This paper describes differences in two perspectives on the idea of virtue as a theoretical foundation for positive organizational ethics (POE). The virtue ethics perspective is grounded in the philosophical tradition, has classical roots, and focuses attention on virtue as a property of character. The positive social science perspective is a recent movement (e.g., positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship) that has implications for POE. The positive social science movement operationalizes virtue through an empirical lens that emphasizes virtuous behaviors. From (...) a virtue ethics perspective, a behaviorally based account of virtue is a weak theory of virtue. Observations are suggested for integrating the two perspectives. First, virtue should always be understood as an excellence and is often an optimal point between extreme dysfunctions on continuum of potential states. Second, an empirical exploration of virtue needs to account for character and context. Finally, the properties of organization-level virtue need to be further specified and explored. Implications and directions for future research are discussed. (shrink)
Virtuousness refers to the pursuit of the highest aspirations in the human condition. It is characterized by human impact, moral goodness, and unconditional societal betterment. Several writers have recently argued that corporations, in addition to being concerned with ethics, should also emphasize an ethos of virtuousness in corporate action. Virtuousness emphasizes actions that go beyond the “do no harm” assumption embedded in most ethical codes of conduct. Instead, it emphasizes the highest and best of the human condition. This research empirically (...) examines the buffering and amplifying effects of virtuousness in organizations. The study hypothesizes that virtuousness has a positive effect on organizations because amplifying dynamics make subsequent virtuous action more likely, and buffering dynamics reduce the harmful effects of downsizing. The study reveals that two types of virtuousness – tonic and phasic – are associated with these effects. (shrink)
This is an interesting and charming book—even if not strictly an essay in the history of science. The dissident author studied earth sciences in Romania during the beastly Ceauşescu regime but managed to get out by attending a conference in Newcastle and never returning until after the end of Eastern European communism. Yet he remained a Romanian patriot and is presently a professor honoris causa in Bucharest, while residing with his family in salubrious Glyndebourne.Constantin Roman must, by his account, surely (...) be one of the world's most upwardly mobile earth scientists. Starting in England with only £5 in his pocket, by ability, persistence, and charm, and using Newcastle as a stepping‐stone, he became acquainted with the right people and obtained a scholarship to Peterhouse, Cambridge, to do a Ph.D. on the tectonics of the Caucasus and across into Central Asia, using seismic data to identify plate boundaries and movements. On this basis, and studying areas of compression and tension, he proposed the existence of two nonrigid “buffer plates”—Sinkiang and Tibet—between the Indian and Eurasian plates. This was an iconoclastic suggestion in the early 1970s. Later, after getting his doctorate under Edward Bullard, Roman became an oil industry consultant and, I infer, made good money.Primarily, the book is about the madnesses of dictatorships and bureaucracies—and also the lovely life of a research student at Cambridge. When it came to Kafkaesque bureaucracy, the British authorities could be quite as obdurate as their Romanian counterparts: you can't have a work permit unless you have a job; you can't have a job unless you have a work permit. The difference, though, was that Roman could enlist support via his influential Cambridge contacts, and eventually he broke the logjam by getting an acquaintance at the Telegraph to offer him a kind of pseudo‐job . He was tenacious, resourceful, and bright, and seemingly charming to boot. It worked!Roman displayed similar qualities as a researcher. When he was well into his Ph.D. work, Bullard drew his attention to a paper emanating from Peter Molnar and his group at MIT that dealt with the same topic and arrived independently at essentially the same theory. The American paper had been refereed and accepted and was shortly to be published. Bullard warned his student that if this happened before Roman submitted his thesis he could only expect to get an M.A. So with bounce and initiative Roman dashed up to London and persuaded New Scientist to publish the main arguments of his thesis before the MIT paper got into print. This is presented as a coup, and so it was. Roman's Ph.D. was saved. But while that was all very well for the Cambridge “chaps,” one may wonder what the Americans thought about the matter. We're not told.We're not told a few other things either, particularly what happened between Roman and his first supervisor, Dan McKenzie . We are, however, told much about the delightful “lotus eaters” at Cambridge and the life there that is open to all—providing they have the right energy, brains, and charm. Roman got where he did by his ample possession of these qualities.But I wonder about Cambridge. It is the privileged tip of a huge social and economic pyramid, supported by a massive base of taxes, endowments, and, ultimately, the exploitation of third‐world lands and peoples and, formerly , of British workers. Roman knew that his home country was a mad dictatorship. He got out, and into what was then undoubtedly a better place. But what of those nameless ones today who suffocate in containers in their desperate struggle to get into Britain, or the refugees who are now incarcerated in alien detention centers in the Australian deserts? The West welcomes some, but not all. Continental Drift says nothing about such matters, but much about winning supporters through contacts, energy, and persistence. (shrink)
