In Ethics, Economics, and Politics Ian Little returns to offer a new defence of a rule-based utilitarianism as a basis for assessing the role of the State. Lucidly and elegantly he explains how the three disiplines of philosophy, economics and politics can be integrated to provide guidance on issues of public policy.
David Luban (ed.), The Good Lawyer: Lawyers? Roles and Lawyers? Ethics. Maryland Studies in Public Philosophy. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Allanheld, 1984, 368 pp. Jennifer Radden, Madness and Reason: Studies in Applied Philosophy, Allen & Unwin, 1985, 174 pp.
In this analysis of Reinhold Niebuhr's 1932 classic Moral Man, Little reviews some of the book's fundamental conclusions. He observes that, when moral language is used in international politics without self-criticism, it diverts attention from the real motives of the statesmen who use it.
Little raises many questions of international legality in addressing the finer concepts of peace enforcing, peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peace building. He accentuates the rule of law, democracy, and human rights as foundations for each of these stages towards a Just Peace. Looking towards collectively accepted international treaties for a concept of justice, Little taps into a notion of legal validity that is at least partially composed of a legitimacy that emanates from the people themselves. Although there are valid (...) reasons for questioning who has been allowed to participate in the process developing international law, protecting the human rights of all, and labelling it justice certainly does not seem to create an untenable starting point. In fact, this approach that looks to protect the rights of all can be quite constructive because, ultimately, it is the people involved in a conflict who will determine whether a peace is just, and therefore lasting. (shrink)
Ian Little offers a new defence of utilitarianism as a basis for assessing the role of the State. Lucidly and elegantly he explains how the three disciplines of philosophy, economics, and politics can be integrated to provide guidance on issues of public policy. Anyone interested in public affairs will be enlightened by Little's crisp analysis and any student taking an interdisciplinary course in social science will find a clear framework for thinking about the subject.
Peer review of manuscripts for biomedical journals has become a subject of intense ethical debate. One of the most contentious issues is whether or not peer review should be anonymous. This study aimed to generate a rich, empirically-grounded understanding of the values held by journal editors and peer reviewers with a view to informing journal policy. Qualitative methods were used to carry out an inductive analysis of biomedical reviewers’ and editors’ values. Data was derived from in-depth, open-ended interviews with journal (...) editors and peer reviewers. Data was “read for” themes relevant to reviewer anonymisation and interactions among editors, reviewers, and authors. Editors and peer reviewers provided three arguments that would support a more open and interactive peer-review process. First, a number of participants emphasised the importance of not only ensuring the scientific quality of published research but also nurturing their colleagues and supporting their communities. Second, many spoke about the ongoing moral responsibilities that reviewers and editors felt toward authors. Finally, participants spoke at length about their enjoyment of social interactions and of the value of collective, rather than isolated, reasoning processes. Whether or not journal editors decide to allow anonymous review , the values of editors and reviewers need to be seriously addressed in codes of publication ethics, in the management of biomedical journals, and in the establishment of journal policies. (shrink)
The breadth-first search adopted by Bayesian researchers to map out the conceptual space and identify what the framework can do is beneficial for science and reflective of its collaborative and incremental nature. Theoretical pluralism among researchers facilitates refinement of models within various levels of analysis, which ultimately enables effective cross-talk between different levels of analysis.
