By exploring diverse and sometimes positive roles for ignorance, A Defense of Ignorance offers a revisionary approach to epistemology that challenges core assumptions about epistemic values. Townley contributes innovative ways of thinking about the practicalities and politics of knowledge and argues for an expanded domain of responsible epistemic conduct. All social scientists, especially those interested in knowledge and in feminist scholarship, stand to benefit from Townley's arguments.
‘Contract cheating’ has recently emerged as a form of academic dishonesty. It involves students contracting out their coursework to writers in order to submit the purchased assignments as their own work, usually via the internet. This form of cheating involves epistemic and ethical problems that are continuous with older forms of cheating, but which it also casts in a new form. It is a concern to educators because it is very difficult to detect, because it is arguably more fraudulent than (...) some other forms of plagiarism, and because it appears to be connected to a range of systemic problems within modern higher education. This paper provides an overview of the information and literature thus far available on the topic, including its definition, the problems it involves, its causal factors, and the ways in which educators might respond. We argue that while contract cheating is a concern, some of the suggested responses are themselves problematic, and that best practice responses to the issue should avoid moral panic and remain focussed on supporting honest students and good academic practice. (shrink)
Epistemological interest in trust concentrates mainly on whether and how it is a proper resource for responsible knowers. However, trust is important and valuable to epistemic agents for reasons that do not depend on its being knowledge-conducive, or knowledge enhancing. Being trusted is essential for full participation in an epistemic community. The story of Cassandra illustrates these dimensions of trust's value.
: The development of nonoppressive ways of knowing other persons, often across significantly different social positions, is an important project within feminism. An account of epistemic responsibility attentive to feminist concerns is developed here through a critique of epistemophilia—the love of knowledge to the point of myopia and its concurrent ignoring of ignorance. Identifying a positive role for ignorance yields an enhanced understanding of responsible knowledge practices.
This paper applies a utilitarian analysis to corporate political donations. Unlike the more common rights-based analyses, it is argued that the optimal policy is the one that best satisfies society’s rational preferences concerning donor influence, adequate financing, donor pressure and the cost of maintaining and enforcing the democratic system. This analysis suggests that a ban is best if it would be generally observed and sufficient financing from other sources is available, otherwise a donation cap is a better option. Further, lobbyists (...) should be banned from donating small gifts and drafting bills for candidates. The impact of disclosure and other risk management mechanisms are also considered. (shrink)
We often think of trust as an interpersonal relation, and of the distinction between trust and reliance as a distinction between kinds of interpersonal relations. Indeed this is often the case. I may trust one colleague but not find her reliable; rely on another but find him untrustworthy; both trust and rely on my best friend; neither trust nor rely on my dean. One of us has discussed the nature of such relations and distinctions at length. But trust is not (...) only an interpersonal matter. Human society comprises not only individuals but also institutions, and indeed individuals who occupy crucial institutional roles. We often individually or collectively trust, distrust, rely on, or fail or refuse to rely on such institutions or institutional players qua players. In this essay we explore the structure, scope and value of such institutional trust and distrust, which we call “public trust.” Public trust, we will argue, plays a central role in constituting the public sphere and in structuring societies in which it is worth living. (shrink)
Plagiarism is the misuse of and failure to acknowledge source materials. This paper questions common responses to the apparent increase in plagiarism by students. Internet plagiarism occurs in a context – using the Internet as an information tool – where the relevant norms are far from obvious and models of virtue are difficult to identify and perhaps impossible to find. Ethical responses to the pervasiveness of Internet-enhanced plagiarism require a reorientation of perspective on both plagiarism and the Internet as a (...) knowledge tool. Technological strategies to “catch the cheats” send a “don’t get caught” message to students and direct the limited resources of academic institutions to a battle that cannot be won. More importantly, it is not the right battleground. Rather than characterising Internet-enabled plagiarism as a problem generated and solvable by emerging technologies, we argue that there is a more urgent need to build the background conditions that enable and sustain ethical relationships and academic virtues: to nurture an intellectual community. (shrink)
Whether animals, especially companion animals, count as friends depends on the conception of friendship as well as on the conception of animals. Some accounts of friendship can include animals more easily than others. I present an argument in favour of characterising some animal-human connections as friendships, and address some of the standard objections to this characterisation. It might seem that under any conception of friendship, characterising animals as friends would likely lead to better treatment of animals, as various kinds of (...) ill-treatment or use would not be consistent with treating someone as a friend. However, concern for animal welfare typically extends well beyond the direct concern for our own household companions, and is a concern for animals in general, whereas friendship, by its nature, is particularist. There are limits to applying the concept of friendship to animal treatment beyond particular relationships. (shrink)
“Whatever matters to human beings, trust is the atmosphere in which it thrives” writes Sissela Bok. Although trust is ubiquitous, understanding trust is a non-trivial challenge. Trust: Analytic and Applied Perspectives addresses critical and analytical issues of trust. It examines trust from a conceptual perspective as well as considers it in practical contexts ranging from the public sphere broadly understood to particular social institutions, such as universities and medical care. Trust: Analytic and Applied Perspectives explores what kind of good trust (...) is, what kind of goods it can protect and how it can bring about goods, and develops subtle distinctions between trust and other virtues, and between trust and other forms of dependence.The pluralism of the volume reflects the diversity of the real world contexts and theoretical perspectives indispensable in the search of a deeper understanding of trust. Without such an understanding of the nature of trust and the good reasons why people might trust one another or the institutions, we are in danger of designing institutions that will reduce trust or even drive it out. Trust: Analytic and Applied Perspectives sheds new light on the intersecting dimensions of our social cooperation, in which trust can be responsibly undertaken. (shrink)
One common justification for intellectual property rights treats knowledge as a commodity, a neutral object with no connections to persons, except as a source of profit. Instead, knowledge should be understood in a way that reflects relationships among knowers and values the virtues of social engagement.