Morgan et al. examine the notion of corporate citizenship and suggest that for it to be effective companies need to minimize harm and maximize benefits through its activities and, in so doing, take account of and be responsive to a full range of stakeholders. Specifically, they call for a “next generation” approach to corporate citizenship that embeds structures, systems, processes and policies into and across the company’s value chain. We take this notion of corporate citizenship and apply it to Privacy (...) by Design concepts in a value chain model. Privacy by Design is comprised of Seven Foundational Principles, and as we develop the Privacy by Design Value Chain, those principles are incorporated. First, we examine the primary activities in the value chain and consider each of these seven principles, and then we extend the analysis to the support activities. Finally, we consider privacy implications and the challenges to be faced in supply chain and federated environments. Designing privacy into the value chain model is a practical, business view of organizational and privacy issues. This puts privacy where it belongs in an organization—everywhere personal information exists. We conclude that further research is needed to consider the internal stakeholders’ communications among the various departments within an organization with the goal of better communications and shared values, and we believe the value chain approach helps to further this research agenda. Also, federated environments necessitate that organizations can “trust” their third parties providers. Research and case studies are needed regarding how these organizations can create value and competitive advantages by voluntarily providing their customers with privacy practice compliance reports. For the most part, the future is bright for the protection of personal information because solutions, not problems are being proposed, researched, developed and implemented. (shrink)
Voids are features that occur commonly in near-surface geophysical imaging. They are usually readily identified in ground penetrating radar imaging because of the strong reflection amplitudes, akin to the “bright spot” in oil and gas exploration. However, voids are often misidentified. Some voids are missed, and other anomalous features are misinterpreted as voids, when in fact they are not. We evaluate s ome examples of features will be presented from glacial imaging and engineering geophysics that were misinterpreted as voids, (...) compare them with real voids, and we determine the differences that separate them. Another example from archaeology was identified as a void based on incomplete data, and was only coincidentally coincident with a void. In particular, in addition to strong top and bottom reflections, voids may have multiple reflections but will not have internal reflections. Voids will also tend to be limited in extent, and won’t, in general, underlie an entire GPR profile. (shrink)
The distinction between the essence of an object and its properties has been obscured in contemporary discussion of essentialism. Locke held that the properties of an object are exclusively those features that ‘flow’ from its essence. Here he follows the Aristotelian theory, leaving aside Locke’s own scepticism about the knowability of essence. I defend the need to distinguish sharply between essence and properties, arguing that essence must be given by form and that properties flow from form. I give a precise (...) definition of what the term of art ‘flow’ amounts to, and apply the distinction to various kinds of taxonomic issues. (shrink)
We examine two different descriptions of the behavioral functions of the hippocampal system. One emphasizes spatially organized behaviors, especially those using cognitive maps. The other emphasizes memory, particularly working memory, a short-term memory that requires iexible stimulus-response associations and is highly susceptible to interference. The predictive value of the spatial and memory descriptions were evaluated by testing rats with damage to the hippocampal system in a series of experiments, independently manipulating the spatial and memory characteristics of a behavioral task. No (...) dissociations were found when the spatial characteristics of the stimuli to be remembered were changed; lesions produced a similar deficit in both spatial and nonspatial test procedures, indicating that the hippocampus was similarly involved regardless of the spatial nature of the task. In contrast, a marked dissociation was found when the memory requirements were altered. Rats with lesions were able to perform accurately in tasks that could be solved exclusively on the basis of reference memory. They performed at chance levels and showed no signs of recovery even with extensive postoperative training in tasks that required working memory. In one experiment all the characteristics of the reference memory and working memory procedures were identical except the type of memory required. Consequently, the behavioral dissociation cannot be explained by differences in attention, motivation, response inhibition, or the type of stimuli to be remembered. As a result of these experiments we propose that the hippocampus is selectively involved in behaviors that require working memory, irrespective of the type of material that is to be processed by that memory. (shrink)
