Fortis, the leading Benelux financial group, had been a success story of successive mergers of bank and insurance companies, with leadership in corporate social responsibility (CSR). One year after the acquisition of the major Dutch financial conglomerate ABN AMRO, the global financial crisis caused the collapse of the Fortis group. The purpose of this article is to use the case study of Fortis’s recent fall as a basis for reflective considerations on the financial crisis, from stakeholder and ethical perspectives. A (...) selected number of key events of the history of the dramatic crisis at Fortis will be analysed from different ethical frameworks. Special consideration will be given to fairness of communication, shareholder activism and conflicts of interests of CEO’s mergers opportunities. A confrontation between the CSR policy and the reality raises the fundamental questions why the powerful CSR guidelines and ethical principles did not help in the assessment of the risks. (shrink)
C. A. Campbell has for many years defended vigorously, and often persuasively, the following libertarian claims: that the libertarian concept of freedom of choice is meaningful; that the libertarian variety of freedom of choice is necessary for moral responsibility; and that the libertarian variety of freedom of choice is a reality. This paper will be concerned with Campbell's effort of will argument for the last claim.
In this paper I explore the way that mental illness stigma impacts epistemic credibility in people who have mental illness. While any kind of stigma has the potential to discredit a person’s epistemic agency, in the case of mental illness the basis for discrediting is in some cases and to some extent justifiable, for impairments in rationality, control, and reality perception can indeed be obstacles to participating appropriately in epistemic activities such as normal conversation and public discourse. People with mental (...) illness are still potentially subject to epistemic injustices, however, especially when we rely on stereotypes and fail to make complicated and nuanced judgments which are more accurate. In this paper, I explain some of the ways that people with mental illness may be subject to epistemic injustices, and I propose some suggestions for how epistemic injustice can be avoided. (shrink)
Many rights theorists argue that global poverty violates certain human rights, so that responsibility to address poverty involves carrying out the duties that correspond with relevant rights-claims. Liberatirians argue that the rights and duties associated with global poverty, especially what are sometimes thought of as “positive” rights, or rights of assistance, are inappropriately agent-neutral, giving them less justificatory force than agent-relative rights and duties. To counter libertarian concerns, Thomas Pogge tries to reframe the responsibilities corresponding to human rights as institutional (...) rather than as belonging to agents. While admirable, his approach inadequately expalains the relationships between institutional responsibility and individual and collective action. A better way to respond to libertarian concerns—that is also compatible with Pogge’s emphasis on institutional responsibility—is to show that the duties regarding global poverty are indeed agent-relative, but by virtue of individual and collective action within institutions. (shrink)
Pylyshyn argues against representations with pictorial properties that would be superimposed on a scene. We present evidence against this view, and a new method to depict pictorial properties. We propose a continuum between the top-down generation of internal signals (imagery) and the bottom-up signals from the outside world. Along the continuum, superstitious perceptions provide a method to tackle representational issues.
The predominant narratives of addiction—Disease and Choice narratives—frame addiction as a personal problem to be addressed by controlling an individual’s behavior. By analyzing the epistemic function of narratives of addiction, this paper shows that these narratives construct a story about the nature of addiction by assuming simplistic views about human agency, leading to drug policies that narrowly focus on individual behavior. Assumptions embedded within narratives must be made transparent so that the partial, perspectival, and situated nature of the knowledge that (...) narratives convey is made evident and can be evaluated. As a result of their over-simplistic assumptions about human agency, Disease and Choice narratives neglect a significant factor in addiction: the social context which informs and sets limits on the reasons and values that enter into decision-making. This paper argues for the adoption of Social Constraint narratives, which would require policy agendas to focus on the social contexts that make drug use so appealing. As a result, agencies dealing with drug policy would need to collaborate with other agencies focusing on relevant social issues in order to create structural change, thus affecting the social environment and not merely the individual. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that the main reason it is wrong to kill people is that killing them deprives them of all the experiences and activities that would otherwise have constituted their futures. Some of these philosophers have also argued that killing potential people is wrong for the same reason, and have used this as support for a conservative position on abortion. Critics have countered by arguing that if zygotes are potential people so too are gamete pairs, and that the potentialist (...) is therefore committed to saying that contraception is very seriously wrong.The first part of this paper examines critically three potentia!ist lines of defense against the (above) contraception reductio and argues that they all fail. The second part of the paper discusses three attempts to finger the flaw in the (above) deprivation argument that is used by the potentialist, and points to significant problems facing each attempt. It concludes that while there is good reason to believe the potentialist’s deprivation argument is unsound, the flaw in the argument has not yet been convincingly identified. (shrink)
