In this paper we contribute to “sociology in bioethics” and help clarify the range of ways sociological work can contribute to ethics scholarship. We do this using a case study of an innovative neurotechnology, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and its use to attempt to diagnose and communicate with severely brain-injured patients. We compare empirical data from interviews with relatives of patients who have a severe brain injury with perspectives from mainstream bioethics scholars. We use the notion of an “ethical landscape” (...) as an analogy for the different ethical positions subjects can take—whereby a person’s position relative to the landscape makes a difference to the way they experience and interact with it. We show that, in comparison to studying abstract ethics “from above” the ethical landscape, which involves universal generalizations and global judgements, studying ethics empirically “from the ground,” within the ethical landscape foregrounds a more plural and differentiated picture. We argue it is important not to treat empirical ethics as secondary to abstract ethics, to treat on-the-ground perspectives as useful only insofar as they can inform ethics from above. Rather, empirical perspectives can illuminate the plural vantage points in ethical judgments, highlight the “lived” nature of ethical reasoning, and point to all ethical vantage points as being significant. This is of epistemic importance to normative ethics, since researchers who pay attention to the various positions in and trajectories through the ethical landscape are unlikely to think about ethics in terms of abstract agency—as can happen with top-down ethics—or to elide agency with the agency of policymakers. Moreover, empirical perspectives may have transformative implications for people on the ground, especially where focus on the potential harms and benefits they face brings their experiences and interests to the forefront of ethical and policy discussion. (shrink)
There is currently a growing interest in the philosophy and political thought of Baruch de Spinoza following many years of comparative neglect, particularly within political philosophy. The focus of this paper is Spinoza's major work, the Ethics, and its relation to his political writings. It explores Spinoza's distinctive formulations of imagination and affect and considers some of the ways in which these impact upon his political thought, specifically via his reflections upon democracy and knowledge. The discussion draws particular attention to (...) the aporetic status of imagination and its tendency towards ambivalence. It argues that this dynamic account of imagination introduces provisionality and contingency into Spinoza's reflections upon politics that may, in turn, enrich discussions seeking to introduce an awareness of the affective resonances of communication and identification to democratic theory. (shrink)
The relationship between corporate executives and shareholders has riveted the attention of business ethicists since the inception of the field. Most ethicists agree that corporate executives owe their investors the duties of loyalty, candor, and care. These fiduciary duties undergird the promises made to shareholders at the time of incorporation, placing on executives moral obligations to engage in fair dealing and to avoid conflicts of interest.We concur that executives owe all of their existing shareholders both promise-keeping and fiduciary duties and (...) argue that some corporateexecutives violate these responsibilities by attempting to withhold information from or limit information to some shareholders while courting others. We analyze the ethical implications of six techniques and tools that executives use to attract certain types of shareholders while deterring others. We conclude with recommended structural and behavioral changes to these current managerial and investor practices. (shrink)
The concept of identity has been seen to lead to a paradox: we cannot truly and usefully say that a thing is the same either as itself or as something else. Williams here examines this paradox in philosophical logic, and its implications for the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and relativism about identity.
I argue that our experience of time supports the B-Theory of time and not the A-Theory of time. We do not experience pastness, presentness, and futurity as mind-independent properties of events. My method in supporting this experiential claim is to show that our experience of presentness is like our experience of hereness--in neither case are we aware of a mind-independent property over and above the events or objects to which we ascribe the presentness or hereness.
The traditional description of A- and B-time is that the former consists of a mind-independent past, present, and future, and that the latter consists solely of the time relations--earlier than, simultaneous with, and later than. Although this description makes it look as if there are two clearly contrasting concepts of time, it does not differentiate the passage of A-time from the succession in B-time. Nor does it explain what it means for events in B-time to be equally real and for (...) events in A-time not to be equally real. I argue that although McTaggart and numerous others have thought that there is a difference between the two kinds of time, it remains undescribed. (shrink)
We examined cynicism as a mediator of the influence of managers’ mission-congruent communication and behavior about ethical standards (a form of supervisory behavioral integrity) on employee attitudes and intended behavior. Results indicated that cynicism partially mediates the relationship between supervisory behavioral integrity and organizational commitment, but not the relationship between supervisory behavioral integrity and intent to comply with organizational expectations for employee conduct.
