Cheryl Misak presents a history of the great American philosophical tradition of pragmatism, from its inception in the 1870s to the present day. She traces the connections between classical American pragmatism and contemporary analytic philosophy, and draws out the continuing influence of pragmatist ideas in the recent history of philosophy.
Cheryl Misak argues that truth ought to be reinstated to a central position in moral and political philosophy. She argues that the correct account of truth is one found in a certain kind of pragmatism: a true belief is one upon which inquiry could not improve, a belief which would not be defeated by experience and argument. This account is not only an improvement on the views of central figures such as Rawls and Habermas, but it can also make (...) sense of the idea that, despite conflict, pluralism, and the expression of difference, our moral and political beliefs aim at truth and can be subject to criticism. Anyone interested in a fresh discussion of political theory and philosophy will find this a fascinating read. (shrink)
Cheryl Misak offers a strikingly new view of the development of philosophy in the twentieth century. Pragmatism, the home-grown philosophy of America, thinks of truth not as a static relation between a sentence and the believer-independent world, but rather, a belief that works. The founders of pragmatism, Peirce and James, developed this idea in more and less objective ways. The standard story of the reception of American pragmatism in England is that Russell and Moore savaged James's theory, and that (...) pragmatism has never fully recovered. An alternative, and underappreciated, story is told here. The brilliant Cambridge mathematician, philosopher and economist, Frank Ramsey, was in the mid-1920s heavily influenced by the almost-unheard-of Peirce and was developing a pragmatist position of great promise. He then transmitted that pragmatism to his friend Wittgenstein, although had Ramsey lived past the age of 26 to see what Wittgenstein did with that position, Ramsey would not have liked what he saw. (shrink)
Frank Ramsey was a brilliant Cambridge philosopher, mathematician, and economist who died in 1930 at 26 having made landmark contributions to decision theory, game theory, mathematics, logic, semantics, philosophy of science, and the theory of truth. This rich biography tells the story of his extraordinary life and intellectual achievement.
Because factory-farmed meat production inflicts gratuitous suffering upon animals and wreaks havoc on the environment, there are morally compelling reasons to become vegetarian. Yet industrial plant agriculture causes the death of many field animals, and this leads some to question whether consumers ought to get some of their protein from certain kinds of non factory-farmed meat. Donald Bruckner, for instance, boldly argues that the harm principle implies an obligation to collect and consume roadkill and that strict vegetarianism is thus immoral. (...) But this argument works only if the following claims are true: all humans have access to roadkill, roadkill would go to waste if those who happen upon it don’t themselves consume it, it’s impossible to harvest vegetables without killing animals, the animals who are killed in plant production are all-things-considered harmed by crop farming, and the best arguments for vegetarianism all endorse the harm principle. As I will argue in this paper, each claim is deeply problematic. Consequently, in most cases, humans ought to strictly eat plants and save the roadkill for cats. (shrink)
This study investigates professional tax practitioners' ethical judgments and behavioral intentions in cases involving client pressure to adopt aggressive reporting positions, an issue that has been identified as the most difficult ethical/moral problem facing public accounting practitioners. The multidimensional ethics scale (MES) was used to measure the extent to which a hypothetical behavior was consistent with five ethical philosophies (moral equity, contractualism, utilitarianism, relativism, and egoism). Responses from a sample of 67 tax professionals supported the existence of all dimensions of (...) the MES other than egoism. Regressions of ethical judgments and behavioral intentions on the MES dimensions indicate that ethical decision making is most heavily influenced by the moral equity dimension, followed by the contractualism dimension. In contrast, the utilitarianism and relativism dimensions were only related to ethical judgments and behavioral intentions in isolated instances. (shrink)
The issues that Foucault raises about reception and reading are certainly part of the contemporary discussion of literature. However, they are not the only issues with which we, as today’s readers, are concerned. Discussions about the role of the author persist and so we continue to have recourse to the notion of authorship.For instance, in her recent book Sexual / Textual Politics , the feminist critic Toril Moi feels called on to return to these twenty-year-old issues in French theory to (...) tell us what it has meant to speak of the author, when she says: “For the patriarchal critic, the author is the source, origin and meaning of the text. If we are to undo this patriarchal practice of authority, we must take one further step and proclaim with Roland Barthes the death of the author.”3In the course of this essay I wish to reopen the question of whether it is advisable to speak of the author, or of what Foucault calls “the author function,” when querying a text, and I wish to reopen it precisely at the site where feminist criticism and post-structuralism are presently engaged in dialogue. Here in particular we might expect that reasons for rejecting author erasure would appear. However, theoretically informed feminist critics have recently found themselves tempted to agree with Barthes, Foucault, and the Edward Said of Beginnings that the authorial presence is best set aside in order to liberate the text for multiple uses.4 4. See Edward W. Said, Beginnings: Intention and Method , p. 162. Cheryl Walker is professor of English and humanities at Scripps College. She is the author of The Nightingale’s Burden: Women Poets and American Culture before 1900 and Masks Outrageous and Austere: Culture, Psyche, and Persona in Modern Women Poets . She is currently editing an anthology of nineteenth-century women poets and a book of essays about feminist criticism in the wake of post-structuralism. (shrink)
This project examined the ethical issues faced by academics and professionals in the Humanities. We conducted focus groups to gather information about the ethical concerns in these fields and used the qualitative data arising from the discussions to create a taxonomy that represents the structure of ethical issues in the Humanities. A key implication of our findings is that while the focus of ethics research and interventions has been primarily on the sciences and engineering, academics and professionals in other fields (...) also encounter some unique critical ethical dilemmas that require further research and methods of intervention. (shrink)
Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), the founder of pragmatism, is generally considered the most significant American philosopher. Popularized by William James and John Dewey, pragmatism advocates that our philosophical theories be linked to experience and practice. The essays in this volume reveal how Peirce developed this concept.
