Purpose This paper aims to formalize long-term trajectories of human civilization as a scientific and ethical field of study. The long-term trajectory of human civilization can be defined as the path that human civilization takes during the entire future time period in which human civilization could continue to exist. -/- Design/methodology/approach This paper focuses on four types of trajectories: status quo trajectories, in which human civilization persists in a state broadly similar to its current state into the distant future; catastrophe (...) trajectories, in which one or more events cause significant harm to human civilization; technological transformation trajectories, in which radical technological breakthroughs put human civilization on a fundamentally different course; and astronomical trajectories, in which human civilization expands beyond its home planet and into the accessible portions of the cosmos. -/- Findings Status quo trajectories appear unlikely to persist into the distant future, especially in light of long-term astronomical processes. Several catastrophe, technological transformation and astronomical trajectories appear possible. -/- Originality/value Some current actions may be able to affect the long-term trajectory. Whether these actions should be pursued depends on a mix of empirical and ethical factors. For some ethical frameworks, these actions may be especially important to pursue. (shrink)
An artificial general intelligence might have an instrumental drive to modify its utility function to improve its ability to cooperate, bargain, promise, threaten, and resist and engage in blackmail. Such an AGI would necessarily have a utility function that was at least partially observable and that was influenced by how other agents chose to interact with it. This instrumental drive would conflict with the strong orthogonality thesis since the modifications would be influenced by the AGI’s intelligence. AGIs in highly competitive (...) environments might converge to having nearly the same utility function, one optimized to favorably influencing other agents through game theory. Nothing in our analysis weakens arguments concerning the risks of AGI. (shrink)
The printed proceedings of the 1960 meeting of the American Catholic Philosophical Association open with two personal testaments: the Presidential Address of Father R. F. Lechner on the professional task of the philosopher to contemplate truth personally, fully and in communication with his fellows and, in reply to his citation for the Aquinas Medal, the address of Dr. Rudolf Allers upon ‘Co-operation and Communication’ in intellectual culture. Next Professor Wilfrid Sellars presents a critical paper, ‘Being and Being Known’ evaluating the (...) ‘over-simplified’ isomorphism of the Thomistic theory of knowing faculty and object in contrast with the ‘radically mistaken’ theories of Descartes and Anglo-Saxon realism. The three other papers concentrate upon current applications of analytic method to philosophical problems. Fr. Ernan McMullin offers a general evaluation of the methods of reductive and linguistic analysts, comparing their insights with their limitations. Fr. Robert Miller analyses in critical detail the theoretical and practical attitudes of the ‘informalist’ group of linguistic analysis to metaphysics, while Fr. W. Norris Clarke more particularly examines their attitude to natural theology. (shrink)
Let P be the ω-orbit of a point under a unary function definable in an o-minimal expansion ℜ of a densely ordered group. If P is monotonically cofinal in the group, and the compositional iterates of the function are cofinal at +\infty in the unary functions definable in ℜ, then the expansion (ℜ, P) has a number of good properties, in particular, every unary set definable in any elementarily equivalent structure is a disjoint union of open intervals and finitely many (...) discrete sets. (shrink)
In working his way through his complex conception of the relation of fiction and reality, [Henry] James thus found the unconscious moral dimension inextricably embedded within "realism" itself. In following the threads of realism back to consciousness itself, James invariably found there intertwined with its roots those aspects and elements that other theorists kept carefully separate. By exploring experience to its source, he found imagination. By following objective life from "out there" to conception, he found individual vision. By (...) following the seeming oneness of the passing show back to perception, he found infinite variation and multiplicity. By following the uncolored flux and flow of events to their embodiment in the fictional medium, he found coloration of personality. And by following the "felt life" back to the artist's "prime sensibility", James found there the "moral sense" and the "enveloping air of the artist's humanity"—that which gives "the last touch to the worth of a work." James E. Miller, Jr., professor of English at the University of Chicago, is the author of A Critical Guide to Leaves of Grass; Walt Whitman; F. Scott Fitzgerald: His Art and His Technique; J.D. Salinger; Theory of Fiction: Henry James; and numerous articles on American literature and education. He contributed "Catcher In and Out of History" to Critical Inquiry, Spring 1977. (shrink)
