In this article Luke Pollard examines and expounds the integrity objections to Utilitarianism. He argues for their veracity, and concludes that any ethical theory, such as Utilitarianism, which makes itself impossible for humans to follow, is not what may be considered as a.
So-called 'dynamic' semantic theories such as Kamp's discourse representation theory and Heim's file change semantics account for such phenomena as cross-sentential anaphora, donkey anaphora, and the novelty condition on indefinites, but compare unfavorably with Montague semantics in some important respects (clarity and simplicity of mathematical foundations, compositionality, handling of quantification and coordination). Preliminary efforts have been made by Muskens and by de Groote to revise and extend Montague semantics to cover dynamic phenomena. We present a new higher-order theory of discourse (...) semantics which improves on their accounts by incorporating a more articulated notion of context inspired by ideas due to David Lewis and to Craige Roberts. On our account, a context consists of a common ground of mutually accepted propositions together with a set of discourse referents preordered by relative salience. Employing a richer notion of contexts enables us to extend our coverage beyond pronominal anaphora to a wider range of presuppositional phenomena, such as the factivity of certain sentential-complement verbs, resolution of anaphora associated with arbitrarily complex definite descriptions, presupposition 'holes' such as negation, and the independence condition on the antecedents of conditionals. Formally, our theory is expressed within a higher-order logic with natural number type, separation-style subtyping, and dependent coproducts parameterized by the natural numbers. The system of semantic types builds on proposals due to Thomason and to Pollard in which the type of propositions (static meanings of sentential utterances) is taken as basic and worlds are constructed from propositions (rather than the other way around as in standard Montague semantics). (shrink)
It is well-known that feature structures can be fruitfully viewed as forming a Scott domain. Once a linguistically motivated notion of set value in feature structures is countenanced, however, this is no longer possible inasmuch as unification of set values in general fails to yield a unique result. In Pollard and Moshier 1990 it was shown that, while falling short of forming a Scott domain, the set of feature structures possibly containing set values satisfies the weaker condition of forming (...) a 2/3 SFP domain when equipped with an appropriate notion of subsumption: that is, for any finite setS of feature structures, there is a finite setM of minimal upper bounds ofS such that any upper bound ofS is approximated by a member ofM. Unfortunately, the 2/3 SFP domains are not as pleasant to work with as Scott domains since they are not closed under all the familiar domain constructions; and the question has remained open whether the feature structure domain satisfies the added condition of profiniteness. In this paper we resolve this question in the affirmative. (shrink)
Pollard, Brian The extreme difficulties in attempting to make safe euthanasia law, with an argument of treatment in case of patients who can ask for death to escape from pain and patients who are not in a position to ask, are documented. Published findings of five large inquiries into the issue show that it would not be possible to make such law without endangering the lives of some of those who did not want to die.
From time to time we explain what people do by referring to their habits. We explain somebody’s putting the kettle on in the morning as done through “force of habit”. We explain somebody’s missing a turning by saying that she carried straight on “out of habit”. And we explain somebody’s biting her nails as a manifestation of “a bad habit”. These are all examples of what will be referred to here as habit explanations. Roughly speaking, they explain by referring to (...) a pattern of a particular kind of behaviour which is regularly performed in characteristic circumstances, and has become automatic for that agent due to this repetition. (shrink)
BackgroundCurrent guidelines do not clearly outline when assent should be attained from paediatric research participants, nor do they detail the necessary elements of the assent process. This stems from the fact that the fundamental justification behind the concept of assent is misunderstood. In this paper, we critically assess three widespread ethical arguments used for assent: children’s rights, the best interests of the child, and respect for a child’s developing autonomy. We then outline a newly-developed two-fold justification for the assent process: (...) respect for the parent’s pedagogical role in teaching their child to become an autonomous being and respect for the child’s moral worth.DiscussionWe argue that the ethical grounding for the involvement of young children in medical decision-making does not stem from children’s rights, the principle of best interests, or respect for developing autonomy. An alternative strategy is to examine the original motivation to engage with the child. In paediatric settings there are two obligations on the researcher: an obligation to the parents who are responsible for determining when and under what circumstances the child develops