We discuss the impact of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) on phylogenetic reconstruction and taxonomy. We review the power of HGT as a creative force in assembling new metabolic pathways, and we discuss the impact that HGT has on phylogenetic reconstruction. On one hand, shared derived characters are created through transferred genes that persist in the recipient lineage, either because they were adaptive in the recipient lineage or because they resulted in a functional replacement. On the other hand, taxonomic patterns in (...) microbial phylogenies might also be created through biased gene transfer. The agreement between different molecular phylogenies has encouraged interpretation of the consensus signal as reflecting organismal history or as the tree of cell divisions; however, to date the extent to which the consensus reflects shared organismal ancestry and to which it reflects highways of gene sharing and biased gene transfer remains an open question. Preferential patterns of gene exchange act as a homogenizing force in creating and maintaining microbial groups, generating taxonomic patterns that are indistinguishable to those created by shared ancestry. To understand the evolution of higher bacterial taxonomic units, concepts usually applied in population genetics need to be applied. (shrink)
Climate change harms health and damages and diminishes environmental resources. Gradually it will cause health systems to reduce services, standards of care, and opportunities to express patient autonomy. Prominent public health organizations are responding with preparedness, mitigation, and educational programs. The design and effectiveness of these programs, and of similar programs in other sectors, would be enhanced by greater understanding of the values and tradeoffs associated with activities and public policies that drive climate change. Bioethics could generate such understanding by (...) exposing the harms and benefits in different cultural, socioeconomic, and geographic contexts, and through interdisciplinary risk assessments. Climate change is a bioethics problem because it harms everyone and involves health, values, and responsibilities. This article initiates dialog about the responsibility of bioethics to promote transparency and understanding of the social values and conflicts associated with climate change, and the actions and public policies that allow climate change to worsen. (shrink)
Convinced of the importance of framing, many environmentalists have begun emphasizing positive visions of a happy and healthy green future rather than gloomy pictures of deprivation and sacrifice. ?Gloom and doom? discourses foster despair and resistance, they worry, instead of hope and motivation to change. While positive visions are crucial, though, it is ineffective to deny that living more sustainably will involve any loss. Since people value many incompatible things, living more sustainably will inevitably entail both sacrifice and reward. Environmentalists (...) must help articulate new possibilities of a greener future without dismissing the value of what must be given up. (shrink)
Abstract: Some first person statements, such as ‘I am in pain’, are thought to be immune to error through misidentification (IEM): I cannot be wrong that I am in pain because—while I know that someone is in pain—I have mistaken that person for myself. While IEM is typically associated with the self-ascription of psychological properties, some philosophers attempt to draw anti-Cartesian conclusions from the claim that certain physical self-ascriptions are also IEM. In this paper, I will examine whether some physical (...) self-ascriptions are in fact IEM, and—if they are—what role that fact is supposed to play in arguments for the anti-Cartesian claim that self-consciousness is consciousness of oneself as a material object. I will argue that if we accept the assumptions required to show that physical self-ascriptions are IEM, then IEM cannot play the role it needs to play in these anti-Cartesian arguments. (shrink)
The pragmatist view of politics is at its very heart epistemic, for it treats morals and politics as a kind of deliberation or inquiry, not terribly unlike other kinds of inquiry. With the exception of Richard Rorty, the pragmatists argue that morals and politics, like science, aim at the truth or at getting things right and that the best method for achieving this aim is a method they sometimes call the scientific method or the method of intelligence – what would (...) now be termed deliberative democracy. Hence, the pragmatists offer an argument for democracy which appeals to the quality of the decisions supplied by democratic procedure. Why should we value decisions that are the products of voting after open debate over private decision-making and then voting, over bargaining, or over elimination of those who disagree with us? We should value them because the deliberative democratic method is more likely to give us true or right or justified answers to our questions. Rorty, of course, thinks that no inquiry aims at the truth and that nothing about pragmatism speaks in democracy's favor. This paper will show how his brand of pragmatism betrays what is good and deeply interesting in the pragmatist tradition. (shrink)