We propose a formal framework for interpretable machine learning. Combining elements from statistical learning, causal interventionism, and decision theory, we design an idealised explanation game in which players collaborate to find the best explanation for a given algorithmic prediction. Through an iterative procedure of questions and answers, the players establish a three-dimensional Pareto frontier that describes the optimal trade-offs between explanatory accuracy, simplicity, and relevance. Multiple rounds are played at different levels of abstraction, allowing the players to explore overlapping causal (...) patterns of variable granularity and scope. We characterise the conditions under which such a game is almost surely guaranteed to converge on a optimal explanation surface in polynomial time, and highlight obstacles that will tend to prevent the players from advancing beyond certain explanatory thresholds. The game serves a descriptive and a normative function, establishing a conceptual space in which to analyse and compare existing proposals, as well as design new and improved solutions. (shrink)
The question whether two things can be in the same place at the same time is an ambiguous one. At least three distinct questions could be meant: Can two things simpliciter be in the same place at the same time? Can two things of the same kind be in the same place at the same time? Can two substances of the same kind be in the same place at the same time? The answers to these questions vary. In what follows, (...) all three will be discussed in the light both of recent and of classic earlier examinations of the matter. The following theses will be defended. (shrink)
The old scholastic principle of the "convertibility" of being and goodness strikes nearly all moderns as either barely comprehensible or plain false. "Convertible" is a term of art meaning "interchangeable" in respect of predication, where the predicates can be exchanged salva veritate albeit not salva sensu: their referents are, as the maxim goes, really the same albeit conceptually different. The principle seems, at first blush, absurd. Did the scholastics literally mean that every being is good? Is that supposed to include (...) a cancer, a malaria parasite, an earthquake that kills millions? If every being is good, then no being is bad—but how can that be? To the contemporary philosophical mind, such bafflement is understandable. It derives from the systematic dismantling of the great scholastic edifice that took place over half a millennium. With the loss of the basic concepts out of which that edifice was built, the space created by those concepts faded out of existence as well. The convertibility principle, like virtually all the other scholastic principles, could not persist in a post-scholastic space wholly alien to it. (shrink)
The Dead Donor Rule holds that removing organs from a living human being without their consent is wrongful killing. The rule still prevails in most countries, and I assume it without argument in order to pose the question: is it possible to have a metaphysically correct, clinically relevant analysis of human death that makes organ donation possible? I argue that the two dominant criteria of death, brain death and circulatory death, are both empirically and metaphysically inadequate as definitions of human (...) death, and therefore of no epistemic value in themselves. I first set out a neo-Aristotelian theory of death as separation of soul and body, which is then fleshed out as loss of organismic integrity. The brain and circulatory criteria are shown to have severe weaknesses as physiological manifestations of loss of integrity. Given the mismatch between what death is metaphysically speaking, and the dominant criteria accepted by clinicians and philosophers, it turns out that only actual bodily decomposition is a sure sign of death. In this I differ from Alan Shewmon, whose important work I discuss in detail. (shrink)
In this paper we examine a puzzle recently posed by Aaron Preston for the traditional realist assay of property (quality) instances. Consider Socrates (a red round spot) and red1—Socrates’ redness. For the traditional realist, both of these entities are concrete particulars. Further, both involve redness being `tied to’ the same bare individuator. But then it appears that red1 is duplicated in its ‘thicker’ particular (Socrates), so that it can’t be predicated of Socrates without redundancy. According to Preston, this suggests that (...) a concrete particular and its property instances aren’t genuinely related. We argue that Preston’s proffered solution here—to treat property instances as “mental constructs”—is fraught with difficulty. We then go on to show how, by fine-tuning the nature of bare particulars, treating them as abstract modes of things rather than concrete particulars, the traditional realist can neatly evade Preston’s puzzle. (shrink)
