Moral psychology studies the features of cognition, judgement, perception and emotion that make human beings capable of moral action. Perspectives from feminist and race theory immensely enrich moral psychology. Writers who take these perspectives ask questions about mind, feeling, and action in contexts of social difference and unequal power and opportunity. These essays by a distinguished international cast of philosophers explore moral psychology as it connects to social life, scientific studies, and literature.
The Patient in the Family diagnoses the ways in which the worlds of home and hospital misunderstand each other. The authors explore how medicine, through its new reproductive technologies, is altering the stucture of families, how families can participate more fully in medical decision-making, and how to understand the impact on families of medical advances to extend life but not vitality.
Behavioral research has revealed how normal human cognitive processes can tend to lead us astray. But do these affect economic researchers, ourselves? This article explores the consequences of stereotyping and confirmation bias using a sample of published articles from the economics literature on gender and risk aversion. The results demonstrate that the supposedly ‘robust’ claim that ‘women are more risk averse than men’ is far less empirically supported than has been claimed. The questions of how these cognitive biases arise and (...) why they have such power are discussed, and methodological practices that may help to attenuate these biases are outlined. (shrink)
Searching for information is critical in many situations. In medicine, for instance, careful choice of a diagnostic test can help narrow down the range of plausible diseases that the patient might have. In a probabilistic framework, test selection is often modeled by assuming that people’s goal is to reduce uncertainty about possible states of the world. In cognitive science, psychology, and medical decision making, Shannon entropy is the most prominent and most widely used model to formalize probabilistic uncertainty and the (...) reduction thereof. However, a variety of alternative entropy metrics are popular in the social and the natural sciences, computer science, and philosophy of science. Particular entropy measures have been predominant in particular research areas, and it is often an open issue whether these divergences emerge from different theoretical and practical goals or are merely due to historical accident. Cutting across disciplinary boundaries, we show that several entropy and entropy reduction measures arise as special cases in a unified formalism, the Sharma-Mittal framework. Using mathematical results, computer simulations, and analyses of published behavioral data, we discuss four key questions: How do various entropy models relate to each other? What insights can be obtained by considering diverse entropy models within a unified framework? What is the psychological plausibility of different entropy models? What new questions and insights for research on human information acquisition follow? Our work provides several new pathways for theoretical and empirical research, reconciling apparently conflicting approaches and empirical findings within a comprehensive and unified information-theoretic formalism. (shrink)
The authority of surrogates—often close family members—to make treatment decisions for previously capacitated patients is said to come from their knowledge of the patient, which they are to draw on as they exercise substituted judgment on the patient’s behalf. However, proxy accuracy studies call this authority into question, hence the Patient Preference Predictor (PPP). We identify two problems with contemporary understandings of the surrogate’s role. The first is with the assumption that knowledge of the patient entails knowledge of what the (...) patient’s choice of treatment would be. The second is with the assumption that a good decision reproduces the content of that choice. If we are right, then the PPP, helpful though it might be in guiding surrogates’ decisions, nevertheless would hold them to the wrong standards and in that way could add to, rather than relieve, the stress they experience as they try to do their job. (shrink)
It is obvious that technology is rapidly changing the world around us. Nowhere is that change more evident than in the revolution occurring for those with physical and mental limitations-their portrayal in the media, their use of the media to achieve group aims and their use of the new on-line media to communicate with others who have limitations and the non-disabled world. In a very real way the growing sense of community among those with disabilities has been linked to the (...) media. (shrink)
: Can work be done for pay, and still be loving? While many feminists believe that marketization inevitably leads to a degradation of social connections, we suggest that markets are themselves forms of social organization, and that even relationships of unequal power can sometimes include mutual respect. We call for increased attention to specific causes of suffering, such as greed, poverty, and subordination. We conclude with a summary of contributions to this Special Issue.