Tocqueville's contradictory writings on imperialism have produced interpretations that range from unrepentant realism to lapsed universalism. This essay considers the moral psychology that underlies his position. It argues that Tocqueville's writings on colonialism exemplify his resort to apologia when his deepest apprehensions are aroused and offers a typology of Tocquevillean rhetorical evasions: the mechanisms by which he attempts to quell perceptions of moral dissonance. It also argues that Tocqueville's evasion of the challenge of Algeria illustrates a particular kind of liberal (...) failure and a peculiar liberal temptation. By avoiding rather than confronting the conflicting intuitions underlying his moral judgments, Tocqueville betrays the promise of his liberalism by failing to explore the tensions implicit in the practice of liberal democracy. These strategies to deaden awareness of complicity in colonial violence appear disturbingly familiar in a world in which national interests and universally acknowledged "human maxims" increasingly collide in the liberal conscience. (shrink)
After 1900, the selective breeding of a few standard animals for research in the life sciences changed the way science was done. Among the pervasive changes was a transformation in scientists' assumptions about relationship between diversity and generality. Examination of the contents of two prominent physiology journals between 1885 and 1900, reveals that scientists used a diverse array of organisms in empirical research. Experimental physiologists gave many reasons for the choice of test animals, some practical and others truly comparative. But, (...) despite strong philosophical differences in the approaches they represented, the view that it was best to incorporate as many species as possible into research on physiological processes was widespread in both periodicals. Authors aimed for generality, but they treated it as a conclusion that would or would not follow from the examination of many species. After 1900, an increasing emphasis on standardization, the growth of the experimental method and the growing industrialization of the life sciences led to a decline in the number of species used in research. In this context, the selective breeding of animals for science facilitated a change in assumptions about the relationship between generality and diversity. As animals were increasingly viewed as things that were assumed to be fundamentally similar, scientific generality became an a priori assumption rather than an empirical conclusion. (shrink)
One manifestation of climate change is the increasingly severe extreme weather that causes injury, illness and death through heat stress, air pollution, infectious disease and other means. Leading health organisations around the world are responding to the related water and food shortages and volatility of energy and agriculture prices that threaten health and health economics. Environmental and climate ethics highlight the associated challenges to human rights and distributive justice but rarely address health or encompass bioethical methods or analyses. Public health (...) ethics and its broader umbrella, bioethics, remain relatively silent on climate change. Meanwhile global population growth creates more people who aspire to Western lifestyles and unrestrained socioeconomic growth. Fulfilling these aspirations generates more emissions; worsens climate change; and undermines virtues and values that engender appreciation of, and protections for, natural resources. Greater understanding of how virtues and values are evolving in different contexts, and the associated consequences, might nudge the individual and collective priorities that inform public policy toward embracing stewardship and responsibility for environmental resources necessary to health. Instead of neglecting climate change and related policy, public health ethics and bioethics should explore these issues; bring transparency to the tradeoffs that permit emissions to continue at current rates; and offer deeper understanding about what is at stake and what it means to live a good life in today's world. (shrink)
An underappreciated fact in the history of analytic philosophy is that American pragmatism had an early and strong influence on the Vienna Circle. The path of that influence goes from Charles Peirce to Frank Ramsey to Ludwig Wittgenstein to Moritz Schlick. That path is traced in this paper, and along the way some standard understandings of Ramsey and Wittgenstein, especially, are radically altered.
