Ideas about heredity and evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. New findings in molecular biology challenge the gene-centered version of Darwinian theory according to which adaptation occurs only through natural selection of chance DNA variations. In Evolution in Four Dimensions, Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb argue that there is more to heredity than genes. They trace four "dimensions" in evolution -- four inheritance systems that play a role in evolution: genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbolic. These systems, they argue, can all (...) provide variations on which natural selection can act. Evolution in Four Dimensions offers a richer, more complex view of evolution than the gene-based, one-dimensional view held by many today. The new synthesis advanced by Jablonka and Lamb makes clear that induced and acquired changes also play a role in evolution.After discussing each of the four inheritance systems in detail, Jablonka and Lamb "put Humpty Dumpty together again" by showing how all of these systems interact. They consider how each may have originated and guided evolutionary history and they discuss the social and philosophical implications of the four-dimensional view of evolution. Each chapter ends with a dialogue in which the authors engage the contrarieties of the fictional "I.M.," or Ifcha Mistabra -- Aramaic for "the opposite conjecture" -- refining their arguments against I.M.'s vigorous counterarguments. The lucid and accessible text is accompanied by artist-physician Anna Zeligowski's lively drawings, which humorously and effectively illustrate the authors' points. (shrink)
The author defends nonconceptualism, the claim that perceptual experience is nonconceptual and has nonconceptual content. Continuing the heated and complex debate surrounding this topic over the past two decades, she offers a sustained defense of a novel version of the view, Modest Nonconceptualism, and provides a systematic overview of some of the central controversies in the debate. -/- An explication of the notion of nonconceptual content and a distinction between nonconceptualist views of different strengths starts off the volume, then the (...) author goes on to defend participants in the debate over nonconceptual content against the allegation that their failure to distinguish between a state view and a content view of (non)conceptualism leads to fatal problems for their views. Next, she makes a case for nonconceptualism by refining some of the central arguments for the view, such as the arguments from fineness of grain, from contradictory contents, from animal and infant perception, and from concept acquisition. Then, two central objections against nonconceptualism are rebutted in a novel way: the epistemological objection and the objection from objectivity. -/- Modest Nonconceptualism allows for perceptual experiences to involve some conceptual elements. It emphasizes the relevance of concept employment for an understanding of conceptual and nonconceptual mental states and identifies the nonconceptual content of experience with scenario content. It insists on the possibility of genuine content-bearing perceptual experience without concept possession and is thus in line with the Autonomy Thesis. Finally, it includes an account of perceptual justification that relies on the external contents of experience and belief, yet is compatible with epistemological internalism. -/- . (shrink)
Proponents of the reasoning view analyze normative reasons as premises of good reasoning and explain the normativity of reasons by appeal to their role as premises of good reasoning. The aim of this paper is to cast doubt on the reasoning view by providing counterexamples to the proposed analysis of reasons, counterexamples in which premises of good reasoning towards φ‐ing are not reasons to φ.
In this article I examine the proposition that severe cognitive disability is an impediment to moral personhood. Moral personhood, as I understand it here, is articulated in the work of Jeff McMahan as that which confers a special moral status on a person. I rehearse the metaphysical arguments about the nature of personhood that ground McMahan’s claims regarding the moral status of the “congenitally severely mentally retarded” (CSMR for short). These claims, I argue, rest on the view that only intrinsic (...) psychological capacities are relevant to moral personhood: that is, that relational properties are generally not relevant. In addition, McMahan depends on an argument that species membership is irrelevant for moral consideration and a contention that privileging species membership is equivalent to a virulent nationalism (these will be discussed below). In consequence, the CSMR are excluded from moral personhood and their deaths are less significant as their killing is less wrong than that of persons. To throw doubt on McMahan’s conclusions about the moral status and wrongness of killing the CSMR I question the exclusive use of intrinsic properties in the metaphysics of personhood, the dismissal of the moral importance of species membership, and the example of virulent nationalism as an apt analogy. I also have a lot to say about McMahan’s empirical assumptions about the CSMR. (shrink)
I present an explanatory argument for the reasons-first view: It is superior to knowledge-first views in particular in that it can both explain the specific epistemic role of perception and account for the shape and extent of epistemic justification.