This chapter draws some conclusions about moral alignment and moral pluralism from an examination of forgiveness and betrayal. While forgiveness and betrayal seem very different phenomena, they are parallel in some instructive ways. Explicating the similar structures of forgiveness and betrayal can illuminate their respective roles in the moral economies of agential life, of relationship, and within networks of relationship. Looking at these similarities, as well as differences, also helps to show up some of the characteristics of the moral domain, (...) understood as a complex social domain that comprises particular direct relationships in which betrayals and forgivenesses occur, and in which agents inhabit multiple overlapping moral communities. (shrink)
Simon Keller's The Limits of Loyalty makes an important and valuable contribution to a neglected area of moral psychology, both in presenting a clear and subtle account of loyalty in its various manifestations, and in challenging some assumptions about the role of loyalty in a morally decent life. Loyalty's domain is that of special relationships, and for some relationship types, Keller argues that these relationships rightly carry some motivational force, as in his analysis of filial duties. In other cases, such (...) as patriotism, ‘there is always something unfortunate about such loyalties’ , for example, that they involve dispositions to ‘fall into bad faith’ or other confusions.Keller begins by examining diverse particular loyalties, then moves to more general questions about loyalty. He considers friendship patriotism , and the obligations of grown children to parents . He argues that loyalty tends to conflict with other values, such as epistemic integrity and draws the conclusion that loyalty as such should not …. (shrink)
Surgery is an increasingly common and expensive mode of medical intervention. The ethical dimensions of the surgeon-patient relationship, including respect for personal autonomy and informed consent, are much discussed; but broader equity issues have not received the same attention. This paper extends the understanding of surgical ethics by considering the nature of evidence in surgery and its relationship to a just provision of healthcare for individuals and their populations.
In response to those who have argued the Internet is amoral at best, and an instrument for immorality at worst, we show that the net can provide a forum for genuine ethical engagement and distinctive forms of wrongdoing. Without deriving the moral value of the Internet from its interface with the non-virtual world and in contrast to presentations of the net as an anarchic utopia or as an unethical or amoral dystopia, we apply a substantive moral test to a selection (...) of online examples and ask can the net accommodate resistance to oppression that is necessary, though not sufficient, for justice? More precisely, we will ask whether Gandhian non-violent action is available to Cyberpunks? (shrink)
This paper investigates reasons for practices and policies that are designed to promote higher levels of enrolment by women in scientific disciplines. It challenges the assumptions and problematic arguments of a recent article questioning their legitimacy. Considering the motivations for and merits of such programs suggests a practical response to the question of whether there should be programs to attract female science and engineering students.
The primary aim of biomedical research is to discover and develop new knowledge to advance human medicine. Frequently a ‘mouse model’ is taken to be a necessary step towards understanding a disease, biological mechanism or intervention. We argue for caution with respect to the mouse model: theoretical reasons, meta-analyses of empirical data, and viable alternatives all support a more restricted use of animals in laboratories than is current practice. On its own terms, a utilitarian scientific justification for using animals in (...) biomedical research converges more closely with welfarist claims than is usually recognised. (shrink)
Common goods are notoriously vulnerable to destructive overuse. Indeed, certain online activities, such as spam, can jeopardize the very existence of the Internet. We defend an account of the net as a common good that provides the grounds for assessing various strategies for spam reduction.