his capacity for autonomy and reasoning, and an obligation to the child himself. There is an important distinction between respecting a decision and encouraging a decision. This paper illustrates that the process of assent is an important way in which respect for the child as an individual can be demonstrated, however, the value lies not in the child’s response but the fact that his views were solicited in the first place.SummaryThis paper demonstrates that the common justifications for the process of assent are incomplete. Assent should be understood as playing a pedagogical role for the child, helping to teach him how specific decisions are made and therefore helping him to become a better decision-maker. How the researcher engages with the child supports his obligation to the child’s parents, yet why the researcher engages with the child stems from the child’s moral worth. Treating a child as having moral worth need not mean doing what they say but it may mean listening, considering, engaging or involving them in the decision. (shrink)
Virtuous actions seem to be both habitual and rational. But if we combine an intuitive understanding of habituality with the currently predominant paradigm of rational action, these two features of virtuous actions are hard to reconcile. Intuitively, acting habitually is acting as one has before in similar contexts, and automatically, that is, without thinking about it. Meanwhile, contemporary philosophers tend to assume the truth of what I call the reasons theory of rational action, which states that all rational actions are (...) actions for reasons. Whilst interpretations of this phrase are disputed, I argue that neither of the two leading views – which I call reasons internalism and reasons externalism – makes room for habitual actions to count as actions for reasons; by the reasons theory, they cannot be rational either. I suggest one way of effecting the reconciliation which, whilst it allows us to keep the reasons theory, requires us to conceive of reasons as even more radically external than current externalists believe them to be. (shrink)
A recent article from Archives of Disease in Childhood outlined problems with the act of gaining child assent for research participation. However the arguments used in the article are incomplete or misguided. Rather than being harmful, assent should be seen as an ethically-appropriate way in which we can engage with the child about his participation in research. While additional clarification of the concept of assent is needed, the child's family context can provide us with a valuable guide to the way (...) we involve him in the decision-making process. (shrink)
A hyperintensional semantics for natural language is proposed which is agnostic about the question of whether propositions are sets of worlds or worlds are sets of propositions. Montague’s theory of intensional senses is replaced by a weaker theory, written in standard classical higher-order logic, of fine-grained senses which are in a many-to-one correspondence with intensions; Montague’s theory can then be recovered from the proposed theory by identifying the type of propositions with the type of sets of worlds and adding an (...) axiom to the effect that each world is the set of propositions which are true there. Senses are compositionally assigned to linguistic expressions by a categorial grammar with only two rule schemas, based on the implicative fragment of intuitionistic linear propositional logic, and a fully explicit grammar fragment is provided that illustrates the compositional assignment of sense to a variety of constructions, including dummy-subject constructions, infinitive complements, predicative adjectives and nominals, raising to subject, ‘tough-movement’, and quantifier scope ambiguities. Notably, the grammar and the derivations that it licenses never make reference to either worlds or to the extensions of senses. (shrink)
Purposeful infection of healthy volunteers with a microbial pathogen seems at odds with acceptable ethical standards, but is an important contemporary research avenue used to study infectious diseases and their treatments. Generally termed ‘controlled human infection studies’, this research is particularly useful for fast tracking the development of candidate vaccines and may provide unique insight into disease pathogenesis otherwise unavailable. However, scarce bioethical literature is currently available to assist researchers and research ethics committees in negotiating the distinct issues raised by (...) research involving purposefully infecting healthy volunteers. In this article, we present two separate challenge studies and highlight the ethical issues of human challenge studies as seen through a well-constructed framework. Beyond the same stringent ethical standards seen in other areas of medical research, we conclude that human challenge studies should also include: independent expert reviews, including systematic reviews; a publicly available rationale for the research; implementation of measures to protect the public from spread of infection beyond the research setting; and a new system for compensation for harm. We hope these additions may encourage safer and more ethical research practice and help to safeguard public confidence in this vital research alternative in years to come. (shrink)