The semantic concept of information is one of the most important, and one of the most problematical concepts in biology. I suggest a broad definition of biological information: a source becomes an informational input when an interpreting receiver can react to the form of the source (and variations in this form) in a functional manner. The definition accommodates information stemming from environmental cues as well as from evolved signals, and calls for a comparison between information‐transmission in different types of inheritance (...) systems—the genetic, the epigenetic, the behavioral, and the cultural‐symbolic. This comparative perspective highlights the different ways in which information is acquired and transmitted, and the role that such information plays in heredity and evolution. Focusing on the special properties of the transfer of information, which are very different from those associated with the transfer of materials or energy, also helps to uncover interesting evolutionary effects and suggests better explanations for some aspects of the evolution of communication. (shrink)
Socially responsible business and ethical behaviour of companies have been of interest to academia and practice for decades. But the focus has almost exclusively been on large corporations while small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have not received as much attention. Thus, this paper focuses on socially responsible business practices of SME entrepreneurs or owner–managers in Germany. Based on the assumption that decision-makers in SMEs are the central point where all business activities start, members of a German entrepreneurs association were approached (...) in the course of a qualitative and quantitative survey. They were asked to assess in what way their social responsibility is expressed in specific management practices towards selected stakeholder groups. These practices in turn were assumed to result in perceived positive reactions of the respective stakeholders and subsequently to positively influence the firm's financial performance, i.e. cost reductions and increase in profits. In the paper, a research model is presented that elaborates the relationship between an SME executive's social responsibility and the value creation of a firm, i.e. whether (personal) values create (economic) value. It was found that socially responsible management practices towards employees, customers and to a lesser extent society have a positive impact on the firm and its performance. As such, values can create additional value. (shrink)
A key feature of facial behavior is its dynamic quality. However, most previous research has been limited to the use of static images of prototypical expressive patterns. This article explores the role of facial dynamics in the perception of emotions, reviewing relevant empirical evidence demonstrating that dynamic information improves coherence in the identification of affect (particularly for degraded and subtle stimuli), leads to higher emotion judgments (i.e., intensity and arousal), and helps to differentiate between genuine and fake expressions. The findings (...) underline that using static expressions not only poses problems of ecological validity, but also limits our understanding of what facial activity does. Implications for future research on facial activity, particularly for social neuroscience and affective computing, are discussed. (shrink)
According to the most important theories of justice, personal dignity is closely related to independence, and the care that people with disabilities receive is seen as a way for them to achieve the greatest possible autonomy. However, human beings are naturally subject to periods of dependency, and people without disabilities are only “temporarily abled.” Instead of seeing assistance as a limitation, we consider it to be a resource at the basis of a vision of society that is able to account (...) for inevitable dependency relationships between “unequals” ensuring a fulfilling life both for the carer and the cared for.**. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a reasons-first view of epistemic justification, according to which the justification of our beliefs arises entirely in virtue of the epistemic reasons we possess. I remove three obstacles for this view, which result from its presupposition that epistemic reasons have to be possessed by the subject: the problem that reasons-first accounts of justification are necessarily circular; the problem that they cannot give special epistemic significance to perceptual experience; the problem that they have to say that (...) implicit biases provide epistemic. The first problem will be overcome by introducing presentational attitudes that are not in need of justification as basic ways of possessing epistemic reasons. The latter two problems will be solved by introducing epistemic rational capacities of two different kinds, which are exercised in mental states that are ways of possessing epistemic reasons, and by distinguishing these from mental states that are not exercises of epistemic rational capacities. (shrink)
Ethical problems regularly arise during daily care in nursing homes. These include violation of patients' right to autonomy and to be treated with respect. The aim of this study was to investigate how caregivers emphasize daily dialogue and mutual reflection to reach moral alternatives in daily care. The data were collected by participant observation and interviews with seven caregivers in a Norwegian nursing home. A number of ethical problems linked to 10 patients were disclosed. Moral problems were revealed as the (...) caregivers acted in ways that they knew were against patients' interest. We used a theoretical interpretation according to Habermas' discourse ethics on the importance of dialogue when deciding moral courses of action for patients. This theory has four basic requirements: communicative competence, equality, self-determination, and openness about motives. (shrink)
Moral competence is important for soldiers who have to deal with complex moral dilemmas in practice. However, openly dealing with moral dilemmas and showing moral competence is not always easy within the culture of a military organization. In this article, based on analysis of experiences during a train the trainer course on military ethics, we will describe the tensions between military and personal values on the one hand and the challenges related to showing moral competence on the other hand. We (...) will explain these tensions and challenges by elaborating on various aspects of the military organization, such as being a soldier, group bonding, uniformity, hierarchy, lack of privacy and masculinity. Furthermore, we will demonstrate how moral competence can be addressed and fostered during the training by introducing specific interventions. (shrink)