Dual-track assessment directs research ethics committees to assess the risks of research interventions based on the unclear distinction between therapeutic and non-therapeutic interventions. The net risks test, in contrast, relies on the clinically familiar method of assessing the risks and benefits of interventions in comparison to the available alternatives and also focuses attention of the RECs on the central challenge of protecting research participants.Research guidelines around the world recognise that clinical research is ethical only when the risks to participants are (...) reasonable.1 Appropriate implementation of this requirement is vital to protecting research participants and allowing research to proceed when it poses acceptable risks. Unfortunately, as the US National Bioethics Advisory Commission notes: “current regulations do not further elaborate how risks and potential benefits are to be assessed, and little additional guidance is available to IRBs.”1The NBAC, as well as numerous commentators, recommend that research ethics committees , ethics review committees and institutional review boards should adopt what may be called dual-track risk assessment.2–5 Yet, dual-track assessment unnecessarily divides research interventions into two different categories before assessing their risks and relies on the unclear distinction between therapeutic and non-therapeutic interventions. As a result, dual-track assessment provides RECs with confusing guidance and has the potential to block valuable research that poses acceptable risks. This paper describes one alternative, the net risks test, and argues that this approach offers a better method for assessing research risks, one that puts RECs in a position to protect participants without blocking appropriate research studies.BACKGROUNDClinical research exposes participants to interventions and procedures to gather systematic data that may be used to improve overall health and well-being. To ensure that research is ethical, RECs must ensure that the risks and burdens to participants are not excessive and that …. (shrink)
Athens or Jerusalem? By Tertullian.--Philosophy the handmaid of theology, by Clement of Alexandria.--Faith in search of understanding, by St. Augustine.--Revelation and analogy, by St. Thomas Aquinas.--The mystic way, by M. Eckhart.--The darkened intellect, by J. Calvin.--The reasons of the heart, by B. Pascal.--Faith, reason, and enthusiasm, by J. Locke.--Miracles and the skeptic, by D. Hume.--The limits of reason, by I. Kant.--Truth and subjectivity, by S. Kierkegaard.--In justification of faith, by W. James.--Religion as poetry, by G. Santayana.--Faith and symbols, by (...) P. Tillich.--Three parables on falsification, by A. Flew, R. M. Hare, and B. Mitchell.--For further reading (p. 233-235). (shrink)
This book aims to pinpoint the connection feelings have with behaviour - a connection that, while clear, has never been fully explained. Following William James, Laird argues that feelings are not the cause of behavior but rather its consequences; the same goes for behaviour and motives and behaviour and attitudes. He presents research into feelings across the spectrum, from anger to joy to fear to romantic love, that support this against-the-grain view. Laird discusses the problem of common sense, self-perception (...) theory, the association between feelings and higher cognitive processes, and also the literature on facial expression, posture, and gaze. (shrink)
We seek to change the conversation about brain death by highlighting the distinction between brain death as a biological concept versus brain death as a legal status. The fact that brain death does not cohere with any biologically plausible definition of death has been known for decades. Nevertheless, this fact has not threatened the acceptance of brain death as a legal status that permits individuals to be treated as if they are dead. The similarities between “legally dead” and “legally blind” (...) demonstrate how we may legitimately choose bright-line legal definitions that do not cohere with biological reality. Not only does this distinction bring conceptual coherence to the conversation about brain death, but it has practical implications as well. Once brain death is recognized as a social construction not grounded in biological reality, we create the possibility of changing the social construction in ways that may better serve both organ donors and recipients alike. (shrink)
This is an excellent collection of critical essays on Michael Walzer’s Spheres of Justice. David Miller provides a comprehensive and lucid introduction to Walzer’s views on justice, and Walzer offers a brief—perhaps too brief—response to his critics. Contributors are drawn from philosophy, political science, and sociology, and include Judith Andre, Richard Arneson, Brian Barry, Joseph Carens, Jon Elster, Amy Gutmann, David Miller, Susan Moller Okin, Michael Rustin, Adam Swift, and Jeremy Waldron.