Australia is restricted by the academic, social and administrative mechanisms of financialization. Exaggerated critiques about the adequacy of learner-centered approaches to education have been used to support a retrogressive shift from curriculum informed by contemporary educational theories, towards curriculum informed by management theories based on the dehumanizing educational theory of behaviourism. I therefore suggest a return to pre-1987 learning-centered educational theories, which include face-to-face relations, compassion and civility. This call is not new, but it has been largely ignored by powerful (...) agents in society: politicians, and regulatory-body representatives. It is therefore necessary to embark on an alternative approach to agential change. In this case, I appeal not to the powerful agents, but to all of us involved in VET. Since VET subsists on our activities, that is, since we daily reproduce it with our activities, it should be possible for us to withdraw those activities that reproduce the marketized approach to VET. (shrink)
This study examined the role of temporal orientation and affective frame in the execution of ethical decision-making strategies. In reflecting on a past experience or imagining a future experience, participants thought about experiences that they considered either positive or negative. The participants recorded their thinking about that experience by responding to several questions, and their responses were content-analyzed for the use of ethical decision-making strategies. The findings indicated that a future temporal orientation was associated with greater strategy use. Likewise, a (...) positive affective frame was associated with greater strategy use. Future orientation may permit better strategy execution than a past orientation because it facilitates more objective, balanced contemplation of the reflected-upon situation and minimizes potential self-threat associated with past behavior. A positive affective frame likely improves strategy execution because it facilitates active analysis of the experience. Future directions and implications of these findings are discussed. (shrink)
This paper reframes the futility debate, moving away from the question “Who decides when to end what is considered to be a medically inappropriate or futile treatment?” and toward the question “How can society make policy that will best account for the multitude of values and conflicts involved in such decision-making?” It offers a pragmatist moral epistemology that provides us with a clear justification of why it is important to take best standards, norms, and physician judgment seriously and a clear (...) justification of why ample opportunity must be made for patients, families, and society to challenge those standards and norms. (shrink)
In recent work, Cheryl Misak has developed a novel justification of deliberative democracy rooted in Peircean epistemology. In this article, the author expands Misak's arguments to show that not only does Peircean pragmatism provide a justification for deliberative democracy that is more compelling than the justifications offered by competing liberal and discursivist views, but also fixes a specific conception of deliberative politics that is perfectionist rather than neutralist. The article concludes with a discussion of whether the `epistemic perfectionism' implied (...) by the pragmatist argument could be endorsed by liberal democrats. Key Words: deliberative democracy epistemology liberalism Cheryl Misak Charles Peirce perfectionism pragmatism truth. (shrink)
The pragmatist view of politics is at its very heart epistemic, for it treats morals and politics as a kind of deliberation or inquiry, not terribly unlike other kinds of inquiry. With the exception of Richard Rorty, the pragmatists argue that morals and politics, like science, aim at the truth or at getting things right and that the best method for achieving this aim is a method they sometimes call the scientific method or the method of intelligence – what would (...) now be termed deliberative democracy. Hence, the pragmatists offer an argument for democracy which appeals to the quality of the decisions supplied by democratic procedure. Why should we value decisions that are the products of voting after open debate over private decision-making and then voting, over bargaining, or over elimination of those who disagree with us? We should value them because the deliberative democratic method is more likely to give us true or right or justified answers to our questions. Rorty, of course, thinks that no inquiry aims at the truth and that nothing about pragmatism speaks in democracy’s favor. This paper will show how his brand of pragmatism betrays what is good and deeply interesting in the pragmatist tradition. (shrink)
Dimensions of the ethical work climate, as conceptualized by Victor and Cullen, are potentially important influences on individual ethical decision-making in the organizational context. The present study examined the direct and indirect effects of individuals' perceptions of work climate on their ethical judgments and behavioral intentions regarding an ethical dilemma. A national sample of marketers was surveyed in a scenario-based research study. The results indicated that, although perceived climate dimensions did not have a direct effect on behavioral intentions, there were (...) significant moderating effects. Climates perceived as emphasizing social responsibility and rules/codes moderated the individual ethical judgment-behavioral intentions relationship such that individuals were less likely to say that they would engage in a questionable selling practice even when they themselves did not believe the practice to be unethical. Respondents were somewhat more likely to form intentions consistent with their judgment that the questionable practice was morally acceptable when the ethical climate was characterized by an emphasis on team/friendship. (shrink)