An intensified discussion on the role of normative ideals has re-emerged in several debates in political philosophy. What is often referred to as “ideal theory,” represented by liberal egalitarians such as John Rawls, is under attack from those that stress that political philosophy at large should take much more seriously the nonideal circumstances consisting of relations of domination and power under which normative ideals, principles, and ideas are supposed to be applied. While the debate so far has mainly been preoccupied (...) with defending or rejecting ideal theory through a defense or rejection of a specific ideal theory, this paper instead focuses on a number of general philosophical concerns on which the critique relies. More specifically, it brings up for scrutiny, and ultimately rejects, three charges against ideal theory: the charge that ideal theory is not action-guiding, that ideal theory is impossible, and that ideal theory is distorting. By investigatingthese charges in tandem, the paper shows that the criticism against ideal theory is premised on assumptions about the relationships between thought and action and between concepts and the world for which there is little or no support. (shrink)
This paper explores the possible impact of the recent legal developments on organizational whistleblowing on the autonomy and responsibility of whistleblowers. In the past thirty years numerous pieces of legislation have been passed to offer protection to whistleblowers from retaliation for disclosing organisational wrongdoing. An area that remains uncertain in relation to whistleblowing and its related policies in organisations, is whether these policies actually increase the individualisation of work, allowing employees to behave in accordance with their conscience and in line (...) with societal expectations or whether they are another management tool to control employees and protect organisations from them. The assumptions of whistleblower protection with regard to moral autonomy are examined in order to clarify the purpose of whistleblower protection at work. The two extreme positions in the discourse of whistleblowing are that whistleblowing legislation and policies either aim to enable individual responsibility and moral autonomy at work, or they aim to protect organisations by allowing them to control employees and make them liable for ethics at work. (shrink)
Contrary to the widespread concern about over-treatment at the end of life, today, patient preferences for palliative care at the end of life are frequently respected. However, ethically challenging situations in the current healthcare climate are, instead, situations in which a competent patient requests active treatment with the goal of life-prolongation while the physician suggests best supportive care only. The argument of futility has often been used to justify unilateral decisions made by physicians to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment. However, (...) we argue that neither the concept of futility nor that of patient autonomy alone is apt for resolving situations in which physicians are confronted with patients' requests for active treatment. Instead, we integrate the relevant arguments that have been put forward in the academic discussion about ‘futile’ treatment into an ethical algorithm with five guiding questions: (1) Is there a chance that medical intervention will be effective in achieving the patient's treatment goal? (2) How does the physician evaluate the expected benefit and the potential harm of the treatment? (3) Does the patient understand his or her medical situation? (4) Does the patient prefer receiving treatment after evaluating the benefit-harm ratio and the costs? (5) Does the treatment require many resources? This algorithm shall facilitate approaching patients' requests for treatments deemed futile by the physician in a systematic way, and responding to these requests in an ethically appropriate manner. It thereby adds substantive considerations to the current procedural approaches of conflict resolution in order to improve decision making among physicians, patients and families. (shrink)
In this article, I argue against Kearns and Star’s reasons-as-evidence view, which identifies normative reasons to ɸ with evidence that one ought to ɸ. I provide a new counterexample to their view, the student case, which involves an inference to the best explanation from means to end or, more generally, from a derivative to a more foundational “ought” proposition. It shows that evidence that one ought to act a certain way is not in all cases a reason so to act. (...) I present a diagnosis of the problem that is brought out by the counterexample. (shrink)
The question of what role social and political practices should play in the justification of normative principles has received renewed attention in post-millennium political philosophy. Several current debates express dissatisfaction with the methodology adopted in mainstream political theory, taking the form of a criticism of so-called ‘ideal theory’ from ‘non-ideal’ theory, of ‘practice-independent’ theory from ‘practice-dependent’ theory, and of ‘political moralism’ from ‘political realism’. While the problem of action-guidance lies at the heart of these concerns, the critics also share a (...) number of methodological assumptions. Above all, their methodology is practice-dependent in the sense that an existing practice is assumed to put substantial limitations on the appropriate normative principles for regulating it. In other words, we cannot formulate and justify an appropriate principle without first understanding the practice this principle is supposed to govern. The aim of this paper is to map out and analyze the common denominators of these debates with regard to methodological commitments. We will investigate how this practice-dependent method may be understood and motivated. In particular, we point to challenges that must be met in order for the position to remain both distinct and attractive. (shrink)
Conscientious objection has spurred impassioned debate in many Western countries. Some Norwegian general practitioners (GPs) refuse to refer for abortion. Little is know about how the GPs carry out their refusals in practice, how they perceive their refusal to fit with their role as professionals, and how refusals impact patients. Empirical data can inform subsequent normative analysis.