William James and Wisconsin, by G.C. Sellery.--The distinctive philosophy of William James, by M.C. Otto.--William James, man and philosopher, by D.S. Miller.--William James and psychoanalysis, by Norman Cameron.--The William James centenary dinner: Introductory remarks, by C.A. Dykstra. William James and the world today, by John Dewey, read by Carl Boegholt. William James in the American tradition, by B.H. Bode.--The Sunday service: William James as religious thinker, by J.S. Bixler.
Some scholars have argued that CEOs may have excessive influence on their foundation's trustees to give away a portion of company profits to charitable causes in order to gain access to elite circles or support the CEO's personal causes. This may result in charitable contributions that ultimately serve the personal interests of the CEOs without regard to corporate interests or social needs. We examine the extent that CEOs appear to direct charitable giving to be compatible with their own personal interests, (...) and if CEO participation on the foundation board affects the relationship between CEO personal interests and charitable giving. Using a sample of 160 corporate foundations, our results showed that CEOs' interests, as measured by membership in different non-profit organizations, was associated with foundation charitable giving. This association decreased, but was not eliminated, when CEOs were absent from the foundation board. Implications of these findings for researchers and managers are discussed in regards to both agency theory and stewardship theory. (shrink)
Claude Lefort's rethinking of ‘the political’ has been highly fruitful for political theory, yet its politics remain unclear. It has inspired transformative, radical-democratic projects, but has also served as a basis for more liberal conceptions. This article explores the sources and implications of this ambiguity by setting Lefort's work against the backdrop of the anti-totalitarian moment in French political thought and the trajectories of two of his students, Miguel Abensour and Marcel Gauchet. It emerges that although Lefort's democratic theory cannot (...) be reduced to a defensive liberalism, neither is it as expansive as some might hope. (shrink)
In Branden Thornhill-Miller and Peter Millican’s challenging and provocative essay, we hear a considerably longer, more scholarly and less melodic rendition of John Lennon’s catchy tune—without religion, or at least without first-order supernaturalisms, there’d be significantly less intra-group violence. First-order supernaturalist beliefs, as defined by Thornhill-Miller and Peter Millican, are “beliefs that claim unique authority for some particular religious tradition in preference to all others”. According to M&M, first-order supernaturalist beliefs are exclusivist, dogmatic, empirically unsupported, and irrational. Moreover, (...) again according to M&M, we have perfectly natural explanations of the causes that underlie such beliefs. They then make a case for second-order supernaturalism, “which maintains that the universe in general, and the religious sensitivities of humanity in particular, have been formed by supernatural powers working through natural processes”. Second-order supernaturalism is a kind of theism, more closely akin to deism than, say, Christianity or Buddhism. It is, as such, universal, empirically supported, and beneficial. With respect to its pragmatic value, second-order supernaturalism, according to M&M, gets the good of religion without its bad. Second-order supernaturalism is thus rational and inconducive to violence. In this paper, I will examine just one small but important part of M&M’s argument: the claim that religion is a primary motivator of violence and that its elimination would eliminate or curtail a great deal of violence in the world. Imagine, they say, no religion, too. Janusz Salamon offers a friendly extension or clarification of M&M’s second-order theism, one that I think, with emendations, has promise. He argues that the core of first-order religions, the belief that Ultimate Reality is the Ultimate Good, is rational and, if widely conceded and endorsed by adherents of first-order religions, would reduce conflict in the world. While I favor the virtue of intellectual humility endorsed in both papers, I will argue contra M&M that belief in first-order religion is not a primary motivator of conflict and violence. Second, partly contra Salamon, who I think is half right, I will argue that the religious resources for compassion can and should come from within both the particular and the universal aspects of religious beliefs. Finally, I will argue that both are guilty, as I am, of the philosopher’s obsession with belief. (shrink)
William James’s theory of emotion has been controversial since its inception, and a basic analysis of Cannon’s critique is provided. Research on the impact of facial expressions, expressive behaviors, and visceral responses on emotional feelings are each reviewed. A good deal of evidence supports James’s theory that these types of bodily feedback, along with perceptions of situational cues, are each important parts of emotional feelings. Extensions to James’s theory are also reviewed, including evidence of individual differences in (...) the effect of bodily responses on emotional experience. (shrink)
Controversies about the diagnosis and meaning of brain death have existed as long as the concept itself. Here we review the historical development of brain death, and then evaluate the various attempts to justify the claim that patients who are diagnosed as brain dead can be considered dead for all legal and social purposes, and especially with regard to procuring their vital organs for transplantation. While we agree with most commentators that death should be defined as the loss of integration (...) of the functioning of the organism as a whole, we conclude that patients diagnosed as brain dead have not, in fact, lost this integrated functioning. We close with reflections on the implications of this conclusion generally and particularly with regard to organ transplantation, and briefly make reference to alternative approaches to justifying the procurement of transplantable organs that do not depend upon a flawed approach to the diagnosis of death. (shrink)
D. Miller considère que sa théorie de la connexion peut se révéler précieuse en soulignant la complexité de l’attribution de la responsabilité réparatrice afin de soulager la misère du monde. L’auteur apprécie à sa juste valeur cette exploration des moyens permettant d’envisager la responsabilité réparatrice entre États, il considère néanmoins que ce point de vue soulève davantage de questions qu’il n’en résout.
