The historical debate on representation in cognitive science and neuroscience construes representations as theoretical posits and discusses the degree to which we have reason to posit them. We reject the premise of that debate. We argue that experimental neuroscientists routinely observe and manipulate neural representations in their laboratory. Therefore, neural representations are as real as neurons, action potentials, or any other well-established entities in our ontology.
At some point in the future – perhaps within the next few decades – it will be possible for foetuses to develop completely outside the womb. Ectogenesis, as this technology is called, raises substantial issues for the abortion debate. One such issue is that it will become possible for a woman to have an abortion, in the sense of having the foetus removed from her body, but for the foetus to be kept alive. We argue that while there is a (...) right to an abortion, there are reasons to doubt that there is a right to the death of the foetus. Our strategy in this essay is to consider and reject three arguments in favour of this latter right. The first claims that women have a right not to be biological mothers, the second that women have a right to genetic privacy, and the third that a foetus is one's property. Furthermore, we argue that it follows from rejecting the third claim that genetic parents also lack a right to the destruction of cryopreserved embryos used for in vitro fertilization. The conclusion that a woman possesses no right to the death of the foetus builds upon the claims that other pro-choice advocates, such as Judith Jarvis Thomson, have made. (shrink)
This essay contrasts two approaches to permissible self-defensive killing. The first is the forfeiture approach; the second is the elbow room for self-defense approach. The forfeiture approach comes in many versions — not all of which make prominent use of the word “forfeiture.” However, all versions presume that the permissibility of X killing Y (when X must kill Y in order to prevent herself from being unjustly killed) depends entirely on there being some feature of Y in virtue of which (...) Y has become liable to be killed, that is, in virtue of which Y has forfeited or lost or been stripped of his right not to be killed. Different versions of the forfeiture approach advance different claims about what feature of Y will render Y liable to being killed by X. I criticize versions of this approach offered by Thomson, Otsuka, and McMahan and argue that the shared deep error is the presumption that the permissibility of X’s action turns entirely on some feature of Y. In focusing entirely on Y, the forfeiture approach fails to take seriously X’s right of self-defense. In contrast, the elbow room for self-defense approach starts with an explication of a plausible right of self-defense and maintains that a proper explication of Y’s right not to be killed must make moral elbow room from X’s exercise of this right. Within the elbow room approach, Y’s liability to being killed is based upon X’s right of self-defense rather than the permissibility of X’s killing Y being based upon Y’s forfeiture. (shrink)
A rigorous treatment of a thought experiment that has become notorious within and outside of philosophy - The Trolley Problem - by one of the most influential moral philosophers alive todaySuppose you can stop a trolley from killing five people, but only by turning it onto a side track where it will kill one. May you turn the trolley? What if the only way to rescue the five is to topple a bystander in front of the trolley so that his (...) body stops it but he dies? May you use a device to stop the trolley that will kill a bystander as a side effect? The "Trolley Problem" challenges us to explain and justify our different intuitive judgments about these and related cases and has spawned a huge literature. F.M. Kamm's 2013 Tanner Lectures present some of her views on this notorious moral conundrum. After providing a brief history of changing views of what the problem is about and attempts to solve it, she focuses on two prominent issues: Does who turns the trolley and how the harm is shifted affect the moral permissibility of acting? The answers to these questions lead to general proposals about when we may and may not harm some to help others. Three distinguished philosophers - Judith Jarvis Thomson, Thomas Hurka, and Shelly Kagan - then comment on Kamm's proposals. She responds to each comment at length, providing an exceptionally rich elaboration and defense of her views. The Trolley Problem Mysteries is an invaluable resource not only to philosophers concerned about the Trolley Problem, but to anyone worried about how we ought to act when we can lessen harm to some by harming others and how we can reach a decision about the question. (shrink)