A growing number of medical professionals claim a right of conscience, a right to refuse to perform any professional duty they deem immoral—and to do so with impunity. We argue that professionals do not have the unqualified right of conscience. At most they have a highly qualified right. We focus on the claims of pharmacists, since they are the professionals most commonly claiming this right.
In 2009, Tennie et al. proposed the theory of the Zone of Latent Solutions, defined as the range of behaviors an individual of a species can invent independently, i.e., which it can acquire without any form of social learning. By definition, species limited to their ZLS are unable to innovate and/or transmit behavioral traits outside their ZLS, i.e., they lack traits which go beyond the level of the individual—traits resulting from a gradual cultural evolution over successive transmission events [“cumulative culture”, (...) Boyd and Richerson ]. However, this does not exclude an influence of social learning on the population frequency of these behaviors: social learning can facilitate the acquisition of latent solutions and thus speed up and consolidate their spread within a population. Cultures—defined as behaviors at least influenced by social learning—are therefore still possible. Here, we elaborate on the ZLS account and relate it to the theories of Vygotsky who studied the role of social learning in human culture. We argue that the ZLS is a missing phylogenetic “baseline” of Vygotsky’s Zone of Actual Development. Vygotsky’s neglect of a need for a human “baseline ZAD” may have been due to his interpretation of Köhler’s work on great ape behaviors: Köhler used his observations on individual chimpanzees to draw conclusions about the chimpanzee species as a whole, stating that chimpanzees can only copy what they could have invented themselves, thus coming close to the ZLS concept. Vygotsky—studying the range of behaviors individuals could achieve independently—seemingly did not see that Köhler was suggesting a species “baseline”, upon which Vygotsky’s idea of an individual’s ZAD could develop. As a result, Vygotsky also did not see the need for a ZLS for his own study subjects: humans. Yet, there is no reason to assume that humans lack a ZLS, and in fact we present evidence for a human ZLS for tool-use behaviors. (shrink)
If one of the most important aims of education on military ethics is to strengthen moral competence, we argue that it is important to base ethics education on virtue ethics, the Socratic attitude and the process of ?living learning?. This article illustrates this position by means of the example of a ?train the trainer? course on military ethics for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), which is developed at the Netherlands Defence Academy, and uses a number of examples both from its structure and (...) from experiences from its actual use. (shrink)
Stanley and Williamson (The Journal of Philosophy 98(8), 411–444 2001 ) reject the fundamental distinction between what Ryle once called ‘knowing-how’ and ‘knowing-that’. They claim that knowledge-how is just a species of knowledge-that, i.e. propositional knowledge, and try to establish their claim relying on the standard semantic analysis of ‘knowing-how’ sentences. We will undermine their strategy by arguing that ‘knowing-how’ phrases are under-determined such that there is not only one semantic analysis and by critically discussing and refuting the positive account (...) of knowing-how they offer. Furthermore, we argue for an extension of the classical ‘knowing-how’/‘knowing-that’-dichotomy by presenting a new threefold framework: Using some core-examples of the recent debate, we will show that we can analyze knowledge situations that are not captured by the Rylean dichotomy and argue that, therefore, the latter has to be displaced by a more fine-grained theory of knowledge-formats. We will distinguish three different formats of knowledge we can have of our actions, namely (1) propositional, (2) practical, and (3) image-like formats of knowledge. Furthermore, we will briefly analyze the underlying representations of each of these knowledge-formats. (shrink)
Bei den meisten Patienten, die heute erwartet an einer unheilbaren Krankheit versterben, wird vor ihrem Tod eine bewusste Entscheidung zum Therapieverzicht getroffen. Während dem Therapieverzicht auf Wunsch des Patienten ein wichtiger Stellenwert in der medizinethischen Diskussion zukommt, hat der Umgang mit Forderung nach „unangemessener“ Maximaltherapie bislang weniger Beachtung gefunden. In einer empirischen Studie zur Einbeziehung von Patienten in Entscheidungen zum Therapieverzicht konnten wir zeigen, dass etwa ein Drittel der Patienten auch bei infauster Prognose Lebenszeit durch Maximaltherapie gewinnen möchte. Diese Patienten (...) wurden im Gegensatz zu Patienten mit palliativem Therapieziel häufig nicht in Entscheidungen zur Therapiebegrenzung einbezogen. Hier werden die ethischen Implikationen dieser Praxis untersucht und gefragt, ob ein Therapieverzicht