit entwickelt haben, auf der Kontextualisierung der Freiheit in den Determinismen aller Provenienz; ein weiterer in ...
ZusammenfassungDie Geschichte der genetischen Pränataldiagnostik ist bislang als Teil der Geschichte der Humangenetik und deren Neuorientierung als klinisch-laborwissenschaftliche Disziplin in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts betrachtet worden. Anhand neuen Quellenmaterials soll in diesem Beitrag gezeigt werden, dass das Interesse an der Pränataldiagnostik in Westdeutschland auch im Kontext von Forschungen entstand, die sich mit Gefahren für den Menschen in der Umwelt befassten. Anhand der Debatten um die Einrichtung des DFG-Schwerpunktprogramms „Pränatale Diagnostik genetischer Defekte“ 1970 untersuchen wir, wie die Technik der (...) Amniozentese in Westdeutschland von einer interdisziplinären Forschungsgruppe eingeführt wurde, die sich mit Schädigungen des Organismus durch Strahlen, Arzneimittel und andere Gebrauchsstoffe und Konsumgüter befasste. In einer als ökologische Wende bezeichneten Zeit wachsenden Umweltbewusstseins, so unsere These, sollte durch die Förderung der Pränataldiagnostik eine wahrgenommene Lücke in der Prävention umweltbedingt auftretender genetischer Anomalien geschlossen werden. Für die Pränataldiagnostik als „Schutzmaßnahme“ sprach unter anderem ihre erwartete Finanzierung als Krankenkassenleistung im Zuge der Reform des Abtreibungsrechts. Erst in einem zweiten Schritt führten Veränderungen von Strukturen der Forschung, vor allem aber Erfahrungen in der gynäkologischen Praxis zu einer Neuausrichtung auf die Diagnostik und Prävention mehrheitlich erblicher oder spontan auftretender Anomalien. Die Pränataldiagnostik, so wie sie schließlich in Westdeutschland ab den frühen 1980er Jahren routinemäßig Einsatz fand, hatte mit Fragen der „Umwelt“ kaum noch zu tun. Diese Fallstudie zur Frühgeschichte der genetischen Pränataldiagnostik handelt von dem noch wenig untersuchten Verhältnis von humangenetischer Forschung, klinischer Praxis und Umweltforschung und hat zum weiteren Ziel, den bisher in anderen Kontexten beschriebenen Wandel von Perspektiven in der Vorsorge um 1970 zu beleuchten. (shrink)
The preposition at has a range of rather diverse meanings - locative, temporal, causal, etc. -which would not seem to be captured by any common denominator that would still be strong enough to distinguish at from other prepositions. In order to clarify the relationship of the various meanings of at to each other, this paper assumes the notion of a semantic prototype and shows how other senses of at develop from a basic locative sense of at, and how these derived (...) senses are motivated by the fact that their domain of application is conceptualized in analogy to the domain of the basic spatial sense, or in analogy to another sense of at that is directly or indirectly related to the original locative sense along the same lines. (shrink)
During recovery from psychosis things must often be done slower than normally expected. The tempo of the socially shared reality is often experienced as being too fast for the recovering person. We will describe how this impairment stems from the pre-reflective mental structure underlying psychosis and how it can be transferred into an active skill supporting recovery, often including social retreat. In this paper, co-written by a psychiatrist and a person experienced in psychosis, we will draw on personal experiences, qualitative (...) research and first-hand accounts for our arguments. We will sketch out the process and three crucial building blocks of recovery: laid-back situations, switch-off skills, places to talk. We will then describe the acquired skill of slowing-down as an amalgam of the building blocks ‘switch-off skill’ and ‘laid-back situation’, since slowing-down answers the situation in a laid-back manner and enforces a slow behavioral pace on it. While this might be okay in private and in some situations shared with others, it may be tantalizing for others in many everyday situations resulting in stigma or exclusion. Slowing-down therefore challenges the surrounding others and demonstrates the necessity to synchronize private and public tempos. This is most challenging while living in two realities at once, being the second and often a long-lasting stage of recovery. (shrink)
The discussion on subjectivity isbased on the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan'sunderstanding of subjectivity as constructed inand through language, and the philosopherCharles Sanders Peirce's general ideas ofsignifying construction as an unlimitedsign-exchanging process â the idea of theunlimited semiosis. The article advocatescombining Lacanian subjectivity and Peirceansemiosis in a model of the formal structure ofthe semiosis of Lacanian subjectivity. In thelight of this model the article claims thatLacanian subjectivity opens to a process ofsubjectivization within the semiosis ofsubjectivity, whereby that which is other ismade our (...) own. Two researchers' differentarguments on subjectivity, both of which referto Lacan's ideas on subjectivity, are used asdiscussion partners in the exploration of thesemiosis of Lacanian subjectivity. While theone researcher claims that subjectivity is anideological construction, the other maintainsthat subjectivity is a free play of signs. Thearticle claims that neither of these tworesearchers considers that there may be aprocess of subjectivization in the semiosis ofsubjectivity. Thus the one researcher can claimthat subjectivity `is constituted outside ofitself', and the other can maintain that `thesubject is doomed to perpetual exile fromitself' in the construction of her or hissubjectivity. (shrink)
Birgit Jürgenssen has introduced feminism within the artistic field since the 1970s. She methodically deconstructs the positions assigned to women, in particular that of housewife. Inspired by surrealism and ethnography, she sheds light upon the intersection between class, race and gender. The female body becomes unknown territory in her drawings and photographs.
Figures of Simplicity explores a unique constellation of figures from philosophy and literature—Heinrich von Kleist, Herman Melville, G. W. Leibniz, and Alexander Baumgarten—in an attempt to recover alternative conceptions of aesthetics and dimensions of thinking lost in the disciplinary narration of aesthetics after Kant. This is done primarily by tracing a variety of “simpletons” that populate the writings of Kleist and Melville. These figures are not entirely ignorant, or stupid, but simple. Their simplicity is a way of thinking, one that (...)Birgit Mara Kaiser suggests is affective thinking. Kaiser avers that Kleist and Melville are experimenting in their texts with an affective mode of thinking, and thereby continue a key line within eighteenth-century aesthetics: the relation of rationality and sensibility. Through her analyses, she offers an outline of what thinking can look like if we take affectivity into account. (shrink)