Jean-Francois Lyotard was one of the most influential European thinkers in recent decades. He was a leading participant in debates about post-modernism and the decline of Marxism, and he made important contributions to ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy. In this authoritative introduction, Williams tracks the development of Lyotard's thought from his early writings on the libidinal economy to his more recent work on the post-modern condition. Williams argues that despite the wide-ranging character of Lyotard's writings, they are animated by a (...) long-standing concern to develop a new theory of political action. Lyotard's productive use of avant-garde art and the aesthetics of the sublime are interpreted within this context. In the final chapters some of the main criticisms that have been levelled at Lyotard's work are outlined and assessed. A challenging but also accessible book, it will be welcomed by students and researchers in continental philosophy, literary theory and the humanities generally. (shrink)
The traditional view of divine conservation holds that it is simply a continuation of the initial act of creation. In this essay, I defend the continuous-creation tradition against William Lane Craig's criticism that continuous creation fundamentally misconstrues the intuitive distinction between creation and conservation. According to Craig, creation is the unique causal activity of bringing new patient entities into existence, while conservation involves acting upon already existing patient entities to cause their continued existence. I defend continuous creation by challenging Craig's (...) intuitive distinction and by showing that the alternative account of creation and conservation he bases upon it is fraught with serious internal difficulties. (shrink)
One standard criticism of the doctrine of continuous creation is that it entails the occasionalist position that God alone is a true cause and that the events we commonly identify as causes are merely the occasions upon which God brings about effects. I begin by clearly stating Malebranche's argument from continuous creation to occasionalism. Next, I examine two strategies for resisting Malebranche's argument ??? strong and weak concurrentism ??? and argue that weak concurrentism is the more promising strategy. Finally, I (...) argue that weak concurrentism requires a necessitarian approach to secondary causation. (shrink)
The idea that there could be spatially extended mereological simples has recently been defended by a number of metaphysicians (Markosian 1998, 2004; Simons 2004; Parsons (2000) also takes the idea seriously). Peter Simons (2004) goes further, arguing not only that spatially extended mereological simples (henceforth just extended simples) are possible, but that it is more plausible that our world is composed of such simples, than that it is composed of either point-sized simples, or of atomless gunk. The difficulty for these (...) views lies in explaining why it is that the various sub-volumes of space occupied by such simples, are not occupied by proper parts of those simples. Intuitively at least, many of us find compelling the idea that spatially extended objects have proper parts at every sub-volume of the region they occupy. It seems that the defender of extended simples must reject a seemingly plausible claim, what Simons calls the geometric correspondence principle (GCP): that any (spatially) extended object has parts that correspond to the parts of the region that it occupies (Simons 2004: 371). We disagree. We think that GCP is a plausible principle. We also think it is plausible that our world is composed of extended simples. We reconcile these two notions by two means. On the one hand we pay closer attention to the physics of our world. On the other hand, we consider what happens when our concept of something—in this case space—contains elements not all of which are realized in anything, but instead key components are realized in different features of the world. (shrink)