College cheating is prevalent, with rates ranging widely from 9 to 95%. Research has been exclusively conducted with enrolled college students. This study examined the prevalence of cheating in a sample of college alumni, who risk less in disclosing academic dishonesty than current students. A total of 273 alumni reported on their prevalence and perceived severity of 19 cheating behaviors. The vast majority of participants report having engaged in some form of cheating during their undergraduate career. The most common forms (...) of cheating were “copying from another student's assignment” and “allowing others to copy from your assignment.” More students reported cheating in classes for their major than other classes. Males and females cheated at the same rates in classes for their major, and males reported higher rates of cheating than females in nonmajor classes. Respondents reported that their top reasons for cheating were “lack of time” and “to help a friend.”. (shrink)
Humans excel in categorization. Yet from a computational standpoint, learning a novel probabilistic classification task involves severe computational challenges. The present paper investigates one way to address these challenges: assuming class-conditional independence of features. This feature independence assumption simplifies the inference problem, allows for informed inferences about novel feature combinations, and performs robustly across different statistical environments. We designed a new Bayesian classification learning model that incorporates varying degrees of prior belief in class-conditional independence, learns whether or not independence holds, (...) and adapts its behavior accordingly. Theoretical results from two simulation studies demonstrate that classification behavior can appear to start simple, yet adapt effectively to unexpected task structures. Two experiments—designed using optimal experimental design principles—were conducted with human learners. Classification decisions of the majority of participants were best accounted for by a version of the model with very high initial prior belief in class-conditional independence, before adapting to the true environmental structure. Class-conditional independence may be a strong and useful default assumption in category learning tasks. (shrink)
Let me make it clear from the outset that my main point is not either of the following: one, that there should be more women economists and research on “women's issues”, or two, that women as a class do, or should do, economics in a manner different from men. My argument is different and has to do with trying to gain an understanding of how a certain way of thinking about gender and a certain way of thinking about economics have (...) become intertwined through metaphor – with detrimental results – and how a richer conception of human understanding and human identity could broaden and improve the field of economics for both female and male practitioners. (shrink)
This volume is fourth in the series of annuals created under the auspices of The Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory . The topics covered herein_from peacekeeping and terrorism, to sex trafficking and women's paid labor, to poverty and religious fundamentalism_are vital to women and to feminist movements throughout the world.
In the portion of their reply directed to me, Professor Asch and Dr. Wasserman helpfully develop the synecdoche argument by highlighting its connections to stigma. I understand them to distinguish the situation of a woman making a decision concerning her pregnancy informed by prenatal testing from a woman making a similar decision informed by considerations of, for example, poverty, like so: In testing contexts, it will characteristically be the case that the woman's decision will be distorted by the stigma associated (...) with impairment: She will consider only the fact that, should her pregnancy come to term, the child would be impaired; she will not be able to attend in a satisfactory manner to a fuller range of possible features, both good and bad, that may characterize the child's life and her experience of being the child's parent. The woman considering whether to terminate her pregnancy due to, say, poverty will, in contrast, typically be able to deliberate in ways more responsive to a broader range of relevant matters, as the possible child's poverty will not be the only thing she is in a position to take into account about her or his life and their life together. Further, even where poverty or some other factor influencing decisions about terminating or continuing pregnancy are stigmatizing, they are not as thoroughly stigmatizing as are impairment-related conditions, due to prevalent confusions about the immutability of traits seen as biological rather than social. (shrink)
This essay discusses the origins, biases, and effects on contemporary discussions of economics and ethics of the unexamined use of the metaphor an economy is a machine. Both neoliberal economics and many critiques of capitalist systems take this metaphor as their starting point. The belief that economies run according to universal laws of motion, however, is shown to be based on a variety of rationalist thinking that – while widely held – is inadequate for explaining lived human experience. Feminist scholarship (...) in the philosophy of science and economics has brought to light some of the biases that have supported the mechanistic worldview. Possible alternatives to the an economy is a machine include an economy is a creative process and an economy is an organism. Such metaphors are intellectually defensible as guides to scientific inquiry and provide a richer ground for moral imagination. (shrink)
Can work be done for pay, and still be loving? While many feminists believe that marketization inevitably leads to a degradation of social connections, we suggest that markets are themselves forms of social organization, and that even relationships of unequal power can sometimes include mutual respect. We call for increased attention to specific causes of suffering, such as greed, poverty, and subordination. We conclude with a summary of contributions to this Special Issue.