Philosophy has long been concerned with ‘moral status’. Discussions about the moral status of children, however, seem often to promote confusion rather than clarity. Using the creation of ‘savior siblings’ as an example, this paper provides a philosophical critique of the moral status of children and the moral relevance of parenting and the role that formative experience, regret and relational autonomy play in parental decisions. We suggest that parents make moral decisions that are guided by the moral significance they attach (...) to children, to sick children and most importantly, to a specific sick child (theirs). This moral valorization is rarely made explicit and has generally been ignored by both philosophers and clinicians in previous critiques. Recognizing this, however, may transform not only the focus of bioethical discourse but also the policies and practices surrounding the care of children requiring bone marrow or cord blood transplantation by better understanding the values at stake behind parental decision making. (shrink)
Rationale, aims and objectives: Bioethics and professionalism are standard subjects in medical training programmes, and these curricula reflect particular representations of meaning and practice. It is important that these curricula cohere with the actual concerns of practicing clinicians so that students are prepared for real-world practice. We aimed to identify ethical and professional concerns that do not appear to be adequately addressed in standard curricula by comparing ethics curricula with themes that emerged from a qualitative study of medical practitioners. Method: (...) Curriculum analysis: Thirty-two prominent ethics and professionalism curricula were identified through a database search and were analysed thematically. Qualitative study: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 medical practitioners. Participants were invited to reflect upon their perceptions of the ways in which values matter in their practices and their educational experiences. The themes emerging from the two studies were compared and contrasted. Results: While representations of meaning and value in ethics and professionalism curricula overlap with the preoccupations of practicing clinicians, there are significant aspects of ‘real-world’ clinical practice that are largely ignored. These fell into two broad domains: ‘sociological’ concerns about enculturation, bureaucracy, intra-professional relationships, and public perceptions of medicine; and epistemic concerns about making good decisions, balancing different kinds of knowledge, and practising within the bounds of professional protocols. Conclusions: Our findings support the view that philosophy and sociology should be included in medical school and specialty training curricula. Curricula should be reframed to introduce students to habits of thought that recognize the need for critical reflection on the social processes in which they are embedded, and on the philosophical assumptions that underpin their practice. (shrink)
This essay describes the author's change of approach to the comparative study of religious ethics from the one contained in a book on the subject, published in 1978. The change resulted from interactions with Abdulaziz Sachedina, the noted scholar of Islam, demonstrating the importance of comparing different ethical systems in reference to global topics like human rights, particularly the right to freedom of conscience.
Though responses to Stout's book, "Democracy and Tradition," have touched on his discussion of rights, none has comprehensively examined his position on the subject. Having endorsed several objections Stout raises against some influential views on democracy and rights, this article proceeds to criticize Stout's description and theoretical account of the natural and human rights traditions. The central argument is that Stout cannot successfully both affirm the traditions and adhere to his account.
While doctors generally enjoy considerable status, some believe that this is increasingly threatened by consumerism, managerialism, and competition from other health professions. Research into doctors’ perceptions of the changes occurring in medicine has provided some insights into how they perceive and respond to these changes but has generally failed to distinguish clearly between concerns about “status,” related to the entitlements associated with one’s position in a social hierarchy, and concerns about “respect,” related to being held in high regard for one’s (...) moral qualities. In this article we explore doctors’ perceptions of the degree to which they are respected and their explanations for, and responses to, instances of perceived lack of respect. We conclude that doctors’ concerns about loss of respect need to be clearly distinguished from concerns about loss of status and that medical students need to be prepared for a changing social field in which others’ respect cannot be taken for granted. (shrink)
The debate about whether misoprostol should be distributed to low resource communities to prevent post-partum haemorrhage, recognised as a major cause of maternal mortality, is deeply polarised. This is in spite of stakeholders having access to the same evidence about the risks and benefits of misoprostol. To understand the disagreement, we conducted a qualitative analysis of the values underpinning debates surrounding community distribution of misoprostol. We found that different moral priorities, epistemic values, and attitudes towards uncertainty were the main factors (...) sustaining the debate. With this understanding, we present a model for ethical discourse that might overcome the current impasse. (shrink)
In "transitional societies" like South Africa and Bosnia, which are currently moving from authoritarianism, and often violent repression, to democracy, questions arise about the appropriate way to deal with serious human rights offenders.
In reviewing five edited collections and one monograph from the 1990s, the article summarizes the present status of the "human rights revolution" that was signaled by the adoption in 1948 of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". It goes on to elaborate and evaluate some of the attempts contained in these books to deal with theoretical and practical controversies surrounding the subject of human rights, particularly the discussion of what to make of "cultural relativism" as far as human rights are (...) concerned. Finally, the article summarizes some recent thinking and research on a neglected area, namely compliance with human rights standards protecting "freedom of religion or belief.". (shrink)
ABSTRACTThough responses to Stout's book, Democracy and Tradition, have touched on his discussion of rights, none has comprehensively examined his position on the subject. Having endorsed several objections Stout raises against some influential views on democracy and rights, this article proceeds to criticize Stout's description and theoretical account of the natural and human rights traditions. The central argument is that Stout cannot successfully both affirm the traditions and adhere to his account.