To the extent that dualism is even taken to be a serious option in contemporary discussions of personal identity and the philosophy of mind, it is almost exclusively either Cartesian dualism or property dualism that is considered. The more traditional dualism defended by Aristotelians and Thomists, what I call hylemorphic dualism, has only received scattered attention. In this essay I set out the main lines of the hylemorphic dualist position, with particular reference to personal identity. First I argue that overemphasis (...) of the problem of consciousness has had an unhealthy effect on recent debate, claiming instead that we should emphasize the concept of form. Then I bring in the concept of identity by means of the notion of substantial form. I continue by analyzing the relation between form and matter, defending the traditional theses of prime matter and of the unicity of substantial form. I then argue for the immateriality of the substantial form of the human person, viz. the soul, from an account of the human intellect. From this follows the soul's essential independence of matter. Finally, although the soul is the immaterial bearer of personal identity, that identity is still the identity of an essentially embodied being. I explain how these ideas are to be reconciled. Footnotesa I am grateful to Stephen Braude, John Cottingham, John Haldane, David Jehle, Joel Katzav, Eduardo Ortiz, and Fred Sommers for helpful comments and discussion of a draft of this essay. I would also like to thank Ellen Paul, whose suggestions have helped greatly to improve the essay's style and content. (shrink)
From Kierkegaard’s famous polemic against Hegel’s system, and Marx’s rejection of the “mysticism” of reason, to Heidegger’s claim that Hegel completes the tradition of western metaphysics, and contemporary critics’ identification of Hegel as the authoritative spokesman — the “Master” — for the principles of unity and identity, a standard view has governed interpretations and evaluations of Hegel’s philosophy. Though familiarity with the positions just cited reveals considerable disparity, one does not need an especially discerning eye to recognize the common features (...) of the figures drawn. Hegel is, in all of them, the philosopher of the Absolute, the proponent of metaphysics without equal in the modern world. (shrink)
I explore the increasingly important issue of co-operation in immoral actions, particularly in connection with health care. Conscientious objection, especially as pertains to religious freedom in health care, has become a pressing issue in the light of the US Supreme Court judgment in Hobby Lobby. Section 2 outlines a theory of co-operation inspired by Catholic moral theologians such as those cited by the Court. The theory has independent plausibility and is at least worthy of serious consideration – in part because (...) it is an instance of double-effect reasoning, which is also independently plausible despite its association with moral theology. Section 3 examines Hobby Lobby in detail. Even if the judgment was correct in that case, the reasoning was not, as it involved applying a ‘mere sincerity’ test to the co-operation question. The mere sincerity test leads to absurd consequences, whereas a reasonableness test applied using the theory of co-operation defended here would avoid absurdity. Section 4 explores the post-Hobby Lobby problem further, examining opt-outs and accommodations: the Little Sisters of the Poor case shows how opt-outs are misunderstood on a mere sincerity test, which the court rightly rejected. Section 5 discusses the UK case of Doogan and Wood, concerning participation in abortion. Again, a judicially-recognised ethic of co-operation, if it were part of the fabric of legal reasoning in such cases, would have enabled the conscientious objectors in this and similar situations to have their freedom of conscience and religion respected in a way that it currently is not. (shrink)
Proponents of physical intentionality argue that the classic hallmarks of intentionality highlighted by Brentano are also found in purely physical powers. Critics worry that this idea is metaphysically obscure at best, and at worst leads to panpsychism or animism. I examine the debate in detail, finding both confusion and illumination in the physical intentionalist thesis. Analysing a number of the canonical features of intentionality, I show that they all point to one overarching phenomenon of which both the mental and the (...) physical are kinds, namely finality. This is the finality of ‘final causes’, the long-discarded idea of universal action for an end to which recent proponents of physical intentionality are in fact pointing whether or not they realise it. I explain finality in terms of the concept of specific indifference, arguing that in the case of the mental, specific indifference is realised by the process of abstraction, which has no correlate in the case of physical powers. This analysis, I conclude, reveals both the strength and weakness of rational creatures such as us, as well as demystifying the way in which powers work. (shrink)