Despite the recent increase of interest in the work of Merleau-Ponty there is still a persistent tendency to overlook the uniqueness of the philosophical position he advances in Phenomenology of Perception. In this article I present a reading of Merleau-Ponty’s account of the phenomenological reduction that explains how it is original. I do this by contrasting his presentation of the reduction with that of the early Husserl, highlighting how his emphasis on the phenomenology of the ‘perceived world’ leads him to (...) reject Husserl’s conception of phenomenology as a ‘philosophical science,’ and the Kantian language in which the this account is framed. I go on to critically discuss the interpretations of the reduction advanced by Stephen Priest and Joel Smith as examples of readings that fail to fully grasp Merleau-Ponty’s account of the ‘natural attitude’ as resting on the inherent objectivizing structure that is built into perception itself. The way that these authors misinterpret Merleau-Ponty helps to make maximally clear the profound philosophical significance that he places on the phenomenology of the ‘perceived world’. (shrink)
It has recently been suggested that Merleau-Ponty’s position in Phenomenology of Perception is a unique form of transcendental idealism. The general claim is that in spite of his critique of “Kantianism,” Merleau-Ponty’s position comes out as a form of transcendental idealism that takes the perceptual processes of the lived body as the transcendental constituting condition for the possibility of experience. In this article I critically appraise this claim. I argue that if the term “idealist” is intended in a sufficiently similar (...) sense to Kant’s usage of the term in naming his position as a “transcendental idealism” then it is a misrepresentation to subsume Merleau-Ponty’s position under that term. This is because Merleau-Ponty rejects the transcendental metaphysics of the reflecting subject that underpins transcendental idealism. In its place he advocates a methodological transcendentalism that, whilst being anti-realist, is not idealist. Thus to call his position “a new kind of transcendental idealism,” as Sebastian Gardner has, is to misunderstand the significance of his existentialist break with what he sees as the “intellectualism” of this position. (shrink)
We are creatures of habit. Familiar ways of doing things in familiar contexts become automatic for us. That is to say, when we acquire a habit we can act without thinking about it at all. Habits free our minds to think about other things. Without this capacity for habitual action our daily lives would be impossible. Our minds would be crowded with innumerable mundane considerations and decisions. Habitual actions are not always mundane. Aristotle famously said that acting morally is a (...) matter of exercising the right habits.2 For him, a lack of conscious thought is no bar on an action’s moral status. Habits are involved in our most prized activities. Of course our natural capacity for acquiring habits is sometimes a nuisance, and we acquire bad habits all too easily. But we nevertheless could not do without a vast array of habits which are not like this, and we can’t help but exercise them in our daily lives. It does not seem too strong to say that we spend much more of our time acting habitually than we do acting in the light of conscious thought. We are also rational creatures. It is because of our rationality that we naturally think that most human actions are different in kind from the behaviour of other animals. This difference is manifest in the fact that we hold rational creatures personally responsible for what they do, in ways that would make no sense for nonrational creatures. Our rationality, then, appears to give our actions a unique quality. (shrink)
Given the Sellarsian distinction between the space of causes and the space of reasons, the naturalist seeks to articulate how these two spaces are unproblematically related. In Mind and World (1996) John McDowell suggests that such a naturalism can be achieved by pointing out that we work our way into the space of reasons by the process of upbringing he calls Bildung. 'The resulting habits of thought and action', writes McDowell, 'are second nature' (p. 84). In this paper I expose (...) one implication of this remark, namely, that Bildung naturalism requires a conception of a type of action which is at once rational and habitual. Current orthodoxies in the philosophy of action prevent these two features from easily co-existing. Whilst various reconciliations are possible, I argue that only one keeps Bildung naturalism intact. This, however, commits the naturalist to a conception of reasons more radically external than any to be found in current literature, according to which the agent need have no conception of what her reasons are at the time of acting. This is what I call acting in the dark of reasons. One upshot for McDowell is that this conception of reasons may be in tension with some of his other claims. (shrink)
Management and non-management employees of a northeastern bank read a description of a manager who engaged in a breach of confidentiality. Subjects were asked to evaluate the acceptability of 27 excuses. Results showed that subjects' ratings of acceptability were affected by their individual perception of the severity of the stimulus manager's breach of confidentiality. Subjects' rank did not affect acceptability of accounts.