Ectogenesis, or the use of an artificial womb to allow a foetus to develop, will likely become a reality within a few decades, and could significantly affect the abortion debate. We first examine the implications for Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist analogy, which argues for a woman’s right to withdraw life support from the foetus and so terminate her pregnancy, even if the foetus is granted full moral status. We show that on Thomson’s reasoning, there is no right to (...) the death of the foetus, and abortion is not permissible if ectogenesis is available, provided it is safe and inexpensive. This raises the question of whether there are persuasive reasons for the right to the death of the foetus that could be exercised in the context of ectogenesis. Eric Mathison and Jeremy Davis have examined several arguments for this right, doubting that it exists, while Joona Räsänen has recently criticized their reasoning. We respond to Räsänen’s analysis, concluding that his arguments are unsuccessful, and that there is no right to the death of the foetus in these circumstances. (shrink)
In this essay I propose to explicate and defend a new and improved version of a Lockean proviso—the self-ownership proviso . I shall presume here that individuals possess robust rights of self-ownership. I shall take it that each individual has strong moral claims over the elements which constitute her person, e.g., her body parts, her talents, and her energies. However, in the course of the essay, I shall be challenging what I take to be the standard conception of self-ownership and (...) proposing an enrichment of that conception. The SOP is presented and in part justified as an implication of the right of self-ownership as it is more richly conceived—hence its designation as the self-ownership proviso. As an implication of the right of self-ownership which is also compatible, in theory and practice, with extensive and robust private property rights, the SOP is offered as an integral element of classical-liberal political theory. (shrink)
In the debate on the ethics of the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals for cognitive performance enhancement in healthy individuals there is a clear division between those who view “cognitive enhancement” as ethically unproblematic and those who see such practices as fraught with ethical problems. Yet another, more subtle issue, relates to the relevance and quality of the contribution of scholarly bioethics to this debate. More specifically, how have various forms of speculation, anticipatory ethics, and methods to predict scientific trends and (...) societal responses augmented or diminished this contribution? In this paper, we use the discussion of the ethics of cognitive enhancement to explore the positive and negative contribution of speculation in bioethics scholarship. First, we review and discuss how speculation has relied on different sets of assumptions regarding the non-medical use of stimulants, namely: terminology and framing; scientific aspects such as efficacy and safety; estimates of prevalence and consequent normalization; and the need for normative reflection and regulatory guidelines. Second, three methodological guideposts are proposed to alleviate some of the pitfalls of speculation: acknowledge assumptions more explicitly and identify the value attributed to assumptions; validate assumptions with interdisciplinary literature; and adopt a broad perspective to promote more comprehensive reflection. We conclude that, through the examination of the controversy about cognitive enhancement, we can employ these methodological guideposts to enhance the value of contributions from bioethics and minimize potential epistemic and practical pitfalls in this case and perhaps in other areas of bioethical debate. (shrink)
Is there an explanatory gap between raw feels and raw material? Some philosophers argue, and many other people believe, that scientific explanations of conscious experience cannot be as satisfying as typical scientific explanations elsewhere, even in our wildest dreams. The underlying philosophical claims are.