In a recent review article, Jeff Popke (2006, p. 510) calls for a ?more direct engagement with theories of ethics and responsibility? on the part of human geographers, and for a reinscription of the social as a site of ethics and responsibility. This requires that we also continue to develop ways of thinking through our responsibilities toward unseen others?both unseen neighbours and distant others?and to cultivate a renewed sense of social interconnectedness. Popke suggests that a feminist-inspired ethic of care might (...) be instrumental in developing this expanded, relational and collective vision of the social, which is particularly prescient given the contemporary economic downturn throughout the globe. Thus, as the ?moral turn? in geography continues to evolve, this special issue seeks to bring together geographers working within feminist or feminist-inspired frameworks, and with a shared interest in the changing geographies of ethics, responsibility and care. The collection of papers has its origins in conference sessions on Care-full Geographies, organised by the Guest Editors at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in 2007. In this editorial we seek to position the papers within broader debates about care, responsibility and ethics that have emerged in geography and the wider social sciences in recent years, and to highlight the key issues that have framed these debates. (shrink)
Positive arguments on behalf of passion are scarce in liberal political theory. Rather, liberal theorists tend to push passion to the margins of their theories of politics, either by ignoring it or by explicitly arguing that passion poses a danger to politics and is best kept out of the public realm. The purpose of this essay is to criticize these marginalizations and to illustrate their roots in impoverished conceptions of passion. Using a richer conception of passion as the desire for (...) an envisioned good, I argue that it is neither possible nor desirable to eliminate passion from politics. Passion should therefore be established as a central category of analysis in political theory alongside other key concerns. Key Words: passion reason politics liberalism eros. (shrink)
This study examined how the number and types of consequences considered are related to forecasting and ethical decision making. Undergraduate participants took on the role of the key actor in several ethical problems and were asked to forecast potential outcomes and make a decision about each problem. Performance pressure was manipulated by ostensibly making rewards contingent on good problem-solving performance. The results indicated that forecast quality was associated with decision ethicality, and the identification of the critical consequences of the problem (...) and consequences for others were associated with both higher quality forecasts and more ethical decisions. In addition, the identification of a larger number of consequences was negatively associated with ethical decision making. Performance pressure did not impact forecast quality or ethicality of decisions. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed. (shrink)
Genetic testing is currently subject to little oversight, despite the significant ethical issues involved. Repeated recommendations for increased regulation of the genetic testing market have led to little progress in the policy arena. A 2005 Internet search identified 13 websites offering health-related genetic testing for direct purchase by the consumer. Further examination of these sites showed that overall, biotech companies are not providing enough information for consumers to make well-informed decisions; they are not consistently offering genetic counseling services; and some (...) sites even offer tests with little evidence of clinical value. This article aims to raise company and consumer awareness about the ethical concerns surrounding the direct-to-consumer marketing of health-related genetic tests. It also suggests ways that biotech companies can bring their services to the public in an ethically responsible manner, without increased regulatory oversight. (shrink)
This commentary explores the disagreement between Alex Klein and Cheryl Misak about the core insights of American Pragmatism, against a background of agreement. Both take the history of early American pragmatism to be a vital part of the history of analytic philosophy, not a radical break with it. But Misak argues that James seeks to loosen the usual epistemic standards so that religious and scientific belief can both be justified by a unitary set of evidentiary rules, and Klein argues (...) that James’s aim is not primarily to seek a rationale or justification for religious belief. At the heart of the debate is a matter still very much alive in philosophy of science: the nature and status of indispensability arguments or arguments purporting to show that we need to assume some things in order to conduct inquiry. (shrink)
This paper examines Andrew Feenberg’s radical democratic politics of technology in relation to the context of Ecuador’s free and open software movement. It considers the articulation of this movement via the government sponsored activist project FLOK Society. Based on an ethnographic study, which included interviews with FLOK Society coordinators, the paper discusses how such government-activist collaborations, may be useful in expanding Feenberg’s notion of technical politics and the nature of representation in the technical sphere. More specifically, the paper looks at (...) the political shaping of technology, in relation to concepts about ‘the Good Life’, or ‘Buen Vivir’ in the case of Ecuador, and its drive toward a knowledge economy, based on the concepts of ‘Buen Conocer’ and ‘Bioconocimiento’. The paper argues that certain premises held by Feenberg concerning technical politics, democracy and populism in particular may need to be reconsidered in light of developments in Ecuador. (shrink)
This study investigates antecedents of corporate social responsibility in multinational corporations' subsidiaries. Using stakeholder theory and institutional theory that identify internal and external pressures for legitimacy in MNCs' subsidiaries, we integrate international business and CSR literatures to create a model depicting CSR practices in MNCs' subsidiaries. We propose that MNCs' subsidiaries will be likely to adapt to local practices to legitimize themselves if they operate in host countries with different institutional environments and demanding stakeholders. We also predict that MNCs' subsidiaries (...) will be likely to adapt to local practices to avoid spillover effects if their parent companies suffer major legitimacy problems at home or abroad. However, we speculate that MNCs' subsidiaries will be less likely to adapt to local practices if they are strongly annexed to their parent companies and the benefit to gain internal legitimacy outweighs external legitimacy. This article contributes to the discourse on CSR across borders by exploring the antecedents of CSR practices in MNCs' subsidiaries at social and organizational levels, and integrating institutional and stakeholder views. We provide a number of propositions for future studies and explore implications for practitioners. (shrink)