This article reviews practitioners’ evaluations of in-hospital ethics seminars. A qualitative study included 11 innovative in-hospital ethics seminars, preceded and followed by interviews with most participants. The settings were obstetric, neonatal and haematology units in a teaching hospital and a district general hospital in England. Fifty-six health service staff in obstetric, neonatal, haematology, and related community and management services participated; 12 attended two seminars, giving a total of 68 attendances and 59 follow-up evaluation interviews. The 11 seminars facilitated by an (...) ethicist addressed the key local concerns of staff about the social and ethical consequences of advances in genetics and their impact on professional policies and practice. Seminar agendas were drawn from prior interviews with 70 staff members. During evaluation interviews, participants commented on general aspects that they had enjoyed, how the sessions could be improved, timing, the mix of participants, the quality of the facilitation, whether sessions should be more challenging, after-effects of sessions, and interest in attending seminars and contacting the ethicist in future. Participants valued the increased interprofessional understanding and coherent discussion of many pressing issues that addressed important though seldom discussed ethical questions. The seminars worked well in the different hospitals and specialties. (shrink)
In a recent article entitled “Tensed Sentences and Free Repeatability” (The Philosophical Review,” 1973), Stephen E. Braude puts forward the following argument: (a) Nonsimultaneous replicas of tensed sentences have the same sense; (b) therefore, tensed sentences are not translatable into tenseless sentences. I point out that the plausibility of (a) depends on which theory of meaning is true. If the rules of use theory of meaning is true, then (a) is true, but if either the content or reference theory of (...) meaning is true, (a) is questionable. I also point out that some philosophers, such as Nelson Goodman and W. V. O. Quine, who deny (b) in order to make philosophical claims about the status of temporal becoming and perspicuous languages, do not state whether the equivalence of tensed and tenseless sentences is an equivalence of rules of use, content, or reference. Braude has shown that a rules of use version of (b) is true, but not that a content or reference version of (b) is true. (shrink)
Philosophers have met with many problems in discussing the interconnected concepts being, identity, and truth, and have advanced many theories to deal with them. Professor Williams argues that most of these problems and theories result from an inadequate appreciation of the ways in which the words `be', `same', and `true' work. By means of linguistic analysis he shows that being and truth are not properties, and identity is not a relation. He is thus able to demystify a number of metaphysical (...) issues concerning the meaning of the word `I', the relation between the mental and the physical, objects of thought, times and places, and the nature of reality. Williams presents his views clearly, with a minimum of technicality, and with rich and apt examples, so that they will be accessible to readers not versed in symbolic logic. (shrink)
The view that death is the loss of a person's future is less defensible than many philosophers have thought, in part because it is often presented as a response to an indefensibly crude Epicurean doctrine. But the most direct argument for this view suffers from two sorts of ambiguity – the first concerning what it is to "have" a future to lose, the second concerning what the loss consists in. However, another conception of what is lost is possible, and this (...) alternative, which is more congenial to the Epicurean outlook, does not depend on considerations about the future. (shrink)
A study in philosophical logic of the meaning of 'true'. Dr Williams demonstrates the shortcomings of various analyses which interpret 'true' as a predicate or truth as a relational property, and clears up a number of important points about propositions, quantification, definite descriptions and correspondence. This 'deflationary metaphysics' is interwoven with a positive theory of his own, which seeks to develop ideas about the late Arthur Prior. The work is marked throughout by great clarity, precision and thoroughness.
I argue that the proper way to think of the difference between A- and B-time is not as the difference between transition and the lack of transition, as is common, but as A-transition and B-transition. However, it is not evident what the difference is between these two kinds of transition. Thus, it is not evident what the difference is between A- and B-time.
