Human civilisation faces a range of existential risks, including nuclear war, runaway climate change and superintelligent artificial intelligence run amok. As we show here with calculations for the New Zealand setting, large numbers of currently living and, especially, future people are potentially threatened by existential risks. A just process for resource allocation demands that we consider future generations but also account for solidarity with the present. Here we consider the various ethical and policy issues involved and make a case for (...) further engagement with the New Zealand public to determine societal values towards future lives and their protection. (shrink)
For Frank Knight, the fact that we are free to engage in economic pursuits brings out what is both best and worst in human nature. The same competitive economy that liberates individuals to choose their own desired ends also provides them with socially undesirable wants and fosters habits potentially at odds with the demands of liberal democracy. Given Knight’s desire both to defend human liberty and his concession that liberty is likely to be abused, his version of liberalism must of (...) necessity be anticonsequentialist. Paradoxically, Knight’s philosophical pluralism?his insistence that there are any number of incommensurable perspectives on the good or just society?underlies both his criticism of the ?ethical? possibilities of the competitive order and his defense of human liberty against the dangers of social planning. (shrink)
This collection of original essays--by philosophers of biology, biologists, and cognitive scientists--provides a wide range of perspectives on species. Including contributions from David Hull, John Dupre, David Nanney, Kevin de Queiroz, and Kim Sterelny, amongst others, this book has become especially well-known for the three essays it contains on the homeostatic property cluster view of natural kinds, papers by Richard Boyd, Paul Griffiths, and Robert A. Wilson.
Brightman's thought, like that of Bowne and Kierkegaard, was formed by a dissatisfaction with the manner in which Hegel's preoccupation with an objective spirit out in the world and in society tended to cover up "the grit of the individual," and smother his need for a very personal approach to his ultimate perspective. Metaphysics, accordingly, Brightman holds, must start not with naively objecto-centric concerns but with what W. H. Werkmeister called "first person experience." As Brightman said in an earlier work, (...) whether or not existentialism is a fad, personal existence is no fad. (shrink)
Healthcare workers are often assumed to have a duty to work, even if faced with personal risk. This is particularly so for professionals. However, the health service also depends on non-professionals, such as porters, cooks and cleaners. The duty to work is currently under scrutiny because of the ongoing challenge of responding to pandemic influenza, where an effective response depends on most uninfected HCWs continuing to work, despite personal risk. This paper reports findings of a survey of HCWs conducted across (...) three National Health Service trusts in the West Midlands, UK, to establish whether HCWs’ likelihood of working during a pandemic is associated with views about the duty to work. The sense that HCWs felt that they had a duty to work despite personal risk emerged strongly regardless of professional status. Besides a strong sense that everyone should pull together, all kinds of HCWs recognised a duty to work even in difficult circumstances, which correlated strongly with their stated likelihood of working. This suggests that HCWs’ decisions about whether or not they are prepared to work during a pandemic are closely linked to their sense of duty. However, respondents’ sense of the duty to work may conflict with their sense of duty to family, as well as other factors such as a perceived lack of reciprocity from their employers. Interestingly, nearly 25% of doctors did not consider that they had a duty to work where doing so would pose risks to themselves or their families. (shrink)
This brief tour of American law has demonstrated a little of the breadth and currency of legal liability actions which affect nursing. As health care changes and nursing roles change with it, so too will the nature of liability in this area. The American penchant for litigation is such that the chances of disentangling nurses from the continued onslaught of negligence litigation seem remote.
Working memory limits are best defined in terms of the complexity of the relations that can be processed in parallel. Complexity is defined as the number of related dimensions or sources of variation. A unary relation has one argument and one source of variation; its argument can be instantiated in only one way at a time. A binary relation has two arguments, two sources of variation, and two instantiations, and so on. Dimensionality is related to the number of chunks, because (...) both attributes on dimensions and chunks are independent units of information of arbitrary size. Studies of working memory limits suggest that there is a soft limit corresponding to the parallel processing of one quaternary relation. More complex concepts are processed by or In segmentation, tasks are broken into components that do not exceed processing capacity and can be processed serially. In conceptual chunking, representations are to reduce their dimensionality and hence their processing load, but at the cost of making some relational information inaccessible. Neural net models of relational representations show that relations with more arguments have a higher computational cost that coincides with experimental findings on higher processing loads in humans. Relational complexity is related to processing load in reasoning and sentence comprehension and can distinguish between the capacities of higher species. The complexity of relations processed by children increases with age. Implications for neural net models and theories of cognition and cognitive development are discussed. (shrink)
Assistive technology has great potential to contribute to health, functioning, and quality of life. To date, as exemplified in the Canadian context, variations and inequities in access to assistive technology are evident; the development of legislation, policies, and programs has not kept up with the increasing use of assistive technology. In this article, we apply ;Daniels’s theory of just health to argue that equitable access to assistive technology funding and services is necessary for justice. In doing so, we offer theoretical (...) guidance for the development of legislation, policies, and programs to guide such access in health and social services. (shrink)
The core issue of our target article concerns how relational complexity should be assessed. We propose that assessments must be based on actual cognitive processes used in performing each step of a task. Complexity comparisons are important for the orderly interpretation of research findings. The links between relational complexity theory and several other formulations, as well as its implications for neural functioning, connectionist models, the roles of knowledge, and individual and developmental differences, are considered.