This paper summarizes paired courses, a technique that is being used to incorporate the benefits of liberal arts into the business curriculum. This technique pairs a required business course with a liberal arts course that students take concurrently during a semester. The courses have overlapping themes and activities to build specific competencies that are desired by organizations, such as communication, critical thinking and problem solving, emotional intelligence, and organizational professionalism. These competencies are identified by exploring national surveys and conducting a (...) local survey of business professionals. The paired courses utilize a variety of exercises with the ultimate goals of building desired workplace-related skills in students and improving their practical reasoning ability. The exercises do this by strengthening students’ analytical thinking, understanding of multiple framing, and reflective exploration of meaning through various techniques. Many of the activities are explained in detail with some additional resources provided. Teachers can utilize the same activities or adapt them to their classroom. (shrink)
In this paper I offer three main challenges to James (2011). All three turn on the nature of philosophy and secure knowledge in Spinoza. First, I criticize James's account of the epistemic role that experience plays in securing adequate ideas for Spinoza. In doing so I criticize her treatment of what is known as the ‘conatus doctrine’ in Spinoza in order to challenge her picture of the relationship between true religion and philosophy. Second, this leads me into a criticism of (...) her account of the nature of philosophy in Spinoza. I argue it is less piecemeal and less akin to what we would recognize as ‘science’ than she suggests. Third, I argue against James's core commitment that Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge differ in degree; I claim they differ in kind. My argument will offer a new interpretation of Spinoza's conception of ‘common notions’. Moreover, I argue that Spinozistic adequate knowledge involves something akin to angelic disembodiment. (shrink)
My goal in this essay is to say something helpful about the philosophical foundations of deontic restraints, i.e., moral restraints on actions that are, roughly speaking, grounded in the wrongful character of the actions themselves and not merely in the disvalue of their results. An account of deontic restraints will be formulated and offered against the backdrop of three related, but broader, contrasts or puzzles within moral theory. The plausibility of this account of deontic restraints rests in part on how (...) well this account resolves the puzzles or illuminates the contrasts which make up this theoretical backdrop. (shrink)
In my contribution to this volume, I (BHS) comment on on the stultifying rhetoric of contemporary analytic moral theory as illustrated in Judith Jarvis Thomson's Tanner Lectures, with particular reference to Thomson's anxieties about the moral relativism exhibited by college freshman and to her efforts--quite strained, in my view, and inevitably unsuccessful--to demonstrate the existence of objective judgments in matters of morality and taste .
On October 1, 1988, thirty-five years after co-discovering the structure of the DNA molecule, Dr. James Watson launched an unprecedented experiment in American science policy. In response to a reporter's question at a press conference, he unilaterally set aside 3 to 5 percent of the budget of the newly launched Human Genome Project to support studies of the ethical, legal, and social implications of new advances in human genetics. The Human Genome Project, by providing geneticists with the molecular maps of (...) the human chromosomes that they use to identify specific human genes, will speed the proliferation of a class of DNA-based diagnostic and risk-assessment tests that already create professional ethical and health-policy challenges for clinicians. “The problems are with us now, independent of the genome program, but they will be associated with it,” Watson said. “We should devote real money to discussing these issues.” By 1994, the “ELSI program” had spent almost $20 million in pursuit of its mission, and gained both praise and criticism for its accomplishments. (shrink)
But what if in order to save 0nc’s life one has to ki]1 another person? In some cases that is obviously permissible. In a case I will call Villainous Aggrcssor, you are standing in :1 meadow, innocently minding your own business, and 21 truck suddenly heads toward you. You try to sidestep the truck, but it tums as you tum. Now you can sec the driver: he is a mam you know has long hated you. What to do? You cannot (...) outrun thc truck. Fortunately, this is not pure nightmare: you just happen to have em antitank gun with you, and can blow up the truck. Of course, if you do this you will kill thc driver, but that does not matter; it is morally permissible for you to blow up thc truck, driver and 211, in defense of your life. (shrink)
Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity offers a radical new interpretation of Heidegger's later philosophy, developing his argument that art can help lead humanity beyond the nihilistic ontotheology of the modern age. Providing pathbreaking readings of Heidegger's 'The Origin of the Work of Art' and his notoriously difficult Contributions to Philosophy, this book explains precisely what postmodernity meant for Heidegger, the greatest philosophical critic of modernity, and what it could still mean for us today. Exploring these issues, Iain D. Thomson examines (...) several postmodern works of art, including music, literature, painting and even comic books, from a post-Heideggerian perspective. Clearly written and accessible, this book will help readers gain a deeper understanding of Heidegger and his relation to postmodern theory, popular culture and art. (shrink)