am Lebensende auch gegen den Wunsch des Patienten ethisch zu rechtfertigen ist oder ob Ärzte dem Wunsch des Patienten nach Lebenszeitgewinn auch bei infauster Prognose durch Maximaltherapie nachkommen sollen. Vor dem Hintergrund der gängigen Konzepte zur Rechtfertigung eines einseitigen Therapieverzichts, die für sich genommen zu kurz greifen, wird ein alternatives Entscheidungsmodell vorgestellt, das vier bewertungsrelevante Kriterien vorsieht: die Wirksamkeit einer Maßnahme, die Autonomiefähigkeit des Patienten, die patientenseitige Nutzenbewertung und die Kosten für die Solidargemeinschaft. Je nachdem, welche Kriterien erfüllt sind, rechtfertigen sie eine Entscheidung zum Therapieverzicht oder eine Fortsetzung der Therapie entsprechend dem Patientenwillen. (shrink)
Empathy as “Feelingly Grasping” Perhaps the central question concerning empathy is if and if so how it combines aspects of thinking and feeling. Indeed, the intellectual tradition of the past centuries has been marked by a dualism. Roughly speaking, there have been two pathways when it comes to understanding each other: 1) thinking or mind reading and 2) feeling or empathy. Nonetheless, one of the ongoing debates in psychology and philosophy concerns the question whether these two abilities, namely, understanding what (...) the other is thinking and “understanding” what the other is feeling, are separate or not. Most of the authors in this volume consider the cognitive and affective dimensions at work within empathy. Each author does this within and beyond their own field. Coming from the humanities, we propose the following definition for empathy: Empathy is a social feeling that consists in feelingly grasping or retracing the present, future, or past emotional state of the other; thus empathy is also called a vicarious emotion. We would like to highlight two aspects of this definition in particular: 1.) the peculiar position of “grasping” which involves a cognitive dimension and 2.) the social dimensions of relating to the emotions of another human being. (shrink)
In his theory of evolution, Darwin recognized that the conditions of life play a role in the generation of hereditary variations, as well as in their selection. However, as evolutionary theory was developed further, heredity became identified with genetics, and variation was seen in terms of combinations of randomly generated gene mutations. We argue that this view is now changing, because it is clear that a notion of hereditary variation that is based solely on randomly varying genes that are unaffected (...) by developmental conditions is an inadequate basis for evolutionary theories. Such a view not only fails to provide satisfying explanations of many evolutionary phenomena, it also makes assumptions that are not consistent with the data that are emerging from disciplines ranging from molecular biology to cultural studies. These data show that the genome is far more responsive to the environment than previously thought, and that not all transmissible variation is underlain by genetic differences. In Evolution in Four Dimensions (2005) we identify four types of inheritance (genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbol-based), each of which can provide variations on which natural selection will act. Some of these variations arise in response to developmental conditions, so there are Lamarckian aspects to evolution. We argue that a better insight into evolutionary processes will result from recognizing that transmitted variations that are not based on DNA differences have played a role. This is particularly true for understanding the evolution of human behavior, where all four dimensions of heredity have been important. (shrink)
The rediscovery in the mid-1970s of Ludwik Fleck's initially neglected monograph, Entstehung und Entwicklung einer Wissenschaftlichen Tatsache, published in 1935 and translated in 1979 as Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, has resulted in extensive, still ongoing, secondary writings, mainly within the humanities. Fleck has been interpreted as furthering a relativistic conception of science. Nowadays, he is often viewed as an important contributor to contemporary sociology of science and a forerunner to Thomas Kuhn. Fleck's account of the Wassermann reaction, (...) which forms the basis of his epistemology, has been praised as developed by a scientist well acquainted with the field in question. Because of the scarcity of available material on Fleck, however, the question of his sources has remained an unsolved issue. In the present article, an alternative reading is suggested. By focusing on the scientific content of the monograph, mainly neglected in the modern interpretations of Fleck, and on the so far overlooked sources of his writings traced back to their German origin, a better understanding of Fleck's account of the Wassermann reaction can be given. The consequences of this alternative reading for the conception of Fleck's monograph and for the impetus of his mission are discussed. (shrink)