Competent speakers of natural languages can borrow reference from one another. You can arrange for your utterances of ‘Kirksville’ to refer to the same thing as my utterances of ‘Kirksville’. We can then talk about the same thing when we discuss Kirksville. In cases like this, you borrow “ aboutness ” from me by borrowing reference. Now suppose I wish to initiate a line of reasoning applicable to any prime number. I might signal my intention by saying, “Let p be (...) any prime.” In this context, I will be using the term ‘p’ to reason about the primes. Although ‘p’ helps me secure the aboutness of my discourse, it may seem wrong to say that ‘p’ refers to anything. Be that as it may, this paper explores what mathematical discourse would be like if mathematicians were able to borrow freely from one another not just the reference of terms that clearly refer, but, more generally, the sort of aboutness present in a line of reasoning leading up to a universal generalization. The paper also gives reasons for believing that aboutness of this sort really is freely transferable. A key implication will be that the concept “set of natural numbers” suffers from no mathematically significant indeterminacy that can be coherently discussed. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a critique of the view made popular by Davidson that rationalization is a species of causal explanation, and propose instead that in many cases the explanatory relation is constitutive. Given Davidson’s conception of rationalization, which allows that a huge range of states gathered under the heading ‘pro attitude’ could rationalize an action, I argue that whilst the causal thesis may have some merit for some such ‘attitudes’, it has none for others. The problematic ‘attitudes’ are (...) those which can be attributed to the agent only on the basis of her history of doing this sort of thing. In other words, they are among the agent’s habits. I argue that such temporally extended states cannot be the causes of any present occurrence. Instead, I suggest we should think of the present action as partly constituting the state in question, and give a corresponding interpretation of the explanatory relation. Such explanations invite us to abandon a conception of agency narrowly based on psychology, in favour of an enriched one which takes an agent’s habits to partly constitute the agent. (shrink)
Social support networks play a key role in human livelihood security, especially in vulnerable communities. Here we explore how evolutionary ideas of kin selection and intrahousehold resource competition can explain individual variation in daily support network size and composition in a south-central Ethiopian agricultural community. We consider both domestic and agricultural help across two generations with different wealth-transfer norms that yield different contexts for sibling competition. For farmers who inherited land rights from family, firstborns were more likely to report daily (...) support from parents and to have larger nonparental kin networks. Compared with other farmers, firstborns were also more likely to reciprocate their parents’ support, and to help nonparental kin without reciprocity. For farmers who received land rights from the government, middle-born farmers reported more nonparental kin in their support networks compared with other farmers; nonreciprocal interactions were particularly common in both directions. This suggests a diversification of adult support networks to nonparental kin, possibly in response to a long-term parental investment disadvantage of being middle-born sons. In all instances, regardless of inheritance, lastborn farmers were the most disadvantaged in terms of kin support. Overall, we found that nonreciprocal interactions among farmers followed kin selection predictions. Direct reciprocity explained a substantial part of the support received from kin, suggesting the importance of the combined effects of kin selection and reciprocity for investment from kin. (shrink)
Arecent paper by George Boolos suggests that it is philosophically respectable to use monadic second order logic in one’s explication of the iterative concept of set. I shall here give a partial indication of the new range of theories of the iterative hierarchy which are thus madeavailable to philosophers of set theory.
Four models are outlined for describing and analysing the role of teachers in the formulation of educational policy and the resulting processes of change. The model of teachers as partners in education policy making draws on a pluralist view of political processes and an assumption of a degree of autonomy for teachers and schools. A model of teachers as implementers of change draws a sharp distinction between the processes of policy making and policy execution and excludes teachers from an involvement (...) in the former. A model of teachers as resisting change has been put forward both by those most opposed to and those most supportive of current educational policy developments. Finally, a model of teachers as policy makers in practice is proposed to describe the way in which the reality of teaching situations can lead to the independent actions of individual teachers having systematic policy effects. The applicability of these models is considered in the context of contemporary educational changes drawing on empirical research evidence, in particular that of the PACE study of the implementation of the National Curriculum at KS1 and KS2. (shrink)
Strategies to increase influenza vaccination rates have typically targeted healthcare professionals and individuals in various high-risk groups such as the elderly. We argue that they should focus on increasing vaccination rates in children. Because children suffer higher influenza incidence rates than any other demographic group, and are major drivers of seasonal influenza epidemics, we argue that influenza vaccination strategies that serve to increase uptake rates in children are likely to be more effective in reducing influenza-related morbidity and mortality than those (...) targeting HCPs or the elderly. This is true even though influenza-related morbidity and mortality amongst children are low, except in the very young. Further, we argue that there are no decisive reasons to suppose that children-focused strategies are less ethically acceptable than elderly or HCP-focused strategies. (shrink)