This paper aims to make an empirically informed analytical contribution to the development of a more socially embedded bioethics. Drawing upon 10 interviews with cutting edge stem cell researchers (5 scientists and 5 clinicians) it explores and illustrates the ways in which the role positions of translational researchers are shaped by the ‘normative structures’ of science and medicine respectively and in combination. The empirical data is used to illuminate three overlapping themes of ethical relevance: what matters in stem cell research, (...) experimental treatment, and responsible claim making (as contrasted with ‘hype’. Finally, we suggest that this kind of ‘descriptive’ ethical analysis has potential relevance for understanding other substantive areas of stem cell ethics in practice, and we briefly consider the questions our analysis raises about role positions and ethical agency, and the implications for bioethics as a field of scholarship. (shrink)
Global leadership is the pivotal point for appropriate policies and action to ensure human survival, but a fast-changing world requires a learning leadership. How can potential and serving leaders acquire the necessary skills, abilities, and attributes for them to recognize and address the threats and challenges to our survival in the contemporary world? Serving leaders have little time for formal learning. They learn on the job through reciprocal peer interaction and transactional relationships with their followers. But the global aspect demands (...) another dimension, cybernetic learning, within which an awareness of global ethics is central. (shrink)
The common assumption in the debate between the A- and B-theories is that there is a difference between A- and B-time. A-time has been said to be characterized by a flow, whereas B-time has been said not to consist of a flow. This way of construing the debate, however, is mistaken. Both A- and B-time possess "flow" or transition. But if this is so, we need to ask how B-time flow differs from A-time flow. I argue that none of the (...) ways in which the difference has been characterized is satisfactory. My conclusion is that the debate between A- and B-time either needs to be recast or given up. (shrink)
Kant asserts that we cannot represent to ourselves the non-existence of space. In his discussion of the Ontological Argument he maintains that there is nothing whose non-existence is inconceivable. He thus seems to contradict himself. If the non-existence of space is unthinkable, so is the non-existence of a part of space — a place. Indicating a particular place, we might say "There are no objects there", but it would be nonsense to say "There doesn't exist". We can say, as Aristotle (...) saw, "There is a place where there was water and where there is now air"; but to do so is to bind an adverbial variable with a quantifier, not to attach "exists" to the name of a place. To assert of a place, or of space, that it exists or that it does not exist would be nonsense, and the unthinkable in that sense is not something whose negation is, as Kant thought, a necessary truth. (shrink)
This paper reports from an ongoing multidisciplinary, ethnographic study that is exploring the views, values and practices (the ethical frameworks) drawn on by professional staff in assisted conception units and stem cell laboratories in relation to embryo donation for research purposes, particularly human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, in the UK. We focus here on the connection between possible incidental findings and the circumstances in which embryos are donated for hESC research, and report some of the uncertainties and dilemmas of (...) our staff participants. We explore the views of our study participants in relation to two themes: (1) rights to information and anticipating how donors might be informed about future research findings and (2) occupational work goals and trust. (shrink)
In this paper, we present the first stage of an empirical bioethics project exploring the moral sources of paternal responsibilities and rights. In doing so, we present both (1) data on men's normative constructions of fatherhood and (2) the first of a two-stage methodological approach to empirical bioethics. Using data gathered from 12 focus groups run with UK men who have had a variety of different fathering experiences (n = 50), we examine men's perspectives on how paternal responsibilities and rights (...) are generated and the significance of the genetic connection within the father–child relationship. We do not attempt to explore men's experiences of fatherhood or their fathering practices; and neither is the analysis driven from a particular sociological perspective. Rather, we explore men's normative constructions of fatherhood in order to present accessible data that might be of significance to the philosophical/moral debate on the sources of paternal rights and responsibilities. (shrink)
Christology seems to fall fairly clearly into two divisions. The first is concerned with the truth of the two propositions: ‘Christ is God’ and ‘Christ is a man’. The second is concerned with the mutual compatibility of these propositions. The first part of Christology tends to confine itself to what is sometimes called ‘positive theology’: that is to say, it is largely given over to examining the Jons revelationis —let us not prejudge currently burning issues by asking what this is—to (...) see what evidence can be found for the truth of these propositions. Clearly, the methods used will be above all those of New Testament exegesis. The second part of Christology will necessarily consist entirely of that speculative theology which is contrasted with positive theology. Even if the earliest speculation on this topic is to be found in the New Testament itself and thus becomes fair game for the exegetes, any attempt to relate the primary truths, ‘Christ is God’ and ‘Christ is a man’, to eachother is a work of reflection, and in the terminology I am using speculative. (shrink)