The tendency is strong to take the notion of “conflict of interests” for granted as if it had an invariant meaning and an ethical content independent of the historical context. It is doubtful however, from an historical and sociological point of view, that many of the cases now considered as instances of “conflicts of interests” would also have been conceived and perceived as such in, say, the 1930s. The idea of a “conflict of interests” presupposes that there are indeed interests (...) in conflict. Conversely, as long as there is a consensus among the different groups involved, they will not conceive and even less denounce a given practice as being an instance of a “conflict of interests”. In this article we will show that the content of the discussions over conflicts of interests has changed over time in close relation with the transformations of the research system. In other words: there are social conditions for the emergence of “conflicts of interests”. The changing meaning of the notion is assessed by analyzing the presence of the expression “conflicts of interests” in the magazine Science over the past century. Three different meanings emerge and their content has evolved in close link with the changing structure of the relations between the scientific community first with the State and then with industry. It moved from a situation external to the scientific community to a debate going on inside the scientific community generated by the growing relations between university and industries. (shrink)
In 1969 harry frankfurt attacked the principle of alternate possibilities, I.E., The principle that one is morally responsible for what one has done only if one could have done otherwise. The first two parts of this paper offer a supplement to and clarification of that principle; the third part defends the supplemented version of it against three frankfurt arguments; and the fourth comments on a recent discussion of it by michael zimmerman.
Mental disorders are assessed globally using the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases Classification of Mentaland Behavioural Disorders (ICD), which is largely modeled after (though it also influences) the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) used in the United States. Situated within the scientific narrative of American psychiatry, disorders are typically viewed by practitioners who use the DSM and ICD as essential categories of human experience, with internal, purely descriptive, value-free conditions. Criteria identified in the DSM and (...) ICD describe the behaviors and psychological experiences that manifest from these internal conditions. In .. (shrink)
The Principle that freedom is necessary for moral responsibility has received a variety of explications, but few philosophers have doubted that in some plausible sense it is true. However, two philosophers have recently challenged it using very different but equally ingenious arguments. J.F.M. Hunter has provided the more obviously direct attack in arguing that considerations of freedom as such are in no way relevant to assessments of moral responsibility. Harry Frankfurt has directed his fire at the version of the freedom (...) principle which says that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise. Both Frankfurt and Hunter point out the significance of their arguments for the determinism/moral responsibility debate: if there is no freedom requirement for moral responsibility, then even if determinism threatens freedom, it does not follow that determinism threatens moral responsibility. (shrink)
This paper evaluates three recent attacks on what Harry Frankfurt has called the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP), i.e., the principle that if a person could not have done otherwise he is not morally responsible for what he has done. One critic of PAP argues that, if a person was drawn irresistibly to a drug yet was “altogether delighted with his condition”, he might well be morally responsible even though he could not have done otherwise. A second critic describes circumstances (...) in which, if the agent had failed to perform a certain action, physical forces would have taken effect and caused him to perform that action. Such a person, he argues, may be morally responsible for what he has done even though he could not have done otherwise. I argue that both of the preceding counterexamples fail. The third argument against PAP shows, I maintain, that PAP is not acceptable as it stands; appropriately supplemented, however, it will continue to serve its traditional role in the compatibilist-incompatibilist debate. (shrink)
Realising the societal gains from publicly funded health and medical research requires a model for a reflexive evaluation precedent for the societal impact of research. This research explores UK Research Excellence Framework evaluators’ values and opinions and assessing societal impact, prior to the assessment taking place. Specifically, we discuss the characteristics of two different impact assessment extremes – the “quality-focused” evaluation and “societal impact-focused” evaluation. We show the wide range of evaluator views about impact, and that these views could be (...) conceptually reflected in a range of different positions along a conceptual evaluation scale. We describe the characteristics of these extremes in detail, and discuss the different beliefs evaluators had which could influence where they positioned themselves along the scale. These decisions, we argue, when considered together, form a dominant definition of societal impact that influences the direction of its evaluation by the panel. (shrink)
In the preceding article John Hunter attempts to show that my criticisms of his position on freedom and responsibility are defective. Hunter believes that my first criticism is directed against his explanation of why so many people have come to believe in the freedom principle. But at no point in my paper do I even consider the merit of that explanation. What Hunter calls my first criticism is in fact merely a preliminary point I make before attacking his arguments against (...) the freedom principle itself. The preliminary point is that in evaluating Hunter's arguments one must bear the following in mind: in some of the examples of unfreedom he provides it is doubtful that the actions are unfree at all; they are at best borderline cases of unfree acts. (shrink)