U.S. researchers and scholars often point to two legal factors as significant obstacles to the inclusion of pregnant women in clinical research: the Department of Health and Human Services’ regulatory limitations specific to pregnant women's research participation and the fear of liability for potential harm to children born following a pregnant woman's research participation. This article offers a more nuanced view of the potential legal complexities that can impede research with pregnant women than has previously been reflected in the literature. (...) It reveals new insights into the role of legal professionals throughout the research pathway, from product conception to market, and it highlights a variety of legal factors influencing decision-making that may slow or halt research involving pregnant women. Our conclusion is that closing the evidence gap created by the underrepresentation and exclusion of pregnant women in research will require targeted attention to the role of legal professionals and the legal factors that influence their decisions. (shrink)
Wikipedia is a goldmine of information; not just for its many readers, but also for the growing community of researchers who recognize it as a resource of exceptional scale and utility. It represents a vast investment of manual effort and judgment: a huge, constantly evolving tapestry of concepts and relations that is being applied to a host of tasks. This article provides a comprehensive description of this work. It focuses on research that extracts and makes use of the concepts, relations, (...) facts and descriptions found in Wikipedia, and organizes the work into four broad categories: applying Wikipedia to natural language processing; using it to facilitate information retrieval and information extraction; and as a resource for ontology building. The article addresses how Wikipedia is being used as is, how it is being improved and adapted, and how it is being combined with other structures to create entirely new resources. We identify the research groups and individuals involved, and how their work has developed in the last few years. We provide a comprehensive list of the open-source software they have produced. (shrink)
Over the past decade, stem cell science has generated considerable public and political debate. These debates tend to focus on issues concerning the protection of nascent human life and the need to generate medical and therapeutic treatments for the sick and vulnerable. The framing of the public debate around these issues not only dichotomises and oversimplifies the issues at stake, but tends to marginalise certain types of voices, such as the women who donate their eggs and/or embryos to stem cell (...) research and the patients who might benefit from its potential clinical outcomes. This paper draws on empirical research conducted on a recent stem cell policy episode in Australia. From the qualitative examination of 109 newspaper opinion editorials and twenty-three in-depth interviews, it is argued that these voices are marginalised because they are based on discourses that have less epistemological status in public debate. Our results suggest that the personal experiences of women and patients are marginalised by the alliances that form between more powerful discourse communities that use science as a source of authority and legitimation. It is argued that members of these communities establish legitimacy and assert authority in public debate by discursively deploying science in claims that marginalise other epistemologies. Implications are discussed along with suggestions for a more enriched and inclusive public debate. (shrink)
This study reports on the use of like in Aboriginal English teen talk. The analysis of a sub-corpus of 40 adolescent texts from a corpus of 100 narratives by speakers of Aboriginal English in Western Australia revealed that like is often employed by these speakers, and that it performs a variety of functions. In general it is observed that like may mark off a) a discrepancy between the intended conceptualization and the expressed concept, b) an attitude, feeling, or a certain (...) degree of commitment towards a lexical item, and c) a shift in some element of discourse. The results of this study support and extend the analysis carried out by Andersen on London teen talk. (shrink)
In April 1939, G. E. Moore read a paper to the Cambridge University Moral Science Club entitled ‘Certainty’. In it, amongst other things, Moore made the claims that: the phrase ‘it is certain’ could be used with sense-experience-statements, such as ‘I have a pain’, to make statements such as ‘It is certain that I have a pain’; and that sense-experience-statements can be said to be certain in the same sense as some material-thing-statements can be — namely in the sense that (...) they can be safely counted on. When Moore later read his paper to Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein took violent exception to it, and the two entered into a heated exchange. The only known notes of this exchange are a previously unpublished verbatim record of part of it, taken by Norman Malcolm. This paper is an edition of Malcolm’s notes. These notes are valuable for both philosophical and scholarly reasons. They give us a glimpse of a sustained exchange between Wittgenstein and a real-life interlocutor; they contain a defence by Wittgenstein of the idea that a word’s use can illuminate its meaning; and they provide evidence of Wittgenstein’s philosophical engagement with the topic of certainty, and with Moore’s thought on it, long before he began to write the notes which make up On Certainty, in 1949. (shrink)
Reviews : Zygmunt Bauman, Intimations of Postmodernity ; Steven Seidman and David G. Wagner , Postmodernism and Social Theory ; Stephen Crook, Jan Pakulski and Malcolm Wa ters, Postmodernization: Change in Advanced Society ; Gianni Vattimo, The End of Modernity—Nihilism and Hermeneutics in Post-modern Culture.