: The current difference in attitude toward germ-line enhancement in humans and nonhumans is unjustified. Society should be more cautious in modifying the genes of nonhumans and more bold in thinking about modifying our own genome. I identify four classes of arguments pertaining to germ-line enhancement: safety arguments, justice arguments, trust arguments, and naturalness arguments. The first three types are compelling, but do not distinguish between human and nonhuman cases. The final class of argument would justify a distinction between human (...) and nonhuman germ-line enhancement; however, this type of argument fails and, therefore, the discrepancy in attitude toward human and nonhuman germ-line enhancement is unjustified. (shrink)
This essay takes a critical look at aesthetics as the basis for nature preservation, presenting three reasons why we should not rely on aesthetic foundations to justify the environmentalist program. First, a comparison to other kinds of aesthetic value shows that the aesthetic value of nature can provide weak reasons foraction atbest. Second, not everything environmentalists want to protect has positive aesthetic qualities. Attempts have been made to get around this problem by developing a reformist attitude towards natural aesthetics. I (...) argue that these approaches fail. Third, development can be as aesthetically positive as nature. If it is simply beauty we are looking for, why can't the beauty of a wellconstructed dam or a magnificent skyscraper suffice? (shrink)
Multiple-choice questions have an undeserved reputation for only being able to test student recall of basic facts. In fact, well-crafted mechanically gradable questions can measure very sophisticated cognitive skills, including those engaged at the highest level of Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy of outcomes. In this article, I argue that multiple-choice questions should be a part of the diversified assessment portfolio for most philosophy courses. I present three arguments broadly related to fairness. First, multiple-choice questions allow one to consolidate subjective decision making (...) in a way that makes it easier to manage. Second, multiple-choice questions contribute to the diversity of an evaluation portfolio by balancing out problems with writing-based assessments. Third, by increasing the diversity of evaluations, multiple-choice questions increase the inclusiveness of the course. In the course of this argument I provide examples of multiple-choice questions that measure sophisticated learning and advice for how to write good multiple-choice questions. (shrink)
I claim that differences in the importance attached to economic liberty are more important in debates over the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture than disagreements about the precautionary principle. I will argue this point by considering a case study: the decision by the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to grant nonregulated status to Roundup Ready soy. I will show that the unregulated release of this herbicide-resistant crop would not be acceptable morally unless one places (...) a very high premium on economic liberty. This is true even if one takes a sound science attitude to unknown risks, rather than a precautionary attitude. I concede that it may not have been within APHIS’s legislative mandate to regulate Roundup Ready soy further, but for those of us who do not put a high premium on economic liberty, this only calls for extending regulatory oversight of GMOs. (shrink)
This is the annotated bibliography that accompanied Volume 2 of American Association of Philosophy Teachers Studies in Pedagogy, a special issue on teaching Plato. It includes sections covering teaching several specific dialogues: Republic, Meno, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Lysis, as well as sections on "Socrates as Teacher" and general articles on teaching Plato.
This is the introduction to a special issue of AAPT Studies in Pedagogy on Teaching Plato. I open by noting that the philosophy of education was of central concern to Plato in a way that you don't often see with philosophers. Only Confucius and John Dewey do as much to make education central to everything else they say. I also note that much subsequent philosophy of education merely rediscovers what Plato already knew. After that, I preview the contents of the (...) volume, emphasizing the ways in which contributors ask us to teach Plato platonically. (shrink)
The differences in the portrayal of Baltar between the original Battlestar Galactica and the re-imagined version represent two different conceptions of evil, and can be used to illustrate ideas about the tyrant from Plato and Boethius.
I argue for the Wittgensteinian thesis that mathematical statements are expressions of norms, rather than descriptions of the world. An expression of a norm is a statement like a promise or a New Year's resolution, which says that someone is committed or entitled to a certain line of action. A expression of a norm is not a mere description of a regularity of human behavior, nor is it merely a descriptive statement which happens to entail a norms. The view can (...) be thought of as a sort of logicism for the logical expressivist---a person who believes that the purpose of logical language is to make explicit commitments and entitlements that are implicit in ordinary practice. The thesis that mathematical statements are expression of norms is a kind of logicism, not because it says that mathematics can be reduced to logic, but because it says that mathematical statements play the same role as logical statements. ;I contrast my position with two sets of views, an empiricist view, which says that mathematical knowledge is acquired and justified through experience, and a cluster of nativist and apriorist views, which say that mathematical knowledge is either hardwired into the human brain, or justified a priori, or both. To develop the empiricist view, I look at the work of Kitcher and Mill, arguing that although their ideas can withstand the criticisms brought against empiricism by Frege and others, they cannot reply to a version of the critique brought by Wittgenstein in the Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics. To develop the nativist and apriorist views, I look at the work of contemporary developmental psychologists, like Gelman and Gallistel and Karen Wynn, as well as the work of philosophers who advocate the existence of a mathematical intuition, such as Kant, Husserl, and Parsons. After clarifying the definitions of "innate" and "a priori," I argue that the mechanisms proposed by the nativists cannot bring knowledge, and the existence of the mechanisms proposed by the apriorists is not supported by the arguments they give. (shrink)
forall x: Dortmund is an adaptation and German translation of forall x: Calgary. As such, it is a full-featured textbook on formal logic. It covers key notions of logic such as consequence and validity, the syntax of truth-functional (propositional) logic and truth-table semantics, the syntax of first-order (predicate) logic with identity and first-order interpretations, formalizing German in TFL and FOL, and Fitch-style natural deduction proof systems for both TFL and FOL. It also deals with some advanced topics such as the (...) syntax and (Kripke-)semantics of modal logic. The book is provided in PDF and in LaTeX source code. A booklet with solutions for the exercises in the book is available. (shrink)