Substantial research efforts have been devoted to developing a cure for autism, but some advocates of people with autism claim that these efforts are misguided and even harmful. They claim that there is nothing wrong with people with autism, so there is nothing to cure. Others argue that autism is a serious and debilitating disorder and that a cure for autism would be a wonderful medical breakthrough. Our goal in this essay is to evaluate what assumptions underlie each of these (...) positions. We evaluate the arguments made on each side, reject those that are implausible and then highlight the key assumptions of those that remain. (shrink)
Heidegger is now widely recognized as one of the most influential and controversial philosophers of the twentieth century, yet much of his later philosophy remains shrouded in confusion and controversy. Restoring Heidegger's understanding of metaphysics as 'ontotheology' to its rightful place at the center of his later thought, this book demonstrates the depth and significance of his controversial critique of technology, his appalling misadventure with Nazism, his prescient critique of the university, and his important philosophical suggestions for the future of (...) higher education. It will be required reading for those seeking to understand the relationship between Heidegger's philosophy and National Socialism, as well as the continuing relevance of his work. (shrink)
Call a bit of scientific discourse a description of a missing system when (i) it has the surface appearance of an accurate description of an actual, concrete system (or kind of system) from the domain of inquiry, but (ii) there are no actual, concrete systems in the world around us fitting the description it contains, and (iii) that fact is recognised from the outset by competent practitioners of the scientific discipline in question. Scientific textbooks, classroom lectures, and journal articles abound (...) with such passages; and there is a widespread practice of talking and thinking as though there are systems which fit the descriptions they contain perfectly, despite the recognition that no actual, concrete systems do so—call this the face value practice . There are, furthermore, many instances in which philosophers engage in the face value practice whilst offering answers to epistemological and methodological questions about the sciences. Three questions, then: (1) How should we interpret descriptions of missing systems? (2) How should we make sense of the face value practice? (3) Is there a set of plausible answers to (1) and (2) which legitimates reliance on the face value practice in our philosophical work, and can support the weight of the accounts which are entangled with that practice? In this paper I address these questions by considering three answers to the first: that descriptions of missing systems are straightforward descriptions of abstract objects, that they are indirect descriptions of “property-containing” abstracta, and that they are (in a different way) indirect descriptions of mathematical structures. All three proposals are present in the literature, but I find them wanting. The result is to highlight the importance of developing a satisfactory understanding of descriptions of missing systems and the face value practice, to put pressure on philosophical accounts which rely on the practice, and to help us assess the viability of certain approaches to thinking about models, theory structure, and scientific representation. (shrink)
The Human Animal is an extended defense of what its author calls the Biological Approach to personal identity: that you and I are human animals, and that the identity conditions under which we endure are those which apply to us as biological organisms. The somewhat surprising corollary of this view is that no sort of psychological continuity is either necessary or sufficient for a human animal—and thus for us—to persist through time. In challenging the hegemony of Psychological Approaches to personal (...) identity, Olson offers a number of inventive and original arguments which are certain to evoke discussion and debate. (shrink)
This article offers the critical concept misfit in an effort to further think through the lived identity and experience of disability as it is situated in place and time. The idea of a misfit and the situation of misfitting that I offer here elaborate a materialist feminist understanding of disability by extending a consideration of how the particularities of embodiment interact with the environment in its broadest sense, to include both its spatial and temporal aspects. The interrelated dynamics of fitting (...) and misfitting constitute a particular aspect of world-making involved in material-discursive becoming. The essay makes three arguments: the concept of misfit emphasizes the particularity of varying lived embodiments and avoids a theoretical generic disabled body; the concept of misfit clarifies the current feminist critical conversation about universal vulnerability and dependence; the concept of misfitting as a shifting spatial and perpetually temporal relationship confers agency and value on disabled subjects. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that disability disqualifies people from full participation in or recognition by society. This view is rooted in eugenic logic, which tells us that our world would be a better place if disability could be eliminated. In opposition to this position, I argue that that disability is inherent in the human condition and consider the bioethical question of why we might want to conserve rather than eliminate disability from our shared world. To do so, I draw together (...) an eclectic, rather than systematic, configuration of counter-eugenic arguments for conserving disability. The idea of preserving intact, keeping alive, and even encouraging to flourish denoted by conserve suggests that disabilities would be better understood as benefits rather than deficits. I present, then, a reading of disability as a potentially generative resource rather than unequivocally restrictive liability. In other words, what I consider here is the cultural and material contributions disability offers to the world. (shrink)