Researchers and practitioners have devoted considerable attention to firms'' policies regarding discretionary disclosures. Prior studies argue that firms increase demand for their debt and equity issues and, thus, lower their cost of capital, by providing more informative disclosures. However, empirical research has generally not been able to document significant benefits from increased disclosure.This paper proposes an alternative explanation – firms disclose because it is the socially responsible thing to do. We argue that companies have incentives to engage in stakeholder management (...) by undertaking socially responsible activities and that providing extensive and informative disclosures is one such practice.We examine the relationship between firms'' disclosures and measures of social responsibility. We use ratings provided by the Council on Economic Priorities as proxies for the degree of social responsibility adopted by the sample firms. Disclosure rankings provided by the annual Association for Investment Management and Research Corporate Information Committee Reports (AIMR Reports) are used to measure disclosure level.Our results indicate that there is a positive relationship between disclosure level and corporate social responsibility. That is, firms that engage in socially responsive activities provide more informative and/or extensive disclosures than do companies that are less focused on advancing social goals. In addition, we find that socially responsible firms are more likely to provide this increased disclosure through better investor relations practices. These results support our contention that increased disclosure is a form of socially responsible behavior. (shrink)
mix of the concrete and the abstract (if we include universals, laws, propositions and the like), but whichever of these is the case, the world is not purely abstract, as a formal structure is. One might claim, however, that the world is a structure1 in the sense that it instantiates a structure and is nothing else. In other words, all there is to the..
We live in a liberal, pluralistic, largely secular society where, in theory, there is fundamental protection for freedom of conscience generally and freedom of religion in particular. There is, however, both in statute and common law, increasing pressure on religious believers and conscientious objectors to act in ways that violate their sincere, deeply held beliefs. This is particularly so in health care, where conscientious objection is coming under extreme pressure. I argue that freedom of religion and conscience need to be (...) put on a sounder footing both legislatively and by the courts, particularly in health care. I examine a number of important legal cases in the UK and US, where freedom of religion and conscience have come into conflict with government mandates or equality and anti-discrimination law. In these and other cases we find one of two results: either the conscientious objector loses out against competing rights, or the conscientious objector succeeds, but due to what I consider unsound judicial reasoning. In particular, cases involving cooperation in what the objector considers morally impermissible according to their beliefs have been wrongly understood by some American courts. I argue that a reasonable theory of cooperation incorporated into judicial thinking would enable more acceptable results that gave sufficient protection to conscientious objectors without risking a judicial backlash against objectors who wanted to take their freedoms too far. I also venture into broader, more controversial waters concerning what I call freedom of dissociation – the fundamental right to withdraw from associating with people, groups, and activities. It is no more than the converse of freedom of association, which all free societies recognise as a basic right. How far should freedom of dissociation go? What might society be like if freedom of dissociation were given more protection in law than it currently has? It would certainly give freedom of religion and conscience a substantial foundation, but it could also lead to discriminatory behaviour to which many people would object. I explore some of these issues, before going back to the narrower area of freedom of conscience and religion in health care, making some proposals about how the law could strengthen these basic pillars of a liberal, free society. (shrink)
The Guise of the Good thesis has received much attention since Anscombe's brief defence in her book Intention. I approach it here from a less common perspective - indirectly, via a theory explaining how it is that moral behaviour is even possible. After setting out how morality requires the employment of a fundamental test, I argue that moral behaviour involves orientation toward the good. Immoral behaviour cannot, however, involve orientation to evil as such, given the theory of evil as privation. (...) There must always be orientation to good of some kind for immorality even to be possible. Evil can, nevertheless, be intended, but this must be carefully understood in terms of the metaphysic of good and evil I set out. Given that metaphysic, the Guise of the Good is a virtual corollary. (shrink)
_Moral Theory_ sets out the basic system used to solve moral problems, the system that consequentialists deride as 'traditional morality'. The central concepts, principles and distinctions of traditional morality are explained and defended: rights; justice; the good; virtue; the intention/foresight distinction; the acts/omissions distinction; and, centrally, the fundamental value of human life.