An article by Luigino Bruni and Robert Sugden published in this journal argues that market relations contain elements of what they call ‘fraternity’. This Response demonstrates that my own views on interpersonal relations and markets – which originated in the feminist analysis of caring labour – are far closer to Bruni and Sugden's than they acknowledge in their article, and goes on to discuss additional important dimensions of sociality that they neglect.
Both of the main points in Professor Murphy's paper seem to me clearly and effectively argued.1 It is incontrovertible that some people find hurtful the use of medical technologies to avoid the birth of children who, in the present order of things, would be disabled. No result from the philosophy of language, or anywhere else for that matter, can plausibly show otherwise. Indeed, even to speak of ‘legitimately interpreting’ events that cause one pain as ‘hurtful’, as Murphy does, seems a (...) shade too conciliatory to any who has the temerity to doubt this matter: typically, at least, I don't interpret a state of affairs as hurtful. I experience it so—or not.He's quite right to point out as well that the fact that someone's actions cause another to feel hurt does not, on its own, imply much of anything about the action's propriety. There are many serious people who are deeply distressed by others' reproductive choices that have nothing to do with disability: terminating a pregnancy for any reason causes some people considerable pain. Yet there seems no reason whatever to regard that pain, considered on its own, as a reason that—at least in general terms—should bear on a person's decision concerning whether or not to give birth to the fetus that she is gestating.Expressivist arguments, so understood, then, seem to have had their measure taken. If anyone had the temerity to think that no one is hurt by choices to avoid or end pregnancies because they might lead to the birth of a child who would be disabled, they can drop that thought right now. On the other hand, if someone thought that the hurt suffered by such people constitutes a serious reason for restricting what others can find out about their potential or actual pregnancies, or …. (shrink)
A number of recent discussions about ethical issues in climate change, as engaged in by economists, have focused on the value of the parameter representing the rate of time preference within models of optimal growth. This essay examines many economists' antipathy to serious discussion of ethical matters, and suggests that the avoidance of questions of intergenerational equity is related to another set of value judgments concerning the quality and objectivity of economic practice. Using insights from feminist philosophy of science and (...) research on high reliability organizations, this essay argues that a more ethically transparent, real-world-oriented, and flexible economic practice would lead to more strongly objective, reliable, and useful knowledge. (shrink)
: A fascinating criticism of abortion occasioned by prenatal diagnosis of potentially disabling traits is that the complex of test-and-abortion sends a morally disparaging message to people living with disabilities. I have argued that available versions of this "expressivist" argument are inadequate on two grounds. The most fundamental is that, considered as a practice, abortions prompted by prenatal testing are not semantically well-behaved enough to send any particular message; they do not function as signs in a rule-governed symbol system. Further, (...) even granting, for the sake of argument, the expressive power of testing and aborting, it would not be possible, contra the argument's proponents, to distinguish between abortions undertaken because of beliefs about the disabling conditions the fetus might face as a child and abortions undertaken for many other possible reasons--e.g., because of the poverty the fetus would face or the increase in family size that the birth of a new child would occasion. Here, I respond to criticisms of those arguments, and propose and defend another: the expressivist argument cannot, in general, distinguish successfully between abortion and therapy as modalities for responding to disabilities. (shrink)
: The President's Council on Bioethics has tried to make a distinctive contribution to the methodology of such public bodies in developing what it has styled a "richer bioethics." The Council's procedure contrasts with more modest methods of public bioethical deliberation employed by the United Kingdom's Warnock Committee. The practices of both bodies are held up against a backdrop of concerns about moral and political alienation, prompted by the limitations of moral reasoning and by moral dissent from state policy under (...) even the most democratic of governments. Although the President's Council's rhetoric is often scrupulously conciliatory, recurring features of its argumentative practice are regrettably divisive. They order these things better in Britain. (shrink)