Subjects enrolled in studies testing high risk interventions for incurable or progressive brain diseases may be vulnerable to deficiencies in informed consent, such as the therapeutic misconception. However, the definition and measurement of the therapeutic misconception is a subject of continuing debate. Our qualitative pilot study of persons enrolled in a phase I trial of gene transfer for Parkinson disease suggests potential avenues for both measuring and preventing the therapeutic misconception. Building on earlier literature on the topic, we developed and (...) tested an interview guide that focuses on how the subjects decided to participate, emphasizing the integration of subjects’ various statements that are relevant to assessing the therapeutic misconception, rather than evaluating them as isolated statements. The results indicate that a subject’s understanding of the purpose of research is best explored in juxtaposition to the subject’s motivation for participating. (shrink)
Bioethicists have long been concerned that seriously ill patients entering early phase (‘phase I’) treatment trials are motivated by therapeutic benefit even though the likelihood of benefit is low. In spite of these concerns, consent forms for phase I studies involving seriously ill patients generally employ indeterminate benefit statements rather than unambiguous statements of unlikely benefit. This seeming mismatch between attitudes and actions suggests a need to better understand research ethics committee members’ attitudes toward communication of potential benefits and risks (...) of early phase studies to potential subjects. We surveyed the members of two U.S. research ethics committees using a phase I gene transfer study scenario, and compared the results to a previous survey of potential subjects’ perceptions and attitudes toward benefit and risk for the same protocol. The results show that there is indeed a gap between the subjects’ perceptions and the committee members’ views on what is appropriate to be communicated to research subjects. This discrepancy is the product of both the commonly assumed optimism of the subjects and to a “protective pessimism” of the research ethics committee members. We discuss this discrepancy using “frameworks of trust” and demonstrate the need to incorporate these frameworks into the existing model of informed consent. (shrink)
Most academic papers on ethics in pandemics concentrate on the duties of healthcare professionals. This paper will consider non-professional healthcare workers: do they have a moral obligation to work during an influenza pandemic? If so, is this an obligation that outweighs others they might have, e.g., as parents, and should such an obligation be backed up by the coercive power of law? This paper considers whether non-professional healthcare workers—porters, domestic service workers, catering staff, clerks, IT support workers, etc.—have an obligation (...) to work during an influenza pandemic. It uses data collected as part of a study looking at the attitudes of healthcare workers to working during a pandemic to suggest the philosophical arguments explored. These include: being in a position to do good, the ethics of work, competing obligations to family members and in particular to children and the obligations of citizens in a state of national emergency. We also look at whether compulsory measures are justified to support a national health service during a health emergency. We conclude that even if they are, compulsion should not be restricted to non-professionals who happen to be working in the health service at the time. Rather, compulsion involving a larger pool of people with the relevant skills and abilities is more equitable. (shrink)
A review, with reflections, of Michael S. Gazzaniga's (2011) book, Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain. Gazzaniga, a distinguished neuroscientist, wishes to connect contemporary understandings of the functioning of the human brain to the proper functioning of the American courtroom. What effect, if any, should these current understandings (and current technologies) have on legal conceptions of personal responsibility, guilt, and punishment? If, as many neuroscientists hold, the functioning of the brain wholly determines the functioning of (...) the mind, can people rightly be held responsible for their actions? Gazzaniga argues that they can. (shrink)
Curricular and co-curricular civic engagement activities and programs are analyzed in terms of their capacity to contribute to a common set of outcomes associated with nurturing civic-minded graduates: academic knowledge, familiarity with volunteering and nonprofit sector, knowledge of social issues, communication skills, diversity skills, self-efficacy, and intentions to be involved in communities. Different programs that promote civic-mindedness, developmental models, and assessment strategies that can contribute to program enhancement are presented.