Transhumanism is the school of thought that advocates the use of technology to enhance the human species, to the point where some supporters consider that a new species altogether could arise. Even some critics think this at least a technological possibility. Some supporters also believe the emergence of a new, improved, superhuman species raises no special ethical questions. Through an examination of the metaphysics of species, and an analysis of the essence of the human species, I argue that the existence (...) of an embodied, genuinely superhuman species is a metaphysical impossibility. Finally, I point out an interesting ethical consideration that this metaphysical truth raises. (shrink)
Human rights discourse has been likened to a global lingua franca, and in more ways than one, the analogy seems apt. Human rights discourse is a language that is used by all yet belongs uniquely to no particular place. It crosses not only the borders between nation-states, but also the divide between national law and international law: it appears in national constitutions and international treaties alike. But is it possible to conceive of human rights as a global language or lingua (...) franca not just in a figurative or metaphorical sense, but in a literal or linguistic sense as a legal dialect defined by distinctive patterns of word choice and usage? Does there exist a global language of human rights that transcends not only national borders, but also the divide between domestic and international law? Empirical analysis suggests that the answer is yes, but this global language comes in at least two variants or dialects. New techniques for performing automated content analysis enable us to analyze the bulk of all national constitutions over the last two centuries, together with the world’s leading regional and international human rights instruments, for patterns of linguistic similarity and to evaluate how much language, if any, they share in common. Specifically, we employ a technique known as topic modeling that disassembles texts into recurring verbal patterns. The results highlight the existence of two species or dialects of rights talk—the universalist dialect and the positive-rights dialect—both of which are global in reach and rising in popularity. The universalist dialect is generic in content and draws heavily on the type of language found in international and regional human rights instruments. It appears in particularly large doses in the constitutions of transitional states, developing states, and states that have been heavily exposed to the influence of the international community. The positive-rights dialect, by contrast, is characterized by its substantive emphasis on positive rights of a social or economic variety, and by its prevalence in lengthier constitutions and constitutions from outside the common law world, especially those of the Spanish-speaking world. Both dialects of rights talk are truly transnational, in the sense that they appear simultaneously in national, regional, and international legal instruments and transcend the distinction between domestic and international law. Their existence attests to the blurring of the boundary between constitutional law and international law. (shrink)
In Australia, as in many countries, the early advertising industry had a poor reputation for honesty. However, in 1920 ?truth in advertising? and raising ethical behavior became the focus of the Second Convention of Advertising Men of Australasia, held in Sydney. This was a major event in Australia's advertising history and was seen as a way to legitimize the industry in the eyes of those who doubted advertising's honesty. This paper will look at the Sydney Advertising Convention, with particular reference (...) to quotes from presenters and the establishment of self-regulatory bodies, to help gain an insight into the beginning of a system to observe ethical behavior in advertising. (shrink)
Joseph G. Ramsey argues that Richard Wright’s 1940 novella “Bright and Morning Star” has been consistently misunderstood. What has been almost universally read as a narrative of communist heroism stages instead a heroic mistake. “Bright and Morning Star” is not a story primarily about heroic individual sacrifice, but about the ways collective struggle can fail.
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