A certain pupil with the vaguely Kafkaesque name B has mastered the series of natural numbers. B's new task is to learn how to write down other series of cardinal numbers and right now, we're working on the series "+2." After a bit, B seems to catch on, but we are unusually thorough teachers and keep him at it. Things are going just fine until he reaches 1000. Then, quite confounding us, he writes 1004, 1008, 1012."We say to him: 'Look (...) what you've done!'—He doesn't understand. We say: 'You were meant to add two: look how you began the series!'—He answers: 'Yes, isn't it right? I thought that was how I was meant to do it.'"1B may be an "abnormal learner," but he's not unique among learners in literature. Another .. (shrink)
I present a way of thinking about gender that I have found helpful in evaluating various proposed feminist projects. By considering gender and value as independent dimensions, relationships of "difference" can be more clearly perceived as involving relationships of lack, of complementarity, or of perversion. I illustrate the use of my gender/value "compass" with applications to questions of self-identity, rationality, and knowledge. This way of thinking about gender allows a conceptualization of feminism that neither erases nor emphasizes gender distinctions.
In her final fragmentary novel Sanditon, Jane Austen develops a theme that pervades her work from her juvenilia onward: illness, and in particular, illness imagined, invented, or self-inflicted. While the “invention of odd complaints” is characteristically a token of folly or weakness throughout her writing, in this last work imagined illness is also both a symbol and a cause of how selves and societies degenerate. In the shifting world of Sanditon, hypochondria is the lubricant for a society bent on turning (...) health into a commodity. As a result, people’s rationality and their moral character come under attack. Catherine Belling’s recent subtle study, A Condition of Doubt: The Meanings of Hypochondria, unveils hypochondria’s discursive and cultural character. Running sharply against the tenor of Austen’s treatment, however, she argues in defense of the rationality of hypochondriacs; the notion that the condition may involve morally significant defects is not entertained; any connection to the commercialization of health care is muted. Here, I contrast Austen’s morally and epistemically negative rendering of her hypochondriacal characters in Sanditon with Belling’s efforts to create a sympathetic understanding of people with hypochondria. I will argue that, despite time gaps and genre differences, joint consideration of these texts can help bioethicists better appreciate how medicine can intensify, pathologize, and exploit anxieties about illness and death, thus adding to the challenges of living well in the face of mortality and morbidity. (shrink)
It has recently been argued by Miller and Truog (2008) that, while procuring vital organs from transplant donors is typically the cause of their deaths, this violation of the requirement that donors be dead prior to the removal of their organs is not a cause for moral concern. In general terms, I endorse this heterodox conclusion, but for different and, as I think, more powerful reasons. I end by arguing that, even if it is agreed that retrieval of vital organs (...) causes the deaths of those who provide them, that does not pose any new substantive difficulties for efforts to justify “opt-out” organ procurement systems. (shrink)
: Prenatal and preconceptual testing and screening programs provide information on the basis of which people can choose to avoid the birth of children likely to face disabilities. Some disabilities advocates have objected to such programs and to the decisions made within them, on the grounds that measures taken to avoid the birth of children with disabilities have an "expressive force" that conveys messages disrespectful to people with disabilities. Assessing such a claim requires careful attention to general considerations relating meaning, (...) intention, and social practices; it has only begun to receive such attention. Building on work by Allen Buchanan, who has challenged this claim, I further consider the disabilities advocates' objection, ultimately concluding that it is misplaced; neither individual actions nor general practices of this type necessarily express disrespectful messages. (shrink)